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, 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, Preserving, Uncategorized

Weekend Happenings – Apple and Fennel chutney recipe

Well as predicted I couldn’t keep up with daily blogs but I am happy because it got me back towards blogging regularly.

We had a lovely weekend with Mr HG home. He’s been working so much recently that we really appreciate that family time. Although work at the Apple orchards will likely slow down soon we have some exciting prospects on the horizon but I won’t go into that just yet in case I jinx us!

On Saturday we were blessed with lovely weather so we potted around the garden as a group and all clipped the ripe rose hips together. The children go to use sharp scissors and garden shears so they were thrilled about the job. As we have so many roses at this house we’ve decided to dry the hips on our air dryer in the laundry over ysing the dehydrator. It’s a slower process but I feel like there is more “goodness” in the end product.

This last week the children and I picked the majority of the apples. I was tired of parrots eating them and wasps being attracted to the munched fruit so we thought it best to get the bulk off. We did a shout out on social media for free apples and had the lot taken. I still have a big box and 20 litre bucket to process ourselves, some left on the tree for the birds and one tree left with sour cooking/cider Apples I’ll get to shortly.

We also picked the last of the green tomatoes and pulled the plants up. I still can’t get my head around tomatoes being a Autumn fruit but Tasmania is a crazy place and the climate here is one of the things I love about it.

I decided to make some Chutneys a spicy green tomato and apple chutney and a Apple and Fennel chutney. The Apple and fennel was so delicious I made a second batch. It would be perfect on a pork roast but we stirred it into a spice chickpea curry and it worked beautifully in there too. We always save our own fennel seeds and the flavour is indescribable in comparison to store bought. In all honesty I have never managed to grow a fennel bulb but I’m great at growing seeds!

I’m adding the recipe to the post today I’ve found the blog is a great way for me to find my favorite recipes each season when it’s time to go back to them!

Apple and Fennel Chutney

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 kg  Apples
  • 2 large Onions
  • 3 Garlic Cloves
  • 50 g fresh Ginger
  • 1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar ( or white if that’s what you have)
  • 2 Cups sugar
  • Juice and Zest from 1/2 Lemon
  • 1-2 tsp Dried Chili Flakes
  • 2 tsp Fennel Seeds
  • 1 stick Cinnamon
  • 1 Star Anise
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1.  Peel and core the apples I use a slinky apple peeler then just check them in and bash them with the spoon as they cook
  2. Dice the onions
  3. Finely chop the garlic and ginger then wack everything into the pot
  4. Slowly bring to the boil stirring every now and then to make sure sugar dissolves and flavours mix
  5. Simmer until very thick but don’t let the apples dissolve into sauce.
  6. Pop into sterilised jars and process using your proffered method and store in a dark and cool place it should last 2 years if processed and stored correctly.
Homesteading, News

Summer Days 2017

I can hardly believe it is almost February! We have finally had some hot days here and our tomato plants have started to set fruit. The cucumbers as well and taking off and I think we are doing pretty well considering we only have a dodgy $50 greenhouse purchased on arrival to the island. Sadly the greenhouse isnt doing as well as the vegetables it’s produced. Dane and I had been taking bets on how long it would last. I thought we would at least get two summers out of it but I was proven wrong in a wind storm when the door was ripped. We have repaired it with Gaff tape but we know it only has 1 more storm left in it so we have invested in a good quality poly green house which we will set up before winter.

 

We had the pleasure of lots of our old friends visiting over New years and it was lovely to spend time with old friends and feel our soul enriched by their company. The children are really thriving in this Tassie life and I know we have made the right choice for our family.

Dane has picked up some work picking cherries. Sadly all the rain has made it a short season so there is not much work to be had but he’s really enjoying the physical work and meeting people from all walks of life. What he doesn’t like is how much fruit goes on the ground due to imperfections and he is asking his manager if we can have some bulk lots of “waste” cherries to preserve and make cider.

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Although we are no longer doing markets I am still preserving lots of what we are growing and being gifted by friends. We are lucky to live in a community with abundant fruit and I’ve traded or been given Berries and plums. Our Squash plants are going crazy so I’ve invented a Zucchini Kimchi which has turned out to be a hit and and will certainly be making more of this! I’m hoping to have a little road side stall set up this year if I can to sell the excess and save for a drum carder to make my fiber prep easier.

pixiehat

I am loving learning more about fiber crafts. I started on a drop spindle which I will hand down to Nyah when she’s older and then moved up to a spinning wheel when I saw one advertised for sale by a lovely local lady. I invested in hand carders and we now have one beautiful English Angora Rabbit called MR Dandy who is our very own fibre animal. I’m debating breeding them one day but for now we are just loving him. For other fibres I’ve been spinning Alpaca and sheeps wool that I have sourced from locals. I have been very busy trying to create enough to have on my Etsy store as a way to keep saving for our own farm while I start getting ready to start our trial year of homeschooling.

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Well I think that brings us up to date for now. I hope to start sharing more recipes again soon! If anyone is interested in the Zucchini Kimchi Recipe please let me know and I will post it in to comments.

 

 

gardening, Homesteading, News, Uncategorized

Small surprises

It’s hot. It’s too Hot. I don’t deal well with the heat it’s part of the reason we chose somewhere that snows. The temperatures have hit the mid to high 30s (that’s Celsius) the chickens are panting, the kids are cranky, the cats and puppy are doing lots of sleeping and I’m finding it hard to motivate myself but still there is work to be done. It’s days like this I question what the hell we are doing. Maybe I should just get a conventional job in a air conditioned office and make money in a “normal” way. Then I am reminded by something about why we chose this lifestyle and why we love it so much. Today it was in the form of a small amphibian hiding in a squash flower and enjoying the cool pool of water.

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It was a beautiful reminder of the wonders of nature and the simple pleasures we enjoy each day.

In other news our visitors have all left us it’s been wonderful having the company of old friends and sharing new experiences but it’s also nice to unwind and go back to our life of hermitude. We are still kept busy looking after a friends animals on their farm while they are away. One of our jobs at their place has been to milk their one uddered goat Dolly. It has been great to experience as diary goats has always been high on our list but our unfortunate goat experience we had early in our journey meant we never got to the milking stage. If you’ve never had goats milk fresh you really must try it. The bad rap goats milk has is all lies and I really would put it at the same level as our jersey cows milk it’s that creamy and delicious. I have certainly had my desire for goats reinforced but I’m sensible enough to know that we need to wait until we buy or are on a more suitable property. In the meantime I will keep drooling over cute pictures of baby goats and researching.

All the extra work we’ve been doing has set me a little behind on preserving. One of our guests very generously gifted us about 10kg of plums!!

 Our plum tree is a bit pathetic at the moment it’s a beautiful towering ancient tree that gives generous shade but is very hit and miss with fruit. Our first year we had bountiful plums that were disgusting and bitter! The second we had zero plums thanks to the plague of white cockatoos happily munching then and pooping on my washing line. This year we had about 5 of the most sweet and juicy plums I have ever eaten but not enough to preserve with so you can imagine my joy at such a gift.

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So far I have made 6 bottles of Plum Cordial (Which I will share the recipe for in my next post), Rosemary and Plum butter (Non dairy this is a smoother jam), Plum Chutney, Chinese Plum Sauce, Worcestershire sauce and  Plum Wine which is smelling VERY alcoholic and reminds me of sangria. I’ve got enough in the fridge for some Vanilla Bean and plum jam and then 6KG in the overflowing deep freeze for processing later in the year.

plumcordial

On top of this we still have our regular Kombucha and JUN bottling as well as animal chores and child education. Life if certainly not boring and despite my small “What are we doing” moments now and again I really wouldn’t have it any other way!

Fermenting, gardening, Preserving, Uncategorized

Fermented Horseradish Mustard

I am always on the hunt for new and exciting ways to preserve what we have growing in the garden and we had been talking a while about making mustard. Combine this with our new love of fermenting and voila we have Fermented Horseradish Mustard.

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This mustard is absolutely delicious! On it’s own it’s hot and healthy clearing those sinuses and loaded with all those gut helping probiotics not to mention all the great health benefits of the mustard and turmeric as well! When you put this on meat or in a salad dressing (Or even pasta sauce) you get a lovely little kick and it’s no longer overpowering.

Fermented Horseradish Mustard
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1/4 cup brown mustard seeds
1/4 cup yellow mustard seeds
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup shredded horseradish root
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup filtered water
2 Tbs Kombucha, Keffir or extra apple cider vinegar with the mother
1/2 Tbs sea salt
2 tsp turmeric powder
Pulse mustard seeds in blender or food processor until roughly ground. Add the remaining ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. Feel free to adjust texture if you like a thicker, grainy-er mustard.
Pour into glass jar and cover. Let sit at room temperature 3-4 days to ferment.
Refrigerate until ready to use this will keep in the fridge for around 4 months but I think you will use it up VERY quickly!
*Tip use a small or mini processor as the bigger ones don’t pulse up the seeds as well and your mustard ends up more watery.
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gardening, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Elder Flower cordial

It’s been too long since I’ve posted and I do apologize. My only excuse is that we have been spending lots and lots of time outside and my inside free time is dedicated to making preserves and getting ready for the market tomorrow.

Lots of beautiful things coming up in the garden and I’m stating to get excited about summer produce!

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We had a very sad event a few weeks ago with the loss of the quails we were quite devastated as they had just started laying and I love the gorgeous spotted eggs. Originally we thought a fox had got into the cages they were flipped and holes dug but now we think it was more likely a dog. We will be looking into getting a dog next year for protection of the flock. We may get quails again one day but not for a while. The last eggs I have blown out for keepsakes.

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Last week we visited a friend on their stunning property and spent some time touring the garden and right at the end was the biggest Elder tree I have ever seen. We talked about the berries and I asked if she had ever made cordial from the flowers. We mentioned we had tried the cordial at BOOMTOWN festival when we were in the UK sold to us by a troupe of children pulling a cart. It was the most beautiful thing I had tasted and I have been wanting to make it ever since but alas before I got the chance our chickens devoured our free and I had been mourning the chance until now. We were gifted a nice big bag of flowers and I got to work.

This is my recipe for elderflower cordial I have made it up from my experience experimenting making lots of cordial syrups recently and this is the best method I have found that works for me.

ElderFlower Cordial Syrup

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  1. Wash your elderflowers to remove bugs and then pop in your bowl ( I use a 5 Litre food grade bucket but I like to make HUGE amounts) pour boiling water over the flowers and leave overnight.
  2. Using a muslin cloth over a colander strain the liquid to remove the flowers plus any bugs you might have missed washing.
  3. Measure the Liquid and place in a saucepan for very cup of liquid add a cup of sugar.
  4. Over medium heat stir to dissolve sugar and bring to boil
  5. Once boiling add 1 teaspoon Tantaric acid and boil for another 2 minutes.
  6. Bottle in sterilized bottles and can with preferred method or store in the fridge.

Easy!!

You can follow these instructions for basically any herb syrup so get out in the garden and get experimenting!!!