Archive for September, 2013

Keeping busy this Spring

September 24, 2013

It seems like life speeds up once the warmer weather arrives, and we seem to be keeping busy.  We made up a long list of things to do this Spring which was perhaps somewhat optimistic, however we have made a start, and can hopefully work our way through a chunk of the work.  Anyone wanting to get their hands dirty and to do some hard labour is most welcome to camp at our place!

Spring cleaning for us seems to have nothing to do with the house.  Instead we have been cleaning out Kim’s workshop and my greenhouse.  It seems that over the winter months things that need to be out of the rain migrate into both of these places until they fill up.  Of course cleaning up all takes time, pulling things out and deciding what belongs where and do we really need this anyway?  I must say it is nice having Paul in town, as he has offered some of his sheds as storage for our overflow. The workshop is better now but still has a pile of things along one side that we have to go through.  The greenhouse is good now though.  I have the reticulation going again and have made a rear door so that I can regulate the temperature better.  Last Friday I planted tomato, cucumber and corn seeds etc into the pots and filled the raised beds under the benches with fresh compost, so I feel like I finally have a working greenhouse again.  I still want to put some bird netting across the back door to keep the chooks out during the day when I have the door open, and we are going to replace the plastic back wall with vertical boards, but for now it is back in action.
       SONY DSC
Josiah and I also set up a herb garden in some pots in the front yard.  We are hoping that our dome of netting is enough to keep out the local wildlife, it seems to be keeping the chooks out so far.  And we have planted peas and other veggies directly into some of the caged gardens, and are keenly awaiting fresh home grown peas again.  It’s a lesson in patience.  The snow peas I put into Paul’s garden a few weeks back are already coming up.  Growing vegetables really makes it feel like Spring!
I have made my first attempt at making camembert cheese.  It is a bit different making such a soft cheese as you don’t cook the curds which usually toughens the curds and separates the whey from them a lot.  Instead once the milk has set from the rennet you cut the curds into large cubes and just let a little whey seep out slowly.  Then you spoon a bunch of the whey out and gently shift the damp and fragile curds straight into the hoops.  The whey continues to slowly seep out while the curds are in the hoops, and you turn them over every hour to facilitate the process.  The cheese gradually shrinks down in size until it is about a quarter of the original size and firm enough to remove the hoops, usually the next day.  Also with camembert and brie there is penicillin in the culture and it is supposed to grow a surface mould of penicillin.  The first photo below shows the cheese in the hoops, slowly reducing in size, and the second picture is of it once the hoops were removed.  Our two cheeses are currently in the cheese fridge being turned daily for a week or so while they develop the surface mould, then they need to be wrapped and aged for about 4 weeks.  I’ll let you know how they go.  I’m a little concerned as there appears to be some greyish areas under the mould in a few places, but I’m going to wait and see what happens anyway.
   Camembert In Molds
Camembert before Again
Some of us made it up to the snow this year which was fun.  We were especially eager to go so that we could let Paul experience snow for the first time.  Lydia, Josiah and myself made snow forts and had a big snowball fight.  I like to think that my fort was the strongest, however it was also the lowest which had definite disadvantages.  🙂
I’m pleased to say that turkey has been on the menu lately.  Still plenty more to go but it is good to have made a start.  Lydia and I find them much harder to process than the chooks, but the rewards are greater  as we are all particularly fond of turkey breast roast.  YUM.
We are very excited to have picked up a solid post hole digger for our tractor at a good price.  With plans for extending the second row of chook house / gardens it is sure to come in handy. Lydia also wants to build a smoke house, and Kim would love some carports one day.  There is always so much to do, it gets a bit overwhelming at times.
The other weekend Kim, Lydia and myself took a trip out for sustainable house day at Lorinna.  The drive into Lorinna was interesting as the last 10km was a single lane windy track with a 25kph speed limit.  With a pretty sheer drop on one side and a vertical wall on the other I was sincerely glad that we didn’t meet anyone coming the other way!  The small community seemed to be having a great time catering to the 100 or so visitors who came over the day.  We enjoyed examining a large straw bale house and particularly appreciated seeing a micro hydro electrical system in action.  We would like to try micro hydro here one day, but it would require a fair bit of time and money to set it up properly.  We do have an all year creek and a 15m drop, it is the 500m of up and down terrain that would make running a 6 inch pipe difficult.  However we may see if we can do a bit of a trial sometime using the 1.5 inch pipe that we already have in place to bring water to the shack.  Although a larger pipe would be better, the system we saw in Lorinna only had a 2 inch pipe so it may well be worth us giving it a go.  Even if it is not bringing in maximum power, it still does bring in power day and night all year round.
The cars continue to keep Kim busy.  They are all currently due for servicing and seem to take turns in developing problems that he has to sort out.  No sooner is one fixed up than the next one demands attention!  However it is nice to have the Toyota registered now, and we usually make that do the bulk of the work as it is the youngest car in the fleet.  Kim much prefers his old VWs though!
A lady from church recently organised a homeschool get together in the church hall for Mole Creek folk, and we ended up having 8 families come along, with 24 children in all.  Unfortunately it rained all day so we couldn’t go outside to play, but the children had fun with the toy corner, cards, play doh and colouring and the mums seemed to enjoy chatting.  Another meeting is planned for a months time.  It was nice to be able to meet new homeschool families without having to travel so far.  We also have a new lady coming to church with her 3 children, so suddenly the children outnumber the adults most weeks at church now which is rather nice.  I certainly don’t feel like Josiah is missing out on socialising with other kids these days!
That’s all for now!