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Showing posts from May, 2013

Real food ice cream

When Molly was making so much milk after she first calved, she was also making plenty of cream.  After milking we usually pour the milk either straight into the cheese pot or into a collection of 2 L plastic jugs, and put these in the fridge.  When the milk is chilled, the cream rises to the top and its easy to skim the cream of the top and into another container.  Some days I could skim a cup of cream of more!  There are actually two layers of cream, the top layer is really thick (like the thickened cream you buy, but without the gelatin) and the next layer is thinner, like pouring cream, its hard to get all of the thin layer, so we always have a little cream left on top of the milk.
I love using the cream in cooking, I make a cream sauce with butter, flour, cream and stock, or put it in at the end of a casserole, but its hard to use 1 cup a day!  In the past we have made butter with the cream, but with butter being so cheap anyway (under $2 for 250g) its hardly worth the effort (al…

Chicken tractor guest post

Tanya from Lovely Greens invited me to write a guest post on chicken tractors for her blog.  I can't believe how many page views I get for chicken tractors, they seem to be a real area of interest and I hope that the information on my blog has helped people.  I find that when I use something everyday, I forget the details that other people may not be aware of, so in this post for Tanya, I tried to just write everything I could think of that I haven't covered in previous posts.  I tried to explain everything we do and why, so that people in other locations and situations can figure out how best to use chicken tractors with their own chickens.

If you want to read more about chicken tractors, head over the Tanya's blog and read my post, then come back here to leave a comment.  Tanya lives on a little island off the coast of the UK called the Isle of Mann.  Even though she lives on the other side of the world, we have lots in common, she is into gardening and sourdough, and ke…

Learning to knit from a pattern

Over the past couple of winters I've been teaching myself to knit.  Actually my grannie and mum taught be to knit when I was young, but I had to relearn some of the details and teach myself to do more than just knit back and forth.  I made a few simple items, I tried knitting "in the round", ribbing, stocking stitch and started a sock.  So far though I had not managed to follow a pattern and I was still confused about the terminology.  My ultimate aim (apart from finishing two socks) is to finish a vest, from a pattern, so it was time to learn what all those letters meant!

I asked Penguin to send me a knitting book to review and they sent me The Big Book of Knitting.  This book has 100 knitting patterns, including jumpers, cardigans, socks, gloves, scarves and toys.  Not all of them interest me, and not all of them are easy enough for me, but there are plenty for me to chose from!  All the patterns are beautifully photographed.  Strangely, all the patterns are listed at …

Quick cheese for busy people

Its funny how having a cow changes your perspective on life.  For most people, getting good quality milk is the limiting factor for their cheese-making activities, because its expensive and can be hard to find.  Not me, I don't have any shortage of beautiful fresh raw creamy jersey milk, but I don't have time to make a cheese every day!

When a dairy cow first has her calf, she makes more milk than the calf can drink.  This isn't a problem for beef cattle, but we've bred dairy cows to produce excess, and if the cow isn't milked out completely she is at risk of mastitis.  The cow's milk production actually increases and peaks in the first few weeks after her calf is born and then (thank goodness!) begins to decrease.  As the calf grows, it can drink more and more of the milk, until eventually it can drink all the cow's milk and then we don't need to milk every day.  At that stage, we have to separate the calf from the cow if we do want to milk.  Once we…

Splitting up paddocks for intensive grazing

Managed Intensive Rotational Grazing (MIRG), also known as cell grazing, mob stocking, holistic managed planned grazing and possibly other terms as well.  There’s lots of different names for it and each method is slightly different, but whatever you call it, the idea is to split up your land into the smallest size paddocks you can manage and move your animals as frequently as possible.  The opposite is called continuous grazing, where the livestock have access to all the land all the time.  The disadvantage of continuous grazing is that cattle will tend to nibble at the green tips of the grass they prefer, so the roots have to continuously contract to produce more leaf.  Eventually the plant will die unless it is given a chance to recover and re-grow deeper roots.  
Rotational grazing allows the grass to recover.  If its done properly, the cattle should eat most (but not all) of the available forage in the time they have in the area, and trample the rest.  They will spread their manu…

Sourdough biscuits (cookies) - adapting a recipe for sourdough

Since I got my sourdough cake starter, I've been having fun experimenting with other uses for it.  I can be adapted to all sorts of sweet recipes, and as we don't eat a lot of cake, that is a good thing!

When I first received the starter it came with all these instructions about how to feed it and look after it.  This included feeding it every few days, not keeping it in the fridge, splitting it after a week and giving most of it away.  Needless to say I ignored these, otherwise I would ave no starter left!  Here's how to actually look after your starter:

You can keep the starter in the fridge, in a glass jar - mine has been living there for several months.You just have to get it out every 2 weeks (or so), give it a good stir and tip out half (you can either give that half away, use it in baking or just tip it on the compost)Then top it up with a bit of flour, sugar and milk (or water), stir and leave it at room temp for a day to ferment a little.  Then put it back in the f…

What to do with eight acres

Behind the scenes of my blog I can see the search terms that led people to find my blog.  It can be quite interesting to look through them occasionally and see what people are looking for.  Most of them involve chicken tractors, but another question that comes up regularly is “what can you do with eight acres?” or “how much land is eight acres?”.  Today I will try to answer this question.

Of course it is a very broad question, there are lots and lots of things you can do with eight acres, but I’m going to assume that you want to live there, feed your family and maybe make a little extra money.  I make that assumption because that’s what I know about, if you want to do something else with your eight acres, you will need to look somewhere else.

If you haven’t chosen your land yet, here a few things to look for.  Focus on the things you can’t change and try to choose the best property you can find in your price range.  Look for clean water in dams, bores or wells, either on the property …

Three very different garden books

I have a backlog of books to review, and three of them are garden books, I thought they made an interesting contrast to each other, so I may as well review them all together.  I read a lot of books, most of them related to farming and gardening.  Even though many of them repeat the same themes I always learn at least one or two new things from each book, and these books were no different.

The first book was one of a few that I requested from Wakefield Press.  Its called "Clueless in the Garden - a guide of the horticulturally hopeless", by Yvonne Cunnington.  I usually only read about vegetable gardens, so I was surprised to find that most of this book was about all kinds of garden.  Its published in Canada, so you just have to remember to turn around the north and south references, but at least the temperatures are in celsius.  The references to deer and snow are not so relevant to my garden, but I kind of enjoy reading about them anyway.  The best thing about this book was…