September 2012 Facebook Farm Statuses

  • Oh Spring, I’ve missed you… and wearing shorts.
  • Today, after planting out more of a giant veggie patch, fertilizing fruit trees, teaching my kids how to fertilize fruit trees, getting to use my chainsaw and tractor, drinking home-made beer, eating home-grown meat, walking through our first crop, and planning our first breeding flock, I realised that I have the perfect life. MUCH better than a Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian, and not just ‘coz I could do better home-made porn. It’s all about sharing a dream with family. And the better home-made porn thing. Seriously, I’d be awesome at that.
  • Was just looking at Bruce Atherton lying on his back, airing his manhood out for the world to see. I went to talk to him and say “Hey junk…”. My mind makes connections in very obvious ways sometimes.
  • And here come the meat sweats…
  • Today we found a swarm of honey bees in our pepper tree. It’s now safely residing in an empty beer carton under the tree. With luck, they’ll decide to stay and I can transfer them to a hive next weekend. Fingers crossed…
  • My bees are still in the empty beer carton a week later! I’ve spoken to two commercial apiarists, have downloaded the registration form, and this afternoon should be buying a brand new hive, which is surprisingly cheap. Give it 5 hours and we’ll be amateur apiarists with completely wild-caught stock!!!!!!!
  • The bees are in their new hive and NOTHING was the way it was explained. We got the hive together like pros, and after that it was mostly improvised. The smoker didn’t work at all like the apiarist explained – I’m fairly sure it pissed them off more. All of the how-tos talk about putting store-bought bees into the hive, as opposed to an angry swarm who had already quarter filled their temporary beer carton home with comb, honey, and eggs. I ended up getting them in there in about 10 lots – from the outside of the beer carton, from the inside after pulling out the bits of branch and leaves, and from the logs in our wood pile they ended up swarming over. I think it’s worked though, and they all seem to be in the hive. Fingers crossed…
  • I think the combs full of sweet stuff we got out of the hive is actually Royal Jelly rather than honey. It’s clear and super sweet, and what they used to feed their young and the queen. Basically, I ripped off their royal baby food. Score! On a related note, it looks like they’ve completely taken to the hive. Now I just have to resist the temptation to go open it every half-hour to check on them…
  • Who has two thumbs and roasts the best home-grown chicken in the world?! This guy!
You can see the wood littered around him. I was chopping inches from him, but he refused to move. Linhda says he's just being a "site dog".

You can see the wood littered around him. I was chopping inches from him, but he refused to move. Linhda says he’s just being a “site dog”.

Whacked ‘Em In A Box! And Then A Second Box!!!

The start of September has Father’s Day, plus Gemma and Linhda’s birthday, which I think is going to make it a bad farm work month.  That sucks a little as the weather is normally perfect and it’s a great time for growing produce. September 2012 was still eventful though…

First off, we had a branch fall off of one of the huge gum trees along the front of the property.  We had hired a cherry picker a couple of months earlier  to thin the big trees a little, and open up the area for an orchard. We’d left as many of the larger limbs as we could, and I’d completely missed the fact that this particular limb was a little rotten.  It had a thick part which was a dead portion overgrown with a live portion.  This was obviously a weak area, and was where it cracked.

We had a few windy days early in the month, but the day the limb fell was completely still.  We were out the back working on one of the veggie patches, and heard a huge crash. It really was very loud, and a little surreal on such a still day. Investigation found the limb had fallen into the orchard area, but apart from bending a little bit of wire on our berry support, it had missed everything and caused no damage.

The scar where the limb dropped.

The scar where the limb dropped.

Luckily it missed pretty much everything.

Luckily it missed pretty much everything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was actually a good learning experience. We were able to see exactly why it broke, and have identified a limb on one of the other trees that has the same problem. We now know that this limb will also come down, and will probably target it during next year’s tree thinning. In the meantime, we don’t park the tractor under it. 🙂

During September we were able to progress our veggie patches a lot too.  Our first patch in the backyard was coming along nicely, and was pretty much fully planted out.

Our first patch is coming along nicely.

Our first patch is coming along nicely.

Garlic in the foreground, then onions, beetroot, carrots, and beans.

Garlic in the foreground, then onions, beetroot, carrots, and beans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to this, we worked on the irrigation in The Patch.

Irrigating The Patch is almost as tough as digging in it.

Irrigating The Patch is almost as tough as digging in it.

This is the start of the irrigation in the corn bed. There were many, many rows to follow.

This is the start of the irrigation in the corn bed. There were many, many rows to follow.

The pop-ups work well, but we found that they're not great for all beds, and the risers have to be quite tall.

The pop-ups work well, but we found that they’re not great for all beds, and the risers have to be quite tall.

The irrigation in The Patch is very much a work in progress.  I have a fairly specific plan when it comes to the bed rotations and the irrigation of each of them.  Our plan is to make it so the irrigation is easily moved when the bed is rotated.  I planned and replanned this all to the nth degree, and the thing we’ve found is that the plan has to adapt to the reality. 🙂 We’ve already adapted it several times, and it no doubt will be further refined as we go on.

We had a stack of stuff to harvest in September, especially things like radish, cauliflower, and carrot. Linhda called on her Viet recipe repertoire, and we tried some new kinds of pickles. Each of them has turned out great, and we now have a steady supply.

Pickled radish and cauliflower. A HUGE success!

Pickled radish and cauliflower. A HUGE success!

My five-year plan for the farm culminated in pigs and a milking animal. Both of those things seemed to be a whole step up in terms of care, but they’re also an equal step up in terms of self-sufficiency and utility.  We’d been in the place for all of 9 months, and I was starting to think of accelerating our pork/milk plans.  I wasn’t quite ready to take the piggy plunge yet, but started to move in that direction. The first step was sourcing some recycled building materials to set up the infrastructure. We found a winery in Pewsey Vale that had just revamped all of the vineyard posts, and was selling off the old posts for 50 cents each.  They had somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 to choose from, and Linhda and I spent an interesting date night there picking through what they had.  We ended up with just over 60, and stockpiled them at home in readiness for our pig yards.

The big news for September, however, was bees!  Dad, Linhda, and I were stacking wood under our pepper tree when I looked up and noticed a bee swarm hanging from one of the limbs.  We had spoken about getting a bee hive, but there were more essential things we had to do in terms of self-sufficiency first. Bees were definitely going to happen, but not before fruit, veggies, meat etc. However, here was our chance to not only get bees early, but to get a wild-caught swarm. What could be more self-sufficient than that?!

I quickly did some research on the net, and I called a professional. His advice was to “whack the swarm in a box, go buy a hive, then whack the swarm in the hive”. I’m paraphrasing there, but the parts about “whacking” are word-for-word.  Armed with this detailed advice, a beer carton, and some garden sheers, I set about catching the swarm.

The swarm when we first spotted it - it's about the size of a football.

The swarm when we first spotted it – it’s about the size of a football.

I'm really not that fat. It's the many anti-bee layers...

I’m really not that fat. It’s the many anti-bee layers…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It all went surprisingly well.  I was wearing more clothes than I’ve ever worn at one time before, which made me look a much larger man.  I don’t think I even came close to getting stung though, and the swarm ended up in the beer carton.

I travelled for work the following day, but a week later the swarm was still there.  They’d chewed a little exit/entrance through the bottom of the beer carton, and maybe a third of it was full of comb.  Linhda and I found possibly the grumpiest apiarist in the state and bought a brand new DIY bee hive.  Dad and I put the hive together, after which I “whacked the swarm into the hive”.

On a side note, I also bought a professional smoker.  The grumpy apiarist explained to me how it works, and I’m positive I followed his instructions exactly. However, it seemed to basically spit fire at the bees, and they weren’t big fans of that.  The smoker may need some further practice…

Either way, by the end of September we had our own wild-caught bees. We have no idea what to do with them, but at least now we have them. 🙂