Monday, 31 October 2016

Our Weekend

We get lots of calls from folks who have a swarm of bees in their garden, and these are easy to collect and relocate into one of our boxes.
There are also lots of calls from people who have bees that have made their way into a cavity in the wall of their home or shed, or have made a home in the chimney. These bees are very difficult, if not impossible to remove, unless we take the chimney or wall apart, and we don't attempt that.
Last week, Brian made a gadget that would enable us to suction the bees from some of those inaccessible places, into a box.
You can see the box that is positioned so the bees are suctioned into it rather than into the vacuum cleaner bag. The box has a plate of mesh at the vacuum cleaner end, and it's a very gentle way of removing the bees.
Last Friday after work we got to try it out, and all of the bees survived.

Saturday was our first day with temperatures in the high twenties, so we visited all of the rented hives across the Barossa.
Here's Dan, recovering from a knee replacement, unable to put boots on, but still keen to get suited up.   No he didn't get stung!

Sheralee and her daughter Callie share a passion for learning all they can during this year of renting a hive. It's great to spend time with such enthusiastic beginner apiarists.
This hive is doing much better than all of the others in different areas. Surrounded by farmland, some weedy paddocks, and lots of flowering trees, the bees are getting plenty of pollen and nectar.
We plan to extract honey from this one in another week or two, if we get enough warm days.

A beautiful old butler's sink has been in the chicken yard as a water container for years. What a waste! So, I hatched a plan, and together we decided where it would look best and be most practical for the use I had in mind.
It was a big job that took up most of Sunday. Brian sourced some old pieces of Jarrah timber, that he made into a bench that attached onto the side of the deck. Then he found an old tap that he plumbed into the timber above the sink.
It's the perfect place to wash and trim the freshly picked vegetables before taking them into the kitchen.

Meanwhile, I made this loaf and I can't tell you the sense of achievement this simple loaf has brought me.
How many years have I been struggling to make the perfect sourdough?  Five, six years?
Look at those holes. Oh the texture is perfect and the taste is even better.... with lashings of home made butter.
Thanks to Celia and her wonderful blog  Fig Jam and Lime Cordial I attempted this higher hydration loaf, following it word for word, measuring exactly.
I halved the recipe though because if it was going to fail I didn't want to waste so much ingredient.
I had been baking this loaf following Celia's blog for the past year, but it was time to graduate, and Oh wow, it's a winner.
If you are struggling with your sourdough, go over and have a look, but allow yourself plenty of time because you won't want to leave. Her blog is packed full of the most amazing recipes with wonderful tutorials to help you achieve the perfect result every time.
That was our weekend, how was yours?

Saturday, 29 October 2016

A Free Event - Biodynamics Field Day - Sunday Nov 13th 2016

For all of those who would like to know a bit more about Bio-dynamics, here's your chance to attend a free event.
In association with Biodynamic Agriculture Australia, we at Jembella Farm, together with Smallfry Wines, are hosting a field day on Sunday November 13th.
The day will begin at 9.30am at the vineyard of Smallfry Wines, 148 Vine Vale Road, via Tanunda.
(Signs will be out on the day)
We will be hosted by Wayne and Suzi, who come to bio-dynamics with a wealth of experience in viticulture. Both have App.Science degrees specializing in viticulture and a family history in the wine business. They have 25ha under vine, all of which is certified Grade A organic/bio-dynamic. Their Vine Vale vineyard has extensive plantings of very old vines as well as fruit trees and vegetable production.

In the morning Wayne Ahrens and Suzi Hilder will show how bio-dynamics is enhancing the quality and productivity of their historic vineyard.
Complimentary morning tea will be provided by BAA and there will be an opportunity to taste and purchase Smallfry wines.

The afternoon session will be held here at Jembella Farm, 199 Gawler Park Road, Angaston.
You are invited to bring a packed lunch to eat whilst relaxing in our garden or on the shady verandah.
Tea and coffee will be available for a gold coin donation.
Jembella Farm jams, honey and produce will be available for tasting and sales.
We will be wandering around our 16 acre self-sufficient farm, focusing on methods of  fruit and vegetable growing, and animal management using organics and biodynamics.
You will see our liquid weed tea fermenting processes, Flow Form, Bio-char, methane digester, worm farm, soil activators, spreading methods, and learn about organic alternatives for the home garden to broad acre cropping and farming.

We are joined by our most knowledgeable and experienced representatives from Bio-dynamic Agriculture Australia  John Hodgkinson from NSW and Shane Joyce from Queensland.

Topics to be discussed throughout the day will include:
* maximizing soil fertility
* composting - scale and methods
* weed and pest management
* bio-dynamic stirring and spraying set up and methods
* bio-dynamic preparation making and use


To register your attendance or for more information;
Phone the BAA Office 02 6655 0566
Bio-dynamic Agriculture Australia

Biodynamics Field Day

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.

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