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.

News

Winters End

I thought I was due another post seeing as its almost been a season. The truth is I’m finding it hard to find time for the blog these days with a newborn, homeschooling a six year old and three year old, running my Etsy store not to mention all the other homestead chores starting up so I will likely do a seasonal update and occasionally throw a recipe up here.

I am most active these days on Instagram where I post almost daily you can follow us @huntergathererforager you don’t need a account to see the posts online but you do to comment. We also have a facebook page where I occasionally share instagram posts.

We are feeling more settled in our new home up in the hills of the Huon Valley. This time around we are taking things slow watching the land and resisting the urge to get lots of animals.

We were going to get some lovely Ryeland sheep from another homeschooling family but decided after our new baby girl Ember was born that we needed to hold off. It was a good thing too as the paddocks got VERY boggy after a big rain so it’s enforced the plan to get to know the land.

Embers birth went very well. She was born at home after a quick labour and our birth team arrived just in time to help her arrive safely. Banjo and Nyah had been emergency cesareans so this birth was very very special for us. She’s a beautiful happy baby and at 10weeks old is smiling and cooing. It’s been a big adjustment going to three children but we are all very happy.

We have a netted orchard here that Dane has been preparing it’s essential as there’s quite a few mobs of possums here. The bloody bastards ate my lavender and have nightly parties on the deck so everything will need to be planted in the orchard. Lucky it’s very big and we have plans to build a floppy fence around a small paddock for pumpkins.

This spring and summer will be dedicated to growing as much food as we can. Dane has enrolled in his Agriculture Diploma and is hoping to get a good job locally so we can stay in this rental until we can buy our own land. If he can’t then we will consider moving to North West Tasmania where there is more variety in Agriculture work but ideally we want to stay here where we have established a supportive like minded community.

Today he’s off to collect his self chosen fathers day present. Dane and I have a tradition where we buy ourselves gifts for special days and he has chosen some long awaited Guinea fowl.

He has wanted Guinea’s since we started this journey but everyone has advised against them. He doesn’t tend to listen to others opinions so was excited to see 4 become available.

The plan is to keep them in a coop a few weeks and then let one out at a time per day so they don’t roam too far. We are hoping they keep snakes down and don’t shit in the water tank!

That’s all for now I will update again in a few weeks hopefully!

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

News, Uncategorized

Spring 2017

Spring has arrived and we’ve got lots of little seedlings popping up in the greenhouse. I was feeling low on energy and almost wasn’t going to bother this year as being in this house now feels so temporary. We know we can stay until our lease ends next July but things are never certain while your renting so I’ve decided to keep lots in pots just to be on the same side.

Our chicks we hatched from the eggs of our murdered hens are growing well. It seems like there will be three roosters out of 10 chicks so I am pretty happy with those odds considering most of the eggs had been in our neighbors fridge. There was no justice for the parents. The council returned the dog to the neighbor who never apologised to us for the loss of our birds and three weeks later he was selling unregistered puppies at outrageous prices from the dogs. These poor hounds were never played with ,walked or exercised. I don’t blame the dogs they are Huskies and they were bored. I feel for them and it makes me angry that people keep animals as lawn ornaments and money generators.

The chicks have softened the blow of loosing our girls and our three remaining hens are very spoilt but we have been contemplating our future in the valley. We love the community here but work is unreliable, full time jobs required to get you a mortgage just don’t exist.  The are is fast gaining popularity as more and more people chase this lifestyle and being on the highway we have noticed the roads becoming busier.  Adding to all this is the fast rise of property prices so we see our dream of a house with a few acres in this area getting further and further out of reach.

Luckily we are never ones to give up and months ago I was hunting across opportunities that might help us take a step towards our Homesteading dreams when I came across Cultivate Farms (https://www.cultivatefarms.com/).

Cultivate Farms is a new initiative that matches young aspiring farmers with retiring farmers. When I found the website it was really new and had lots of glitches. It took me applying three times over a few months for our application to be registered and I only knew that the registration hadn’t worked because I had hopped onto the facebook page and saw they had advertised a 100 acre farm in Tasmania and were looking for interested parties. I commented on the photo and asked Sam to send me the details. When he did we realised our previous application had disappeared and I had to rewrite it for him to send to the owner.

Around the same time this happened I had a new friend add me on Facebook who was in a few of the same homesteading groups as me. I didn’t think much of it when she added me and as I often use social media to connect and chat with like minded individuals and some of my best friends I have met this way.

After a bit of back and forth I mentioned to Jody that we had applied for the cultivate farm opportunity and she admitted it was her farm and she had seen my comment on the post and was sussing us out. Call me naive but I was genuinely shocked! We had built a bit of a rapport and I really enjoyed chatting and sharing ideas with Jody. We decided to go up and have a look at the farm and see what we thought. The farm was beautiful in a part of North East Tasmania 1 hour from Launceston and 20 minutes to the beach at Bridport. The property had a farm house where Jody and her partner Geoff live and weatherboard cottage. There were great views and lots of shedding and it was a joy to meet all Jodies lovely animals. My heart sang when the Jersey cows came and licked my hand with their scratchy tongue and I was reminded of our old cow Kisses and what we had left behind but could possibly have again.

Jodys farm is a ex dairy property and was used as a small piggery as well so it is set up for all kinds of potential farming and homesteading pursuits. If you would like to see for yourself what it’s like she has her own blog – http://oaklands-farm.blogspot.com.au/2014/

We said our goodbyes with a lot to think about and we have had months of thinking but have decided to take the chance.

It will be a 12 month rental arrangement initially and if we are all happy after that then we will slowly buy into the farm.

When we first agreed I was filled with panic “What have we committed too” “We will have to say goodbye to all our friends here” but once everything settled down we could see the true benefits of this opportunity. This isn’t just a chance to have a home and be settled it’s a chance to build a sustainable future for our children and with things so uncertain in the world there is a chance they won’t have the chance to buy a home themselves one day but if they can stay on the family farm and have a life then they have security.

I don’t know what the future holds but I am excited to find out.

News

And Then there were Three

We’d had a beautiful day. It was unseasonably warm at 17C in the middle on winter. We had spent the whole day in the sunshine gardening and grooming Dandy the English Angora who is going through his moult early. Blossoms were stating to show and we were feeling spring coming along.
We decided around 2 oclock to treat the children and go to a waterside playground about 20 mins away and then have a early dinner out nearby.
This is a rare occurrence for us we are generally disappointed when we eat out because we love cooking and have high standards but it felt like that kind of day and we had the savings so it wouldn’t put us out.
After feeding and watering the chooks we checked the electric fence was on and headed out. The kids had such a lovely time at the park in the sunshine and were really happy and behaved well at the restaurant.
We were only gone 2 hours but what we came home to will sit with us for a long time.
I opened the gate and found a note tucked into it. Dane had already driven up the back to the turning circle as I read.
” Don’t take the kids up the back the dogs got in”
Dane came round a look of horror on his face parked the car , jumped out and ran. I ran too leaving the kids strapped in the car. What we were faced with was our electric fence knocked down and the neighbors huskies who I had mentioned were getting into our yard in a previous post. They were standing over the bodies of eight of our beloved chooks. Dane started yelling at them and one started snarling at him eventually deciding to bolt ,while the other fled through the front gate.
The neighbor was not home nor have we heard from him in the hours since.
I went to break the news to the Children. Nyah 5 let out a primal scream of devastation that her beloved chicken Lemons who she’s bonded with in the summer was gone. Her tears continued through the evening and she is still feeling it this morning.

Dane collected the bodies which we put in a safe place (so the dogs who returned to our yard yet again last night could not eat them ) We called council who said they would come out this morning to take photos and insect the yard. Apparently no one in the valley is registered to have 4 dogs as you need to be classed as a kennel and as we have young children it is dangerous that they continue to come into our yard.
We feel so angry and upset we foresaw this we tried for weeks to get him to do something on his side of the fence to stop them while we did all we could on our side. We’d already fixed the fence, bought electric fence and checked the chooks regularly. They were not just livestock they were our family some of whom we had brought from interstate with us.
We lost eight of our twelve chooks
Rosemary the Faverolle rooster died defending his girls
Cher the first chick we ever hatched who taught us so much about poultry keeping and was the smallest but top of the pecking order


Aniseed a beautiful quiet silver laced Wyandotte who’d just started laying
Lemons our 5 years olds special white Wyandotte

Ginger one of the Maran twins who layed big beautiful brown eggs. It took us 5 years to get Marans and her sister Pears survived and is lost and lonely


Smokey a very special Olive egger Brahma x Araucana who had the most interesting feathering of smokey blue grey


Fire Cracker a special one indeed she was the daughter of Cher and Bear the first chickens we’d hatched. Firecracker would go broody 4 times a year and was a fierce mother who fluffed up like a turkey if you went near her chicks.
Goldie the weird Wyandotte was also lost. She had really interesting lacing and the wrong comb but came from our pure bred lines when we bred interstate .

And then there were three. Minty our least favourite chicken who seemed really stupid but now I wonder if we hadn’t given her enough credit. She is a Olive egger and was hiding in the Nesting box. Pears also must have been hiding in there and Bendy our last Brahma was in isolation in another coop for some rest as she was having trouble keeping up with the flock. I have dubbed the trio Destinys Child as they are the surviours and it feels poignant that we had 3 chooks in the beginning of our journey to homesteading and now have 3 when we are at a crossroads.

Homesteading, News, Preserving

Weekend news plus Lemon Syrup and marmalade recipe

We’ve had a lovely week apart from all being sick we’ve managed to get a lot done. Our trip North has breathed new life into us and we’ve been feeling inspired and making plans for the future.

The lemon tree has burst into life so the children and I have been busy preserving. So far we’ve made lemon syrup for summer cordials and as we used the cold press juicer to juice the lemons we were left with a large amount of pulp. I hate waste so I decided to experiment with a marmalade by using the pulp and adding some ginger, extra lemons and a orange. The result turned out well so I will add both these recipes to the end of the post.

Another use for the lemon peel has been drying it and then blitzing it in the bullet processor to save as zest for cakes when lemons are scarce. I’ve also been adding it to cheap white vinegar to distill for a green cleaner.

Over the next week when I’ve built up a egg supply I’ll be making and canning lemon curd. Of course this will mean a lemon meringue our is on the cards.

Over the weekend we have been out in the garden making plans, I’ve ordered a new cheapie greenhouse to get us through the summer veg production and spent $50 on seeds from a local seed seller called Seed Freaks. We’d met him at markets and he and his wife are lovely and really know their stuff. They often run workshops around Southern Tasmania. http://seedfreaks.com.au

Our other challenge is dealing with a slight emergency. We have new neighbors on one side of us who has 4 big beautiful Huskies. They are incredibly friendly but unfortunately quite keen on the chickens and have been trying to get through the top of the fence which looked not far off falling over. Mr Hunter Gatherer quickly went out and bought some chicken wire to hold the fence up. We hate spending money on a rental but our chickens who we brought from NSW with us are more than our pets and we didn’t want to risk loosing them. We had hoped this would be the end of it all but last night the dogs dug a hole under the fence and had a party in our yard.

 The chooks thankfully were safe in their coop and the owner was very apologetic but we still need to fix the problem. We’ve spent all day today trying to fix our fence charger for the electric netting working but it looks like we need to order a new charger. I really hope we don’t lose any birds as we hope to take them to our forever farm.

 

Lemon Syrup 

This recipe is for a large amount of lemons but you can reduce the quantity if you like

Juice 2kg of Lemons for every cup of lemon juice add 1 cup of sugar

add 1 litre of water

Slowly bring to boil stirring to dissolve sugar. Once boiling you can either reduce to desired consistency if you are wanting a thicker syrup or take off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of Tartaric acid.

Now you can either bottle and store in the fridge for 3-4 months or bottle for shelf life using your proffered method. Bottled correctly on the shelf it can keep for 2 years.

Use as a Cordial Syrup, dessert syrup, cake flavouring, with boiling water and ginger for a winter pick me up.

Annes Lemon pulp Marmalade

Now this recipe is using the left over pulp (not skins) from using a electric juicer to juice your lemons for the previous recipe. If you do not have a electric juicer just use 1kg fresh fruit sliced thinly.

500g Lemon pulp plus 1 orange and 4 lemons (or 1kg citrus fruit)

1.5 kg sugar

4 Tablespoons of powdered ginger and 20g fresh root ginger

Begin by slicing whole citrus fruit thinly or into small bits. Add with pulp (if using) to a saucepan with 5 cups of water. Cover with lid and boil until peel is soft.

Once the fruit is ready add the sugar and on medium heat stir until sugar is dissolved.

Leave to simmer stirring occasionally to avoid sticking or burning. When jam has reached setting point pour into warm sterized jars and bottle using proffered method.

 

 

News

Mid Winter Update

We have made it to Mid Winter in Tasmania. I’ll admit recently I cheated a little when in Early July the children and I went to NSW for a week to visit family. It really was a summer holiday in comparison to home but I wouldn’t want to deal with the hot sticky summers that are getting hotter every year.

It was good to see family but I was glad to be home. We still haven’t quite settled back into a routine as not long after returning home we all went up to Northern Tasmania on a short family road trip. We booked a pet sitter to come feed and check on the pets, got packed and hit the road!

Well the drive up wasn’t so bad the kids didn’t fight much and we stopped in Ross which is a lovely little historic town that is quiet and full of big stone heritage buildings. It has a bakery that resembles kikis bakery from the studio ghibli animated film Kikis delivery service. Unfortunately this was under renovation much to the childrens dissapointment but we did enjoy going into the  Tasmanian wool centre and buying some dyed wool tops ready to spin, some wool dye and some knitting needles for little miss Hunter Gatherer. You can look at the wonders of the wool center online here http://www.taswoolcentre.com.au/

I was inspired by my visit to research what sheep I would have if I was ever to get one for fiber and I have settled on English Leicester. We are limited by heritage breeds in Australia and even more so on our little island Tasmania and the English Leicester seems to tick a lot of boxes for a hand spinner as well as being available in Tasmania and completely adorable with their long flowing locks.

After Ross we headed to Evandale to stay with my Aunt and Uncle who have a airbnb and had some family time. Evandale is a sweet town just outside of Launceston. It’s very much a chocolate box town with lots of beautiful houses, heritage pubs, a penny farthing festival (yes really) and one of my favorite markets in Tasmania.

The following morning we headed off early to Scottsdale to visit a friends farm and see if we might like to live there one day to share farm. We are completely taken by the farm and area and I wish I had taken some photos to share with you but there was so much to take in as well as wrangling two tired little people. If you would like to see photos you can see their blog here http://oaklands-farm.blogspot.com.au/2017/ . I liked Scottsdale it has everything you would need in a town and Launceston only 1 hour away. It’s hard to think of leaving the Huon Valley where we have quickly made a lot of friends but with the reality of little full time work or a chance of getting a mortgage to buy our own farm here not to mention fast growing property prices we feel the pull towards a chance to build a farm for ourselves and our children.

After our tour of the farm we went for lunch at the local bakery that had delicious pastries and from there went for a play in the local park that had a wetland habitat and rainforest walk that was just like a fairy garden. We took our friend back to the farm and she sent us on our way with a big bag of merino fleece for me to play with as well as some of her own honey.

I will touch more on how we came across this opportunity in another post but for now I’ll say goodbye until my next post where I will include a recipe and book review 🙂

 

Anne