Homesteading

Spring is here

Spring has arrived and did it arrive quick. Life with three children is so busy that I scarcely have time to mark the days on the calendar up.

Now we know we’ll be here a long while (possibly forever squeee!) We’ve got new energy that we are putting back into the land.

Since the pigs have gone we’ve had a big sausage making day and boy is it fun to make sausages. We ended up freezing a lot of the pork but I’m getting a forequarter out today to defrost and make into mince and salami.

Dane’s been working hard converting the old pig yard into garden digging up stones from around the property and hauling them in the wheelbarrow to build into rows.

We’ve planted out the first little garden bed with flowers for the bees and will next be transplanting the garlics to finish off growing.

I’ve been going a little crazy growing seeds. Every no seed in my store cupboard is safe and I plan to germinate them all!

My process is to start them in a little electric heated greenhouse before on potting them to the cold frame. I do this because we have such a short growing season in Tasmania that I find the heated greenhouse allows me a great head start on the season.

We continue to chat about plans for dairy goats and building a business from here. We’ve got a few ideas but are keeping our cards close to our chest for now!

That’s all for today its gorgeous sunny weather put there and I don’t want to miss out!!

Homesteading, Uncategorized

Good bye to the pigs

It was a big morning here today with the mobile butcher booked to come and process the pigs.We were all ready. It’s been a experience raising pigs and although it’s not the first time we’ve done it this time was different as we weren’t sharing the responsibility with a landlord but doing it ourselves.We purchased the pigs a few months ago from a local breeder 15 minutes from us to do the job of ploughing a new garden area. They did this so effectively within two months! In hindsight we probably could have utilised them better to dig out more areas but as we want to grow our garden areas slowly we focused on one patch.They were fed on a mixture of garden scraps, commercial pellets and sprouted and cooked barley which was a time consuming job for Dane .Before the butcher came we were discussing the cost and how it wasn’t economical in terms of just buying a whole pig from the town butcher but now he’s been here I feel differently and the extra money we’ve paid has been worth it.It’s a really good feeling to know exactly what we are eating ,where it has come from, how it’s been treated and what it has been fed.The butcher did a amazing job it was quick and clean and it was a blessing to watch someone so skilled work and to know they didn’t suffer but died eating and together.WWe choose to eat meat and we choose to eat it in a conscious and meaningful way. my long term goal is to not be buying any meat from the supermarket and only be eating what we can raise our self or barter/buy locally.We decided in the end not to keep the heads. We’ve done this before and this time as we are already making bacon, hams, salami and sausages I felt I wouldn’t have the energy to also process head cheese. I do feel a little regretful for this decision as I wanted to utilise as much of the animal as possible but maybe next time.We kept the livers and the hearts. One liver I processed into Pate using Hugh Fernly Whittingstalls recipe from his meat book. Dane gifted me this book when I was pregnant with my first 8 years ago and it was good feeling to get it out today and know we are still committed to this journey despite not yet owning our own land.1 whole pig liver makes a LOT of Pate so I sectioned it into silicone cupcake baking trays and froze so i can get it out to defrost as we need it. The second liver Dane will be cooking for dinner tonight.The hearts have been marinated in a Korean BBQ marinade for our dinner tomorrow. The butcher will hang the carcasses until Monday when we’ll pick them up and get ready for the next stage of sausage making and smoking.We are borrowing a smoker from our neighbour which we are very thankful for and are considering having a sausage making day with some friends to help get the job done a bit quicker seeing as we need to mince the pork ourselves with the hand grinder.I’m looking forward to getting the pig patch ready to be converted to garden. It will be really lovely to look out on that patch from the deck and see the flowers. We will be electrifying the fence to make it possum proof and buying a budget poly tunnel greenhouse to keep us going until we can afford to put up a sturdier one.

bee keeping, Homesteading

New Year and first honey harvest!

Well I have lots to catch up on and once again writing gets away from me.

Life is so full and busy these days especially with all the summer garden and homesteading chores.

Ember is now 6 months old and trying to crawl. She loves watching her older siblings play. Having three children at home and homeschooling full time is full on all the time and crazily I’ve applied to have a stall at the Tasmania made markets in Hobart next June which means I need to push myself to create more stock. It’s a big market running over two days but I’m hoping it will be good a good way to promote my Etsy store.

We’ve been having lots of home days recently. Dane is back working at the orchard Cherry picking. He was offered a supervisors role but turned it down as after the picking season he’ll need to concentrate on finishing his Diploma in Agriculture.

The garden is looking lovely and lush. We’ve just picked our cherries and frozen some for winter but mostly we’ve just enjoyed eating them fresh. Especially Banjo who’s given himself the nickname John cherries.

We’ve got growing pumpkins, zucchinis, beans, eggplants, capsicums, nectarines, peaches, lots of tomatoes and a experimental watermelon.

I’ve taken an greater interest in flower gardening this year since we got bees. The chamomile is going crazy and we are looking forward to our tea parties in winter.

The bees have been feasting on a fire thorn near the orchard and lots of delicious native tea trees and gums. Our hive is thriving with a very strong colony and we’ve been doing inspections every 10 days or so to prevent swarming and are looking for signs to split the hive. They are such calm lovely ladies and this weekend we took 4 frames of honey.

We were very nervous about taking the honey expecting them to be really angry with us but they didn’t even blink!

How we collected the frames

We took down a plastic storage container with a lid and smoked the hive.

We took off the hive lid and removed the honey super then closed up the hive.

We shook the bees off a frame then brushed any remaining off and quickly popped the frame in thebstorage box with the lid on. We did this for the remaining 3 frames then closed up the hive and double checked we weren’t taking any bees with us and went inside to start extracting.

None of our harvesting tools had arrived so we extracted the honey using a baking tin, metal spatula , kitchen colanders and muslin cloths. Not your most sophisticated set up but it was low cost and worked!

Using the metal spatula we scraped the honey out of the frame on each side being very careful not to break the foundation. The honey was then tipped from the baking tray into a muslin cloth over a colander on top of a 5litre food grade bucket to drain out.

We popped the lid on the top and weighed it down with heavy jars. We’ll leave the rest to drain out in a warm spot indoors and from time to time squeeze the muslin cloths to get more honey out.

After this with strain again over a fine sieve and pop them in the jars!

We probably got just under 10litres of honey from 4 frames in a deep 8 frame hive. We are expecting a few more frames but are making sure that we leave a full ideal of honey foe the bees over winter.

Considering I was expecting the worst with lots of angry bees and sticky mess this was a pretty successful harvest in my eyes!

Homesteading, Uncategorized

Beeswax lipbalm

A few weeks ago on instagram I posted about rendering down the old wax from our beehive to have on hand for making home products.

This was a messy but not difficult process and quite easy I just had to make sure we did it very early on a cool day before the bees got too interested.

We used a bucket , old electric frypan and a muslin cloth.

I wrapped the old comb in the cloth and secured with a rubber band then filled the frypan with water and put the comb filled cloth in when the water was boiling.

The bucket was filled with cold water and when the cloth had emptied of wax I poured it off into the cold bucket and left it to set.

Once set I remelted the wax disc to clean it from any let over dirt and then poured it through a coffee filter into the paper cup moulds to set.

We were all in desperate need of new lip balm the wind and hay fever season chapping our lips.

After much searching we decided on doing a simple coconut oil, beeswax and essential oil balm.

  • 2 tablespoons grated beeswax
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 20-30 drops essential oil
  1. Melt beeswax and coconut oil in a double boiler stirring constantly until melted.
  2. Remove pan from heat
  3. Add essential oils
  4. Once you’ve added the essential oils fill your containers. We used some old empty lip balm tubes and small glass jars.
  5. Let tubes sit at room temperature for several hours until cooled and completely hardened before capping them.

If you want a  thicker lip balm use more beeswax during the melting process.

Happy making

Homesteading, News

Spring 2018 -Goslings, gardening, busy bees

Lots has been going on here in Judbury.

We’ve had family visit which was lovely but it’s always nice to get back into our routine after. Little Ember has been to the paediatrician to make sure her skull hasn’t fused early which would mean surgery. Something we’d really like to avoid since I worked so hard to have a natural birth after two cesareans. We’ve been doing regular cranio work with the chiropractor which seems to be helping so we are remaining positive at the moment it’s all watch and wait until she’s two.

She’s nearly four months now and is looking so much like her big sister at that age.

Our landlord took his bees away which we all decided was for the best as the hive was neglected and it was too much for newbies like us to take on.

Instead we went out and found our own year old colony and hive from a local bee keeper and it is very healthy and buzzing away. The orchard has just burst into flower and the bees are happily helping pollinate the cherries. We will do a thorough inspection on the weekend and soon after harvest the honey. I’m really excited about our veg garden this year and becoming amateur bee keepers.

If there’s no queen cells found during the inspection then we are going to put a extra super on top to try and prevent swarming but we are also planning to set bait hives up around the property to catch swarms so we will have more hives next year.

We’ve had some other new additions with our goslings hatching. Only two are out so far and unfortunately they have splayed legs which we have bandaged to try and correct. We watched a great YouTube video by a Australian farmer https://youtu.be/cF86DffddXc and I highly recommended watching it if you have similar problems. The Goslings are now looking great and waddling around.

Dane has been working hard getting the goose yard ready he’s brush cut all the thistles, taken down a old garden net and started building a gate for easier access.

The garden is looking wonderful. Dane’s been building some beds in the ground to give the garlic more room and have the beds free for summer veg. We plan to have a flower garden at one end of the orchard and plant out some of the lemon balm and apple mint we have in pots.

It’s hard having having possums destroy everything outside of the netting as it means we have to plan more and restrict what we plant in the ground.

The netting at the end of the orchard needs a lot of work to repair but the long term plans are to fix it up and have berries growing in it.

I’ve been dabbling in wetfelting and found a new passion for making hats

I’m really enjoying learning about the process and will be putting my early creations on Etsy to try and raise the funds towards better equipment. Eventually I’d like to be able to make farm hats.

I’ve been busy at night making cheese after a generous gift of milk from a friend. It’s been fun refreshing all my cheese making skills and we are reminded of our time with our old Jersey. We won’t get a cow again for a long time but we would like goats at some point. For now we have our hands full and we will keep happily busy enjoying all the promises of spring.

Homesteading, News, Uncategorized

Summer 2018

Well once again the blog has fallen on the back burner and I apologise. I find it difficult these days with two small children ,homeschooling,  two little businesses and D working full time to keep up with everything and I’m probably most active on Instagram if you like to keep up to date with us.

Summer has been busy with lots of visitors from the mainland , lots of work and lots of delicious produce. We’ve not had the best luck with the garden this summer everything seems to be growing very slowly despite the good weather. There is a young wallaby hiding in the garden which we haven’t managed to flush out yet. I know its in there as I find its gigantic scats through the garden as well as my young cucumber seedlings being nibbled.

I think the garden can feel our energies shifting from it as we prepare to move. We haven’t found somewhere yet but with our lease ending two weeks after our new baby is due we are constantly searching for the right place. It is hard in the valley at the moment with long term pet friendly rentals scarce and cheap properties to buy even scarcer. This area has become really popular since we moved down and things get snapped up very quickly.

To keep myself distracted I’ve been enjoying all the delicious summer produce available locally. We have had a really amazing cherry season with local orchards having more than they can deal with and selling fill your own buckets for $5! The Stone fruit orchards had sun dribbling peaches and the blueberries are also abundant. A friend and I have started up a preserving group where women come together to preserve the harvest while the children play and form their own tribes.

The first meeting was small but we did peaches in bottles, Jam and wine. Next we will be buying local cucumbers and others will be bringing their own produce. I’ve decided not to preserve at the next one but instead I’ll be on hand to chop and help newbies. I’ve got lots frozen in the freezer now that plums have come into season and I will slowly be doing a preserve a day. Today was Plum and vanilla bean jam and Apricot Jam from our trees. Jam seems to be what we go through the most as the children love it with yogurt but I also need to get creative and replenish our sauce stocks. I am hoping we get a good crop of tomatoes and I long for the day I can have a polytunnel to increase our growing season.

Until next time

Anne

Homesteading, Preserving

Rose petal Jam

I first made this Jam last year. I didn’t use a recipe and experimented but this year I wrote it down to share so I can find it next year! Unfortunately I haven’t managed to figure out how to make this in larger batches as its a very delicate jam and I don’t want to compromise the flavour which is like Turkish delight in a jar. Because of this it’s a really special jam in our family and we live to make rose jam tarts with whipped cream in the winter. 

Recipe 

I fill my basket with the most fragrant and darker coloured roses in the garden. Measured out it’s about three compacted cups. 

I put the rose petals in a pot with two cups of boiling water. Simmer until the petals have almost list colour then add two cups of sugar and one squeezed lemon. 

When sugar has dissolved I added 11/2 teaspoons of powdered pectin. 

I then bring to boil and reduce to medium boiling until it reaches desired consistency. This Jam sets a bit more like a jelly with the use of pectin. If you prefer a syrup for ice cream or cordials omit the pectin and do not boil as long. 
Enjoy