Homesteading, News

Birthday Blessings

We have been enjoying the cooler weather and a more relaxed time. There are still things to harvest and process as we get some light frosts but we are definitely enjoying the slower pace. The fire has been going which makes the house really hot but without it the icy air triggers my asthma. I’ve noticed little Mr Hunter Gatherer coughs too and I hope he hasn’t inherited my infliction.
May is a special month in our house as little Miss Forager had a 4th birthday.
We had a very low key celebration this year and I made a delicious Angel food cake decorated as the requested cat.
I’d never made Angel food cake before and it’s definitely a new favorite. Scrumptiously light and fluffy it’s a perfect match for my temperamental oven that will not bake a regular meringue and is a great way to use up egg whites.

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In the garden we have been busy planting out the brassicas and turning the pumpkin patch into a root vegetable patch. Mr Hunter Gatherer usually does the tilling and patch work but it’s been down to me and the kids this year to get it started. I’ve let the chooks in help loosen the top soil and will soon be planting turnips, mangelwurzal, salisfy, parsnip and a few Chinese cabbages.

The cold windy weather has had its challanges after the long summer but it’s been great to enjoy baking again and my sourdough starter is very happy to be nurtured after months of neglect.
We bake a big loaf twice a week and I’m getting better at making it lighter and fluffier. Our favorite flour is RYE so we’ve invested in a 20kg bag to keep us going.

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I’ve also been enjoying crocheting and have undertaken a huge project of a mermaid tail blanket for little miss forager. I’m loving how it’s turning out and now I’ve discovered the local wool shop has really good quality wool and is very affordable I think everyone in my family is destined to be given crochet items for pressies this year!

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In the chook yard we are enjoying a abundance of eggs again. Our young pullets have started to lay and we are very excited that our project of crossing Brahma with Araucana has produced not only gorgeous looking placid hens but also the goal of olive coloured eggs! This has always been one of our goals and we certainly feel accomplished. Now all I need to complete my ‘rainbow dozen’ is for the Maran hen to start laying her dark chocolate eggs.

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And last on the agenda is kisses moo. We have just changed the milking system as her milk was drying of. The calf was getting lots but us zero so we have switched to morning milking which is better for all of us. Seaweed is such a affectionate calf and let’s us pat him. He’s certainly inherited his mother’s temperament and it’s going to be a real challenge when it’s time to butcher him.

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Today we are considering mushroom adventures. The heavy rain last week and sunny weekend make it the perfect day for it and I really want to face my demons of the pickled mushrooms in Poland but I’ll save that story for next time.

In the meantime keep hunting gathering and foraging!

Homesteading, News

Today

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Today I have been appreciating what we have. We are very lucky to be renting in such a beautiful spot where we have the freedom to pursue our homesteading and gardening goals without first seeking permission and I know many people would love to be in the position we are in right now.

Banjo is still sick but it’s a lovely warm sunny day and I don’t want to stay cooped up inside as Nyah is desperate to finish some of our projects we started in the garden. Thankfully one of the only places he will settle is on my back in the baby carrier so we are free to do our chores!

One of the projects we recently started is a raised bed made up of dead branches Dane pruned off a bush. They were sitting in a pile ready to go to the kindling basket when I had a brainwave to try and weave a garden bed out of them.

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It’s starting to take shape and it’s such a fun project to do with the kids as there’s many jobs involved that are easy for them to handle. This ones a bit chaotic but I plan to do some more around the garden and they are bound to improve. I hope to use this one for some of the medicinal herbs I’m starting so I can make my own tinctures.

After this we surveyed the havoc wreaked by the wild winds the night before. Sadly a few of my makeshift greenhouses had blown over and my seed pots all scattered about. We picked everything up and will replant some tomorrow. Nyah has been asking a lot recently to plant more carrots so we made a sandy little bed with her┬ádutifully carting buckets from her sandpit. We have our fingers crossed ┬áthese ones won’t end up looking like mutants!

After this it was time to go in for a break and some lunch. I set Nyah up with some playdough and got stuck into making my own dough for bread and dinner rolls I didn’t use a recipe this time so I’m hoping I’ve done it right.

Back outside and we are checking all the chickens water and giving them some more food we’ve started feeding them less food but more frequently to try and cut down the wild birds as beautiful as they are they bring disease to our flock and tempt the cat (who we have now made catbibs)

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We talk about the beautiful blossoms and how we hope for lots of plums this year. Kisses is hanging around the fence so we let her in and give her some hay and a brush. Again I am struck by the beauty of this place.

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After our cuddles with Kisses we picked some Kale for the soup I will make for dinner where I will open my first pressure canned jar of homemade chicken stock. Now we are in for a well earned rest and later we will go back out check on all the animals and collect our eggs.

Homesteading, News, Uncategorized

Kisses Moo

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Let me introduce to you all Kisses Moo our beautiful jersey house cow. We were lucky enough to be given her by our landlord as a gift for B when we was born so she is technically Bs cow. She is such a beautiful soul and so friendly. We had originally become friends with another of our landlords cows and we were hoping to milk her but sadly she died of milk fever and then we met kisses who was so friendly and allowed us to pat and cuddle her. We were both pregnant at the same time and I felt sure we would “calf” together but her calf came months after B.

kissesresize2This is stingray our little Heifer calf and we hope to train her up to either sell as a house cow or keep as a backup. Kisses is a wonderfully gentle cow giving lots of kisses (hence the name) and loves a brush. She is so gentle she will just stand to be milked by D and has only kicked once due to fly’s irritating her. When we started milking we noticed the milk was salty. I was horrified thinking we wouldn’t be able to drink it but after much research we soon discovered it might be a early sign on mastitis. Being a breastfeeding mother I have huge mastitis paranoia and know how serious it can be if left untreated. We went back and tasted each teat, It was only in the back two teats and we had read we could try to treat naturally before getting the vet out so we gave ourselves two weeks to try milking out , tiger balm and comfrey.

D dutifully got up at the crack of dawn before work to milk her out and would do it twice before bed feeding her comfrey leaves and putting tiger balm on her udder in the evening. After a week we tasted the milk again and one quarter had come clean but we were worried about the other quarter. We gave it a few more days and HOORAY D had cleared her infection and we had saved ourselves a very expensive vet trip. I think Kisses certainly loved all the extra attention (and food!)

Presently we are getting about 4 liters a day, We very rarely separate her and stingray and this system works well for us. We still have enough milk to drink for our family (and we drink a LOT) and I have also been making Butter and cheese – Haloumi , Ricotta, Basket cheese , Mozzarella and Yogurt. Having a family cow is wonderful often when I look at store bought milk now I wonder what cow it’s come from and where that cow lives. There’s something very satisfying about having a relationship and connection with your food and knowing it hasn’t traveled 100s of kilometers ( not to mention the packaging) to reach my kitchen.

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