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Showing posts from August, 2014

Which milk should I drink?

As you know, I only drink raw cow’s milk from our house cows in my daily kefir smoothie, and I drink herbal tea during the day. Recently a friend asked me if it was ok to drink soy milk. My first reaction was “no way”, but I thought I’d better do some research first, so that my friend can make an informed decision.



Of course, if you have access to raw milk from cows or goats, and you don’t have an issue with lactose intolerance, this is the milk you should drink. I’ve written about raw milk before, in summary, raw milk contains nutrients (heat sensitive vitamins), enzymes and beneficial bacteria that are destroyed during pastuerisation. Often people who cannot digest processed milk find that they don’t have a problem with raw milk, and that it even has a healing effect. Read the other post for more details about raw milk.

Unfortunately, raw milk is not available to everyone, so a compromise may be required. Your choice will depend on your circumstances, and how much time and mon…

Getting Started with Ducks - Megan from Purple Dancing Dahlias

You might remember that last year I ran a few series of "getting started", where I interviewed other bloggers about how to get started with homestead/farm things, like a vege garden, chickens and a dairy animal.  I had so much fun with that series, I decided to organise another round, but this time I'm asking about things that I haven't tried personally, that I want to know more about.  After the turkey and the guinea fowl turned out to be so difficult for us to manage they made chickens look smart, I thought it might be a good idea to do a bit more research before we get any other crazy animals.  Even though I do search through blogs for information, sometimes my questions just don't get answered.  So I went straight to the source and asked the questions myself.  I'm starting with ducks, but if this works out ok, I think I'll be doing a series on bee keeping and one on fruit trees.  If you are keen to join in, just send me an email at eight.acres.liz at …

Podcasts are the new radio

I grew up listening to New Zealand's National Radio.  Not always voluntarily, but because my dad has a radio in every room, including the bathroom, and a portable transistor radio for outside work as well, and of course the car was tuned in at all times.  He begins his day with radio and he falls asleep with radio and anyone in the house gets to listen to what he's listening too.  I really only listen to the radio in the car, and I do like to listen to Australia's Radio National.  I like most of the programs, but it seems that whenever I'm in the car for a decent drive its either boring programs, repeats of programs I already listened to, or no reception.



And then I discovered podcasts.  Its like you get to choose your own radio program schedule!

According to Wikipedia:
A podcast is a digital medium consisting of an episodic series of audio, video, PDF, or ePubfiles subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device. …

Woodstoves for heating and cooking

Lately its has been relatively cold and we have been lighting the woodstove to heat the house and using it to cook meals, so I wanted to share our woodstove story with you.


When Pete and I wanted to replace the old pot-belly stove in our little Queenslander about eight years ago (because it was unsafe and inefficient), we decided we wanted a woodstove that we could use for cooking as well as heating. There are a lot of modern woodstove cookers on the market now. They have a large firebox like a standard heating woodstove, but also include an oven space that is heated by the hot combustion gases. Unlike the older style cookers, that were suited to cooking and designed to not over-heat the kitchen in a time when there was no alternative option for cooking, these new woodstoves really do a good job of heating the house, but are too hot for summer cooking (we use a BBQ or slow cooker for most things in summer instead). In winter when it is cold enough to light the woodstove regularly…

Frost - what is it and how to manage it

People are often surprised that we get frost here in Queensland.  Sure, the majority of Queensland is typically frost free, but here in the South East corner we can experience frost, with some inland areas around Charleville having 40-50 frost days on average of the last 30 years.  And certainly if you live in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, and southern parts of SA and WA, you can expect a few frost days too.  See the Australia frost map here.

I know our winters aren't really cold by any means, we don't snow, in fact, we are more likely to have a beautiful sunny day after a frost, and can have a temperature increase of over 20 degC in one day!  But this actually makes things trickier because we can ALMOST grow tropical plants, but it only takes one hard frost to knock them back until the weather warms up in spring.  Fortunately there are a few tricks we can use to manage frost when we understand what it is and how it behaves.

What is frost? Frost is not just ambient air temperature b…

Dog box update

We only have a single cab ute, so any time it was too hot or too cold for Cheryl to ride on the tray, and we thought she should really be in the cab, she would end up laying on my lap.  And at 25kg, she is not a lap dog!  A few years ago when we agreed to look after a second dog (Chime), Pete decided to build a dog box so they could both sit safely and comfortable on the back of the ute in all weather.

I first wrote about this back here, and I didn't go into much detail, so a few people have emailed me to ask more about it.  There are no plans as such, its just shaped to fit the angles of the ute and enough room for two dogs.  To be honest, we kind of made it up as we went along, but here's a few tips to help if you are thinking of making a dog box: We made it nearly the full width of the tray, with just a small gap either sideIts the same height as the backboard of the ute, and mimics the angles (a little bit lower so we can still tie on a load and not have it rub on the top o…

Keeping a family cow - book review

I was very excited to find Keeping a Family Cow: The Complete Guide for Home-Scale, Holistic Dairy Producers, by Joann S. Grohman in the Brisbane City Library.  Its a great reference and covers everything including raw milk, diary products, milking, feeding and caring for your cow and calf.  Of course, its written for the US market, so if you have an Australian house cow, I still recommend you read MY ebook too!




You can read my full review here.  And there's more details about my eBook on my house cow eBook blog.




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You might also be interested in my series on getting started with homestead dairy Interview with myself

Interview with Mark and Kate from Purple Pear Permaculture

Interview with Kim from the Little Black Cow

Interview with Rose Petal

Interview with Marie from Go Milk the Cow

Interview with Ohio Farmgirl

Buy my ebook "Our Experience with House Cows" on EtsyLulu and Amazon, or email on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com to arrange delivery.  More information on m…

Easy knitted arm warmers (double pointed needles)

I'm really enjoying knitting this winter!  I made a pair of arm warmers last year and I wear them a lot.  I don't know what I was thinking making them from white wool, they are getting a bit grubby, so I thought I would make some more and keep the nice ones for "best".  The first pair were quite complicated because they had a thumb, so I wanted to try making a simpler version with just a hole for the thumb instead.  And this time I used black and grey yarn that I got from the market.


I knitted these on four double pointed needles.  I cast on 40 stitches and worked around until I had the length of stripe I wanted.  If you're not sure how many to cast on, my wrist circumference is 16cm, and the widest point is around 20cm, so if you measure your hand, that will give you an idea of how many you need.  Do not be deceived, I always think that the circle of yarn is going to be too small, but are you knit up, you find that it is wider than you realise and you hand (or f…

How I use herbs - comfrey

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a hugely useful herb and very easy to grow - in fact it can be too easy and has a reputation of taking over gardens!  Its a herb that I think has a place in every garden.

How to grow Comfrey
Comfrey is propagated by root-division, so all you need is to find someone else who grows comfrey and take a small amount of root and leaves, plant them and you will never be without some comfrey in your garden.  Comfrey dies back in frost, and prefers moist cool conditions, so does not do well here in a hot dry summer.  If you have ideal conditions for comfrey (not frost and not hot) you may have trouble with it spreading like mad, and it can grow rather large, with huge leaves.  You can either plan for this by planting it somewhere appropriate, or you can confine it to a pot.  Comfrey is so useful you might not find its possible to have too much comfrey!


How to use Comfrey (Isabell Shippard devotes over seven pages to comfrey in her excellent book "How can I …

Farm update - August 2014

The last month of winter and we have had some frosty mornings, not much rain and everything has turned brown.  We are feeding hay to the cows and we've booked the butcher for Romeo (the steer that we've had for about two years, not little Ruby in the photo below!).

I put my house cow ebook on lulu.com in ebook format, and on amazon for kindle, see my house cow ebook blog for more details about how to purchase the ebook in different formats.  It was also featured in this month's Grass Roots magazine and Small Farms magazine.  Now I'm thinking of writing another one (surely it won't take so long this time!) and I'd like to write about chicken tractors.  More details coming soon...

The ten pullets that we hatched in February and March have all start to lay, as well as the four extra laying hens that we bought, so we have plenty of extra eggs to sell.  The roosters are also big enough to butcher, but we need to empty the freezer to make room for Romeo, so they wil…

Garden share - August 2014

We had some heavy frosts in July and a little bit of rain (a very little bit).  I checked the Bureau of Meteorology website and Kingaroy had 13 days with minimums below 0 in July, with the lowest temperature for the month being -5.7 degC.  Total rainfall was 6 mm.  My garden is a mix of green and brown, some plants are thriving in the colder temperatures and lower evaporation rates, while some of my poor tropical plants have died back (hopefully to regrow when the temperatures increase again).  Technically much of QLD is still in drought (and NSW is in bad shape too), with many localities "drought declared" - this means that the rainfall in these areas over a three month period is in the lowest 10% of monthly rainfall records over the past 15 years (if you don't like statistics, its just means that rainfall is extremely low compared to the last 15 years of records).  Its not easy to garden in these conditions, and its certainly not easy to farm, particularly since some o…

Plastic free - wrap up

This July Pete and I took up the challenge once again to reduce and analyse our single use plastic consumption with Plastic Free July. Throughout July I have shared with you our progress, and lots of tips and ideas, and its been great to see you all join in. Now its time to look at our dilemma bag of plastic that we ended up with in spite of all our good intentions, and think about ways to improve.  If you are going to post about your dilemma bag too, please link in the comments, it would be great to see what everyone learnt from joining in with Plastic Free July.



In Week 1 I wrote about food shopping and food storage, and for Week 2 the topic was rubbish and recycling, the next week I wrote about plastic in the bathroom and finally, last week was plastic free cleaning.  I offered a giveaway sample bag of soap nuts, which is a plastic free option you might want to try.  The winner chosen at random is:
Fiona from Life at Arbordale Farm
Email me on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com to arrange…