Miracles and Thankfulness

Well we have had something truely wonderful happen here at our farm! I am so happy to say that everyone of our 10 dams are full!!! It’s just amazing, a miracle! A storm came through on Saturday night and gave us 70ml in just half an hour or so. We have had empty dams now for easily 2 years, and to look out of the window on Sunday morning to see them full was just incredible!! We couldn’t believe our eyes! I even had a little radio interview on our local station, I couldn’t believe that either, but it was so lovely to share a little of our story.

Like many others we have struggled through the drought. Wondered what the future will look like. Lost cattle, sold cattle, watched them struggle to survive and watched my milking cow Bessie just give up. We were mentally and physically exhausted at times. I remember the days I looked forward to night-time, it was just such a relief to not look outside. Now on the other side of this we have green grass in the paddocks, the dams are full and I have a new milking cow Maudry. So very thankful for all these blessings.

What a lovely sight!

It certainly can be a land of extremes, sometimes we wonder why we do it. But at the end of the day we just love it. We love the land, the quiet and solitude of country life, working with livestock and having all of our other animals. Growing food for ourselves and always hoping for that water that brings life. We see and hear life bursting from everywhere with precious rain. Something that we never take for granted the smell, sight and sound of rain, and all that it brings.

Some of our calves coming through

This was a quick snap shot taken a couple of weeks ago when we got our cattle in to treat them for fly and worm, and tag calves etc. It really is a family effort, we all have our jobs and if each person does their bit, the day flows nicely, well as nicely as can be, sometimes the cattle don’t always want to co-operate, but our herd is very quiet, the biggest problem we have is the occasional one that wants to stop and not move! And the odd grumpy cow that wants to be with her calf. All in all not too much to complain about.

It’s encouraging to go into the new year this way, I hope wherever you find yourself today and in the days ahead, you find moments that bring you hope and encouragement too.

Tomorrow I can’t wait to share with you my favourite Carrot Cake recipe, it’s simple and it’s delicious!!

Self-Crusting Corn Quiche

The Crepe Myrtles are starting to flower

I would have to say Quiche is one of my favourites. It’s fuss free, easy to use as a snack or as an addition to a meal, nutritious and a great way to use up those surplus eggs. In my last post I mentioned how wonderful goose eggs are. Well that very afternoon when the boys were collecting the eggs and putting our feathered friends away for the night, a precious surprise lay hidden behind the compost bins, a goose egg! I’m delighted! They are wonderful to cook with and make the most amazing Impossible Pie.

A chicken egg/goose egg

The guinea fowl are settling into their new home. They are funny things to watch, it’s lovely to have some again!

Well with my egg bowl bursting, I decided to make this delicious Quiche and I thought you might like to try it too.

Self-Crusting Corn Quiche

  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Self-Raising Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 425g can Creamed Corn
  • 1 1/2 Cups grated Tasty Cheese
  • 1/2 Red Capsicum
  • Shallots or onion
  • Bacon Rashers ( 2-3)

Heat oven to 220 Degrees Celcius.

I used red capsicum and shallots because that’s what I had on hand in the garden, you can use whatever suits you. I chopped up my capsicum, shallots and bacon and fried them off. While they are cooling mix your first 4 ingredients together in a bowl. Stir in your corn and cheese, then add your ingredients from the frying pan. If you have any parsley on hand that would be lovely too.

Pour into a lined lamington tray or whatever quiche dish you would like to use, it should be around 20-23 cm in size. Bake for 20-30mins, or until the centre is firm. Serve warm or cold.

I find my mind starting to wonder to things like our youngest going back to school and our oldest son leaving home to start university and all that entails. Finding my routine again and I guess starting a new season in life where we will have only one of our three children left at home. Life keeps moving and changing, and with it so to the structure of our days. But with those changes come new beginnings and new experiences. Life is never dull, and much like a garden where one thing ends something new and exciting awaits!

Ants, Aphids and Learning New Things!

Well one thing is for certain, we never stop learning! I have recently made a new discovery, we have struggled to get rid of infestations of aphids and scale on some of our fruit and ornamental trees. It puzzled me why, when we have so many beneficial insects in our garden, why???? Why were these friends of ours not fighting the war in the rest of the garden? Well the answer is ants! Ants have their role to play in the great cycle of things, however if you have ants on your trees, they are more than likely harvesting food, and that food is the sugary secretions from scale and aphids. These busy ants take it back their nest to feed their colony. And not only are they harvesting but they are protecting the aphids from predators (gardener’s friends). So in order to have any hope of controlling aphids or scale you must control the ants.

In the photo above you can see I have put tape just under where the tree forks, then smeared a thin layer of Tree Guard, this is a type of glue available where you buy or order your gardening products. The ants disappear, they can’t stand it! Then something amazing happens, all those wonderful insects that love to eat aphids and scale come and do what they do best, feast on them!

Soldier Beetle

I inspected my Bush Lemon tree that was just loaded with ants before I applied the tape and glue. It now has so many different insects and wasps all over it, taking care of the pests for us, amazing! I always thought the ants were a problem, I just didn’t realise how much of a problem they were. They are only doing what is natural and ants are important in the grand scheme of things, however in my opinion the tape and glue is a wonderful idea because you are not wiping out an entire ant colony, you are simply deterring them.

Mangoes!!

We are enjoying a bounty of mangoes from the garden at the moment. They are smaller this year but still delicious! My goal when we first moved to this farm 8 years ago was to have enough fruit trees to supply our needs year round. I am slowly beginning to reap the rewards as the garden matures. Each season brings different challenges and some years are better than others, overall though we are becoming more and more self-sufficient in our own small way.

We have also had some new additions to our farm 4 baby guinea fowl. Thank you Gayle! I will try and get a photo soon, they are still settling into their new home, last night was their first night here. The geese are very interested in these new additions, walking around their home, trying to get a look at these new babies! I would have to say if you are wanting a pair of body guards for your young, geese are a very worthwhile addition to the family! Ours are very lovely, we have 2 females and I have never regretted purchasing them. I love to watch them walk around the garden and carry on with their antics! And their eggs are amazing!

Buckwheat (white flowers) so easy and beneficial to grow in your vegetable garden, marigolds, clover and lucerne.

I have been working in the garden, trying to keep on top of things, I think I’m getting there! That mental list that we all have each day. But as time has gone on, I have learnt to let go and accept that each day is different. If everything on that list doesn’t get checked off, that’s okay, tomorrow is another day. And I want to enjoy the task that I’m doing, give it my full attention, rather than constantly thinking of every other thing that needs to be done. Life is filled with daily tasks, whether you live on a farm or in town. Go to a job or stay at home. We all have set missions each day. I believe it’s important to do whatever it is we are doing to the best of our ability, but also to be kind to ourselves. Enjoying those little things that bring us joy. Sometimes I just stop and watch the little wrens in my garden, or sit and take in the flowers and bees around me. It could be something as simple as your child quietly reading a book, at dinnertime when there is complete silence because everyone is enjoying the meal you have prepared! What an achievement that is! It’s something to stop and appreciate whats around us whatever that might look like for each of us. Some days are harder than others but with each new day there are precious gifts, if we are able to look, to be aware and have the eyes to see them.

In The Kitchen

Well here we are it’s Friday and another week is finishing and the weekend is just around the corner! We have had some cooler weather and some more light rain, which has been such a relief after some very hot and humid days. However the humidity and heat that we dread has made the grass in our paddocks really start to take off and grow, which is wonderful. We will be even happier to see the dams full enough to let our cattle into all of our paddocks but all in all it’s just so lovely to have green all around us again!

With the cooler weather I have been back in the kitchen baking one of our favourites to have with a cup of tea. I thought I would share it with you today, it’s so simple, keeps well and tastes great.

Five-Cup Loaf is the name of this loaf, it only makes a small loaf so if you want something a little bigger just double the recipe, but keep an eye on the cooking time.

Ingredients are 1 Cup (175g) Self-Raising Flour, 1 Cup (35g) Bran, 1/2 Cup or a good handful of chopped Dates (or mixed fruit if you prefer), 1 Cup (230g) Milk, 1 Cup Soft Brown Sugar.

Place all ingredients into a bowl. Stir and leave for about an hour.

Then place into a small loaf tin and bake at 180 Degress Celcius ( 356 Degrees Fahrenheit) for an hour, but check yours as the time gets near, all ovens are different and have their own personalities!

Lovely with a bit of butter and a cup of tea!

I don’t know about you but I have kept my hand written recipes in all sorts of different books over the years. You can buy lovely tins now with recipe cards that you write on which always catch my eye, but I just don’t find them big enough or as many in the tins as I would like. I finally found a solution! I was watching a lovely American lady on youtube a little while ago who was sharing a recipe and she went on to show her audience how she stores her recipes in a wooden box on index cards. And I thought what a great idea and they are so cheap, here in Australia you can buy a packet of 100 for about $10.

These are how I store mine in a basket with some old recipe books holding them up for now. You could use any sort of container. And if you are really efficient, number them so you can go straight to whatever recipe you want (I haven’t done that yet) but it makes a lot of sense.

Looking down into part of my orchard

I hope you all have a beautiful and safe weekend. Feel free to leave a comment, or share how you like to keep your treasured recipes.

FEEDING THE SOIL

This is the time of year I like to slow down on the growing and try and put back some goodness into the soil. This I find challenging, because I’m always feeling the need to grow as much as I can for as long as I can. But I know that the benefits will be there as the weather cools and the vege garden is at it’s most productive time.

Here in this part of Australia, we can grow almost year round, the heat from December through to March can be at it’s hottest though. So in countries where they put their garden to bed over the Winter, I almost feel like this should be a time for us to do the same.

Green manure crop of soya bean, tomatoes that have come up on their own and other bits and pieces.
All chopped up and I have added comfrey and Arrowroot leaves for extra goodness ( I left the pretty pink Zinnia)

This garden is ready to mulch and left to break down. I have grown alot of green manure crops over the years in my garden, things like mustard, barley, broad beans, premix blends. When you have a large garden like mine it’s a good way to cover a large area with minimal cost.

Comfrey
Arrowroot (Gets a beautiful bright red flower in the warmer months)

Comfrey and Arrowroot are handy additions to the garden. The poultry love it too. I find the Arrowroot extremely hardy whereas the comfrey needs some shade and extra water. The other thing I absolutely love to grow in the cooler months and is very similar to comfrey is borage, the bees just love the flowers! And once you have grown it, it will keep coming back all on it’s own when the conditions are to it’s liking.

Another way that I feed my soil and have seen the benefits to my vegetable garden is keeping a big bucket in my kitchen (with a lid, it can get smelly) and place all of our scraps in there that the chooks are not given for example potato peelings, onion skins, banana skin, egg shells, tea leaves, all that sort of thing. And when the buckets full, dig a hole and throw it in! Easy and free. To me I think of my whole garden as a worm farm, I feed it, I mulch it and I keep away from chemicals.

Zinnia
Sunflower and Salvias are always a part of my garden
Hollyhocks growing at the wrong time of year!
Dahlia

Flowers and herbs are essential to a healthy chemical free garden. I have calendula, marigolds, salvias, clover, lucerne, zinnias, buckwheat, sunflowers, lemon verbena, basil, dahlias and many more popping up and being planted. This keeps the good/beneficial insects fighting the good fight in my garden and also brings me alot of joy and satisfaction. So many of my plants are left to go to seed and they come back all on their own year after year. Once again minimal cost or no cost really and huge benefits for myself and the garden. The plants get stronger as the seed is adjusting to my soil and conditions, this is why saving your seed verses always buying it in is so important. Each year you save your own seed, that seed amazingly becomes more and more resilient and adapted to your soil and your conditions. The miracle of the created world around us! And you are becoming more self-sufficient, not relying on other people in an ever changing world.

I have a simple Comfrey Ointment recipe to share, if you google the benefits of Comfrey there are many. It is so good for so many things. This is a cream I used to make frequently, to be honest I haven’t for some time, but have been thinking I should get into the habit again. It makes enough for yourself and to share.

  • 80 Grams Comfrey Leaves Finely Chopped
  • 50 Grams Beeswax
  • 270ml Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
  • Place oil in a pot and add comfrey leaves
  • Bring to the boil then simmer for about and hour ( I usually turn it off after about 15mins and let it sit in the hot oil, then heat it up again for a bit)
  • While the comfrey is simmering grate your beeswax then tip into a bowl
  • Pour your comfrey/oil through a strainer into the beeswax and stir until wax melts
  • Mixture should start to thicken as it cools, place bowl into a bowl or sink of cold water
  • Once mixture is nice and thick put into jars and store in fridge

Happy Gardening!!

Rosella Jam

My Summer Garden

Welcome to my blog! I’m so happy to be finally writing my very first post!! I feel like there is still a great deal to learn, but like most things in life I will learn in the doing or trying. My vege garden is the perfect example of this, you can read and listen and gather so much information, which is so important in itself, but the process of success and failures, trial and error are some of the most valuable lessons I have learnt. Growing food for our family has always been important to me, the simple act of going out and picking food for our table has never lost it’s appeal! I know exactly where it has come from and not a single chemical has touched it. The addition of a reliable water source and an irrigation system ( thanks to my husband) has made life in the vege patch a whole lot brighter! We struggled through heat and drought and now 8 years on from when we first arrived here on our farm we have reached a milestone in our food garden.

Rosella seedlings ready for planting

We’ve had some lovely light rain through the night and for all of today. It seems like so long inbetween rain days around here. We are hoping this Summer will bring good falls that will fill all our stock dams and replenish the water table for everyone.

Thankfully I managed to get all of my Rosella seedlings into the garden in time for the beautiful rain to help them grow, there is just nothing like rain to make stuff grow!

I don’t know about you, but I just love Rosella Jam. Once again I know I’m eating jam with fruit that has not been sprayed with any chemicals and it tastes delicious! I have a beautiful Rosella Jam recipe I would love to share with you.

Rosella Jam Recipe

Ingredients

  • Rosella’s, Sugar, Water, 1tsp Butter, Juice of one Lemon
  • Seperate red calyxes from the seedpods
  • Wash and drain calyxes/seedpods separately
  • In a saucepan add seeds and enough water so seeds are just covered
  • Bring to the boil and cook covered for 30 minutes
  • Strain and reserve juice, seeds can now be discarded
  • With juice returned to saucepan add red calyxes, which have been washed and drained
  • Boil for 20 minutes or until a pulp is formed
  • Measure the volume of cooked pulp and return to pan
  • Add one good tsp of butter and the juice of one Lemon
  • Measure sugar to the same amount as the pulp weighed
  • For example add one cup of sugar to each cup of pulp
  • Warm the sugar and add to saucepan
  • Sugar can be warmed by placing on a tray on a low heat in the oven
  • Stir well until sugar is completely dissolved
  • Boil quickly uncovered for 20 minutes or until jam falls thickly from a spoon when tested
  • Fill sterilised jars with jam while the jars and jam are still warm

I hope this becomes a favourite in your home too.

Tomorrow I will be removing a clucky hen from the main chook house to a quieter area on her own. The loveliness of walking around the garden after rain or hopefully in the rain! Pulling out unwanted weeds, dreaming about what other things I should grow, and enjoying a good cup of tea. Plus all the other household chores that come with family, school holidays and farm life! I hope this finds you well, and I hope as the year draws to an end and a new one begins you are able to find little things throughout your day that bring you moments of joy.