And Then there were Three

We’d had a beautiful day. It was unseasonably warm at 17C in the middle on winter. We had spent the whole day in the sunshine gardening and grooming Dandy the English Angora who is going through his moult early. Blossoms were stating to show and we were feeling spring coming along.
We decided around 2 oclock to treat the children and go to a waterside playground about 20 mins away and then have a early dinner out nearby.
This is a rare occurrence for us we are generally disappointed when we eat out because we love cooking and have high standards but it felt like that kind of day and we had the savings so it wouldn’t put us out.
After feeding and watering the chooks we checked the electric fence was on and headed out. The kids had such a lovely time at the park in the sunshine and were really happy and behaved well at the restaurant.
We were only gone 2 hours but what we came home to will sit with us for a long time.
I opened the gate and found a note tucked into it. Dane had already driven up the back to the turning circle as I read.
” Don’t take the kids up the back the dogs got in”
Dane came round a look of horror on his face parked the car , jumped out and ran. I ran too leaving the kids strapped in the car. What we were faced with was our electric fence knocked down and the neighbors huskies who I had mentioned were getting into our yard in a previous post. They were standing over the bodies of eight of our beloved chooks. Dane started yelling at them and one started snarling at him eventually deciding to bolt ,while the other fled through the front gate.
The neighbor was not home nor have we heard from him in the hours since.
I went to break the news to the Children. Nyah 5 let out a primal scream of devastation that her beloved chicken Lemons who she’s bonded with in the summer was gone. Her tears continued through the evening and she is still feeling it this morning.

Dane collected the bodies which we put in a safe place (so the dogs who returned to our yard yet again last night could not eat them ) We called council who said they would come out this morning to take photos and insect the yard. Apparently no one in the valley is registered to have 4 dogs as you need to be classed as a kennel and as we have young children it is dangerous that they continue to come into our yard.
We feel so angry and upset we foresaw this we tried for weeks to get him to do something on his side of the fence to stop them while we did all we could on our side. We’d already fixed the fence, bought electric fence and checked the chooks regularly. They were not just livestock they were our family some of whom we had brought from interstate with us.
We lost eight of our twelve chooks
Rosemary the Faverolle rooster died defending his girls
Cher the first chick we ever hatched who taught us so much about poultry keeping and was the smallest but top of the pecking order


Aniseed a beautiful quiet silver laced Wyandotte who’d just started laying
Lemons our 5 years olds special white Wyandotte

Ginger one of the Maran twins who layed big beautiful brown eggs. It took us 5 years to get Marans and her sister Pears survived and is lost and lonely


Smokey a very special Olive egger Brahma x Araucana who had the most interesting feathering of smokey blue grey


Fire Cracker a special one indeed she was the daughter of Cher and Bear the first chickens we’d hatched. Firecracker would go broody 4 times a year and was a fierce mother who fluffed up like a turkey if you went near her chicks.
Goldie the weird Wyandotte was also lost. She had really interesting lacing and the wrong comb but came from our pure bred lines when we bred interstate .

And then there were three. Minty our least favourite chicken who seemed really stupid but now I wonder if we hadn’t given her enough credit. She is a Olive egger and was hiding in the Nesting box. Pears also must have been hiding in there and Bendy our last Brahma was in isolation in another coop for some rest as she was having trouble keeping up with the flock. I have dubbed the trio Destinys Child as they are the surviours and it feels poignant that we had 3 chooks in the beginning of our journey to homesteading and now have 3 when we are at a crossroads.

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Weekend news plus Lemon Syrup and marmalade recipe

We’ve had a lovely week apart from all being sick we’ve managed to get a lot done. Our trip North has breathed new life into us and we’ve been feeling inspired and making plans for the future.

The lemon tree has burst into life so the children and I have been busy preserving. So far we’ve made lemon syrup for summer cordials and as we used the cold press juicer to juice the lemons we were left with a large amount of pulp. I hate waste so I decided to experiment with a marmalade by using the pulp and adding some ginger, extra lemons and a orange. The result turned out well so I will add both these recipes to the end of the post.

Another use for the lemon peel has been drying it and then blitzing it in the bullet processor to save as zest for cakes when lemons are scarce. I’ve also been adding it to cheap white vinegar to distill for a green cleaner.

Over the next week when I’ve built up a egg supply I’ll be making and canning lemon curd. Of course this will mean a lemon meringue our is on the cards.

Over the weekend we have been out in the garden making plans, I’ve ordered a new cheapie greenhouse to get us through the summer veg production and spent $50 on seeds from a local seed seller called Seed Freaks. We’d met him at markets and he and his wife are lovely and really know their stuff. They often run workshops around Southern Tasmania. http://seedfreaks.com.au

Our other challenge is dealing with a slight emergency. We have new neighbors on one side of us who has 4 big beautiful Huskies. They are incredibly friendly but unfortunately quite keen on the chickens and have been trying to get through the top of the fence which looked not far off falling over. Mr Hunter Gatherer quickly went out and bought some chicken wire to hold the fence up. We hate spending money on a rental but our chickens who we brought from NSW with us are more than our pets and we didn’t want to risk loosing them. We had hoped this would be the end of it all but last night the dogs dug a hole under the fence and had a party in our yard.

 The chooks thankfully were safe in their coop and the owner was very apologetic but we still need to fix the problem. We’ve spent all day today trying to fix our fence charger for the electric netting working but it looks like we need to order a new charger. I really hope we don’t lose any birds as we hope to take them to our forever farm.

 

Lemon Syrup 

This recipe is for a large amount of lemons but you can reduce the quantity if you like

Juice 2kg of Lemons for every cup of lemon juice add 1 cup of sugar

add 1 litre of water

Slowly bring to boil stirring to dissolve sugar. Once boiling you can either reduce to desired consistency if you are wanting a thicker syrup or take off the heat and add 1 tablespoon of Tartaric acid.

Now you can either bottle and store in the fridge for 3-4 months or bottle for shelf life using your proffered method. Bottled correctly on the shelf it can keep for 2 years.

Use as a Cordial Syrup, dessert syrup, cake flavouring, with boiling water and ginger for a winter pick me up.

Annes Lemon pulp Marmalade

Now this recipe is using the left over pulp (not skins) from using a electric juicer to juice your lemons for the previous recipe. If you do not have a electric juicer just use 1kg fresh fruit sliced thinly.

500g Lemon pulp plus 1 orange and 4 lemons (or 1kg citrus fruit)

1.5 kg sugar

4 Tablespoons of powdered ginger and 20g fresh root ginger

Begin by slicing whole citrus fruit thinly or into small bits. Add with pulp (if using) to a saucepan with 5 cups of water. Cover with lid and boil until peel is soft.

Once the fruit is ready add the sugar and on medium heat stir until sugar is dissolved.

Leave to simmer stirring occasionally to avoid sticking or burning. When jam has reached setting point pour into warm sterized jars and bottle using proffered method.

 

 

Book review – Warm bagels and Apple strudel Ruth Joseph

It’s not often I buy books these days preferring to use the library in order to reduce clutter and remain frugal. My most recent visitor our local library I borrowed this gem of a book which I loved so much I had to buy my own copy. It’s rare I come across a cook book where I want to make every single recipe but these wholesome Jewish recipes are the sort of foods I love to cook for my family and the ingredients used were easy staples already found on my cupboard and shelves. Each recipe has a little story about it’s relations to Jewish heritage and what it means to their culture. For the record I’m not Jewish or religious but my Oma was from the Netherlands and a lot of these recipes remind me of Dutch and German cooking. The recipes are simple and easy to follow which adds to the charm of the book. I highly recommend adding it to your collection.

Today we baked Hamantaschen a tested dough with jam tucked in the middle. The result is a bit like a cross between doughnuts and jam drops. A interesting but delicious pastry which made good use of our homemade jam. 

Mid Winter Update

We have made it to Mid Winter in Tasmania. I’ll admit recently I cheated a little when in Early July the children and I went to NSW for a week to visit family. It really was a summer holiday in comparison to home but I wouldn’t want to deal with the hot sticky summers that are getting hotter every year.

It was good to see family but I was glad to be home. We still haven’t quite settled back into a routine as not long after returning home we all went up to Northern Tasmania on a short family road trip. We booked a pet sitter to come feed and check on the pets, got packed and hit the road!

Well the drive up wasn’t so bad the kids didn’t fight much and we stopped in Ross which is a lovely little historic town that is quiet and full of big stone heritage buildings. It has a bakery that resembles kikis bakery from the studio ghibli animated film Kikis delivery service. Unfortunately this was under renovation much to the childrens dissapointment but we did enjoy going into the  Tasmanian wool centre and buying some dyed wool tops ready to spin, some wool dye and some knitting needles for little miss Hunter Gatherer. You can look at the wonders of the wool center online here http://www.taswoolcentre.com.au/

I was inspired by my visit to research what sheep I would have if I was ever to get one for fiber and I have settled on English Leicester. We are limited by heritage breeds in Australia and even more so on our little island Tasmania and the English Leicester seems to tick a lot of boxes for a hand spinner as well as being available in Tasmania and completely adorable with their long flowing locks.

After Ross we headed to Evandale to stay with my Aunt and Uncle who have a airbnb and had some family time. Evandale is a sweet town just outside of Launceston. It’s very much a chocolate box town with lots of beautiful houses, heritage pubs, a penny farthing festival (yes really) and one of my favorite markets in Tasmania.

The following morning we headed off early to Scottsdale to visit a friends farm and see if we might like to live there one day to share farm. We are completely taken by the farm and area and I wish I had taken some photos to share with you but there was so much to take in as well as wrangling two tired little people. If you would like to see photos you can see their blog here http://oaklands-farm.blogspot.com.au/2017/ . I liked Scottsdale it has everything you would need in a town and Launceston only 1 hour away. It’s hard to think of leaving the Huon Valley where we have quickly made a lot of friends but with the reality of little full time work or a chance of getting a mortgage to buy our own farm here not to mention fast growing property prices we feel the pull towards a chance to build a farm for ourselves and our children.

After our tour of the farm we went for lunch at the local bakery that had delicious pastries and from there went for a play in the local park that had a wetland habitat and rainforest walk that was just like a fairy garden. We took our friend back to the farm and she sent us on our way with a big bag of merino fleece for me to play with as well as some of her own honey.

I will touch more on how we came across this opportunity in another post but for now I’ll say goodbye until my next post where I will include a recipe and book review 🙂

 

Anne

Contamination Pie!

We had a week disaster here yesterday when I was waiting for my dreadlock client I thought I’d check the ferments fridge up near the studio. This is basically just a fridge I use for homemade cider, sparkling wine, fermented food and excess garden produce. About a month ago I’d wrapped all the red apples off the trees in newspaper and stored them carefully in the fridge. Well a contaminate must have got in and the skins of many had a light covering of mold. Not to let anything go to waste I peeled all the apples and decided to test out the apple pie recipe in the Australian heritage cookbook I’ve got. This was the first time I’d made this recipe but I’d been eyeing it off for a while. 

The cookbook is a funny one lots of lovely pictures around Australia and it gives a good insight into Australian cooking which to be honest hasn’t always been as good as it is today! The baking recipes however are all amazing and this has become my favourite pie the pastry was lovely and crisp and perfectly balanced.

 My new favorite. If anyone would like a copy of the recipe I can photograph it to share in this post. 

Flat Bread Recipe

I started making our own flat breads a few years ago when we were working to get out of debt. I couldn’t believe I had wasted so many years buying packaged flatbreads when they are so easy to make. There a a few different variations you can do but this is a go to one. I also make it without the yeast with great success.

We usually eat them with curry or egg and bean dishes. They make for a very frugal and filling meal.

Easy Flat Bread Recipe

2/3 Cups of flour – I use plain but you could use your proffered flour of choice.
2 Teaspoons of yeast
1 Cup warm water (use milk as a variation)
2 tablespoons of Olive oil (or melted butter)
1 tsp sugar
pinch of salt

Plop flour in a bowl and make a well.
Add yeast and warm water
Mix and add olice oil, sugar and salt. Now knead until soft and leave for 10-20 minutes.
It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t rise or if you don’t have time to let it rise.
Once happy roll into medium sized balls. Roll the balls out individually and pop one in a lightly oiled fry pan.
Once lightly brown on one side flip over. You should see the bread puff up a bit.
When cooked both sides pop the bread on the plate and repeat. I don’t usually re oil the pan as I find they cook better without the oil.

Happy Cooking!

Sitting back 

This week I’ve been sitting back and watching the children learn. It’s hard to sit back and trust they are learning but I’m so glad I did as I’ve noticed things I might not have had I not been paying attention. 

Little Liss HGF has been sounding letters and can connect three letter words now. This is something she’d struggled with and was often frustrated by so I hadn’t pushed it but she’s been asking to practice and it was great to see it click for her.  

There’s been lots of different learning this week which I’ll share below for our records. I don’t take photos of everything but I’m trying to have a good record for inspection time when we register. 

Her playdough and modelling work has really started to take form. We’ve been using lots of different types of modelling materials, poluclay, red clay, playdough, and a corn flour/conditioner experiment 

Collecting rose hips for a natural dye experiment on handspun yarn

She has a natural interest in sewing so has been practicing by sewing rose petals for fairy blankets eventually she wants to make clothes for her dolls. 

We’ve also been getting out in the garden whenever the weather is good and choosing produce for dinner.