Friday, 28 October 2011

Up the Garden Path

Hubby had the day off work today and managed to get a couple of great little jobs done around the house.

The first not so little job that he got done was to extend the path through the shade house.  For some unknown reason the path finished about two thirds of the way through the shade house and just turned into a dirt path.  This was rather impractical as it is the end where I have my potting bench, and when there has been rain I find myself standing in a muddy hollow and churning it into quite a sloppy mess as I move side to side.
During our two years hear we have collected pavers from around the property.  We have found them in sheds, under the house, in gardens and buried in the ground.  As they have turned up we have washed them off and stacked them against the shed know one day we would have a use for them.

Well the time has come to put them to use.  Hubby came up with a plan to use the different shaped pavers to make a slightly curved path that joined the existing one.
I think he has done a top job and I especially love the way he use a paver with the corner broken off to transition to a slightly wider path.

The path extension
Hubby also found time to raise the garden bed where I wanted to plant Rhubarb.  I lost the last lot of Rhubarb I had here due to drainage issues with all the rain we got last summer.  So I removed the snow peas from the bed a few weeks ago knowing that I wanted to plant the Rhubarb here.  Hopefully I will have better luck this year.
The rest of the day was spent packing the trailer and getting a few jobs done as we are going away camping for the weekend.  I will report back about that next week. 

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

UFO's - Destroying the Evidence

We know that our farm used to be part of a large dairy farm and 40 acres of it was subdivided off in 1991 to create 8 smaller lots ranging from 2 - 10 acres. 
We believe we are the 3rd owners of our block (3.5 acres) and we know that the owner before us did not use the land and just used the house as a weekender.  But the owner before that did use the land, how specifically we do not know and can only guess at based on the evidence left behind (the UFOs).

Over the weekend Hubby set about getting rid of some of the UFO's (Useless Field Objects) that are on our property.   The first one he tackled was the pile of old farming implements that were just piled in the paddock. 
There was a set of harrows a fertiliser spreader, a carry all, and a horse drawn plough.  As well as all sorts of rubbish like bits of wire, old pipes and timber. 
The harrows and fertiliser spreader were still usable and even though we have an old tractor (it came with the property) we were never likely to use them so we traded those with Hubby's boss for some timber posts.
We kept the plough to use as a garden feature and the carry all in case we need to cart stuff around.

So that just left all the rubbish and the concrete slab under the pile to get rid of.  We think there may have been a small shed used for milking or keeping pigs in but what ever it was it was long gone with only the floor remaining.  So Hubby set to work breaking up the concrete so that we can take it to the dump.

There were also 2 other small concrete slabs out in the paddock but we have no idea what the were for and they have also been removed.
Now that these have been removed the only UFO we have left is a 3 sided cattle yard with no gates (you can see it in the background of the second picture).  It is completely useless, not only because it has only 3 sides, but also because it sits on its own, in the middle of the paddock, with no fences either side to stop the animals from just walking around it instead of into it.  So we will also be getting rid of it (one day) but for now we are glad the other UFOs are gone.

Do/did you have any UFOs at your place?

Monday, 24 October 2011

Bed Preparation

The weekend was a busy one but some important work was done.

I have 4 vegetable garden beds that I am trying to rotate my crops through.  2 of the beds are close to the house are about 1.5 by 4m and are raised to a height of 40 cm and we have filled them with good soil and lots of organic matter.   The other 2 beds are out the back and used to be in the what was a paddock till we extended the yard, they are both about 3 x 3 m.
I had planted a green manure crop in one of the beds and it all needed to be dug in.  I had planted barley but you would have thought that I had mixed it 1 to 1 with dandelions.  Thankfully they were young and fleshy so they dug in well but I will have to wait and see if they try and grow again. 

After digging all the green manure in I covered the bed in a thick layer of sugar cane mulch to keep the weeds out more so that the moisture in as our soil is quite wet at the moment.  I plan on growing cucumbers (Mini White and Lebanese), Zucchini (Tri Colour), Squash (Jaune Et Verte) and Watermelon (Golden Midget).  I am going to install some climbing frames for the cucumbers and will just let the rest ramble along the ground outside of the bed where there is plenty of room. 
Right out the front of our house next to the garage we had this space where until now we had all of the sugar cane bales stacked and covered in a blue tarp.  We lets face it it was not the best look for the front entry of a house.  So my handy Hubby has put up some sides and made another garden bed for me.  This one is only about 1.5 x1.5 but it faces west so gets a lot of heat.  I plan on using this one for capsicums and I have no doubt they will be far more attractive that a bright blue tarp.

Hubby also tackled a few other jobs but more about that tomorrow.

Friday, 21 October 2011

On My Mind is the Wind in my Hair...

As summer approaches there is nothing like a cooling breeze on a hot afternoon in the garden.

Introducing this Summers must have item.

But Wait!!!!

Don't pay too much!!
You too can have one too at next to no cost.


Wait for a warm and windy day.
Garden to your hearts content with playful puppy by your side.
Remove you hat and head inside for a cool drink.
Take about a 10 minute break.
Head back outside to finish gardening and Voila.
Ventilated hat with elastic forehead band removed.
A newly installed ventilation system for you hat.

Unfortunately the installer of this ventilation system was reluctant to return my hat until she could be distracted with another "project"

And after such a busy day on the job it's time to sit back and put your feet up.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Sourdough Failure - Help Required

I am failing at making sourdough and I have no idea why.  I have a theory but let me give you some back ground.
I made my starter and it was everything that the various websites said it should be.
Starter bubbling away
And the first couple of times I used my starter I made semi-leaven bred ie it still had a small amount of yeast in it but the finished bread has the taste of sourdough.

Semi-leaven dough risen nicely
So then I decided it was time to move onto a pure sourdough.  We were going out for a BBQ lunch so I thought rolls would be nice.  After making a successful sponge with starter, water and flour I added the rest of the flour, shaped the rolls and waited for it to prove.  And I waited, and waited and waited and nothing.  Nope, nada, zip.
And after much waiting I figured they would not rise more than the tiny amount they had so I baked.  They rose a bit more but hardly.  And once out of the oven it was plain to see I had made some sourdough rocks.

The sourdough rocks
Not to be put off by my previous attempt I figured another try was required but this time I followed a wholegrain recipe that the writer said they could make over a 24 hr period.
So I made my starter sponge. All going well so far.

Starter Sponge
And I gave it plenty of time to develop.  Then I mixed it into the other ingredients gave it a good knead, shaped it and left it to prove. 
The dry mix
Shaped ready to prove.
This is the end result but I must tell you this took 48 hours not the 24 hours it should have and it is still a dense un-risen loaf that I now feel obliged to eat.

So now for my theory.  I do not think that my starter is strong enough do do it's thing. But really I have no idea.
I live in a warm climate so now that the days are around the 30 degree mark, and I only want to make bread once a week.  I keep the starter in the fridge which I believe from what I have read to be ok.
I am looking for some guidance here so to help you all make some recommendations here are some other things that might help with suggestions.

  • We have tank water so chlorine is not an issue.
  • I get the starter out of the fridge and feed it the day before I want to use it.
  • Our home is not super sterile
  • I am using bread flour

So if you can help me with this I would be very grateful.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Fast and Easy Ginger Biscuits

These biscuits are so easy to make and they are all made in a saucepan so there is very little washing up at the end.  All the ingredients are common pantry staples and this recipe makes about 4 dozen small biscuits so the mix goes a long way.

The main thing with this recipe is to measure the flour correctly.  Too much flour and the biscuits won't spread, too little and they will all merge together.
I have halved the amount of sugar over time and have doubled the amount of ginger and I still think they are good, but it is up to you.

100 gm Butter
1 Tbsp Golden Syrup
1/2 Cup Sugar
4 Tsp Ground Ginger
1 Egg
1 Tsp Baking Soda
1 3/4 Cups Flour

Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees.  Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan and as soon as the butter is melted remove it from the heat and add the golden syrup.
Then add the sugar ginger and egg and beat well to combine.  Finally add the baking soda and flour and mix till there sure no lumps.

Lightly grease your baking tray/s and use a teaspoon to scoop out small even sized amounts.  The mix will be quite soft so either wait for it to cool slightly or wet your hands to roll the mix into ball shapes.  You do not have to flatten them or be too perfect with the balls as they will spread out on the tray.

Place them onto your tray/s allowing room for them to spread and bake for 10 mins or until golden.
They will puff up while cooking then flatten towards the end and firm up as they cool.

Cool on a rack and store in an airtight container.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Twas the night before Friday, when all through the house....

Twas the night before Friday, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except me and (the click click of) my mouse,
Dinner was done, and the dishwasher stacked
So up went my feet, it was time to relax.
Hubby was sleeping, as was the cat
The puppy was too, outside on her mat.

But then there was barking, oh what a racket,
She wouldn't shut up, regardless of tactics.
And so I went, out into the dark
All of this time, she continued to bark.
Onto the lawn, and under the trees
Was that a noise, or the knocking of knees?

Under the hedge, there was a lump in the gloom
Ready to defend myself with a broom
Then I jumped in the air, I'm sure it wiggled
Hubby behind me, oh how he giggled
So I made him come over and investigate too
He was much braver, I'll give him his due.

With a torch in my hand, it was easier to see
My oh my, what could it be
A long neck turtle, that's what it was
She'd wandered about, and got herself lost
Stuck half through the fence, not able to move
She'd wedged herself tight, so what could she do.

We got her out from the tight squeeze
And carried her off, further under the trees
We released her out into the night
Pointing her away from the scene of her plight.
We're sure she found the way to the dam
Relieved not doubt to be out of that jam.

This would no doubt have been so much better with a photo, but at the time it wasn't what came to mind.
We think he/she was an Eastern Long neck Turtle but they are only supposed to get up to 25cm and it was about 30 - 35 cm.
Really wish I had a photo now....

Thursday, 13 October 2011

A Bit of a Tour - The Pond Garden

Our pond garden is my favourite place on the farm at the moment.  It is pretty and calming and full of wild life.  It is right next to the front gate and driveway so since it is not hidden away we get to appreciate it every day.
Hubby made the pond himself  and the garden around it is filled with some of his favourite plants including a cardboard palm (Zamia furfuracea), a grass tree (Xanthorrhoea), another cycad ( Cycas Circinalis I think) and a few other bits and pieces.  This last cycad is quite old (we think) and my husband saved it from being bulldozed and it has been transplanted a few times.  When we moved here 2 years ago we had to remove all the fronds and the ones you see in the picture below are the first ones it has put out since moving.

Cycas Circinalis
I love the look of all the Hippeastrums when the flower.  Even though the display is somewhat short lived it is spectacular while we have it.
The pond
The pond its self has a few plants in it and the frogs love it and lay their eggs amongst the plants.  Sadly so do the cane toads so we are on constant toad watch and have to remove toad eggs when ever we find them.

Hippeastrums in bloom Cardboard Palm on the left.
We do have to cover the cardboard palm every winter as it is frost sensitive but so far it seems to be surviving ok.
Our grass tree had only 2 heads on it when we purchased it but this year had doubled and now we have 4.  It seems to be going well and this year we have 4 flower spikes for the birds and bees to feast on.

Well that's it for this part of the tour and I will attempt to show you more in the future.

Friday, 7 October 2011

On My Mind - Sad Pot Plants

Oh dear.
I have some shabby looking pot plants around the place that really need some attention.
Some re potting action is on my mind today.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Buying Local

Where I can, I like to buy locally made products or Australian products.

But the term Australian made can be deceptive and often you will find terms like : "Made in Australia, from Imported Ingredients" or "Made in Australia, from Local and Imported Ingredients".
Then I have to ask myself is better to buy something made in Australia with imported ingredients or something made with Australian ingredients but by an overseas company?

My hubby hates doing the groceries with me because I read the labels on everything I buy to see where it was made, who by, and are the ingredients Australian.   I find it much more relaxing if he leaves me to it as well so we have an understanding about it all.

I do not profess to know a huge amount on this subject but I do know that it makes sense to spend you money it a way that will have benefits for the community you live in rather than sending it overseas.  A fellow blogger who has been investigating food sources is Rose and you can read all about the Rose Marshall Project on her very informative blog.

According to Dick Smith's website 85% of the products in the average Australian grocery trolley are made by foreign owned companies. This results in $100 million a day going outside Australia. By comparison, in Japan, 98% of goods in supermarkets are owned by Japanese organisations.
There are two key reasons to support Australian owned companies – profits stay in Australia and jobs are created for Australians. If every Australian redirects $10 per week from foreign owned companies and foreign made items to Australian products, Australia would save $4 billion per year and create 100,000 new jobs. (Source: Ausbuy).  The Dick Smith's website has some interesting information about the ownership of brands/foreign ownership and is worth a read.

But lets face it the product also has to live up to our expectations and I believe that if it doesn't we should take the time to give that feedback to the producer so they have the opportunity to make changes and give the consumer what they want.

So today I would like to sing the praises of a product that is all the things I want it to be.  And better than that not only is it a good product, it is a GREAT product. Kin Kin Naturals dish washing liquid.

Our gas hot water unit is old and you have to keep boiling the jug to get the water hot enough, other wise things have to be washed a 2nd or third time.  So as you can imagine a poor quality dish washing liquid only adds to the frustration.  But the Kin Kin Naturals dish washing liquid is top notch and concentrated so you only use a very small amount.

11/5/2012 - Update
The dishwashing liquid is still going and we have about 1/8th left.

I would encourage everyone to look out for it and give it a go, and check out their website for all of the stores that stock their products.

So now I would like to know if you can recommend any true Australian products?

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Welcome Visitors

On Sunday I had the pleasure of my brother, sister in law and niece come to visit.
We got to spend a good 6 hours together having lunch and also a quick trip to the park.

What makes the visit so special is that they are visiting from NZ and are here on a holiday booked at the last minute with some of their friends.
All of my family live in NZ and I miss being able to see them on a regular basis.  Especially since I now have a niece and nephew (well the son of my cousin who is like my sister since our mums are twins) and my 3 remaining grandparents who are in their mid 80's.

We had a lovely time catching up and it was great to see them again after only a few months (were recently visited in July).  And what is extra special is that we will be seeing them all again at Christmas when we head back to NZ, yes again. 
I am really looking forward to our December trip as it is 8 years since I spent Christmas with my family plus my other brother will also be back from Malaysia where he has been working since earlier this year (we did not get to see him in July).
My Sister in law is also pregnant with baby number 2 (due early March) so getting to see them more often also means we get to share that with them.
Although it was only a few hours that we shared we value them all the more because of the time between visits. 
And hopefully as the kids grow up they might even be able to come and stay on their own, at least that's what my brother keeps hinting at " you better be good so you can come and stay with Auntie Fi for a month".  My niece is only 15 months so I am pretty sure it is not on the cards just yet but when it is we will be happy to have them.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Wrinkly Eggs

Something is going on with one of my chooks and the eggs that they are laying are coming out wrinkly and not always egg shaped.  The shells are still hard and the inside of the egg is normal but I am not sure if I should really worry or not.
I have seen info on the net that it could be due to stress or a vitamin deficiency and even that I should cull the bird in question (as if).

Here are some examples:

Any ideas on what I should do if anything?