All tuckered out

I sit here, exhausted! And boy does it feel good. 🙂 I am well ready for bed though.

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Seeds

Yesterday was spent in the garden again. This time it was time to plant some seeds. 😀 Continue reading

Fresh harvested lunch

Lunch was a simple affair here today. Salad, scrambled eggs and some fried polenta from the other night. Yum. The salad however deserves a YUM instead of just a yum. It was so full of flavour that if I had any doubts about the wisdom of growing our own then they are totally allayed by the taste of my lunch. The spinach was fresh, crisp and delicious. The rocket was actually so spicy it burned my tongue a little. The tomatoes, albeit very small, packed a punch well above their weight and the radishes burned my tongue quite badly. Whoo pepper! The only lacklustre vegetable was the capsicums but they weren’t bad.

The eggs were local harvest from Highland Heritage Farm and the olives in the salad were purchased through them too. In fact the only ingredients not organic, biodynamic or local were the milk in the scrambled eggs and the polenta. The salt was also Himalayan rock salt which I don’t create and nor is it local. But it IS good for you. 🙂 The polenta came from Coles cornmeal from the pantry and the milk is just from the supermarket but all in all pretty good I reckon.

I have no photos to share as we scoffed the lot before I thought to take a picture. Sorry.

Our only ripening tomatoes so far are the Tommy toes but there are a few others on the bushes so if the frost holds off… I just need that first blush of colour please. Then I can pick and ripen them inside away from birdy beaks.

An update and things coming together

It’s all pretty amazing when things start coming together. I mean, you plot, you plan and you dream and you try and cram the plotting, planning and dreaming into reality, dodging around obstacles like time, money, weather, differing ideas, legal requirements and everything else and you hope to come up with a workable situation that hasn’t strayed too far from your first inspired musings.

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Heidi, grandfather and Aunt Dete hurrying away

My initial dreams involved up to 5 acres, an eco friendly house built by my own two hands, robust and healthy children who look liked they had escaped from Heidi, friendly animals, beautifully landscaped (but not rigid) gardens and fresh produce pouring from their richly composted soil. The reality is a little different.

We have a 1/2 acre, the house was not built by my own two hands although I have had a lot of input into the design and materials used and we have been as eco friendly as the budget allowed for (low VOC paints, woolen carpets over recycled fibre underlay and LED lights). My children don’t have the plump legs and ruddy complexions of Heidi fame but they are healthy and happy and sporting somewhat of a tan, testament to their enjoyment of outdoor life. Our animals aren’t quite as keen on us as we are on them but Milly and Molly are getting more comfortable although Mandy still keeps her distance. The baby chicks are well acclimatised to children as they are picked up and carted around by the kids for a couple of hours each day and the silkies are fast becoming favourites (Mrs Silverpants was replaced last night along with her companion Dandelion the white silkie and Goldie or Gold Star the golden silkie). The baby chicks are used to being handled by us too although they still peg it during the day (we go out each night to make sure they’re either sleeping in a nesting box or on the perch which they’ve finally figured out last night too). The gardens are not the verdant oases I dreamed of and their soil, although rich, is not as rotted down as I had dreamed. It’s getting there now though. We do have crops coming along nicely too. I have 2 zucchinis that will be ready in the next day or 2 (they’re taking longer I think due to the still un-rotted garden beds) and my corn are flowering and I can see the beginning of corn cobs. 😀 My watermelons won’t make harvest this year but I will try transferring them even though they hate it. I have nothing to lose at this stage. My tomatoes are still coming along in the garden too. I live in fear of possums discovering them but we appear to have few of those thieving little blighters around thankfully. My broccoli are doing much better since I got up close and personal with them, rubbing the underside of their leaves and squishing all the caterpillar eggs (or are they butterfly eggs – defined by what they hatch into or what lays them?) and caterpillars of the (presumably) coddling moths that had turned their leaves into fine green lace. They still look a little lacy but much happier. My onions haven’t even made it to pickled onion stage sadly but then again I never really expected them to. 😦

The greenhouse garden

The greenhouse garden, marked out with sticks and some used chicken straw for nutrients. I will mulch it when the seedlings are up more. Thanks for the idea Narf. 🙂

But it’s the greenhouse I am most amazed with and proud of in our garden. It’s a Sproutwell greenhouse built from a kit I bought off eBay (they also have a website and the price is the same) and the garden beds I built myself using corrugated iron and hardwood corner posts. The hardwood we already had and the iron, bought from my uncle, makes each bed cost $1.50! WIN! Anyway, I’ve built 3 beds in there and filled and planted 1 of them. I transplanted the tomatoes from the second martie bed as they were very small and not going to make harvest before the frost arrived so I had nothing to lose. I planted my mandarin, banana and lemon trees in there first, then the transplanted tomatoes and transplanted marigolds in there, some beans planted down the side, transplanted capsicums, rocket seeds between them, then planted carrot and radish seeds, some spinach seeds, leek seeds, coriander seeds, transplanted chives and also chive seeds. So far the chive seeds are the only ones I haven’t seen a sprout from yet. I also transplanted in a pumpkin that popped up from seeds I’d scooped out of a pumpkin around Christmas time and planted out mid January. So, although it’s not yet that verdant oasis, it is well on its way to being a nifty little food garden.

Radishes

Capsicums and radishes

A bean

A bean

Carrot wisps :)

Carrot wisps 🙂

Spinach

Spinach

Capsicums and rocket

Capsicums and rocket with a tomato and the beans in the background. The carrots are near the icy-pole stick.

Nice mangel wurzels 😉

I’ve also bought some more interesting seeds – mangel wurzels which are like turnips but they get HEAPS bigger and if harvested small they’re good for human consumption or if left to grow out, great for cattle and chickens. I wanted to try them just because I can! I’ve also finally sourced some black carrot seeds (purple/black inside and out and amazing for antioxidants), kale, rainbow chard and some other bits and bobs. I’m planning some BIG gardens over winter. 😀 And speaking of winter gardens, I’ve started building the garden beds to go in. The existing beds will be raked up to fill the new ones and they’re a little shorter but I can double the amount of beds, greatly increasing planting area overall. I am eagerly awaiting Autumn now, something I NEVER thought I would say. 🙂

But the most fun of all is that Ignisa and I are starting to work together. We’ve had some very unseasonably cold weather this last week and Ignisa, our lovely Gourmet Cooker has been alight for about 44 hours although she’s been resting for the last hour or 2 but I’m getting cold again so reckon it’s time to fire her up again.. We need to organise some hardwood to burn (if anyone local has any they’re getting rid of or selling…?) but in the meantime we have been able to make do with our existing poplar stocks which is marvelous that we can use them up. 🙂 We also had a little bit of plum from a tree that we chopped down after it died at Spotswood. I started off by bringing in our old DVD shelves and then arranged them in such as way as to make a surround or frame for the stove. I’ve now got some space for trinkets, wood, kindling and fire lighting paper. The lamps came out and look lovely too, bringing some pleasant ambiance to the room. The fire guard, half of our playpen is doing duty as a fire guard and at night it makes a great clothesrack too once stoo up on it’s ends. 😀 Multitasking and repurposing at its best. 🙂 I’ve done some cooking with Ignisa too. 😀 I cooked a compete meal on her the other evening, spuds in the oven and then fried off the bacon in a fry pan on top and breakfast this morning was homemade sourdough English muffins cooked on Ignisa and a hot chocolate made with her heat too – another complete meal. 🙂 I also baked bread in her belly the other night but the oven was a wee bit hot (like 350C rather than 200C required). Should be fine once I carve off the top inch. lol

3 bookshelves arranged just so

3 bookshelves arranged just so

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English muffins and hot chocolate – this mornings breakfast

Briquette?

Briquette?

I also did some more unpacking – DVD’s away (not that they will see much use given the lack of tv), my crystal radio set up and working (I need to find a better station with some music although ABC news radio is ok too), and I’ve been knitting away getting clothes ready for winter. The kids each have a new hat and I’ve made a scarf for Orik too. I need to source some more yarn to make Allegra a scarf so it’s time to dig into the stash. I also knitted my first dishcloth using this pattern and I’m happy with how it’s come out. Now to test it and see how it works.

Our food is improving on a weekly, if not daily basis. I’ve committed to making sourdough pasta using this recipe so we are slowly using up our normal pasta which I can’t eat and once it’s gone, that’s it. We’re now drinking real milk, our veggie box arrives each week from Highland Heritage (I highly recommend contacting them if you’re local and interested as their produce is first rate) and I’ve started culturing milk too – milk kefir is like super dooper yakult and it tasted a HEAP better as well as being heaps better for you. Google kefir if you’re interested. I just don’t know enough about it at this stage other than to say it’s very good for you and not unpleasant to taste.

Bertha was also split and fattened up and her daughter, Agnetha has gone to her new home. Bertha will be fed and split again and posted this week to The Eco Mum and Narf so you should see some mail coming your way soon ladies. I had planned to post it today but I haven’t fed her or her babies enough for the rigors of travel. 🙂

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My Bertha, Agnetha her daughter and the tub with my bread in it at the bottom of the picture.

A Dexter. Photo is not such a good one of the cow but gives a brilliant idea of their size.

They come in black (most common) dun and red, polled or horned, short legged or normal. I think these are polled and the black one closest appears to be short legged. Aren’t they pretty. 🙂

My latest project, much to the horror of my darling long-suffering husband is to purchase a house-cow. Yep, a cow! 🙂 Don’t have a cow, she wouldn’t be a full sized one and nor will she be a genetically twisted (albeit via breeding only) miniature cow but a genuine naturally occurring small breed cow, the Dexter. The average Dexter cow, when fully grown will stand no higher at the hip than Jasper. They stand around and just over the 1m mark although the bulls are up to 1.17m I think (44in) so they really are quite small. They’re easy calvers, easy milkers, friendly animals and make excellent lawnmowers! 😀 They also require a lot less pasture space and although we don’t quite have enough land for exclusive grass feeding we may have access to some good local and I believe organically grown hay. It’s also another reason I want to try growing mangel wurzels as they used to be used for winter and early spring food in the UK for cattle. We are big dairy people here with hot chocolates, homemade yoghurt, custard and cheese (not yet homemade) on our menu with frequency. I want to know that our dairy is organic and hence free of hormones, anti-biotics and all the rest of the garbage pumped into many commercial cows (I’m not sure how much of that is dairy cows rather than beef cows which I believe are treated with regularity in factory farming conditions but any of that gunk is too much gunk) and I also want to know that it’s cruelty free. These cows are prolific milk producers for their size and can easily feed 2 or even 3 calves so I figure that there is no need to remove the calf from mother and we can simply milk the excess. No poddy calves! 😀 I also want to know that our milk is local. Full respect to dairies around Australia but I would prefer to support any in the district and preferably my own back yard… Literally. 😀 I also want to be able to give my children raw milk, full of all the wonderful goodness that milk contains, not pasteurised to within an inch of its life. I understand that pasteurisation aims to kill nasty bugs but it also kills many beneficial ones and a single cow raised at home will be much easier to maintain in a sanitary milking condition than hundreds of them all traipsing in manure and mud. And that brings me to another great reason for keeping a cow… I want her manure for my gardens. 🙂 Bonus fertiliser cakes. 😛 Dexter cows are also great for their meat which is reported to be superior – a wonderful duel purpose cow. They can also be trained to pull like oxen, something that will come in handy in a post peak oil world. Any bull calves would be fattened up for organic, pasture-fed, free-range, cruelty free (need to find an on-site butcher) and utterly local beef. It’s a HUGE undertaking though, with initial costs, commitment (10 months of the year they lactate and they live for up to 20 years, even more) and we obviously need to check council rules and permits (definitely required) and whether we have or can access sufficient fodder (I do not want to grain feed except maybe as a treat) and there is also up to 10 litres of milk a day to work through. I would need to make cheese on a daily basis which would be far too much for us to eat) and I’d still have enough left over for custard, yoghurt, bechamel sauce, Orik’s bottles and all the rest. It’s very exciting to dream though and following up on information and researching is keeping the old brain box ticking.. 🙂

So anyway, that’s the updates for now. There is lots happening, lots in the pipleline and many many more things on the discussion table. It’s a busy time and I’m loving it. 😀 What’s the news in your slice of paradise?

A rough few weeks

It’s been a rough few weeks here really. Not all bad and not all negative but still and all, I’m looking forward to February very much as it means January will be over.

We added some more chickens to our flock last Friday, 5 more Dorkings (that’s the last of them) and 2 Chinese Silkies who will be our incubators next year. These 2 are also pets for the children. What funny sweet little things they are too. Sadly this morning when I went to check on the flock I was unable to find Mrs Silverpants, the children’s favourite silky. I eventually found her, drowned in the ducks swimming water. I have an awful feeling I heard her fall in last night too as I heard a squawk last night but figured it was the usual of a chook pecking another and thought nothing of it. The guilt this morning… And yes, I know. But I still feel awful. 😦 Blackie, our other little silkie is doing well without her companion fortunately, although I am on the hunt this morning for a replacement Mrs Silverpants. We also lost 2 of our Dorking chicks to Coccidiosis, a common enough illness that young chicks are susceptible to. That’s how John the chicken died. So yet again poor Jasper is trying to get his head around death. I am profoundly glad we kept the death of the 2 other chicks from him. 2 chicks dying has been enough to thoroughly upset him.

Mrs Silverpants (dec) and Blackie, our 10 week old Silkies

Mrs Silverpants (dec) and Blackie, our 10 week old Silkies

Martin has been working hard to clean up the last bits of the old house and get it ready to rent out. The Real Estate agents are coming out tomorrow to take photos and get it listed which is very exciting. John our builder and Martin have both done an amazing job and I am once again reminded of what an amazing husband I have. I am looking forward to having that house rented out and no longer being a drain on our time. We need to spend that time here. BOY do we need to spend the time here.

One of 2 frogs/toads found when we were relocating the bulbs to permanent beds.

One of 2 frogs/toads found when we were relocating the bulbs to permanent beds. I need to research my amphibians I think. 🙂

We’ve also come face to face with the information that there are venomous snakes within 50 metres of our house, a though that is sending chills through every inch of my body. Our neighbours have had to deal with the snake bites in their livestock and although we don’t know which species it is we do know that its bite is fatal to a half-grown bull calf and is likely to be a Tiger snake or a Brown snake or possibly a Copperhead too as I believe all of these are indigenous to the area. I tried my hardest to mow the vegetable garden grass yesterday but the mower hasn’t been working and conked out on me again yesterday after I got maybe 20% mowed. I’ll have another go today as tomorrow is going to be hot and that grass is LONG!

I had a bandicoot in my potato beds the other day and came away empty-handed. 😦 There may be spuds down further than I dug (I dug in about 9 inches) but it looks like the 1 thing I thought we would definitely harvest has not done what it was expected to do. The mulch layers haven’t rotted down like expected which is disappointing although I think I know where I’ve gone wrong. Once we do harvest anything that may be in there I’ll treat the 3 spud beds like compost bins and fill them up with the necessary before planting them with broad beans or the like. Hopefully by springtime I will have some compost that I can spread over the other garden beds.

I do have some good news to report though. I contacted my uncle on Saturday as we had recently purchased some used corrugated iron from him and we knew he had more. I gave him a call and teed up to purchase the rest and for once lady luck was on our side as he was driving from Bendigo to Warrnambool for work on Monday and offered to deliver it for us! We now have 30 or so sheets of corrugated iron, some ridge capping and a large metal tool box that he threw in thinking we could use it too. 😀 And at a bargain price including delivery as well! So, Monday morning saw me in the garden with a hand saw, tin snips, an impact driver, some roofing bolts/screws, some iron and the old red gum garden posts from the old home. With Orik in bed asleep the kids and I set to and built a raised garden bed to go int he greenhouse. We then loaded the trailer up with compost and filled the bed (again my wonderful husband helped here, shoveling most of a cubic metre in for us) before planting my mandarin tree (a gift from a friend who attended the home birth of Orik), the banana tree I bought from Diggers Club at St Erth the other day and a Lisbon lemon I bought last year from CERES which was pot-bound and on its last legs. Tuesday morning after we’d topped up the bed with some more soil we relocated some of the plants in the veggie garden which weren’t yet flowering and so won’t make harvest, into the greenhouse. We replanted several Siberian tomato plants and 8 or so capsicums and then filled in the gaps with seeds. We then planted radishes, carrots, purple beans, leeks, chives, rocket and coriander so hopefully in a month the greenhouse with be a verdant paradise of fresh smelling garden and burgeoning harvest. It was exciting and calming and very healing to get my fingers into the soil again. I most definitely need to do some more today. In fact the plan is to build another bed today once I finally wake up enough and locate my motivation (MUST get to bed before midnight).

Sawing red gum posts

Sawing red gum posts by hand. I used tin snips to cut the iron but no photos. Martin dislikes me using the more dangerous power-tools whilst I’m home alone.

Built garden bed installed in the greenhouse

Built garden bed installed in the greenhouse

 

Greenhouse garden planted out. Left to right are the mandarin, banana and lemon. Behind them the transplanted tomatoes, down the right are beans then capsicums. In front of the capsicums a row of radishes and a row of carrots in the middle, rocket up the back of the capsicums, then spinach planted to the left of the capsicums, then leeks in the sectioned off part, coriander behind the leeks and chives to the left. STILL more space for more seeds. :D

Greenhouse garden planted out. Left to right are the mandarin, banana and lemon. Behind them the transplanted tomatoes, down the right are beans then capsicums. In front of the capsicums a row of radishes and a row of carrots in the middle, rocket up the back of the capsicums, then spinach planted to the left of the capsicums, then leeks in the sectioned off part, coriander behind the leeks and chives to the left. STILL more space for more seeds. 😀

We also had a lovely visit from my parents on Sunday where we had a lovely and mostly local lunch in the garden. We had lamb riblets (the last of the non-organic lamb I had in the freezer) cooked in organic garlic, homegrown rosemary and home bottled tomatoes, served with fresh organic sourdough and salad. The salad was all organic or farmers market purchased (I’m not sure on the organic status of this stall) and it was all fresh and delicious. Dessert was sourdough cinnamon scrolls although calling them scrolls is more about their intended shape than the end result. Flopped scrolls still taste scrummy though. 🙂

Maxxie surveying his domain from on high.

Maxxie surveying our domain from on high.

Well, time to finish off the hot chocolate and get some shoes on and out in the garden or the day will be half gone. Not to mention the kids are driving me crazy to get out in the garden.

One of 2 frogs found when we were relocating the bulbs to permanent beds.

One of 2 frogs found when we were relocating the Erlicheer bulbs to permanent beds.

A day off from the slog and back into it with gusto.

I’d reached the point where I was very nearly sick of the sight of Ballan. All work and no play had pushed to boundaries of my sanity and it’s been a long time since we’ve had a holiday so, when the weekend of the Kyneton Show came rolling along again we were very keen to go.

Last years show was very nearly a wash-out with showers on and off all day long. It was a day for rain coats and gumboots and yet, still a lot of fun. This year was much finer with some cloud but a goodly lot of sunshine too. Makes for a much more pleasant day. Like last year, we met up with friends from Trentham and with 4 adults and 8 kids off we went. First stop was the local politicians stand to collect helium balloons for those that wanted them and then on to the Kyneton Baptist Church stand where Jasper and Allegra got some help to build a bird house. It was well thought out and a brilliant concept – grab 2 bits of wood off this pile, 1 from here, another 1 from that pile and 1 more from the other pile then come back and nail it together. I was most impressed by the patience of the man who helped Jasper to build his as Jas, armed with a hammer, would suddenly be no longer watching what he was hammering as he was fascinated by the show train that kept whizzing past. It was a sheer miracle that fingers weren’t hammered I tell you. 🙂

We’d forgotten to bring our pram up so we were faced with the idea of carrying 2 rather heavy wooden bird houses back to the car or around the show. Fortunately the next stall offered to hold them for us until we returned. 😀 We bypassed the kids painting tent in favour of the miniature coal-fired traction engine, which of course being crazy Thomas the Tank Engine fans, my children simply adored. THIS year however, Jas actually had a ride on it. We saw the show train (again he went on it this year), the petting zoo, reptile stand (how CAN people wear snakes around their necks), the raptor exhibit (how glorious is the wedge tailed eagle!), pony rides and all the usual side-show alley amusements.

Steam powered coal driven traction engine

Oh so happy to be here

 

The wedge-tailed Eagle can have a wing span of up to 2.27 metres (7 ft 5 in) and is one of the largest birds of prey in the world.

By this time we had hungry kids and hungry adults so we sought out some shade and tipped out the contents of our bags. A pretty divine lunch of sausages in bread with all sorts of yoghurt, fruit, veggies, dip and other such yummy fare followed. MUCH cheaper and healthier option than buying lunch there, and tastier too I reckon. Ironically, last year there was a huge line for the big corn-dog hot chips van. This year its attendants all looked incredibly bored. In all fairness it was a much colder day last year too.

On our way to our picnic patch we had arrived at the one and only even I wanted to see. The fowl sheds. 😀 Chooks galore! I tell you though, you can hear them a mile away, with roosters of every size, colour and shape imaginable all crowing their little hearts out! I was mightily impressed with several of the birds in there. Firstly was this GIANT and I mean absolutely HE-UGE Australorp Rooster who I would have to say is the most impressive rooster I have ever set eyes on. He stared regally down from his cage like a haughty king surveying his domain. He really was exquisite. I reckon he was the size of a good-sized turkey just to give some perspective. On the other end of the scale were the Old English Game roosters and there was this one little fellow who was about the size of Honey, our smallest Pekin Bantam hen who strutted around like he owned the joint. For anyone who has ever read the Belgariad, this fellow was DEFINITELY a Prince Kheldar of a rooster. And the crow on him! Far bigger than you would credit his tiny body for. He must have got stage fright as I walked past though because he muffed it at the end which made me giggle. There were also geese which honked at us as we wandered past, 1-5 day old chicks, including quail chicks which were much bigger than I would have thought, ducklings that I would guess would have been 6-8 weeks of age and some ducks too. I got to see my first real Muscovy duck and I am most definitely impressed with them. The 2 drakes were also very regal looking and unlike all the roosters and ganders all making their presence known, the stood there silently surveying the chaos around them. The duck also just stood and watched and not a sound did any of them make. It backed up one of the reasons I had for choosing Muscovy ducks – they are known sometimes as quackless ducks as they only quack in times of extreme stress. I’m sure our neighbours will appreciate that.

Anyway, once lunch was over the kids all had a lovely time in the kids tent painting plastic bottles upcycled into pin wheel fans.

Upcycled bottle pin wheels – sorry about the dodgy photo

We headed off after that with 3 very tired kids and 2 almost as tired parents, but back to Ballan where Martin continued to work on Trevor whilst I made further progress on the chicken run before heading home for an ultra early night.

Today was a huge progress day. As we’d collapsed into bed very early last nigh, we of course woke early so Martin made the most of it and took off on the bike some time just after 6 whilst I lay in bed awaiting the bombardment of 2 children that never came. Jasper and Allegra actually slept in, 7:15 and 7:30 respectively! If a day at the show is what it takes to get a sleep in past 6:30 I reckon we need to find a show to attend every day! BRILLIANT! 😀 We dragged slowly through the morning, mostly due to me suffering a junk food hangover (I’d eaten some chocolate and chips (crisps) on the way to Ballan) as well as a raxed neck from lugging 14 kgs of baby on my back for most of the day. By the time we finally got to Ballan it was nearly 11 so Martin hauled off with the trailer and a sleeping bubba to pick up some tires whilst I got to work with my new tool.

I’d been dreading the need to sew together the different rows of wire we’d used to create the fence. Weaving in and out with wire then pulling it taut was likely to become tedious and extremely labour intensive very quickly and I’d been procrastinating all week about going up to the house to do it. A chance meeting and conversation with a lady I’d met at a Kyneton Transition Hub wicking bed workshop a few months back which was overheard by a friend of hers, resulted in me getting a huge get out of jail free card! She described to me a wonderful tool that would help me crimp C-rings around wire which would work perfectly to close up the layers of wire. A quick google search and a husband in Bunnings at 7am this morning meant I cut several hours worth of work down to about 45 minutes! Only need to finish securing the wire around the water tank, fitting the door and then doing up their accommodation (new roof, nesting boxes and perches). Hopefully the kids play ball tomorrow and I can get it done.

Crimping pliers

Pliers holding the C-ring…

… The ring holding the top and bottom of the chicken wire together…

 

… Crimping the C-ring…

 

… And done!

Due to some predicted low temperatures, my final job before heading home was to frost-proof my frost sensitive plants which so far, is pretty much everything I’ve planted. 😦 The beans (all 27 of them so far), the tomatoes, capsicum, corn, watermelons, pumpkins and zucchini are all buried under straw and even some dried grass from mowing and the spuds have been buried under compost. The kids and I will go up again tomorrow and I’ll move the mulch to go around the plants, not on them and then help the potato plants to come through a little more. They may be a little too buried for optimum levels, but protection was the main aim here.

The temperature in Ballan was forecast to drop to 3 degrees tonight which puts it in to the zone possible for frost. I don’t really understand yet about the conditions needed for frost but I do know that 4 degrees or under is the frost range but I’m not taking any chances. I’ve used whatever straw is available to bury my tomatoes, capsicums, beans, zucchini, pumpkins and watermelons. This is the tomato and capsicums under their bed of straw. I hope it’s enough.

Peekaboo capsicum

 

The spuds, also sensitive to frost, received a different covering – compost! If you bury their leaves they will turn into roots and potato roots grow spuds. I’ll go up tomorrow and dig out the tops of the leaves to allow them some more sunlight but tonight they rest warm under composted horse poo. Toasty!

Here’s a couple of other photos from around the place too.

Exciting times. This is my kitchen buried underneath its plastic whilst the house is painted!

The first harvestable item! A currant! Could be a black currant only half-ripe but I think it’s a red currant. They’re all mixed in together so it’s hard to tell.

 

Onions popping up and doing their thing

The radishes I planted in between the carrots are popping up. Here’s hoping they do better than the failed milk carton pot ones.

Mulberry flowers.

The tyre edging/garden being filled with compost

A temporary measure to contain the kids when we’re driving the car around or for safety around Trevor.

 

Orik in the animal nursery

No photos of Allegra from the show – she wasn’t so much into doing things this year and I didn’t get a photo of her building her bird box. 😦

Well, bed time for this little black duck. See you on the green side.

Another weekend in Ballan

As I sit here stuffing my face with take-away Thai (my favourite red curry duck too) I reflect upon the amazing weekend just finished and try to remember everything we’ve done.

Mudbath anyone

The house is at the point of ordering tiles and it’s just about ready for painting. The bathroom has been stripped and is ready to be fitted out again and I’ve scored the old bath for the garden. It’s now full of soil and carrot and radish seeds and I’m hoping for a bumper crop. 😀

The only visible greenery being the capsicums

I also planted out some of our tomatoes on Friday- the German Johnson and the Red and Yellow Tommy Toes are in, along with the capsicums too. There’s not much to see though unless you look really closely, just a forest of stakes and a few small green plants at either end of the garden (the capsicums). The garden bed next to it is also for tomatoes but it won’t be planted out for a bit as the Siberian Tomato plants are just popping up now and bravely waving their cotyledon leaves in the morning sun. I’ll probably also plant some basil in there with them too, but not until the tomato plants get large enough to provide some shade. See how we and they go.

Saturday was a busy day. We actually managed to be on the road by about 8:30 thanks to the morning alarm clock coming in and hopping into bed with us at 5:50 and then proceeding to chat in her piping (and occasionally piercing) little voice and waking her brothers up. Thanks Allegra. We made good use though and managed to be on the road in good time to make the produce swap at the Ballarat Community Gardens. I made some fantastic swaps – organic sourdough starter with some freshly ground organic rye flour for the first feeding and a few dollars in donation to the gardens exchanged for a huge bunch of parsley, some lemon balm, 2 litres of worm wee, a punch of parsnips, 3 GIANT spring onions (about the size of a super fat leek), a pot of oregano and some fantastic chats and great advice. We spent far too long there which curtailed our plans somewhat but it was well worth it. We headed into town and I got to go tile shopping again. I’ve picked out my kitchen and bathroom tiles. The bathroom is pretty much plain but the kitchen will have a swanky little border. I’ve seen all sorts of lovely tiles and some gorgeous feature tiles used for splash backs but sadly none of them worked with our choice of bench tops but I am as happy as pie with the border. 😀

We ran out of time for carpet decisions but I know what I want so it’s planned for tomorrow and hopefully it won’t take long. From there we went and chatted with the heater company in regards to our solar hot water and after a quick chat with our plumber we will be ready to go with that too. This is our first eco utility if you like so it’s a big deal. 😀 Even though our water and the gas boost both still rely upon external supplies, it will be a vast improvement on the existing electric system and I’m hoping by keeping the water temperature level as low as we reasonably can, we will hopefully only use a little, if any gas.

Back to Ballan we went, grabbing some lunch on the way. We didn’t spend long there as Martin had planned a day mowing but sadly he wasn’t able to get Trevor running and the mower packed it in too. He whipper snipped until evening and caught the train back. In the meantime, I spent the afternoon in the garden in our current house with the kids, retrofitting our current chicken pen to cope with an influx of 9 more chicks which I will pick up tomorrow morning. 🙂 Yay. 😀

Head to toe with mud!

Today was the day to fix the mower (achieved), mow back the rest of the grass that needed clearing in order to put up the fence (nearly done) and get started on clearing and fitting out the new chicken shed and run (achieved). My parents were coming up to have a sticky nose at our new house and check out all we’ve been talking about for months (they’ve been overseas) but before they arrived I planted a heap of onions, some chives, spring onions, radishes, 16 paper pots of corn seedlings, 3 of zucchini and 3 watermelon seedlings too. Again, not much to see unless you’re up close, but they’re in, and their roots are free to find soil so I’m expecting to see some vigorous growth now. I was allowed to use Martin’s new toy, the pressure washer, which helped me to quickly clear the 2 inch thick mud off the cement in the shed. Poor Dad found himself clearing out ripped up and pummeled into the mud carseats and all the rest of the debris left there. He too had a go with the pressure washer and was as loath to share as I had been. It’s kinda fun. lol

I also won my eBay bid on a 1000L water tank which nearly complicated things as we were offered pick up this evening by 5:30. It was 4:45 and still in Ballan. 10 minutes to clear up, put stuff in the car or house, dress the kids (they’d been running around after having had a swim in our half wine barrel) and drive for 40 minutes to pick it up (5 minutes drive from our current home). Surprisingly we made it on time, so I am now the proud owner of a square galvanised steel framed water tank for my chicken pen. Just need to add a few metres of guttering to the roof and we will be harvesting their drinking water from the roof of their home.

Well, I’m off for an early night tonight. I have chickens to pick up in the morning with 3 kids in tow and a car to pack tonight. Zausted!