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.

Foody things, Homesteading, News, Preserving

Mid February 2016 and summers over already!

I always do this. I start the preserving season off with so much enthusiasm, Accept fruit left right and centre, excitedly pick the cucumbers and zucchini bringing them in with grand plans then realize the actual preserving HAS to be done before things rot or there’s no room left in the freezer before the next crop is ready (which is right around the corner!!!)

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I’ve picked bags of sugar and blood plums from my neighbors house and I am quickly trying to pick the greengages off our tree in the chook pen. I’ve dried a bunch in the dehydrator, made plum bbq sauce, worcestershire sauce, vanilla plum jam , plum vanilla bean with pepperberry, sweet and sour plum sauce and have plans for greengage jam, spiced plum jam and plum chilli sauce. I might also bottle a few jars of whole and stewed plums for cakes and crumbles in the winter. Last season I made a plum chutney but I wasn’t a fan so decided not to make it this year.
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Greengage plums are the most amazing plum I’ve ever tasted completely unique in their flavour and if you ever get a chance to make the jam or eat one fresh I highly recommend it. I have included my recipe below for anyone who’d like to try.
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Soon our apples will be ready and the few fallen ones we’ve eaten have been absolutely delicious! I’ve invested in a cold press juicer and will be making and freezing our own juice. I was considering ‘canning’ it but I think the pressure canning would make the ‘cold pressing’ pointless so ill stick o freezing and fill the second fridge. I’ll also be making lots of country alcoholic cider as I did last year but I’ll be using the juiced apples over the food processor. The apple ‘waste’ will be used to make Apple cider vinegar and Apple scrap syrup or Apple stroop. Nothing will go to waste!

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We have 4 very large pumpkins ready for picking unfortunately not as many as I’d hoped for but we are still getting used to a new climate. The blackberries are ripening and the tomatoes are still not ripe which I think shows how topsy turvy this summer has been. I’ve noticed the smell of woodsmoke a lot on the crisp mornings and feel so out of tune with my suffering friends and relatives on the mainland who are dealing with heatwaves.
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Greengage Jam

2.5kg greengage plums
1 cup water
Juice of 2 lemons
1.5kg sugar

As I freeze my plums whole before starting the jam I steam them in the cup of water in a saucepan with the lid on then cut the seed out with a fork.
After this I add the lemon juice and sugar then bring to boil over medium heat until setting point (about 20 mins) once set pop into warm sterilized jars and process using your preffered method. For small batches I just pop boiling jam in sterilized jars and turn the sealed jar over for 20 seconds for large batches I pressure can but waterbath canning is fine too.

Happy jamming!

Uncategorized

The Journey to Tasmania

It’s certainly been a crazy few weeks. We’ve had so many highs and lows but we’ve made it and landed in Tasmania.
In the end we had to change plans a little and have headed further south to Cygnet than to Deloraine in the North where originally planned. There are a few reasons for this the main being it was incredibly hard finding a rental in the North particularly when you can’t get down weekly to do inspections. The agents in the south were really helpful allowing us pre approval so when something suitable came up for rent we were ready for it. Cygnet area is also where we ultimately want to buy our block of land so it made sense to get here a few years early to establish ourselves and make friends.
In the end we had 2 weeks to get organized we had been packing for months but really underestimated what we still had left to do. The container arrived last Tuesday and was picked up Friday. We couldn’t have done it without Danes dad helping us pack and we had to say goodbye to some much loved pieces of furniture due to poor planning but thankfully these were rescued by my family so I know where they are if I ever need them1. In hindsight I would have sold some of the things we packed to keep some of the others or maybe even sold the lot and started again but we still would have needed a container for our boxes of treasured possessions anyway.

We had booked the spirit of Tasmania far in advance and I really suggest doing this for anyone moving across. You can change the date anytime you need but if you have a trailor and animals like we did it’s good to secure it. They are wonderfully helpful on the phone and it’s good to call after you book to clarify everything is correct.

On moving day we got up at 4am and packed the trailor with 9 chooks, our mattress and cooking materials. I had let the cats out to toilet and they must have sensed something was up because they refused to come in for breakfast. I had a few heart racing minutes trying to coax them in and lock them in the carrier just in time to go.

We had talked to our vet and decided to sedate the animals for the journey. This really helped and they did sleep the entire time. Actually the kids and animals were all fantastic the whole journey! We survived with peppa pig on repeat on a laptop and loads of snacks we wouldn’t ordinarily eat. Dane drove the whole leg from Oberon to Port Melbourne with a stop in YASS and another outside Albury. There were three hairy hiccups on the drive the first hitting a roo not far from our old house luckily our old jeep and the roo were ok but it was very scary. We continued on towards Goulburn and thought it would be fairly straightforward to the Hume highway but we must have taken a wrong turn getting lost and going back and fourth under the highway. Google maps helped but also made things more confusing taking us in circles. Eventually we got on the highway and it was smooth sailing until Melbourne where our other huge hiccup was. We had a hour to get to the ferry port but had hit peak traffic and missed our turnoff on the freeway. Lost and confused we had a few very high stress moments thinking we would miss the ferry. We got off the free way and checked the map eventually finding our way there. We were greeted by two good friends to send us off and then went on to quarantine for checking. Once through we were keen to get on the boat and settle the animals and kids but the ferry loading wait was awful after such a huge journey as we had to wait for 4 hours to get on! The kids were restless from being stuck in the car all day so we let them sit on our laps and Banjo fell asleep. By the time we got on the ferry it was 9pm we settled the dog and cats in the kennels and decided to leave the chooks in the trailer as it would have been less stressful than surrounding them with dogs.
The Ferry itself was nice we had a cabin with comfortable beds and a shower. Went up for a quick dinner and took the kids for a play before passing out.
Getting off the ferry was much easier we were on the road by 8:30 driving straight to Cygnet and arriving at our new home by 1pm. It was a crazy intense journey but all part of the adventure of getting here and we are definitely never leaving!