Tuesday, 6 December 2016
Her due date is tomorrow, seventh of December, so no prizes for guessing what my next blog post will be.
It will be lovely to have a new calf on the place, and best of all, there will be fresh, raw, organic milk.
Fingers crossed all goes well, but as usual, there is a sense of apprehension mixed in with the excitement.
Cheers for now!
Monday, 5 December 2016
They were aggressive and didn't want us anywhere near them, protective of what honey they had.
I still managed to get a sting on a finger though. I touched a bee that was crawling on the frame as I lifted it to put it into the extractor. Ouch..!!!
Brian laughs at me, he has no idea how painful stings are for me. They don't affect him, just a slight pin prick, and he gets a few stings every time he takes frames out for extracting.
I'm just thankful that I don't suffer serious effects from the few stings I get. It could be much worse.
Just as well we did, because it's raining today and preventing the bees from foraging.
Rain on a Summer day.
The Salvation Jane flow has finished, so we need to move the bees back to the other stand on the other side of the town.
Last night, just on dark, and when the bees had all gone into their hives for the night, Brian closed up the hive doors and secured, with webbing straps, the hives that sit permanently on the trailers. They are mostly two boxes high (a brood box plus super) and great care is needed when driving them to their new positions.
Each trailer has space for four hives, so we can move them to a new location with ease, without needing to lift them up and down every time. They are really heavy!
I felt him get out of bed, it felt like I'd only just gone to sleep. It seemed so very early, so I rolled over and went back to sleep.
I heard him towing the first trailer load out the gate, and close it behind him, and I did feel a tad guilty, but I rolled over and went back to sleep again. It was still pitch dark! I intended to get up so I could be out there in time to open the gates for the second trip. There are three trailers with bee boxes, and he didn't get any help from me at all as it turned out.
When he climbed back into bed it was still dark. "What's the time?"
So he'd got up at 3.30am!
reminder to readers to plug up the hole in the wine barrel if you have one as a decorative item around your home. Barrels are the perfect home for bees.
Our hopes are high for a good flow when the Red Gums start to flower, because like all apiarists here in South Australia, our honey production is well down this year due to the wet and colder weather during these past three months.
So for now our main concern is to keep the bees happy and the colonies healthy and strong.
Our fingers are crossed for a better honey extraction in a few weeks time.
Cheers, and thanks for visiting.
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
We are really enjoying these workshops and find real pleasure in teaching people about the possibilities of keeping a hive of bees in their yard in the town or on their acreage property.
Each person is here for a reason, but they are not all here for the same reason. Some folks are facing difficult issues within their lives, some are needing a hobby to take their mind off something else, and some are just curious to learn about bees. Some are taking up this hobby late in life, and some are keen and curious children.
The table set up on the side verandah for morning tea and lunch.
And one of the seating areas for enjoying a leisurely lunch and discussing lots of new bee knowledge between each other. Friendships are made and barriers are broken down.
The morning sessions move along at a fast pace with the theory segment; learning about the parts of the hive, equipment and tools and how to use them, making frames and placing wax foundations in the frames, and learning the skill of extracting honey from the hives, how to store and how to use or market their honey.
This is the part that causes most excitement as the new experience of bee-ing surrounded by thousands of bees can be daunting at first.
A new queen was introduced into a hive that was found to be without a queen.
The people that we have met, their stories, their personalities....
Many new life long friendships have been made. This is not something I ever imagined we might be doing, but we are so thankful that we are able to share this wonderful art of bee-keeping.
Thursday, 24 November 2016
Cool enough to have the kitchen wood stove alight and cooking up all sorts of useful delicious-ness.
There's one dietary requirement request of non-dairy, so I made a batch of muesli biscuits. Coconut oil and honey are used instead of butter and sugar. Lots of healthy nuts and seeds in there too, perfect breakfast biscuits for when we leave the house in a hurry and need a snack mid morning.
I've made a list, and another list, ordered the bread rolls, and plan to do the other baking on Saturday.
Sunday morning will be an early start, making up the lunch baguettes filled with various fillings, so I'm then free to participate in the workshop alongside Brian.
It took thirty minutes, three ingredients and an estimated cost of $2 in total to make. I use generous dollops in our washing so this will probably last a month.
What a hoot! He's a brilliantly funny story teller.
Yes, there we are, I'm on the other side of lady wearing a green top. ;)
My friend took a bottle of her home made tomato sauce to give him, as she announced in the car as we were driving there.
She was first in line when he sat down to sign books being purchased, she whipped out the sauce and presented it to him (with no intention of buying a book that she couldn't afford). He was completely taken aback, grabbed a book from the top of the pile, signed it, and presented it to her.
What a lovely man, and what a thrilled friend.
Outside activities are no fun with the pesky flies we get out here in the country. My best weapon, this old hat and veil.
It must be exhausting doing the paddock rounds with me.
The dinner is cooking, the cows are moved into a new fresh paddock, the eggs have been collected, weeds have been pulled and fed to the piggies...oh the pigs, you'll want to see a recent picture of them won't you??
Laa la laaa!!
Making Haven here is our nettle that grows wild here in South Australia. The holy grail nettle, the nettle of many great things. See here for my post about nettles.
I do hope all is well within your world, as it is in mine. Thanks for visiting, see you again soon. :)
I do hope all is well within your world, as it is in mine. Thanks for visiting, see you again soon. :)
Wednesday, 23 November 2016
Making our own fertilizers is one of the most important things that we do here and are fortunate to have all of the ingredients for the best plant foods that we could ever want.
You will never see bags of manure placed outside our gate for sale. Oh no, the only manure that leaves this property would be inside a living animal.
But for the home gardener, without cows, horses or chooks, the bags of manure on the side of the road are a necessary purchase to boost your compost heap.
Any animal manure (cow, chicken, horse, pigeon) can be put into a pile with chopped up garden cuttings, leaves, kitchen scraps, shredded newspaper, lawn clippings etc to make a better compost than money could buy.
It's always a good idea to add a bit of your compost from a previous batch to the new pile. You can either spread in a handful as you build up your layers, or poke a few holes into your existing pile and throw some in. There are compost starter preps available to purchase from Bio-dynamics Association of Australia if you really want to get things going cosmically, but the inoculation -just like making yogurt ;-) - works for me.
You don't have a wee bucket??
Have you got a semi private area in your back yard? There you can place your wee bucket with a piece of old fabric for a "wee wipe". Dilute the wee by filling the bucket with water every day before tipping onto the compost heap or pour onto the soil around your plants and fruit trees.
Don't do this if you are taking pharmaceutical medications or anti-biotics though.
Replace your wee wipe daily, popping the used one in the washing cycle, and hang on the line to dry with your washing.
Into this brew I added some chicken manure from the hen's shed, to nettles and comfrey, filled the barrel with rain water and put the lid on. I give it a stir with a long stick every day or whenever I think of it, and it will be ready to use in a month or two.
When it's ready to use, first give it a quick stir, then bucket out a small amount into a watering can, approximately to the ratio of making a glass of cordial, or slightly less. It's quite strong, so always use less rather than too much.
*Brian also uses these brews in his soil activator, adding bio-dynamics (prep500 and 501) to the mix before the stirring phase in the Flow Form but for the small gardener, hand stirring in a barrel is just as effective. This is spread out over our paddocks using the quad bike with a spray system attached, but for our gardens we use a spray pump or a watering can.*
Use the fermented tea brews as a weak mixture in pot plants, around fruit trees, vegetables, flowering plants and vines.
This is also good as a foliage feed, but I would suggest using a weaker dilution, and don't foliar feed on a day above 23C degrees as the leaves could burn.
If you don't have the biodynamic preps or the stirrers, I'm certain that you would still get very good results from using the brewed liquid compost teas.
I've been foliar feeding the fruit trees that had been attacked by earwigs as the new leaves were forming and I can't believe the difference. New leaves have formed to the point where no earwig damage is evident at all.
Shane Joyce's words are ringing in my ears, "Manage for what you want, not for what you don't want." Well if ever there is an example of just how that approach does work, this is it.
By building up the strength of the plant, it enables it (the plant) to withstand the attacks of predators. In previous years I've focused on getting rid of the earwigs and have used up a lot of my energy in doing so, but this is working for me now and I have energy to use in other areas.
Sometimes we need to think outside the square.
Sunday, 20 November 2016
Recently, another two blocks of grazing land amounting to roughly thirty acres, was offered to us for our use. This is an offer too good to pass up, so we had to go to market to buy more sheep.
The temperature was in the low thirties, the first warm day for us this season, and the flies were out in force. I looked like I was at a funeral with my fly net, but I didn't want to buy a pen of sheep unwittingly with any vigorous fly swatting gestures. :)
Prices are still high, so we picked out a few pens of possibilities, using the plan A, plan B, plan C method.
Plan A was a pen of twenty crossbreed lambs, mostly ewes, which we planned to bid up to $100 each. As the wool clip is not worth much for crossbreeds, we need to have ewes for the view of breeding some lambs to get a return on our investment. The few wethers (castrated males) in the lot, would be grown on and sold at a profit before they became classed as Hogget at one year old.
All of our other ewes at home are Merinos, for the high priced wool clip, plus the lamb they breed each year. We prefer to buy Merinos, but we knew we had to take what was on offer at this market. The grass in the new blocks is high and needs immediate grazing.
If plan A was successful, we didn't need to action plans B or C.
So they will all be shorn this week, a few each evening after work, before being loaded onto the trailer and taken to the one of the new blocks.
As they are this year's lambs, they will grow on for another year before we put them with a ram, and will expect lambs from them in May-June 2018.
The twenty nine large round hay bales have all been brought into the hay storage yard, each one sitting on a plastic pallet to keep the bottoms off the ground and dry.
The regrowth in the hay paddocks is still pushing, so the cows have been allowed access to the delicious new fresh shoots. Our block goes all the way up to the top of the hill.
In the middle of the picture are most of our bee hives on trailers, for ease of moving. As soon as the Salvation Jane in our neighbor's paddock finishes flowering, we will move them to another location to make use of the Red Gum flowers.
We're holding another bee-keeping workshop next weekend and the students will be checking and performing maintenance on the hives under Brian's guidance.
There's never a dull moment around here, the weekend has been full, just the way we like it.
Friday, 18 November 2016
This poor little Washington Navel orange tree has been poorly for all of its life of approximately six years. We've moved it twice and it appeared to be growing strongly in this final resting place, but recently it's lost some leaves and put on lots of flowers in an attempt to save its own life by producing lots of fruit.
Tough love was the order of the day. It was so difficult to do it, but it had to be done.
Then the soil and foliage got a good soaking with bio-dynamic soil activator diluted in water before mulching with a thick layer of rotting pea straw.
As the tree is in one of the yards that the hens can access, the mulch needs to be covered so they don't immediately scratch it out again.
I need to feed the foliage and the soil every week with nettle tea and liquid manure and in true bio-dyamic spirit, I also need to put my good intent into it.
One of the great affirmations spoken by Shane Joyce last week was this simple message that, I think, applies not only to gardening, farming and animal care, but for life in general.
"Manage for the outcome that you want...not for what you don't want."
Blessings to you dear reader.