Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Here & Now






Loving...our new morning routine. Milking the cow first-up is just the best way to start the day. Milking is so peaceful, and most mornings I also get to watch the sun come up whilst I milk
Eating...watermelon
Drinking...anything that is cold! Iced chocolates are my favourite when the warm weather comes
Wearing...summer clothes
Feeling...quite emotionally up and down. We seem to have hit another patch with strong contrasts, some great things are happening but it's not an easy road we're treading and some days I guess I'm just worn out
Wanting...the wet season to start. I'm tired of the dust and the dryness, athough I am grateful that we are not as dry as some other parts of Australia
Thinking...about our chickens. Most of our laying flock is reaching retirement, eggs are scarce these days and I'm not quite sure what to do about it.
Dreaming...about what this place will look like in ten years time, and how we'll hopefully be running it by then

............................

We tried a new cheese yesterday! So far all we have made is whole milk ricotta, which is a far faster, easier cheese than all the others. Yesterday we tried making fetta, and we think our cheese may have worked! We'll be able to taste it in a few days, as that is all the time it needs in it's brine before it's ready to eat. I do hope it tastes good!
On another cheese note, isn't that little cheese platter above just gorgeous? We enjoyed it a weekend or two ago at a local 'dairyland' cafe, where these cheeses were made. It was presented in such a beautiful way that I just had to snap a photo of it!

............................

What's happening in your world right now?
I'd love it if you'd share your own here & now on your blog!


Sarah xx


Thursday, November 13, 2014

A Sheepish Post





I've been trying to write this post for several days. First I started late at night, and realized I was too tired to concentrate. The other times I've been interrupted or my mind has been occupied with other things. The end result is that I've written so many words for this post that I'm afraid I don't feel like I can construct a decent sentence for it now.

I wanted to write about how much I love these beautiful, unique creatures. How I've formed my own opinion on their intelligence levels. Sheep are not stupid, as almost everyone proclaims. They are, in my view, very curious little animals with an ability to learn very quickly, but also an ability to panic quickly too, which I think may be why they have the reputation of being stupid. They also have vastly different behavioral patterns than those of cattle, and seem to have set routines on where they graze at what time of day, and they stick to it. I've also watched them use their nose to sniff out a plant they wish to eat, so they are in my view more of a forager than a grazer.

Then I wanted to write about Rilla and the sheep. She's changed in her work so much since having sheep to work daily. It's her job to round them up and put them in the shed at night, and she loves it. I've also used her to 'free-graze' them in our lane ways and establishing shelter-belts, where there is no sheep proof fencing, so Rilla is required to not only get them to the location but to keep them their and let them graze. It's harder for a dog than it sounds, as her instinct is telling her those sheep must be near me, they shouldn't be spread out eating. But she's the best at swapping between the two jobs, and grasped the concept very quickly. I love how gentle she is. She doesn't mind pausing when the two lambs want to feed, but she has no trouble in telling one of the sheep off if they decide to give her a hard time. Working with her to get a job done is just the best feeling in the world.

.....................................

I've been so busy with work and daily life that I've been struggling to keep writing here lately. We've been blessed with the arrival of more calves and baby chicks!
It's not a chore as writing this blog is actually something I love doing, and it gives me a place to voice my thoughts, share my photos and document a little bit of my life. I've been spending most of my computer time on the Roulette Farm social media and blog sites, which limits even more the time I get to spend here. But now tonight it seems I finally have the time and head space to sit down and just write. So written I have, and whether or not this post ends up making sense is up to the reader I suppose.

I hope life is as good and full and busy and satisfying as it is here at the moment. Every day comes with challenges, and although sometimes it can be hard to plow on through them, often we do and come out the other side feeling happier and more satisfying as we've achieved something and solved a problem. And on the days when you just can't plow any more it's ok to step back, take a deep breath and take a break from it all.


Take care until next time!

Sarah xx





Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Lately




We've been getting lots and lots of milk from Missy. We've had so much lately that we've run out of bottles, so the outside fridge has also been filled with pots and bowls of milk. We've made cottage cheese, are experimenting with yoghurt and I've just now made my first 'butter ball'. It feels good to take a bit of cream, that I milked with my own hands from a cow I raised, and so easily turn it into butter. I liked patting the butter with my 'butter bats' (read two spatulas) and rinsing it until it was free of all the butter milk. We've got to order some cultures to make some other cheeses too. Then we'll be faced with what to do with all of the whey! Although we have been told that it is very nutritional for gardens and fruit trees, as well as chickens! Who knew?

I've been getting up earlier than usual and trying to get all of the animals fed and watered before the really hot part of the day arrives. Summer is coming. Sometimes I'm a little unrealistic and also imagine that I can cram a whole day of farm work into a only few hours. Needless to say this never happens.

I've been using Rilla to free-graze the sheep, something we both enjoy immensely. The sheep enjoy it too.

It's been dry, so very very dry. The little bit of green you see is the few acres we have under irrigation. But nothing makes grass grow like rain - hopefully we get some soon.

We've been planting cucumbers and tomatoes and beans and salads for summer. We've also put in two different sorts of raspberries - a tropical summer fruiting type and a heritage autumn fruiting one. I'm hoping they both do well. 

I've harvested the last of my carrots, aside from four or five that aren't ready yet. I didn't manage to grow nearly as many as last year, despite efforts to grow more. But the ones we did have were delicious.


What's been happening in your world lately? 
Do share in the comments below!


Sarah x





Friday, October 31, 2014

A Chicken Post



Over a course of time Chinese Silkies have slowly crept into the position of favourite chicken breed for me. These fluffy feathered creatures really are unique as far as chickens go. No other chicken has the same kind of 'feather' as them, nor their blue skin, dark meat and black bones. They've also got feathered feet and feature five toes. And aside from appearances no other chicken breed has their lovely, docile personality.



This little chookies really do make the best Mums and great pets. They're not renowned for their laying ability, especially if you compare them to a Leghorn. They love going broody, some will only lay a dozen eggs before going clucky! We've had hens like that, and we've had over-bred show-puffs that don't really lay at all but just liked to look pretty all day. Whilst this kind of Silkies are visually stunning, they've never really appealed to me. I don't see the point in having a chicken that is only capable of collecting show ribbons. And if it that was my thing, what good is a champion show winner that you can't breed from? No, in my books a good Silkies keeps to the appearance and nature of the breed, but is also functional. Aside from that, my experience with those birds has shown me that breeding purely for looks with regard for nothing else results in poor health.


 We've bred every single one of our Silkies, aside from our foundation rooster and two hens of course. And they all love to spend their days foraging like regular chickens, scratching away for bugs and eating greens. They also lay quite well, and of course go clucky and love to raise their babies. Which is just what a couple of our girls will (hopefully!) be doing next time they go clucky. They're in their first year of laying and have been clucky once or twice by now, so they've proven they're willing to sit properly and can be trusted with a clutch of eggs.

Hopefully in a few months I'll have pictures of fluffy little chicks to share with you!


Here's to the weekend (and a new month)!

Sarah x


PS If you're as interested in Silkies as me, remember you can always read more about our Chinese Silkies over on our Farm Blog. They have their own about page and several blog posts too :-)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Our Very Own Milking Cow



These photos of 'Smokey' were taken when he was a few hours old. He's such a dear little thing! 
For almost a week now we've been enjoying our very own milk, fresh from our Jersey cross cow. It's our first time owning a milking cow, and Missy Moo's very first calf too. We raised Missy on a bottle from 3 days old, so we're quite attached to her and have been anticipating the arrival of her first baby for quite some time! It seems a little surreal that we are producing our own milk. It's something we've been discussing and dreaming about for years. And now it's finally happening! The speed at which we are able to milk is increasing every day, as Missy is getting used to the routine and we're getting used to this milking business.

We've yet to make cheese from our milk, but I am trying my hand at creme fraiche and will try yoghurt too.


.................................................

What's happening in your part of the world? Are you trying your hand at anything new?
I'm off to make a batch of jam and a pizza for lunch.

I hope your weekend is wondeful
Sarah 




PS I've also written a milking cow post for our farm blog which is a bit different than this one if you're not too bored with this one x