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.

 

 

Homesteading, News, Uncategorized

New Arrival Gypsy Love!

2016 is proving to be a very busy year with the days on the Calendar filling up already. We have visitors coming every week this month which is very exciting! We don’t often get the chance to get away these days as to homestead properly is a full on commitment. We don’t mind as we love our lifestyle but we also LOVE seeing people who have enriched our lives in the past and to be able to share our life with them now if only for a short time is something truly wonderful.

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On the 2nd we had our stall out our local Farmers Market it was quiet as was to be expected being the holidays but it was still a lovely day.  Sunday the rain came and it has been gray, cold and drizzling ever since but fortunately we have had a lovely little distraction in the form of a 7 week old German Shorthaired Pointer puppy who we have name Gypsy Love (Batwing)  – Originally Miss 3.5 wanted to name her Chocolate batwing but we agreed as a family on Gypsy. She is a lovely little bundle and we had done much research into what breed of dog we wanted. We did consider rescue but with all the chickens, cats and young children we wanted a breed who was a all round friendly farm dog.  The German Shorthaired Pointer is a high energy and highly intelligent breed who is often used as a birding or hunting dog. We won’t be training her on birds but we will consider rabbits.

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Although she is young we are starting training already and I will update her progress on this post as time passes. Right now we are doing simple things like keeping her on the lead while out the back with the chickens and making her walk behind us so she knows we are pack leaders.

We read a wonderful thread on Backyard chickens about a gentleman who trained his GSP to become a guardian dog with chickens. It’s a wonderful thread and we will be taking some tips from it for Gypsy. You can read it here.

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/426408/planned-poultry-guarding-dog

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Day 1- We Picked Up Gypsy from Cowra and as soon as she was handed to me she snuggled into my neck and was so content. We drove home via Carcoar which is a beautiful little town in Central West NSW. Here we picnicked under a bridge and Gypsy did her business. I was very impressed she hasn’t had any accidents . We made it home for play and snuggles. She has a very calm personality and isn’t at all interested in the chickens or cats….YET! D slept with her in the spare bed day 1.

Day 2- We are onto toilet training  as soon as she wakes from naps she is taken outside to do her business. She sleeps through without accidents which is great. We have started simple training and will be buying treats to teach basic obedience. The hardest part is when the kids are grizzling and she wants to play with them. We have started putting her in her crate to sleep after we nurse her to sleep. I’m reminded of having a newborn baby!

Day 3- Dane slept in the spare room again and managed to get her into the crate for half the night. She had no accidents and did her business in the morning. We are very impressed. The cats are curious about her but are keeping their distance. Whiskie still hides under the bed but I’ve been spraying pheromones everywhere.  She has managed sit a few times with treat leading but her attention span is still scattered. Still no interest in the chickens. When she is out the back on the lead she is “working” so no running or play is allowed.

1 week in – Gypsy is still doing great. We’ve now seen her point twice once at the cow and once at the cat. She still isn’t that interested in them but we have corrected her a few times for chasing but she always stops when told which is a good sign. Today she is resting as it’s very hot and we just took her for her vaccines. It’s very important where we are to vaccinate as their is a particular virus Parvo that many dogs in the area die quickly from and we don’t want to risk it. Gypsy now sleeps the night in the crate and usually wakes up around 6am when the kids do. We will be changing her to our routine soon so she can accompany Dane on his morning chores and have her nap after.

I will keep updating this post as we progress 🙂

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Homesteading, News

Spring is in the air!

I’m excited! Although it’s been raining heavily and the house is leaking in multiple places there is something in the air. It is the promise of spring!

Before the rains started we had a gorgeous sunny and WARM day. I’m really not someone who enjoys the heat but it’s been brutally cold this winter and I can’t wait to start doing more in the garden and for the flowers to come into bloom. We can see the buds of the blossoms starting to show on the fruit trees and Dart our Silky X one of the first chicks we hatched has become a mother to 3 beautiful little chicks!

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One of the chicks was actually hatched by Orpie our Black Brahma but she only hatched two and as she is so large managed to squish one so we rescued the other little baby and gave her to Dart who happily adopted her. The first time Orpie hatched when we moved here two years ago she had 18 babies and didn’t lose a single one. Orpie was the best mother we had had but last year she manged to lose 4 to hungry magpies and then her daughter stole the other 3 from her and she was confused for weeks!. We are hoping to give her another chance later in the year if she goes broody again.

As well as the watching nature unfold we have set the incubator with Araucana and Gold laced Wyandottes 20 of which are developing and due in 2 weeks! We also have 6 duck eggs set but only 3 have developed so we are keeping our fingers crossed and will be setting another incubator soon. I am desperately hoping the quail will start laying soon they all seem very content running around and hardly ever fight which I was told to expect so I definitely think they are happy enough so hopefully once the weather warms up I will find a nice spotty egg to incubate and we will have some teeny tiny chicks!

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We have decided this spring/summer to do the Market thing properly and do at least two a month this should balance out well with my other work doing Dreadlocks. I’ve been busy making up batches of preserves to sell so far we have Zucchini pickle,  Yellow Plum & Vanilla bean Jam(Taste like apricots), Spicy Rhubarb BBQ sauce, Worcestershire Sauce, Cherry Plum Jam, Apple Paste, Mandarin Marmalade and I am tossing up if I should do a Cherry Plum cordial or Plum sweet and sour chilli sauce and Sweet chilli Sauce. We will also have a few baked goods as well and possibly offer our cordials by the cup when the weather is warmer. All the main ingredients in the preserves are sourced locally and I can’t wait for late spring when we can go foraging and picking around the area and local Orchards.

So although the rains have hit hard ( I’m not complaining just in case we don’t get any more!) it already feels warmer 🙂

Homesteading, News, Poultry

Auction Fever!!

There’s a new local poultry auction on in Rydal that a friend has been saying we should check out. The friend in question is a expert breeder and travels far and wide for a good bird and we were inclined to believe her. We told ourselves we would just go to the auction to catch up with J check out the birds and NOT buy anything unless is fit in with our current breeding programs.

So on Sunday morning we got up early rugged up and packed the kids into the car for the drive. when we arrived we reinforced to ourselves this was NOT a buying trip just a looking trip. After some catch ups we did our first loop of the birds. I was really impressed with not only the quality but the variety of birds. Lots of different breeds of Geese, Ducks, Cockatiels, Budgies (Parakeets for you Americans) , Finches, Quail, Guinea Fowl there were a lot to choose from and with over 100 lots we knew we wouldn’t stay to the end this time. So before I go any further I’ll give you a bit of back round.

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Currently we have reduced our breeding program to Gold Laced Wyandottes and Araucana. When we first started in Poultry a few years ago we got very excited and wanted all the breeds at once as many newbies do. We ignored the advice of experts to start with one breed and instead got Plymouth Rock, Brahma, Wyandottes, Blue splash Orpingtons and Araucana. I’m not sure what we were thinking as lots of breeds mean lots of pens so slowly but surely we have reduced and now will concentrate on two breeds. We still have a few hens of the other breeds for the house flock as broodies and layers and may cross them for meat chicks.

Below one of our Gold laced Wyandotte and Araucanas (orpington up back)

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So back to the auction. There were a few lots we liked the look of three of Araucana and one Gold laced Wyandotte pullet. I didn’t want to pay much for either of the lots as we don’t NEED them but I thought if they go cheap then we will get them. First up at the auction were the small birds. Budgies and finches went up first and sold for $2 each!!! D and I looked at each other should we get one! But no where would we put it? Surely the cats would eat it. We held back shocked at how cheap they went. The first few lots of Quails went up and also went for $2 each. hmm we’ve always wanted quail. The auctioneer went to the 4th box and before we knew what we were doing we had bid and won 4 quails for $12! Luckily we had a spare cage for them at home but we really knew nothing about quail.

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The lots for the birds I liked came and went selling for much more than I wanted to spend but we thought we would stay a little and see what other things went for. Once again I found myself bidding when a lot of Silky chicks went up for $2 a bird. I was outbid but at $9 D nudged me and said I could go a little higher if I wanted. I didn’t expect to get them but SOLD I got the 4 for $40 the lot. We looked at our birds and thought now was a good time to leave before we bought anything else (D was eyeing off the guinea fowl)

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Now our story doesn’t end there. The Silkies which I suspect are 2 boys 2 girls settled in nicely in the isolation tractor and the quail in there little house. We had no idea how to tell them apart so we did some research on how to sex quail. Once D had done this we discovered 3 roos and one hen. OF COURSE! We also read we would need a extra 2 hens per roo to keep them happy which resulted in another adventure getting 6 more quail hens to balance it all out. So now we have a upcoming silky and quail breeding program.

Let the fun begin!!

Below Cher a silky X Isa one of the first chickens we hatched ourselves

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