February was another hot month, with not much rain. The grass at Nanango is now brown and crunchy. Kumbia is still green due to the rain we had at the end of January. The evenings have just started to cool down as we welcome autumn (about time!).
Food and cooking
The garden has not been very productive in the hot weather, however the giant chilli bushes are very healthy and I harvested two baskets of chillies. One for our local produce swap and the other I used to make chilli honey, chilli oil and dried chilli flakes. More on all of that in a later post.
Land and farming
Its still green at Kumbia and with the hot days we put in some early mornings to get work down before it was hot. Early mornings are not my favourite thing, but the farm does look beautiful.
The chickens were feeling the heat too, and egg laying dropped to 1-2 eggs per day from 16 hens. They literally can't form eggs when the temperatures are high, so we just did our best to keep them cool, with lots of mud puddles and chilled watermelon. Now that the weather is cooler they are back to normal production until they start moulting!
Cows and cattle
The calves are now weaned and under the supervision of the two dairy cows in a far paddock. This seems to have gone fairly smoothly. We will have to bring them all back together and mix them up again soon as the dairy cows are due to calve in April.
Bees and Beekeeping
We checked the beehives and some of them were fully of honey again, so we took a few frames from each just to give them some space. So another sticky weekend of honey extraction, beeswax processing
and one beesting through my glove!
The garden is not producing much, but I've been able to pick a few cucumber and beans each day. I have had to water from the rainwater tanks, which are relatively full and we are not trying to conserve water as much as usual as we are planning to move soon. And this means I'm not looking at planting anything new, as I said in this post
, I'm going to miss my garden, but we have a few ideas about setting up our new one.
We started moving stuff!!! First all the books (well not all, there is still a stack of books next to the bed). And then gradually other boxes and furniture. I don't want to have to do a heap of big moving trips, so we are just making sure that the ute is full every time we drive over to the farm and its moving gradually. The kitchen is cupboards are installed, but the bench had to be sent back for repairs, so that has slowed us down. The laundry cupboards and bench are done. We are now just waiting for electrician, builder and tiler to finish, and when the kitchen is ready we can live there!
Chapter three of Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition
(affiliate link) gets into the detail of designing the ecological garden. It was a good time for me to read this chapter, given my recent musings about our new garden. A few key points from this chapter:
- Look for patterns in nature, rather that just using straight lines, to maximise gardening space. For example, keyhole gardens and herb spirals. The added advantage is conserving moisture in the soil as there is less empty space for evaporation and more space filled with plants.
- Use edges to create more space - edges being particularly productive areas. (use edges and value the marginal)
- The design process should involve both observation and visioning. Observation involves spending time at the property and looking up data on climate, looking at topographical maps (for larger properties) and generally getting a feel for the place without making any decisions. Visioning is about thinking of all the functions that you want to achieve, such as growing your own food, providing habitat for native animals etc. There is a great explanation of zones and sectors in this chapter (see more in my post here).
After reading this chapter several years ago, I started working on the permaculture design for our property (you can check out the full document here
I was sent a lovely book about beeswax (The Beeswax Workshop: How to Make Your Own Natural Candles, Cosmetics, Cleaners, Soaps, Healing Balms and More
), I particularly liked the recipe for making a polish for wooden chopping boards (see my post here
How was your February? What are your plans for March?