July 11 - farm update

Jul 01 2011 0 Comments Tags: update

So much has been going on recently, I feel like I haven't been keeping you up to date at all.  Here's a quick summary of the current status of everything we're working on:

The Garden
I can sum this up in two words "frost damage".  I knew it was getting cold, but I didn't think about frost damage mitigation until it was too late. Luckily our big shade cloth cover keeps most of the dew/frost off the actual garden beds, so most of the damage is to the plants outside the garden.  The monster winter squash has finally died off, the bean plant and passionfruit were slightly damaged and the paw paw trees do not look happy (aren't they pretty in their lace curtains, I'm hoping to prevent further damage).  Apart from that, I've been horribly neglectful, because its getting dark so early (5:30pm) and most of our afternoon is taken up with Bella and Molly. The broccoli that I planted did not do well (I think I was too late getting it established, and now its so cold, they're not growing very fast).  The peas are not doing well.  The only thing going well is the cherry tomatoes, mini capsicums, beans and the squash, as usual!  I have 10 silverbeet seedlings in trays, I am trying to look after them and get them nice and big.  I am going to get organised plant some more seeds for spring.....soon....

The paw paw trees and winter squash haven't survived the frost.

The bean plant didn't do well either (I'm leaving the dead leaves to protect the green ones from the next frost)

The broccoli didn't grow much, but my compost tomatoes are doing well!
(I spread ash from the wood stove around the tomatoes
- potassium to encourage flowering/fruiting, and gave them some weed tea,
I need something to succeed!)

The peas aren't doing well either (lettuce has gone to seed, which is good because I was running out of lettuce seeds)

I found this pumpkin the other day, yay, its huge!

The Chickens
Our eight hens are laying one egg every few days.  A bit slack, but we don't know which one(s) is/are laying, so don't want to kill the wrong one!  The chicks we hatched in January/February are nearly 6 months old.  We have 4 hens who should start laying in spring and 6 roosters, who are still a little scrawny for eating.  We gave one rooster away to a friend.  He left a small pen of 7 roosters, sat in a box for a couple of hours and when he popped out we was in a big pen with 10 hens, he must have thought he died and went to heaven.

First chick out was named 'fluffy'.....


....6 months later, 'fluffy' in his new home!  Not sure if the best part is
all the ladies or the giant mound of road base,
roosters love to stand up on mounds and crow loudly!

The Steers
Bruce was butchered in early June (we have a freezer full of meat and its very tasty), so Rocket was hanging out with Bella and Molly (she seems to like her uncle Rocket), then we brought 2 more steers up to our place (Bratwurst and Frankfurter, two more limosin crosses), so now we have 3 steers.  That should keep us supplied with meat for a few more years!  Rocket was starting to think that he was a dairy cow (understandable with the black and white spots) and kept trying to come into Bella's milking bales, and was getting a bit rough with his horns around the calf, so he's now in a different paddock with the new boys.

The new boys
The Dairy Cow
We have discovered that Bella is very susceptible to low level mastitis if she isn't milked out completely, which happened a few times are we were all getting used to each other.  Fortunately Molly is now big enough to take a decent amount without getting scours, so we have FINALLY got into a milking routine.  We milk Bella in the morning (5:30 am!!!) and let Molly run with her during the day.  In the evening we feed Bella in her milking bales and lead Molly into a small yard by herself (but still near to mum).  Molly spends the night separated from Bella, so we get lots of milk in the morning.  I think everyone is happy with this routine, except Bella tends to stand near the gate of Molly's pen in the morning, just to remind us that she is stuck in there.





I have been using the milk/cream to make yoghurt, cheese and butter.  For the yoghurt, I've accepted the fact that I have to pasteurise the milk first, and the yoghurt is turning out fine (still using Easiyo thermos).  We did a cheese making course and have been making cream cheese, feta and hard cheeses (cheddar and gouda).  The fresh cheeses are great, and we are still aging the hard ones in our modified cheese cave/fridge.  I can't wait to learn more about how to influence the flavours and textures of the cheeses.  When we need butter I just shake up some cream in a jar and separate the butter, small batches are great because you don't have to remove all the butter milk if you're not going to store it for long periods.



The Kelpies
The kelpies are not allowed near the milking area as Bella really doesn't like them, however, they are getting a nice dish of fresh milk every morning now, so I think they have forgiven Bella for restricting their access to that corner of the house yard.  They also have a constant supply of beef bones from Bruce, so they're very fat and happy.




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