Monday, 19 September 2016

A Quick Word- and Bee-keeping Workshop

September is galloping along very nicely, although very full of all kinds of activities here. A quick word to catch up on some of what's been keeping us busy.

A couple of the rental bee hives that were all delivered to their excited beginner apiarists.

Brian has made a start on shearing the sheep. He does a few every weekend when time permits.

I hosted an afternoon tea and garden walk to some ladies from a local "Women in Agriculture" group. The ladies sitting at each end of the table were aged 90 and 91 years.! They trotted around the garden, as fast as the rest of us, and entertained us with their stories of life on the land in their younger years.

Here in South Australia we're experiencing a winter pretty much like winters used to be way back in my memory. The ford along the road from us was over a metre high and impassable, forcing many folks to "Go around the long way" to get to their homes.
Brian and I went for a drive to look at some of the local creeks and water ways. It gives me a rush of excitement to see water flowing where it hasn't done for the last few years.

We have been going through a lot of firewood this year, and both fires are still burning around the clock as I write this. We've needed to cut lots more wood, using the chainsaw and then with the hydraulic log splitter, which is so much easier than using the axe.

Meg watched with fascination as fifty plus chicks hatched out in the incubator. She came to me in the kitchen looking worried, then running back into the incubator, and then back to me repeatedly. I thought I should check what's happening, and sure enough, one chick had got itself stuck between two shelves and was squawking.  Oh my goodness, we need to make a movie about our wonder dog ;-)
After spending 24 hours under the light in the brooder, the chicks were all strong enough to be introduced to their surrogate mums who had sat in waiting, on golf balls, for the the three weeks that it usually takes to hatch their chicks.
We usually have lots of lightening and thunder storms at this time of year, which will kill many of the eggs if the hen is sitting on the ground. Incubating gives us a much higher hatching percentage, and then the chicks grow like nature intended, learning to be chooks from their surrogate mums.

When making some loaves of sourdough bread, I pinched off some dough and made sour dough cracker biscuits. Rolling them through the pasta machine was easier than rolling out with the rolling pin. Brush with water and sprinkle with salt and herbs or sesame seeds before baking in a hot oven until slightly coloured.
I think they're called "Lavash" (Lavosh) which are sold in our gourmet shops here for a ridiculous sum of money. Delicious, if I do say so myself.

The first of the bee-keeping workshops went well yesterday with ten willing participants.

The day began for me at 5am, making up the baquettes, sandwiches, and setting up for the morning tea and lunch. I had baked lots of goodies for morning lunch during the week, so it was all quite simple really.
Brian was the main speaker, with me having bits to say along the way throughout the day.

Who would have thought, back in July when I was planning this day, that September 18th would be wet and cold?  We were hoping for warm and dry conditions which are perfect for opening bee hives, but that was not to be, so we had a few other plans up our sleeves.
Some boxes were opened briefly, and everyone got the opportunity to wear their new bee suits and other various forms of bee protection gear.

Learning to make frames, threading the wire, and embedding the foundation was more difficult than Brian made it look, but it's a fundamental part of keeping bees.
Everyone had a great time apparently, and the food was a winner, so we will stick to the same formula for the next workshop this coming weekend.
I'm hoping to have more time to take more photos and fill you in with more detail after next week.
All a bit of a rush at present.
So that's it for now. The firewood needs to be brought up to the wood boxes on the verandah,food needs to be prepared, and some weeds need pulling.
Just as well I love winter so much, because we're not seeing many signs of warming up. Fine with me thanks!
Thanks for having a read, and hope your September is proceeding nicely too.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

No More Hungry Gaps

If you're growing your own vegetables you will probably know what I mean when I mention the hungry gap. It's the gap between the seasons when there isn't much to pick to eat from the garden.
When I was the number one veg gardener there was usually a hungry gap once or twice every year, but since Brian took over as head veg grower there is no longer a gap of any description between the seasons.
He had to take over because someone had to be relegated to the kitchen to process all the dairy products and garden produce, and it turned out to be me. No complaints from me though, I love the process of using up what we're producing, plus I get to potter in the garden a bit too.
Brian does nothing by half measures and is a serious vegetable gardener. He grows everything from seeds in punnets in the hot house, before planting out continuously throughout the season at two or three weekly gaps. There is a constant supply of everything seasonal, and this is just how we love to eat.

The broccoli have almost finished and the cauliflowers are ready for cutting faster than we can eat them. They're huge too, not the little miniature specimens that seem to be so popular now. We would eat one of those each in one meal!  Did I mention that we are rather large vegetable eaters?
It was difficult to find seeds for large cauliflowers, so Brian resorted to looking on-line where he made lots of interesting purchases very cheaply.
Not every pack of seeds was true to its name though, and we ended up with lots of bokchoi instead of cabbages!
How to use up surplus vegetables?
Well, we eat more vegetables, usually with lunch (soups, vegetable omelette, leftovers from the previous evening meal)  and always lots of veg with, or as, the evening meal. (A small amount of meat with mountains of vegetables, casseroles, soups, stir fries, pies)

Vegetable juices are being made regularly with the stems and tops that I see other folks throwing away. What a waste! Just add an apple to make a delicious and nutritious vitamin drink.
I'm also making lots of jars of ferments and pickles to put in the store cellar and into the Farm-gate stall.
The above pictures of ferments are almost ready be eaten, and they were really fast and easy to make.
Make up a 5% brine (dissolve 50gms salt in 1 litre of warm water) and leave to cool.
Fill jars with chopped vegetables of your choice, tightly packing as you go. Wedge a dried chilli or two, a few slices of fresh garlic, a small piece of fresh ginger (whatever takes your fancy) in between the layered vegetables to add interesting flavours to your fermented vegetables.
Slowly pour in the cooled brine. Use a few leaves of cabbage, or cauliflower to hold the vegetables below the surface of the brine. Put the lid on the jar and sit the jars inside a container to catch the juices that will escape as the fermentation takes place. Release the pressure inside the jar by removing the lid every couple of days. I keep mine down in the cellar, but a cool cupboard will do just as well. In winter, stand the jars somewhere in the kitchen where the warmer temperature will get the fermenting process started.
They are ready to eat after two or three weeks, but will develop stronger fermented flavours if kept longer. Once they are at the flavour you prefer, keep the jar in the fridge to stop further fermentation.
Barossa Germans and their descendants have been fermenting for generations, bringing us sauerkraut. Other parts of the world have many different types of fermented vegetables, kimchi for example.  We Australians have only recently discovered the powerful goodness of eating fermented foods.

Mum used to make the best Cauliflower Mustard Pickles, so my siblings and I have always made them to the taste we grew up with. Every family has their own recipe and preferences. Other pickles just don't cut it for me. These are sweet and sour and the vegetables retain texture.
It's difficult to share this recipe because it's very much dependent on achieving the correct blend of flavours according to individual taste... a bit of this, and a bit of that.
Today I was weeding the raspberry patch, and couldn't avoid walking past three huge cauliflowers that were shouting to be picked. I put my head down and scuttled past, refusing to listen to their cries. I had weeds to pull, I wanted to be outside in the garden enjoying the damp soil and ease of getting the weeds out, but they could not be ignored, so into the kitchen went we.

 There are still another two huge cauliflowers out there, so I guess the smell of pickles cooking will be wafting through the house again tomorrow.
Do you have a traditional family recipe that is hard to describe?
I'm willing to share this recipe if anyone is really interested, but exact measurements are impossible to give. I still get it wrong and need to tweak and adjust ingredients along the process.
I added too much vinegar to today's batch and had to spoon out two litres into a jug during the cooking process, but I'll use that in tomorrow's batch, so nothing is wasted.

Cheers and thanks for visiting. :) X

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Butchering- An experiment

Sixteen months ago we began an experiment. We wanted to try beef that was not bred for eating.

We bought this cast off (by-product of the dairy industry), Freisan bull calf from a local dairy for cheap as chips, $20 from memory, when he was two days old. Daisy fostered him along with another calf, plus her own calf.  This is all three of them drinking from Daisy.
As with all of our bull calves, Brian castrated him with an Elastrator ring at three days old, and as he grew up with the other steer calves there was no visible difference in his build, aside from his Freisan colouring, he looked exactly the same at the Angas bobby calf steers.
 There is a mindset, that dairy breeds are inferior as meat, but as we have learned over the years, the "mindset" of many folks and butchers is often miss-guided and doesn't make sense.   We wanted to try it for ourselves.
 The home butcher that we have been using over the past few years, has given up the job, so we decided we would butcher this steer using a more hands on approach, here on the property, as usual.
After watching our old butcher so many times over the years, we reckoned we could do it, but as with attempting anything this large, we were pretty nervous about it too.
Without going into detail, all went smoothly, with the help of Brian's eldest son who is built like the proverbial "brick ..... house" and as strong as an ox.

The picture above, was taken minutes before the steer hit the ground.
There was no trucking transport stress, he was not forced to stand around in an abattoir waiting his turn, was never in a feedlot, was never fed growth hormones or grain of any type, he wasn't pumped up with artificial foods to make his steak "marbled". No chemicals were ever necessary because he lived a natural life on quality clean pasture. He never knew or experienced a nano-second of violence in his life.
Watching a recent episode of Landline, (ABC Australia)  I saw a feature on award winning Wagyu beef. The meat is supposedly the best in the world and I was shocked to hear that the animals are kept in a feedlot for between 400 - 500 days!
How many days in a year?
Those animals were forced to live for most of their lives in small enclosures, so far removed from anything remotely natural. Fed grain and other man made, high protein fillers, they would have also been fed chemicals to prevent cross infections that happen when you keep animals in such closely confined spaces.
That's not the type of meat I ever want to eat. Awards or no awards. No thank you!

Brian managed the first stage of butchering a cow by watching and assisting our home butcher many times over the past few years.
After cutting the carcass into four quarters, it took two of them to hoist each section onto the hooks for hanging in the refrigerated cold room, where it hung for twelve days.
We weren't able able to weigh it, having no scales large enough, but it was BIG.

Cutting beef into portions however is an art, which we admit we have not learned to do...yet.  We are fortunate to have a friend who was a butcher in his previous occupation and last weekend we  paid him to help us cut up the meat, ever so grateful for his knowledge. While he was slicing up steaks, and separating the different cuts, Brian and I used our meat saw to cut up the T-bones and Osso Buco.

The rest of the weekend was spent packing meat into meal size portions, some in plastic bags, and some in vacuum sealed bags for longer keeping. Having the refrigerated cool room takes the pressure away from having to get it all packed away in a hurry, especially in warm weather.
We made mince, and then we made sausage mince, and we also made sausages using preservative free sausage mix. Thanks to Liz from Eight Acres who wrote about preservative free sausage mix here  I hunted around and bought some "Bio Beef" preservative free sausage mix from "Bake and Brew" shop in Gawler.  We used some of the natural sausage skins that were left over from our pork sausage making earlier in the year, plus I bought some Collagen casings from Bake and Brew while I was there. The sausages taste delicious, and both types of skins are good.

The bones were cut into small pieces, and along with all the meat, they also managed to fit into the freezers. I'll use some bones for making bone broth (I wrote about Bone Broth here) and the dogs will get some to eat as well.   I kept some fat to render down for making into soap. (I wrote how to render pork fat here but the process is the same for beef or any animal fat.)
I must admit, I was a little bit concerned that my one empty freezer would not be enough to hold all of that beef, so there was a sigh of relief when it all went in, but with not a centimetre to spare!
Not that I would pile all of that fresh meat into one freezer and expect it to freeze quickly.  I put in layers of fresh beef, alternating with a layer of already frozen food from the other two freezers. So there is beef scattered between three freezers, but it all froze very quickly with no need to move it around while it was freezing.
If I wanted to be organised, I could sort through the three freezers now, moving all of the frozen beef into one freezer, but I don't really care about it being all over the place. Every morning, when choosing something to cook for dinner that night, is a bit of a lottery.
However, it's all very well having soup in the freezer to take out and eat for lunch, but finding it is another thing entirely! The soup will show itself all in good time.
Now I hear you ask, how does the Dairy breed beef taste?
On the evening of cutting up the beef we cooked some T-bones on the barbeque grill. With a degree of trepidation, we both cut into the meat on our plates, it cut well. Then the taste and texture test, into our mouths, and we both wore the biggest grins you ever saw. This meat is delicious, juicy, TENDER.
We have been eating our own farm killed beef, usually Angas or Murray Grey, for quite a few years now and the meat from this beast is, hands down, the best ever.
Our friend the butcher praised the quality as he was cutting it up, and was surprised when we told him the breed of the steer, so there's one butcher who's mind-set has been altered.
So, when next we are looking for a new calf to hand raise for meat, we won't be fussy about it being a beef breed or a dairy breed.  If there isn't a beef breed available (our first choice) at the time we are ready, for example, when we have an excess of milk from our house cow and she will foster another calf, we will feel quite happy to take one of the many Friesan calves on offer.
They all taste great when raised naturally and butchered on farm, and now that we have done it once, we'll continue doing it ourselves. We saved lots of money too as it usually costs around $650 to get a beast home butchered and cut into meal size portions. We paid our friend for the four hours it took him on Saturday morning, and we gave him some meat, so we can be sure he will help us again next time we butcher a steer for our own eating.
 This dairy breed, Freisan, do take a little longer to grow in comparison to the Beef breeds, but it was barely noticeable. We probably kept him for three months longer than usual as we generally prefer eating meat from steers that are butchered between twelve to thirteen months old. The carcass is too difficult to handle when they grow much larger, as our normal size tractor and winch is what we have to use for the job.
Beef has been on the menu for most of this past week, but we'll eat some chicken tonight. Home grown and processed of course.
Brian is out there cutting more firewood for the inside fires, so it's time to go out and help him.
Bone broth vegetable soup is on the wood stove for lunch, which we will eat with thick slices of sourdough bread spread with butter, from Lavender's cream of course.
 We're into September, and so far we have had enough rain not to need to water our gardens. Vastly different than last year.
Have a wonderful weekend friends, wherever you are.
Cheers and thanks for visiting :) X

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Ooops... Where did that month go?

I feel like I've been away from blogging for such a long time. Life has been full, Spring has sprung and everything needs to be done at once. I feel guilty sitting here tapping on the laptop when I should be doing so many other things, but this is my relaxation therapy, and today I need it.
The weeds will wait, the sourdough loaf is in the wood oven, that batch of cauliflower pickles will just have to wait, the cheese milk warming on the side of the stove will have to wait.
The important morning things have all been done, poultry all fed and watered, cows moved into a new paddock, the dogs have their bones, some meat is out of the freezer to defrost for dinner tonight, the Farm-gate stall opened, stocked up and ready for another day. A coffee now, and a scribble on the laptop is what I need.
To my blogging friends, apologies for being silent lately. I haven't been reading blog posts either, so my comments have been missing from your blog posts too. There aren't enough hours in the day.
We are working through each task, and it feels so good to tick off more new achievements. Some new experiences too, the unknown, which always feel daunting, but oh so liberating when it all comes off.
Ha! I had always imagined that life would be slowing down a bit at sixty, there would be no more big challenges, I'd be looking back, not forward. How wrong I was.

 A couple of months ago I wrote about our newest venture of offering bee hives for rental
 Brian made up three new bee boxes that we planned to use for the rental hives because we didn't ever intend to move any of our group of twelve hives. They are our base hives, our bread and butter, not to be divided and moved about.
Within a week of writing that blog, and sharing it onto various Facebook pages, all three Rental hives were reserved, deposits paid, and eager families were awaiting delivery.

 Sheralee and her two children organized a surprise Father's Day delivery for the Dad  in their family. Greg was a little speechless when we turned up early on Saturday morning with a bee box on the ute.

Brett and Danielle discussed the possibility of bee keeping before Danielle ordered a hive delivery for his birthday the weekend before.

Dan, who's father had kept bees on their farm when he was a young lad, was gobsmacked when his hive arrived early on Father's Day.
Truly, we had a taste of what it must feel like to be a florist, delivering lovely boxes of surprise to unsuspecting recipients.
During the next twelve months, Brian will visit each family's hive regularly, taking a spare bee suit for the person who wants to learn about beekeeping. After a year of working with their hive under Brian's guidance, they will have the confidence and skills to own and maintain a bee hive.
Some of the hives are booked up for next year already by folks who were not quite fast enough this time around. Time doesn't permit us to rent out more than three hives, we need to maintain our own hives too, plus run a farm.
It seems there are so many people out there who want to learn how to maintain their own bee hive but don't know how to get started. We know this now, after sharing my last blog post about the Bee-keeping Workshop on various Facebook pages.
Within three days that workshop was fully booked with nine people, to allow maximum interaction for each attendee.
More inquiries were coming in rapidly so there was an opportunity  to run another workshop on the following weekend.
So much for that quiet life I was talking about at the top of this post!
 I can now add  Head of Marketing, Functions Coordinator, Head Caterer, Assistant Facilitator to my other roles. Oh and "boss of cleaning up and getting ready for two functions in two weeks" should be in there somewhere too. How nice it will be to have the shearing shed (AKA Function Centre) all cleaned up and decked out with tables and chairs.
Not so exciting is my role of cleaning the outside loo! :(

Back to chopping up cauliflowers, onions, carrots and celery from the garden to make another batch of pickles.
The timer has sounded, the bread is ready.
Cheers and thanks for visiting. :) XX

Monday, 15 August 2016

Bees, Bees, Bees

Sunday September 18th 2016
Learn how to; Set up a bee hive, Catch a swarm of bees, Maintain your bee hive health, Extract Honey, and loads of information about keeping a beehive.
9am until approx 3pm-4pm.
$100 per person includes morning tea and lunch.
Please register by sending a text message to 0473 493413
Include your email address so we can send you an email to confirm your place.
This will be a fun day with an opportunity to get close up with bees, (depending on weather conditions), network with other budding beekeepers, learn years worth of information from Brian, the bee Guru, ask questions and participate in lots of discussion."
(The write up in our local Facebook classifieds page.)

Bees, bees bees.
So.... this is what we're up to at the moment. There's a bit of planning to be done, emails to respond to, deposits to be received, a menu to be decided, and a schedule to be written up.
The shearing shed will be spruced up to accommodate participants, the "functions" cups and plates will be retrieved from the cellar, the urn cleaned and a general tidying up will happen. The grass will probably get mowed too!
So many folks have been asking us about bees and how to get started, it's time to do a workshop.
You may not see me very much over the next few weeks, but I'm here, busying about happily planning an event. What fun it will be.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Stock piling and consolidating

After a few warmer spring like days, we've returned to wintry weather, rain and cold winds, much to my delight. I'm dreading the hot summer days, so these days of loading more wood onto the fires, drying the washing by the fire, gardening without flies, and stockpiling the freezers with baked goods, are heaven to me.

There's a one year old steer walking around the paddock which is booked in for butchering next week. I was losing sleep over how I was going to fit all that meat into the remaining space in our three large chest .freezers. Yes, I really was waking in the night and worrying about it!
So, in for the challenge went I.  With head down and bottom up, there were packages of meat, frozen tubs of cream, vegetables, and curious bits of jetsam (from flotsam and jetsam?)  flying from the freezer into the washing basket.  Everything was moved around, many bags of frozen "stuff" was cooked or used up, and I'm pleased to say that nothing was thrown out.  Well, actually, there was one bottle of Daisy's colostrum in the depths of one freezer, from two calvings ago. Kept to raise brought in calves, but never needed, so that got tipped into the compost heap.
The numerous plastic bags of bones labelled "bones for making bone broth" were tipped into my biggest stockpot with a splash of raw apple cider vinegar and Himalayan pink salt to simmer on the wood stove for a day and a night to make a fresh stockpile of Bone Broth. that I wrote about in a previous post.
After straining and putting in containers, the space required for storing it in the small fridge top freezer was far less than all those bags of bones, and I'm fully stocked up with tasty stock for another few weeks.

And all of those little containers of Lavender's cream that I've been saving to make big batches of butter, have become butter.  Many batches of butter!
Now that we have only one cow, I need to think forward to the two months that Lavender will not be producing milk during the weeks leading up to her next calf due in December.
So I'm making a stockpile of butter to get us through those weeks.
It keeps well in the freezer if it is packaged well.

Don't ever try to vacuum seal freshly made butter. You will end up with flat pats of gooey muck oozing from the vacuum sealing machine. A little like that lovely fresh cake I tried to vacuum seal once before... it went as flat as a pancake with all the air sucked out of it.   Oh well, we live and learn. So, place the packs of butter into the freezer in airtight bags until well frozen.

Once frozen, seal the butter in vacuum seal bags and put back in the freezer.  These bags had been used before for freezing something, washed out well and are perfect for using again.
Butter stored like this will stay as fresh as the day it was made for more than six months.
I don't want to buy shop butter during the time we're not milking Lavender.
Here's how to make butter that I wrote about some time ago.
All that moving stuff around, and making into produce that takes up less room to store I was able to squeeze everything into TWO freezers. Yes.... one freezer has been emptied out, turned off and cleaned out..!!
OK that may not be as exciting for you as it is for me, so I'll restrain myself now.

Still having lots of fun playing shops with the farm gate shop.

Power outages are becoming more regular in our area, and just as I was telling a friend that, so far, we haven't been affected, the power went off. 
Fortunately the milking had been done an hour earlier, and with our wood heater and kitchen wood stove, we weren't impacted beyond living in darkness for three hours. 
I made banana pancakes and we ate them by candle light with honey and fresh cream. 
I hope all is well wherever you are, and thanks for visiting.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

July update 2016

I'm trying to write about this subject light heartedly, but if you know me you will realise, it was quite a traumatic event for both of us.
For some months we had become more convinced that we don't need to own two house cows. The initial idea of two cows was sound, to have a continuous supply of milk all year round by staggering their calving at different times. However, the reality was... an over supply of milk, the costs of feeding, both financially and the toll it takes on our fragile land. The wear and tear (compaction) on our land, and at this wet time of year, the boggy ground.
Having an extra house cow does not mean we have just one extra cow. Usually it means there are an extra three of four cows depending on how many calves she is fostering, to use up the milk.
So the decision was made to keep Lavender, being the youngest  cow and the breed that we want to go on with into the future.

I had tossed around the idea of loaning Daisy to a suitable family, and planned to bring her back home for each calving so I could look after her special needs. That idea was soon squashed by the realistic one of the partnership.
I had to realize that there ARE people out there who are perfectly capable of looking after a specially loved cow with "special needs". Any good person who is going to make the effort, financially and intellectually, to purchase a cow, is going to know how to deal with her massive udder after calving.
One would think!

 So I wrote an advert to put on Gumtree, extolling the virtues of Daisy and her beautiful heifer calf. Within an hour the first inquiries started to roll in.
I had in mind the perfect situation for them to go to so I just had to sort through all of the people, which is not easy to do when they all wanted to come and look.
The planets must have been in alignment for us all when the first person due to come called to say he was held up. I already had a feeling that he was not the right person for Daisy and Paisley, so I felt great relief.
Meanwhile others were texting and phoning, but I took a liking to one texter called Josephine, so I asked her to come and look as soon as she could. Within two hours she was here, and when I met her I knew that Daisy was going to be in very good hands for the rest of her days.
Tears of joy!

 Daisy walked onto Josephine's trailer like she had been doing it every week. She had never been on a trailer, living here on this property for all of her six years.
Paisley followed without any problems at all.
Josephine and her family of four children will make short work of all the milk that Daisy will supply them and she plans to keep heifer calf Paisley as a breeding cow and future house cow on her property in the Adelaide Hills.
Her family have lots of experience with house cows, having grown up with them, so she was not daunted at all when I explained Daisy's "special needs."
And how much more luck could we have had?
Mulga Bill returned from his latest "working engagement" for one week before he was being moved onto his next "job."
Ideally we wanted to sell Daisy with calf-at-foot plus being in-calf;  Daisy came on-heat mid way through the week so she was mated by Mulga Bill.  !!! Planets were in alignment.

Our original loading ramp is situated in the middle of a paddock, which makes it boggy and impossible to move stock when we've had any rain. So  Brian whipped up a whole new loading ramp with drafting yard close to the gate and drive way.
With plenty of stock movements lately, we don't know how we managed for all these years.

A few more loads of gravel is needed though, as we found out when trying to pull out the trailer with Mulga Bill on board.  So with Brian on the tractor and me in the ute, we slowly got out and onto the  road, heading for Clare.

Mulga Bill was clearly not fussed. I think he knows that good times are ahead whenever he gets loaded onto a trailer.

I got a little bit crafty at the beginning of the month. After seeing lots of these continuous scarfs being worn lately, I thought I'd try my hand at making one for myself. It's all straight knitting, couldn't be that hard, even for a craft challenged person such as I.
In the Barossa we're very limited in our choice of some things, unless you want to take out a mortgage on the house! So off to the Op-shop I went in search of some wool.
Sometimes it's more economical to buy a woolen garment and unpick it to re-use the wool, but when I found this woolen garment in a colour I liked, it turned out to be an already made up scarf. One end was unraveling though, and I got it for $2.
It sat on the dining room table for a couple of weeks before I got myself psyched enough to attempt the big fix-up.
Wearing my strongest glasses, I sat at the table and carefully unraveled three rows of knitting from the end that was beginning to come undone. Then I carefully picked up the stitches, and very slowly cast off in rib stitch.
Using some of the wool that was left over I threaded some into the biggest sewing needle I could find in my sewing box, and sewed a flat seam.
I love wearing scarfs in winter, and hate the ends getting in my way, so this continuous scarf is ideal.

The Bee hive rental is taking off slowly, but the sales of Bee Keeping Equipment is becoming even more popular as we realise there are hardly any suppliers of fully assembled bee boxes and equipment in South Australia. 
So this is keeping Brian busy in his shed most evenings with the old gas heater cranked up.

Perfect gardening weather as I'm filling in a few bare spots.

But it seems like for most of this month of July, I've been living in a fog of illness. My first cold for four years that turned into a sinus infection, that went on and on, and when there was a glimmer of recovery, kept coming back with a vengeance.
I think I'd rather get a small cold every year thank you!  Not this monster thing that has wiped me out for four weeks. Oh dear, not used to being ill, I'm not a good patient. 
After trying every means of natural remedies, plus help from my Naturopath and Homeopath, we finally gave up and turned to anti-biotics. I feel like such a failure, but it seems that sometimes we just have to go in with the big guns. There are plenty of gut bacteria restoring supplements going in as well, and I think I'm starting to turn the corner towards wellness again.
My goodness, how we take our health for granted. I think this has been a little nudge to remind me to be a bit more grateful for my good health.
So as I write this, still feeling like my head is stuffed full of stewed apples, please forgive me for any errors or gaps.
Goodbye July, it wasn't your fault that I was so contrary, and Hello August, I think you and I are going to be great mates.
Cheers, X

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