Thursday, September 27, 2012

A quick road trip

Tim and Tom
 A quick road trip for me tomorrow to take Tom back to Sydney for the final stretch of university for this year. I will also be picking up jars for our honey too. He will be back home for a long break at the end of November but until then, he is on his own. We won't be able to get away for a while because it is lambing time which is always busy and tiring and cute and fun.

 We moved the ewes down the street to the lambing paddock today (they actually know the way and I just have to open the gates) . The grass here is green and new so they have been enjoying the change. It is a bit of a laugh to see sheep make their way through a new paddock, it's as though they have never seen grass before. Well they have never seen this grass I guess.

The beehives also had a bit of attention. It is the busy time for apiary too, more hive checking. New supers on the pink and white hives. The blue hive will have a new second super next week ( I have to paint the box).

Thanks goodness for the school holidays, I even managed to squeeze in a power nap this afternoon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I am at a loss for a title today so "Today" it is. The school holidays are in full swing and I have Tom at home for a week too. That means more leisurely mornings but I have a sneaking suspicion that my kids take a little bit of an advantage of me. Never mind, I love them and they love me back.

 Masses of strawberry blooms are taunting me. This variety is Chandler and they develop into fairly large and super tasty berries. No berries to pick for now and the only homegrown fruit I have to offer is citrus. There is some small rhubarb stems in the vegetable patch to offer something fruit-like but most of our fruit at the moment comes from the store. I think fruit is the hardest item to keep up with when trying to grow your own at least in the climate I live in anyway.

 Potatoes are another thing that remain on my shopping list. No matter the size of the garden, you have to make a decision of what to grow and what to leave out. I always grow some potatoes but to be self sufficient in potatoes would take a lot of space which for me  can be used more productively for vegetables that are either not readily available at the greengrocers or that are just far superior grown at home.

There really is a buzz in the garden though. I planted some pumpkin seeds today, radish- red meat and a new to me vegetable, okra. I am keen to try okra though I have heard mixed opinions about it. You never know until you taste it yourself I guess.

Does anyone have experiences to share good or bad with okra that might be useful. Growing, cooking or eating.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Cheating just a bit

 I really want tomatoes a.s.a.p. so I am hoping that cheating a little by growing an advanced seedling on the verandah will have us in tomotoes sooner rather than later. The spot is pretty much perfect, sheltered, sunny and right near my bedroom.

 Things are looking promising, there are tiny flower buds forming already so hopefully some lovely, ripe and tasty Wapsipinicon Peach tomatoes will be on the kitchen bench soon. I grew this variety last year and it was great. Very sweet and soft even if a little fuzzy on the skin. It adds to its charm.

One place you can't trick, cajole or rush nature is in the hatching stakes. I noticed some peeping this morning and a little patience on my part rewarded me with the first glimpse of the newest residents on the farm. Baby turkeys. Cute for now but not for long. Mother turkey is still sitting on the eggs so hopefully there will be some more chicks tomorrow.

Spring is wonderful.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A new year for me.

 It was my birthday on Thursday so I have officially started a new year in my life. I spent it the best way I know how, with my whole family together. It meant a trip to Sydney (Tim was working there for a day so we were going anyway), visits with my sisters and some sightseeing. The closest I came to gardening or farming was stopping in at the beekeeping supply shop for well... beekeeping supplies.
 Grace, Hope and I had a great day in the city. We mostly skirted the shopping precinct and spent our day on the harbour foreshore and at the botanical gardens.
The gardens are a real treasure and definitely more than one trip is needed to appreciate them and have a good look around.

Now though it is back to real life at home. Asparagus needs to picked, I made sure that I harvested all that looked remotely promising before we left but there is a bunch or two in the garden that must be consumed... today. It is very much a right now vegetable and waits for no man. If you hesitate too long, it is gone. It unfurls its fronds and you are too late.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Just a couple of reasons

...why I love where I live.

My ducks lining up in a row

I really think I am meant to be in this place. It isn't the right place or lifestyle for everyone but it truly suits me just fine. I guess I can say that I am really me here. If that makes a scrap of sense.

Friendly neighbours
 We have been toying with the idea of moving for a promotion for Tim's work if the opportunity came about but I think we have decided to definitely stay put and leave work ambitions to the ambitious(it would mean living in the city indefinitely). Of course we have things we would like to achieve just like everybody does. Including our current aim, to get our honey into some nice jars and make a little pin money from it and be proud of the product that we the bees have made. It is tougher than you would think. There are a lot of  options for containers and it is a matter of being spoilt for choice which makes the decision harder. Not important in the big scheme, just little choices.I am leaning towards glass over plastic and just two sizes, 1kg for those with a sweet tooth and maybe 500grams. Anyway, hopefully it will be a done thing soon enough. Any ideas or suggestions that might help would be gratefully accepted.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I'm not counting my chickens

 ... or turkeys or ducks for that matter before they hatch but there is some serious nesting going on around here. This one everyone seems to be laying eggs in and I collect the chicken eggs everyday, they are for us. We don't have any chicken we want to breed right now but I am hoping to buy a few new chicks next week. They have (what I think is) a lovely nesting box to lay in but they choose to make their own nests wherever they fancy. I guess they know best.

This nest is exclusively duck eggs and is out in the open. The ducks usually build their nests outdoors and don't mind the elements. Hopefully someone will decide it is time to sit and incubate this clutch soon. I'm looking forward to some ducklings, they can't be beaten for cuteness.

There is another clutch of eggs in the poultry house. There is a very protective mother-to-be sitting there so no photos today. Although I love my birds, I am more than a little bit scared respectful of her when in a broody mood. Anyway, they shouldn't be too long before they are hatched but it is her first attempt at motherhood so who knows, many things can go awry.

It is just that wonderful time of the year when there is so much happening, much to do and many things to look forward to.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Ladies in waiting

 Two weeks and counting until new lambs will be at foot.
The ewes are looking ready for the new batch of lambs even if the farmers are not quite ready for the extra work yet.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Looking Drab

 The herb garden is looking totally drab. I have been weeding, mulching and tidying but it needs a real overhaul as far as the plants go. All four garden beds need some colour. The dahlias will be up soon enough but the flowers will be a while off yet. I have sown some nasturtiums and marigolds for some quicker colour.
 This is bed 2 and it is being swamped by sounternwood. It is growing right in the middle of the bed and is messy and like many messes, it seems to be spreading. I'm going to cut it back to try to contain it a little and hopefully make it fill out a little more.

 The lucerne mulch doesn't add much to the appearance of the garden either and the fact that it has been a few years since there has been any change, it is looking stale in my mind.
 Bed 4 has been almost wiped out by a pesky rabbit. It has been digging and nipping at stems. Some blood and bone to keep the rabbit away and some fresh plantings are definitely in order.

My zeal for planting in the herb garden has come at a good time. It is my birthday on the 20th so I am busy now writing a little wish list of plants that I might like. I am transplanting volunteer lavenders, oregano, borage and thyme so things should be looking good soon.

 The first rose of the spring has made an appearance. It is called Knockout but is in actual fact fairly plain by rose standards. I'm not big fan of pink but a rose is a rose and I like it anyway.

 This I am looking forward to. The jasmine is almost ready to burst and the archway is laden with it. I really can't think of a sweeter flower to enjoy though I am partial to gardenia as well.

Lastly (if you have made it this far) I wanted to share a link to  Julie Goodwin's Lemon and Lime Tart recipe. I made it yesterday afternoon because for one thing the lemon tree is offering us a plentiful supply and also because I was making turnip soup for dinner. I love turnip soup but I thought with something that sounded so humdrum on the menu I should sweeten it with a little dessert. The recipe I can report is easy and quite delicious.

I am off to do a little more stalking of my Christmas swap partner before the girls arrive home from school.
take care,

Friday, September 7, 2012

Life and death on the farm

 New life is all around us right now. These baby birds are happily nested in the lemonade tree which makes for difficulty in picking fruit because mother bird is very protective. It does however mean that it is easy enough to watch their progress. The birds are Noisy Miners and we have quite a few of them here with another group of five roosting in the jasmine outside Grace's window. Puss watches them fly in for the night and wishes she could get out there but that is not to be. I think if I was a bird I wouldn't mind perching in the jasmine or hatching in a lemonade tree.

We also have a turkey incubating a clutch of eggs (I'm not sure how many and I certainly will not be trying to find out) and a clutch of duck eggs ready to go as soon as a mother duck decides it is time to nest. And quite a few lambs to be born in the next month or so.

Unfortunately there is also death on and off. It happens everywhere of course not just on farms but it does seem that with more animals to care for the chances of experiencing neew life and death are more common.
Sometimes we even have a hand in the death of animals for consumption or to put an end to suffering if an animal is injured or ill.

This morning it was our grey ducks time to die. She has not been sick at all but yesterday she didn't come out of the pen with the others which is strange for ducks. They like to stick together. We have had this duck since 2007 and I'm not sure how old she was when we were given her (so she was probably quite old in duck years) but she has had a good life here that is for sure.

Even if she had to suffer through one or two cuddles from Hope and Grace too for that matter. All that was expected in return was for her to be a duck. To quack, waddle and lay an egg or two.

I'm sure when we first started out with farming I would have had a bit of cry over the death of a duck but now although not immune to emotion, I have become more accepting of when it's time, it's time. She had a good life (like every animal here) so there is nothing to feel bad about and she is buried in the orchard which would be a lovely place to sleep.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Almond in bloom
 The orchard is full of blossoms and smells divine. This is an almond tree and really relies on the bees for pollination. In the past I have helped it along with a feather and some careful hand pollinating but nothing beats natures way. Hopefully there will be a good crop this year.

Almond blossom

 Last week we had a quick hive inspection which revealed completely full honey supers. At this time of the year after winter this was a bit of a surprise because the bees have obviously had enough foraging over winter to maintain supplies rather than use up their stores. Our climate here in Australia is warm enough for the bees to be active all year and there is always something in bloom for them to take something back to the hive.

We have moved two brood chambers up a level and taken two honey frames from each hive. That meant an afternoon of extraction and wax processing. Sweet and sticky work.

Bee on satsuma plum blossom
 I can't get enough of my bees. And thankfully they like me enough to have never stung me.
New bee emerging from brood cell.
I did enjoy getting to see this bee just emerging from it's chamber while we were checking the hive. Very cute.

Days like today that are busy with 'work', the slow cooker is such a boon. Tonight's offering is curry lamb and it smells very tempting.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Father's Day

A tired old day here for me. I have been 'enjoying' insomnia the past couple of nights so an afternoon nap was in order. Perhaps it was not wise but necessary at the time.
A happy day all in all. A visit to Nundle to visit my parents (and the tip,you gotta make these trips count) and have a hearty breakfast and then home again. A call from Tom this morning for Tim and a little bit of pampering for him from his three girls.

I don't really enjoy the commercial side of Father's Day or any other occasion for that matter but it is nice to pay homage to the  Dad in our lives. Besides that, the kids love it because unlike me, he shares his chocolates.