Thursday, 18 September 2014

Trimming Rooster Spurs

Our Rooster 'Big Red' has recently had a pedicure.  It had been a long time since we had trimmed his spurs and they had become a problem as had injured a couple of our hens.

Each of his spurs were about 2.5 inches long and  the last time they were trimmed we used a pair of sharp secateurs and it was not that easy, those spurs were tough.
So this time I had a chat to a fried about how they dealt with rooster spurs and she suggested we us an angle grinder.  Of course why didn't I think of that.
The benefits of and angle grinder are that 1) It is fast 2) It requires very little pressure to be applied therefore the rooster does not try and pull his leg away 3) The cut is very clean 4) You can smooth of any rough edges
5) It is easy

So here is the before photo, just look at that spur.  Yes we are very bad chicken owners to let them get that long.

And here is the after photo (sorry it is blurry Hubby got too close, unless he was trying to photograph the grass in the background) and you will see a tiny little pink spot in the middle which is the blood supply.

We left the spurs about 2 cm long as we were not sure how far down the blood supply went but it did not bleed at all.  I held Big Red and Hubby had both spurs off in about 30 seconds each including smoothing off all the edges.  Big Red did not even move during the process and was straight back to his girls like nothing had happened. But I am glad it was quick as boy is he heavy.  He is a 5 year old New Hampshire and at a guess he weighs about 6kg.

How do you deal with rooster spurs?

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

The 2014 Real Food Festival

Over the weekend I attended the Real Food Festival held at Maleny in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland.  The festival is about connecting local food producers directly to customers.
In addition to the fantastic array of local foods to sample and purchase there is a wide rage of talks and presentations that you can attend.

I attended:

I attended a talk about gut health from a man who is a raw food vegan and advocates for an increase in raw food in our diets.  He shared his personal story of having trouble digesting proteins and suffering from a range of health including being 25kg heavier.  I was interesting but it is not the type of diet I would choose.

Scott Mathias talking about he raw vegan lifestyle.

I also attended a very entertaining cheese making presentation from Carole Willman who used to own 'Cheeselinks'.  She shared some really interesting information including the fact that in Australia because of our labelling laws camembert and Brie are technically the same cheese and by law a producer could make one big batch of cheese and label half as camembert and half as brie and this would be totally legal.  Are you surprised?
In reality Cmambert should be in small rounds (and if you are in France only made form 3 breeds of cows that come from only a couple of specific regions) but brie should be made in a bigger wheel (like a dinner plate) and this means that the brie says moister and the drier camembert takes on a slightly different flavour because the ration of air to total mass is smaller.

Carole from Cheeselinks

I also had the oppertunity to sit down for an hour and have a 1 on 1 chat with a Farmer who runs an organic CSA (Community Supported Agriculture).  It was really interesting to talk to him about it as it is something Hubby and I have talked about for doing when we move to NZ.

I also made a whole lot of purchases some for us and some for gifts and overall had a lovely day out meeting up with other like minded people.

What did you get up to on the weekend?

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Herman The German Has Come To Stay

Over the weekend we caught up with some friends for lunch and when we left my friend gave me some German Friendship Cake Starter also know as a Herman Cake.

Herman the German Friendship Cake is a sourdough cake starter that has been passed for person to person and works in a similar way to a chain letter in the fact that you pass it on to others.  You can read all about it Wikipedia or on this website.  Herman even has his own facebook page.

Herman in his bowl
So I brought Herman home and since he had been stored in my friends fridge (some of the instructions say not to, but then on another page of the same website it says you can) I poured him into a bowl and covered him with a tea towel secured over the bowl with a rubber band.
Because my friend only gave me a small portion I only fed it a 1/4 of what was recommended, I also fed it on the first day to get it going and then I will start counting the 10 day cycle from there (I am sure it will be fine in our warm climate to do this).
So in just over a week from now I will be doing my first bake.  I will also be on the look out for some friends who might a portion of Herman.

Have you ever made a sourdough friendship cake or been involved with passing Herman on?

Friday, 12 September 2014

Farms With A Future - A Book Review

I recently came across this book Farms With A Future - Creating and growing a Sustainable Farm Business by Rebecca Thistlethwaite and I was immediately intrigued.  One of the thoughts we have had for our land in New Zealand when we move there is to grow food for sale so I thought I would start to get some more knowledge under my belt about farming as a business.

Right off the bat I want to say that this book is a fantastic read, and even if you have no interest in farming as a business yourself, but are interested in learning how farms can be run in a sustainable manner and sharing personal stories about innovative farmers making a difference in their communities, then this is a book you should look out for or request at your local library.

This book does not focus on agricultural side of managing and running a farm but instead focuses on the specifics of running a farm as a business.  Rebecca has been a farmer herself and in this book she shares all of the wisdom she has learnt over the years through trial and error and the knowledge she has gained for the many books, websites and other farmers she has met along the way.

The book is set out in the order you need to be doing things as you consider setting up you farming business. Each chapter provides detailed information about the things you need to be considering, plans you need to making and considerations before moving on to the next phase in the businesses evolution.  There are plenty of tips, creative solutions and plenty of excellent advice.
The chapters are concluded with take home messages of the key points covered in the chapter which makes for easy reference if you want to go back and check anything.  Linking back to the topic in each chapter as a case study is also a personal story from a farmer who shares their advice, key tips for success and shows how it all gets put into practice.

The farmers interviewed throughout the book run a variety of businesses including orchards, dairy cows, goats, poultry, market gardens and everything in between.  There are big farms, small farms, people who have farmed on land they owned, leased or borrowed.  All of these farmers are innovative and constantly looking for efficiency in both their production models and finances while not causing degradation to the land on which they depend for their livelihoods.

The chapters are titles as follows:

  1. For the Beginner
  2. Identifying Your Market Niche
  3. Finding and Securing Land
  4. Financing the Dream
  5. Farm Planning for Success
  6. Equipment and Infrastructure
  7. Soil and Water Management
  8. Harvest and Processing
  9. Marketing and Relationship Building
  10. Record-Keeping and Regulatory Compliance
  11. Accounting and Financial Management
  12. Human resources and Family
  13. Add-On Enterprises and Value-Added Products
  14. References and Resources

This book is written and based in America, so there are a few things discussed (such as tax forms) that will not apply to farms in other parts of the world, but this is such a small part that I would still encourage anyone contemplating a farming enterprise to read this book.
There were so many things that I took away from this book that I think I would apply to a farming business. I feel that it really arms the new farmer and the farmer who wants to to make some changes, with practical steps they need to take and consider to turn their farming dreams into a successful and sustainable reality.

Overall I think this is one of the best books I have read related to the practical considerations of running any sort of farming enterprise and would recommend it as a great read to any one looking to farm them selves or be inspired by farmers doing a great job or running their business while caring for the land.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Growing Your Own Kombucha SCOBY

So you have decided that you quite like kombucha and you think you might like to start brewing your own.
But you don't know anyone you can get a SCOBY from and you are not sure you want to spend the money buying one.  Well not to worry you can brew your own.
The first thing you need to do is go out and buy yourself a nice big bottle of kombucha. You will need at least 500ml of raw kombucha.  When you are choosing your bottle of kombucha get one that has floaty bits in it if you can because these floaty bits a little bits of SCOBY culture/mother.

Once you have your kombucha at home you need to pour it into a very clean glass jar along with 2 tablespoons of sugar that have been disolved in 1/4 cup of boiling water and cooled.  I suggest you wash it and rinse it well then add a few tablespoons of vinegar swish it all around then give it a rinse with water again.
You then need to cover the top of the jar with a clean piece of cotton fabric like a hankercheif and leave it on your kitchen bench.
Over the next few weeks a SCOBY will begin to form on the top of your kombucha.  It may start of looking like a mold spore floating around in the tea and gradually it will form a thin skin over the top.

The SCOBY starting to form

Over a period of about 3 weeks (depending on the temperature) the SCOBY will thicken up and once it gets to between 1/2 and 1 cm thick it is ready to use.

A new SCOBY still building the top layer.  All the pale spots will
eventually join up

As your SCOBY forms it can be anything from a pale creamy colour to a darker brown and sometimes it can be splotchy too.  Be patient and don't freak out that something has gone wrong, just wait.  If it has gone wrong it has gone wrong, and there is no harm in waiting a bit longer to see what happens.  If it turns out that it does grow mold of any sort you should throw the whole lot away and start again.

Once you have you home grown SCOBY you can make your first batch of kombucha.  Because your SCOBY is just a baby you should only make a third of a batch of the recipe I posted here.  You can then gradually increase your brew by a third every second batch until you reach the full quantity.

And that's it.  So easy just a little patience required.
Have you brewed your own SCOBY?  Are you tempted to give it a go?