Monday 4 July 2016

Weekend in Winter

Daisy's calf Paisley, is (suddenly) ten weeks old and now is the time to start her training to become a quiet and well mannered house cow in the future.
Last week Brian put a small halter on her and tied her up for short periods of time each day. Of course she didn't like it at first, and even though she's still really young, she has a lot of strength. Those hind legs can give a powerful and swift kick too.
Yesterday we put her into the "baby bales" specially built for training young heifers. This small shed is situated in the calf yard where the calves are fed a mix of chaff and molasses into a feed bin for each calf.  Some of the feed mix is put into the feed bin behind the bales, so all of the calves get quite used to putting their head through to eat the tasty food, so it's no real shock for Paisley. She was not too keen when the bar was slid across to restrain her head though, but quickly settled when she heard our reassuring voices telling her "Good Paisley, good girl."
We will repeat the exercise each day at feeding time and calmly run our hands all over her body, talking to her all the time to show her that she is in no danger.

A tasty chaff and molasses mix is reward food for standing patiently and she quickly settled and started eating.

This is Daisy in the milking shed with her head in the real sized milking bales. The baby bales are exactly the same, but on a smaller scale for young heifer training.

Last month Brian found a new place to "stand" our bee hives. It's a perfect location and situated within easy distance of the town, as well as plenty of access to various types of flowering native trees.

The colored discs are to make it easier for the bees differentiate their own hives.

A large water drum is surrounded with wire to prevent kangaroos from getting too carried away with the water. The corks are floats for the bees to rest on while drinking, and the shade cloth prevents algae growth from too much sunlight on the water.

We've had so much rain, some of the broccoli heads started to rot. I've been picking the damaged ones first, cutting off the slimy sections, and cooking as normal. Broccoli every day. 
I love it lightly cooked in butter in a frying pan with lid on so it's still a little crunchy.  The stems are just as tasty as the heads and I don't understand why people throw them away. The really tough part of the stems I save for making our green vegetable juices.

New cabbage seedlings growing between celery on the left and cauliflowers on the right. Brian is brilliant at succession planting, growing everything from seeds germinated in the glass house, before planting out when large enough. 
The white barriers are protection from earwigs, and the cage is protection from sparrows and one rogue hen that flies over the fence.
When I was the chief vegetable grower here, we always had a "hungry gap" between seasons, but that no longer happens. Now I need to get out of the habit of freezing enough vegetables to see us through the hungry gap. One of the freezers has bags of beans, sliced zucchini, and broad beans, but the garden is so full of a huge variety fresh vegetables, I don't know when I'll get to use the frozen stuff.

More cabbages and beetroot. On the other side of the glass house is mature beetroot for picking, and plenty of it!

The hens enjoyed the leaves after I picked a cauliflower. 

Lemon Verbena from the prunings I cut off in April, and dried in a cupboard, will make refreshing tea and add fragrance to some soap.

The silicone cake thing came cheaply from an op-shop, and the milk cartons are saved and donated by friends. They make excellent soap moulds. When the soap has set peel off the milk carton and discard.

I made this soap yesterday from beef tallow, (saved from our last beef that was butchered here on farm) coconut oil and olive oil. Then added some lemon verbena at trace with a few drops of fragrant blend essential oil.
For our own use, rustic is the way it is. ;)

Winter weekends are my favorite. How about you?


  1. A lot to learn today on your blog. Thanks for more wonderful ideas. Corks for the bees, perfect! How beautiful is sweet Paisley.. Always a welcome surprise to see a new post. I look every day!

  2. Winter weekends are definitely my favourite Sally, summer in the sub-tropical humidity makes it harder to get anything done. I enjoyed reading this post so much. I would really like to have a 'house' cow one day - a dexter would be my first choice though my husband wants a jersey like the cows he had in his youth. Paisley has a lovely face. I am also extremely impressed by your veggie garden. Thank you for such an inspiring post.

  3. Lots of very similar stuff going on here at the moment too.

    I have floating pieces of bark for the bees in the sheep water buckets, I usually put long lengths of wood or rocks in our permanent watering holes for wildlife, to enable everything to clamber out or rest but the sheep buckets are supposed to be kept free of large objects so a piece of floating bark is my only option.

    I love the way you gently teach your animals what is to be expected of them, so much nicer, and kinder, than some methods I have heard about.

    Your veggie garden is looking very productive. It is hard to get out of the habit of freezing all surplus isn't it. I have just come across a huge bag of chopped rhubarb in my large freezer and of course our rhubarb plants are in full production at the moment.

  4. I love seeing what you've been doing and how similar it is to my house! We have 12 month old baby house cows and they are learning too, we just feed them grain in a bucket and pat them all over. The milk carton soap is a great idea...

  5. I love the look on Paisley's face! She doesn't look too impressed! She will settle down and get used to the routine, I like how you treat her so well :)

    Your garden is looking great. The rain has been abundant this year, wonderful for the gardens.

    Such a great idea to use milk cartons for soap. This is something I am definitely going to try. I have put it off for years, but promised myself to give it a go this year. I had better hurry up and save some cartons!

    Corks for the bees, how ingenious!



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