Sunday, 23 October 2016

A Week in October - 2016

While I was away last week I got a call from a journalist from our local newspaper. She wanted to ask us a few things about bees, so she interviewed us the day after I returned home. This story was in this week's paper.
Every October, we expect a phone call from Kay and Brian, to inform us which day they will be in our area. We call up some of our neighbours, who bring their alpacas here to be shorn too, saving the shearers the hassle of setting up all over the countryside to shear one or two animals.
This is Turner on the table, being shorn by Brian whilst Kay is vaccinating him into the hind leg muscle.
That's another thing over with for this year. Now to try selling the fleeces.

We took a pen of eleven Hogget sheep to the Mt Pleasant market on Thursday. The sheep are classed as Hogget at around one year old, when they lose their baby teeth. Hogget are also know as "Two tooth" in some places.
Hogget, with is piggy sounding name, is such a confusing word to call a sheep. We know a lovely French woman who lives a couple of properties along our road, and one afternoon, she and some friends were walking past our place while I was outside in the garden. She stopped for a quick chat, and she told me they were going for a walk along to the river nearby.  They had eaten a big lunch of roast pork, and needed some exercise. "Yes," she said, "Deveed went to zee butcher yesterday and bought a bee-yooot-iful leg of Hogget!"
Did you get my French accent?

At the market there were two pens of these Fat tail sheep. They are popular with small landowners as grass mowers because, as they are wool shedding sheep, they are mistakenly thought to be maintenance free.  You know that I have banged on about this before, and I will keep banging on about this misconception of "maintenance free" sheep. There is NO SUCH THING as maintenance free anything that is a live animal..!!
The sign on the pen declares them to be infested with lice.  They were also terribly lame from feet that had not been trimmed.
Proper sheep management requires we owners to trim feet when the sheep are brought in for crutching and shearing, usually two or three times every year. Sheep are also treated for lice prevention, intestinal worms and given a Vit B, Tetanus and Pulpy kidney vaccination.  These so called "maintenance free" sheep receive non of this treatment.
Once again, I was disappointed to see that these pens of sheep were placed next to other pens of healthy sheep.  Other people I spoke to also said they wouldn't buy any of the sheep in pens next to these lice ridden sheep, because lice jump from animal to animal when in close proximity. Who would want to risk buying lousy sheep?
Next day, I wrote a polite email to the Stock Agents expressing our disappointment at seeing this practice continuing in their sale yards. They wrote back on the same day, informing me that they would return to their old practice of placing lice sheep in pens far away from other sheep.
If we don't make ourselves heard about issues that ruffle us, nothing will be done to correct it, so lets see what happens next time there are lice sheep brought in for sale.

After record rainfall last month, our hay crop was under threat of being laid flat by the wind and rain.  This is the best crop we've had after a few years of below average rainfall, and we were feeling quite nervous that we would not be able to get a tractor onto the sodden ground to mow.
However, after a few drying days with some sunshine, this sight of the contractor mowing our crop yesterday evening was uplifting to our spirits. Now we need a couple weeks of dry sunny days before the contractor returns to bale it.

This is my little vegetable and herb patch where I allow the plants to re-seed and pop up where they feel happiest. I should be planting some of the cucumber plants that Brian has left over from his big vegetable patch, but I haven't got the heart to pull out these poppies.The bees are loving the pollen deep inside the petals, so I'll wait another week or so before thinning them enough to plant a few cucumbers and tomatoes to trail along the fence.
I cleared some space to let the rhubarb and kale get some sun and breathing space.

This shrub near the pots is now a tree since the fierce winds broke some branches off. It looks like a dead space in the yard, sooo......
 Today I dragged some old weathered posts from the fire wood pile, spaded off the weeds, filled the space with mulch, and now there is a defined garden bed.
I'll plant a few more little shrubby things like geranium cuttings and daisies to fill it up.

And because it's such a glorious day today, I took some photos of the garden. Honestly, this season, and being here in my place, in my garden, both of us in good health, our animals all well, happy and fat, we have plenty of everything we need. This is what makes my heart swell inside my chest, with the sheer happiness of it all.

We have still not needed to water any of the gardens as yet which is most unseasonable.  Usually we need to start watering in September, so we're a month ahead of ourselves in regard to water saved so far. All of our water tanks are full, so we will manage all of this summer ahead without using any mains (tap) water. 
The nights are still cool, and our wood burning heater is still keeping us warm. There was only one day last week that was over twenty five degrees, so the wood kitchen stove is still in use and burning around the clock. Again, most unusual for October. There have been frosty mornings too, which have burnt a couple of young cucumber plants, but no serious damage was done.
A late start to summer, which suits me most happily.
Cheers for now, and thanks for dropping in.

Monday, 17 October 2016

More Pictures of Walhalla

I was so impressed with our visit to Walhalla last week and wished we could have stayed there longer. Gale force winds of 120kms per hour were forecast  for the afternoon, so as soon as the wind started to blow, we headed off down the narrow and winding forest road to safety.

My sister Rosemary and that amazing Waratah tree behind her.

A story book village, with the proverbial babbling brook.

Immaculately maintained cottages and gardens.

We left in a bit of a hurry, so I didn't get any photos of the quaint little shops and cafes in the Main street.
The wind was starting to blow when I walked through on my way to begin the walking trail, and every shop owner greeted me with a friendly "Hello".
There are lots of B&B's there, so maybe we will spend a couple of days next time. 
Walhalla will definitely be at the top of my list of places to visit next time I'm in Victoria.

Have you been to Walhalla?  I'd love to hear about your experience there.


Sunday, 16 October 2016

Worcester (Style) Sauce

I mentioned Worcester Sauce in my last blog, so I thought I should share the recipe with you if you'd like to give it a try. I suppose, by rights we should not call it Worcester Sauce, us being here in Australia, so on my labels I call it Worcester Style Sauce. 
It's really easy to make and is superbly delicious, much nicer than the real stuff in my opinion.

I found the recipe by chance a few years ago while hunting for another recipe in this old Green and Gold recipe book, handed down from my mum. 

All of the ingredients required were already in my pantry.

 Worcester Style Sauce

6 cups of vinegar
1 cup of treacle
1 cup of plum jam (Home-made is best)
1 teaspoon of crushed garlic
1 flat teaspoon of ground ginger powder
1 flat teaspoon of ground cloves (or coarsely crush whole cloves in a mortar and pestle)
1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder * optional
1/2  teaspoon of freshly ground or cracked pepper
3 teaspoons of salt
1 cup of sugar * You can see that I amended the recipe by adding the sugar.*

Bring mixture to the boil and then simmer slowly for 2 - 3 hours with the lid off, stirring occasionally.

The recipe says to strain before bottling, but I believe that the residue in the bottles helps to develop a  richer flavour. It improves with keeping and should not be eaten until it is at least a month old.
I make sure we always have some aging in the cellar as it's best after six months of age, and just keeps getting better.

Shake the bottle before using.

We eat it with grilled steak, roast meats, on eggs and bacon, in casseroles and gravies.

The gourmet stuff in the shops sells for more than $9 a bottle. This recipe makes approx three of those bottles for less than $5.

In 2014 this sauce won me First Prize in the "Any Sauce of Choice, sweet or savoury" section at the Angaston Show.
Prizes or not, it's a winner here.

Cheers and thanks for visiting.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

A lot seems to happen in two weeks.

Snail inspection is a very serious business. Said snail was duly rescued from the dangers of the path and relocated to the garden by animal loving Isla.

 Always plenty of cuddles and playfulness with my two little girls.

Isla attends a Steiner Kindergarten on Thursday mornings. I was lucky to be there for two Kinda days this time. I love it almost as much as Isla does, and I always feel the need to slowly wander among the vege and flower gardens, check out the chickens and watch the children playing on the climbing equipment made from tree branches. The teachers, Lucy and Summer, are beautiful souls. It's no wonder the children love them so much.

I was away from home for nine days, and spent a couple of days visiting my sister in Gippsland.  
She took me up to  Walhalla and what a wonderful day we had visiting this beautiful little village high up in the mountains near Baw Baw.
All across Gippsland the Waratahs were in stunning full bloom. 

The Star Hotel, Walhalla, Vic
View of the town from one of the walking tracks.
Back with my daughter and little girls, the weather turned cold and wet again. 
Although I do try, I'm not one to sit idle so, some of those lemons that were about to drop off their tree in the back yard, now sit pretty in a jar and will be ready for use in a few weeks.
This family are addicted to Jembella Farm Worcester Sauce so I brought the main ingredient from home (Plum Jam) and purchased the vinegar and spices from their local supermarket. Now they have a whole batch of it instead of the one small bottle that I could have carried in my luggage.

My return home was greeted with the most beautiful spring weather and, feeling refreshed from my break, I'm busy catching up on all things.  
Yesterday was spent cleaning the house and fluffing my nest, settling back in, finding my rhythm and feeling such deep gratitude for all that surrounds me here.
Today I'm pickling beetroot and bottling Kombucha.

I love putting raspberries into the bottle for the second ferment. They store so well in the freezer from last season's crop. Here you can see how the colour and flavour seeps into the Kombucha over a week or two. The bottles are really gassy and bubbly when opened. Hold it over the sink.

Our beetroot crop is wanting to go to head, so Brian has picked more than a bucket full while I was away. They keep well in the fridge and I'm pickling a few jars every day.

We are surrounded by flowering trees, and neighbour's paddocks are full of Salvation Jane (Pattisons Curse) so we brought the bees home from their usual placement last night. I donned one of our new half bee suits this afternoon to get a closer look at them. 

Now you might think I'm overly pernickety, (Brian certainly does) but the sight of this drink can attached to our barbeque for catching the fat, was like fingernails scraping down a blackboard. I can cope with a bean can, or a pineapple can, but NOT a Coke can that was purloined from a rubbish bin at work. You'd never see one of these here. I wouldn't even mind if it was a beer can... Really..!!

A recycled paper bag from my stash soon remedied the eyesore.

The hour is getting late, there are a couple of sourdough loaves to be mixed up in readiness for baking in the morning, and a cup of tea waiting.
Oh the simple life for me......... contentment!

Thanks to all who leave a comment. It's wonderful to read your words and I appreciate the time and effort you make. Thanks for visiting.

Monday, 3 October 2016


We had two days of spring sunshine after the flooding storms of last week when we got 70mm of rain in two days.

For the first time in many years I felt pleased to feel the sun on my skin and a small part of me actually felt happy about the approaching warmer days. Here in South Australia, winters just don't last for long enough, in my opinion. Oh yes, like everyone else, I love Spring, but that sneaky Summer plonks herself in the middle of Spring. Uninvited.  Too soon. Spoiling everything with relentless heat and dryness. This year however, winter is lingering on and on. It must be driving some folks mad, but not me.

Two days were spent in the garden, which had been neglected for the past couple of weeks while we were busy with bee workshops and all things bees.
The raspberry patch has sent up lots of new plants, so some went into pots and out to the Farmgate shop where they disappeared in one day.

At last I found positions for these hollow logs that I rescued from the firewood heap.  With succulents in them they add interest to some bare spots in the garden.
These five goslings are two weeks old and hadn't seen any sun until three days ago. 

I think I forgot to tell you that I decided to let Lavender dry off three weeks ago.  She wasn't enthusiastic about  coming into the dairy for the past few weeks and her milk supply was becoming less each day. Her due calving date is in mid December, so it's time she had a spell.
To be honest, I got really fed up with walking up to the top of this hill every afternoon to bring her down to the dairy. That's our home and the all the sheds down there at the bottom of the hill.
After more than three years of  milking two cows, managing their calving times so that we always had a cow to milk, I feel like a big part of my day has been given back to me. OK, that's the advantage, BUT, there's no milk, cream or making cheese. Milk from the shop is different. That's all I'll say on that matter.
So the pattern of my days is different now, for awhile, but the bee keeping part of life has taken over for the next few months, so the timing really couldn't be better.

Relocating a hive of bees that had taken up residence in a possum box. 
We brought the possum box home with us and used it for a project to work on at one of the  bee-keeping workshops.
Wild and wet weather is here again, daylight saving has begun, and summer feels a long way off in the distance.
I'm packing my tiny bag and will fly to Victoria on Wednesday morning to spend a couple of weeks with my favorite little girls. 
So you won't see me  here for awhile. My days will be full with walks to the park, stories being told, books being read to little girls who's arms will be entwined around Granny's leg or neck.  

I'm a very spasmodic blogger, but Jembella Farm on Facebook always has the latest of what's happening here and further afield if you ever want to go across and have a peek. As my attention span is so short, always dashing off to another something, I can snap a picture and post it there while I'm in the middle of the paddock, or up to my elbows in flour in the kitchen. 
Hmmm.... I'm still waiting for that slower kind of life to appear. 

Thanks for visiting, and if you are new to this page, I hope you will return. 
Thank you to those who leave a comment.  I can't put into words the joy I get from every one of them. :) 

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Another Bee-keeping Workshop

The second bee-keeping workshop was another wonderful day with a new group of interesting and lovely people.  The weather was against us again, but we managed to find lots of things to do with the bees so that the participants could get a hands on experience.
The workshop day goes so fast, with the morning mostly taken up with learning about the equipment and how to use it, the box and its components, morning tea on the side verandah (most important), a lesson in making frames, threading the wires and embedding the wax foundation sheets. 

 Caitlin and Shaun with the frame they made.
As it was too cold to extract any honey, we were only able to demonstrate how we do it. Hopefully in November, for our next workshop, the day will be warm enough to take some honey.
 After a lunch break, we suited up in our various selection of bee suits, ready to get hands on, up close and personal with bees.
We have been getting lots of calls about swarming bees ever since I wrote a post in our local community Facebook page, offering to collect them for no fee, so we were fortunate to bring home a wine barrel with bees in it on the day before the workshop.
A shout out here.... If you have a wine barrel that you use as a decorative stand or table on your deck or outside area, please plug up the hole. Swarming bees love to move into this kind of structure and will make it their new home. Last week we had two calls about bees that had set up home in wine barrels. There is no way to remove them from the barrel without breaking apart the barrel, and one caller was not prepared to lose her barrel, so all we could recommend to her was extermination for those bees.  Something we hate to see done.

 A lesson in how to remove bees from a wine barrel.

A puff or two of smoke to slow them down and coax them out.

The Queen is in here somewhere.
Moving the bees from the barrel to a nuc box was a great lesson in how to move bees. Our neighbor Meg, who had been to the workshop the week before, called in to watch the activity and to collect the Queen that we had promised her. 
We had helped her to catch a swarm during the week, and a few days later, when she opened the box to check them, she could see no brood or any signs of a Queen. We had planned to unite this barrel lot with another small hive that has a Queen, so this Queen would be surplus to our needs, and perfect for Meg.
Brian was head down, tail up for awhile, finding the elusive Queen and putting her into the little Queen cage with a few workers. They will look after her for the few days it takes to eat their way through the candy plug after Meg has slipped the cage into her hive. 
A new Queen will not be immediately accepted into a hive, but by the time the bees on the outside have eaten some of the candy plug, and the bees on the inside have eaten through their end of the candy plug, they will know each other and will all live happily together.

The bulk of the bees from the barrel were tipped into the box, the lid put on, and a walking bridge to the front door was placed in front of the hive. By the end of the day, all bees had moved into the box.

As a bonus to end off the day, we received word from a previous workshop participant that two swarms were attached to some rose bushes at our local oval and park lands.  We all suited up and rushed off in our cars to collect them. 

There were some strange and curious looks from the folks driving past in their cars. 
How often would so many bee suits be in one place?
We have been inundated with calls to collect swarms of bees in our district, far and wide. When Brian made lots of these small "Nuc" (nucleus)  boxes early in the year, I wondered "What was he thinking?" but now I can see why.
Spring is the season for bee swarms and here in South Australia they are prolific, so we are thrilled that people are aware and making the call to us to collect them because, every bee is precious!

South Australia has copped a "one in fifty years" weather event this week. The entire state was without electricity for some time, and flooding rains have blocked roads, rivers have swollen and burst banks leaving significant damage across the state.

A Plover sits tight on her nest as water rises around her.

 A couple of trees have toppled over in our paddocks, knocking out the electric fence, but we are so very grateful that nothing major has effected us.
Some preparation in the days leading up to the weather, that we all knew was coming, helped enormously. A few small hay bales placed across the drive ways prevented them being washed away. A reinforcing wire on the fence in the winter creek prevented the rubbish from all the properties up the valley from flowing into our paddocks. Now we are hoping that our very tall hay crop that is laying down in some places, will stand up again,  and the ground will dry out enough for the machinery to get in to cut and bale.

Vineyards and road under water.
Thanks for checking in and I hope that wherever you are, may you be warm and dry. :-)

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