Wednesday, 5 December 2018

December 2018

Hello friends!
It's been such a long time since I sat here at my laptop tapping out some words to journal our life and happenings here at Jembella.
This was the purpose of the blog, after all, but life generally gets in the way of sitting back and writing things down. So today's post is a catch up on what has been happening.
To those readers who also follow me on Facebook and on Instagram, you can expect to see some photos that you've seen before. Although these two platforms are also a great way for me to record my living journal, I realise there are dear friends who don't use them and the only way they can see what we're up to is by reading this blog.

In late October we drove to collect our two female piglets from Peggy, our friend and free-range pig breeder.
In years past we have always bought three piglets. One for our freezer and butchered at home, and two for selling the meat. 
By law, to sell the meat we are required to have them butchered at an accredited abattoir. However, due to our disappointment with the local abattoir, (read.... rough treatment of the pigs at their final hour of life was clearly evident  on inspection of the carcasses at collection time) we have decided not to sell our pork. We bought only two pigs because it will be manageable for us to butcher both pigs here at home on the same day, to our own ethical requirements. This pork will be for our freezers and shared with friends and family who have helped us out in various ways.

 They are living a good life and dining out every day on restaurant scraps and surplus milk. Soon there will be orchard fruits that we collect from under our trees of those of our friends.  I've often heard it said that home grown food animals "have a good life with just one bad day" but it is really important to us that our animals DON'T have ANY bad days.

Also in October we attended our local Angaston Primary School 140th anniversary.
One of my longest time friends (I won't say oldest)  joined us and we found our Grade 3 teacher, Miss Hahn. She was our favourite teacher and she is still a gorgeous lady.

Little Stretch seemed to be growing up and not out so I purchased a bag of "Calf grower pellets" which he would not eat!  I tried feeding him by hand, but he spat them out so I  taught him to drink from the bucket and add the soaked pellets to his milk rations twice a day. Almost immediately we could see him filling out.

 October Beekeeping workshop at Jembella Farm

November Beekeeping Workshop at Jembella Farm

We had the great pleasure of running two Beekeeping classes in both October and November. both of them fully booked out.
Yes, they are quite a lot of work to organise, especially so because I do all of the catering of morning tea and lunch, take all the bookings and do all the marketing and publicity, but they are enormous fun. We see people learn about keeping bees and then return to buy their equipment and bees, and then we mentor them through the beginnings of their new adventure. 
Brian and I both believe that knowledge should be shared. We shouldn't take it with us, as was the attitude of many older apiarists who we peppered with questions during our early years of beekeeping. 

Forty chickens hatched in the incubator and then placed into the care of three broody hens.
Another sixty eggs are in the incubator and due to hatch next week.  Most of them will be chicken for our table plus a few replacement layers and breeders.
I bought a chicken from the supermarket last month when our supply in the freezer ran out. It was a big disappointment and my plan is not to buy from the supermarket again! 

 After a tricky growing season..low rainfall whilst growing and then a downpour of 25mls after cutting... we actually got some hay baled. Phew!! 
Hay is so expensive to buy this year due to the shortage, and we can breathe a huge sigh of relief that we have enough to supply our stock for the next two years.

Cutting enough chaff from our new season hay to feed the cows when they're in the dairy for milking.

The nets are on the fruit trees. The birds are becoming hungrier and coming in closer than ever before. 

A reminder to take extra care when near the netted trees as snakes are often caught in the netting that touches the ground. This one had its head caught in the netting that covered the blueberry bushes. The only way out was to remove its head.
The week before this, Brian had a surprise as he lifted the lid on one of the hen's nests to find a Red Belly Black snake curled around half a dozen eggs. 

 This is the time of year for re-queening our hives if the Queens are getting old. We ordered (and received in the post) six Queens form Queensland last week. 
Brian's Queen breeding program is going well, with five young Queens gone to new homes last week.

And as if life wasn't busy enough, we found this sweet girl at the cattle sales last week. 
Her arrival has been challenging and eventful, but with great joy too.
Honeysuckle deserves a blog post all to herself, as you can see I'm completely smitten.

But before I go, I want to tell you about a beautiful new blog from a friend who I met through this blog and then through Instagram. 
Great things are meant to be shared and I think you will love Fairy Wren Cottage
as much as I do.
Jude is a wife to Michael and mum to fifteen year old Liliana. They live on a few acres in delightful Tasmania, in a cottage they have renovated together into something out of the pages of Country Style magazine. Truly, you will drool over the photos that Jude so cleverly styles and displays on her pages. But it's not just about beautiful things and a life of total fantasy. Jude suffered an injury a few years ago that has changed the way she has to live, and then young Lil also suffered an injury.
Jude writes about the ways they have learned to adapt, learned to be positive and grateful for the simplest of things. 
 (Lordy, don't most of us need a reminder at times, to be grateful for our good health and mobility that we mostly take for granted?)
This little family have a genuine love for animals, especially ducks, guinea pigs, chickens and dogs that is heartwarming to read about. Jude writes about and shares tips on permaculture and organic gardening and animal care, cooking, baking, sewing and crafting, homeschooling etc.
 Her beautiful mantra of "Bloom where you grow" rings true in my ears.
I honestly wish Jude lived just down the road from me, she is just the kind of friend we would all love to have. Oh and did I mention that she also writes for Grass Roots Magazine? Yep! 
So go over and have a read, I think you will be charmed.

That's enough from me today, and thanks if you made it all the way through.
Sal XX


  1. Once again I am exhausted reading all about what you do, no wonder you have little time to blog! (And of course there would be a million other things you do that aren’t included in your post!)

    I want some of your energy! 😊

    1. Cheryl I'm chuckling at your comment. We didn't do it all in one week! There's 2 months worth there. 😂

  2. A busy time down on your Jembella farm, Sally. Your new little piglets are ever so cute! I expect they are loving living at your place. I am so happy that Jude has started a blog. I have made a couple of crafty things from her articles in Grass Roots. I will be popping over to visit her at her blog. We had a snake caught in our blueberry bush netting last year too, a carpet python. It survived its encounter but this year, when I decided not to net the bushes, a cheeky currawong decided to help itself to quite a bit of the fruit! Meg:)

    1. The challenges of growing our food Meg! If it's not birds it's snakes, earwigs, grubs or hail.

  3. So happy to see a post from you! The piglets and cow are adorable...the snake not so much. Glad we only have harmless garter snakes in our area.

    1. Hi Marcia, Eastern Brown snakes are most seen here, and are venomous but usually shy and want to get out of harms way. But when cornered, caught in a net or attacked by a dog, they will become aggressive which is understandable, poor things. Red Belly Black snakes are usually found near creeks and waterways, so we were surprised to find one in our poultry yards with the nearest river a kilometre away. They can also give a nasty bite.

  4. So happy you managed to get enough hay Sally. There is a real shortage around here and my daughter is battling to find hay to feed her horses, she has had to travel distances to get it.

    Hubby is going to get bees {rolls eyes}...wonder what he will do next lol!

    The blog you shared is gorgeous. I am going to spend some of this hot day browsing over it. I already follow Jude on Instagram but didn't realise she had such a lovely blog. Thank you for drawing my attention to it :)

    Its going to be 41C here today (possibly hotter tomorrow!) Thank goodness my veggie shade-house is up and running. Out of bed at 5.30am, everything watered by 7am, now to spend some of the day sewing produce bags. I might even try making bees wraps, I think I could just stick them out in the hot sun today, that should work lol! I might even get to do a blog post too :)

    Stay cool in this heat.


    1. A scorcher couple of days Tania, when reading, blogging, blog reading and finding inside chores is on the agenda. A snooze is sometimes the order of the day too, especially after rising so early to get chores and watering done before the heat. I wonder how bees will go up there, enough pollen and nectar? Keep us posted. XX

  5. Sally, thanks for the link to the blog. I love the photos I have seen already so will have a closer look when I get a chance. Hay is very scarce here in Queensland as you probably already know and it costs an arm and a leg these days unfortunately. We have just survived a heatwave and now it is cool again. Just the way I like it.

  6. Chel, I couldn't count on both hands the number of folks wanting to buy some of our hay! We're reluctant to sell any, especially as we can never tell what the next season will bring. We're suffering a hot couple of days, looking forward to a weekend in the twenties.

  7. very busy you are!
    awww love the new Honeysuckle! how is Lavender, haven't seen her lately?
    hope the red belly didn't eat any hens, have both here, browns & red bellies, though hardly seen any this season
    wish i could have some bees, want to try out that free flow style hive, might one day.
    great post
    have a wonderful Christmas & new year
    thanx for sharing

    1. Hi Selina, dear old Lavender is doing all the right things and being very compliant these days. She even runs into the milking parlour as soon as I open the gate! Honeysuckle has been getting most of the social media attention though. And a word on bees, you would save a LOT of money if you forget about the new flo style hives and go with the traditional way. I'm gobsmacked at the price that people are willing to pay for the new style hives, but they don't actually save the beekeeper any time or effort, nor do they last the years in the weather like the traditional hives. Do your research first. XX

  8. I'm looking forward to hearing about your new dairy cow. She looks so sweet and her face reminds me of the Jersey my grandmother had at her farm, so many years ago. Here's hoping she settles in smoothly, with everything else you two have on your plates. Love the bees by the way, and the ethos to pass the knowledge on. It's the only reliable way to share what works. Books are a great starting place to learn, but nothing cements it better than hands on experience. It also soothes any anxiety, when someone more knowledgeable, can lead you through the newness of it all. :)

    1. Thanks Chris, I agree Honeysuckle certainly is a stunner.

  9. I have been following you on FB and Instagram, so its been a while since I've come back here for a read.

    I must sort out how to use Instagram for my blog - some day.

    1. Phil I'm not here often either, and am very behind on reading my favourite blogs, but I do like this platform for long posts, like a letter to a friend, which Instagram doesn't convey to me. I also find that IG is quite shiny, which my photos or lifestyle aren't. I'm not afraid to show my imperfections and tell the reality of this lifestyle. Although it's hard to coordinate the time to write at the same time as the ability to form words into cohesive sentences, I enjoy the peace and meditative effects that writing brings to me. Happy New year to you and your family my friend.


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