Lifestyle

The Autumn Vegie Garden

We have been very lucky this autumn so far, to have not had any frosts!  As a result quite a few of our summer veggies are still producing quite well.  The tomatoes have finished up, as it has been quite cold, but the chillies and capsicums are still going well.


I also grew jalapeño chillies which we prefer so didn’t pick too many from this bush.  Lots of new plantings though, and because the weather has been so mild, they are bursting with vigour.


The brassicas are so healthy, and there’s even the beginnings of some broccoli and cauliflower heads starting to poke thru.  Bottom left, above is Brussel sprouts- but they are a bit slower.


Above is, from left, beetroot (under a cage because every pest in the world seems to want to eat me beetroot), then carrots, and spuds.  Below is one of my pumpkins.  Our local tennis club has a pumpkin growing competition each year.  Originally it was the biggest pumpkin, but this year we got mystery seeds – 5, and its the most overall weight from all the pumpkins. Mine were prolific however a lot haven’t ripened properly.


I tend to plant a row of beans every couple of months, so I have a yea round supply.  This latest planting has just started flowering. As have the peas.



I visited an old friend a month or so ago and she gave me some rhubarb that she had divided off from her patch.  I wasn’t sure they’d survive as I didn’t get them in the ground for a couple of weeks after getting home. But they are growing superbly.


I still have some more planting I’d like to do, but first I need to do some more cleanup of old plants left over from summer.  I still have 2 rows of old corn stalks to pull out, as well as some cherry tomatoes. Then I have garlic and onions to get in! And maybe some more peas….

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Where are we now….

Well its been a while between posts – and who knows, I may get better at posting, I really want to….  We’ll see.  Here’s a summary of where the farm is at, at the moment…..

The Farm

We have had fantastic rains over the last 6 months – a very healthy spring, probably the best in the 10 years we have owned the farm, reasonable rain throughout the summer and a pretty good autumn break.  As a result of our spring rain, in particular a huge flood we had in September all our dams filled – they were all just about empty if not completely empty as a result of 5 very dry years.

Having good water sources on the farm makes an enormous difference to the running of the farm, mainly meaning that we are not carting or pumping water for the sheep and cattle every second day.  Our work load over the summer was soooooo much less as a result!

It also meant that we had great feed in the paddocks heading in to summer, which meant that we weren’t carting hay and feeding grain all summer also!  In fact we didn’t start feeding until late March, which has never been the case as far as I can remember.

We are due to start lambing in the next couple of weeks, due date is June 1st, but we often get a handful in late May.  The cows have all been scanned and in calf, due in early September, including our new house cow, Marmalade – so that will be exciting.

This weekend just gone we finished our main sowing.  The large cropping block at the end of the farm has been sown down to wheat this year.  The only other sowing we did was some hay pasture down on the Flat, and some resowing of the smaller horse/house cow/bull paddocks around the house.

The Menagerie

Not too much has changed in regards to our animals.  We are running roughly the same numbers of sheep and cattle as this time last year, although we do plan to purchase some more cows towards the end of the year.  We still have Jackie and Clancy, our two kelpy dogs, as well as our cat Emma.  And we still have a hodge podge array of chooks in the hen house, including two beautiful young ones that I fear are actually roosters….  We have three ferrets, two very friendly older males, and one young feisty female that will sink her teeth into you if you turn your back on her – we are working on winning her over, and getting her used to being handled.



Our two horses, Marley – little black shetland, and Rosco – large chestnut quarter horse, lead fairly quiet lives with regards to being ride.  I am finding it hard to fit in much riding these days, but always love it when I do.  Jazz has become quite confident riding Marley on her own, which is great.

Categories: Lifestyle, The Farm, The Menagerie | 1 Comment

Out of action for a long while!!!!

October 2014 was my last post!  I’ve thought about writing so many times, but it has always been a question of where to start!!  But I figure if I don’t start, I never will so this post will just be a “where are we now” post!!

The Farm

2015 was a very dry year for Balancing Rock Farm.  We had below average rainfall all year, and spring, in particular, was exceedingly dry, meaning we headed into summer with less stock feed in the paddocks than we normally would.  We did cut quite a bit of hay, so that has been very handy.

Hay cutting

Jessie the dog, watching the hay being cut.

We currently have 500 ewes on the place, 9 rams and 20 head of cattle.  The crop yields weren’t great last year, but not as bad as we were expecting, so that was nice.

The Menagerie

The biggest news from last year was our decision to sell our milking cow Pickles.  She had failed to get in calf after a few attempts, so looking from the practical side, not the emotional side, we decided we needed to look at a new one.  Cam took it the hardest, he was very attached to her after spending many, many mornings with her out in the milking shed.  But it just didn’t make sense to have a milking cow that you couldn’t milk!  So…. Meet Marmalade

Marmalade the jersey

Jasmine and I went and picked her up from Warnambool and brought her home in my car!  She was soon cute as a baby, as you can see from the last photo she has darkened quite a bit.  We have also had the vet remove her horns as they were very sharp!

The other main addition to our menagerie is my horse, Rosco.  With Jaz having her little pony, Marley, I was really keen to get back into riding myself,  and thought it would be wonderful to be able to go riding together.  We looked locally for many months, with no luck finding anything suitable – so finally contacted a friend in QLD who found us a great stock horse very quickly, and even arranged transportation of him down to Victoria.  When he arrived his name was Colin – terrible name.  So Ross was the name of our QLD friend, so the horse became Rosco.  He’s only young, so quickly learnt his new name!

Horses Rosco and Marley

Here’s Rosco greeting Marley for the first time.

 

So we still have our two cats, Emma, the house cat and “Shed Cat”, the ah shed cat!  Two dogs, Clancy and Jackie, two ferrets, Ben and Alfie, and umpteen hens, plus 3 roosters.

 

The Garden

Not a lot has been happening around the garden in the last 12 months, mainly due to the lack of water for watering.  We have no access to mains water where we are, so we totally rely on mother nature.  There are two bores on the farm, which we can use for watering, however it is slightly salty, so I’ve quickly determined which plants are salt tolerant and which ones are not!  The good news is we have built a very large shed on one end of our house, which has an enormous roof, and put a large water tank on the end of it to collect the rain.  So fingers crossed we will be in a better position next summer with regards to stored water.

Tomatoes and eggplants were the only vegies I had growing this year, and they have both done well, so I have bottled lots of tomatoes, so we’ll be right for spaghetti sauce over the winter.

 

Well that’s a quick run down and where we are at at the moment on Balancing Rock Farm.  Lets see how often I can keep this updated now!

 

Categories: Cooking and Preserving, Lifestyle, The Farm, The Menagerie | 1 Comment

6 grapevines planted

When we planned our orchards, we planned on having one side of our farm driveway as an area for stone fruit, and also apples, pears, and figs. The other side was to be for grape vines and citrus. Well the first side has been in for about 5 years now, and is growing nicely. On the other side, we decided to first plant a couple of rows of natives to act as a wind break, as it does get a lot of wind from the south west.

Well the natives have been planted, so I visited our local nursery a couple of weeks ago, and picked up 6 varieties of grapes. I loaded to garden cart up with some fresh compost (the soil is not great over ther), the shovel, trowel, kneeling pad and grapevines, and headed over to plant them.

As I started digging the first hole, I noticed it was extremely wet. I knew we hadn’t had enough rainfall lately to account for this much moisture in the soil, and sure enough, when, I wandered up the hill, it got wetter and wetter until finally I traced it to a leaking water pipe.

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Although it wasn’t that warm, Jessie, one of our kelpies, felt the need to cool down in the puddles. After digging a trench so the water could drain away, I discovered that a “t-piece” joiner had split, so I replace it, and that did the trick.

Unfortunately though the ground was waterlogged, so I had to wait a couple of days before I could get back to planting the grapevines. But they are all in now, and hopefully some warm spring weather will encourage them to shoot.

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Here’s the varieties we chose, in the order they are planted.

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Introducing Marley

We have added to the menagerie – with a beautiful little black Shetland pony called Marley.

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We had been looking for a few months, and actually saw her advertised on Facebook. They were offering a trial period so I felt we couldn’t really lose out. And as soon as we saw her everyone fell in love. She has a very gentle nature and loves to be around people. She is only 11hh, but she will be perfect for the kids to learn to ride on, particularly Jaz and Danny.

20140908-113817.jpgIt all happened quite quickly and we hadn’t even organized a saddle yet or any other gear, so for the first few days they were riding bareback.

Being so little, and knowing how careful you have to be to not let ponies get over fat, we just kept her in the cattle yards, with some hay for the first couple of days – also, so she could get used to us, and our farm. But she was very happy to be let out with the cows.

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20140908-115719.jpgAs you can see Archie is a bit big for her, so now we will probably start looking for a larger pony, that will be more suitable for him (and also large enough for me to ride – I’ve been getting very envious of the kids, and would really love to be riding also!!). But in the meantime, Marley is great and we are loving having her!

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Greening Australia!

We have wanted to plant about fifty native trees down this slope for a while now. We did plant some a couple of years ago, but it was at the end of spring and then we had a very dry summer and only about a dozen survived.

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So Jasmine and I headed out one day last week – a very blustery day. In fact we just had every thing unloaded and were ready to start when it started raining and then HAILING! So we spent the next 15 minutes huddled in the ute, waiting for it to pass. This was our view…..

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It finally cleared and we were able to get started. Here are the species of trees we were planting.

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Their common names are:
Eucalyptus ficifolia – Red flowering gum
Eucalyptus sideroxylon – Red iron bark
Eucalyptus polyanthemos – Red box gum
Eucalyptus caesia – Silver princess gum
Banksia integrifolia – Coastal Banksia
And the tall one at the end is a Black Wattle, I’m not sure of its botanical name.

Here’s Jaz trying to get a tree out of its pot – some of them are very tough!

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A tree in its hole…..

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Jaz again, holding a collection of empty tree tubes.

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And here’s a view of some planted….. We put juice cartons around them to protect them from the weather, and from rabbits!

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Happiness is…….

20140717-101623.jpg Winter vegie harvests

20140717-102153.jpg Garden creatures – Stumpy tail lizard

20140717-102654.jpg Motherly love

20140717-102806.jpg Fresh rhubarb, ready for jam

20140717-103445.jpg Rainbows and Shadows

20140717-103842.jpg Renewable energy, Balancing Rock Farm style!

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Family long weekend

Last weekend we managed to get Cam off the farm, and Archie away from footy for a long weekend at Wye River. Wye River is down south on the Victorian coastline, not far from Lorne. Originally we were going to camp, but as we had been having so much cold, windy weather we ended up getting a cabin in a caravan park, which turned out to be a good decision.

We were actually quite lucky with the weather. When we woke up each morning it was pouring rain. So we’d have a bit of a sleep in (a treat in itself!) then head off to a cafe for a leisurely breakfast. By 10am the sun was out and we’d head off for a walk somewhere. Then, about 4pm each day the clouds rolled in, and it started raining again.

Here’s some of my favorite pics from the weekend……

20140713-173448.jpg Cam at the bottom of Sheok Falls – a 40 minute walk in from the car park.

20140713-174730.jpg My three little mountain climbers.

Some beach pics……. A couple of brave swimmers amongst them.

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Here’s a little fairy village that was on the lawn, outside our cabin.

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On the last day, we headed home via the Otways National Park. Here’s a photo of the fam doing the Treetop Walk, which is a fabulous walkway, that is up in the rainforest canopy. Bit nerve wracking for some of us, but others in the family loved it.

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And has you know, I love fungi pics, so here’s a couple from the rainforest.

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Easier to feed now!

I mentioned in the last post that we are up to five orphan lambs now, which makes it very tricky for one person to feed them. A few years ago we invested in a milk feeder that will feed 5 at a time, and we’ve used it nearly every year since. One year we actually saved 7 lambs, which was manageable because I could feed 5 with the feeder and then a bottle in each hand!

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A nosey chook in the background!!

And here’s the view from above……

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Chook shed DISASTER!!!!

I couldn’t write about this yesterday, it was too stressful! I mentioned on Tuesday’s post that the weather was blustery. It turned out that it was the windiest day we had had in a very long time! So much so, that our wonderful new DIY chook pen blew over. I couldn’t believe it. I was coming back from going around our lambing ewes (with two new orphan lambs, but that can be tomorrow’s story) and as I pulled back up to the house, I was greeted with this sight…..
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20140626-143301.jpgActually I took this photo after I had walked around the yard collecting all the stuff that was supposed to be in the vegie garden half of the shed – it was spread all over the place, as was various feed and water dishes. And you can see the little chicken cage had got caught up and lifted up in the air!

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It had blown right over and was resting on its gutter and the nesting boxes. The chooks didn’t seem too phased and we’re still just pecking around as normal. In fact the roosters thought it was great because they had access to the girls again! Segregation was over!!

I texted a couple of pics to Cam, but he couldn’t get home until about 6pm, so it was dark by the time we attempted to right it again. Again the chooks were unphased, and were perfectly happy to roost on a capsized house!

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I was thinking we would have to pull it back over from out in the paddock. I had visions of it coming crashing down and falling to pieces, but clever Cam knew how to do it safely.

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As you can see, he drove the tractor right up to it, and chained it to the forks. Then it was just a matter of slowly driving backwards, and lowering the forks at the same time. Some of the chooks had decided by this time that they would wake up and get involved (complaining loudly they were, too) so while Cam was lowering their house my job was to make sure they didn’t get squished!

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20140626-145216.jpgit was still blowing a gale as we were doing this, so we left the tractor in position to stop it from happening again. This is how it still looks now! Even though the weather has calmed down I’ve been too nervous to move the tractor away, until Cam has time to drive some solid posts into the ground to anchor it down.

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I’d stacked the pumpkins on the top of the nesting boxes. All were squashed except two butternuts, and this Queensland blue ended up wedged up in the gutter!

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We still have a bit of work to do, to put the panels back in position for their yard, and straighten up the gutter so we keep collecting rain from the roof. But at least it’s operational again. I restocked the nesting boxes with straw this morning, and carted their feed and water drums back into position. The amazing thing was we still got 7 eggs from them on the day it blew over!

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