Friday, April 30, 2010

the spice is right

We're rich!!


These emotions are a feeling akin to winning the lottery, or so I assume, I am so excited because we have successfully grown the worlds most expensive spice; Saffron. We were experimenting with the difficulty level, so we planted a whole 4 corms. Yes, I know, that is not enough to make a snail fart. We might not be rich yet, but maybe in a few years time if we get a decent crop.

I am actually planning on using the saffron to colour wool and possibly handmade paper. The paper may be made using either hay, or the "seed pods" of the rushes in the dam. I never realised that those funny brown lumps were full of white, floaty seeds. Similar, in fact, to those of the dandellion.

Yet, I digress.

You might be thinking that I am crazy and that is a waste of perfectly good saffron. I wholeheartedly disagree. I mean what is wrong with creating, figuratively, gold plated wool tops and paper?! Plus, it really isnt costing me anything to produce the saffron, apart from the $10 I forked over to buy the corms, well I actually convinced mum to buy them so my hip pocket is yet to feel any pain, on this adventure at least.

In addition to harvesting our bumper crop of saffron I have been busy planning for a two week vacation away from the farm. Said vacation will include showing people how to make felt, but I think this still counts as a holiday because I love felt. We are also looking forward to Agfest, which starts next Thursday. Bring on the free product samples and all the information you could ever want on almost anything farm related, and a few things not.

Monday, April 26, 2010

animals everywhere!

Well maybe the animals are not everywhere. A majority of them have been juggled out of the pastures this morning and into the cattle yards. There is not much room in there, but we crammed in 5 horses and 3 cows.

The reason for this seemed insanity? Poppy Mulch. It is meant to be some sort of wonder food for plants, we were supposed to get some spread last year, but it didn't happen. So 2010 is the year for another experiment. I am hoping that it works well, it might just mean that we don't have to spread as much super-phosphate... I'm all about using natural above man made. The best thing about the Poppy mulch; dad suggested it!

I am pretty sure there is no stock with holding period after spreading, but we are due for some decent rain tonight and tomorrow. So we will be leaving the animals in the cattle yards, and the "wood yard" which is also known as the diet paddock, for a day or two. It means feeding out hay, but it should give the pastures a little rest and allow the poppy mulch to get "watered in".

That is all the news on the farm front. I am considering baking another loaf, or two, of bread today. Now that I know I can, I will.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
Lest we Forget.

I will not forget.
Off to complete my little tradition(which I am sure half of Australia and New Zealand also participate in), cooking ANZAC biscuits on ANZAC day.

On another note this morning has been quite productive. Spent some time with Clara online. I am pleased to announce that she now trots, while maintaining a relative amount of calmness. Also when she looses her calm she looks to me to see what's the go. I am very happy with the way Clara is progressing, I will have to admit it has been a slow process but I think we are covering everything.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

report card

My official taste testers have returned from an interstate trip, I can now officially report the findings on two of my kitchen experiments.

Experiment One- Green Tomato Jam. Taste Tested and given the seal of approval."It looks like fig jam", "Does it have ginger in it?", "It tastes like fig jam" are a few of the comments and questions thrown my way. It has now been given its own space in the pantry, I am sending a bottle to the lady who gave me the tomatoes, just for an extra test.

Experiment Two- Strawberry Liqueur. Even though it is not ready I will have to admit that LJ and I both tried a bit as we strained the strawberry pulp. Delicious. I cant wait for it to age and be ready for drinking.

Experiment Three- Bread. SUCCESS!!! Proved well(in the hot water heater cupboard), knocked it down and it rose straight back up. Baked evenly and tasted great. It didn't last long!!

Friday, April 23, 2010

morning view

This is the view that greets us each morning as we move into the colder weather. Sometimes we have NO view as the fog fully encloses us, and we have a visable distance of about 2 meters.

listings added

Felted items for sale have been listed at the Beauty Farm classifieds page. Also listing some pre-loved PNH tools.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

my first post

So this is my first post on a blog everrrr!

I have developed a love of 'firsts'.Such as a couple of weeks ago I joined a gym and yesterday was my first day. About two weeks before that it was returning to Subway and re-learning everything in a slightly different way including learning my way around a new store, and tomorrow I am thinking that I will buy my first touch screen phone. Very excited and also quite unsure. Went to my first appointment at the Mowbray Vet with my baby(Theo cat) and loved the vet(no not literally). Baby is all vaccinated now and now happily sleeping on my bed.

OK time for my bed now night night. Yes this is how I think confusing and very busy ain't it.

P.S don't tell MD i blogged she will be shocked when she reads this :P

kitchen experiments

I am experimenting in the kitchen today. I was given a large basket of green and partially ripened tomatoes, the lady pulled up her tomato plants as they were producing TOO MUCH. I have an old(1950's I think) CWA cookbook for preserves, one preserve that has intrigued me muchly is green tomato jam. They claim it is an imitation fig jam. I have to admit that the initial cooking of the green tomatoes smells un-appetising, sort of like that odor you get from squashed ants. I have just added the lemons(3 lemons, peel(zest) and flesh), and 2oz of grated fresh ginger.

The smell was so off putting for a start that I'm not sure that I want to taste it. But I will. If only to competently report the findings of this kitchen experiment.

My second experiment today has been quietly brewing for two days. Strawberry liqueur, I have mentioned this experiment previously. Today is the day to strain out the strawberries, then re-bottle and allow to sit another week.

The third experiment. Bread. I have tried to make bread in the past, all times have been catastrophic failures. Well maybe not quite that bad, but not good either. Cinnamon raisin bread is on the agenda today. Fingers are crossed that it turns out well.

Best be getting back to the stove, don't want to burn the jam.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Kodak Moment

Haidee Lamb, with her halter on and all ready to get lead back INTO the yard.

Horses have had their feet trimmed, they are all now wearing rugs(with exception of the little girls, but they will wear them soon enough). Clara has been exploring the benefits of humans as scratching poles. She is very polite about it, but is seeking contact with people; I am impressed.

I have completed another felted project. It was meant to be a baby blanket, but is way too small. I am pleased with the way the colours work together. It may suffice as a bassinet or pram blanket/cover.

We picked another 8 pumpkins. There are now 12 curing in the window, not counting those we have already eaten! The vine still has roughly half a dozen half grown pumpkins, plus it is still flowering! I guess we will be having pumpkin soup this Winter. We have Onions, spring onions, cauliflowers and blueberries to plant in the veggie patch. Possibly some leeks and cabbages.

I have started some Hazelnut Liqueur and Strawberry liqueur. It will be just over a month until the Strawberry is ready, and the Hazelnut one will be over 2 months away. I can't wait to try them and see if they work, seems way too easy.

It is my 26th birthday tomorrow and I really do not know where the years have gone. I can't say that I mind getting older, as life has been one great adventure so far, but I would like for my life to go in the direction that I choose, rather than just falling the way fate divines. So, here's cheers to another year of happiness.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

farm chores

We have spent today picking up some firewood, not for this Winter(which is close to starting), but for next Winter. Somehow with all that was happening last year- Mum and Dad working, I was in America and LJ was living away from home- we have not put up any wood for this year. So, while we freeze this year I will be thinking wonderful, warm, thoughts about next Winter.

Also in the process of renovating the chook house to add some nesting boxes. I am hoping for the kind that attaches to the outside of the structure with it's own little roof/lid. This will mean that we no longer have to crawl through the poop to get eggs, if the chooks get the memo to lay in the boxes!!

I am missing my camera like crazy. It feels like we just don't talk like we used to. I have not been entirely satisfied with a photo I have taken for quite some time, at least the last 3 months. To make matters worse LJ has decided to play with my Nikon. I feel like Nik is cheating on me, essentially sleeping with another woman. I think it is well past time for some dedicated 1-0n-1 time, aiming to use the 24-70mm lens. Hopefully I will have something artistic to share within the next few days.

Felting tomorrow, along with continued improvements to chook house Shangri-La. Maybe some pumpkin picking too.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I would like to take the time to reflect on the successes, and failures, of this years preserves.

We have made;
  • apricot & apple jam
  • blackberry jam
  • cherry jam
  • cherry syrup
  • lemon curd (2 batches)
  • preserved cherries
  • strawberry jam (2 batches)
  • tomato chutney (2 batches)
  • tomato sauce
  • zucchini pickles

APRICOT & APPLE JAM- Did not use an actual recipe. As I didn't have a lot of apricots I decided to try and bulk it out with apples. I would have used either equal amounts apricots to apples or less apple, by weight. Sugar; weigh combined weight of fruit and halve for weight of sugar needed (if there was 6kg of fruit, I'd use 3 kg sugar). This jam tasted fine, but the texture was a little weird. Next time I'd use Granny Smith apples, I used red apples this year.

BLACKBERRY JAM- This is all gone!! WAS very, very good. I believe it was 3/4 weight of fruit to sugar (4 kg fruit, 3kg sugar).

CHERRY JAM- The jam has set nicely and has great colour. Unfortunately I think it tastes like cough syrup. Half the fruit weight to sugar (4kg fruit, 2kg sugar).

CHERRY SYRUP- Just as it sounds. Great added to a plain cheesecake, lovely colour.

LEMON CURD- I have been frightened of making lemon curd in the past. This is the first time I have made it. The first batch worked perfectly. The second batch the zest didn't reduce down as much. Both still tasted great. Made a lemon meringue pie, must remember to add some cornflour/thickener to the lemon curd prior to putting in pie.

PRESERVED CHERRIES- Believe it or not we have not even opened one jar of them. They look wonderful.

STRAWBERRY JAM- We love, love, love strawberry jam. Think mum did this 3/4 weight fruit to sugar (4kg fruit, 3 kg of sugar)

TOMATO CHUTNEY- Batch one was a bit of a failure, while still edible it tastes vinegary. Recipe called for plain white vinegar. We tried this recipe again, but substituted brown vinegar and it tastes much better.

TOMATO SAUCE- My first sauce ever! It has come out a bit watery. I think I will boil it without a lid for the last 1/2 hour to hour. Wonderful flavour.

ZUCCHINI PICKLES- An epic failure. Looks great in the bottle, tastes terrible. Think this one will go on the compost and we will try again next year. Used plain white vinegar, will substitute with white wine vinegar. Also the skin on the zucchini is a bit tough. Don't really want to peel them though as the green adds to the finished appearance. Maybe will peel it and add some green capsicum.

If you would like to see the recipes for any please ask.

I have bought us a "paint marker" for labelling. Dad used to use the markers in the wrecker yard to write on the windscreen of cars for sale. I have only used it for the sauce, as the idea only just occured to me. Seems like it is going to work well. We use recycled jars with metal lids( pasta sauce jars, cheese spread, etc).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

another day, another million dollars

The days seem to be running together here at Beauty Farm. Our Indian Summer seems to be at a close, the rain is here. The days are colder, the nights are longer. Old Tonto pony has graduated from his cotton fly rug to his waterproof rug. Not yet at a Winter weight. Just water proof to keep him a bit warmer. I do feel sorry for the poor lil man, his joints object to being subjected to the cold cold nights. It's only going to get worse.

I spend a vast majority of my days observing the animals as I go about my jobs. The lambs, now almost fully grown, make me laugh. Horrace wants to get friendly, if you know what I mean, but the girls wont have any of it. I can almost hear them in my head. "Mmm, nice grass...(munch, munch)... wait, what was that noise?... RAM! OMG THE RAM IS BEHIND ME!!" as they quickly sprint off and away. I fear we will not be having any little lambletts this Spring. I am considering haltering the girls and holding them still so that Horrace can get his job done. Mum and Dad think this is insanely funny. Booger heads.

My knitting is coming along, I have finished 1.5 squares. I can knit and purl stitches now. Hooray. The current square is a basket weave pattern. No swearing to be heard either. I am very proud of myself.

I have felted another project. A scarf, of course. Next felt project; a largish piece of felt to be used as a baby blanket. Fingers crossed it works out nicely. I do have to get some more wool tops before starting this project. Then it will be time to get some patterns and start making "things", rather than just "felt".

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

F is for...

Do you ever have one of those days that you feel ripped apart. On the inside, of course. I'm not talking *" head went that way, and me legs went that way... there was blood, GUTS..."

Well, I'm having one of those days today. I want to be in America singing with the kids, I want to be in Walgett sewing with Sarah, I want to be in South Australia working at Subway and I really, really want to be right here where I am.

I have achieved one productive accomplishment today.

I have signed up to learn how to knit.

This morning I lost all my emotional fitness and began swearing profusely at the yarn. Finally getting one stitch before dropping about ten. Then proudly declaring, while struggling with the wriggling, worming, squirming stuff, "I HATE KNITTING!" It's not like I can't knit, well I can't, but I have done it before. Sort of. OK so I guess I can't knit. There I said it. Are you happy now?!

Actually I feel better.

So I'm hoping that learning how to knit will benefit me with some nice, warm, leg warmers, socks and hats. Dare we to dream for a sweater? So far I have knitted, garter stitch, half of a 15cm X 15cm square. I do have a purpose for said square. While learning different stitch variations and while fine tuning my skills I will make many, many[to infinitum] squares. These will all be whip stitched together to form a giant blanket. Or maybe a multitude of smaller blankets to donate to the Vinny's blanket drive.

As for what is happening on the Farm. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Well, two sheep keep letting themselves out, then putting themselves away. Does that count as something?

Oh yes; F is for Flannery... what were you thinking?!

* reference to one of my favourite adverts ever. I would guess it is on YouTube.
**yes infinitum is a word I just made up. What does it mean??! well think infinity infinity infinity

Monday, April 05, 2010

maarket time!

We took the duckings to the Exeter Easter Market today. What a disappointing day. We sold two, out of thirteen. Although we did leave early. It was a very slow day, not as many people as I had expected. Not to be discouraged though, we will put up posters in shop windows and put advertisements in the paper. If I have to listen to another "what sort of duck are they?" or "my dog would chase them" I think I might just spontaneously combust.

Now that is a topic worthy of discussion; spontaneous human combustion. I quite like my ankles and would be very, very happy to go that way!! Anyway, back to our regular program.

Needless to say Beauty Farm poultry shed is still near bursting point, but sooner or later something will give, hopefully a few more ducklings finding new forever homes.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


"hippity-bloody-hop, hippity-bloody-hop, hippity-bloody-hop ..." I can still remember the way mother would give out Easter eggs, long after Easter bunny had ceased to deliver to us; we must have been too old for him, or something!

But now, the duty of family egg giver has fallen to me. Just knowing that the eggs are chocolate seems to give me joy. Honestly it is not something I will relinquish easily when it once again comes time for Easter Bunny to deliver. But, alas, I have to confess that shopping for Easter eggs gives me just as much joy because it satisfies my need to be a consumer and buy, buy, buy.

So to each and every one of you, Happy Easter. I hope you are spending the time with those that mean the most to you.


the case of the missing horse...

Today is not a good day.

In fact, today is a very bad day.


I can sum it up in a single word; Misty.

When we moved two years ago it was not possible for me to bring my horse. Technically she wasn't mine. She was in her mid twenties, retired, and she had been with me for over 10 years. Still, her owner would not sell her to me. I'm not exactly sure why, but I think it was her last link with life pre-marriage. Also a "mine- you can't have it."

I have to admit that it breaks my heart not having my Hun with me. I have no idea what has happened to her in the past two years, and part of me doesn't want to know.

Where ever you are Hunna, you are never far from my thoughts. xx

Friday, April 02, 2010

fleeces, yarns and fibers

I have become overcome, or very nearly, with fiber art hysteria!

I have even instructed LJ and mother that when they brush the horses they are to collect the horse hair. To what end I do not know, but I have heard of horse hair blankets before. I have even been entertaining the idea of keeping the hair from the cats. I know at least that would be soft, but I am not sure about the smell of said fur, whether dry or wet.

I have made a sample of Beauty Farm felt(pictured). The fibers themselves are short, the lambs were shorn young, which makes the felt a bit lumpy and bumpy. It is very, very soft and I am very happy with the potential of all future wool clips and products.

Today I am going to start, either knitting or crocheting, a pair of inside booties, sort of like knitted uggs!! Then I am going to look into learning, I mean really LEARNING, how to knit. I want to make leg warmers and socks.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


Today I am going to introduce Issabow, also known as Rat. My Steed.

Issabow came into our lives April 1997 as a "trade in" included in one of dads tractor deals. She was 1 month old and both her and her mother, Tess, were in ordinary to extremely bad condition. The farmer freely admitted he knew nothing of horses, they had access to pea straw and water.

They were definitely hay burners in those days. Intensive feeding to get them back onto their feet and looking good was needed. The day we picked them up we noticed a "belly button" on Rat. In fact it was so bad we thought, at first glance- and that's all we got as they were not tame- we had a colt and not a filly.

The vet was consulted. Rat had an umbilical hernia. We were told to observe it and feel it daily, if it got hard let them know.

So we went about our daily routine. Issabow was halter broken and learnt the 7 games in the Parelli program, she was steady, quiet and easy to handle. She was also a snot nose little so and so when she wanted to be. Above all else, she was most definitely, spoilt rotten. We thought outside of the square and thought about pre-ride training. So she would wear a saddle blanket and "girth"; usually just a piece of string holding it on. To take it one step further we decided she needed a rider, or two.

One morning at feed time we did the routine check. Lo and Behold the hernia was as solid as a rock. We were transferred from our local vet clinic to a specialist horse veterinary clinic two and a half hours away. After serious surgery which resulted in a portion of bowel being removed Rat commenced her stay in horsey hospital. She was given a very slim chance of survival and stayed there for quite some time.

As she was a well handled and socialised foal she became well known to the vets and vet nurses. They said she was a pleasure to work with and I am glad that we had started playing with her at such a young age.

When we, finally, got to bring our baby home she was prescribed stable confinement and a very strict, and small, ration. Twice daily temperature checks and poo counts, along with reporting back to the vet nurses. We were very lucky to have her survive, although I have heard that real luck is spelt W-O-R-K and have to admit that a lot of work went into her health and well being.

Mum completed level 1 PNH with Rat in 2001. Tess was to be my levels horse but due to bad colic we lost her 3/3/01. I graduated onto Rat. I have to admit that I still only consider Rat "green broke" as I don't ride her as much or as often as I should. When we moved from South Australia all our horses made the move with us, I'm not sure what they thought of their overnight boat trip, but they survived it!!!