Homesteading, Uncategorized

A typical day

I don’t post as much as I used too now homesteading , making food from scratch and raising three small homeschooled children takes an enormous amount of time.In the evening I have a few hours to crochet for my Etsy store orders before going to bed so I thought it might be nice to share a post on what a typical day at home looks like.Morning timeOur 16 month old wakes us up usually By pulling our hair, slapping our face, doing gymnastics between us. By then our 5 year old has been woken and we have cuddles in bed.We rise have coffee and I make breakfast usually something cooked such as sourdough, eggs, muffins, pancakes ectThis morning we had French toast, Dane goes out to do the outside chores done which include watering the gardens and feeding the chickens and rabbits. The children and I do some onside jobs and some school work or craft.Today on my list was salting 5 pork bellies for bacon.After this I started another sourdough ready for tomorrow morningI make a tea from our own dried chammomile and lemon balm to sip on as I often forget to drink water during the day being so busy.During this time the kids have been playing and my toddler has gone into the carrier on my back.I’ve made up a batch of cherry blossom syrup, cookies and sushi for lunch and now it’s 10amWe eat on the deck then meet a delivery driver with a truck load of compost for the garden beds then it’s time to put our 16month old down for a nap.Dane is busy moving soil now and we a just checked on chicks that are hatching in the incubator.It looks like we’ll have a good hatch of silkies and Wyandottes and we hope to sell the pullets to cover the costs of our chicken feed for the next few months.While Ember naps the kids and I are going to plant their seedlings in the garden patches Dane made for them. They’ve helped work the soil and have chosen some seedlings from the greenhouse they helped grow.Nyah plants corn and beans saving room for tomatos. Banjo chooses corn, amaranth, strawberry, beans and a artichoke.After this we head inside to do some school work Noah chooses to sew a doll and Banjo wants to do reading practice.I start getting ready for dinner we eat about 4.30pm then at 5 it’s time to start bedtime routines. Dane goes out to do the afternoon animal chores checking water, locking chickens in with the older kids while I put the youngest to bed.By 9pm all the kids are asleep and we get a little time to ourselves.So that’s generally how our days flow (on a good day!) when we are home. It’s messy, loud, sometimes productive but we are happy and love our lifestyle of homesteading.

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

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!

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.