Slow living farm update - January 2015

by Farmer Liz
Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you had a lovely break and time with family over the past few weeks.  I'm joining in the Slow Living Monthly Nine again, started by Christine at Slow Living Essentials and currently hosted by Linda at Greenhaven.  We were very busy being slow in December....

I wish I could say that I grew this beauty, but I am yet to master watermelons in own garden. Fortunately there are plenty of growers around us (but none are organic) and we can usually get a few cheap watermelons in summer. We can’t eat a whole melon though, so I like to make granita, which I can pull out of the freezer to enjoy on hot summer days. I’ll post my recipe soon, but I can tell you it includes ginger and mint, I’ll take any opportunity to use my herbs!

We have been waiting for the pickling cucumbers to grow and I thought I’d better start fermenting the three we had so far, or they might be too far gone by the time I had a jar-full. I ferment them rather than pickle, so I can easily add new cucumbers to the jar as they get big enough. See my recipe back here.  Also in the photo is milk kefir and a fermented drink with orange, tumeric, ginger and brahmi.

Since I’ve been staying in Brisbane I’ve made a real effort to use the city and state libraries here, which is a great way to get access to new books and magazines without buying them. We have two bookshelves full of books and I really need to be selective about adding yet more books! Over Christmas I had a look at which books I might give away to charity shops and realised that there were a number that I had bought and not read yet, so I’ve promised myself I will read all of them before buying anything new (some I have read and wanted to read again).

I harvested from my herb garden as many were growing out of control since our recent rain. I set most of them aside to air dry for tea and dried herbs, but I also tried something new with the brahmi and put it in a jar of vodka to start a tincture. This is my first herbal tincture and I am not sure what to expect from it. I’ll write more about brahmi soon.  (Here's my other posts on herbs)

I shared my garden on Monday. The other thing that we are growing is chicks! We have the incubator set up in our bedroom. Last time we incubated eggs, we had trouble with over-temperature because inside our house can be over 38degC and the incubator can’t control to the correct temperature. We just installed a new efficient air conditioner in our bedroom, so the incubator is in there, with the air conditioner set at 30degC during the day! At least when the chicks hatch we don’t have to worry about them getting too cold in the brooder box.  (I will have more to say on this air conditioner soon, but in summary: 1) it is surprisingly efficient and not using much power compared to the improvement in comfort in our badly designed house, 2) the new house probably won't need air conditioning as it is orientated more sensibly and has insulation and high ceilings, so far its been very comfortable)

We have paint colour swatches all over our dining table and still have not decided on an outside colour for the house at Cheslyn Rise. We did go paint shopping (it took hours) and got primer, ceiling paint, trim in Pale Eucalypt and we chose the interior wall colour (tapestry beige) and the door colour (light leather). I would love to paint it all white, but that is not practical when we live in red dirt and never seem to have clean hands! Our roof is nearly done (in Paperbark – I think I said Evening Haze before, but I had forgotten what we told the roofer to buy as it was six months ago, now at least we know what is up there, we can make a decision on the exterior colour).   So far we have sanded and “gap-filled” the smallest bedroom, and we should get it painted over the next few weekends. Its hard work, but I can’t wait to see the final result.

Late last year I decided that this year I would spend more time sewing. I made my dress-maker’s form and I haven’t even used it yet, so I brought her to Brisbane along with my suitcase of fabric stash. I also bought myself for Christmas a book on basic dress-making (I know I said no more books, starting from January no more books). And I’m going to make a real effort to learn the proper techniques instead of just hacking.

In early December I also moved units in Brisbane because my lovely landlady sold the house I was living in, I was sad to leave, but I have found a wonderful unit that is only 30 minutes walk to work in the CBD, and I walked to work all through December. This is saving my money and I’m getting some exercise (it is up and down hills). I say “hello” to people that I pass and most give me funny looks, but some reply, maybe I can get some country friendliness to catch on.

On the subject of exercise.... Pete and I rolled out the above polypipe from the bore up to the highest point on our property and when we connected it, we had water at the top!  Next step is to install a tank at the top and start distributing water and growing trees!

We spent Christmas and Boxing Day at Woodgate Beach and it was lovely beach weather. We managed to get Taz in for a swim and took them both down at low tide to play ball. At New Years we had friends with a dog stay at Cheslyn Rise and managed to get Taz to swim in the dam with the other dog. I hopped in too the next day, a bit muddy, but nice to cool off after a day of sanding the walls!  We've had Taz for one year now, she is a funny little dog!

How was your December and Christmas?  What are your plans for January?

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