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Showing posts from June, 2016

Holistic management - part 1: introduction

Has everyone heard of Holistic Management? Its a technique for land management developed by Allan Savory. I first came across it when I watched a video of a presentation he gave.



 I can't find the exact one now, but there are a few on Youtube that give a good introduction. I've included one below, (which you can find here if you're reading this in email or RSS feed).




I also went to a workshop with Allan's son Roger back in 2013.  He is based in Queensland now and has a company called Savory Grassland Management.  Anyway, it was a one day workshop and really gave me a lot to think about, and since then I had been planning on getting the book (Holistic Management: A New Framework for Decision Making), but never quite got around to it until Fiona from Life at Arbordale Farm texted me last year to say she had found TWO copies at the Lifeline book sale for $7 each.  And so I finally got the book and that is a very long introduction to this post, which I intend to be a se…

Eggs Aside - Five more reasons to keep chickens

Today I have a guest post from a new blog-friend, Sarah from Say! Little Hen.  Sarah is based in QLD and keeps chickens, grows a garden, knits wonderful creations and shares her baking recipes.  I was delighted to find out about Sarah's blog when she emailed me to offer a guest post, so you should pop over and see her blog to find out more, when you finish reading this post about reasons to keep chickens - aside from eggs of course!

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We all know that chickens lay eggs, and this is of course the main reason people keep them. I never enjoyed eating eggs until we had our own fresh, home-grown ones. The difference is incredible, and having some chooks to tend is really a joyful experience.

There are, however, many reasons to keep chickens - egg laying aside. Today I'd like to share my top five reasons to keep chickens. I hope one (or all!) of these inspire you to start your own flock.

Read the rest over on my chicken tractor ebook blog (and lots of lovely chook photos…

Salt soap fail

Every time I get confident with soapmaking I try something new and find that its not as easy as I thought.  I have pretty well perfected my basic soap recipes:
100% tallow soapLemon balm herbal soapPink clay soapNeem oil soapCoffee grounds soapActivated charcoal soapShaving soap
Using salt in soap
I decided to try a couple of recipes that use salt - soap with pink salt as an exfoliant, and then soap with salt water in the lye to make a harder bar (its called soleseife in German).  Salt is supposed to produce a nice lather and a soft, soothing soap.  I sprinkled larger lumps of salt on top the exfoliant bar.  See below for the recipes adapted for tallow.



Everything went well until I came to cut the soap.  I left it in the mould for a couple of days, as I usually do.  When we tried to cut the soap it crumbled.  No mater what we tried, the cutter than came with the cutting frame, a pizza cutter, a large knife, a serrated knife, a piano wire, NOTHING would prevent the soap from crumbling.  …

My favourite house cow blogs

I don't know many people in real life who have house cows.  A few acquaintances, but no good friends with whom I can talk regularly about cows.  Like many of my interests, I turn to blogs to find like-minded people who are happy to talk non-stop about cows, manure, hay, minerals, pasture, milking schedule and bottle-feeding calves!  As well as enjoying the topic of conversation, I also learn so much from these blogs, even though they are in different locations.  It seems like you can always learn more about house cows (aka family cows, dairy cows or milk cows).  I want to share my favourite house cow blogs with you today and I hope you can tell me about other sources of house cow information.  Read the rest over at my house cow ebook blog.





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…

How I use herbs - Lemongrass

Lemongrass Cymbopogon citratus is a fragrant tropical grass.  It can be grown in the sub-tropics and has many uses in the garden, as well as the kitchen.  There are a few different species and I note that Australia has a native lemongrass.  I think I'm actually growing the related Cymbopogon flexousus, due to the red stems of my plant, they all have similar properties though.



How to grow lemongrass
Lemongrass grows in clumps and is easily propagated by division.  I got my plant from my father-in-law who has some prolific specimens in his garden near Bundaberg.  I'm not sure why my plant doesn't do as well, maybe I'm not watering it enough, or just in a slightly cooler climate here.  It does die back in frost, but regrows in spring.  Its in a drier corner of the garden, so it does well to keep growing even when I don't give it as much attention as I should.  
When lemongrass grows in thick clumps it can be useful for stabilising erosion and for protecting other plan…

Choosing a woodstove for our new house

As you know, we love our woodstove in winter!  We use it to heat the house and cook food as soon as the weather is cold enough.  We have tried the Nectre Baker's Oven in a previous house and currently have the Scandia Cuisine in our house at Eight Acres.  In our secondhand house we are going to need a woodstove.  The house came with a wood heater, but we gave that to our neighbour in exchange for electrical work because we couldn't get building approval with it in the house (and we really wanted a woodstove instead).


We are having trouble making a decision and this time of year I always get a few questions about woodstoves, so I thought I should just step through our options and pros and cons with you here and maybe you can add your experience so we can finally come to a conclusion!

Previous experience
I wrote about our woodstove experience back here.  I do want to add a few points since I wrote that post.  I have since realised that the Scandia Cuisine is really oversized for o…

Save the bees?

This might seem like a weird question, but are you sure we need to "save the bees"?

I keep seeing images like the one below and I feel that the message is a little simplistic and may be causing some confusion.


First let me say that I absolutely support the concept that we need to save our pollinators, of which honeybees are one species.  In Australia we have lots of native bees and wasps (and flies!) that also pollinate, and these insects should also be considered in this discussion.  We do not rely on introduced honeybees alone to pollinate crops and wild plants.
The quote from Albert Einstein seems to have been mis-attributed, which makes sense as I don't think bees were really an area of expertise (he was smart, but he didn't know everything!).  Whether there would be "no more plants" is also debatable.  Many plants are not pollinated by honeybees or any insects, in particular grains and grass (which feeds beef).  Our diets may be limited, but we would n…

Crochet socks

I finished my pair of crochet socks, using some lovely New Zealand wool.  I found that crocheting socks is easier than knitting socks.  I do really struggle to get knitting started on three needles and I didn't have to worry about dropping stitches.  Here's my knitted sock pattern in case you prefer knitting.  For the crochet socks I used this pattern, and I mostly followed the instructions.  I hate having to follow them and not really knowing what will happen.  Turning the heal was a wild ride on the first sock, I just had to trust the pattern and I had no idea what would happen!




To make things a bit easier for myself next time I want to crochet some socks (and for anyone else who wants to follow that pattern), I made another sock with different coloured wool for each section so you can see how the pattern forms into socks.  It reminds me of an Ugly rugby jersey with all the different colours.  
Step 1: the ankle
This is crocheted as a rectangle that is later folded in half a…

Farm Update - June 2016

This last week of May it finally got cold enough to light the woodstove every night.  And it hasn't rained all month, so that's 8 weeks now with no rain.  Eight Acres is looking very dry and dusty, but the rain we had in March at Cheslyn Rise has kept the place a little greener.  The forecast is for more rain than average over the next few months, but considering winter is typically low rainfall anyway it doesn't take much to be above average.
Gus is now 18 kg and as tall as Taz.  She can still wrestle him to the ground though, he's a bit uncoordinated, but very cuddly with humans.  A friend asked if Taz is helping to get all the wiggles out of Gus, but to be honest Taz has way more wiggles, Gus is just a laid back, chilled out puppy who wants cuddles and naps all the time.  Taz runs circles around him and leaps on him and he doesn't know what's going on.  Its funny to see their different energy levels, I thought all puppies had the wiggles until I met Gus!  M…