Thursday, 27 September 2012

Unpaid Labour and Hanky Panky On The Farm

The other day I noticed that we had some new workers on the farm.
They were hard at work culling the aphid that were trying to set up shop on my roses.
Then when I looked a bit closer I noticed there were heaps of new workers, which could have something to do with the plentiful food supply.  
I have made a concerted effort not to spray pesticides, have let things like coriander flower and go to seed and have planted lots of flowering plants to attract the good bugs.

Well it seems to be working because not only do we have ladybirds galore taking care of the aphids but they seem to to think the farm is a good place to raise a family.  There is ladybird hanky panky going on in all directions.

Do you have any unpaid workers at your place?

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Blogger Issues

Has anyone else had issues managing the blogs they follow?

According to blogger I was not following any blogs at all so I have had to spend time following them all again.  I am still not sure I have all of them.  Grrrrr.

For some reason I have no "Manage" button for my reading list.  And now I have rediscovered blogs that I didn't know were missing.  Oh well now I have some reading to catch up on.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Hot Hot Hot

It has been getting very hot here lately and yesterday was no exception.
It has also been extremely dry.  The last time it rained was mid July.  I have raised a lot of seeds and have potted them on into indervidual pots but all this hot dry weather is making it hard to keep them from suffering.
Yesterday we had a scorcher of a day with the below temperature of 37 degrees registering at 2 pm.  It was one of those days that you pray for rain.  People often talk about the heat being oppressive and the air feeling heavy.   Today I knew exactly what they mean.
The dry heat has been a bonus in drying my Pak Choy seed pods and all going well I will have plenty to give away soon so stay tuned.
And it turns out my prayers for rain were to be answered.  A storm rolled in late afternoon, and although there was not a lot of rain(only 4 mls), it was enough to cool everything down and water the garden and paddocks.

A few weeks ago one of our neighbours kindly came and slashed our back paddock to get rid of all the dead grass and thatch.  Since then we have watering it from our bore and it has been greening up nicely.  So this rain just topped it up.
Sprinkler watering the paddock (A bit hard to see but look for the jet of water)
The paddock starting to green up
Weather reports suggest that we are in for a long hot summer so I am sure we can expect plenty more days like this to come.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

You Must Be Freaking Kidding - On My Soap Box

This post comes with the following warning:

Should you not wish to be subjected to a bit of a rant that may or may not contain bad language you should close your browser page now.  The following thoughts are mine and mine alone.  I am not a parent so these judgements are not based on my experience and are just my thoughts on the things I have seen.   Please do not take offence to my comments as I respect every parents right to parent as they choose.

Tonight while watching TV hubby and I saw something that made us groan in unison.  I said "You must be freaking kidding", he said "What next?".

What we saw was an advertisement for this an app for phones that teaches kids how to brush their teeth.
Now we don't have kids yet (soon hopefully) and where we live we don't have mobile phone coverage, so to me this just seems ludicrous.
I mean are people trying to get out of parenting?  Are we really living in a world where we want our phones to teach our children how to do things?  "Here you go son, just watch this app and it will teach you how to ride your bike/tie your laces/catch a ball/"
When I sat down and thought about this a number of things crossed my mind.
Don't you start teaching kids to clean their teeth when they get them eg when they are toddlers?
Then why would I be giving my toddler a $500 plus phone?
If I can't be bothered teaching my kids to clean their teeth what else will I not be bothered teaching them?
Are those 2 mins that I spend with my kids teaching them to brush their teeth so bothersome?  I would have thought teaching your children and watching them master new skills was one of the absolute joys of parenting.
Now I am not anti technology but when our kids play tennis on a computer game instead of learning to play tennis in real life something is very wrong.

I would really love to hear what you think about this, maybe you can convince me of it's merits.  Maybe I should just keep my thoughts to myself.
Feel free to let me know.

Monday, 17 September 2012

When Life Gives You Silverbeet And Eggs...

At the moment we have silverbeet and eggs galore.
I have been giving eggs away and trading them for other things and also making the most of them while they are so plentiful.
So today I made a big (I made it in a roasting pan) self crusting quiche.  It was filled with loads of silverbeet from the garden, some our new season asparagus, a few broccoli shoots and some other veggies I had on hand.  I made it with 12 eggs so that used up a few (only another 3 dozen in the fridge).
I have been making this recipe for years so I do not usually measure anything.  I know what the end mix should look like and I just use what I have on hand.
But I dug out the old recipe to share it here.  You can really be flexible with this and just use what ever suits. This time I had some feta to use up and really wanted to use up a lot of eggs and silverbeet so I doubled the recipe overall.  I have also used grated zucchini but if you do you should squeeze out some of the moisture  after grating and halve the milk.

This is the single recipe so if you double it give it an extra 10 minutes but start checking at 30 minutes because I have found that the cooking time is dependant on the veggies you use.

Self Crusting Vegetable Quiche

2 Onions Diced
2 Tbs Vegetable Oil
2 Cloves of Garlic
2 Cooked Potatoes, cubed and cooled
6 Eggs
3 Rashers of Bacon, diced
500 gm Cooked Silverbeet, drained and chopped or 500gm of any other veg*
1/2 Cup of Milk
1/4 Cup Self Raising Flour
1 Cup Grated Tasty Cheese
1 tsp Salt
1tsp Pepper

Grease a 20cm x 30cm baking dish and preheat oven to 210 degrees C.
Cook silverbeet, drain and set aside to cool completely.
Cube your potatoes into 2 cm cubes, cook, drain and cool.
Heat a large fry pan and add the oil and diced bacon.  Cook until just a little browned and remove, leaving the oil behind in the pan, and place in a large mixing bowl.
Cook your onion until translucent and turn the pan off.  Crush the garlic and add to the onion using the residual heat to cook the garlic taking care not to let it burn.  Add  the onion mix to the bacon in the mixing bowl.
Add silverbeet and potato to the mixing bowl along with grated cheese.
In a separate bowl beat eggs milk salt and pepper.  Tip into bowl with vegetables along with flour and mix to combine.
Pour into baking dish and cook  for 20 - 30 minutes or until set in the centre.

* I have tried a tin of creamed corn, zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms and asparagus and silverbeet is the only one I pre-cook.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Seasonal Eating - Black Pepper Strawberries

At the moment strawberries are in season here.
I know for most people strawberries are a summer fruit but it is too humid here in summer so ours are at their peak in spring.

At the moment my favourite way to eat them is with balsamic vinegar and freshly cracked black pepper.  Now I know it is not the usual flavour combination but trust me on this.  It is such a quick and easy desert.
The balsamic really enhances the strawberry flavour and the pepper really gives it a warm hum.

Black Pepper Strawberries

500 gm Fresh Strawberries
2 Tbl Icing Sugar
2 Tbl Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Hull and quarter strawberries.  Add icing sugar and vinegar and mix for 3 minutes so that the strawberries release some juices.  Leave to marinate for between at least 1 hour but not more that 3 hours.
Just before serving grind the pepper very finely and mix into berries.  Serve over vanilla icecream that has also been dusted with black pepper.

NB  I have tried this with a normal balsamic as well as a balsamic reduction and they both work but see what works for you.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Fighting Nature

We live in sub-tropical Queensland 150km north west of Brisbane.  We really have only 2 seasons, a hot wet summer and a long dry winter (well this is what we should get) with a short spell of warm settled weather either side.  At the moment in what most people call spring our day time temperatures are around 28-30 degrees celsius and our night temperatures are around 8 degrees.
This far north we can grow plants such as bananas, paw paws, and mangos.
Bananas picked at the start of August
But because we live away from the coast we also get frosts.  Now when I tell most people that we get frosts out here they think, because we are in the subtropics, that I mean the odd patch of frost covered grass in a shady hollow.
But what I am talking about is a completely white backyard with ice crystals on the plants.  These next 4 photos were taken at the end of July.
The wheel barrow track left in the frost after feed hay to the cows.
Ice crystals on the brassicas
Frosty brassicas
Jessie is not worried about the frost as long as she
can play with her road cone toy 
So even though we can grow these tropical plants there is a good chance they will take a battering in winter.
There are of course things we can do to protect from frost damage for the short period of time that it is an issue, and at this stage the mango is only young so will hopefully be a bit tougher when it is a bit older.  The bananas and paw paws do take a bit of a battering from the frost but are quick to recover and are a quick plant to re-establish.
So with these cool temperatures in mind I raised a range of brassica seedlings so that we would be able to grow winter vegetables.  And grow they did.  I planted them into my experimental garden bed  back at the end of May and they are strong and healthy.
What they are not doing however is setting fruit, all I have are leaves.  Healthy leaves.  And now I am worried that it is too warm and nothing will come of all these healthy plants.  The only one that has done ok are the mini cabbages.  Because they are small they formed solid hearts more quickly.
So am I fighting nature?  Do I give up on trying to grow cool climate brassicas?

If all else fails does anyone have any recipes to use the leaves?
Or did I just grow a crop of chicken food?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Surviving Progress

This documentary will be airing on ABC2 this Sunday night September 16th at 8.30pm.

It will be well worth turning the TV on for which is more than can be said for a lot of what is on TV.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Maleny Real Food Festival

What a magic weekend.  Not only was the weather wonderful but I spent quality time with Hubby and my best friend Sandra and attended the Maleny Real Food Festival.

This is the introduction from their website and I cannot speak highly enough about the wonderful festival that the organisers put on.

The Real Food Festival is a fantastic celebration of the wonderful variety of food that Sunshine Coast producers, manufacturers and restaurants have to offer, and a brilliant way to talk, taste and buy from them.  With stalls, demonstrations, discussions, hands-on and other activities throughout the weekend, the Festival has something for everyone and is a great way for people to support the best of Sunshine Coast regional food.

The weather was glorious and Sandra and I got there at 9am just as the gates were opening.  This was a great plan as we had time to speak to a number of stall holders before the crowds arrived.  And arrive they did.
The range of food, products and information on offer was amazing.  There were so many great stalls to visit and interesting people to talk to.   Here are some of my highlights although not even a drop in the ocean of the great things there were to see.
Meeting the lovely Rhonda from Down to Earth.  Rhonda was there as a presenter on the day and it was great to be able to introduce myself and thank Rhonda for all the work she puts into her blog.
The Crystal Waters Community Co-Op stand with, the very welcoming and generous with her time, Robin Clayfield.  Robin runs permaculture courses and I will be doing one in the first half of next year.
There were the ladies from Fabulous Food Ferments who were sharing their knowledge about fermented foods.  This is a subject that I am interested in learning more about.
Felix from Kin Kin Naturals was there and this was the first time we had meet in person.  I am a big fan of the products he produces and although I receive no incentives to talk about his products I am happy to do so.
With not a cloud in the sky it was a great day to be out and about and there were plenty of families enjoying a day out.
On the way home we stopped to take in the views over the glasshouse mountains.  It was a bit smoky from controlled burn offs.
Here are some of the locally produced goodies I picked up.
A goat and cow  blend soft cheese, vintage cheddar and brie

Tasty spreads

The most devine jam and Bunya Nuts in Liquer
Chocolate covered Blueberries, chilli sauce and nougat
Next year I think I will plan to go for the weekend and plan to see more of the presentations.  This year it was not an option but next year I will make sure I do not have any conflicting plans.

Have you been to any great local events lately?

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Spreading the Word

I have seen this short You Tube clip on a number of other blogs and you may have already seen it too.

But on the off chance you have not seen this please click on the link below and take 12 minutes out of your day to watch it.

The Clip.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Back into the swing of things

Things are getting back to normal after our holiday.
Here are a few snaps of the week that was.

This week our pussy cat turned 13 and although she is really an indoor cat she like to venture out into the shade house for an hour or so each day.
 The orchids are in full bloom

 And there have been a few stand offs between the indoor and out door pets.  They both want to be where the other one is.
 Hubby and I went to the circus,
 Cirquee du Soleil's "Ovo" and it was AMAZING!!!
 There has even been some bread making and baking.
I have got seeds germinating too but you didn't really need to seed a picture of an empty pot did you.

Back to normality.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Getting Back To Blogging

We have been back from our holiday for just over a week now and I am only just getting back to my blog.  Since returning we have been busy and then I got the flu that I am still feeling the affects of but enough of that here are some photos of what we have been up to.

Warning: There are a lot of photos

We visited a wind farm,
 Stayed in a strawbale B & B
 Visited the longest place name in the world,
 Went walking around a wetland that is being rehabilitated,
 Where a chicken tried to befriend us.
 Then we went to Napier, the Art Deco Capital of New Zealand.  The city was destroyed by a huge 8.7 magnitude earthquake in 1929 so when the city was rebuilt it was all in the style of the times, Art Deco.
We did a self guided walking tour of all that is Art Deco, these are just some of the snaps.

This is under the verandah  over the footpath

 We visited the lookout over looking the bay
 And dined at a fab Cafe/Deli where it was hard to resist all the goodies on display.
 We did lots of walking
 And spent time with my nieces
 We had a roll up with my Nan and her friends who taught us how to bowl.
 We met Lucy the latest addition to the family.
 And spent time at the park.
It was a great trip and now that I am feeling better and can get back to blog land because I have not even had a chance to see what you have all been up to.
Off to read some blogs.