Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Time and lack of it

My life just seems to turn into one big whirl of busy-ness sometimes! It's nearly Christmas and I'm really not ready for it, although I am ready for the 2 weeks away that we will be having over that time! Kim and I will be having some time off in Western Australia - can't wait to catch up with Kim's family from over there, but especially our daughter.....she wants me to spend some time with her in the kitchen as she wants to get her mojo back.

Has anyone been inspired by my Lucy's Kitchen Facebook page. I've been enjoying posting about our food, and if even one person gets some inspiration to cook something, whether it be something I've done, or just been motivated to cook something from scratch or plant something in a garden, then I've achieved what I set out to do. As I've said before, it's not hard to cook good food, it's all about prioritising time and buying good ingredients.

This afternoon I decided that I'd better make some time to spend in the garden and tidy it up or else I won't have a garden! The green panic grass was starting to take over and shade too much. A little bit of shade in this heat is good, but not the amount I've been getting!

We've been eating kale and other greens, the odd tomato and lots of herbs. My eggplant is not so good - it's always too bitter, even after salting it. My lettuce are really struggling in this heat, so yesterday I bought the first lettuce that I've bought in months! I'm just waiting for my Brazilian spinach, Ceylon spinach and a newly planted Egyptian spinach to get big enough to start eating. The Ceylon spinach got me through last summer as our go to lettuce for salads.

I've pulled all my garlic - I didn't weigh it, but I did get two lovely big plaits. I've planted and waiting to harvest - snake beans, zucchini, tomatoes, capsicums, rosellas. The rosellas I mainly want to make some tea, although if I get enough off my two plants to make a small batch of jam I'll be happy with that too!
This was the first one I did and about the second one was twice as big as this. This one is gone and I'm working my way through the next one.

Below are some shots of my tidier garden, however I've lost quite a few plants from last weeks heat!



This last photo shows my two surviving (out of 5) rosellas and my asparagus that I never managed to eat in time. I didn't have enough netting to go over the top, so I've just put it around some of the plants to try and stop the chooks.





Friday, September 16, 2016

Garden

Last weekend I spent a day doing a kitchen garden workshop with Kookaburra Organics. It was very well run and a small group so very personal and easy to ask questions etc. It has made me very enthusiastic to get my own garden organised. I've got lots in my garden, but I have to keep it covered to keep the chooks, turkeys and poddy goats out! It's not ideal on a few fronts - it looks terrible, the bees can't get to my plants, and I've only got some stuff covered. Asparagus, banana trees, chilli bushes etc are all uncovered and have been really suffering.

I planted up most of my veg back in June, although I planted the garlic way before that. In my garden at the moment - I'm picking - eggplant, silver beet, perpetual spinach, lettuce, shallots, , basil, parsley, chilli, capsicum (not many), the odd tomato, kale (curly and calvero nero), warrigal greens, celery (very small but I keep picking it), garlic tops at the moment, the bottoms are going to be a little while, kang kong (water spinach), a little bit of coriander, but it's mostly gone to seed now, turmeric - mostly dug, but still a few bits to dig when I want fresh stuff.


Kangkong, chilli and turmeric from the garden


Stir fried kangkong for dinner



What's not growing very well, is my asparagus and bananas thanks to the animals! I've got mulberries and mandarines in the chook yard. Limes are still coming on, but slowing down now. The lime tree is in flower and got baby limes on - it's a fantastic tree!

So this is my garden at the moment.


I wouldn't have anything in the garden if I didn't have the netting, but it's not pretty!


This kale is from last year. There's also basil, lettuce and the silver beet and spinach that the goats ate.


Eggplant in the back, some marigolds and tomatoes struggling.

A close up of my tomato (I don't have many on). I have some yellow cherries in another bed as well.

Lots of kale  and a wombok cabbage that has gone to seed. I grew some nice ones last year, but haven't had any luck this year.


My garlic section with some turmeric and another cabbage not quite gone to seed yet.


My fantastic lime tree.






Thursday, September 15, 2016

A Goaty Tale

We love to eat goat meat and whenever we visited Kim's brother we would always came back with an esky full of goat meat. He lives at Aramac and had a nice little herd of goats. Once we started the free range pork business we decided to offer goat meat as well, so that meant we became goat breeders with our own little goat herd. 

We've gradually built up numbers by keeping our own females and occasionally bringing in some live nannies from Aramac. In the meantime we ate the odd goat from our neighbour. No we aren't into goat stealing, Kim would help him kill one or two and we'd get some of the meat. This meat was much nicer than our own goat meat (my apologies to any customers reading this). For some reason that I am unaware of (although I am positive that's what he told us), we had thought his goats were Anglo Nubian, which is a duel purpose breed - meaning good for milk and meat. For the last twelve months or more we've been trying to get an Anglo Nubian billy. We drove all the way to Kingaroy once to pick up one but when we got there we discovered that they were another totally different breed, British Alpine, and when I googled them (at the farm) it stated that they were not suitable for the tropics.  We decided not to take them, but because we'd travelled so far he gave us a whether of very dubious age. We ended up eating him and he too was very tasty. 

So back on the trail of getting our hands on a billy. The next time we rang about one, the breeder bred Anglo Nubian and Kalahari Reds. She had one of the latter available and seeing as we desperately needed a bully we took him instead. All this while we kept asking our neighbour for one oh his billies. Finally just after we got onto another Anglo Nubian billy, our neighbour sold us a nanny with a billy kid. The Anglo Nubian we bought was a totally different looking animal to the neighbours. When I mentioned this to the neighbour he was quite emphatic that his breed were definitely Saanen! We have been looking for the wrong breed the whole time!



And now we have lost the little billy kid to some sort of predator. I don't think we are meant to have a Saanen.  The funny thing was that when we went to buy the goat that turned out to be a British alpine, it was the colour of it that made me double check the breed - Anglo Nubians happen to look more like a British alpines, and nothing like saanen!

Further to the story about our Saanen nanny that is kidless.....She's not terribly quiet and I would see her with her bulging udder and feel sorry for her, but I could never catch her to do anything about it. The other day I went out to the goat paddock and she had her head stuck in the fence. I grabbed a dish and milked her out. Everyday she gets her head stuck so I've been milking her out every day. Then I decided to give the milk to one of our poddies who hasn't been drinking the calf powdered milk and is a little bit sick looking. The little goat drank the goats milk straight away. Makes sense really. 




We have 8 poddy goats at the moment and I had thought about trying to see if the nanny will take one of the kids so maybe I should see if my sick little one will bond with her and her with it.


They are cute when they are like the above photo, but not so cute like the below one. I have also had to banish them from the house yard as they have stripped every plant they could reach and managed to get under my bird netting in the garden!



Sunday, July 31, 2016

What's happening at my place

We've had rain recently (a lot of it) and since then it's been unseasonably warm. My asparagus thinks it's spring even though I'm sure it's going to get cold again. For the last couple of years I have not really been good to my asparagus bed and this year I had fully intended to cut it back and mulch it as soon as it got cold. However, I've only done one bed already so today I started to to tidy the second bed. I did run out of time, but I've weeded all the couch and the next job is to cut back the ferns, put on some compost and mulch hay.

My lime tree has been producing so many limes for a while now and there's still quite a few on the tree and it's flowering again. Just about every meal has lime included somehow, even if it's only in some soda water to drink!
Lately I don't bother to pick the limes until they start to colour. Makes it easier to see them in the tree.

We are eating some veg out of the garden too, although I did stock up at the markets this weekend just to make sure we have some variety and because my garden can't supply enough. One day........
I found a couple of capsicums amongst my chillies. I had two plants but I thought they were both chillies. Pleasant surprise.

I'm making pretty good bread lately (sourdough) and tonight I did a free form loaf and it looks pretty good! I use khorasan (kamut) flour, which is an old variety of wheat, a bit like spelt, but I think it makes a much nicer loaf than spelt. I use a rye starter, which is just about impossible to ruin and just about always comes up nice and bubbly.


Friday, July 22, 2016

Lucy's Kitchen

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while, would know that I'm quite passionate about food. Especially made from scratch, home grown, healthy food - slow food! A while ago we had a backpacker staying with us who was into technology and he tried to convince me that I should video myself while cooking. He felt that I could show better then tell people how I cook. I do kind of agree with him, because I tend to make things up as I go along and I could explain what I'm doing as I do it. Often I'll have a plan in my head of what I'm going to cook, but change my mind half way through. Not sure if this would make for good viewing or not. But anyway, I'm not quite ready to go to the full on video concept, but I have decided to start a Facebook page focused on what I cook and eat, each day (or most days). I'm also planning on starting a YouTube channel too, so stay posted for that.

It's not hard to cook good healthy wholesome and tasty food, but you need to have a basic cooking ability, good ingredients and the confidence to give it a go. It also helps to have a bit of an understanding of flavours and what works and what doesn't. This can be learnt, although it does come more easily for some people than others.

I'm a pretty busy person, but I do prioritise food time. I make time to make real food - fermented vegetables, yoghurt and cheese, sourdough bread, kombucha and kefir, baked beans, etc. The essential thing to do with this, is to plan. You can't just wake up in the morning and decide to have baked beans for breakfast - you need to think about baked beans for breakfast 24 hours before you want to eat them. But with a little planning and cooking ahead, you can take a container of baked beans out of the freezer and have them for breakfast. It's about forming habits - taking meat out of the freezer, feeding the sourdough starter, making bone broth, bottling kombucha, growing herbs, growing vegetables.

So, if you would like to see what happens in my kitchen on an almost daily basis, please pop over to Facebook, find my page, like it and keep up-to-date with what I'm doing. If you want me to share recipes, please ask me. Sometimes I keep it brief, but I'm happy to share recipes when I can. Sometimes it's not a recipe, but a concept. Sometimes I just like to show that it's not so hard to cook a really nice meal, in a very short time, or it can take all day to cook a really nice meal! Just be warned, you won't see fancy photo's of staged food. I'm a cook, not a photographer (or a fancy cheffy type with my plating up either).

Hopefully that link works. If not search for it. Use the picture below as an example, so that you know you've got the right one (there's a few Lucy's Kitchens on Facebook). I am sometimes technologically challenged!

Lucy's Kitchen






Saturday, June 18, 2016

Who wants to be a farmer???

I've just written a post over on the Dawson Valley Free Range Blog about an exciting opportunity for a young person to be involved with our growing business. I won't re-write it all here, just pop over to Dawson Valley Free Range or our other internship website to find out more information.


Sunday, June 12, 2016

Over the last couple of months I have been feeling quite overwhelmed with our lifestyle. I sometimes think that we just work so hard and seem to get no where! I had a little health scare last week and realised that my health is being affected by my stress levels. Last Sunday I decided to make some changes. Part of this decision was based on the fact that I bought a stack of vegetable seedlings - I was forced into spending some time in the garden or else I would've wasted my money. Well, it paid off! Not only did I get my garden weeded and every available space planted, I ended up being far more productive in the office.

Some plants survived the summer - this bed is a mix of old and new plantings.

The moral of this story is that I need to make time to do the things that I really enjoy doing and hopefully this will ensure that my stress levels don't get to being unmanageable. And if I'm more productive then it's a win/win all around.

So, a week later and having just spent a busy but relaxing and enjoyable weekend with our eldest son and his partner I am feeling great about life on the farm. I love farming and I really don't want to do anything else. I feel very lucky to have the lifestyle that we have, especially being able to send Benjamin off with eskies full of meat and milk. We made strawberry jam, killed and processed 6 roosters and 3 ducks, did some cattle work, managed to keep all the pigs feed and still relaxed and had family time.

Healthy farming is also about keeping the Farmer healthy! We need to keep our life in balance - all work is not good, and my goal now is to keep that balance.


Some of the roosters were a little old so we minced them - originally we planned to make sausages, but ran out of time.......I think minced chicken will be great!


The bones went into the stock pot to make a big batch of chicken bone broth. This will be handy this week, as Kim is coming down with a cold! 


The remaining chickens must have been a bit worried with the slaughter yesterday - they've gone from a couple of eggs a day to 10 today!