Archive for March, 2012

How are the Howes

March 11, 2012

Hi All

Sometimes it seems like we don’t get a lot done, and it is useful to look back over time and see that slowly slowly we are progressing to our goals. That is one reason that I quite enjoy writing these posts as it makes me look back and see what we have achieved, or what we need to learn from our mistakes. ¬†ūüôā

One major event recently was that Sam went back to WA and Albany for his good mate’s wedding. ¬†He was worried about how he would cope with his rotten health, but he managed okay and had a wonderful time catching up with his grandparents, folk at the Albany Baptist church, and many of his old school friends.

Caleb has finally finished his medical tests and the doctor has diagnosed him as having a combination of Chronic Fatigue (like his Dad) and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which sadly leaves us with no prospect of a cure in sight.   Still, it is better to know so that he can focus on trying to manage his symptoms as best as he can.

Lydia continues to work towards her organic chook business.  We have now located a source of organic grains and another of organic hay and plan to shift to feeding everything organic this month.  We are making the pigs, horse and cow all organic as well.  Then we will have to find the funds to register with Tasmanian Organic Producers and have all the tests done.  In the meantime, Lydia is starting a Polytechnic (what used to be TAFE) course: Certificate 4 in Agriculture.  They are trialling a new system where she can do the study focussing on the business she wants to run.  The bookwork is done mostly by correspondence with 4 visits a year to our place by the co-ordinator.

Josiah did two weeks of swimming lessons in Deloraine during the holidays and is progressing well. ¬†He learnt back sculling, which seems like a good thing to know for safeties sake. ¬†This year the weather was a bit better too, and it didn’t rain every day. ¬†ūüôā ¬†We are back in the swing of homeschooling again now, which keeps us busy.

Our garden system has been invaded by possums since I last wrote.  It turns out that possums like sunflower heads to eat, two of them broke through the netting over the top of the gardens and munched up all the flowers then dug into the next door cage and went to sleep in the chooks nesting box! I was NOT impressed. However apart from that hiccup, the gardens have continued to produce well.

I love looking at all the greenery in there.

I have even managed to get some cucumbers and tomatoes to grow this year, which is never an easy feat at our place.  Tomatoes here have only just started to blush and, given that it is March already, we are expecting the season to end with a frost quite soon.

Our potatoes are still growing. ¬†Some areas look to be growing better than others. ¬†You can see in the photo that the closer plants are good and thick with vegetation whilst there are some more sparse plants higher up. ¬†I’m not sure if it is the variety of spud or the preparation of the ground that is at fault. ¬†Hopefully we will be able to tell more once we get properly into harvesting. ¬†We have dug up a few plants already and really enjoyed the baby potatoes we have eaten so far. ¬†There are Brownell’s, Nicola and Kennebec’s to choose from.

I have an arboreal pumpkin living life dangerously at the moment.  It started off in a raised compost bin and took off into the sapling behind.

I’m not sure how much weight the stalk will be able to hold!

There are numerous tomatoes bursting out of the same compost bin too. ¬†It’s all a bit crazy in there.

We have been busy organising firewood as well although once again we are running behind what we wanted to have chopped up at this stage, but we do have a decent pile.  This year we hired a block splitter which was worth every penny in the labour that it saved.  We now have enough rounds cut to need to hire it again.

Our chicks have continued to grow. ¬†We have mostly hatched Lavender Aracauna’s this year and have lots of little grey birds of varying sizes running around everywhere with their foster mums.

However just today we had another renegade hen surface with 12 little Barnevelder x chicks.  She obviously had a hidden nest somewhere, and was lucky enough to escape being attacked by a quoll or feral cat while she was sitting.  We have not done so well with the turkey poults this year and are down to 2 from the 13 that were hatched.  We also had a heap of problems with mites with the broody hens this year, I guess because it was a long mild summer.

I am also pleased to report that we finally got around to putting our two young pigs into the freezer last week. ¬†It was a family affair. ¬†Caleb taught us how to sharpen knives, Kim shot them, Lydia and I did the dressing and butchering work together, Josiah packed and put the meat in the freezer, and Sam did the mincing a couple of days later. ¬†Given that there were two pigs to do at once and they were bigger than we had planned to have them, the job went quicker than expected. ¬†Also since the pigs were 8-9 months old I was concerned that there may have been some “boar taint”, a particular flavour to the meat which some people find unpleasant, but we have now had 3 meals of pork and it has been tender and delicious. ¬†Just as well since we ¬†have about 60kg of lean meat to work our way through. ¬†ūüôā

Kim’s big news is his purchase of a 1975 beetle at a bargain basement price. ¬†It is in really good condition and he loves it. ¬†He feels just so confident that he can fix anything that goes wrong with a beetle, which is all the more relevant since our little Seat seems to be having some electrical issues at the moment. ¬†Kim is struggling with his health right now. ¬†He seems to be catching one wog after another, all of which aggravates his Chronic Fatigue and makes him less resistant to the next bug. ¬†He finds it very frustrating as there is so much that he wants to do!

We were blessed to have Mobile Mission Maintenance, a Christian mission organisation, come and do some maintenance on our little church building last month.  We had a bunch of caravans parked at the church for two weeks while a group of lovely people replaced various rotted boards, window surrounds and guttering and repainted the whole of the outside of the building as well as the ceiling inside.  We provided food for morning and afternoon tea and lunch, and really enjoyed getting to know the wonderful volunteers who worked so hard for us.  Their efforts meant that we could afford to get the necessary work done on the building, which would not have been possible if we had needed to pay for the labour as well as the parts.  It was a busy two weeks!

Well, that is most of our news for the last two months. ¬†Somehow it doesn’t seem like enough! ¬†Take care all and keep in touch.