"We must achieve the character and acquire the skills to live much poorer than we do. We must waste less. We must do more for ourselves and for each other. It is either that or continue merely to think and talk about changes that we are inviting catastrophe to make. The great obstacle is simply this: the conviction that we cannot change because we are dependant on what is wrong. But that is the addict's excuse, and we know that it will not do."
—Wendell Berry

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Farm snaps

 Alessa, bored of our company has gone back to her cattle. They were both seated together but rose as if for a guest when I tried to take the photograph. The livestock have such good manners on the Cloud Farm
 Excess milk goes back to some of the livestock. It is marvellous for egg production and fattening both pigs and meat birds. This girl couldn't wait for me to take it to the chook pen and helped herself. Note the milky moustache.
One night of the year, or so it appears, the cicada larvae emerge from the ground to shed their skins. This little fellow was still drying off when I found him the next morning. We get these lovely emerald cicadas earliest in the year and huge chocolate brown ones in the later summer. Christmas carols and cicada song to bring in the festive season.

And on the Cloud farm today...

The weather is absolutely beautiful at the moment on the cloud farm. The rain and associated sogginess has passed and the days are starting crisp and turning warm later, beautiful blue cloudless skies. Great weather for doing the hard yakka jobs that I have been avoiding all summer.

Bartle Frere at dusk from the top paddock.
We have spent the day cutting up firewood from the timber I had previously stacked in the orchard to dry. I also took the opportunity to level several tree stumps flat with the ground so I can mow over them. The littlest Cloud Farmer supervised the operation and gave a running critique at all times.
About one tonne ready to be unloaded to the wood racks at the house.
Mid morning I saw a flash of something red and blue out in the bottom paddock. As I watched a large male cassowary emerged over the hill before turning and stalking back to the rain forest. I tried to get a photo but cassowaries have very good vision and I was unable to get any where near him.
This is a file photo but it is pretty much what I saw.
 We have seen several recently. A month ago a female and two half grown youngsters were sighted by the child bride in the same paddock. The bottom third of our property is native rain forest and it will remain so for as long as we are here. A bit of space for all to live in.
Still waiting for the next batch of piglets and the pig pens are thoroughly overgrown. This is quite intentional as the overgrowth supplies a considerable portion of the food for the next pigs to come. In amongst the weeds and grass I have sown all sorts of grains and tubers as well as pumpkins and it is all fertilized by the last batch of piggies free of charge.
 I have put a pair of goat wethers (castrated bucks) in there to fatten in the meanwhile. They are Boer goats and an excellent meat breed. I lived on goat meat for years when I was younger and I consider it to be one of the best meats of all. If you have never eaten good chevon (goat meat), it is like prime lamb but without all the fat. It is absolutely superb!
The goats were supplied by a friend who could not house them any longer, I fatten them, we will slaughter them together and each party gets half the meat.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Bah humbug.

I've been mooching about the house for three weeks now. Home from work with a broken rib. The holiday has been nice granted, but the inability to use the time on many of the waiting projects galls me. On the plus side all of the small jobs that have been ignored for ages are now done. At the time of writing I think the rib is finally coming good and I am slowly getting into the heavier jobs I have been longing to do.

I have finally admitted that I will not have the hot house up for winter. As we can wait no longer I have turned the veggie garden over and will be planting out the winter crops soon. I have about three tonnes of compost, carefully hoarded, to enrich the areas that the excavator has denuded of good topsoil. Digging still causes me some difficulty - the pushing action in using a shovel, so I have yet to work out how to move all of the compost to where I need it. I might be able to cadge the use of a small loader from a neighbour. Otherwise the child bride and I will move it one barrow at a time in small doses.
Yesterday I placed my seed order for the winter planting. Mostly brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli), peas, carrots, kale, lettuce, shallots, radish, leeks and some swedes. We don't bother growing onions or potatoes as they are grown in abundance in this region and can be obtained cheap or free most years. If somehow we are suddenly able to move ahead on the hothouse then a few plants will just have to get squashed in the process.

We are now milking twice each day as it is time to wean Timmy-the-little-bastard from his mother. I think his mother Anna is actually quite relieved. Meanwhile Timmy-I-vote-for-veal made his displeasure known by bellowing day and night for a week. He was probably quite overdue to be weaned. Anna's milk yield has been up and down for months but it levelled off at ten litres per day as soon as he was away from her. This indicates he was drinking erratically and was already getting most of his sustenance from the grass.
With all of this extra milk and the time on my hands I have been madly making cheese over the last couple of weeks. Cheddar, Farmhouse, Haloumi, Quarg, Ricotta, Blue, Camembert and I am trying a Stilton which is pretty much touch and go at the moment. Not an easy cheese. I have also managed to finally track down an aftermarket thermostat for the cheese fridge so I can age the cheeses at 12 degrees Celsius. The warmest the fridge would do before was 8 degrees.

When we are not making cheese we have taken to giving ducks a cuddle. Actually I am checking them so see how well they are fattening (and they are growing nice and plump too). The ducks have not yet guessed at my motives and probably think I am just the local friendly pervert. Probably better if they don't work it out.