Thursday, 2 March 2017

Bye Bye February

I've been entering a few things in the Angaston Show over the past few years; maybe for the reason of following in our family tradition? I'm not sure.  My father was a keen supporter of our annual local show, by way of volunteering for the ring events Horses in Action, and he would also enter his flowers in the floral section, mostly the huge Dahlias he specialised in growing.
Then my older brother Mick, became a keen supporter in his adult years, and was a tireless volunteer in many areas of the annual show.
My sisters and I competed in the Horses in Action events with our horses from a young age too.
So when prompted five or so years ago by a young friend who was trying to drum up entries for the traditional and historic show hall display,  I promised I would support her by entering whatever I could manage, and in recent years it has snowballed from there.

 I always say that I'm not entering to win, but I can't deny the thrill of seeing my produce and entries displaying prize tickets when the judging is finished and we, the public, are allowed entry to the Show Hall.
The Barossa Valley Cheese Company are sponsors of the dairy section.  I was lucky to win the most successful overall points in that section with yoghurt, hard cheese, soft cheese, milk and butter.
For the second year in a row I've won their donated voucher to spend in their award winning cheese factory shop, and this year there were squeals of delight when I opened the envelope to see the generous amount of $50.!

Back to daily life again, fruit season, and this is my kitchen right now.  Wooden boxes (half cases) of fruit, picked from neglected orchards around the area, are  on the floors of the kitchen, passage and spare bedroom.
Great care is needed when getting up for a twinkle in the middle of the night, for fear of tripping over a box of pears!

The dehydrator is running around the clock, drying pears, peaches, nectarines and tomatoes.

Jars of preserved tomatoes, tomato sauce and chutney are being turned out daily.

The raspberry patch is productive and I'm picking every day. 

A few jars of a new (trial) jam made yesterday that passed the taste test, Raspberry and Peach, so another pot of the same ingredients is on the gas hot plate today.
That kombucha needs bottling off too.. Ahh, not enough hours in the day..!

 A new apiary that we're managing, over the ranges, roughly forty minutes away with a different flowering aspect to that which we are experiencing here this season. 
The hives are full of honey! So we extracted a few kilograms last week to put us back into the honey selling business from the Farmgate shop.

The hives have been neglected for a few years and the owner contacted us with a plea for help. After putting her on the right track, we asked her if she would like us to manage them for her, which was gratefully accepted. So, in exchange for a bit of honey for her own use, we now have two more stands of bees closer to the Adelaide Hills. 
Some of the hives were smothered by blackberry bushes, so there was a need for  suiting up to cut back the prickly bushes that were covered with tasty berries. I kept a few cuttings to pick off the berries when it was safe to take my suit off. Berries are irresistible to me, and I would have loved to pick lots more, but our work was cut out for quite a few hours, dealing with the bee hives.
We transferred all of the (triple high) nuc boxes, into full brood boxes with a super on top.
The owner had placed nuc supers on top of the nucs to give them more space to breed, thus stopping them from swarming. This was the best she could manage to do, being a rather elderly lady, and we praised her efforts. Even though it was an unusual way of bee keeping as such, she did the right thing in her limited circumstances.

The temperature was approximately 29 degrees, but fully suited, and working hard, it was like a sauna in our suits. I was trying to take some photos, but with my thick gloves on, it was a bit difficult. Later, I found lots of unintentional selfies! 

The shed on the property had lots of boxes stacked up to the roof, full of wax moth, and desperately in need of maintenance. We loaded up our cattle trailer and ute to bring them home to work on.

Brian has spent every evening this week, after his day job, scraping and burning off the wax moth residue and eggs, before sanding and then giving every box a new coat of paint. This is the third and final row of boxes.
We've booked ourselves up on Sunday for another full day of bee work at one of the apiaries, and will bring some frames home for extracting.  
These are long days with an early start, traveling to the hives, sorting and inspecting the hives before choosing frames full of honey, then traveling home to extract the honey in our honey shed, then one of us (Brian) takes the empty frames back to the hives, while the other (me) remains here to clean up the extracting equipment.

There's honey in the Farm-gate shop again, and the customers are grabbing it while they can.

This morning I walked up to the top of the hill to move the cows into a fresh paddock, as I do every few days. I had my phone, so snapped a photo looking back down to the house and gardens from the rear view. Although we're having a hot week or two now, this summer has seen more rain than I can ever remember experiencing here. The lawn grass around the house is still green, and for the first time ever, has needed mowing every couple of weeks right through summer.
The paddocks still have a good coverage of dry grass with green pickings of rye and phalaris coming through to keep the cows happy.

Now eleven months old, Ambrose and Gordon are off to market next week.
Lavender came on heat earlier this week, so Mulga Bill was very attached to her for a few days. Getting her in for milking, and away from him, was a bit interesting. Luckily we have lots of interconnecting yards and a clever gate system, so with the assistance of a few slices of bread thrown in the right place at the right moment, I tricked him into parting from her for a few minutes each morning and evening.
All being well, her due calving date will be December 7th. We will observe closely in three weeks time for any signs that Mulga shows interest in her. If not, we will know that she has been successfully mated.
I'm not milking Lavender twice a day, but I do need to bring her into the dairy so I can move her calf, Freddie, into another paddock for the day. I then milk Lavender in the evenings and let the calf in with her afterwards so he can spend the night with her.
Some days I don't milk her at all. ie, when we've got a full day doing something else, or if I'm working, so on those days the calf is allowed to remain with her. This is what I call share milking and  in my opinion, the most humane way to get milk and keep a happy cow and calf.
Oh another epic!
OK enough for now,
Cheers and thanks for popping in.


  1. I love that you share milking with the calf! IF I was to ever have a house cow, I'd like to share :-)
    Congratulations on your show wins!!

  2. You are certainly most busy, Sally! I love going to my local show and seeing all the produce and the baking and jams and crafts. I could spend hours in the pavilion. I like this concept of share milking...I bet Freddie the calf thinks it's a good thing too! Meg:)

  3. Congrats Sally on your well deserved $50 Gift Voucher win.
    Looks like once you retire you will be busier than ever.

  4. as usual an awesome post! love the view back to house, so green!
    so many pears! wow with all that fruit you'll be bottling for a month!
    thanx for sharing

  5. Debbie in the U. P.12 March 2017 at 02:40

    Greetings! I stumble on your site from time to time and love it! I've finally signed up for e-mail notifications so I don't have to find you on my own.
    I have a question about your dehydrator. Does it have a temperature gauge that can be lowered or raised? I replaced mine with a machine that has only one temperature and it's too high. Everything gets too blown and crispy. I'm trying to find a replacement even though it will bring more plastic into the house. Thank you in advance.
    Debbie in the U.P. of Michigan (Trying to find the 'sweet spot' of living the good life, too.)

    1. Debbie I'm sorry for this late reply. My dehydrator is more than fifteen years old, I bought it second hand from a Garage sale approximately thirteen years ago. It has a temperature control knob. I dry tomatoes on the highest setting, but pears and fruit are done on the medium setting. Ultimately, I'd love to own a solar dehydrator. One with sliding drawers, in a timber frame, but I don't know the brand name. I make do with the one I own for now, but when it dies, I'll replace it with my preferred model.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...