Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rocketing along

The rocket looks amazing as the whole packet of seeds came up.

I had no idea they would be so tough, whereas the spinach seems to have gone on holiday.

Today I spent an hour thinning out the rocket and replanting some in a garden bed after the chooks has turned over the soil.

Now roll on rocket pesto!

Rocket seeds are very resilient...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Spring rain ahoy!

While it might seem as though we have had buckets of the wet stuff, the soil in my raised beds is pretty dry, so I gave them a good spray tonight from the tank.

Of course, as soon as i finished, dark clouds gathered!

But the rocket, beans, peas, etc all seemed much better for their watering and if it does pour toight, that's a bonus.

This weekend I'll finish planting the tomato seeds, always an exciting task.

Mmmmm, i can smell them now.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ride 2 Work Day

THE roads will see an increase in bright lycra today as many commuters try out the two-wheel option for Ride2Work Day.

But for the majority, it will be a once-a-year effort when they don a helmet and pedal off to their workplace.

Tomorrow, it will be back to business as usual as they pour themselves into their cars and re-emerge from garages.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Buy Nothing New

OCTOBER is Buy Nothing New Month, and there's a lot to be said for incorporating the old tried and tested into a modern lifestyle. 

As a colleague said, you are living the new Amish life.

While I am yet to acquire a bonnet or a buggy, I do adore using much-loved retro objects, rather than dashing out and committing "affluenza".

Read the article at the Geelong Advertiser...


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Spring sunshine

Today's spring sunshine has been magnificent.

The chooks were allowed out and given the left-over breakfast pancakes and weren't they ecstatic! After this they wandered all over the garden before enjoying a sand and dirt bath, then they did a little judicious scratching about before having a wander about the fruit trees in the glorious sunshine.

After this I herded them back in the run, got out the treddly and did a nice 55km ride down the Great Ocean Road, along Forrest Rd and few back streets then home via the Moriac General Store. Birds were out in great numbers and saw the most cheeky little superb blue wren, numerous parrots, fan tails, honey-eaters, magpies, ravens and many others I could not name while negotiating the hills.

Came home, let the girls out for the second Sunday free-range and finished making the pea and ham soup i started yesterday. Took some over to a friend who's not well and his fabulous wife who has an amazing veggie and herb garden (who also loves the eggs I send her) gave me some cabbage which had gone to seed and the little madams went into another frenzy.

Bees were also out in force today, zipping about the nasturtiums, coriander flowers, roses, passion fruit flowers, apple and peach blossoms and the marigolds.

A bee in my flower bed having a great time...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Troubleshooting Compost

Just give me the facts madam.
You say your compost is too smelly?
That cockroaches or vermin have taken up residence?
That’s your compost is slower to mature than a good red?
Well madam, the Compostchick Patrol can certainly help.
Now it's spring, we need to get out compost out of the winter doldrums.

Keep a brick or heavy pving on top to prevent the lid blowing off. Grow comfrey near the bin. I break off a couple of leaves and them to the brew everytime I add scraps or cuttings as it helps break them down.

Smelly Compost
Can be caused by a lack of circulating air in the heap. A common cause is having too much food with too few dry ingredients in the mix.

How to fix it:
* Fork in dry leaves or garden mulch.
* Add garden lime, dolomite or woodfire ash to the heap to reduce acidity.
* Turn the compost to add air.
* Combine nitrogen-rich ingredients with sawdust or shredded newspaper before adding to the heap. If you have chooks, add some of their old straw as it will be loaded with manure.
* Give your compost heap a ‘floor’ of crossed planks (old garden stakes are excellent) to ensure good drainage.

Pests/ Vermin
Get a cat. Seriously, when I found mice in one of my six cone bins (they never get in the tumbler) I borrow a cat. Amazing how fast a lazy old tom can move when presented with dinner on the hoof.
However, if you are living sans feline:
* Remember to always cover food scraps with a layer of garden vegetation or soil – then cover heap with something heavy such as really thick carboard, Hessian, some old underfelt, or polythene plastic sheet.
* Regularly turn the compost over to discourage habitation.
* When starting a new heap you can place firne wire mesh such as canary wire under the bin – this allows wrms and good bugs in but not vermin.
* Avoid placing dairy products, meat and seafood in the compost.

Taking too long to mature
The rainy winter this year certainly is not ideal compost maturing weather.
* Firstly if the compost is not hot enough, consider moving you bin to where it gets sunshine as this will help speed the process.
* Secondly, investigate, or there may not be enough air or water.
* Add nitrogen-rich material, such as kitchen scraps or green garden vegetation.
* Turn the heap and add some water – I keep a small bucket under the kitchen tap for when I rinse veggies off and add liquids such as water I have cooked the rice in or dreg of wine.
*Cover the compost with insulating material in winter if it gets too cold.

Tip - A friend keeps an compost bin in her chook run so her gals can turn it over and add their manure as they look for scraps!

According to the good folk at International Composting Awareness Week, approximately 60 per cent the rubbish Australians put in the everyday mixed-waste ‘garbage bin’ could be put to better use in the garden as compost and mulch or could be returned to agricultural land to improve soil quality.

Seven Bin Composting
At the moment I am using seven compost bins; six static conical or square bins and one tumbler.
The clay soil was a surprise when I moved to seaside Jan Juc and has been a real challenge.

They resemble a squad of garden DALEKS but are a thusand times more useful.

So any time I find a plastic compost bin at the tip shop or in a hard rubbish collection, it’s quickly recycled and cleaned then pressed into action.

To breakdown excess grass clippings I also use five large steel rubbish bins to which I add water. After a couple of weeks stewing it make a nice sludge to balance out  the compost bins when I have heaps of dry material to add.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Rocketing along

Great excitement this morning as I went to feed the gals - the rocket seeds i planted last Sunday have popped up!

Woo hoo!

As you can see, they are coming up thick and fast so I'll thin them out tomorrow if the rain stops (or maybe I'll just pull on my op-shop version of the driasabone) and put some in pots to give to friends.

To the right are a couple of clumps of the ever-useful comfrey which I will add to my fertiliser mix.

Spring really is settling into full gear and it is so exciting to witness those tiny seeds transform into green goodness.

My rocket is up but not the lettuce...

Friday, October 5, 2012

Happy henhouse

This weekend I'll be cleaning out Gidget's chook shack, which means bundling the little darlings out into the run while I don disposable gloves.

After removing all the soiled straw and newspaper, I give the floor a brush and a wipe, line it with fresh newspapers and straw. If I have any garlic skins or lavender flowers then I'll toss them in to help repel insects.

Then all the hen house sweepings of manure and hay go into an old salvaged steel rubbish bin and i cover it in water, leave it for a few weeks and hey presto! Great fertiliser which goes straight into the compost.

Plus the hens have a sweet smelling hutch.

There was also a good article in the Weekly Times on the hen health, including hutch design and cleanliness.

Hilda inspecting her spring-cleaned hutch

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ahoy Summer!

I know it sounds nuts with all the rain we have enjoyed in Victoria over the past few months, but the weather guys are predicting a long hot dry summer so it's a good time to go back to the 2011 November issue of Gardening Australia, where Josh Byrne talked about how important to spend time now preparing your garden for the season's challenges.

So I'm now about to go out with the Bombora, my trusty old station wagon, and buy some straw to step up the mulching.

It's also a great time to turn over your garden beds and plant summer veggie seeds.

Last Sunday I had a fine old time rotating the garden beds and planting beans, peas, broccoli, rocket and pas choy. Yum! Also planting marigolds and nasteriums to encourage the bees.

Now all I have to do is keep the gals out of the beds, so i think a trip to the tip to reclaim some chicken wire is on the cards.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fertiliser is fabulous

St Peter Cundall gives his always-bang-on advice in the Weekly Times regarding how nitrogen-hungry plants need fertilisers, either manufactured or organic...

Cabbage, pak choy, bok choy - they all benefit from fertiliser...

Right now, an urgent task in all parts of the garden is to apply fertilisers of every kind, he says.

The warmer weather is causing a flush of growth and my garden needs food to grow food!

I make my own using chook manure - just place a heap in an old rubbish bin, add loads of water to dilute stir and leave it a week or two to break down. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Kool kipflers

I know it's AFL Grand Final day but if the rain stays away (hah!) it would be a marvellous time to plant the summer veggies while listening to the game on the wireless.

Or if it stays cold and gloomy I'll light the fire and have a yummy kipfler lunch while listening to the pre-match broadcast.

Last weekend I turned over the potato bed and dug up many kilos of gorgeous kipfler spuds.

AKA as German ginger spuds, these waxy gems are marvellous!

With a pale yellow skin and flesh, tossed in oil, sprinkled with rosemary and roasted with garlic they are a real treat.

Washing a few kilos of kipflers

I also grew some dutch cream and pontiacs - lovely spuds but not as tasty. 

Next time I'll aim to grow a few more varities.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Extra-large eggs

Egg-citing news!

One of the girls laid a really bountiful egg this morning.

A friend holds the super-egg (Hilda?) next to the usual suspect

Must be all the leftover pancakes the little devils enjoy.

Here's the recipe.

Perfect pancakes

2 free-range eggs
3 cups milk
3/4 cup wholemeal SR flour
3/4 cup white SR flour

  1. Beat eggs and milk
  2. Gradually add flours
  3. Beat for 5 minutes until fully mixed
  4. Let sit for 10 minutes
  5. Pour a large spoonful into a non-stick pan with a tiny slosh of olive oil
  6. Flip when bubbles appear
  7. Serve with lemon and sugar
  8. Enjoy!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Cosy up to spring

Spring may have sprung but it's still been chilly enough for a fire some evenings.

Nothing like a cuppa by the wood-heater as you catch up with back issues of the New Yorker while toasting your toes.

While I occasionally purchase split logs from the local supplier, I'm fortunate to have some friends with wood piles which could block out the sun, so in return for homemade biscuits or chocolate cakes, they will often pop buy with a few bits of wood.

I'm also an inveterate frugal scrounger, so will stop by the side of the road to collect windfalls of pine cones, branches and twigs to use as kindling. Also any bits of timber on the street or in a skip bin - be careful you are not burning scraps with harmful chemicals which could be released as toxins as they burn - is fair game. It's amazing how much wood which could be used to keep you warm is tossed out as rubbish. And those reliable old pinecones look great piled in a basket by the fireplace.

A good teapot is also essential. The aqua teapot in the photo was purchased locally after a fruitless search through various op-shops. The old bunnykins mug I've had since I was a kid. It has seen my through my various phases of tea - from those heady Earl Grey 80s through Russian Caravan, green, lemon and ginger, Oolong and Gunpowder Green.

Tea by the fire warms the heart as well as the toes.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Soup it up

Spring may have sprung but the sight of a hambone at the deli at 7 o'clock this morning (too wet to cycle so I did the shopping instead and Sunday early is the best time, no children squealing or hung-over tourists blocking the spice rack).
This recipe freezes really well so I often make up a huge batch and freeze single-serves for those times when you feel tired, cross and cold and need an internal hug.

To die for pea and ham soup
1 ham bone (hock's don't cut it, so chat up your local butcher for the real deal)
1 packet split dried peas
3 litres water
handful of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
Couple of grinds of fresh ground pepper
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped,
3 cloves garlic, chopped

  1. Put everything in a heavy-based pot and simmer for at least one hour.
  2. Remove ham bone and any meat which has fallen off and (wearing disposable gloves), remove fatty bits and gently chop or tear apart the meat.
  3. Discard hambone - give to the dog or chooks to enjoy.
  4. Remove bay leaf and remains of thyme.
  5. Place the liquid mixture in a blender and whizz until smooth.
  6. Place meat and liquid back in the pot and gently stir.
  7. Serve with rye or sourdough bread toasted with oil or garlic or both.
Best enjoyed in front of a roaring fire after a winter / spring surf, cycle or day in the garden.

Pea and ham soup on the stove - mmmm!

Baking up a storm

This morning it was way too wet to go out for a cycle and even though the rain has subsided, dark clouds and an increasing wind looks like it’s a good day to stay indoors and practice my inner-domestic goddess persona.

So I’ve been baking orange cakes (thanks girls for the eggs), Anzac biscuits and made up a batch of yummy pea and ham soup (here was a hambone at the deli this morning so I snapped it up), to cheer some friends who are not well.

Here’s the orange cake recipe – it’s dead easy and lots of fun. You can also make a fabulous lemon version; I make lemon butter cakes the other week and they also store very well.

If you have a Sunbeam Mixmaster, use the big bowl as this will aerate the butter and sugar betterer.
And using patty pans makes serving and icing easy and way less washing up.

Tomorrow I'll put up the pea and ham soup recipe.

Alison’s Orange Butter Cake
  • 185 g butter
  • ¾ cup castor sugar
  • 3 free range eggs
  • 2 cups SR flour – sift three times to aerate
  • ¼ cup milk
  • chopped zest of one orange
  • ¼ cup (approx) orange juice
  • Make approx 26 cup cakes
  • 1 ½ cups icing sugar
  • Enough orange juice
  • Sift icing sugar
  • Add enough juice to make mixture flowing but not runny
  • Apply to cakes when they are cool
  • Decorate with orange zest
  1.  Set oven to 225
  2. Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
  3. Add eggs
  4. Add peel
  5. Alternately add flour, milk and juice
  6. Beat until light and fluffy
  7. Spoon into patty pans
  8. Takes about 20 minutes depending on your oven – cakes will be ready when you gently press down and they spring back – don’t insert a knife as this just lets out the hot air and the cake will collapse. It won’t be less yummy, but it won’t look as good.
  9. Enjoy!

Orange cakes and Anzac biscuits fresh from the oven this morning.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Great chook farm story in the Weekly Times

IT WAS inevitable Meg Parkinson would end up farming chooks.

"I've been involved in chooks all my life and could never get away from them," Meg said.

Read Meg's great story about how she now runs her own free-range egg farm in Fish Creek, in South Gippsland, and is a member of the Victorian Farmers Federation Egg Group and director of  Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia.

Pecking order: Meg Parkinson with her free-range chickens. Picture: Andy Rogers

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Love letter from Dirty Deeds to the Jan Juc hens

Last night there was much squaking in the chook shack as Gidget, Hilda, Layne, Ledger and Philly read their email from RRRs Dirty Deeds crew - if they were vain little hens before, they are shockingly excited now!

Dear Alison,

Your chooks rock and we are proud to have them as subscribers to Dirty Deeds.
I am sure that you started the avalanche of folk subscribing their tree, bees, dog,plants to the show during radiothon and for that we are truly grateful.
Our best regards,
Olive, Digga, Laurel and the DD crew

Dirty Deeds
All Things Horticultural
102.7 3RRR FM
Sundays 1-2pm

The girls are so thrilled! Thank you DD.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Chooks subscribe to radio RRR

It's that time of year again - the time those cheeky hens subscribe to RRR.

This year Hilda joined Gidget, Layne, Ledgergirl and Philly to pledge their support to 'Dirty Deeds'.

These hens rock.

And so should you.

Go on, answer the call - great community radio should be supported.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Comfort of Cookbooks

WHEN everything gets too much - news of a good friend diagnosed with a vile illness or as mundane as dark and freezing winter mornings meaning no cycle commute instead of turning to the sovereign remedies of shopping, chocolate or wine, I seek solace in my kitchen...

Anzacs fresh from my oven...

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Leaf that mulch alone

All those lovely plane tree, silver birch, liquid amber, maple and oak leaves gathering around the footpaths and gutters of Geelong are calling.

Calling me before heading off to work to put a plastic rake and a bundle of garbage bags in the back of the Bombora and head down the streets populated by large, faceless corporations who have no appreciation for the wonderful mulching materials lying there, just waiting to add value to any garden or compost.

I don't rake the leaves outside houses - they belong to the residents.

But leaves piled up outside government office or brick eddifice of no beauty - hah!

There's nothing like a pile of wonderful leaves to scatter over the vegetable beds or hunker into the compost bins and shortly, hey presto! Mulch you would die for.

Those gorgeous scarlet, orange, yellow, gold, amber and sienna leaves are a gift to the eye, wonderful to scrunch through and a great benefit to the garden.

Plus they are darn fun to wade through and toss around.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Tasmania - a good egg

TASMANIA'S decision to ban new battery hen operations is a win for anyone with a heart for our hens and with respect for the animals who produce our eggs, the Weekly Times reported today.

Looking down at my girls I think of the chooks I have purchased over the years form various battery operations - hens who had been living in vile and cramped conditions for a year while they pumped out hundreds of eggs were suddenly deemed to to be worthless and sold for $2.50 each - less than the price of a cup of coffee.

Each year or so I would peddle or drive up to the local battery farm with a cardboard box and buy three or four girls.

The look in their eyes when they were gently deposited into their new pen with a lemon tree, ladder for perching, fresh straw, water and food and a fox-proof hutch was wonderful.

Within a day or so these formerly limp, thin little birds were acquiring a glossy sheen to their feathers, running about in delight as they pecked unwary insects and running towards me when I brought out their breakfast. Their eggs were and are, always delicious.

Of course, down south on the apple isle, while the move has delighted animal welfare activists, it has egg producers worried.

Caged in: Hens stacked up in a battery laying operation.The State Government announced $2.5 million in funding in Thursday's Budget to implement the ban and work to boost the number of non-cage operations.
Animals Australia campaign director Lyn White lauded the move.
"For years animal groups and the community have been calling on Australian governments to act on this obvious cruelty," she said.

Read more here...

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Winter moult

Some friends are complaining their gals are losing their looks - a few feathers here, a few there and before you know it your once gloriously glamorous hens resemble chooks who have taken up cage fighting - and not on the winning team.
Don't despair.

The onset of cold weather often sends chooks into a moult and sometimes off the lay.
I try to spoil the little darlings - although they often resemble darleks when thye misbehave in the broccolli patch but that's another andafr darker story.

So try some crushd garlic corms in their water bowls and some extra comfrey in their pen to give them some pep.

I also make them up some porridge with rolled oats to get their tummies warm on colder days.

So far the five gals are producing four eggs a day which is more than enough so I canshare with friends.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Free range farmer scoops award

FREE-range egg farmer Anne Westwood has won the Australian National Energy Globe Award for sustainable farming practices.
Anne and her husband, Phil, from West Gippsland, have about 1000 chooks on their Grantville property, as well as cattle and sheep for grazing.

Clucky: Anne Westwood on her free-range egg farm at Grantville.

Read all about Anne and Phil and their free range chook farm...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Winter planting and planning


Now we need to have hot water bottle or the electric blanket switched onto the bliss setting before retiring for the night, pulling on the extra-snug gloves before going for a peddle, donning a beanie rather than a straw hat before weeding and start splitting firewood with earnest, it's time to think about winter veggie planting.

Just thinking about all those delicous greens going into a soup warms me up.

Here's some good advice from the ever-delightful Tino of Gardening Australia.

It's also a good time to give the secateurs, spades and garden forks a jolly good clean, sharpen and oil.

In fact it's a cracker job to do by the fire with a cup of lemon and ginger tea on a rainy day...
Sunday morning I awoke to a glorious sound - rain teaming down on the old corrugated iron roof.

If there's a better noise - other than listening to Leonard Cohen's Darkness, Edwards Sharpe and Magnetic Zeros Home or an empty 5ft wave sweeping through Wategos as you paddle out, I've yet to hear it.

However, the girls are not happy.

Breaking into a running start as i open their hutch door that would impress Pharlap, they scurry about eating their breakfast of pancakes (I regularly have friends over for a Sunday brekkie so the gals get the leftovers) and pellets during a break in the rain, they then duck under the hen house when it pelts down.

The sight of their cross little faces never fails to amuse.

However, as soon as the sun comes out, they dash about gobbling down unwary worms and insects.

And as it's Sunday, at 1pm they will be listening to their favourite radio show, Dirty Deeds.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Danawa Garden Update


Danawa Garden's chairman, Perry with Leanne, Claire and John
at the vibrant community garden.


Weather permitting, the plan this Saturday is to drag the branches out where Council can mulch them up.
All welcome – pitch in and reap the harvest for your dinner!

Come along and meet other keen veggie gardeners in the Torquay area.

The garden is between the Surf Coast Hwy and the Torquay footy ground and tennis courts. See you there.

More info, contact Perry Mills on 0428 848 646 or via



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rhubarb, rhurbarb, rhubarb...


Popular: Sydney crimson rhubarb can produce sticks all year, even through our coldest winters.

It's time to plant the rhubarb.


Just thinking about baked apple and rhubarb with a bit of nutmeg enjoyed in front of the fire on a cool autumn night makes me happy.

Read all abut Sir Peter of Cundall's tips about growing this delicious vegetable... 

Of course, to their chagrin the chooks will have to be freeranging under strict supervision until the plants are established.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Compost week next week!

Compost week is coming up! Monday 7 – Saturday 12 May 2012

Better, soil, better life, better future.

Sure, you and i know about how composting our waste helps make a great garden, fabulous soil and grow amazing food.

But did you know Composting Awareness Week was established in Canada in 1995?
In 2006, the Centre for Organic & Resource Enterprises (CORE), initiated the event here in Australia. CORE is an industry group in the sustainability sector and conducts a wide range of awareness programs.

So get involved!

Check out the details...

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Those of us with backyard chickens know our hens are happy foraging abut the garden.

Hilda at the Jan Juc Surf Farm hen house

Sure, many like my my girls are in a fully enclosed run, but they have a lemon tree, clean straw, dirt for having a bath in and fresh air and sunshine on tap (weather permitting).

The eggs these happy hens produce are delicious and our friends and families love the taste and he fact they are from animals treated with kindness and respect.

Now the consumer advocate group CHOICE has called on the Egg Corporation to reconsider its planned 13-fold increase in hen stocking densities for eggs it certifies as free range and instead work with government, animal welfare and consumer groups on a national standard that would meet consumer expectations.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Perfect Day At The Office

A WONDERFUL welcome awaits farmer Mark Killen every afternoon when he collects the eggs at Papanui, his 900ha property near Merriwa in the Upper Hunter Valley.

Mark Killen with his chickens and chook buses at his farm in the
Upper Hunter Valley in NSW.
Picture: James Croucher Source: News Limited

First, he takes the short drive from his homestead to a large grassy paddock. Here, against a backdrop of big Australian sky, sit two 1980s-vintage country school buses. Beside them, seemingly alone, lie two large, white, lupine-looking dogs, basking in the fleeting sun.
Suddenly, alerted by the ute's arrival, a groundswell of movement begins to whirr and the area becomes as busy as a Turkish village on market day. Running from the surrounding grasses, and pushing two by the dozen down the ramps from the buses, come hundreds of noisy, cackling Isa Brown chickens. The friendly birds flap, peck and cluck raucously about the ute, many perching on the bonnet before Killen has turned off the ignition.

Read the inspiring story of farmer Mark Killen and his sustainable property with chooks and cattle in this weekend's Australian ...

Saturday, April 28, 2012


“To forget how to dig the earth and tend the soil is to forget ourselves”
Our summer crop is all but finished, we
do have loads of spring onions and
shallots to swap, see you there with any
goodies you may have
April 28 2012

Weather permitting, the plan this Saturday is to
work on the berries in the North mandala area.
We will feed them with compost and manure
and aim for a good crop this summer.

This Sunday a group is going to Wolsley
Winery in Torquay to check out their pizza and
party, please come along if you’re free.
Wine and gourmet pizzas available at the show
- Lucie Thorn, featuring Victoriana Gaye!
$10 per person admission.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Corriander time

Yes, it's time to plant coriander!

Plant Coriander For Winter

For some of us it's coriander time all year long as the plant continuously self-seed, but autumn winter is best as the herb does not bolt as much.

Making music

Hot acts, cool music, warm sunny weather and relaxed vibe = ABMF.

ORGAN-IC FUN: Sam Upton, celebrating his 18th birthday, with Barry Morgan from the House of Organs and Sam's mother Robyn. Photo: ALISON APRHYS

Took a break from the gals for a few hours last weekend to attend the amazing Apollo Bay Music Festival - wow!

The 20th anniversary of this incredible celebration of Australian music was just great...

Celebrating local home-grown music is a great way to chill.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Chooks on air

On the airwaves
On ABC 774 this Saturday at 6.30am Libbi Gorr will be chatting with Amanda McClaren from the much celebrated Yapunyah Meadow Grazed Chickens.

Amanda and her husband, Ian, graze about 5000 chickens on their property near Graytown (between Heathcote and Nagambie). Farmers' market customers are raving about their delicious, grass fed chook for its fabulous flavour and texture and according to Amanda that's all thanks to grazing the birds on grass!

Soil health is very important to Amanda and Ian and in fact their business idea came about when they noticed the remarkable difference in the soil after their laying chooks had been rotated through their orchard.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pruning without problems

My fruit trees need a haircut, but pruning is a delicate business.
Some peope go the whole og and look like they use a 'scorched earth' policy, while othersfresrful of errors,  make such delicate snips it ends up being ineffecive.

So who you gonna call?

St Peter of Cundall of course!

In this latest edition of the Weekly Times, he comes to out pruning rescue.

My advice?

Sharpen all secateurs and saws, so much easier, you make cleaner cuts and your chance of injury is much smaller.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hens deserve better

Hens deserve better - yes they do.

Hens deserve better logo

The RSPCA is running a campaign Hens Deserve Better

Join them and take action to get hens out of cages.I love watching my little chooks running around their pen or the garden, eating bugs, scratching through he soil and straw, having a dirt bath or investigating a patch of nasturtiums.

Unfortunately, too many hens are kept in dreadful conditions.

Let's get hens into a better life.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ride On

One way to live more sustainably, save money, get fitter and enjoy the commute is to cycle.

On my way into work this morning I heard an amazing frog chorus as I peddled past Armstrong Creek, saw parrots fly through the mist and a beautiful sunrise - what a great way to start the day!

Here's a link to my article in today's Geelong Advertiser.

So go on, with or without lycra - but always with a helmet - peddle on.

A cool bike image i found on Triple R's website...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New Gardening Australia host Costa is a man who knows - and loves - his chickens.

Here's a link to Costa's chook tips.

He also talks about makign a chook tractor.

Me, I prefer to have my gals in a run with a secure hutch then let out to free-range when i am working in the garden.

At the moment the gals are loving the sunny, autumnal days, but are certianly fluffing up their feathers when they retire to cluckingham palace at night.

This weekend I will be putting a fresh bale of straw into their run.

It's always such fun to see their joy in leaping about and investigating it for unlucky insects!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Egg label debate continues

A report in today's Weekly times reveals a Victorian Farmers Federation official who criticised animal-welfare groups over "getting facts right" sold eggs using misleading information.

VFF egg group president Brian Ahmed sold his "Down the Farm" eggs carrying the picture and story of a third-generation Italian immigrant "Guiseppe" - complete with pictures - last year.

Read more here.

Another reason to have some chooks in your yard / community garden.