Monday, 1 June 2015

Monthly nine - May 2015

Brrrrr!  Yep, it sure is wintery today.  Are you managing to keep warm?  Our wood supply hasn't been great this year.  I keep using Hubby to help me with farm jobs on the weekend, thus keeping him from wood duties.  We're keeping warm, but only just!

It's the first day of winter and time for the Monthly Nine.  Following on from Christine at Slow Living Essentials, I'm hosting a link-up in which fellow bloggers join me to post about their May happenings under nine slow living categories.

Please feel free to take part.  The more, the merrier!  Just write your post and link below.  Or if you're not a blogger just enjoy visiting the participating blogs.  There are many ideas I've picked up from others in this regular monthly blog hop.

In the interests of eating naturally and trying not to use packaging, processed food etc, we've been eating lots of what's available, as usual.  Pumpkin soup has been a regular in our house.  I can't seem to find any meals that all the children enjoy and pumpkin soup is no different!  So while most of us have really enjoyed making our way through the pumpkins that my father-in-law grew, one child has suffered.  Interestingly, it is the child that I have named Pumpkin for the purposes of this blog.  She really doesn't like her namesake soup.

The kids have also begun making their way through the fruit we bottled in summer.  I guarded it closely earlier in the year.  I didn't let them eat the preserved jars while the summer fruits were still available.  They were delighted to be given the go ahead on the jars of pears, plums, peaches and apricots.  The stash is slowly depleting.
In May, I robbed my hive for the last time this season.  My friend Jim came to help me.  We have enough to see us through until the bees are active again in Spring.  The honey is something else I try and keep control of because Buddy loves it and is quite ridiculous with it at times.  He thinks nothing of sticking fingers straight into the jar for a lick of golden sweetness!
All the children enjoy the week that follows honey harvest.  I put all the cappings into a bowl on the bench and they are welcome to stick their fingers in whenever they feel like it.  I often see them munching away on a mouthful of wax and honey.  Buddy usually invites any visitors to dip their fingers too, within minutes of them walking in the door.
May saw me accessing any pallets I could find.  Some were gifted by fellow scroungers, some obtained by asking business with pallets stacked outside.  These have been used mainly for building animal shelters.
I also went to our local tip and picked up an old freezer.  I wanted it to store chook food now that we plan to extend our numbers.  Freezers are perfect for the task.  They are large, easy to scoop from, and close well.  This week we will pick up twenty, day old hens and a couple of boys to keep them company.  Belle has put herself in charge of the new chickens.
I made soap last week.  I chose my favourite everyday soap, honey and oats.  Lately I've been using a stick blender to make soap and it reaches trace fast!  Very fast!  Sometimes it's thicker than I'd like when I'm pouring it into moulds.  So this time I decided to go back to my old method of hand stirring.  I felt quite smug at my environmentaly friendly soap making as I stirred.  It's a time consuming method but I dreamed of making and selling soap as I gently moved the mix around the bowl.....  I could market it as stirred by hand....  Half an hour of good, slow stirring and still feeling the glow of making soap by hand with no electricity needed, and I poured the mix into moulds.  Prematurely!  It had not yet reached trace.  I'm not good at picking the moment well.  I have left it to solidify and hope it will still harden to a useable soap but all the oats had floated to the bottom.  I'll will have two bars of very, very oaty soap and the rest will be plain, if they work at all!

In the garden I have planted two beds.  One with garlic, another with silverbeet, spinach and leeks.  The rhubarb are finally growing again now that the soil is moist.  I've been working hard in the orchard by adding manure and compost to the soil under the trees and installing an irrigation system.  I can still see many jobs to be done.  The asparagus, rhubarb and raspberries all need manure for example.  I like getting out into the garden in this cool weather.  I can get the heavy duty work done without becoming uncomfortably hot.
Belle and I have been busy knitting fingerless mittens.  The cold weather sure got us moving!  I still have a pair from last year but I've made a good pair (ie. not dirty) because I wear my fingerless gloves for everything, even collecting wood and weeding.  Belle has completed hers and started on a pair for Pumpkin.
Belle's handiwork
I've learnt how to use a power drill and put the skill to good use already.  I've made three small shelters from pallets.

I've also been researching pigs.  I've mainly used the Australian Pig Farmers website so far, but need to buy and borrow some books too.  I need to learn a LOT and fast!  We have two lovely piggys ready to come and live with us but we're not quite ready on the pig front.  So we'll quickly get some fencing done and learn what we can about husbandry and then it will be time.  We are so excited we are chomping at the bit to get them NOW but we want to make sure we are well placed to offer them quality care.

We tried to help a friend in May.  The weather worked against us though.  Our friends own a small olive grove and needed to complete a last picking before their deadline for processing.  A small group of us heading off to help them.  Unfortunately clouds were gathering threateningly in the sky before we even arrived.  We managed about half an hour of quick picking before the rain came and ended our olive adventure.  It's such a shame to see olives go to waste!
I really enjoyed taking my children to see Shaun the Sheep at a small movie theatre.  I love the sound of children's laughter while they watch shows.  There's no holding back those loud belly laughs!

Our biggest enjoyment for the month came in the form of something we see as a major life achievement for Buddy.  It's a small step really but Buddy played his first game of under 10s footy.  We were so proud of him for deciding he wanted to learn the game and putting so much energy into learning the skills.  The reason we see it as a huge life achievement is that we were not sure, when Buddy was born, what he would be capable of doing.  To see him taking part in something that is so normal for any nine year old boy is heartwarming.  So much more than a game to us.  A sign, a step in the right direction, first rung of the ladder.  We have so many dreams for our boy.  Driving a car, finding a good job; a real job, not just in a supported environment.  Go Buddy!  You're certainly doing well so far.

So there was my month of may in a nutshell.  Tell me about yours!  Just add a link to your blog on the linky below to join in.  Don't forget to leave a message so I remember to pop by and visit.


Fiona from Arbordale Farm said...

Wow what a busy month you have had. We dream of getting pigs when we are in NZ and my advice having had pigs many years ago is to use electric fences just like you do for you chickens as you will not have any issues keeping them confined. If you go with standard wire fencing you need to use an electric fence wire too as they will just push under over and through otherwise. I look forward to hearing about your piggy adventures. Buddy is so amazing and I am sure he will grow up to be a confident young man because of all the opportunities you provide him. I love the fact his priority when greeting visitors is to share the honey and encourage people to share in what he loves. I love the idea of using an old freezer for grain storage as the lids are heavy so hopefully too heavy for rats and mice. I will get my post up tomorrow.

Suzie Simplelife said...

Linda what an amazing month you have had....I feel so inspired when I read of all the things you achieve.....I'm desperate for bees but we are getting ready to move :-( ...I love all the jars of fruit just sitting on your shelf waiting to be devoured...YUM. I would also like to make my own soap but haven't been brave enough yet...maybe soon. Buddy is just so gorgeous, it's wonderful to see him having so much fun playing footy.

RobynLouise said...

I like reading your monthly nine :). Just thinking the oaty soaps could be hand cleanser soaps or maybe, if they are not too scratchy, face cleanser soaps. Go Buddy!

Kathy said...

Love the beautiful jars of preserved fruits, laughed at being stingy about when they are opened!! You have had an amazing month and what a victory for Buddy! I am sure you are having a hard time keeping your heart inside the small space in your chest! :) I so enjoy keeping up with you and your family, thanks again for taking on the monthly nine for all of us!

Aimee said...

Awesome! Bees bees bees! We are jealous.

Cheryl said...

Linda I love the photo of all your preserves on the shelf! They look so good, and I bet they taste even better.
We are only just starting to get cold where I live, I couldn't live any where colder.
Glad Buddy had a great time at footy!

Linda said...

Wow, you guys were quick getting your posts up this month! I must set aside some reading time in the next couple of days.

Thanks for your lovely comments Fiona. I was pleased to read your advice on pigs too. We're a little nervous. It's our first experience with pigs.

Suzie, I would encourage you to give soap making a try. It's not as scary as you think. Just work carefully; it's not much different to cooking. The only yucky bit is when the cystic gives off fumes but it's only for a minute or so.

Robyn Louise, I'm looking forward, with crossed fingers, to seeing if the soap sets. It will be a great 'scrub' soap, I'm sure!

Ah yes Kathy, my kids are amazing at switching between irritating the heck out of me and making me so proud that I want to cry!

Aimee, bees are amazing but there is so much to learn! I wonder how long it will take until I feel experienced.

Cheryl, I love the cold months when we have enough wood. It's so snuggly inside the house and the weather slows me down a bit. Not enough wood however, makes me feel miserable!

Farmer Liz said...

so much going on at your place! I can't comment on everything... Personally I love pumpkin soup, but not roast pumpkin, the best part is all the variations, like coconut and chilli, or bacon and parsley, I wonder if pumpkin can find a different version that she likes better :) And I wanted to say well done to Belle, I make similar "arm warmers" and have made several pairs so I can get them dirty :) See you next month!

Evi said...

Im late, I'm late for a very important date!!! Just snuck it in but its not really a proper monthly9. Oh well, better next time!
You seem to be so busy and so productive…well done to you!!!!

Kathy said...

You've had a busy month and it's so great Buddy is getting into the good for his self esteem and it's fun too. Your preserves look amazing....Regards Kathy A, Brisbane