Farm Update - May 2017

by Farmer Liz
As anticipated in my last update, we have indeed moved into our secondhand house.  It wasn't such a huge effort because we had been gradually moving things for months, as soon as the floor was finished we started moving things every weekend, so we just had to do that final transition with all the kitchen things and clothing and now our old house is nearly empty.  We have a lot more to move from the shed and around the property, things like water troughs and round bale feeders, but we will just keep taking a few things every time we go past and eventually it will be cleaned out and ready to sell.

The dogs seem to have settled in, they now have a dog yard out the front, which is handy when visitors come (Gus does like to greet everyone and sometimes fresh from swimming in the dam, a big black leaping dog is bad enough without also being dripping wet).  They love coming on walks or bikerides around the property to check the cattle.

This time of year is lovely for getting work done outside.  It has finally cooled down enough to light the fire (new woodstove installed, post coming soon), and it doesn't get above the mid-20degC, so we have been taking advantage of that and building new fences etc.

I was hoping to have NBN internet sorted by now, but unfortunately they couldn't find a signal with fixed wireless, so now we have to sign up for the satellite service, which I have heard is slower, but better than nothing (we have no phone lines connected to the house, so we can't use ADSL).

Gus can see into our bedroom through the french doors

Food and cooking

As I shared last week in my lunches update, this is what we eat when we're home for lunch, lots of veges, fruit, cold meat and cheese.

Land and farming
We wanted to move the dairy cows and weaner calves into a new paddock, but spotted a bit of lantana, so thought we would just duck in and dig out a few bushes to make sure that they were safe.... three hours later we had to tie the load down so that it didn't fall off the ute!  The cows were very happy to have a new paddock though.

This chickens have all moved in, the chicken tractors fit on the car trailer.  Unfortunately they are all moulting and due to our decision not to hatch any new chicks this year (didn't need the extra work), we have no new pullets and NO EGGS!  For the first time in about five years I gave in and bought eggs, they do not taste as nice, but I need something for breakfast!  We are thinking about buying a few point-of-lay hens to get us through winter.  We will raise chicks again in spring.

Cows and cattle
All the cattle are now at Cheslyn Rise, the last to move were Rosie, Charlotte and Chubby.  We spotted the first of the Angus calves, which was lucky as I couldn't find it a few days later, very well hidden in the grass, there may be others that we haven't seen yet.  Nancy has also had a calf.  We are preparing for Molly to have her calf and we will be back to milking.  The milking machine is here and we just need to set up the milking bales.

Bees and Beekeeping
Pete checked the bees for the first time since we extracted honey in March.  Overall he was pretty happy with them, had to combine two nucs that were not doing so well, but most hives had a lot of honey (we decided to leave that for the bees as there is not much flowering at the moment).  I was happy to stand back and take notes while Pete checked the hives.

I have a garden update coming soon, I have a temporary set up with pots at the moment while we get some raised beds organised.

Here is a view of the house from up the hill.  You can see our second shed, which is just a little 6mx6m with carport, for storing the vehicles and mower etc.  The big shed is a workshop and we prefer to store all the fuel and motors away from where Pete is welding and grinding.  You can also see the new chimney flue in this photo.

Chapter four of Toby Hemenway's Gaia's Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture, 2nd Edition (affiliate link) covers water.  This is such an important topic for gardens in brittle environments, where rain is infrequent and unpredictable.  The chapter first explains how water can be stored in the soil by building organic matter, then the use of swales and ponds to hold water.  Re-using grey water is another topic - I feel like we waste so much grey water every time I let the bath out, so that's a project to think about long term (hard to set up a reed bed before you move in and have a regular water supply to it!).  Finally there is also a discussion about rainwater tanks, which I think are pretty common in Australia, even in cities.  Of course all our water here is rainwater and we have four large tanks connected to the house and the roof.  There is discussion in this chapter about how to hide rainwater tanks, but I don't find them ugly at all, they are a symbol of our water collect self-sufficiency, so I don't mind seeing them lined up outside the kitchen window!

I haven't had time to create anything!  But I am enjoying decorating the house gradually as I figure out where to put everything.  I'm looking forward to getting my knitting and crochet out over winter.  And my new soap kitchen is pretty much set up (just need to attach the splash back to the wall), but I've already used it to process some beeswax, and will be making soap as soon as possible!

How was your April?  What are you up to in May?

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