Saturday, 23 May 2015


The weekend at last!  I longed to snuggle further down under the covers when Hubby left for work this morning.  So warm and cosy in my bed.  But there were projects floating in my head.  They called me loudly and insistently so I begrudgingly staggered out for a cup of coffee to get me moving.

There's a freezing chill in the air this morning but the cloudless sky carries a promise of a beautiful day to come.  I've had a very productive week and today will be no different.  Once the sun is shing and the sky is blue, I will have all the energy I need to get on with today's tasks.

The projects I have on the go are many and varied.  I'm painting, regenerating paddocks, farm planning, planting while the weather's favourable, working with the children.....

Monday saw me checking the hive and robbing some honey.  I didn't measure but there were several kilos of golden sweetness.
Tuesday we went to help some friends pick their small commercial olive crop before they missed their deadline.  Three other friends also came to help.  Sadly we didn't get much done before the rain set in and made it impossible.
I've been determinedly painting our house over the last couple of weeks.  We never did get around to finishing the doors and trims when we moved in.  Once living here, we just got on with daily tasks and became so used to the unpainted surroundings that we didn't even notice anymore.  However, for some unknown reason, suddenly it's all I see!  So every day this week, I've painted a little more.
I've also dropped in to the local tip with a trailer on tow and picked up an old freezer.  Sorting a container for the chook food has been on my to-do list for a looong time but now that we're thinking of getting more chooks it's become a priority.  This freezer is perfect for the job.  I'm making my own grain mix for them and recording the costs as I go.  I'm confident that my mix is nutritious but I have a sneaking suspicion that when I add up the prices, it would be cheaper to buy the commercial mixes.

We've been to the library, picked up (and shoveled out) a load of manure and returned the trailer to the stables.  The children have played independently.  There have been shopping games, mum's and dads, doctors and even dinosaurs.  We've cared for the animals, milked the goats and Belle and I have knitted fingerless mittens to try and ward off the cold.  It's icy out there in the late afternoons!
  I've had a friend visit twice this week and twice she has helped me complete some tasks on my list.  She and her husband helped me plant the garlic last weekend.  I was despairing that I wouldn't get it in on time.  During the week, she and I planted comfrey under the fruit trees while adding compost and manure.  It's lovely to have friends that enjoy working alongside me.

The chooks are doing a lovely job in their new enclosure.  We've put them in a bare paddock on the top of the hill.  This paddock had no soil whatsoever so, a while back, we shoveled a couple of trailer loads of horse manure on it.  Now the chooks are scratching it around and adding their own manure to the mix.  We'll move them soon to a new area and put them to work again.  Our hope is that, over time we'll see the soil build up.
I know it can work.  I've inspected the area where we've been putting piles of horse manure in one spot over the last year.  Yesterday I scratched the soil around the piles.  It was definitely an improvement.  Just three metres away, where there has been no manure, I can't even scratch past the surface because there is no topsoil at all.  I will begin piling the manure there instead next week.
Near the manure pile
Existing 'soil?'
Today I will continue to paint and this afternoon I plan to take a look at a second hive which is down in the bush.  I find it hard to get to this particular hive because it's so far from the house.  I don't want to have the children there with me but I can't leave them home alone.  Hence I wait until Hubby is around, the weather is right, and my mentor is available.  It's getting late in the year for beekeeping and I won't have many opportunties before winter sets in.

I've only had a couple of attempts to beekeep on my own so far and they weren't very successful.   On one attempt the bees were very aggressive and I had two stings inside my boot which I had to ignore.  I was also stung twice on the hand.  I managed to calmly work through but didn't know enough about the bees to understand what was happening.  Normally they are quite settled.  My mentor felt it may have been due to the hive being so full of honey that they had nowhere to lay their brood.  Therefore, once I had removed three frames (all I could manage in my bee-stung state), they were calmer when we inspected them this week.

I'm very lucky with my mentor.  He has years of experience.  I've known Jim since I was born.  He was a friend of my parents and we used to visit their family when we were children.  I was lucky that I unexpectedly came across Jim and his wife in the supermarket car park soon after we bought this property.  We had lost contact and I had no idea that they lived in this area.  Neither did I know Jim was a beekeeper.  I invited them to lunch, together with my parents, and it was then I discovered that Jim worked with bees.  He's been helping me since.  It's wonderful to watch him at a hive.  He works slowly and calmly.  He doesn't even wear gloves!!!

So onward I go!  Hopefully I can get through my jobs by the end of the day and perhaps tomorrow I'll just relax.

How is your weekend looking?  Are you taking it easy or do you also have a thousand projects on the go?!


Kathy said...

Wow! I'm tired just reading about your projects. Beekeeping is something that fascinates me! I hope your day is as productive as you hope and that you have a lovely time doing it all!

Around The Mulberry Tree said...

Lots of great things going on there! Bees are wonderful, trying to convince my husband we can have a hive even though we are now in town. Used to have bees and I found them very therapeutic.

Leigh said...

Hi Linda, I came by to return the blog visit and thank you for taking time to comment on mine. Very interesting post; you and I have a lot in common.

The use of the old freezer for feed is brilliant. I don't suppose you keep it plugged in but you got me thinking that something like that would be so helpful for us because we have such a terrible problem with pantry moths in the feed during summer.

Interesting to learn you have honeybees too. I just got my first bees about a month ago. :)

narf7 said...

Thats an awesome idea about the horse manure. We just got six and a half trailer loads from a local who didn't want it on their property and have it heaped up behind our veggie garden. Our entire property is on a steep slope and I figured that the nutrients that are going to be washed out of the "mass" should end up at least flowing through the veggie garden at some time in the next few months (if I can keep the chooks off it).

We have a spare room, Steve's music room and our bedroom to paint yet. We only had enough money and paint to do "X" amount of the house when we moved in so the "seen" areas got the lick of paint ;).

Great idea about the freezer by the way. We had been storing our chook food in eskies in the shed but came out the other day to note that the rats had almost chewed their way through the lids! Might be time to head over to the tip and see if they have any freezers or fridges.

Every time I read one of your posts I come away feeling energised about getting stuck in. This property has almost broken me a few times. The steep block, the fact that the soil is thin and blows away, the rocks EVERYWHERE, how arid it is right through summer, but seeing how other people deal with these problems does a whole lot for getting me motivated to keep trying. Cheers for the motivation Linda :)

Bridget Coyne said...

Linda - it's always so lovely to read your blogs - I'm so full of admiration for you!!!

I'm coming to stay at Julie's place for a week or so in July, so I'd love to catch up & see your place, if you have time for a cuppa. Do you still have the same email ie: the greenhavenlinda one?

:) Bridget

purplepear said...

Such wonderful things you are doing there Linda. One day I'll pay you another visit and get to see first hand all the great improvements. None of my daughters are living down there any more so not the incentive to visit as there once was.I have such fond memories of the day we spent there. All the best to you and your lovely family.

Linda said...

Kathy, beekeeping is wonderful! I still have heaps to learn though.

Mulberry, you MUST convince him then. Town bees have a good supply of gardens too.

Leigh, I really enjoyed your blog! This freezer was from the tip (rubbish dump) so no cord even. They're perfect feed containers. Enjoy your bees!

Yes Narf, hills do serve a purpose occasionally! Our place is not great and has nearly broken me before too but I'm hoping we can improve it. And, lol, have I inspired you to paint the extra rooms?!

Bridget! Hi. I would love to see you! I'm having trouble accessing the email. Ask julie for my personal one.

Hi Kate. I loved that day. It was so lovely to have you here. It would be great if you ever come back down. I wish I could visit you too! Such a beautiful spot. I was amazed by Newcastle and all the water! One day...

Aimee said...

Awesome stuff! Yeah as summer is going to be here soon with the early start to the dry season here in Oregon, we are scrambling to finish up projects before we have to do them "sweaty"!