April Days....on our farmstead

Friday, May 2, 2014

April gently ushered in a true change of season.  The warmer temperatures had finally turned to 'perfect' & the world was again awash in the green we were longing for in January!  It seems April here at Sunnyside may really be the nicest month of all (although I'm sure I say that in October as well)!  

I thought it would be fun to attempt to revive my monthly posts where I write about the little things that are happening here at Sunnyside.  These are the posts I go to when I want to remember exactly when things happened!  

This is Snowball ~ our newest kitten :)

Around the farm....
Dave ploughed up the very back paddock "Harriman's Strip" in preparation for planting our crop this year.  He has been discussing whether to plant triticale this time or possibly attempt spelt, however I wouldn't be surprised if he plants barley purely because we already have the seed grain in our silos (which we also use to feed the animals if needed). We shall see.  Planting will occur in the near future once we have a good rain.

Swimming in the big dam. Thankfully we've had a tiny bit more rain since then, but there is still no where near enough water to start thinking about pumping it for the gardens etc.  

Around the farmyard...
Our farmyard looks rather bare after the butchering that occurred early in the month.  We have acquired more chickens (in March) and finally this month they began to lay.  This is wonderful as I always like to have hens that begin laying in autumn to be assured of an egg supply over winter.  I splurged this time & purchased an araucana hen.  She was smaller than the other girls & is still not laying, but we are looking forward to our first blue egg!  We have also got 4 rooster. Two of which should be butchered.  We are however decidedly lacking in freezer space right at the moment so it's going to have to be a May job (unless we can re-home them as they are such affectionate roosters being handraised from chicks ~ anyone want one??).  We still have to decide on which two to keep & opinions are rather strong on different sides around here!
We have also filled our incubator with eggs & are hoping to have some chicks hatch in the next month!  This is a new purchase for us so we are hoping it was worth it!

The lunar eclipse during April.  

April also held a rather strange event.  Chocco visited the local school to star in their 'cow pat lottery' (which is a great way of them to make money for the school's needs).  When we went to load them, the cows were rather reluctant to get into the horse float.  Since none of them are trained to a lead rope ( or even wear a halter ~ it works for us),  it was the first cow in who would get to go.  After much running around the small yard they were in Chocco finally realised  that we were going to win & she walked on in.   I only got one photo of her at the fete, but she was none to happy about being separated from Cadbury her calf.  It was a joyful reunion on her return that evening! ( And for the record, Cadbury cried for about a minute until I gave her some molasses & then she settled down with Bessy. )

Chocco not happy about being away from the farm!

I also found a vet who does AI on cattle.  It will cost us more than sending them out to the bull, but being able to keep the milk supply going will be worth it (I think).  I was about to book her than realised that the timing of the birth won't work very well around here as it will be the middle of summer.  I will book for a couple of months time.

Around the kitchen....
Ellie made her first batch of cheese ~ paneer (which we use in a curry) .  Unfortunately she learnt about scorched milk & the cheese had a rather burnt taste.  I'm sure next time it will go better.

We have also been making all kinds of dairy products using the 11L of milk we get each morning from Bessy. (Who am I kidding?  There is no way we can use that much milk so the pigs are enjoying a whole lot of it too).  As for milk production:  While Bessy had a calf we could only get about 4 L out of her in a milking, now we get 11L (both done with machine over the same length of time).  It goes to show how much the cow can hold onto their milk.
Since butchering we've begun bacon making again.  This time we kept 3 sides specifically for bacon.  Homemade bacon is so extremely delicious.  We are still perfecting our technique, but this last lot has been the tastiest so far!  
I have also started making bread again.  After I had to go gluten free I would only make basic loaves in the bread maker.  Not being able to eat it really took away the joy of baking bread for me (& really baking in general).  Although I still can't eat it, I have recaptured that enjoyment & am slowly experimenting again with my recipes much to the joy of my family!  

Bacon ~ all ready to fry ( or freeze then fry as needed!)

 Around the garden...
Sadly my garden is showing signs of the harsh summer without water & complete & utter neglect.  I would love to show you gorgeous photos, but in reality it is a dismal mess.  I have lost numerous plants with my saddest losses being the rose bushes we planted in what was to be the 'rose garden' & our strawberries which didn't survive no matter how much mulch we put around them or how much water we bucketed on them.  It seems they just didn't like the 46 degree (celcius) days over summer.  Amazingly most of our herbs have survived!  Finally though a little rain has come & some moisture lingers in the soil & I can begin garden planning again ~ even if it is for our winter garden!  I haven't planted yet & that was foremost on my April list of jobs, but once again I was waiting for rain.  Generally I like to get my garlic & greens in before ANZAC day (April 25th).  Early this week we received a good downpour so I'm hoping to plant this weekend!  

Around the homeschool...
This year of homeschooling has proven to be the easiest yet!  Our 2014 curriculum choices are going well with just some minor tweaking needed for second term.  
We took our autumn holidays from school work this month & Dave took the 2 weeks off work to match our holidays with the intention of doing various farm jobs.  During these holidays we hosted numerous visitors.  Friend's who we have grown up with (at least Dave & Steve grew up together & were best men for each other), another friend's son who is doing a Tafe course nearby, & finally Dave's parents.  We just love having visitors here & it was so enjoyable doing fun activities with them.  One of my favourite parts was having our big dining room table overflowing with people (just the way I like it)!   Of course the farm jobs we planned were never completed, but having guests is far more fun than those!  


And before we knew it I was changing the calendar on the fridge into May. 
 It's amazing how quickly time does fly!  

I hope you had a wonderful month of April friends!

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