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

Soap nut laundry detergent

It’s laundry detergent time again and although I usually use my previous recipe shared on the blog I decided to try something different today using soap nuts.
image

What is a soap nut?
Soap nuts or soap berries come from the Sapindus mukorossi tree which grows wild in the Hazara district of Pakistan.

The SoapNut Tree’s botanic family includes 2,000 species, with the mukorossi providing the largest fruit, containing a high content of saponin.   

This nut/berry synthesizes its own natural soapy lathers when mixed with water.
Once germinated, it takes nine years for the SoapNut tree to begin yielding fruit which can then be harvested for 90 odd years!

After you’ve made soap from your berries the remaining husks can be composted making this a really wonderful sustainable option for soaps and detergents!

There are a few options for using soap nuts.
You can pop them in a breathable drawstring bag straight in the washing machine drying after each use or Make hand soap, washing up liquid or laundry liquid.

So today I decided to use a recipe that includes washing soda. I opted for this over straight soap nuts because with Mr Hunter Gatherer working on farms and two little kids we have a lot of DIRTY laundry and I wanted the extra strength wash.

Soap nut laundry liquid recipe
image

12 -15 whole soap nuts
4 litres water cups water
1 Table spoon Epson salt
1/4 cup washing soda
A few drops of essential oil if you want scent

In a large pot, add soap nuts and water. Bring to boil on medium heat and boil for 30 minutes.
Take off heat and allow to when it has cooled a bit, add the epsom salt and washing soda.
Stir to dissolve.
Remove the soap nuts and  compost then add essential oils
Pour into bottles of choice and remember to shake before use.
Use 1/2 cup liquid per regular size load of laundry.

Happy soaping!

Anne