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Showing posts from March, 2015

Using the whole beast

Every year around winter-time we have one of our home-raised steers butchered at our property by a mobile a butcher.  We fill the freezer with meat, bones and tallow, and we sometimes even keep the hide for tanning.  It is very important to us that, as far as possible, we use the whole beast.  If this is something that you would to do too, here are a list of posts that you may find useful.




Butchering tips and tricks

Home butcher vs meatworks
The pros and cons of using a home butcher compared to sending a steer to an abattoir.  We did send our first steer to be processed, but all the rest have been done at home.  The main problem for us was finding a good butcher, but loading the animal on the truck and preparing all the paperwork was a real pain.  Its much easier for us to have them butchered at home (and I think its better for the animal too) if you can find someone who will do it.
Homekill meat - some tips for beginners When you've decided to go for a home butcher, here's a pos…

A Postage Stamp Garden - book review

Have you thought about growing vegetables but don’t know where to start? Does it all seem like too much work? What about trying a “postage stamp” garden? This is a system described in Karen Newcomb’s recently revised book The Postage Stamp Vegetable Garden: Grow Tons of Organic Vegetables in Tiny Spaces and Containers.  This book starts from the very beginning, planning your garden, and explains how to set up the soil to create a productive garden in a small space. The concept is that with the right plant selection, good soil and minimal labour, a small space can be just as, if not more, productive than a larger garden.


This book seems ideal for beginner gardeners who don’t know where to start, and those with more experience who would like to reduce their workload by using some clever techniques. The principles of postage stamp gardening are:

Start with productive soilPlant vegetables closely – you fit more in and its better for the soilUtilise crop-stretching techniquesWater deep…

How I use herbs - chickweed

Chickweed, Stellaria media,grows very happily in my garden, but its one plant that I never actively planted from seed or a cutting, it just appears.  Ostensibly you would expect chickens to eat it, but not my chickens, they prefer lettuce.  Fortunately it has other uses, so I don't mind letting it take over a few corners of the garden.

How to grow chickweed
If you're unlucky enough to not be naturally endowed with chickweed in your garden, a quick google search reveals that you can buy seeds.  I have no idea where my chickweed came from, it seems to be a common weed in our area, possibly seeds came in soil or were blown here in the wind.  Chickweed tends to die back in our hot dry summer, and appears again in winter and after any rain.  It spreads quickly and produces teeny tiny flowers (and presumable plenty of seeds).  I don't do anything in particular to encourage it, but I can usually find some when I need it.



How to use chickweed Feed it to your chickens (if they are les…

How to choose a home milking machine

Are you confused by the different options for milking machines?  Are you wondering why some machines are cheaper than others?  Read about how to choose a milking machine over at my house cow ebook blog.





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 my house cow ebook blog.





Reviews of "Our Experience with House Cows"
Kim from the Little Black Cow Blog
Fiona from Live at Arbordale Farm
Marie from Go Milk the Cow
Renata from Sunnyside Farm Fun
Gavin from Little Green Cheese (and The Greening of Gavin)

Hydroponics basics

Lately we have been growing tomatoes in a hydroponic system. They are growing stronger and taller than any tomatoes in my garden. I thought you might be interested to know more about hydroponics, the system that we use and the pros and cons of hydroponics in general.


What is hydroponics?
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants using a nutrient solution, in water, without soil. There are a number of different types of systems, depending on how the plants are supported and how the water drains. See Wikipedia for more detail about all the different systems.

Why use hydroponics?
When you live in a hot, dry climate with sporadic rainfall, a system that consistently delivers water and nutrients to plants naturally results in better produce compared to growing the same plants in soil. It all sounds great in theory, but there are a few issues which I’ll discuss below.

What system do we use?
We have a flood and drain system that Pete set up years ago. He built a trough the right size for a grow…

How do you like your eggs?

Recently its come to my attention that not everyone has eggs for breakfast every day.  Pete and I have one or two eggs most days, if the hens have provided enough.  We have a few tricks for preparing eggs quickly, so there's always time before work for eggs (if you're still worried about cholesterol, its ok, they got it wrong, you can eat eggs, read this and come back for my quick egg ideas).  Now, if its just time that's holding you back, here's three quick and easy methods that we use to prepare our breakfast eggs.

Method 1: poaching pan
This is Pete's favourite, I don't really like cooking the eggs in the plastic cups, but it is quick and easy.  We wipe some butter over the egg cups and then crack the eggs in.  Pete likes his yolks hard, so he just sets this up first thing and then gets ready, and 10-15 minutes later his eggs are ready to eat (don't leave them too long, if the water all boils off, the plastic starts to melt, we've been through a few o…

Perennial vegetables and permaculture

Most of the vegetables that we buy from the supermarket, or plant regularly are annuals.  That means that they typically only live for one season and then need to be planted again.  Think of all the work involved in sowing seeds and raising seedlings year after year.  I often have a lot of trouble starting seedlings, everything goes wrong, from mice eating the seeds to over-watering and causing them to rot.  By accident, I started to plant perennial vegetables in my garden and they started to do really well.
Perennial plants live for several seasons.  They may die back over winter, but they will regrow from roots without having to start again from seed.  This means that they get a head-start and may produce more over the entire season.  Perennial plants should be part of any permaculture garden because they require less work than annual plants, and the soil doesn't have to be tilled.
The challenge with perennial veges, because most are unfamiliar, is knowing how to prepare them, …

Slow living farm update - March 2015

I'm joining in the Slow Living Monthly Nine again, started by Christine at Slow Living Essentials and currently hosted by Linda at Greenhaven. How was your February?


Nourish I’ve been thinking about eggs lately.  Pete and I eat eggs nearly every day, usually two each.  We are very happily ignoring the myths about cholesterol (catch up here and start enjoying eggs!).  I recently discovered that some people think they don’t have time for eggs in the mornings, so I really need to write a post about how to prepare eggs quickly (I have several methods).  The photo is Pete’s poaching pan, which is his preferred way to cook morning eggs.  We have also been feeding eggs to the chicks, and lately Pete has been cooking two for himself and two for the chicks every morning!



Prepare Some of you will have heard about our recent cyclone sandwich.  While Tropical Cyclone Lam approached the Northern Territory coast from the west, Tropical Cyclone Marcia was approaching Queensland from the east.  I rus…

Garden Share - March 2015

In February we had very little rain until the last weekend, in which we got the tail-end of Tropical Cyclone Marcia and about 90 mm of rain.  I was away one weekend, and so for two whole weeks Pete was in charge of the garden, and he also worked on the Saturday.  This combined with the dry and then wet weather made for an odd combination in the harvest basket when I got home!  Giant button squash, giant beans and not much else had survived.  But it did started to grow again when we got the rain.

I picked the first rosellas and I dug up some arrowroot.  We still have plenty of basil, and now other self-seeded herbs are appearing, including parsley, dill, chervil and coriander.










Jobs for March - set up some string to tie up the hydroponic tomatoes, keep weeding and mulching, think about sprinkling out some seeds for winter crops.

What are your planning for March?  How was your February?


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