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.

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, 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

Pegs!

I had a restless sleep last night with Little Miss HGF has creeping into our bed  and with 4 in the bed it’s a little squishy.
We already co sleep with Little B so I’ve been rethinking our sleeping arrangements. I feel mean leaving LMHGF alone in a big cold room while we all share in the other and she must wonder why she doesn’t get to join us. Sometimes I forget how little they still are so I’ll be weighing up some options for sleeping arrangements.

Today’s chores went by easily I prepped the frozen chook bones to replenish our stock supplies, got the animals done, watered the garden and hung out the washing.
The washing chore got me thinking about pegs. Pegs are something that have driven us crazy as having young children and cloth nappies means we wash a lot.
I’ve gone through cheap pegs, wooden pegs, expensive plastic pegs and I get so frustrated when they inevitably break and litter the ground with bits of plastic and metal. It’s such a waste and I since becoming more aware of my environmental footprint and loving frugally I’ve been investigating other peg options.
I remembered seeing a advertisement in a grassroots magazine ages ago for long living metal pegs. At the time I thought they sounded great but didn’t look into them again until the final piece of plastic crap crumbled to the ground. So I trawled through our magazine collection but could not find the ad. Eventually my Googling of ‘stainless steel pegs’ ‘metal pets’ and  ‘reusable peg’ had a hit and I found the same wire pegs I’d seen in grass roots mag.

image

So I ordered them and have been using them a few months now they are made from twisted stainless steel,hold up really well and are super strong. We just got the lowest grade at the cheapest option but I’ll definitely be buying more. I’d like to bring more ‘buy once’ products into our life as the cheaper items die. There’s definitely wisdom in our great grandparents and grandparents generation to save and buy the best quality rather than getting a lot of cheap shite!

  (You can find wire pegs at https://wirepegs.com/)

News

Daily blog #1 Its icy!

I’m going to see how I go with a daily blog. I feel it might be simpler than my sporadic posts and as I move away from Facebook and social media a bit I’d like to keep documenting our happenings.
Every day we do a little something what with homesteading, preserving and starting to homeschool so the daily blog I hope will also serve as a record come homeschool inspection time.
We shall see how I go as I always set out with good intentions then get distracted and forget!

This morning we rose VERY early just before 6am. We are early rises most days but today Mr Hunter Gatherer was working a orchard further south and needed to leave earlier than usual. It was quite icy last night so I wasn’t surprised when Mr HG came in to get water to defrost the wind screen. I popped another log on the fire to keep us warm until the sun came up.
image

I had prepped English muffin dough last night to cook on the griddle. It was well worth the little bit of effort as it meant we were fed and happy early on.
After breakfast the children played and I cleaned up the breakfast stuff.

Now It was time for chores. First up our English angora rabbit needed checking. His cage had been cleaned yesterday so he just needed some fresh food and water. His grooming came later in the day and needs to be done daily now as his new coat is coming in.

Next was outside to feed the chickens and water the garden. The broadbeans are popping up now and lots of the winter veg starting to look good. Little miss HG has been looking after a pet caterpillar which we’ve identified as a grass anthelid. It’s big and fuzzy and after reading up on it she decided the habitat she’s made made needed some more soil and fresh grass so we collected it and brought it in. The caterpillar seemed happy and was extremely active after this. Little miss HG set him up on the table and drew pictures of him.

After this I needed to process another bucket of Apple’s. I’m getting pretty tired of Apple’s to be honest but my desire to avoid food waste is great so we got on with it using a slinky Apple machine to peel and slice. Then I popped them in the food processor to blitz before putting them in the dehydrator to turn into Apple sugar. The kids lost interest as they’ve helped with many Apple jobs this year so I set up a painting craft for them while I got the job finished.
image

After this we hit a afternoon slump everyone was exhausted so we stuck to folding washing and story time, lots of games together and then dinner prep. We had meaty baked beans which was mince, bacon, beans mixed with homemade plum bbq sauce and roasted home grown potatoes. Simple and delicious!