Wednesday, 20 August 2014

QCG Stop bullying Wandoan farmers

I signed this petition today and thought I would share this as I think farmers should have more rights that what our laws allow.

Click here if you want to support our farmers too.

QGC: Stop bullying Queensland’s Wandoan farmers.  Treat them with the ‘fairness, respect and decency’ they deserve by giving them more than 21 days to prove their strategic cropping land status.  
The Wandoan farming community, who thought its farmland was protected as ‘strategic cropping land’, has been served with a notice from coal seam gas (CSG) company QGC proposing to strip 175 farms of their strategic cropping land status.
QCG has given these farmers just 21 days to complete farm surveys and collate evidence of farming history in order to prevent the foreign-owned  resource company from removing 125,000 hectares from  the Queensland strategic cropping land trigger map. 
The timing of QGC’s application has only deepened the community’s distrust of and disillusionment with the CSG industry.  By lodging the application just before the repeal of the Strategic Cropping Land Act 2011, QGC may negate the need to comply with more stringent environmental protection measures set under new legislation (the  Regional Planning Interests Act 2014) if wanting to pursue CSG developments in the area.
It is a completely unrealistic for QGC to expect that 175 field surveys can be commissioned and completed over 125,000 hectares within just 21 days.   
To do so is completely out of line with QGC’s ‘purported’ corporate principles of treating people ‘with fairness, respect and decency.’  
Such conduct, though legal due to a poorly constructed section of the strategic cropping land legislation, simply serves to further distress farmers already at their ‘wit’s end’ from dealing with CSG companies. Community depression is already endemic. 
Such conduct may also result in significant areas of valuable cropping land being afforded virtually no protection from the negative environmental impacts of CSG developments.
 Please sign to tell QGC to stop bullying Wandoan farmers and to treat them with fairness, respect and decency by allowing them at least 45 days to prepare submissions to prove their strategic cropping land status.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Feeding A Cow On The Cheap

Back at the start of July our cow "Freezer 2" was supposed to have been killed and be in the freezer but this did not happen.
We had planned to have her in the freezer before we ran out of feed which we knew was inevitable due to the lack of rain.  We also knew that because of the severe drought affecting much of Queensland buying feed would be very expensive (between $16 and $22 per week).  At that sort of cost it basically ruins any saving we might have made from raising our own meat.

So for the past 6 weeks we have been cutting grass from the roadside to feed to our cow.  We feed her 2 wheel barrows of grass a day and she has not lost any weight/muscle mass by the looks of things.

Setting off to cut grass

Hubby does the whipper snipping and I do the rake up
We cut a few days of grass at a time and store it in the neighbours open ended shed.  We have finished the grass on the roadside nearby and are now going around our neighbours shed.

Freezer 2 comes running when she sees the wheel barrow

The grass is not great but she picks through it and eats most of it.  You can see in the photo below that she is not at all interested in what is outside that gate when there is a pile of grass to eat.

We have a row of trees in our front paddock where she is at the moment and for a while now I have been picking up all the fallen branches and piling them around the base of each tree.  To this I add dried cow pats and now that we have been cutting this grass for Freezer 2, we are also adding any leftover grass she does not eat.  I am building a sort of Hugelkultur which is something often used in permaculture to build soil and it helps to deter the cows from wearing down the soil around the base of the trees and stops them rubbing on the trunks.  Cutting all this grass made me realise that if you are creative there are sources of free organic matter all around us we just need to go out and find them.

We now have a new butcher who is happy to kill our cow in September so we only need to keep feeding Freezer 2 for a few more weeks.
Thankfully we have just had some good rain (34 mm) and the weather is warming up so we should even get a bit of growth to help things along but I think we will still be cutting grass until she is in the freezer and that possibly means trekking 500 metres up the road and back with the wheel barrow a few times, but free is free right.

What frugal methods have you used to feed your animals?

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Our Experince With House Cows - A book Review

I am an avid reader and on a normal day you will find piles of books on the coffee table beside the couch (and normally on the other half of the couch too).  I can currently count 10 books, 3 cook books and 3 magazines within reach and I know there are a few more on reserve at the library.

In addition to the other books that I have read over the past week I have also read this fantastically practical e-book 'Our Experience With House Cows' by Liz Beavis from over at Eight Acres.  We do not own a house cow as we made the decision to move back to New Zealand a couple of years ago and will obtain a house cow then.  However I grew up on a 10 acre farm where we milked a house cow both by hand and then on a small milking machine designed for either 1 or two cows, so I have some experience with the routines of managing a house cow.

Liz provides a complete novice with a good understanding of the basics of owning and managing a house cow without over complicating it and making the whole prospect seem overwhelming.
At the same time she emphasises the fact that owing a house cow is a commitment that requires some dedication and is not something that should be treated as a passing fancy.

This eBook is well set out and easy to follow and takes you on a journey through the different aspects of owning house cow.  From buying a house cow and getting her in calf through to the birthing and beyond, Liz provides the reader with enough of the basics to get you well on you way as a new house cow owner.  The information about milking schedules and managing the process of having enough milk for yourself as well as for the calf demonstrates that there are ways to own a house cow and not be tied to a twice a day milking routine.
Liz references other books to go to for additional information and provides some excellent ideas on how to use up all your milk.

I would recommend this book as a great place to start if you are considering getting a house cow and have very little experience as Liz has provided plenty of information in a glossary so that after reading this you will be talking the talk in no time at all.

If you would like to purchase a copy of Liz'z book you can click here to access her house cow ebook blog where you will also find other information related to the subject.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Tasty Mince - Many Frugal Meals

As part of the ongoing challenge of 'How Little Can You Spend' in our house I decided that some tasty mince was in order.
I used a few basic vegetable that I had on hand as well as some items from the garden and stockpile to make some tasty mince that can be eaten on it's own or combined with pasta, rice or potatoes to make different meals.
There was 1 kg of mince, 2 carrots, 1 capsicum, 2 onions (one of the ones in the photo had gone bad) some silverbeet and garlic chives from the garden, and I used 2 jars of diced tomatoes from the panty.

There was also this strange looking ball of frozen mushrooms that I found lurking at the bottom of the freezer.  Sure they were not much to look at a past their best but in a dish like this they just added to the flavour.

I also added celery salt, pepper and garlic and some red lentil at the end to thicken the mix and soak up some of the juices.

I am sure everyone has a recipe for tasty mince so I won't write one out here but I will say that my tips for maximum flavour are as follows:
Cook the onions until soft and translucent over a medium heat without browning so that they become sweet then remove them from you pan
Brown the mince in batches so that it gets lots of colour on it
Once the mince is browned add you tomatoes or liquid so that you can lift all of the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan
Add the rest of the ingredients and cook till done.

I have frozen this in smaller amounts and we will use it over the month to make a variety of meals.  It is easy to turn it into something new by just adding additional spices.

Do you make tasty mince?
How do you keep it interesting?