Category Archives: Summer

12Nov/13
Kalahari buck

Summer Morning in the Fields and Gluten-Free Mexican Breakfast

Summer has arrived at last and until the storms blew in this week, it’s been sultry and piping hot. Since it’s way too scorching to be out in the fields during the day, I’ve been taking the goats out in the early morning.

wildflowers with goats

It’s been beautiful. The sun is still hot but cool morning breezes are wonderfully refreshing. Now that three sides of the new paddock are fenced in, I only have to guard one side from escaping goats. It’s made my time in the fields so much more relaxing and enjoyable.

This is great now that our Kalahari goat herd has grown with the addition of five new babies, a stray girl that wandered in from who knows where, and William, the big daddy of the group who is part of the gang once again. Isn’t he a fine, strapping fellow?

Kalahari buck

It’s so nice to see them roaming happily, tucking into clumps of wildflowers or munching thistles without pricking themselves.

Kalahari goats in paddock

I like to find a comfy spot in the field to rest my bones as the wind shushes through the grass lulling me into utter relaxation.

red gum boots

Luna loves it too, taking turns chasing after field mice and returning to burrow in my lap for a scratch and a cuddle.

cattle dog in field

She’s such an affectionate snuggler and can’t seem to wriggle in close enough.

farm girl and her dog

I may have to battle heat, flies, and mosquitoes, but it still beats an office any day of the week.

field dandelion

In my quest for healing and strength, I continue to experiment with healthy gluten-free breakfasts that don’t include dairy, sugar, or acid-forming foods. Mostly eggs of some variety do the trick, but sometimes I can’t bear the thought of another egg.

When those days come I turn to one of my old favorites: savory Mexican black beans topped with pico de gallo and guacamole. I love how the fresh Roma tomatoes and zingy lime juice turn a heavy dish into one that is light and perky with plenty of protein and fiber to keep me going all morning.

Mexican gluten-free breakfast

What is your favorite healthy breakfast?

Click here for my gluten-free Mexican breakfast recipes.

28Feb/13
Muscovy and babies

Adorable Muscovy Ducklings

It was pouring down rain with wild winds and heavy, dark clouds as I sloshed my into the Muscovy duck pen to feed them earlier this week.

As I bent down to check on a mother who’d been sitting on a clutch of eggs for a while, I was astonished to find little yellow balls of fluff peering back at me.

Utterly unaffected by the gale outside, they snuggled into their mother and were cozy as can be.

We’ve been swooning over them ever since. Seriously, they’re so darn cute I can’t keep from slipping outside multiple times a day to see how they’re doing.

Muscovy mother and ducklings

The day after they were born the baby Muscovy ducklings were already out, toddling through the mud, sticking close to Mom to avoid the pecking beaks of the older Muscovies.

baby Muscovy

Today they were adventurous little things, trucking all over the farmyard with their Mother, climbing into empty cages and even exploring under the house.

Muscovy goslings

They are ridiculously cute, and such sunny spots of brightness on these stormy days. They make me very happy indeed.

Muscovy and babies

Just look at those gorgeous little faces.

I already started mourning their growing up-ness when I discovered another broody Muscovy who has taken up residence in the shed. Hooray for more babies in a few weeks! :-)

baby Muscovy goslings

What is bringing a bright spot to your days this week?

05Feb/13
old wooden fence post

How to Build a Goat-Proof Fence Part One

Over the summer holidays Bear and I put in many long hours building goat-proof fences on our Australian goat farm.

We would start early in the morning just after sunrise to work as many hours as we could before the searing heat of the afternoon. The morning light was absolutely gorgeous.

farm fence

To build a great goat fence, you need to start with great tools and materials.

A Tractor.

We used our trusty red tractor to carry heavy coils of thick fencing wire and to help us hold fence posts in place when it was time to tighten up fence lines. It is a life saver (not to mention a back saver!).

red farm tractor

Fencing Supplies

Our most important tools are fence clippers and clips. Bear slipped thick rubber tubing over our fence clippers to make them easier to use for hours at a time. It really helps keep blisters at bay.

fencing tools

Wheelbarrow

Our handiest tool is the wheelbarrow. When you’re building a large fence, you never know when you may need a pair of pliers to twist a feisty bit of wire in place, a big hammer to pound a wobbly fence post in place, or wire-cutters when you get to the end of one stretch of fence.

Instead of running back and forth to the shed to get tools as we need them, we pile every possible tool in our wheelbarrow and take it with us. I can’t tell you how much leg work has been saved by this simple habit.

It also provides handy shade for our dog Luna who loves hanging out with us when we’re working.

black wheelbarrow

We have our very own homemade post hole digger invented by Bear. He attached a huge drill bit to the end of an electric drill, and, using it like a jack hammer, drills a fence post hole into the ground. We can then easily pound each fence post into the ground using a large hammer or similar tool.

Perhaps the most important tool of all is a sturdy farm stool. Bear has a cheery round orange one and he built me one out of a wooden plank and some old metal chair legs. It cleaned up beautifully with a coat of red paint and a painted yellow bird.

red farm stool

The nice thing about working outside is the view – great swaths of Australian wild flowers meandering through the meadows. I love it.

Australian wildflowers

Now that we’ve got our fencing tools in order, next time we’ll look at actually building a goat-proof fence. It’s more fun and satisfying that it sounds. :-)

02Feb/13
DSCN8384-2

Life on the Farm After the Queensland Floods

Sorry for the silence here of late! I’m afraid it’s been one drama after another here on our goat farm on the Darling Downs.

First were days of pouring rain and massive winds that sent leaves pelting our roof like massive drops of rain.

Then came the 2013 Queensland floods which wreaked havoc up and down the state and down through New South Wales.

Just as we started to dry out a bit from the floods another huge rain came through last night. Phew!

But today the sun came out in earnest and everything is perking up beautifully.

pink cosmos

My garden has stopped drooping under withering winds and is blossoming and producing again.

I’ve been collecting handfuls of tomatoes and they managed to emerge with only a few splits here and there.

chive blossoms

Our poor ducklings nearly died when their pens went from dry to flooded in just a short time. So Bear and I bundled up against the deluge and got them up out of the water and up into straw-lined dog kennels, making sure to wrap the soggiest ones in towels so they could warm up quicker.

We thought for sure that we’d lose some, but when we came to check on them the next morning, they were happy as can be, waddling through puddles and looking as though they hadn’t resembled drowned rats the night before.

We were SO relieved. :-)

DSCN8400-2

Our new Pilgrim geese weren’t fazed in the slightest by the storm. In fact, they seemed to enjoy it! Strutting around in the maelstrom with the adult Muscovy ducks while all the other farm animals were hunkered down in shelters and pens.

female Pilgrim geese

We’re so glad that all our animals made it through the floods.

Today it was time to tackle the projects that we put off until the weather was better.

We donned wellies then slipped and slid our way to the paddocks. Working in at least six inches of thick black mud and the remaining flood waters, how we laughed as we nearly fell on our faces while wrangling goats. Finally we got the randy boys separated from the girls and joined up with the menfolk in the upper paddock.

Then we got all the ducklings moved into the pen with the grown-up Muscovy’s and they are happy as pigs in mud, toddling about in the big open space with two ponds for them to swim in.

Tonight we can bask in the knowledge of a job well done and collapse into bed knowing that everybody is safe and sound. It feels good. :-)

Darling Downs farm

What is your latest project that you’re proud of?

20Jan/13
Muscovy ducklings

Muscovy Ducklings, Purple Beans and Homemade Cabbage Moth Spray

It’s been a piping hot summer holiday here on our Australian goat farm. Particularly the last week or so as record heat waves have simmered across the land, scorching plants and people alike.

We’ve been guzzling mango juice mixed with soda water and innumerable grape and blackcurrant popsicles (or ice blocks, as Aussies call them).

We are so thankful for a bit of a reprieve last night with s smidgen of rain and some wonderfully cooling winds.

We’ve welcomed some new critters to our farm family this week and they are beauties. :-)

The arrival of four female geese – Sister Mary Kate, Gertrude, Annabelle and Anika – have caused no end of delight for our sole gander, Gus.

Our new Muscovy drake and his three ladies are producing big, gorgeous duck eggs by the basket full!!

But our favorites are definitely the Muscovy ducklings who are so cute and gentle I can hardly stand it. :-) They’re getting braver and bigger by the day, thoroughly enjoying swimming in their little pool on these wicked hot days.

Muscovy ducklings

My garden has grown like mad and, quite honestly, out of control. So I went through it this week and pulled plants out left and right. They’d grown so big so fast that although they were producing peas, tomatoes, and beans, they weren’t ripening properly and had to be thinned.

It made a huge difference and we’re finally getting gorgeously ripe heirloom tomatoes, delectable strawberries, and heaps of vivid purple bush beans. Hooray!

purple beans

The flourishing veggie garden has provided a haven for cabbage moths, and they’ve been reeking havoc with my Tuscan Kale, Silverbeet and Broccoli.

Unwilling to cover my organic veggies with chemical sprays, I researched options for homemade sprays. Garlic and oil are essential parts of a good homemade cabbage moth spray, so that’s where I started.

I poured a cup of vegetable oil into a blender, added two broken up heads of garlic and whizzed them together into a thick, oily paste. I let the mixture sit for two days then strained it, tossing the pulp and saving the garlicky oil.

homemade cabbage moth spray

I filled a spray bottle with lukewarm water, added a few tsp of the oil, a few drops of liquid dish soap and sprayed it all over the leaves of my kale, silverbeet, cauliflower, kohlrabi and broccoli.

So far it seems to be working well. The cabbage moths are fewer and they have moved on to other non-sprayed plants. Looks like I’ll need to spray them soon as well. :-) I also read that since tomatoes are naturally pest resistant, grinding up the leaves with the spray add a dimension of strength for keeping the moths at bay. I will try that with my next batch.

Do you have any tried and true tricks for keeping pests out of your garden?

Homemade Cabbage Moth Spray

Ingredients:

2 heads of garlic, broken up but not peeled
1 cup vegetable oil
3-4 drops of liquid dish soap
3-4 cups warm water

Directions:

  1. Add garlic and vegetable oil to blender. Whiz until it is an oily paste.
  2. Pour into small bowl, cover, and let sit at room temperature for 1-2 days.
  3. Strain, discard pulp, reserve oil.
  4. Fill water bottle with warm water, add 2-3 tsp of oil and 3-4 drops of liquid soap. Shake gently to combine.
  5. Spray on leaves of plants, shaking regularly to keep mixture mixed.