Thursday, 14 December 2017

In the Poultry Nursery

We have two female geese and two males, so although the older female sat on her eggs and hatched out seven healthy goslings approximately thirty days later, the younger goose just kept laying eggs but not sitting. We waited and waited for her to sit. Spring went by and with it the green grass became scarce. It started to become evident that she was never going to sit so Brian intervened.

 As there were two broody hens sitting side by side in the hen shed, he put some of the goose eggs  underneath the two hens. They were able to comfortably cover six eggs between them.

The weeks went by and eventually there was some action. One little gosling hatched unaided, but we found next day it had been squashed in the nest by one of its foster mums. 
The following day we found this egg that was starting to hatch, but after waiting nearly all day for little one to break out of its shell, Brian decided to give it a helping hand.

The little one needed to be peeled out of its egg and placed under the brooder light in the shed until it became strong enough to go back to its foster mother.

Reunited again. They bonded immediately, but the gosling wasn't very smart about snuggling underneath the hen to keep warm, so close watching, gentle persuading and prodding was required on our part. The hen was fiercely protective, so it wasn't easy!  

Not a good quality photo because I had to enlarge it so the baby can be seen poking its head out from under the hen's wing.

A week later and they are still in the nursery yard, separated from the other hens until the gosling is large enough to withstand the goings on and shenanigans of the grown-ups in the foul shed and surrounding paddocks.
Poultry are endlessly fascinating and entertaining aren't they?

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

An Update of Kitchen Happenings

After last month's farm update I put a mark in my dairy as a reminder to write another update a month later, and whoosh... here we are again. It would be a very long post to include most things, indoors and outside, so today is focusing on what's been happening in that room we call 'the heart of the home'.
Summer is with us, but we have had a couple of heavy rainfall events and no days above 35C degrees, so it's most agreeable living weather. Unfortunately the rain was not so good for the farmers who grow cereal crops that were almost ready for harvesting. Most of that grain will be downgraded.
The days have been good for being outside in the garden, catching up with some of the weeding, and spreading compost and mulch.
 The rhubarb patch got a serious thinning and cleaning up. I tried to give it away, but at the end of the weekend a few stalks remained.

 I tried really hard to put it into the compost heap, but old frugal was looking over my shoulder again, so..... it got chopped up and added to some raspberries that have been in the freezer since last season's glut.

Raspberry and rhubarb jam. Who knew that the two flavours would go together so well?
I made it the conventional way, with sugar, but cut the amount right back so the flavours of the fruit are dominant without the cloying sweetness.
Just as I finished labeling the jars, there was a knock on the door. A woman from Victoria requesting some rhubarb jam! I was able to invite her in to taste the new jam, of which she bought three jars to take back with her.

My old gas cooker finally had to be replaced when the oven door would no longer stay closed without wedging a chair up against it!
We are on bottled gas here, so there were not a lot of LPG stoves to choose from. In fact, this was the only one we found. I first looked in our local electrical and gas store but they had none, so a forty minute trip to our nearest Harvey Norman store and two weeks later this basic stove was installed.
It got me thinking that the lack of choice could be frustrating for many folks, but I'm not particularly fussy about the stove. It does the job and I'm grateful to have a stove at all, to use during the hot summer months when it's too hot for the wood stove.
However, and hindsight is a wonderful thing, if we were doing our renovations now, instead of twelve years ago, I would know that we probably should have put in an electric point at the stove.
I have discovered that most gas cookers come with an electric oven.
Lesson learned!

I'm having a go at making mead with some of our second grade honey that we use for cooking. Starting off with just a bit of honey and water in a jar, the ants found it sitting on the kitchen bench, so placing the jar into a large flat container of water soon foiled their attempts at sabotaging my newest trial.
After searching Google for Mead recipes and becoming daunted with all the complicated instructions and equipment required, I finally found this simple method. Honey and water!

When it started to taste less sweet, and the fermenting slowed down I bottled it and kept it on the kitchen bench so I would remember to burp it each day to release some of the gas.  I learned an important lesson that it must be bottled in thick bottles if using glass.
Yes, you guessed it.!
The small square shaped bottle on the right, was made for sauce, not volatile fizzy stuff!
After hearing a noise during the night, the kitchen wore a layer of sticky mead, from the floor to almost the ceiling, and thin shards of glass were everywhere.
Another lesson learned.!

The bubbles are about right, and the honey flavour is delicious, but still a bit too sweet for my palate. The remaining bottle will continue to ferment until more of the sugars have converted to alcohol. A larger quantity in a bucket is fermenting nicely and will soon be ready for bottling.
When I finally have a finished product that I'm 100% happy with I'll post a blog with instructions of how I did it.

I won the wager on the demise of the hail affected cherries. They ripened beautifully, and I picked them at this lighter colour as they were surprisingly sweet. Heavy rain was forecast (and arrived) so there was a chance of splitting if they were left on the tree. It appears this variety of cherry is known as the 'white cherry' and is ripe when it reaches this light colour.

 I thought I might have to preserve some of them, but we have been enjoying eating them just as they are.

Remember those two rows of cabbages growing in the vegetable garden? There are only three left!
I've filled every one of my large glass jars with sauerkraut and am also experimenting by adding other flavouring ingredients. The above picture is sauerkraut containing cabbage as the main ingredient, with carrot, apple and ginger added. Some of the jars have cumin or caraway seeds added to plain cabbage, and salt of course.
We're also eating cabbage every day, fried in butter, in coleslaw, in casseroles and stews. I will never tire of eating the versatile cabbage even though I hated it as a youngster. It was boiled cabbage in those days...boiled and boiled until the whole family finally all came in for the evening meal. No wonder I found it hard to stomach!

When I was out and about, living the life of a part time working person, as well as trying to do all of the things that I really wanted to do here in our home and farm, I saw people walking and felt envious of them. Just walking for fun, fitness or relaxation. They had time in their days to do such a thing.
I wanted that.
And now I have it.
Life is good.!
I hope yours is too.
Thanks for reading.
:-) XX

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