Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekend happenings

On my way back from up north last weekend, I picked up a large tray of mangoes from a street market stall. Today I thought I would use some of them up, rather than them going to waste. I am in the process of making mango icecream with the thermomix, but I forgot the cream, so we will make it for dessert tomorrow night instead, it only takes a couple of minutes. But I did get the mango chutney made. And it is extremely yummy, it is a thermomix recipe, and has a nice bit of spice to it to make it tasty, but not hot, and this mixed with the sweetness of the mango and raisins, is yum.

I played around about a bit with my scrapbook max software, to do up the label, as I might make some for Xmas presents. We do have another clucky hen, one of the black australorp girls is sitting, so I will get her some fertile eggs this week, and allow her to hatch some out. She is so funny, if I feel under her, or speak to her while she is sitting, she carries on like there is no tomorrow, cackles away and won't be quiet for at least 5 minutes....I purchased a new chicken feeder as Damian hasn't had time to make the necessary adjustments to the one he made, and we have so many rats taking the chookseed, so I have finally been able to put the lid to the fully closed position today, and they are working it out, with a couple of the girls very confident in using it, and they are teaching the other girls at the same time. We have managed to dispatch of a few rats this weekend, they were nesting above the nesting box at the chook pen, so Damian took the dogs down there, and promptly got rid of quite a few, the dogs are so quick, and the job is done in a matter of a second, much more humane than baiting them and them having a long, slow death. We have to get them all gone, as I have been stressing about snakes, and nearly stood on a huge snake this morning, I don't know if it was a black or a brown, it looked like a brown snake to me, but some of the black snakes can look brown as well....whatever it was I want it GONE.....snakes absolutely creep me out, I am terrified of took off towards next door pretty quickly, and the neighbours aren't helping  by having grass 2 foot tall in their back yard, so I think we might have a word to them and ask them if they can keep the grass down, at least through summer when they are really moving about. So I will only be going down there with my gumboots on, and keeping a really good eye out from now on. We have seen more snakes here in the last 2 years, than we have seen in the previous 17 years here...ugh.....I shudder at the thought of them....Damian managed to get the skirting and arcitraves all done in the office today, and get it prepped for painting, so that will be next on the list. I have managed to get a few Christmas presents sorted over the last few days, so I am feeling much more organsied about that, even though I still have no idea what to get Damian, or Michael. Damian and I might even forego presents for each other this year, as we really don't need anything in particular...and we have a few other things happening during December and January which will more than make up for it. So, off to sewing class tomorrow to finish the project started last week, and to finish organising Toni's Xmas present. I have a busy week coming up, Diesel's surgery is Tuesday, I have a wedding on Thursday and the sewing club Xmas party on Friday night. After that, things should settle down though for the run in to Christmas, hopefully

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chook issues....

Have lost 2 chickens today, Sam my rooster had to be put down as he had a huge tumour come up in his left eye, and it had actually destroyed his eye, the only option was surgery to remove his it was quite painful for him the only option was to put him to sleep, and another one of my black Australorp's had come down with something..not sure what, but she was on her last legs, so we had her put down at the same time. So, down to 8 hens, and 2 chicks. I am going to dose them all up on oxymav B which is an antibiotic, and try to get on top of anything that might be lurking around down there. Unfortunately, this is what happens when a new chicken comes in the the flock and brings an illness with them, it just goes through the whole lot, the last couple of years has just been awful for losing chickens....I am getting close to just getting rid of the whole lot and just starting again down the track....the rule of thumb of 1 in all in is probably a good one for control of not bringing in disease to an existing flock. I have got Diesel booked in for surgery on his front  legs next week, just got to ring the pet insurance company now and hope that they will cover the surgery...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Some new adventures....

Some new adventures are coming to fruition for us....things are still panning out...but very exciting times ahead!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Catch up pictures...

Mother and chicks, they are growing up fast!
I have re-mulched 1 side of the vegie garden, 1 side still to go
Corn is coming along nicely
Strawberries are starting to fruit - just a little
Garlic are ready to harvest - only tiny bulbs though
Potatoes coming along
Lots of eggplant fruiting at the moment
1 tiny capsicum starting to grow
Luffa's have been harvested
Silverbeet is looking good - the chooks love it!
Freshly mulched fruit trees - this is a fig tree, I am waiting for it to re-leaf
Diesel has a habit of sitting up right on his bottom - think he is crossed with a meerkat
Dogs and chickens enjoying the afternoon coolness after a very hot day
The naughty chickens unmulching my freshly mulched fruit trees !!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Catch up ramblings.....

Suffering insomnia again quite badly at the moment...I had about 12 months of sleeping pretty well, and now I am back to having to take a sedative to get to sleep....very annoying...I have been very usual I know....have been and stayed with friends for a few days at Kolonga, I am heading back up there again on Thursday and staying the weekend as our van is up there, but will be heading back on Sunday so Kasey can be back for school on Monday. Was also away last weekend at Craig (nephew) and Erin's wedding...beautiful ceremony, and I also had wedding flowers to do for a wedding the following day... even though you don't "do" much at weddings, they do take it out of you! I am busily re-mulching the vegie garden at the moment to help it get through the heat we are experiencing here at the moment, I am doing a bit each day, so should have it completed by next week some time. I have been pulling out old plants, and doing a general tidy up, so it's ready for some new plantings soon as I get the time. The new chickens are growing up beautifully, nearly 3 weeks old now, they are starting to get proper looking feathers on their wings, won't be long and they won't look like cute little fluff balls anymore :( oh well....other than that, just the usual, I hope to get around to posting some photos soon from around the place, and catch up on a few posts I have in the wings still waiting to be published. In the vegie garden the eggplants have gone mad, the corn are coming along nicely, the garlic look like they are ready for picking, plenty of silverbeet that I am sharing with the chickens, ( I saw a recipe on simple savings for some silverbeet pesto which is apparently very nice, so might try and make some up) some lovely leeks, beetroot  and a few herbs. Capsicum need a boost, as well as my chillies, as they aren't doing very well right now... comfrey finally seems to be taking off...broccoli and cabbages are growing nicely, but the heat will probably bolt the broccoli to seed...the sunflowers I planted didn't take, or the seeds where stolen by the birds, so I want to plant lots more of those, I love seeing these  beautiful, happy flowers when I go down to the chook pen and the vegie garden. The last couple of days have been really hot here, with temps over 30, so it's back to early and late outside, and during the day inside...that's ok, might get some craft or sewing done, or may actually get some Xmas pressies done...anyway, my eyes are finally starting to feel heavy, so I will sign off here for tonight, and try and get some visual photos up soon to go with all of my ramblings...   :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I signed up for a cheese making course about 6 months ago, which I spent the weekend in Brisbane doing. We made lots of different cheeses such as Quark, Milk Ricotta, Whey Ricotta, Chabichou, Cheddar, Camembert, Mozarella and a Greek Fetta. It was a very busy couple of days, with lots to learn and lots of different processes to get our heads around. But it all came together by the end of the course, so I am just waiting for the cultures and rennet that I have ordered to arrive, and then I will make the first home cheese that they recommend we make so we continue on with making cheeses.

Above, Cheddar cheese, there is 2 hours of constant stirring to make this, and it takes 9-12 months to mature, a lot of work, so large batches would definitely be beneficial in making cheddar.

 This is a Greek Feta above, this should be ready to eat in a couple of weeks, and I will marinate this one.
 This is fresh Mozarella above, this is ready to eat now, I am looking forward to making up some fresh home made pizzas with this.
 This is Chabichou above, I have never heard of this cheese before, it's a creamy cheese.
Above, half of the Chabichou has been marinated in a oil, herb and garlic marinade.

 Above, the other half of the chabichou has been left as is to eat with fresh crusty bread or crackers.
This is Quark above, again a creamy cheese.
Above, this is Whey Ricotta, I will make up some filos or ravioli's with this I think, I have heaps of silverbeet to use up which will go nicely with this in some filos or ravioli.
 This is milk ricotta above, this is best eaten the day it is made, again I will use this in some cooking dishes.
Above is Camembert, I am waiting for the white mould to grow on the outside, should be about 6 weeks until this is ready to eat.
At the end of the course, we finished off with a wine and cheese tasting meal, so I got to try some different cheeses, I mainly like cheddars and creamier cheeses, the mouldy and really pungent cheeses definitely are too strong for my palette, as were the goat and sheep milk cheeses,  but the triple cream camemberts and double bries were lovely, and not something that I would have gone out and bought for myself to try, so now I know what sort of cheeses to both buy and make, as there is no point in making something that none of us will eat. I also bought some yoghurt cultures, so will try making up our home made yoghurt with those instead of the couple of spoonfuls of easiyo starter....I think it will be even cheaper again to use those. We are heading away to Kolonga this weekend, and I know that the cheeses will be appreciated up there, so will take some up to share with platters over the weekend, which will be nice. I was a bit iffy about going to do the course, but I am really glad now that I put myself out of my comfort zone and went and did the course, I met some lovely people, a couple of really nice ladies in particular, and I may look at doing the Cheese Making course module 2 some time next year if I continue on in the mean time and make some different cheeses.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Just 2

Only 2 chickens have ended up hatching unfortunately...I have taken the remaining eggs away from her as it has been a week and a half since the first chicks hatched, and I have found 2 stillborn chicks, and she is spending most of her time off the eggs now. I think that the time she spent off the eggs after the first one was born definitely affected the hatching rate. There was another of the brown hens looking clucky, but she hasn't really committed to the process, so we'll see if anything progresses there.
Mummy hen is very protective of her babies, and is a very good mother. The 2 little chickens are so funny to watch, copying everything mum does.
I was going to buy a chicken tractor for them, but the seller ended up messing me around, and changed his mind from me being able to pick it up, to having to pay $50 freight, which was pretty annoying considering I live only 15 minutes away...then I remembered that friends of ours who no longer have chooks had a chicken tractor so I offered to buy theirs, but they ended up giving it to me for nothing...seems that everything happens for a reason.
The dogs are also their usual energetic selves...we seem to be managing Diesel's pain in his legs from his elbow dysplasia with his daily painkillers and he is such a happy dog

They all love playing together, 3 can be a bit of a crowd, and Diesel and Reg have their brotherly spats all the time, but overall, they all get on really well.