Friday, December 28, 2007

lap of the gods

Well, it's in the lap of the gods now. The little farm got the parental tick of approval. Mr Duck Herder put in an offer. It was all I could do to stop mum from putting in her own offer. I am in love with the 100 year old orchard. We ate 3 different varieties of plums - all delicious, all very very old varieties. Other trees are dripping with pears, apples, peaches and god knows what else. It would be such an honor to look after these trees - to get to know their ways. The fluffies would look so lovely moving about under their shady branches.
Ditto the humble little house. The current owners have looked after it so well. They have obviously loved living here for the past 19 years very much. Prior to that, the little farm was in the same family from about 1860 onwards. Six little children grew up here. People grew old and lived out their days happily and creatively here. This is a happy place.
Unfortunately we are not the only ones who love the little farm. But we remain hopeful that our offer is accepted, that in time, we may send our roots down into the earth and grow old here too.
Fingers crossed for us?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

boldly on

I guess each day we make a thousand cumulative little decisions that reflect who we are, how we want to be and who we are becoming. Trying to embrace an elegantly frugal life means lots of these decisions are about what will we have for dinner, how shall we spend the day and how can I avoid going to the supermarket!

And sometimes, the little cross roads we get to are BIG cross roads. We can just keep going along the way we are, leading quiet, safe little lives, doing the best we can with what we have, or we can LEAP EMPTY HANDED INTO THE VOID!

Mr Duck Herder and I have been doing lots of thinking and talking and dreaming about this little farm. We are going out again tomorrow, with the Parents of Duck Herder to undertake some more indepth infrastructure assessments - "how deep IS that well?", "When will the house fall down?", Does that dam really look spring fed?", "Could we REALLY live without a dishwasher?", "How good are those plums?","How good is the food at The Loaded Dog?"

Anyhoo, as mentioned in a previous post, the whole living on a farm this is DEFINITELY a Duck Herding thing, and something that Mr Duck Herder has perhaps inadvertently married into. BUT I LOVE this man, who once he got a feel for the place, nonchalantly announced that yes he could live here, and if would please just organise a long settlement to enable him to complete the next 16 months of racing, that would be all the nicer. He seems very calm

Me, on the other hand, not so much. My emotions have been wildly swinging from delirious bursts of joy, spontaneous tears of happiness combined with a bittersweet premature mourning for our current gorgeous lovely sunny, warm in winter cool in summer urban jungle orchard home. My excitement has been interspersed with plunging tummy curdling fears....."what am I doing?!"

Its that whole BIG DECISION thing. Perhaps I should just stop YEARNING, and WANTING, and be a better Buddhist and learn to be where I am.

And then the answer came. Christmas Eve. In a bon bon of course........ enclosed in a golden paper crown, surrounded by family and those we love....these words from Henry David Thoreau:

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams,
and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined,
he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

Well. That settles it. Boldly on I say. I will keep you posted.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

chook money

The other morning I thought to myself that perhaps 20 fluffy chickens, 2 normal chooks and three ducks might just be a bit much for a suburban back yard. You see, Miss Nefley had just hatched out another 10 fluffy chicks - her second lot this season, and the third batch of silkies to hatch at the princess castle this spring.

I think we had a case of "fluffy backlog" as only four of the previous 11 young fluffies had gone to their new homes. Luckily, they were all lined up, and yesterday 3 were transported to Wagga with my mum and dad for a rendezvous with their new owners in the hospital car park, and another three were picked up by some very excited kiddies and their dad last night.

That just left one. And we have done what no silkie breeder should do, and kept the runt of the litter so to speak - because it is tiny and cute and bold and friendly and independent and races up to us when we go outside and sits on our laps when it is eating. Mr Duck Herder suspects that it might be deaf too. And so we will wait. and see if it is a she. She will be no good for breeding - completely wrong in all fluffy respects. But she has CHARACTER! And if she is a he, then hopefully Joe will give him a job as a chook run sales executive - because I could not dispatch of this tiny fluffy mop that races up to me every morning even if I tried.

So this morning, we woke up to the far more respectable number of 3 big, one small and 10 tiny fluffy chooks.

At $15 a pop unsexed, these little fluffy bundles more than pay the chook feed bill. I made $90 yesterday - thats $165 for the season so far - and I expect another $150 or so from this last batch.

$315 - thats CHICKEN FEED!!! (and duck feed)

And I love how happy silkies make their new owners. Fluffy Chooks = love.

silly, stupid, fluffy love in all directions.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Poem


I see a twinkle in your eye.
So this shall be my Christmas star
And I will travel to your heart:
The manger where the real things are.

And I will find a mother there
Who holds you gently to her breast;
A father to protect your peace;
And by these things you shall be blessed.

And you will always be reborn;
And I will always see the star
And make the journey to your heart:
The manger where the real things are.

Leunig (of course)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

missing duck

hello there folks. long time since last post. so, explanation?

Well, there has been a lot going on - mostly inside my head I think. Things have felt just a little too big and too internal to blog. Don't feel special though - I have been just as neglectful of my non-cyber friends as well.... I apologise if I worried anyone by my prolonged absence -especially you Rhonda Jean. :-)

Even now I am not sure where to start. I feel like I have have been through an accelerated spiritual awakening - or perhaps I am still in it. That sounds so ridiculous doesn't it. But I am not sure what other words to use.

I have fallen in love with a farm. I think. But I am not sure. How do you know? How do you tell the difference between grasping and knowing - between wanting and intuition?

I have always dreamed of returning to the land - of living in the bush - of space and freedom and a simpler, pared down life. But for most of my twenties, I was busy doing other things, that this yearning was just a vague thing - not really a yearning at all. And I was still topped up from an idyllic childhood full of space and trees and ponies.

And really I didn't know WHAT I wanted out of life - I had lovely jobs, knew lovely people and formed two relationships with men that knew EXACTLY what THEY wanted - so it was really just easy to support their dreams and goals, because mine seemed so quiet and little compared to the biggness and certainty that fueled theirs. They KNEW what they wanted out of life - whereas I just seemed to drift and float - as different opportunities opened up in different ways. Increasingly though, that yearning has gotten stronger and stronger. Sounds simple yeah? But I married a city boy, who has never dreamed of such a life.

When my first relationship broke up there was a long period of starting to find out who I was and what I wanted to do - for ME. I had just bought my own little town house - all on my own, and at the time that seemed like more than enough planet to call my own. I daydreamed about one day moving to a farm, but getting some real estate behind me, and some sort of a career seemed like the most important thing.

And then I met Mr Duck Herder and we fell very much in love. And for a SECOND time, I moved into the house of my beloved ( this time with quite a lot of reluctance and resistance and TEARS) But, for Mr Duck Herder, being an athlete is the most important thing in the world. And he pushed HARD for us to live here (after a brief interlude squished into my little town house while we turned what was once the home he bought with his first wife into the princess castle) so he could be in the midst of his running, cycling and swimming mecca.

And I have learned to love it here. And our house is truly beautiful and comfortable and if you wanted to life in town - perfect in all regards.

But I still YEARN.

My beloved is an athlete - a pretty good one at the end of his career. For the last few years, and for the next 16 months we have agreed that this is his time to achieve everything he possibly can as an athlete - before his body gets too old. So he is not working much, but training heaps. And the deal is that then we can move to a farm.

But what if this is the farm? This 120 acres of rolling pasture and creek flats on a permanent creek - with spring fed dams, a well, and old orchard, a 100 year old stone and mortar cottage .......surrounded by national park on one side, in a quiet, little oasis, 1 hour from ONC, perfect sandy hillsides for my pine nut plantation, with some exquisite remnant veg, yellow tailed black cockatoos, echidnas, wombats and snakes.

And Mr Duck Herder has been out to have a look. And he says he could live there. We would need to somehow negotiate a long settlement - to take account of his next year and a half of competing.

It could possibly work out.

But I am beset with fears. What if he doesn't like it? Now the tables are turned, and we are sort of planning to make decisions that are about what I want, and the changes and compromises will be his, I am scared. And I feel pressure.

and that's what has been going on.

On the garden front however, there has been BERRIES!!! Lots and lots of mulberries, youngberries and raspberries. For breakfast every morning.

yum yum.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

The free bird leaps on the back of the wind
and floats downstream till the current ends
and dips his wings in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks down his narrow cage
can seldom see through his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings with fearful trill
of the things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
of things unknown but longed for still
and his tune is heard on the distant hill
for the caged bird sings of freedom

"I know Why the Caged Bird Sings" Maya Angelou

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his
bosom sore,
When he beats his bars and would be free;
It is not a carol
of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings -
I know why the caged bird

"Sympathy"(Stanza 3)" by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I am most gratefull that through much lurking, Mountain Girl has introduced me to Maya Angelou. And now, perhaps other folks would like the same introduction to both Maya, and Paul Laurence Dunbar........... I like these poems a lot.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

happy me

I have been declared an 8 Happy Thoughts meme victim by the all new improved re-plumbed retrofitted bare bones gardener.

Rules are as follows:When tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you. Then post these rules before your list, and list 8 happy things about yourself. At the end of your list, you must tag and link 8 other people.

Well, here goes: Instead of boring you with 8 written things, I am going to show you 8 happy things about me........

1) This is the path up to my little veggie garden, chooks, ducks and glass house. It can be a bit of a hazard night due to the chickens penchant for digging huge dust baths in the middle of the path - very permaculture (multiple uses) - and this makes me happy!

2) And this is what you see when you get up the path! A wild, messy tangle of veggies rubbing shoulders - rhubarb, scarlet runner beans, parsley, raspberries, tomatoes, more parsley, spinach, cucumber, potatoes.............

3) and just on your right, here is something that makes me very happy indeed - luscious youngberries!

4) Experiments with Organic Semi-Bio dynamic Hydroponics. This mostly makes me happy - sometimes it makes me sad - especially when my tomatoes grow too fast and leggy.


5) Baby Seedlings

6) A constant supply of salad greens

7) my deadly organic earwig trap (the little jar of oil and water)

.......all these things are VERY happy making.......

8) Pine Nuts. (pinus pinea) Will you all buy Australian Grown, organic pine nuts from the duck herder one day?

well, that's 8. Now, because I am wayward, there will be no meme victims from me. I hope that's OK BBG!

But thank you for coming on a tour of my garden........

Oh, and it is RAINING. RAIN makes me happy!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

first berries

oh, I forgot, yesterday was the wonderful "first mulberry, first raspberry day" - hooray!

Although there has been quite a few "eeeehck, another still unripe mulberry" days.......

Monday, November 19, 2007

new farm

Well, summer has arrived here in ONC*. Two days in a row around 33 degrees - following on from a fairly warm Saturday. The shade cloth got put up on the pergola this afternoon to keep the sun off the lower parts of our wonderful full length northern windows. This creates an instantly cool, dark outside room, and makes a huge difference to how hot the house gets during the day.

At the new farm, I have been experimenting with my big pile of worm castings. I have dug a trench into the old sawdust (stable waste) and filled it with castings. This I planted with runner beans, which have all sprouted, are lovely dark green and nothing is eating them too much (unlike the previous pea seedlings). Watermelons are up, Rock melon is up, Pumpkin is up as are the Cucumbers. I wondered how things would go growing in neat worm castings, but so far so good. For those of you who don't know, the new farm is my new extended veggie garden in the making up the road at an agistment farm. There is lots and lots of work to do, bringing this huge patch of depleted sawdust spread out over a paddock to life, but having a commercial worm farmer next door certainly helps!

I have been reading Charles Walter's book "Eco-Farm, and just loving it. It is on loan from the biggest hippy, but I think it might be one I need to have beside the bed for a long long time.

If you are ready for the mysteries of plants, eco farming, soil biology, production of chemical free, nutrient dense food and the like, this might be just right for you too!

* Our Nation's Capital

Friday, November 16, 2007

what happened to the duck?

Hello folks!
Where has the duck herder been?
I am not sure what has happened to November......

I do remember that this morning I saw a pair of Rainbow Bee-eaters down by the Molonglo River. This was quite a treat - the first I have seen. Here is a picki taken by Brett Donnald. They are very lovely. Rare? not particularly, but very lovely.

Well, the bad news is that the soil at the new farm is very depleted and sad. The first lot of veggies have done nothing.

The good news is that the adjacent commercial worm farm gifted me with 2 cubic meters of fresh work castings dumped fair in the middle of my garden! Now that's a sure way to make an elegantly frugal gal happy! It got me thinking about another friend Joe, who teases me lots by saying if only all girls could be as appreciative of gifts such as bales of straw, trailers of cow poo, bags of sheep poo, bundles of seaweed and the like.

Anyhoo, once I get over this little hump of work and family commitments, I will be up there! This changing gardens thing has been a bit sad making - this is the first year for ages I don't have vast quantities of potatoes happening. I have managed to put quite a lot in here at home but of necessity - smaller stuff. Having Charlotte and Gretel the serious egg laying chooks back home is working well too. They love being able to free range in the afternoons - even if it is just for an hour or so - they are so rough on the garden.

Kiwi update - well, Mr Kiwi is in full flower, but Miss Kiwi has only 4 flowers that I can count, and the other Miss Kiwi has not flowered at all.

Well, beautiful Kristy from Goblers Run has tagged me for the Picture Me meme! Kate at Our Red House began this MeMe and said the following;
"The rules are simple: post a picture of yourself on your blog. As some may feel uncomfortable posting a current photo, a baby or childhood picture is fine. Post the picture, tell us the story behind it, copy the logo, and tag three others (without forgetting to tell them that they have been tagged!)"

Well, this is a photo from earlier in the year, taking soil samples on a beautiful farm that Mr Duck Herder and I almost bought. Yes I know, my hair is up in a daggy pom pom bun, but it was warm, and I just needed to get it out of my FACE. Part of me will always be sad we didn't buy this farm. It was so so so so lovely, had been so well cared for, in a lovely little valley, permanent water, mountain views, simple, practical infrastructure, a bit isolated - sure, but heaps of potential to live sustainably, warm enough for banana passionfruit, cold enough for kiwi fruit, wet enough for avocados, stone fruit, and all sorts of stuff - perfect. But, alas, dodgy neighbours.
Anyway, I need to have a little time to think about who to tag, and to check what all my imaginary blogger friends have been up to, so watch out! You might be sorting through your "my pictures" file sooner than you think!

Happy Lacuna Sabbath everyone.
Kristy - if you follow this link, it should explain what Lacuna Sabbath is all about!

Friday, November 2, 2007

lacuna sabbath

So if you think about it, living in the city requires traveling vast distances for your basic needs. Ok, so the shelter thing is mostly sorted, but your food and water is a long way away. Your food suppliy is dispersed over a great distance - which means either you or it has to travel a long way, which means, if you live in the city, you are, by definition, a HUNTER-GATHERER!


Saturday, October 27, 2007

days like this

today I am loving......


I kidnapped my little niece again today. We zooshed out to Bungendore to ride Thomas - the Duchess' lovely little welsh mountain pony.

Now the Duck Herder had a blissfully girls own adventure childhood with an abundance of ponies in the paddock. Not having children of my own, I LOVE providing little Lara with a taste of what it is like to have a pony for a friend.

And Tomas and Lara were just made for each other. Tomas recognises Lara now and wickers when he sees her. The cutest thing was the first time he did it, she thought he had growled at her! I had to explain it was his way of saying "Hey there little girl, I recognise you! - did you bring me some apple and are we going for a ride?"

Today I led Lara on Tomas while the Duchess lead Morris the little miniature pony. We went out for a long walk through the pine trees, chitter-chattering all the way. After the storm a couple of days ago, all the flies in the known universe have hatched, which was a little tiresome. But Tomas looked so sweet in his new pink and purple fly vale.

Lara is still gaining her confidence. She is though, a complete natural with a perfect seat. It won't be long until she is game enough to go off by herself. That will make me quite happy, because it is a little tiring running along beside Tomas as they trot along - with Lara rising perfectly to the trot. We even got up to a canter today - which the Duchess found quite amusing - watching the duck herder running her 37 year old heart out alongside this little cantering pony!

Small girls and ponies - is there anything more perfect in the world?

I am not sure who has more fun - Lara getting to go for a ride on the most perfect pony, or the Duchess and I, killing ourselves laughing at the cuteness of this tiny slip of a girl trotting up the paddock on this tiny, perky little pony.

And what about the afternoon?

  • Big batch of rhubarb and apple muffins
  • Lots of pottering in the garden planting butter beans, borlotti beans and some peas
  • potting up seedlings and sewing more seed trays.
  • Coffee and muffins with the girls next door talking gardens, plants and cats
  • A little more pottering in the garden.
Well, that's it for Saturday really.

Friday, October 26, 2007

lotions & potions

Here are today's experiments:

Only Good Things Moisturiser plus Borage for Courage!

In one saucepan:
150mls freshly made rosemary and parsley tea
10mls Glycerin (5% of total liquid plus oil)

In a double boiler or saucepan in a saucepan with water:
30mls olive oil
15mls jojoba oil
5mls borage oi

5mls emulsifying wax

Heat contents of each pan to 70 - 75 degrees

Slowly poor water mix into oil mix, whisking as you go.
Keep whisking
….. and whisking
When cooled to 45 degrees, add essential oil or fragrance oil and rosemary tincture (for preservative)

When mixture starts to thicken, poor into clean containers.

so far so good. feels divine! Have one scented just with lavender oil, and one lot scented with Dewberry Fragrance Oil. Have sent one bottle off to Mother in Law for comment.

All up, this batch cost: $3.40. The most expensive ingredient was the jojoba oil - $2.10!
Using more olive oil instead of jojoba would bring the price down to $1.35 for 200mls.

Only Good Things Shampoo

In a clean shampoo bottle:

100mls rosemary & parsley tea
100mls castile soap
fragrance oil
1 ½ tsp olive oil
½ tsp glycerine
essential oil or fragrance. (this time I used tropical coconut fragrance oil)

Shake up!

Cost for this one: $0.93 for 200mls.

Only Good Things Conditioning Rinse

Well, after some experimentation, I have moved on to using AVC in the shower as an after shampoo rinse. The good thing is that if you get it on your face and body, you don't have to use toner when you get out!

In the interests of not pouring cold water all over you at the end of your shower, try keeping the correct amount of ACV in a container in the shower, and filling up the rest of the bottle with warm shower water when you are ready to rinse!

Put 1 – 2 tbs ACV in a 200ml container.
After shampooing, fill rest of container with warm water. Shake briefly and then pour over hair. Rinse again briefly under shower (just a little)

Conditioning Rinse: $0.25 / wash.

Review: read for yourself! Although truthfully, this relates to the previous batch.

Useful Links:
Horse Supplies Direct: for bulk ACV - and lots of other goodies like Kelp Granules, Cod Liver Oil, Liquid Seaweed - all good stuff for your feathered friends and gardens.

Heirloom Body Care: for bulk raw ingredients and lovely things.

more lacuna sabbath

I think it is going to be one of those reflective days. Just what the Lacuna Sabbath is for.

I am wondering how the little rocketeer is going - there hasn't been a peep out of her since last week - the busy work week leading up the the big painting and moving in to her new little apartment in Brissy. I get all teary with pride when I think about this clever young woman. The Rocketeer, Couragnaut (aka Pa Kettle & Mountain Man) and I worked together in an amazingly fraught work environment - the work itself should have been (and to some extent was) exciting and important, but the whole experience was overtaken by the madness (narcissistic personality disorder) of our supposed boss. As a team, we tried many strategies to manage the crazy person, get stuff done and try and made things functional, but in the end, the whole thing descended into pear-shaped bananadom. We all managed to limp out of there alive - mostly.

Our shared experience of the whole ordeal has forged a formidable triangulation of strength, mirth, resilience and the deepest love and friendship. An incongruous trio - but lovely non the less.

And now Pa Kettle and I get to see her bounce up the ladder and zoom though her life with much pride and wonder. We are very fond of that little person.

Coming soon: updated shampoo & conditioner recipes & a first attempt at hippy herbal natural moisturiser............

Lacuna Sabbath

*yay* This lacuna sabbath will be a double cellebration - a day of mooching AND rain - the real stuff, overnight. hooray! Must have been the 6 bales of straw we left stacked out in the open that brought the storm on. Will remember than next time.

While daylight saving was not designed for dairy farmers, I think it will be of some benefit to rooster owners. Maurice is starting to drive us a bit nutty with his very early crowing. (watch out Maurice!)

Having completed an early morning mug of tea holding inspection of the garden, I can report the following:

  • Despite late frost and many bare branches, there some some mulberries ripening up (mostly out of reach).
  • Marionberries (or are they kerriberries?) are doing very well indeed. Fluffy chickens have stolen all young fruit within fluffy chicken reach (not very far) but happy to share.
  • There are good signs for a modest raspberry harvest
  • Avocados - complete disaster. Will replace with hardy berries and perhaps one more kiwi.
  • Kiwi vines - lots of flower buds on male vine. So far, only a few on one of the females. Hopeful, but not holding breath.
  • Nashis - the earlier budjump problem has resulted in a no-nashis-this-year year.

Something has eaten my young dill plant. Other herb plantings are going well. Parsley lovely but older stuff going to seed. Brandy wine tomato seedlings going well. Have put some more seeds in to get a second round. Silver beet coming along well.

Reasonable for such a young garden methinks. It is good however, that we are only playing at being self sufficient, and that there is money for food!

Amelia the youngest duck is sitting very tightly on a little clutch of eggs. Second week in I think. I have pulled out most of the eggs so that we do not suddenly have 23 ducks in the backyard. She is AMAZINGLY aggressive - much more than her lovely mother. I am most impressed with her clever instincts. Clever Amelia.

More reports as news comes to hand.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Yesterday was meant to be a very happy day with the return of the working girls (Bianca, Charlotte and Gretel) from their mobile chook run down and the community garden back home. Everything was going well - I went down early to get the girls. When I let them out into a run on the back lawn, I noticed that Bianca was not looking well. I didn't notice anything when I went to pick her up at the garden, and she was perching the night before, but she was very not OK now. Her undercarriage was very distended and she was having trouble walking. Her usually jaunty tail was touching the ground. I couldn't feel any eggs inside her, but her cloaca was very enlarged. She was eating however and still managed to struggle up to me whenever I went to check on her.

Anyhoo, by the afternoon she was no better, perhaps a bit worse, flopping over on her side and she did not perch. She smelt sick. Joe came over to help relocate their big chook run home, and we agreed that she had probably prolapsed, and would probably go down hill very quickly. So Joe did the deed and I held her while she died, stroking her and telling she what a lovely chook she was.

I had been increasingly worried about her - all three had gone off the lay early in winter, but she had not come back on despite the array of treats, fresh greens, comfrey and supplements, which was very strange.

Poor Bianca. Wonderful layer of enormous white eggs. Bianca with the lovely pearly earlobes. Bianca who slept in my pockets when she was little. Naughty, bossy, scratchy Bianca.

Oh for the love of a cross bred chook!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Lacuna Sabbath

Just to prove I am a flexible free range chook and that my hours really are stretchy and ribboned, this Lacuna Sabbath was spent working in Goulburn - a series of meetings in my favourite cafe - the Greengrocer which combines all my favourite things in one shop, in the town of my birth, served by lovely people. The Greengrocer combines fresh local produce, a bike shop specialising in TREK bikes, fabulous fresh healthy food and great soy lattes. What more could a free range chook want? I mean, if you have to have back to back meetings, I can't really think of a better way to do it.

did I mention I love my job?

Other news, tomorrow we are off to Narooma for a wedding, staying the night in a little eco-motel on the edge of town.

And, this may only be of interest to Sherdie, but the biggest hippy and I have moved offices - we have lost our veggie garden car park with the worm farm and compost bin, and are now making do with a veranda! I need to clean up one of the worm farms to put up there. Naturally the biggest hippy has already planted a new herb and salad garden in pots, and furnished the veranda with second hand rocking chairs and coffee tables. The new tenants in our old digs have strict instructions to water the garlic and to maintain our record of not letting an ounce of organic matter leave the site. Naturally we will be back to harvest in a few months.

So even though I only go into the office once or twice a week, it is lovely to know it has all the mod cons - you know, like a newly fixed blue teapot from ebay, lettuce, parsley, oregano, coriander, thyme and micro-livestock.

A duckie has gotta have standards.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

working from home

Tuesday and Wednesday I went in to my little office in Queanbeyan to catch up with some colleagues and in theory, to work like a Trojan on the business plan.

Well, it was lovely to have cups of tea and chats with people, but the computer systems were playing up, and the server was soooooo slow. At one stage it took 45 minutes just to open an XL spreadsheet.

By late yesterday I could feel the stress bubbles starting to rise! I woke up in the middle of the night worrying about work - just like I used to. This was VERY battery hen like and most un-free range chook like. The tutti fruiti time decree is that night is for sleeping, not worrying about work.

This morning I woke up early, meditated and 7.30am found me ploughing away from my home office, up to my armpits in business plan. Suddenly it was 11:00am and perfect time for a cuppa and a trip out to see the chookies. I then jogged down to the community garden to let the big chooks out.

After a quick bite to eat and some more chicken love, I got back into it working solidly through to 5.00pm, where I stoped and zipped into town to buy some more chook food.

I got HEAPS done. HEAPS and HEAPS and HEAPS. It suits me so well to work from home. I just need to remember that next time I start feeling frazzeled.

I am a free range chook living in tutti fruiti time again! yeah!

big day out

Today the fluffy world decreed that all new hatchlings were old enough to venture down the ladder and out into the big wide world - well, the fluffy pen anyway.

Here are some little handfuls of fluffy cuteness for you all.

By morning tea we had all learned to scratch with our feet, and by afternoon tea we had managed to work out how to eat whole grains of wheat. Clever silly chickens.

We can drink, eat, stretch and micro sleep when we get trapped in a sun beam. We are very clever!

Oh, and there are 10 of us! 5 white and 5 who knows!

Monday, October 15, 2007

widdle babies

It sure is good being a free range chook living in tutti fruiti time. *grin*
Today I woke up still exhausted from the weekend, and because of the above, I can just send a few emails and decide to start the working week tomorrow. * double grin*

So today I had not one but TWO nanna naps. In between kips I snuck out to check on how Jenni and her little brood were going. So far, 7 little chicks have hatched with some more pipped and on their way. Clever Maurice has thrown 100% feathered middle toes *swoon*. Best $40 I ever spent!

At this stage the chickies look like perhaps a mix of silvers and all whites.

Here is a little nest of cuteness all at various stages of fluffing out. You can see the little white one is still a bit wet.

Well, that's it for the fluffies.
Other things that happened today was another mousie body. *yay*
I also mixed up another batch of homemade shampoo. This time I have tried cutting right back on the glycerin - 1/4 tsp in 300 mls liquid, and adding 1/2 tsp of olive oil. Will see how it goes.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Murrumbateman Field Days - Day2!

Double Sheesh!

Well, after my stunning performance yesterday, Joe and Alyson sold 5 runs before I even got there this morning. So that's me, back down the bottom of the spruiking pile!

I did get to do lots of happy small child stuff chaperoning Strawb (short for Strawberry Blond) ensuring that no little person squeezed her head off or ran away with her. Don't laugh - it has happened - the running away bit I mean.

Anyway, Strawb is quite happy to sit up on top of her run, showing off, sunning her self and being subjected to the adoration of numerous small childers. And children find her just captivating. I think Strawb sells more chook runs than anyone. When she gets sick of the attention she just hops down and marches off. That's our cue to scoop her up and pop her back in with the others.

She is often quite sticky by the end of the day from all those little ice cream paws.

And here is Jenni! Her little eggs were tapping this morning, and it looks like one has pipped the shell. But no one is out yet. It was hard to get a good looks because she was FURIOUS that I should even try to look.
hee hee, how exciting! Baby Maurici! It is probably a good thing that I am COMPLETELY trashed from being in the sun and wind and having to talk to people all day otherwise I probably wouldn't sleep a wink tonight.
Lots of families and older folks today. All keen to get chooks. GO THE CHOOKIES! CHOOKS FOR EVERYONE i say!

Murrumbateman Field Days

sheesh. It is very tiring talking to folks all day! And now I have to go and do it all again.

Yesterday I went to the Murrumbateman Field Day to help Joe sells his cool mobile chook runs. The weather was lovely, and this year, folks seemed more positive and less cranky than last year. Even thought the drought is still raging, it felt like people were chatty and happy and positive. EVERYONE loves chooks! And I met lots of lovely folks who have disappeared out of town and want to get chookies or who perhaps after having their flocks decimated by foxes, are keen to get a run that is fox proof (enter Uncle Joes Mobile Chook Runs!)

Lots of folks in town were looking at getting chooks as well. I see this as a good sign that people want to be more elegantly frugal! I also think it is the most wonderful thing a parent can do for their kiddies too. Chooks made great pets. Ah yes, but I am preaching to the converted here on this issue I know!

AND, I was the only one that sold a chook run!

The other exciting thing that happened is that I could have sold 1 million silkies 1 million times over! Everyone wants them. So now I have a list of people to call when ever I have silkies available. Next year, I will breed up for the Field Day so that even though I don't get paid, I can use Joe's gorgeous chook runs to show off my silkies and sell them all while I am there selling his runs!

Alyson did the same thing yesterday but with her new book.

So even though we were super busy all day, we had fun, sold a chook run, had heaps of interest, and Alyson sold a few books too.

Here is a picki of Joe doing his spiel - EVERYONE wants to see what is in the boudoir of a chook run!

And here is my little instand no dig garden showing off Joe's Veggie Row Covers/Chook Run Extentions. It really was a no dig garden, because all I had was a bucket of worm castings, some straw and some sad punnets of seedlings rescued from the supermarket but no tools!

And when I got home, I gathered up the four silkie bubs into a box ready to be picked up by their new owners. And when I finally got inside, there was another message on the phone from some friends saying their kids had saved up all their pocket money, and that if I had any left they would like to buy some silkies!

So I had to ring them to say "sorry, none left! but hopefully I will have more hatching tomorrow". In the mean time, the kiddies can come down and see then when they are really little and watch them grow. I am not sure their little four year old will want to wait 8 weeks though!

Is there really a market in such ridiculous chooks?

Oh, Mouse Plauge Update: One more body! Yay!

Did I mention that Jenni's eggs are due to hatch today or tomorrow?


Friday, October 12, 2007


It is RAINING! I can hear it on the metal roof while I blog. I can hear water running down the drainpipe and into the water tanks!!!!

Its RAINING!!!!!

.............................oh. now it has stoped.



bit less pestilence plus some elegant frugality

Mouse Plague Body Count:
One more dead mousie in glass house today.

Earwig Saga
I made up some derris dust plus soap plus water spray for the beans, but it promptly clogged the spray bottle. So I sort of just sprinkled it on and rubbed it around some of the leaves with my gloves. Fingers crossed 1,000,000,000 earwigs turn up for a bean bush snack tonight and buy it big time!

And now for some frugal elegance:

This is the recipe I have sort of cobbled together from lots of other online recipes, an the herbs in my garden for homemade shampoo:


  • ¼ cup nettle/comfrey/rosemary/tea
  • ¼ cup liquid castile soap
  • 1 tsp glycerin
  • ¼ - ½ tsp light veggie oil (olive, jojoba, almond etc)
  • Lavender or other essential oils
  • Rosemary tincture for preservative (optional)

Because I am still playing around with the ingredients, this is the actual trial recipe that I made the other day:

  • 1/4 cup or 60ml of freshly made comfrey, rosemary and nettle tea.
  • (or whatever is in your garden)
  • 1/4 cup or 60ml of liquid castile soap (the one I am using is 70% olive oil)
  • 6 drops of vegetable glycerin
  • few drops of lavender oil
Mix together tea and soap in a little bottle . Add glycerin and lavender oil and shake.

As with regular shampoo, wet hair and then squeeze shampoo onto hair and massage in well. It smells divine and is lovely on your face and body too.

Add more glycerin if your hair is really dry, and less if your hair is oily. The glycerin seems to give your hair that thick and full feeling. BUT lots of folks on the internets who try making their own shampoo, and who complain that it makes their hair greasy all seem to use a full tablespoon of glycerin in the mix and I think this is probably too much. It would seem that the glycerin is the one thing that can really make a big difference to how the shampoo performs - so perhaps just experiment with small quantities and see what gives the best result.

You may want to just use a little light veg oil rather than glycerin......or both. Hey, its YOUR shampoo, you can make it how you want!

And now for the conditioning spray. Again, this the the cobbled together base recipe I am aiming for:

Conditioning Spray:
  • ½ tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
  • 1 cup freshly made herbal tea (as with shampoo - I just used the left overs or use plain water)
  • Lavender or other essential oils
  • Few drops glycerin
Mix ACV and tea into spray bottle
Add smells and small amount of glycerin
Shake up.

Spray onto wet hair after shampooing and before combing. Spray onto dry hair before brushing.
The spray should make your hair easier to brush and instantly shiny!

And this is what I actually made the other day: 1 tsp ACV, 125 mills tea, 1 ml glycerin

See notes above about glycerin. One batch I made had none, one had too much and now I think I have the mix just right! You might want to add extra or less ACV as well. Too much might make your hair a bit dry over time, and too little might not give you the shine that you want.

So there you go.

As you can see from the derris dust spray and shampoo recipe - I am definitely getting my moneys worth out of this 5 liter container of castile soap!

While we are on the topic of elegantly frugal skin care, and if you start using your shampoo as a face wash, you might like to start making your own ACV toner for the same reasons that you would use the Conditioning Spray.

In a little jar, mix up say a cup of water and 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of ACV and if you have it, a little bit of witchhazel. When you get out of the shower, poor a little of your toner on a tissue or cotton wipe and gently wipe over your face. It is lovely, and fixes up the acid mantle of your skin after using the soap. I LOVE it!!!! and I am loving the way my skin is looking. I used to use ACV on my face when I was just a teenager, and don't know why I stopped!

So there you have it! Here is the lovely shoppie I have been sourcing my goodies from. Its not much use to you Killi, but might help give you an idea of what to look for.

Lovely Pickle has asked me to make her some natural moisturiser, so this is my next little challenge.

Have fun! May your lives be free of earwigs and mice!

Thursday, October 11, 2007


This morning I opened the glass house door just in time to see a mouse scamper away from the coz lettuces. Sheesh.

Bloody Hell!

I had better buy some more mouse bait tomorrow. Bloody things. They have almost eaten all the lettuces.

Killi - I will post the recipe for my shampoo and conditioning spray tomorrow. I realise that I meant to say 1 tablespoon ACV in 200 mls of water...but hopefully you figured that out.

In other news, the four little baby fluffies are now 8 weeks old and going to their new home tomorrow night. I am sad that Nefley will be sad - they still manage to sleep under her each night. Well, sort of. A friend is buying them (with a returns policy for any roosters!)

Jenni's fluffy eggs should hatch on Sunday.

It is actually sort of sprinking/raining!!!!!! crazy stuff - water falling out of the sky. unheard of.

bring it on. MORE PLEASE.......BRING IT ON!!!!!!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

pestilence & frugal elegance

Mouse plague update:
One deceased body
Hopefully the rest of its family missing presumed dead.
The furtive rustling when I go into the glass house seems to have stopped. Poppet is still keen though.

Earwig plague update:
Earwigs wrongfully blamed for decimating seedlings in glass house. These crimes appear to be purely rodentine in nature.

So, no longer a problem in glass house, but VERY big problem in garden. Have started munching bean seedlings. Have "bagged" clumps of Italian parsley in effort to save them. Bit hard to do this with beans. They are even munching the rhubarb leaves!

Garlic/Chilli spray? Perhaps. Ideas anyone?

Natural, Hippy, Lovely, Super Homemade Shampoo Update

This morning I made shampoo and re made a conditioning spray. I used freshly picked nettle, comfrey and rosemary to make the base. As I sit here, my drying hair is wafting up lavender. It was lovely to use, lathered up nicely and I think may double up as a gentle face and body wash. The new improved conditioning spray seemed to work well (less glycerin this time!) and made my hair easy to brush while wet. Will see what happens when it is dry.

I am also sipping the left over nettle, comfrey and rosemary tea.

Monday, October 8, 2007

more frugal elegance

Some lovely things happened yesterday. Yes, it is good to know that life can still be wonderful even in the midst of an earwig and mouse plague.

The duck herder has discovered the most wonderful detangler/conditioner/brushing aid in the world! It is CHEAP as chips and fabulously effective.

I have been doing much research to wean myself off expensive hair products. Having long dark hair, prone to oily up top and dry at the ends, it has been a bit tricky. I have played around with bicarb shampoo - very effective - especially at the roosts - but perhaps a bit harsh on the ends. BUT still needing conditioner and have still tended to use detangling stuff - at $10 a pop! I have looked at the ingredients, and mused and wondered how to make my own.

After reading heaps of homemade chemical free shampoo recipes, it sounds like the secret is all in the apple cider vinegar rinse. Using a vinegar rinse apparently sorts out the ph of your hair, smoothing down the cuticles and getting rid of static.

Well, it WORKS!!!!!!

Using about 1 tablespoon on apple cider vinegar in a 200ml spray bottle, I sprayed it on my dry hair and got all excited about how easy it was to brush and get the knots out. The spray made my hair instantly soft and shiny. (hooray!) As promised by all the websites I have looked on, the vinegar smell disappeared as soon as the spray dried. The cider vinegar rinse works just a well if not better than all of the other sprays I have used over the years.

And then, after a few days I got very creative and added some lavender oil and some mandarin oil. It smells great! And I use it every time I brush my hair. (Which is quite often at the moment, because I am excited about this new clever product!)

In the mean time, I have ordered some castile soap, glycerin and other bits and pieces to experiment with making shampoos and conditioners without nasties.

It is very exciting! I HATE buying shampoo and conditioner. It is such a waste of $$, resources, packaging and they all have such awful chemicals in them.

So now I can be frugal AND vane!

Oh, and the other happy thing is that I have been thinking about buying a Fowler's Vacola Preserving Kit for some time - keeping an eye out for a second hand one, looking on ebay etc. Having coffee with my neighbours yesterday, we decided to SHARE one - so suddenly a new kit costs $75 instead of $150 and it can live in Sue's shed, where there is a bench and power and everything we need and we can use the money we saved to buy extra jars and well, it is all so elegant and clever!

We can have pasata parties!

Friday, October 5, 2007

death to earwigs

Well, there are 13 dead earwigs in a little jar of cooking oil out in the veggie patch. I will spare you the photos. I popped this jar underneath a patch of Italian parsley the little *$%&###%ers were starting to decimate.

and now there is a body count of 13.

Still no dead earwigs in the jar in the glass house. This could mean diesel. I is WARNING youse!

What else? Today is the second day in a row I have been working at my little desk looking out onto the back yard. No travel this end of the week. It is just bliss. And apart from a couple of blogging lapses, did manage to get heaps done. I have done half a research strategy, and some business plan. Yay! Yesterday I made muffins and worked on the business plan. Did I mention how much I love my new job?

hee hee hee.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

good and less good things

Sheesh. There has been a bit of bad luck and frustration down here at the Princess Castle.

Here is a list!
  1. something has eaten 15 meters of pea seedlings (chomp chomp). I have no idea what it is but suspect rabbits or earwigs
  2. EARWIGS have decimated two generations of veggie seedlings in the glass house. They have eaten EVERYTHING!
  3. And what the EARWIGS didn't eat, the mice dug up and ate (yes even the brandywine tomato seeds)
In desperation I have put mouse bait in the glass house. I have been musing (and sulking) about how to manage the earwig problem, and serendipitously came across a fellow (at Joes place in Jugiong the other day) who suggested wiping down the potting benches with diesel. Noxious but effective as both a deterrent and exterminator apparently. I am DESPERATE, so will perhaps give this a go on the weekend.

So now I am behind with the spring plantings - the broccoli is almost finished, and I will now have to replant spinach, more broccoli, kale, tomatoes, onions etc. I am going to have to buy other people's veggies on the weekend. Sheesh.

blah blah blah.


BUT, on a happier note, I candled the 13 Jenni/Maurice eggs and ALL 13 are developing! What a clever little Maurice - quietly going about his Rooster business. What I am going to do if they all hatch? That's a lot of fluffy love!

As you can see Jenni is sitting very tight. The weather is much warmer and her nest is much better than Nefley's was so hopefully all will be well. So many little eggies! I wonder what colour they will be? They are due a week from Monday. Clever chickens!
Which all means that it is coming on time to find the last lot of babies some new homes. They are going through an awkward Boris Becker stage (perfectly normal for a silkie). Here is a photo of one of the strangely coloured ones. The other two are still perfectly black. I think these ones are going to be partridge - but I am not completely sure.

Pretty cute huh?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

see what I mean

Well, I just thought I should pay some last respects to our poor old letter box. Here it is here..........

And look at this treat I found in the garden - this is the first flower on my little warrata bush - a bit dried out but gorgeous none the less.

And now I only have 12 minutes to get ready to go out for dinner.......

swings and roundabouts

grrrrrrr. I feel very frustrated with myself - I CRACKED and bought a new letterbox.
What a waste of money and resources. I am PERFECTLY capable of making one - but haven't gotten round to it - for years.

I ran over our letter box for the third time this week. Every time we take the lid off to get the mail out, it falls apart again., It has been resting on the ground for months since the naughty little street urchins down the road took great joy in knocking it over and smashing it last school holidays. Rather than get a new one straight away, as a little sign of defiance I just cobbled it back together and keep on using it - hoping that they felt embarrassed each day as they walked past.

It has been a carefully constructed pile of bits of wood with rocks holding up at the sides and a rock on top. The poor postie has to lean down , lift the rock off and put the letters inside without the whole thing tumbling down. Once I was coming back from a walk the same time as the posty was leaning down from his bike, trying to get the letters in - I was so embarrassed I had to keep walking past my house until he had done the street and I could double back.

Anyway, I have been keeping my eye out for an arty clever hand made one, but they are either too expensive or too boring. And every month that goes past I feel badder and badder about the poor posty. We got ANOTHER one of those post cards from Australia Post letting us know they were concerned about the security of our mail, and the compliance of our mail box. And then I backed over the whole thing again.

So Lacuna Sabbath afternoon was spent at Bunnings looking for the least conservative letterbox. Nothing elegant or frugal about this purchase -that's for sure.

BUT, on the up side, I have found a buyer for my clever home made chicken run. I am very proud of this run - I made it out of almost all recycled bits and pieces. It is fox proof and comfortable for the chickies in Summer and Winter. And on Monday it is to a new home in Hall with a lovely family who are looking for more comfortable digs for their 4 bantam hens. Yay! And they LOVE that it is hand made out of recycled stuff and thought it was very cleverly put together. (preen!) So I am hoping that somehow this makes up for the stupidness of my letterbox purchase.

Did you know one chicken house equals 1/2 a letterbox?

Monday, September 24, 2007

more fluffy love?

Life is just full of little miracles. There are now 12 little eggs in Jenni's nest, and as if by magic, she suddenly decided right after breakfast that today was the day to start sitting on them.

Apart from that, it has been a quietish day of nursing my snotty little self, drinking pepermint tea and taking it easy.

There is however, something sinister nibbling on the pea seedlings. A rabbit? A bird?


hmmm for nibbles and yay for clucky hens

that is all.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Common Cold

God bless those who suffer from the common cold.
Nature has entered into them;
Has led them aside and gently laid them low
To contemplate life from the way side;
To consider human frailty;
To receive the deep and dreamy messages of fever.
We give thanks for the insights of this humble perspective.
We give thanks for blessings in disguise.

Leunig (of course)

Not much happening here today except snot.

and a bit of nashi make up brush sex*

*see previous post


Saturday, September 22, 2007

almost spring

Well folks, many of your are teasing me with outrageous tales of tomato seedlings and asparagus. Spring comes slowly shnuggled up here next to the mountains. We have had lots of frosts this week, and there is still a definite chill in the air.

Folks in ONC know not to even bother putting their tomatoes in until after the Melbourne Cup unless you are prepared to coddle and cover them every night.

But even so - there are definite signs of spring.

Above is a little pici of the Red Shatoot Mulberry. hmmmmmm mmmmmmm! just FRAUGHT with potential and promise of a bumper crop.

And if you look REALLY closely, just there, under the Rhubarb leaf - is out very first spear of Asparagus from the new 2 yer old crowns we splurged on with a gift voucher from the local nursery. ....sigh..... I have been LECTURED at great length by Mr Pickle that I must only LOOK and not TOUCH and certainly not TASTE my lovely asparagus spears until NEXT YEAR!
Sheesh. Bit rough I reckon.

As here are some more "fraught with potential" shots of newly planted seed trays in the glass house - lets see, I planted broccoli, silver beet, onions and probably quite recklessly optimistically - BRANDY WINE TOMATOES. There are some other things as well, but I couldn't find the texta, so didn't make any labels, and now it is too late - I have totally forgotten what I planted where. Not to worry - a surprise is lovely too!

And here is the nest that Amelia is making - I have let her keep the last weeks worth of eggs, and hopefully she will sit soon.

And here is Jenni's little clutch of 11 hopefully Jenni/Maurice cross eggs!

And here is a little bit of naughty duck action. There's Amelia - contemplating another raid on the fluffy's dinner, and here is Miriam - attacking my fingers.
Well thats it folks. I will continue to watch your respective springs from behind!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Lacuna Sabbath

Well, here we are again at the Lacuna Sabbath end of the week. Hooray!

Despite the high levels of neglect over the past week, I popped up to the new farm yesterday to find lots of little pea seedlings sticking up their little heads. Looks like the peas, snow peas AND sugar snaps have all germinated. The tiny onion seedlings have taken well, and are even growing new leaves - if you can call onion leaves "leaves" that is. The comfrey has sprouted and the leeks are doing well too. Even the broad beans have popped up, although they are going to have to get a wriggle on to compete with the pattersons curse that has re sprouted.

I need to organise an automatic watering system in the next couple of months, but while it is still cool, things should be OK. So far, the sawdust based soil seems to be holding up OK. It is a new and weird experience working in this loose, dry soil - so different from the rich black wormy stuff that I have created at the community garden. I am sure that in a few years time new farm will be just as rich, productive and familiar.

As for closing down the old farm (community garden plot) - I might have a buyer for the chook run I made down there. I am looking forward to transplanting Bianca, Charlotte and Gretel home to the backyard. Another of the big things to do here is to cut out a wattle tree along the fence so that there is enough room for their deluxe chook run.

Lucky Maurice - three new lady friends! Even if they are the wrong breed.

Speaking of Maurice - I am SURE I caught him giving it a very good go in the bushes with Jenni earlier in the week. You would all be so impressed - he was quick, gentle and proficient - didn't make a big fuss - no violence and no crowing about it after. I love watching Maurice grow into his role of patriarch and protector of the ladies and their little ones.

Jenni now has 9 eggs in the nest. I suspect she will only lay a few more before she decides to sit. Its all happening here in fluffy chicken land folks!

And now for a Nashi update - after a bit of research on the internets I suspect that rather than frost damage, Hosui and Kosui have budjump. Most of the flowers seem to loose their petals before they even open, and inside each flower is sort of sparse and crumpled. Hosui has a couple of flowers that look half decent, and Kosui has quite a few, so this morning I might take a little makeup brush out there and try and cross pollinate a few. I haven't noticed any bees in the back yard yet, so reckon that if I want any nashis then I have better take matters into my own hands! That's the other thing I have noticed about new farm - there are ZILLIONS of bees buzzing around all the flowering rocket, kale, cabbages and broccoli. But I have not seed any here in the backyard - so makeup brush it is!

Anyhooo, Happy Lacuna Sabbath to you all.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I love my job

I love my job, I love my job, I love my job, I love my job, I love my job, I love my job, I love my job, I love my job!!!!!

Well, I love my new job folks.

It has been a big week with lots of travel but I feel tired and energised and excited rather than tired and bleak.

I love this free range chook living in tutti fruiti time thing.


In other news, Jenni the lovely silver silkie has laid 5 eggs. I think I may have caught Maurice the stupid fluffy rooster doing the other thing I really need him to do beside being chivalrous and beautiful- there was a bit of a kerfuffle in the bushes the other morning, but he may have just caught his silly feathers in the lomandras. Baby Maurices? (Maurici?)

time will tell and other homilies...

Sadly, it looks like most of the blossoms on one of the nashi trees may have been burnt in the slight frost we had last night. nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! They are not even out yet. This is the same tree that didn't even flower last year. The other one (Kosui) is budding up nicely, but it needs the first for pollination. sheesh.

Wel, I am off to check on the new farm. seeya

Saturday, September 8, 2007

checking egg fertility

Hi again folks.

Lucy C was wondering how to check eggs for fertility before they start developing.

Well, this is how:

Crack the egg into a shallow dish. Wiggle it around a little bit and under some good light, look at the yolk until you see a little raised opaque dot/blob. It usually rises to the top of the yolk with a bit of a gentle wiggle. Do not confuse this little blobby bit with the taily bits at either end of the yolk that hold the yolk suspended evenly inside the egg. The little blobby bit you are looking for is actually the tiny fertilised bit of the egg - the zygote? It is attached to the yolk because the yolk becomes the food source for the little chick or duckling when it hatches.

Anyway, in a fertilised egg, this tiny little blobby bit looks a bit like a text book picture of Saturn - a tiny dot with fine whitish concentric circles around it. In an unfertilised egg, this little blobby bit is cloudy and unorganised. The difference is unmistakable once you have seen a fertilised egg.

Regardless of whether the egg is fertilised or not, it is probably time to pop the thing into a heated pan with a blob of butter, or into some muffin mix 'cause there is nothing you can do with it now except eat it!

Lucy C you could try this on one or two of your duck eggs - seems the little buggers are wasting them!

Let me know how you go.

rain rocks chooks

Sprinkles yesterday. Showers overnight. More showers today.

What bliss to wake up to the sound of raindrops on the metal roof. There hasn't been HEAPS of rain - but it is raining none the less.

Today Stanley and I drove out to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve for what was meant to be the cumulative outdoor excursion to the moth stone oven bit of our Bush Tucker Course. But only three of us turned up, and those present did not include anyone who actually knew where the moth stone was! I think the rain scared people away. Anyway, after having a leisurely cup of coffee (thanks Stanley!) we decided to take a guess and traveled up to Hanging Rock. This is an amazing place - once a regular camping ground and meeting place for the Ngambri and their buddies from across the other side of the Goodradigbi River, a few valleys further to the south west. I have read that the vast, sheltered overhangs all around the base of Hanging Rock would have been lined and hung with possum skins, making it cozy and warm and sheltered from the cold, wind and rain.

My understanding is that soonish (early spring), when the Bogong Moths would start their annual migration down from South West Queensland through to the Snowy Mountains, and across the Brindabellas, folks would travel up into these beautiful mountain valleys to take full advantage of these yummy, fatty, full of protein moths. The moth stone, apparently, is a carved out hollow on a flat granite rock that would have been heated with a fire long enough to be able to roast the moths on top. There are lots and lots of incredibly significant sites in these Mountains. This is one of them. But we didn't find the moth stone.

Hanging Rock is a beautiful place - and it is easy to imagine heaps of folks gathering around the base of this HUGE granite stone, surrounded by beautiful rocky torrs, fresh water and cozy fires.

I left feeling happy and in love with the mountains.

In other news, for those of you who nurse an interest in Nefley and all things fluffy - here is a picky taken this morning during a break in the showers. As you can see, the little babies are growing up fast. I now think there are two partridge (perhaps) and too black chickies there, rather than two buff as I first thought. They are feathering up very darkly in their little wings and tails.

And perhaps even more excitedly, Jenni has started laying again. I am torn between breaking this first egg to see if it is fertile, or just waiting and trusting that Maurice is doing his thing. Neither me or Mr Duck Herder has caught him at it so to speak, but he is a quintessential gentleman, so it is possible that he is being discrete and not "crowing" about his exploits in the chook house.

How exciting - baby Maurices!

And finally, the Nashis are almost bursting into flower. The Mulberries are not far behind. We are not talking about the Avocados any more. And the Kiwi Vines are swelling and threatening to bud soon too.

Bring it on - I am ready for spring - BRING IT ON!

Well, That's me. Seeya.

Friday, September 7, 2007

energy conservation

There are many ways to save energy and reduce consumption, and I reckon that Poppet has it sorted. The answer of course, is to sleep 21 hours a day. Could this be true? The camera never lies.

A day in the life of Poppet




5:26pm - quick break for dinner



peas please!

Hello again folks. Yup, it has been a little while - a whirlwind week so to speak, but here I am, safely ensconced at Lake Lacuna on the Lacuna Sabbath. I LOVE not working on Fridays!
Carve up from safety of Lacuna Sabbath - I love my new job!

So, there has been no time for blogging - I am sure I have HEAPS to catch up on what everyone else has been up to, and I am BEHIND!

Last weekend I got to work on the new farm, planting 14.4 meters of peas - this translates to 2 rows of telephone peas, one row of snow peas and one row of sugar snaps. Here is a little picki.

After a sleep in this morning, I rode up to see if anyone had popped out their little heads yet, but no luck. There is still no sign of the broad beans either. I think it has just been too cold.
I also planted onion seedlings and they are settling in too. So much SPACE!!!!!
It is raining now (hooray!) which should help to speed up my little peas a bit.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

another rant

So a couple of days ago, I was at big school, meeting with some of the sustainability folks, and on our way to our next meeting, one of them said "how 'bout we just get a coffee on the way"? and THEN, proceeded to purchase a takeaway coffee in a POLYSTYRENE cup!!!! Which was thoughtlessly discarded into the rubbish bin en route to our next meeting.

I didn't know what to say, or where to look.

I mean, I TRY to not be judgemental, but HONESTLY folks - the uni campus is where this person WORKS - EVERY DAY! They have an office, and a kitchenette, and tea and coffee making facilities. How hard is it to carry your own mug????? Your are meant to be TEACHING about sustainability - not just the theory, but the theory in ACTION. HFS people.

And this person is LOVELY, funny, caring, passionate, committed. but......

There are some basic things we know about ourselves, which with a bit of self awareness, should help us to plan.

Thing we know number 1: we need WATER. REGULARLY. We can safely predict that if we are out and about for the day, we will at some stage need to have a drink. So folks, WHY would anyone buy bottled water? Surely it is just a matter of taking a refillable water bottle or biddon or whatever you want to call it with you? You can refill them whenever you like!

Thing we know number 2: In addition to water, some of us need regular infusions of caffeine, so again folks, why not keep a coffee mug or traveling coffee mug handy??? Why would anyone ever be so SURPRISED by a sudden caffeine yearning that they would need to purchase one in a polystyrene cup? And, I have never found a cafe that refused to wash out my travel mug and refill it.


Sorry folks, I know I am ranting to the converted, but I was so shocked.

Does one polystyrene mug matter?

Anyhoo, those of you who know the duck herder may suspect that this rant was just a cheeky way to introduce you to a new purchase. Please welcome STANLEY.

Three lovely things happened to push me to purchase Stanley the life time granteed thermos.

1) my new job will require much longer treks into western NSW, further than the 1 travel mug filled up again at a cafe half way distance I have previously been able to get away with. Therefore, Stanley, who can keep water hot for 26 hours and cool for 28 will solve the vast distances in time and space between good soyachinos on the Lachlan Valley Way and into the bowels of NSW.

2) Rhonda as usual, never fails to inspire me!

3) At the ZOO last week, Ma and Pa Duck Herder turned up with a picnic lunch, and for the 3rd time in my life, Pa Duck Herder proceeded to impress me with the elegant construction of a lovely cup of tea sans fire in the middle of nowhere.

So, I did my research and discovered that if you are going to buy a thermos, you should by one called Stanley because he will last forever, and apparently, will survive being run over by a bulldozer (The Cougarnaut provided me with this extra bit of information based on river rehab experience). And I reckon that if you are going to buy something new, buy the best quality that you can!

So there you go, rant over. And, now I own a 1.9 litre thermos!
I may need to give that person at uni a coffee mug. A second had one.
I think I might.

Friday, August 31, 2007


Well, where has the week gone!?!

Nice things that happened include spending lots of time with my little sister and little Stampy. At 3 1/3, Stampy is completely adorable, gorgeous, and lots of fun. I don't know how my little sister ended up with such a well behaved daughter, as we were very naughty precocious little things!!!

Stampy loved the baby chickens, feeding the ducks and patting Maurice. We spent the WHOLE DAY at the zoo, which was most wonderful.

Pa Kettle aka the Cougarnaut came over after work with an excellent bottle of wine to watch spicks and specks AND the chaser. The Duck Herder has completed her marking and now has two days to relax before starting her new job.

Even more exciting, Sherdie the Rocket is planing a lightning visit to ONC* during September which meas that I may have the Rocket AND the Cougarnaut all here at the princess castle in the same time/space which is definitely something to look forward to, or at least make a batch of muffins for!

Oh, today I tried to enter Maurice in the Backyard Poultry's online Poultry Show. While taking some pickies, I got this one of his little head. Shows off his kind eyes, don't you think?

Mr Duck Herder is sad and depressed because he has damaged his calf again (lower leg folks, not the baby cow) which means his training is behind, he is in pain and facing the existential crisis of an aging athlete. I made muffins and let him lick the bowl, but even that didn't seem to help and he as gone to bed for a nap.

Thats Me. Cherio!

*Our Nation's Capital