Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Further Adventures with Chickens

One afternoon a few weeks ago, I went down to the Chook Pen to lock the girls up safely for the night. Our black chook,  'In The Box' was no where to be found. The girls had been hanging around the dog pen for the previous few days, eating the left over dog food and scratching under the fruit trees in there. Furious, I stomped over to the dog pen, ready to kill Pippi, our Kelpie cross Border Collie. I was certain she must of killed In The Box. To my surprise, there were no feathers, nor a carcass. I immediately calmed down, said a mental apology to the dog for jumping to conclusions and had a search around the house yard for either a chook, a carcass or a very fat snake. Nothing.

For the next week, In The Box was not seen and I accepted that she had been eaten by something during her daylight free ranging. 

Temporary brooder box, awaiting to be adopted out to their new mumma
Then on the following weekend, I saw her run across the front yard and into the Chook Pen for a drink and some feed. I kept an eye on her and discovered where she had disappeared to.... Yes, In The Box was broody and had hidden away a clutch of eggs below a retaining wall. 

Unfortunately, we have no rooster so In The Box was wasting her time, sitting on ticking timebombs, which would eventually go rotten and explode in an unworldly stench. I did some googling and decided the best thing would be to buy her some fresh chicks to stick under her. 

A little bit of outside time, prior to being adopted
At night I moved her and four of her unhatchable eggs into a small pen into the garden. I left her there for the day to get used to her new nest. The next night, I took the chickens down and slipped them under her one by one, removing all but one of the eggs. I probably could have left all the eggs or taken all of the eggs, I doubt chooks can do maths, but better safe than sorry. 

I then spent a restless night hoping In The Box didnt peck the chicks to death. The next morning I went out, expecting to see three tiny corpses and one angry chook. To my delight, In The Box took to her new brood with love. Two of the chicks were under her and the third was sitting on her back. I left them to be, throwing out the last egg the following night.

In The Box with her adopted brood
In The Box has turned out to be an excellent mother. When I was certain she would look after her chicks, I return the four of them to the Chook Pen with the other Hens. In The Box has continued to be an excellent mother and her chicks are gowing fast. I can't yet tell whether any of them will be roosters. If they are, I'll be keeping one and the others will be destined for the stock pot or as dog food.

Two of my other hens- Chicken Dance and Fly also went broody and I purchased a dozen fertilised eggs to split between them. I'm now playing the waiting game to see if any of the eggs will hatch.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Visiting New Friends

As a University Student, I lived in several share houses, with a variety of young men and women from around Australia and the world. Some have become lifelong friends and others I was glad to see the back of. 

One housemate, who I hope to be friends with for a long time, is my friend Owen. I lived with him for about six months in an old Queenslander in Coorparoo, South Brisbane. Sadly, the house has been demolished to make way for higher density, small housing. 

I had lots of great adventures and times with Owen- Jet skiing in the Bribie Island Passage, shared meals, long conversations over bottles of wine... I was sad to see him go back to China after working in Australia for some time.

In the years that have passed, Owen met his partner Jess, got married and he and his wife returned to Australia to start a new life. Recently, they welcomed their first child into the world- William. 

A few weeks ago, Gigi and I made the 1.5 hour drive to meet William for the first time. Gigi was very interested baby William and I absolutely loved the cuddles from a young baby.

It was also wonderful to talk to Jess about birth, breastfeeding, motherhood and lack of sleep. I don't have many friends with babies or children, so its great to have those talks with other women who know where you are coming from.

Fun at Home

Part of the Frugal Living for Gigi and myself is learning to have fun at home. And there is plenty to do. From cuddles and adventures with our goats....

To wonderful pedicures for Mumma... 

 Playing with Pippi in the mud.....                                                                  And building castles

There is always something fun to do at home, a free adventure to be had and an animal friend to play with.

The dangers of being an adventurous toddler

Gigi has been having a run of bad luck lately. She is very adventurous, very physical with climbing/ exploring/ jumping/ etc. This month she's had her fair share of injuries and illnesses, so hopefully that will be all for some time. 

First, she split her eyebrow open by riding her bike into my brother car, and straight to the Emergency Room at our nearest hospital we went. These days doctors don't give kids stitches on their face, unless the injury is serious.  A specialised glue is now used to glue the skin together to assist healing. This is the second time Gigi has had her face glued back together. 

The following week, whilst exploring a creek in the Byron Bay Hinterland on our camping trip, Gigi picked up a paralysis tick on her OTHER eye, right in the corner near her tear duct. I was lucky enough to spot it almost immediately, however it took me twenty minutes to calm Gigi down and convince her to let me pull it off with tweezers. In that twenty minutes, her face and eye swelled up from the toxins in the tick bite. 

If that wasn't enough injuries for the fortnight, she also ran into other child whilst playing and put her teeth through her bottom lip. 

Such is life with a toddler. 

Chai Tea From Scratch

For some time I have LOVED Chai Tea. Real Chai Tea. However I didnt drink it very often because its really hard to find anywhere that brews it from spices. Most Cafes seem to only serve packet mix Chai Lattes, which are full of un-pronounceable ingredients and are sickly sweet. 

Then I discovered Chai is actually not hard to back at home. 

As per my general method of cooking, I don't have an exact recipe for Chai. I usually just add in the same spices but each time a slightly different amount, depending on how much of each spice I have available and how I'd like the Chai to taste.

As I like to have Chai in the evenings, after dinner, I make my Chai on Rooibos Tea, which is naturally free from caffeine. I haven't been able to find loose leaf tea, just tea bags of Rooibos. This hasn't been all bad though, as it gives me an estimate of how much tea I am making.

- 50 bags of Rooibos Tea
- 50 Cloves
- 25 Star Anise
- 25 bay leaves
- 50 cardamon pods
- 10-15 teaspoons of dried ginger (powdered)
- 5-10 teaspoons of cinnamon (powdered)
- 50 black peppercorns

- Cut open bags of rooibos tea and pour into a large bowl
- using a blender/ mortar and pestle/ food processor/ coffee grinder, chop Peppercorns, Cloves, Star Anise, and Cardamon  Pods into finely, but not to a powder.
- add chopped spices, Cinnamon and Dired Ginger to bowl
- Mix in with Rooibos Tea.
- Amazing Chai

 There are two ways to prepare this Chai...

The 'instant' way is to add one teaspoon per cup to a teapot, with a mesh insert (so two teaspoons in a two cup tea pot), add boiling water, allow to infuse for 5 minutes, pour into mugs, add milk and a teaspoon of honey.

The 'long way', which results is much better tasting Chai, is to heat milk in a saucepan, add 1.5 teaspoons of chai to the milk and allow to simmer for 10-15 mins. Strain Chai and serve with honey. This is a much stronger and better flavour, however it requires more time and dishes.

Chai makes a great gift for Christmas and is delicious and full of great spices, which have many health benefits.

Homemade Chai is also easy to tailor to individual tastes. If you like it spicier, add more peppercorns and ginger, for a more 'licoricey' taste, add more cardamon pods and star anise. I personally am not a huge fan of cinnamon, so I add less that what other may prefer.

October Garden Update....

Posting Octobers Garden Update in November, because I've been slack....

So last month, it was time to grow the summer season of seeds, some of which I had seed saved, some of which I received in a seed swap from Liz, over at Eight Acres (I've still got to send my seeds, sorry for the delay!). 
I planted a mix of Luffa Seeds, Paw Paw, Silverbeet, Beans (mixed), cos lettuce, calendula, rosella and mini capsicum. 
Seeds to be planted
I cleared a space in the shed and sat down to happily spend an hour labeling pots, adding soil and planting seeds. I grow my seeds in pots, then transplant into the garden after they have germinated. I find it easier to keep track of what grows and what doesn't. 

I planted the seeds in composted goat poo, I'm not sure how good it is as a growth medium, but I have HEAPS of it, courtesy of our 18 goats. In keeping with my 'reduce waste' policy, I've been keeping my finished toilet rolls to use as biodegradable seed pots. The rest of my seeds I planted in re-used pots from various tubestock I've bought over the past year. 

I placed all the pots in a sunny spot, which is close to the chook pen, so I will walk past it and remember to water it morning and night. 

As my chooks are free range, I also added a 'chook cage' to prevent to girls from destroying the joint. Hopefully most of the plants will germinate and I will be able to plant the edibles in Garden Bed #1 and the Rosellas and Luffas somewhere suitable.

Garden Bed #1 is almost finished its food production of winter greens. I'm just waiting for the last of the Bok Choy to go to seed, so I can collect those and use them for the next winter.

Meanwhile, the seeds I planted in Garden Bed #2 have germinated and are starting to grow. The seeds I threw in 'to see if they would grow' seem to have all sprouted. The seeds were a mix of Amaranth, Sunflower and some pink flowers I like at a cafe, so I collected their seeds.

 I'm hoping once the Amaranth and Sunflowers reach 30-60cm, I'll be able to plant Cos Lettuce, Silver Beet and other greens underneath. The taller, hardier plants should provide shade to the greens during the heat of the day, whilst allowing plenty of filtered sunlight... I'll just have to see if that works out...

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Raw Vegan Sushi

Another day, another raw food recipe. This one is Raw Vegan Sushi. Its something that I made up on the spot as today I was running late for work, I didn't grab anything for lunch and I didn't feel like fast 'food'. So off I went to the shops to see what I could invent. These rolls were the result.


- Nori Sheets
- avocado
- Noosh (nutritional yeast)
- himalayan salt
- fresh pepper
- Spinach
- rocket
- cucumber
- alfalfa
- Tamari sauce


- scoop of avocado and mash with tsp of noosh, pinch of salt and pinch of fresh ground pepper
- spread avocado evenly over two nori sheets.
- place sliced cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, rocket and spinach on top of avocado mash.
- roll up sushi sheets. Hold until they keep their shape.
- Use a wet sharp knife to cut into bit sized slices.
- sprinkle a little tamari sauce over.
- Enjoy

I'll probably be eating these for lunch everyday this week now that I have all the ingredients at work. They were so yum and easy to make.

Raw Vegan Pasta with Pesto

Now that Summer is almost here, I will be incorporating a LOT more raw foods into my diet. The main issue I have with most raw foods is that they generally take a lot of preparation (soak nuts for hours/dehydrating/blending). I like my raw foods to be QUICK and EASY with minimal preparation and equipment.
I like a lot of pesto with my pasta but I didnt have much pesto left over from my freezer stash, only about 2 Tablespoons. So I mixed what I had with half a mashed avocado. It was devine, I will be doing this ALWAYS

So here is the recipe:


Makes enough for one lunch and one snack; or for four 'sides'

- 2 zucchinis
- handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 button mushrooms
- big handful of spinach
- pesto (recipe here) (use approx 2 Tbsp)
- half a mashed avocado
- pumpkin seeds

- Rinse Zucchinis and slice length-ways into thirds.
- using a peeler 'peel' zucchini into strips, which will resemble tagliatelle (can also use a spiralizer  or mandoline slicer)
- sit zucchini pasta in a colander to drain
- finely chop spinach and mushrooms
- mix pesto into mashed avocado
- Place zucchini pasta in a large bowl, mix through pesto/avocado mix, add spinach, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, gentley mix.
- serve with pumpkin seeds sprinkled on top.

This is delicious. It is so creamy and filling. I find when eating raw foods, due to a lack of calories in the food, I need to eat LOTS of it. The above recipe is what I eat for lunch, with a bit leftover for a snack later in the day. There is also enough for about four people as a side for a main dish.

A Weekend at the Beach

Last weekend, Gigi spent some time with her Dad at Golden Beach on the Sunshine Coast. From all accounts, they had a great time- Op Shopping for a new hat and sunglasses; eating ice-cream; and kayaking in the Pumicestone Passage. 

From Golden Beach, it is a short paddle across the passage to the northern end of Bribie Island. This part of the island is uninhabited and as a lovely view back to Caloundra and the coastline.  

 On Sunday, we had a 'family day' at Shelley Beach. The beach isn't very good for swimming, but its great for collection shells. When the tide goes out, it reveals lots of rock and rock pools to explore. If you arrive at high tide, I recommend walking along the beach to the north (left when facing the ocean) towards the headland. There is a number of 'streams' that meet the ocean and interesting caves at the headland. By the time you've walked back, the tide should be low enough to walk along the rocks to the south (right when facing the ocean). You are able to walk a fair distance along the rocks and there is a stunning view of Caloundra in the foreground and the Glasshouse Mountains in the background.

As a bonus there is lots of sea-life trying to find refuge during the low-tide. We chased lots of crabs, squirted water from the sea squirts and watched the sea slugs make their way across the rocks.

Gigi loves exploring, climbing and jumping across the rocks.

Monday, 1 September 2014

August Garden Update

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that despite being neglected for two weeks, whilst we were on holidays, the veggie garden is still thriving and most of my bok choys are either ready to eat now, or will be in the next few weeks. Some have been eaten by pests, both of the insect variety and the two-legged variety. My pest control methods are limited to picking off any grubs I find and feeding them to the chickens; and encouraging Gigi to eat only whats within arms reach. I have so many bok choys this year, I'm not that worried about loosing a few leaves here and there.

Happily eating raw bok choy, will not eat it in stir-fry
 I bought a small compost tumbler from Aldi and spend an afternoon putting it together with lots of 'help' from Gigi. Its only about 140L, but I thought it was a good place to start as I've never composted anything before. Our fruit and veggie scraps have always gone to the goats, with meat and dairy going to the dogs. Now that I've got chickens, I thought I'd compost their nesting box 'waste' and also the straw from the bottom for their pen.
Compost Tumbler
One afternoon, my dad used the tractor to collect broken down goat poo from the goat shed and load up two of our unused garden beds. In the raised bed, I plan to plant all of my amaranth seeds, some beans, which apparently are good feed for chickens and a few random seeds in my seed collection, which I have no idea what they are. My dad wants to plant 'real' tomatoes (not cherry ones) and rockmelon in the other garden. 

The three garden beds
 In the winter garden beds, the winter crops will be finishing up soon. I've been picking a handfull of snow peas most days and the beans are starting to 'ripen' now too. I think I might also have a late crop of strawberries, as the flowers are starting to develop into fruit.

The dill has been flowering like crazy and I'm not sure whether I should collect some seeds, or just collect new seedlings when they pop up and replant them in appropriate locations. 

Gigi enjoying a snow pea
Checking out the Dill Flowers

The chooks have picked up their egg output, as they mature. We are getting at least two to three eggs every day, although they refuse to lay in their nesting box and have instead chosen to lay under a bush in the garden. Just another reminder that despite my preferences and wishes, animals do whatever suits them. Another example is in the photo below, where my ladies have turned my seedling box into a dust bath. All four chooks get in there and have a roll around. Needless to say, all the seedling either were eaten, scratched out or died. I have no intention to do anything to keep them out of the box, instead I'll find somewhere else to grow seedlings. Life is about picking your battles after all. 

August Holiday in Fiji

As mentioned in my prior post, my Mum, Gigi and I had a holiday together for two weeks in Fiji. It was brilliant. Such a great holiday destination for kids. Gigi got disruptive and throw tantrums at times. None of the islanders batted an eye, apparently everyone knows and accepts what Toddlers are like.

I also found it interesting, that everywhere, men, women and older kids all fussed over Gigi- saying hello, asking her name and occasionally giving her a kiss on the cheek.  I know that some people would probably be bothered by that, but i thought it was great, and Gigi responded really well to it.
Singers serenading some guests
We stayed at the Wyndham Resort on Danarau Island, which I have to admit was beautiful, even though resorts are not really my preferred method of holidaying. The staff were great and very patient with kids. It wasn't unusual to see an activities staff member being followed by two or three kids. Every evening, there was a 'torch lighting ceremony' where a man dressed traditionally, went around the resort lighting all fires with a torch. Every evening he was followed by a pack of 10-20 kids.
Nana and Gigi on the bus. Most had no windows, just rolled up canvas.
We didn't hire a car or anything and found it really easy to get around via the local bus system. The buses are AMAZING, they seemed to go everywhere we wanted and only cost a few dollars per trip. Plus we met and chatted with heaps of interesting local people, who were more than happy to offer advice for where to visit and how to get there. If the bus didnt go to where we wanted, it always went within a few kilometres and it was easy enough to flag down a cab to take us the rest of the way.

Nana, Mumma and Gigi at the Mud Pools at Sabeto
Mumma and Gigi

Gigi 'snorkeling' 
South Sea Island
Our highlights of the trip were the mud pools at Sabeto, which we caught a bus near, then a cab the rest of the way; the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, which is about 1km from the mud pools and I recommend doing both on the same day; a day cruise out to South Sea Island; a trip down to Natadola Beach, again the local bus can drop you off near it and it is easy to get a cab to the beach; and the Village of Viseisei, where we met a lovely family with kids around Gigi age, who befriended us.

Gigi at Natadola Beach
Some local kids at Natadola Beach

As we stayed in a resort, food was ridiculously expensive. We asked a staff member where a good place was to buy food and she told us to catch the bus into Nadi from Danarau and to get off at the last stop, as there is a Fresh Market there. The market was fantastic! So much fresh fruit and vegetables for sale and quite cheap too! Also the market is open every day, with different produce each day. We bought all our food needs- bananas, pineapples, papaya, eggs, watermelon, carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, butter, raw honey, cassava, cucumber, bok choy, zucchini, herbs etc. I couldnt get over the variety of food and the freshness. There were also a lot of foods i'd never seen before, like taro, some giant green banana (apparently sweet, not a plantain), yams, some weird spiky fruit and something that looked like a yam, but i think was Rutabaga?
We cooked all our meals in our unit and took fresh fruit and picnics with us everyday to try and save  money to spend on experiences and adventures. 

Green gazebo at the garden of the Sleeping Giant
Nana and Mumma at the Garden
Gigi and Nana at the Garden

In my suitcase, I packed seven outfits to last the two weeks (obviously had to wash a few times) and the rest of my suitcase I filled with Gigi's clothes that no longer fit her. Initially I thought I'd give them to a Church, but I ended up giving them to the family we met in Viseisei village to use for their kids and to pass around to other family members or friends. I also took several story books and gave those to the kids, as well as hats and some shoes.

Gigi and the village kids harassing a chicken

saying goodbye at the airport
 I would definitely like to make Fiji a yearly holiday, but I think the next time we go, I'll try to find us a farm stay or a BnB to stay at. Danarau Island is a fake island, created by developers and full of 4-5 star resorts. Definitely not a place to experience the 'real' Fiji.
All in all, we had a fantastic trip and I hope Gigi will retain some memories of it.