WARM WINTER SHEETS

Soon after arriving in Bowral I wanted to rip out the flannelette sheets to combat the cooler nights, but could not find them in all our boxes, so got out our beloved HEMP sheets that have been amazing in summer, so cool, let you breath, hubby no longer sweating, just love them… but was worried they wouldn’t be any good for the cold – HOW WRONG I WAS!! I LOVE them even more!! Soooo toasty and warm. I wish I’d listened harder in physics (did I even study that??), to know how this amazing product manages to keep us cool in summer and warm in winter… but I didn’t. So as far as I’m concerned, they’re MAGIC!!

 

 

CHOOKS!!!

When I was a little girl I used to love drawing for my bantam chickens and hanging my creations inside their shed. I have many fond childhood memories of chooks… and really wanted the same for my children. Plus I just love the thought that we can use their manure to fertilize our veggies and we can give them our veggie scraps to make delicious eggs for us! What a lovely cycle.

After many weeks of trawling poultry sites for the breeds I’m after (Orpingtons, Araucanas and Silkies)… I found a beautiful pearl coloured Araucana and a blue (dark grey) and buff Orpington! I’m very excited to finally have some tenants for our gorgeous chook shed! They are lovely birds.

The Araucana is a South American breed that lays blue eggs, so we’ve named her ZULI (Azul means blue in Spanish).

The Orpingtons are big and fluffy, beautiful plumage. Josh named the blue (charcoal) one ROBOT and we’ve called the buff one TARA, as in Taragon Chicken. I know, I know…. but my cousin’s chicken takes the cake… her kids called one of theirs ROAST!!!!

I just love listening to LAS CHICAS cooing and scratching around their enclosure. The boys want to just hang out all day. Poor Zuli (or Zules as Tomas calls her), gets chased around the pen by a very effectionate Tomas wanting cuddles!!

Soon you’ll be able to free range through all the orchard girls, as soon as Daz and I finish the fencing to stop you ripping up the veggies.

The VEGGIE PATCH

Being able to grow fresh, organic food for my family and friends is one of the most exciting and important things for me… and certainly one of the main reasons I wanted to move here…. to give me the space to do this. I have grand plans for one day being almost totally self sufficient in veggies and eggs…. but I know I have to start small and slowly expand as my understanding and knowledge grows with the plants. It’s just sooooo hard to not dig up half an acre and plant EVERYTHING now!!! I’ve devoured about 8 organic gardening books, cover to cover, in the past 5 months… I don’t think I’ve studied so hard since UNI! BUT…. I now have to put all this theory into practice… hmmm… just put shovel in the ground and start digging!

So the site we’ve chosen is the sunniest part of the property… right on our northerly fence line. There are already some established tiered garden beds on one side… predominantly established with weeds…. but I think there are a few herbs, roses and camellias in there somewhere! The weathered fence is in need of some assistance in standing… especially after I’ve removed most of the ivy, honeysuckle and some other matted weed from it… I think they were holding it up!!!! Between fence and weed garden there is lawn… but lawn divided up with rotting railway sleepers… perhaps once part of the tiered weed garden! SO… I’ve planned my first lot of beds around the existing sleepers… and now digging and weeding begins!

After removing the weeds from the four large tiered beds, and creating another four new beds in the lawn, I dug through lots of compost and a few different types of manures and some dynamic lifter…. then I let it sit like this for a few weeks to warm up and let any weeds show themselves!

After a few weeks, as patient as I wanted to be…. I couldn’t resist snapping up some seedlings to trial an early plant. So on August 1st I planted lots of goodies… lavender, chives, rocket, lettuce, leek, peas, snow peas, coriander, parsley, thyme, sage, spinach, rosemary, silverbeet and beetroot….

On August 2nd (day after I’d planted my first seedlings) we woke to the biggest frost of the winter.  Good one Kirst!!!   Remarkably MOST things have survived! A few of the peas look a little worse for wear… and a couple of the leeks have disappeared… but I think that is due more to my planting technique rather than frost. So all in all, looking very good – and another few weeks on the carrots, broccoli, zucchini, oregano, more lettuce and leeks and potatoes are in.

In my first entry of my garden diary I wrote “I want the veggie garden to be a place of beauty, not just production. I want to be there. I want it to be full of life, flowers, lavender and lushness”. Hmmm…. I wonder how this will change with coming seasons and years?!

CHRISTMAS IN JULY

In danger of supporting another commercial marketing invention …. I invited some friends from Sydney down for CHRISTMAS IN JULY!!!  BUT…. really, is there anything wrong with hauling out the beautiful Christmas decorations that generally only get to see daylight one month in the year…. letting them hang over a REAL fire and drinking warmed gluvine around them whilst rugged up and eating HOT pork crackling and stuffed turkey? It’s the closest I’ll get to one of those heavy with snow Christmas cards whilst still here in Oz.

The weekend was glorious – warm sunny weather during the day for the kids to clamber about in the tree house and make decorations to hang in their outdoor Christmas tree (freshly cut from the garden!). Mountains of yummy food (minus the parmesan potatoes that I managed in incinerate in the oven!)… and presents of course! BUT… special presents.. homemade presents, and nothing that would cost more than $10 to create! Well… it’s amazing the talents that pop up when pushed…. the haul included recycled timber boxes, shadow puppets, embroidered aprons, jam, patchwork skirts, pickled people (no, not real people… the old stocking and stick on eye variety!!), bag tags etc…. but Steve took the award for most inventive (and probably most time consuming) gift… I actually find it hard to describe, essentially it was just a book that needed to be opened….. but to do so was something ‘The Da Vinci Code’ would have been proud of!

The Chook Shed

Buying an old dairy farm has it’s advantages, you get old outbuildings too! So, our ‘chooks to be’ will have the pleasure of a very cool old shed to call home. But first to make it chook proof…. and step number one is to remove the mountain of oak leaves from inside along with the 10 million resident spiders!!!!!!!! Actually I think the number of spiders Darryn’s mum and I actually counted as we cleaned it was probably under 10…. but the shed was THICK, inside and out, with webs… hence why Daz had his mum helping me clean and he offered to look after the boys for the afternoon!!! He quickly redeemed himself though by doing an incredibly thorough job of insulating, waterproofing and wrapping the entire shed in bird wire. He then built four gorgeous little nesting boxes and made a door… cladding it beautifully in the old wood he’d removed from the nesting box section, so the door blends beautifully in it’s aged timber.

The nesting box flap was painted by Josh and myself….

“LAS CHICAS”… “THE GIRLS”…..

Now to source some chickens lucky enough to call this place home – in the meantime Josh and Tomas have taken it over as their shop!

The fake chook – Thanks Daz!