Friday, November 7, 2014

My craft studio tour....

We finished the craft room earlier this year..well, the inside anyway. We still have to clad the outside to make it look all pretty, but establishing the business and work around the farm has taken precedence so far.So, finally, here is a tour of the finished inside product.

I saw this wall sign somewhere online, and I did an internet search, and found it for sale online from the UK. It adds a nice touch. I purchased the draftsmans chair from Officeworks, as the benches are quite high, so I needed a higher chair to reach the sewing machine.
 This corner keeps my KNK Maxx, which is a large version of a Cricut etc. Here is also my sticker maker, and some decorations, as well as my sorted scrapbooking photos.
 This is the repurposed cupboard from Mum and Dad's house. It keeps lots of my supplies and decorations.
 Beside that is where I keep my papers, as well as other scrapbooking supplies. In front of that is the pull out sofa bed lounge.
 A couple of display shelves to make the room look nice, and to display some of my nice goodies.

 I resprayed this old filing cabinet black, and I use it to "file" my fabrics. I haven't finished decorating the front yet, but I will get there. I think I may have to get another one, as I need more fabric storage!
 This is another display area, which is on top of the filing cabinet. Lots of pretty things to make me smile.
 This is another corner, this is on my sewing table, and has some of my dress form collection on it.
 This is some of the more practical areas of storage. I will gather a few more wall cupboards, as there is still more things I need to store, as some things are all put in together, and a little more organisation and separation would be ideal.
 We pulled the sofa bed pull out mechanism out of an old sofa bed I got for free, and Damian built me a box and put the mechanism in it, and I covered it in fabric, and made up a cushion for the top, so it can be used as seating during the day.
 My craft studio can then be used as a spare guest room when the sofa bed is pulled out. It is air conditioned as well, so great for summer.
 And last, but not least, this is the view I get from out the window. I really must spend more time up there, especially with Christmas just around the corner.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

I enjoy having guinea fowl, I like to keep them as they are great for letting you know if there is something different around, and for tick patrols and for deterring snakes.  They are quite difficult to determine male from female by just looking at them. Older males have bigger wattles and bigger helmets on the top of their heads, but when younger, are very difficult to tell the sex of. Other than by the noises they make. Females have a definite two syllable sound as per my video below.

Males have a different noise, like the videos below.

They can be quite noisy, but they don't go on like this all day, and as you can hear in the videos, our farm isn't exactly quiet anyway!

Our light sussex are about 6 weeks old now, and they are all growing quite well. They are an easy breed to tell the sex of quite early, as you can see below.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

RIP Buttercup :(

Well a new day, and another curve ball thrown....I noticed yesterday afternoon that Buttercup didn't come up with the others for food, which I thought was unusual. This morning, she didn't come up either. I had a feeling something wasn't right, as she was the only one that hadn't come up. So Kasey and I went looking for her...and found her....very, very dead.  I have been away all week, and Damian hadn't noticed that she wasn't here, so we're not sure how long she has been missing. She looks to have been gone at least a few days. She was here before I left to go down to Brisbane.  I have no idea what has happened, as it's really hard to tell when there isn't much left. I was only saying to Damian yesterday afternoon that I would like for him to build me a milking shed so I can start to keep her around the house yard more and start feeding her up and start milking her soon... sigh....not much I can do about it....
Now that we are getting the water sorted here with the new bore, our next focus is on fencing. We need to start fencing off some paddocks, and fencing the animals away from being right next to the house better, and building some smaller yards etc, so that's the next important step for us. Then we will be able to focus on improving the pastures. I don't think I'll look at getting another milking cow until we do this.
 Rest in peace Buttercup

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The bath tub brooder..

A friend gave Damian 24 fertilised eggs a few weeks back, all the light sussex breed. So in to the incubator they went. They are all hatching at the moment, and so far we have got 18 hatched and another 1 on the way. One has died in it's shell, and the remaining 4 haven't shown any signs of doing anything yet, so we're not holding out for those to hatch. It is day 21 today, so we'll see. That's probably one of the best hatching rates we've had to date. The person who gave us the eggs said he spritzes the eggs with water in the last couple of days to keep the shells moist, so we tried this along with the higher humidity we normally do in the last 3 days, so not sure if this is the reason why we have ended up with a higher than normal hatch rate, but we'll certainly do that again.
I usually put the chicks in a large cage I have here with the brooder light, but the chicks flick the wood shavings all over the ground, and it makes a really big mess. The man who gave us the eggs says he uses an old bathtub as a brooder, which we thought was a great idea, and we have a few old baths around here, so Damian set about making a stand and putting a mesh lid on the bath, and......ta dah!

He has made it nice and high for easy access, and to keep the dogs out of it. He also cut a hole in the mesh at the top for the brooder light to be able to poke through so we can keep it high enough for them. They seem nice and happy in their temporary home.
These 2 have hatched in the last couple of hours, with another one on the way, which is the egg on the right with the pip marks in it....
We went to the markets this morning to get some fruit and veg, and I picked up the huge basket full of lettuce and herbs for  $8!!   I thought that was way too cheap, but apparently that is what she sells them for.
I just got back from a week in Brisbane with the big kids yesterday afternoon, and friends of ours on the Sunshine Coast did a big garden clean out while I was down there, and gave away all of their agaves, so I went and picked up some of what they had, and planted a few down in Brisbane and the rest will be planted up's about the only type of plants that grow well here at the moment, hopefully as Damian now has the bore sprinklers working it will keep things a bit more lush and green and we will be able to have better luck with the gardens. I also did a big garden clean up while in Brisbane and pulled out a heap of wild iris, and bought just a fraction of them back up to plant here as well.
So, lots of planting to be done over the long weekend. Kasey had a fantastic week at her horse riding camp and is looking forward to going again, I said she may be able to go to one of the Xmas holiday camps. She was keen to show me how much she has learnt today, as she can also do a rising trot now, so she saddled up her horse and we went down to the yards for her to have a ride. Unfortunately, her horse had a flip out on her again, and bucked her Kasey promptly announced she is never riding Magic again, to which I said, "I don't blame you, I wouldn't ride her again either", we are on the hunt now for an OLD plodder for her....she wasn't hurt, she has a grazed elbow, but that seems to be all, luckily. Poor kid....We also seemed to have solved the crow problem, we have closed the doors in to the house area of the chook pen, and there is a small access door that the chooks use to go inside. Since closing the doors, we are no longer losing any eggs, so the fridge is finally starting to fill up with eggs again. Next project here for me will be for Damian to build be a small corrugated vegie garden with a shade cloth roof so I can grow some vegies, it's too hot without the shadecloth, so I am hoping I have some success with growing some veg again sometime soon.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Stone the flamin' crows...

We have been losing all of our eggs lately, every last single one of them! We haven't been able to pinpoint what has been taking them, so we installed a hidden surveillance camera in the chook pen which takes motion sensored pictures. It took a few days, and I thought the problem had gone away as no eggs were being taken, and then all of a sudden, they were all gone again, this time with photographic evidence...

Darn crow !! I'm not too sure how we are going to fix it, we've never had a crow taking our eggs in the 20 odd years that we have had chooks...I think Damian might have to get handy and build some rollaway egg laying boxes so that the crow can't get to the day soonish we may build our proper chook pen as this one was always meant to be temporary...hmpff...we've also lost 2 chickens over the last few weeks, we lost our little polish girl a few weeks ago, and in the last few days our araucana has disappeared as well, both of them have just feathers, no anything....another's getting to the point of keeping them locked up all the time...
It's the start of school holidays tomorrow, Kasey is off to a horse riding camp for a week, and Damian and I are heading away for a couple of days for our 25th anniversary...yikes....25 has the time gone??

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Peppers' journey so far.....

Last weekend we rescued a little pony from being sent to slaughter at the doggers. I don't know how she has ended up there. She is an absolutely gorgeous little girl, but she is so scared of humans. When I went to the yards to pick her up, we had to corner her in a small yard, and she just shook when I went near her. She was pretty grubby, with mud caked on her and when we got her home, we gave her a good scrub and she was so good. Still very scared, but no nastiness in her at all.
Above is how she was when we picked her up, she is the same colour as her face all over, so you can see how dirty she is. After her bath, I gave her some food and let her go in the front paddock which is about an acre. She wouldn't let us back near her after that. The next afternoon we rounded her up down the back to a small yard, and managed to corner her in a little laneway, where I did a bit more handling with her, and Toni and Kasey both sat on her and she took it all in her stride, as we found out she had been broken in.
The next day I approached her a few times in the smaller yard, and already she is starting to improve, and did not have to be rounded up quite so much, she stood in the one place and let me approach her, still very nervous though.  If she was in a larger yard I don't think I would have succeeded.  The next day with some very patient coaxing, we loaded her up on the float for the 4 hour trip home. She wasn't too bad, took about 15 minutes to get her on, but she went on slowly and calmly, and was really good for the whole trip home. When we got home I put her in our cattle yards for the night, fed her and rugged her. The next day (yesterday) I put her out in the BIG paddock with the other 2 horses and crossed my fingers she would come back. Yesterday afternoon I tied the big horses up while they were eating, and sat and held a bucket of food and she eventually approached me and had some dinner while I held the bucket. (In the middle of all of this, Doughy our bull decided he wanted the food and I had a bit of a fight on my hands as he can get a bit nasty if he doesn't get his way, Damian and the dogs had to end up moving him on) I did the same this morning, and she came up to the bucket pretty quickly, so from running away terrified to eating food out of a bucket from me in a few days is a really big step for her. The next steps will be to get her relaxed enough to actually let me touch her while she is eating from the bucket... I'm not going to rush her though....I'm still shaking my head as to why and how she has ended up being sent for dog food, she is only about 5-6 years old, and will be an excellent kids pony with some training and patience....
Welcome to our family Pepper....

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hertie Gertie...

Have you been in to the molasses bucket? makes you think that?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Remind me again why we have animals??

lol....lucky he's cute and loveable.....naughty Sam....

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Kasey's first horse

When we moved up here, we promised Kasey that we would get her a horse. It has taken a while to find the right one for her, at the right money, and at the right time for us to have the money as well. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago on the local notice board, I saw a little filly for sale who sounded perfect. I rang about her and went out to see her. "Magic" is the right height for Kasey, about 13 hands high, 5 years old, Quarter horse x whaler, broken in and pretty quiet. I went all over her, touched her everywhere, tugged on her tail, touched her teats, picked up her feet etc, and she took it all in her stride. The guy rode her around and she didn't have any desire to take off or do anything silly, so I decided she would be pretty good for Kasey's first horse. She had only been on a float twice in her life, but she went on really easy when we picked her up. She has taken to kicking out though, and she booted poor Kasey right on the side of her knee, she screamed, as you would, and has a nice bruise to show for it. She is obviously still quite unsure of her surroundings here, so I am putting a little of it down to that, and my horse Ziggy has been giving her a bit of a hard time as well, so she is a little nervous, but I am currently working on teaching her that kicking is not the done thing. Other than this little bit of an issue, she is a nice little horse though.

I have said to Kasey that to be around horses, you really do have to become pretty tough, and unfortunately the odd kick, or foot getting stood on, or falling off is all part of the process. You learn to become really aware of what your horse is doing and the tell tale signs, you learn to wear proper boots, and you learn to stay on pretty quickly! Kasey is not allowed to be around her horse unless she is wearing her boots, and she is not allowed to ride without both boots and her helmet. Kasey is still quite uneasy at the moment. I am going to sign her up for a 1 week horse camp over the next school holidays, so she can learn a few more skills and make new friends as well. Kasey had her first riding lesson today, I started her off down in the yards on a lead line, and at the end of the lesson, I let her ride up to the shed with me walking behind her. All went well until Ziggy decided to go a bit silly, and Magic got a bit worked up, but she didn't do anything other than become a bit quick. Kasey got a bit scared, so I walked her a bit, and then she got off, so next time Ziggy will be tied up and we will go out of earshot.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Calf number 4

Baby number 4 has  arrived. We think a little bull calf, but we can't get close enough to see for certain as this Mumma is nasty, we call her Runna...because that's what she does...runs straight at us!
  Maybe motherhood will mellow her...I doubt it. She will probably be one of the ones that we move on in the future once her calf is big enough to be weaned, as we are going to change over to a droughtmaster herd we think at this stage. Both mum and bub appear to be doing well. The other 3 are also all doing really well.  The 2 most recent scream around the place playing and running now, little cuties. We have a musterer and his dogs coming in on Saturday to round up all the cattle. One of our neighbours steers is in here, and he takes off and takes about 6-7 of our girls with him when we try to get them in to the yards, and we have a girl with a piece of wire caught around her neck, so we need to get them all in and pull out the wilder heifers that don't look like they are in calf and send them off to be sold, and get down to about 10 girls plus the bull. I think our property will cope better in the drier times with a few less head to feed. Damian's truck went off the the panel shop on a car carrier yesterday to be assessed, so we'll see how bad that is once we get the repair report. I've come down to Brisbane for the last few days of the school holidays to spend some time with the big kids and Grace and a bit of a break before getting back in to the swing of things next week.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Our chicken processing day...

Our chicken processing day went well. We didn't get started until about lunchtime, as we forgot to turn on the hot water unit until about 10am, and then it took about 2 hours to heat up to temperature. Damian made up a killing cone, and attached it to a tree. We like this method, as it's really quick, no stress on the bird and they are already in the right position to drain. We were thinking of making up a plucking machine, but honestly, this is quick, it only takes a minute or 2 per bird, so I don't know if we'll worry about that, as it's not like we will be doing that many birds. We only ended up keeping 5 for the table, as the others were not meat breeds at all, and were just not worth the time to process for the amount of meat that would have been on them, so the other 5 were just culled and added to our soil to enrich it. So ten birds all up. The first bird took us about 40 minutes from plucking to putting in the ice slurry. It was a pretty slow process, as even though we had watched heaps of DVD's, working out all the "bits", where to cut etc is really a hands on, learn as you go thing. We did 2 birds before we had lunch, and at lunchtime we watched  Joel Salatin enviscerate a chicken, and we found that quite helpful, as we had more of an idea of what he was doing, and it just gave us that extra little bit of info that we needed. We had the whole process down to about 15 minutes from plucking to ice slurry at the finish. It was a long day for us, but wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it was going to be. I was a little sad with the culling of the prettier birds, but I know it had to be done, as we just couldn't keep the excess roosters. Damian did an exceptional job of the killing process, he was very methodical and kind to the birds, and so, so quick. This is what our finished product looked like.
Just like a real one!  We put the birds in the fridge overnight, as I was too tired to cut them all up so I did that yesterday. Cutting up a whole chicken was also a learning process for me, but once again, after the first one, it got easier and I had it pretty well sorted for the last 3. These are the cuts out of 1 chicken.
The breasts, drumsticks, wings and thighs. See how dark the thigh meat is....much darker than factory farmed birds. The drumsticks are about the size of the turkey drumsticks you buy at the supermarket, and the wings put those tiny little wings at the supermarket to shame. Out of 5 birds we ended up with 7.1kgs of meat pieces, plus 5 frames, weighing about 4 kilos all up, for stock and soups etc. I cut all the chickens up in to pieces, I didn't keep any for roasting, as I think I need to really flavour the chickens in curries and casseroles etc., so I can get over my initial "iffiness" of eating our own chickens. Once I have got in to using our own, then I don't think it will be an issue to roast a whole bird, especially as we will probably get just one breed for our meat chickens, and they won't be individual breeds like these ones were. I don't think this is something I could have done five years ago, but after losing so many chickens over the years to dogs and foxes and illness etc, I think you tend to harden up a bit. The major loss last year of 40 birds really toughened me up and I made a point of not getting so attached to my birds. I have been finding it increasingly difficult to buy chickens from the supermarkets and have only be buying "organic, freerange" birds, but I still don't believe these birds live a particularly great life, and I know that our own birds are truly free range. If we are going to eat chicken, then at least this is the more ethical way of doing it. We are looking at either Australorps or Plymouth Rocks as being our main breed, and these are a dual purpose bird, good laying, mothering abilities,and meat. So, we now have true farm grown, grass fed beef in our freezer from our friends, and our own chickens...that's gotta be a good thing.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Not the best start to the day...

we like to keep it exciting around boring country life for us. Damian's Friday Fallover...
On his way to a job yesterday morning, and there was a BIG roo on the road. He wasn't even travelling that fast, but the road was newly graded and had lots of marbly little stones on it making it very slippery. He slowed down for it, and the back end of his truck flicked around and then he ended on his side. So it is now back here on the farm after being put back the right way with the help of our friend who owns a tilt tray, and another friend who was near by, waiting for assessment by the insurance company....the whole passenger side needs fixing, his back tray and boxes are pretty banged up as they have all been shunted over, he's only had his new ute for about 2 months....he is totally fine which is the main thing...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

It's nearly time to do the farmer thing....gulp...

A few garden update pics. I put these few plants in front of the verandah to brighten things up there a little.


I had to put lots of statues, rocks and ornaments etc to keep the plants safe from the dogs running through the garden until they all get established. I also planted up some new lettuce, spinach and silverbeet in pots for a bit of fresh produce. Now that the cooler weather is here, things are managing to survive. We have been wanting to try our hand at making sausages for a couple of years now, so we purchased a sausage maker yesterday, and as soon as we get the casings, we'll give it a go. I purchased a sausage making book about 2 years ago, which has recipes and tips, and there are lots of recipes online. I will probably be able to make up some gourmet chicken sausages as well after the weekend.
 We are planning to cull our roosters on the weekend....gulp. We have about a dozen roosters, and they are just costing us money in feed, and I have to keep most of them locked up away from the hens, as there are too many of them, and they give the girls a bit too much attention otherwise. We will just keep 1 or poss 2, to keep the girls more settled and to look after the girls. So we have done heaps of reading, and watched plenty of DVD's on the process, and Damian has had to cull a few of our chickens over the last couple of years if one has been really sick, so he is ok with that part, we are just not familiar with the gutting side, but figure we'll just give it a go and we should get quicker with each one.  Damian had this old hot water unit which has an element and temperature control, so he is going to use this to heat up the water so that we can dunk the chickens prior to plucking.
We'll just set ourselves up behind the shed with a clean table, a tree, hot water, the engel for refrigeration, and see how we go. Wish us luck, I sure the first time will be the hardest. I will watch a couple of videos on preparing the poultry in to the more familiar cuts, and a couple of whole birds for roasting, and then freeze everything up for future use. If things go well and we think we can make it a regular thing, we might look at getting some chickens just for meat. It's going to be difficult deciding which breed roosters I want to they are all heritage breed roosters...I need to decide by tomorrow though...I need to let my head make this decision based on their overall dual purpose, and not how attractive they are... it's going to be a bit tough I think...

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Making laundry liquid

It's been a productive weekend here so far. Yesterday, I built a new garden bed just in front of the concrete of the front verandah. I have added some nice tropical style plants to deal with the heat, and to give that nice lush, tropical look. I took a lot of plants from the other house last weekend, as the garden down there needed a tidy up and a thin out, so I only purchased 3 plants all up. I will try and take a photo when the light is better, as the sun is beating down on it at the minute, which isn't great for photographing. I'm also trying to get through the sundry bits and pieces that needed washing, the things that you need to wait until you get a few of, to warrant running a load through the washing machine, towels, mats, table runners etc. Of course, I ran out of soap powder, and didn't feel like driving down the track to go to the shops, so thought I would finally try my hand at making liquid soap. I made soap powder a few months back, but I think that's quite expensive to make, so I'll see how this pans out.
Firstly, I grated up a cup of soap from a Sunlight bar of soap, which ended up being about 2/3 of a bar. I added this to 1 1/2 litres of water,
 and stirred over a medium heat, until it was completely dissolved.
It was completely dissolved, with absolutely no grainy bits of soap left, and a nice clear liquid. I then added 1/2 cup of borax and 1/2 cup lectric/washing soda  to the mix, and stirred until it thickened, which was pretty quick, only a minute or 2.
I then poured this mix in to a bucket, and filled the bucket up with water. I then stirred this mixture to combine it.
I left it to thicken up, but the mix was quite lumpy, so I used my old hand beater to beat it up in to a nice smooth mix.
Once nicely thickened and smooth, I poured it in to an old 3 litre milk bottle, leaving room at the top to shake it before use, and the rest got put in to lidded ice cream containers for storage. It made about 8 litres all up. You use 1/4 - 1/2 cup each load, and for any stains, rub it in to the stain before washing. I'll report back with how well or unwell it does the job.