Friday, November 25, 2011

I've moved - to a new home farm and a new website -

I've created the new site as an online resource for suburban farming and to promote and sell my new book, 'Keeping your own free range pigs' (Hyland House publishing)... it's very exciting to see it in print after several years of putting it together!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Link to Newspaper Article about Us!

Here’s the link:

The article is by Elaine Reeves from the Mercury, titled 'Feast a Fitting Finale'

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Piggy Porridge

I have been enjoying making porridgy concoctions for both the pigs and chooks lately. I’m hoping it’ll be warming, sustaining food as the weather gets cooler. Tinkerbell (the pig) especially needs something to improve her condition as she regroups after being mother of nine.

I have a 25 kilo bag of roughly rolled oats by the backdoor, and I fill two big stainless steel bowls half-full before pouring a kettle full of boiling hot water over them. I put a plate over them and leave for a few hours, before adding any extras.

Extra goodies have included: chopped garlic, powdered milk, seaweed meal (for trace minerals and vitamins), polenta, even some left over yoghurt. Plus the occasional extra special treat like stale cake and bread, crumbled up into bite size portions.

If I’ve timed it well the bowl is still warm when I bring it out for a late afternoon tea....

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Challenge is Over - or is it?

I wonder why I always smile when I go into the garden???

Our challenge is officially over, though the end seems a little fuzzy to me.

I've been trying to write a shopping list for our first supermarket shop since October last year. I'm struggling to come up with anything we really need (or even want!)... The five year old's have been consulted and the only thing they contributed was that they wanted a dog - and if that's not at the supermarket they're not really interested. They are keen to get into the local mega-store to cruise the toy aisle though....

Johan's 'need' was fairly predictable - cocoa, but we can source that from our local organic supplier.

We've agreed to aim to shop at the supermarket every three months only, for a few key items, and Johan's keen to extend the challenge rules - creating shopping guidelines that favour Australian foods and goods only, as a way of supporting local producers nationally.

In the next few weeks I hope to spend some time updating this blog with highlights from March before they evaporate from my memory - so much has happened and we've learnt so much - I've just got to remeber what that was! :)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

February Update

Certain parts of my veggie garden and this blog page elicit the same emotional response from me at the moment.... I'm a bit overwhelmed as a result of neglecting to put the time and effort needed to keep them weeded, planted and, in the case of the blog page, up-to-date.

At least the rains are here so I don't need to think about watering for a while...

So here's an update on the high's, low's and adventures of February - a big month for us during our summer challenge!

The garden has served us very well - we've enjoyed an adundance of all sorts of greens, peas, strawberries, and potatoes. The fruit from the orchard included my favourite, greengages, as well as many other varieties of plum and cherry. The only problem with the greengages is that the time between them achieving that extraordinary sweetness and the time when the birds make away with them seems to get shorter each year!

On the livestock front, four more pigs left for the abbatoir in February, including the one we cooked on the spitroast for our party. I also rehomed 5 of Tinkerbells piglets - leaving 4 here to grow out. They're all fine, strong, and independent little characters. Today they're in the orchard scrounging windfall apples.

Our chook breeding has resulted in lots of birds in the yard - I started counting today but lost count at around 50... many of these are young birds who will be rehomed in the next few weeks. I'm particularly fond of the Brahmas I hatched from eggs sent from Victoria at the moment.

Johan and I made a decision prior to the big party on the 21st Feb that we would no longer continue on a 100% Tasmanian locavore diet after that date - it was to be a celebration all foods Taswegian, and a last hurrah.

There were two key reasons we made that decision. The first was that I was struggling with the bread making,and cooking in general, due to nausea. I had morning sickness (amazing what happens when you watch less TV!) and couldn't stand the smell or sight of the yeast, any meat, and anything that had a strong smell (which seemed to be most things according to my nose!). The second reason was that I was going to have to go up North to work for a contract - meaning that the practical day-to-day work arounf the farm was likely to get a bit out of balance and potentially make the challenge more of a chore than a joy for us.

Ironically - after announcing our intention to finish that night, the following week both these reasons ceased to be an issue. The pregnancy ended, and the job ceased to exist as well... So - we're still scratching our heads about that and trying to make sense of it all!

In the meantime we're still sticking to our other goals - no supermarket shopping, and focussing on developing sustainability in our daily lives.

Some highlights in February - Jake and Lachlan starting school, beautiful and kind people who came into our lives and helped us when things were tough, being involved in filming a documentary about self sufficency in relation to the pigs,and learning about that creative process, Collette's apricot jam, lemon cake - all crumbly and moist, the boys egging each other on to swing higher on their tarzan swing, my gorgeous fella being so loving and supportive.

I am a lucky girl!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Party time at Parami

Produce from our garden artfully displayed on the feasting table by our friend Chris

On the 21st we were joined by about 50 family and friends for a massive party to celebrate our Summer Challenge.

All our guests were invited to bring something Tasmanian to add to the table - we were lucky enough to get home-made preserves, cheese from the Bruny Island Chesse Factory (brought by the cheesemaker himself), cordials, oodles of wine, salads, and a local salmon.

Our major contribution was a spit-roasted pig. The pig weighed in at 60 kilos - too large for the spit-roaster really.... somehow Johan and his mate David managed to keep the machine working, and the pig on the spit (it fell off a few times!) long enough to produce a dinner everyone was happy to rave about.... I'm not a big fan of pork, but even I was impressed...

My father, Bob and David ,carving the spitroast, while Jake tries to get some of the crackling before it gets to the table

The crackling was amazing - I'd never had it before but I was told it was impressive by those in the know. At the beginning of the day (we started at about 9am!) I scored the skin of the pig with a knife, rubbed it with a Tasmanian Olive Oil, and then rubbed some salt over it... it worked a treat - though I got very nervous during the day as everytime I saw Johan or David they were chomping on a piece of crackling - I was concerned we may not have any left for those coming in the evening! Thankfully we did...

It was a wonderful evening - I felt very grateful to be surrounded by so many of the people in our lives that have been great supporters of what we're doing on our little farm.

I so appreciated the efforts they made to bring something local, and in many cases home-made - including Chris' homemade cider which he served with frozen raspberries (lush!), Silja's beautiful beetroot and walnut salad, Elaines strawberries with balsamic vinegar (a revelation!), Matthew's silverbeet with garlic and butter, home dug potato salads, and many more which have slipped my memory right now. It really was a feast!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A little tour of Tassie

'That'll teach you for saying 'Are we there yet?' for the 2000th time!"

We decided to have ourselves a little mini-break over the Australia Day Long Weekend.

We headed North to explore the area that produces so much of the delicious dairy and vegetables we enjoy. It seemed a long way (especially with a chorus of 'Are we there yets' from the back seat...)

The Ashgrove Farm Cheese Shop proved a huge hit with the 5 year olds - they'd declared recently that they didn't care much for, and would not be eating any type of Tasmanian Cheese... but having tried about a dozen types at the shop they decided that Creamy Lancashire and Rubicon Red were acceptable exceptions to this rule.

We did a bit of pre-planning and bought an Eski full of goodies with us to help out should we have difficulty sourcing local food. We enjoyed home-cooked meals the first few days in our self contained accomommodation, which was a lovingly restored shearers hut near Clarendon Estate in Evandale. Johan made the most delicious homemade bread rolls with eggs, ham, and relish...

... and there was no hassle on days 3 & 4 as Johan's daughter (and soon-to-be son in law) made us a scrummy meal in Burnie, and we were able to find a great Fish & Chip shop with local produce. We did choose to deviate from our self-imposed rules by indulging in some Valhalla Tasmanian-made icecreams (it was hot, and they were so delicious!!!) much to the delight of the younger travellers.

A visit to Tasmazia, with its beautifully constructed gardens and amazing hedged maze left me wanting to come home and create order in my little patch - but on getting back here there were 101 other things that seemed more important than weed-free garden paths and boxed gardens :) We are still talking about creating our own 'balancing' maze at home though... or perhaps make one out of hay bales in the shed... (another project to put on the list!)

I am so happy to be home. There's really nothing like time away to heighten your gratitude for home, sweet, home, is there?

Check out those hedges!