Even though its still spring, November is more like Sprummer
here, we usually start to get hot days, if not absolute heat waves. We had no rain at all until the last few days of November, so the grass went from a pale green, to a crunchy dusty brown in no time. Its really difficult to maintain any motivation in the garden when you can see it withering before you, and all the animals look hot and uncomfortable. Except for the dogs who have been going for swims to cool off.
Food and cooking
Pete and I took a long weekend and drove down to Sydney to visit friends. We drove because they had some things that they wanted to give us, including portable solar panels and an overlocker. When we travel we have a habit of stopping to buy food, and on this trip we managed to find a cherry farm (I'm still eating through the 3 kg of cherries that I bought!) and a goat cheese dairy farm.
Land and farming
Apparently there was a butterfly invasion in November
, they had a great year "out west" and have all migrated to the coast, I had fun trying to photograph them, they were really enjoying our wild heliotrope flowers.
Egg laying is down due to the hot weather. I am reading a book about keeping chickens in the tropics and apparently temperatures about 32degC significantly affect egg production. We have had temperatures in the 30s for most of the month, so we are just trying to keep the hens cool and are thankful for any eggs that they can give us.Cows and cattle
We finally got a chance to bring all the cattle through the yards for insecticidal ear-tags (the flies are getting really bad already). As much as we would like to try an organic approach, we have not had complete success with any of the options yet and its not pleasant for the cattle to be constantly bothered with flies (these ones bite too), so at the moment we use ear tags as the least invasive option. We also castrated the four little boy calves using bands. Taz did an amazing job helping to move the cattle from one paddock into the yards, and the cattle were very well-behaved themselves, basically walking straight into the yards and moving through the race quietly, so its definitely worth investing in quiet cattle and spending time with them so that they stay tame.
|Taz the cattle dog!|
Bees and Beekeeping
Pete has been wanting to try grafting queen cells and got his opportunity this month. He had seven successful cells from 20 (which is excellent for a first try) and was able to put these into nucs. I will write more about this process soon. We also extracted more honey from our angry hive, they seem to be the best producers, with another 10 kg already!
Its been dry, but at least we have full water tanks, so I've been keeping a few seedlings going in the hope of the forecast wet summer (which has now been changed to a dry summer, which will probably mean that it will be wet). I bought zucchini, cucumber and bean seedlings, which are slowing getting bigger. I still have capsicums from last year, lots of silverbeet, the herbs are going well. I picked a handful of blackberries while they were still juicy, but the rest have dried up (although the plant is growing vigorously, which makes me nervous that its planning about garden takeover). We are also harvesting tomatoes from the hydroponics.
The kitchen decisions continue! I think we are going to get timber benchtops, two-pack doors in Dulux Limed White Half. At the same time we are also getting cupboards for the bathroom, laundry and spare bedroom in the Laminex Pumice. I chose a Laminex wood finish for the laundry bench. I still need to choose the fridge, dishwasher and door handles! But I think we are nearly there. Work will start in January, so I have a bit of time to think about it all.
The last of the principles from Mollison's Permaculture Design Manual
is "Everything gardens (or modifies its environment)". I see two parts to this principle. One is that no element exists in isolation, everything you introduce into your design will have an effect on other aspects of the design. A tree may throw shade, drop leave, produce fruit, all of these things can be beneficial or detrimental, depending how they are incorporated into the design. And the other part is that everything can be used for something in your design, you just have to be creative and foresee as much as possible what effect it is going to have so that you can make it fit as much as possible. For example, we have a power pole on our property that is going to need to be accessed by a meter-reader. I don't think we can grow anything up the pole, but we should try to use it for something, and factor in the need to access the meter. I haven't totally figured this one out, but I think this principle is a reminder to think about how to use every element, natural or manmade, to positively influence the end result of a permaculture design.
In preparation for our trip away, Pete installed a secondary battery system in the car and Gus was more than happy to help both under the bonnet and under the car. He also demonstrated that he can jump on the back of the ute if he wants to. Pete did a great job and we can now charge our secondary battery to run our travel fridge and buy lots of food when we go away! (I wrote about this back here
)I also started another rag rug
, this time using a crochet hook, so its tighter than the ones I made with finger crochet. I'm not sure how big it will get, Pete keeps taking back his t-shirts!
And I made a big batch of muscle salve for a bulk order. We don't do much for Christmas, anyone that needs a present will be getting soap! I have been pinning frugal Christmas ideas on my pinterest board
, which is also previewed at the end of this post if you are looking for inspiration.
How was your November? What are you plans for Christmas and New Years?
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