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Showing posts from October, 2013

Getting started with homestead dairy - Gavin from the Greening of Gavin

Over the past few weeks I've interviewed small farmers who milk cows, goats and even a sheep, and now, in the last interview of the series, I have an interview with urban-farmer Gavin from the blogs The Greening of Gavin and of course, The Little Green Cheese, in which he documents his cheese-making tips and successes.  Gavin may not keep his own milking animal, but he certainly knows what to do with the milk and has plenty of good advice for those wanting to get started with homestead dairy.

Gavin: Thanks Liz for the opportunity once again to be part of one of your interview series. They are always great fun to write.  (Gavin also participated in getting started with growing your own and getting started with keeping chickens)

Farmer Liz: Tell us about how you started making cheese.

Gavin: There is a long story to this. I grew up on a small dairy farm in South Australia. There was an abundance of milk, but we never made cheese. My parents made butter and cream but didn’t take t…

Water for small farms

If you are interested in growing anything on your small farm, whether its just a vegetable garden, an orchard, or you want to keep some animals, you’re going to need to organise a source of water.  I've written an article on this topic for Farm Style, so pop over there to read the rest and leave any questions or comments here.
Water for small farms


So many eggs.....

After the winter egg draught, its weird to have so many eggs again!  We have 16 hens, and get about -9 eggs/day, which isn't too bad considering half of them are 2 years old and 3 of them are currently clucky.  We also get the occasional egg from the guinea fowl and I can't decide if we should hatch some of them.... they have been a little bit crazy!
I thought you might be interested in the different eggs.  In the photo below, all the eggs on the right are chicken eggs.  The little one at the top is a "fairy egg", we've never had one before, and I'm not sure who laid it.  We get quite a size range, but not usually quite that small!  The egg on the top left is the guinea fowl egg, they have a pointy top and a very hard shell, they are slightly smaller than the typical chicken egg.  The one of the bottom left is a duck egg from a friend, for comparison.
When cracked open, the duck egg is the top one, as its from someone else, I'm not sure if the colour dif…

Its our wedding anniversary!

Today is our third wedding anniversary.


I did a series of posts about our wedding, and I'm glad I did, because the memory is fading. I consider that we had a simple wedding, it was certainly cheap and not very flash. We enjoyed the day and spending time with family and friends. I wrote these posts to help people realise that they don't have to follow the normal commercial wedding, and its easy to do something different and simple if you want to and you don't have to spend a fortune (save it for the honeymoon).

A simple wedding in several parts - location, guest list and invitations, accommodation

A simple wedding part 2 - the dress and flowers

A simple wedding part 3 - the ceremony

A simple wedding part 4 - the reception

We are continuing the tradition of not going on a honeymoon or doing much for our anniversary because we have too many animals :) This year we are just having a simple dinner at home together on the veranda, looking out over all those animals (and eating t…

Worm farm maintenance

I have had the worm farm for over a year now, and I have to say it’s the easiest and most convenient way I have found to make compost and to dispose of vege scraps and other organic waste. I have not had much success with putting everything in a compost bin, I find that the food scraps go all sloppy and don’t really compost properly. I have found that my current system works much better, all food scraps go to the worms and the compost bin is for weeds and manure. The worms are able to eat all our food scraps and convert it to compost and worm tea, and there is still plenty for the compost bin, but now its not full of sloppy food scraps. People often ask if its necessary or possible to have both a worm farm and a compost bin, and I think it actually works better for us.



The worm farm really requires very little maintenance.  All I have to do is tip in more food scraps every few days, drain the tea once a week or so, check that the top tray is damp (if not, tip in half a bucket of …

Handchurn real food icecream

Earlier this year when Molly was producing lots of cream, I experimented with making real food ice cream in a borrowed ice cream machine.  I tried a few difference recipes and I had a lot of fun figuring out how to make ice cream from simple ingredients.  I enjoyed it so much I decided to buy my own ice cream machine.  When I was looking on ebay I came across a hand-churn machine and I really liked the idea of turning it by hand, the machine was relatively cheap, so I decided to give it a try.

The ice cream machines all use a similar design.  They have a metal bowl filled with a fluid that freezes at lower than 0degC, so that when you put it in the freezer, it gets down to freezer temperature (about -7degC).  You then put that bowl in the machine, pour in your ingredients and a blade scrapes the frozen mixture off the side of the bowl.  In the electric machine, a motor turns the bowl, and the blade is stationary.  In the hand-turn machine, the bowl remains still and the blade is turne…

Getting started with homestead dairy - Ohio Farmgirl

Here's another interview in my series about homestead dairy.  This time another (reluctant) goat lady, Ohio Farmgirl, shares her experience with milking goats.  OFG also joined me for the getting started with growing your own and getting started with chickens series, but in case you missed those interviews, she lives in Ohio (obviously) on a few acres and is very passionate about growing her own food, and German Shepherds.  She has a great blog called Adventures in the Good Land with lots of wise words about gardening, poultry, dogs, pigs and of course, goats.


FL: Tell us about how you came to own a milking goat.

OFG: Ah... goats. The 'poor man's cow.' Some people love goats. I do not. I'm more of a 'goat liker' and not a goat lover. We usually have between three and “a small herd” of dairy goats. To be sure the only reasons I have diary goats are because:

1. I can't afford a cow (no pasture for them to graze)

2. Poison ivy.

When we arrived at this new …

Permaculture - Use and Value Diversity

This month we are up to the tenth principle from David Holmgren's Permaculture: Principles and Pathways beyond Sustainability, Use and Value Diversity.


The other principles that I've reviewed have been:
Observe and Interact
Catch and Store Energy
Obtain a Yield
Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback
Use and Value Renewable Resources
Produce no Waste
Design from Patterns to Details
Integrate, Rather than Segregate
Use Small and Slow Solutions

I was also very excited this month to find another blogger who is currently reviewing the permaculture principles from their own perspective, see more here.  If you know of any other good permaculture blogs, please do let me know :)

Diversity is a really important principle to consider from a farming perspective because so much of agriculture is anti-diversity.  The ideal conventional agriculture concept is to use herbicide to kill everything in a paddock and then plant one crop, the plants will all grow to similar height and ripen at the same t…

Soaked flour pizza bases

Occasionally we feel like pizza, be we don't like takeaway pizza because we don't really know what's in it or on it and we usually end up feeling ill after eating it.  Homemade pizza is a bit of work, its very messy when we make it (because we usually make a few at a time because when you're cutting up all those toppings you may as well make more than one), there always seems to be flour all around the kitchen when we've finished, but its worth it for all that delicious pizza.

I've experimented with a few different bases.  I used to use a simple homemade pastry, which was a nice thin base, but then I started baking my own bread, and now we use the same recipe to make the pizza bases.  I shared my bread recipe recently on Wholefood Mama's blog, for the pizza bases I leave out the sunflower and chia seeds, but I do use some wholemeal flour, as we like the flavour.  One batch of dough makes four pizzas, so we can have pizza for lunch for a few days.  We bake t…

Getting started with homestead dairy - Marie from Go Milk the Cow

Over the past few weeks I have been interviewing other bloggers who keep dairy cows and goats.  This week I have an interview with Marie from Go Milk the Cow, who has experience with both milking goats and cows (she wrote a great comparison post here), which is a great perspective for those who are trying to choose between the two.  Marie lives with her family in South Mayo, Ireland, on the other side of the world from me and in a very different climate!  This is what I love about blogging, meeting like-minded people from all over the world.

Marie says "After an illness in our family, we decided to strip life back to the bare minimum to see what was left. What we found was a value for family life, time generously shared with family and friends, laughter to fill our small cottage...Happiness at the hearth!  We strongly believe in building social capital and that this is a true measure of wealth.  We are raising our three young children to be resilient in an increasingly changing …

Garden Update - October 2013

September, being the first month of Spring has been a huge month in the garden.  We finally got 35 mm of rain, so everything is green and growing (until it dries out again).  We are still harvesting plenty of kale and mini broccoli, and the peas have finally got started, still waiting for the broad beans though.  The surprise harvest was the purple potatoes I planted back in winter and had to protect from the frost.  They were started to die back, so I dug some of them up, only to find handfulls of purple potatoes, my best potato harvest ever (although still not very many) and planted at completely the wrong time!
 This month I've been busy planting and mulching and clearing the old plants ready to start planting more for summer.

 My garden is full of flowers at the moment, so I wanted to share some of them with you....