Saturday, March 30, 2013

Car and Cake.

Happy Birthday to me.   Last week my blue car *broke" husband gets home Friday night and by Saturday lunchtime I have a new to me one. 

 And there's chocolate cake too.  Thanks T.

 Happy Birthday indeed.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Sick Zuchinni.

My Zukes are sick.  They always get sick.  They always end up getting powdery mildew and I could say they get it no matter what I do but really I know that every year we will end up with this on them but I don't do anything to prevent it.  I used to spray them with milk but didn't do it often enough to help so really that was just a waste of milk.
I now have a different method to fix this problem.

 I just cut off the infected leaves and give the plant a feed of something.   A couple of weeks after I notice more leaves are covered I cut them off too and give them another feed.  If the plant is too ratty looking and has no flowers or fruit on it then it comes out but by cutting and feeding I usually get a few more zukes, enough to make it worthwhile for me anyway.
This time they were fed with Molasses, next time it might be manure tea.   Something different each time.

Sometimes there are only a few leaves left after their *treatment* but they seem to recover and do OK.  Until those leaves get covered too.  I removed leaves and fed the 4 remaining plants out there a couple of days ago and already the fruit that was there is looking a lot better and there are a few new flowers. 

The plants look bare and if I needed the space then they could all be pulled but at the moment I don't so they get to stay.

 This one was found after I cut the plant back and I will blend it with some capsicum and chillies to add to Winter soups.

Below is a picture of Choko leaves that I have put down next to a couple of the plants.  It is to lure the Slaters and to help keep them away from the good stuff.  I either pour boiling water on them or scoop them up to give to the chooks, depending on how close to the plant roots they are.

 What do you do when your plants get Powdery Mildew?  Tell me the *proper* thing to do.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Thinking About Cars.

I need a new car.  Not a NEW new car just a new to me new car.  Or maybe just a new gearbox for my blue car.   I dunno what to do.  Whaaaa...

I have a blue car, Hyundai Excell, automatic, '99model.  It was bought quite a few years ago when it was only 4 years old.  That's the newest car that I have ever had.  I had nothing but trouble with it for the first 2 years and had to spend a lot of money to get it working properly but it's been a good car since.  The paint is faded and peeling but I thought I'd have it for a few more years.

And I have an old van.    I bought an old van Dec 2012.   Close to 20 years old now.  It was cheap but suited what I wanted it for at the time.  It still goes well but has issues that mean that it will soon need to be shot.  Or retired anyway.   I have been saving since I got the van, to buy a bigger and better one if I decided that I liked camping in it.   I do, I haven't done enough but this year was going to be the year I did more.   I have been trying to decide what sort to get, thinking I'll get the next one sometime this year. 

But at 10 to 8 on Saturday morning I reversed the blue car out of driveway to go pick up daughter for a day trip to Collie.  Drove a few metres then remembered something and put it in reverse to go back into the driveway.  What!  It wont move.  Put it into drive to get off the road and it sounds *funny* so I get off the road and park up.  Ring daughter, ring RAC.  I'm told he should be there within the hour so daughter and I decide to leave in her car as soon as he has been.  Nearly 2 hours later he has been and gone and we leave.  I'm a bit cranky though because he said that the car was no good, the gearbox was gone.  BIG dollars to fix and probably not worth the money.  *Apparently* any car over 10 years old nowadays is not worth fixing?  That doesn't sound right to me but it's what I have been told by a couple of car people.

So now what do I do?  The van is set up as a camper and only has 2 front seats.  Not suitable for what I mostly use a car for.  I need something with back seats as I sometimes have kids and other people in it.  So...Do I forgo buying a new van and get a family car.  Do I get a bigger van that has back seats and can be used as both?  Do I get a small 4x4 that I could use as a family car and that I could sleep in but it wont be set up as a camper?

Husband is away for a few more days so I can't even talk to him about it.  When he gets home it will be Easter weekend and I won't want to go car hunting then.  Then he will be back at work.  I have been looking on Gumtree and there are so many different types of vehicles.  One minute I want this sort then I want that sort but that one looks pretty cool.   I need to give it all some serious thought.

What would you do?  And why?  I'm after ideas so I have lots of information to make the choosing easier.

Ya Gotta Luffa Loofah. Growing.

I spell them Luffa, others spell them Loofah.  There may even be other ways to spell them.  It doesn't matter we are all talking about the cool gourd that can be eaten when small or left until they are bigger then used as an exfoliating tool in the shower or as a dish cleaning tool in the kitchen.    And!!  They have pretty yellow flowers.  How cool is this plant!  And, cooler still, I have some growing and they are getting big.
My seeds were given to me by daughter L, she is a user of Luffas so us having our own supply can only be a good thing.  It was ages before I planted the seeds though, I was worried about where to put them.  What if I put them in the wrong spot and they didn't grow?  What if I planted them somewhere where the chooks could get them?  What if I planted them then forgot and let them shrivel and die?  In the end I realised that they wouldn't grow while sitting in the packet on the bench so I took 4 seeds out of that packet, walked outside and shoved 2 seeds into one end of the first tank garden I came to.  Looked at the other tanks but they all had something in so I pushed the other 2 seeds into the other side of this tank garden.  I watered them, then walked away.  Came back because I knew I had done it wrong and would need to change them.   I didn't have a better plan though so I left them there.  I did get a couple of small plastic plant pots that had the bottom cut out and I put these over the seeds.  This was to make me feel better with thinking they now had some protection from slugs, slaters, being smothered by the mulch.  It seems that I did it all right as within a couple of weeks the seeds had emerged and I could see them to remember to keep the water up to them.  It was cool seeing them get bigger, growing up the fence and spreading out.  Then I saw a couple of flowers, cooler still.  Then some fruit.  More growing, more flowers, more Luffas...still more flowers on the plants.  I smile whenever I see them.  Worth growing for that alone I think.

This is what my Luffas looked like on the 22nd March 2013.  I've been wondering when to pick them and seeing that a few sites that I have read say they should be picked after the first frost I'm going to leave them there until they start to die off.  If anyone reading knows if this is wrong then please let me know. There are about 1/2 dozen around 16in long but I have read that they can get lots longer.

Still lots of flowers but it might be too late to get any more decent sized luffas.  The bees like them but so do the ants.  The ants need to go as they seem to *chase* the bees out of the flower.   I will work on that.
Don't look too hard at the sick looking Passionfruit vine this end.  I'm working on that too.

There are 3 in this bunch, they were the first to form and are now looking the worse of them all.  These ones have marks and are not as smooth, I think it might be an age thing and I can relate to that.  Most of the ones that formed after these are longer, smoother and darker.

This photo shows that the Luffa is intermingling with the Choko vine that is on the left but you can see the difference in the Luffas too.

There are now Choko, Luffa and Passionfruit getting tangled up together at the ends of the Luffa vines.  I like it, Husband says it's all too messy.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Calf Photos.

I took these this evening, the calf was born sometime yesterday.

I'll keep an eye on them both over the next week or so but so far they both look like they are OK. 
I will also keep an eye on the other 3 cows to see if we get any more unexpected calfs.


Today I spent the morning down at our local Vinnies, to see if I really want to volunteer there.  And yes, yes I do.  I have filled in the form and will now sit by the phone waiting for the call to say that I am needed.

Many years ago I used to volunteer at our local tourist info centre and enjoyed it but apart from helping out at the Really Free Markets I haven't done any volunteering for quite a few years.  I think it's time I started again and this will be an easy start.  I am willing to do a whole day now and then or a half day whenever but probably don't want to commit to a whole day every week   Will see what they need and then decide.
I do believe that volunteers are very important and without them a lot of community projects would not be able to function.  I also know that not all of them are appreciated the way they should be and that is not good.

Do you volunteer anywhere?  Please leave a comment and tell me all about it.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Harvey Harvest Festival.

I went down to Harvey on Saturday for the annual Harvey Harvest Festival.    It had mention of the 2 & 5 slogan.  Adding that to the word *Harvest* and I thought that it would be a great thing to be a part of.  Fresh, local produce, good stuff to buy seeing as my gardens aren't much chop at the moment.  
I blogged about it on my other blog too.

Unfortunately I was disappointed.  I had the wrong idea and the Harvest Festival is more festival than harvest.  They have grape stomping competitions here too.  They are a big part of this festival.  Lots of fun for all concerned.  Hmmm.  I watched a bit but got cranky about that too.  I tell ya, you can't take me anywhere.

There are some photos of the day over here.    I pinched this one from there.  It is the fruit and veg stall at the event and one reason why I was so disappointed with it all.  I didn't find the display tempting at all, I could buy stuff like that from any of the local IGAs.  I wanted big baskets of stuff.  A massive big urn with cascading grapes, greenery and branches and temptation.  I expected apples, melons, grapes galore.   Tomatoes, Capsicums, chillies of course.  I expected *more* but should know by now that I shouldn't.

If anyone wanted a day out with sideshow games, rides and bouncy castles, stalls selling everything like the big markets, fast food would have loved it.  The bit of entertainment that I saw was good and next time I will make a point to sit, watch and enjoy.  I do like seeing the old machinery displays and the old cars, love them. The man and his dog guiding the sheep was fun.  It wasn't all bad.  But not what I went for, not what I expected, not what I wanted.

Oh, the crankiness with the grape stomping?  Maybe it's just me but I'm pretty sure it's not...Why wouldn't the stomped on grapes be offered to the public for their chooks or pigs instead of being thrown into a rubbish skip?  I just couldn't believe that in a country town something like that would happen.  It made me cranky and sad.

Did anyone reading this go?  What did you think? 
Would that veg display tempt you to spend your money there?


Believe it or not it's happened again.

A few days ago we had 4 fat cows in the paddock, no bull, we really did, haha but seriously, we have no bull and never have had..  Tonight when I get home there is a new calf out there too.  It is so cute.

 It belongs to the youngest black calf and really is she old enough to be a mama.  She, the new mama, was born August 2011.  The calf looked OK this evening, I saw it drinking and the new mum seemed to be caring.  But she is young.  I hope that come morning they will both still be alive and well.

I took photos but didn't have the card in the camera and I don't know how to upload them.  I will take more in the morning but should learn how to upload from the camera too shouldn't I?  It's probably easy enough, I'll look for the book.

Bulls have not been seen is our paddock, can they get to a cow through a fence?  Because we have seen our cows and back neighbours cows/bulls all together near the back fence...

There are 3 other cows out there.  This ones mother.  This ones sister.  And fat Brown Cow.  I was going to go away for an overnighter but will stay home now just in case.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My First Honey.

Maybe not technically mine, the hive had been given to me but the honey was from the 3-4 years prior to my getting it.  But, my hive, my honey!  I'm going with that. 
The honey was very dark and not sure what it is from but a mix of everything that has blossomed over the last few years I suppose.  It tastes OK. 
When I first saw it I thought by the dark colour that it might be Jarrah and it probably has some in there but it's not as strong flavoured as the pure Jarrah that is my favorite.
I ended up with 5kilo of this honey.  The bigger bucket was given to the bloke that gave me the hive and he will get a few more as he asks for it.  The deal was he gives me the hive and I give him half the honey that was in there but we will give him what he wants until he moves away.

This first honey was extracted by carefully scraping the frames, they were not in good condition, draining out as much honey as would come then crushing everything and straining it through a strainer and some netting over a bucket.

 This was then strained again into another bucket.
All too hard and time consumer according to husband so the next lot will be extracted using the new extractor that he bought for me.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Getting My Hive.

The day had come, husband was home and we were off to get my hive.  I wore a pair of his overalls, an old bee hat of his with 2, yes 2, nets over that.    He gave me a pair of gloves too so I was well covered. 

 This is the hive, a 2 decker and in such bad condition that when husband saw it close up he was a tad concerned about moving it.  It actually wasn't that old, a few years, but it hadn't had anything done with it since this bloke set it up here in his paddock.  The boxes are smaller than what I consider normal hive size.  I have been told that these are WSP size.  They are 10 frame boxes.
Up close to this hive it was easy to see that there was woodrot, or something, affecting the boxes and when husband tried taking the lid off the box did break.  The box was so full and stuck together that when he pried a frame out the box broke some more.
Our first plan was to take some of the frames from this top box and put them into another box so we could take this box of frames home but because of the state of the hive it was too big of a job.
It was just as well that we had spend the day before putting together new boxes and frames because we needed them to replace this.   It needed  lot of work

This is husband, looking at the box and deciding what to do with it.  There is a hole in the bottom box too, the whole hive is rotten.

Finally he gets the lid off, it was stuck tight.  He needed to scrape it off to be able to get the lid back on.

The excluder wasn't sitting flat because the hive was so full.   Notice where it is rotten and breaking up.  Notice too how he isn't wearing gloves.  He doesn't like working in them and does get stung.

We were going to take the top box and replace it with a new one and pick it up an a couple of days but because it needed so much work we decided to come back that evening and pick it up so we could work on it at home.  We did leave another box in it's place so any straggler bees would have somewhere to go when they came back and found there home gone.  We picked that up early the next morning and added them to the original box.
Home and in place.

This original top box broke, it is rotten all the way through and needed to be replaced.

The bottom box has similar issues but is still being used at the moment as it is full of brood, and the queen, and needs work.  A new top box replaces this one.  We have a new box ready to replace the brood box as the husband works on getting the whole hive in order.

March Mulchness.

We're midway through March and the gardens are nearly bare.  We can pick Capsicum, Tomatoes and Zucchini.  One little chook keeps escaping and that has eaten all the Lettuce and Silverbeet.  A different chook to the last escapee.   There is Sweet Potato and normal Potato if I want to go did them up.   Eggplant if we get desperate.  I had to buy a Lettuce yesterday because husband wanted Tacos for tea.  Bad foodgrower, I need a slap.
The grapes are just about finished, we have had 3 small watermelons and there are a few left, nearly ready to pick. The Granny Smith apples are still OK though the parrots have had a lot of those, what is left out there next week will be picked and brought in.   The chooks are not laying enough to make it worth keeping them.  It's all a bit sad. 

But!  I have Luffa.  Quite a lot of Luffas and that makes me smile whenever I go out there and see them.  I don't know what I am supposed to do with them yet, I will need to research that but Luffas.  How cool is that.   Daughter has bought these from markets and uses them in her shower and for washing her dishes so if I can get them to that stage we will all be pleased.  There are big ones, smaller ones, small ones coming on, heaps of flowers that the bees seem to love...It's all good there.

Soon there will be Chokos and that will make me smile too.

I also have mulch.  Or stuff that I will use as mulch.  There is a lot of it.  Too much?  Maybe.  But probably not.  You can never have too much mulch can you?  The bloke up the road had rolls of silage in his paddock.  It was old when he got it and in the 2 years that it has been sitting in his paddock it has started falling apart.  His sheep wouldn't eat it and he needed to get rid of it.  I offered to take some of it off his hands.  Another friend offered to bring it down for me, using his tractor.  Bonus.  They brought it down and dropped one bale over the fence into the chookpen. 

The rest was dumped outside the fence in the verge.  Bugger, now what do I do with it.  Because there is a lot.  Too much even.  I spent a day and a bit getting one roll pulled apart and wheelbarrowed out the back and onto the gardens.  The silage was wet so was very heavy.  I then spent a couple of days cursing myself for not getting them to drop it all over the fence.

Then these people came to visit me and I may have moaned a bit about it all.  He brought his tractor back and most of these are now over the fence and in the chookpen.  Two of them are out the back waiting to be pulled apart and spread out under some trees.    Thank you SO MUCH C and T.  I appreciate you doing that for me.
I have a bit of a problem in that the first roll that I put on the tank gardens was full of now the tank gardens are full of slaters.  HoHum...Something else to work on.  I need to pull the other rolls apart so the chooks can get the bleedin' slaters that are in them.  Only 6 rolls and if I manage 1 a week...I'm hoping they'll all be done by Spring.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

My Hive. My Apiary.

I now have an apiary.  It consists of 1 hive.    I have registered and that makes me a registered beekeeper.  With 1 hive.  How funny is that.   Pretty cool though, aye.

Friday, March 1, 2013

To Bee or not To Bee

Husband works with a beekeeper.  It is hard work and he gets stung many times every day that he works.    He has been stung so many times but it still bothers him.  They fly near me and I run and the SookyLaLa that I am.  No wonder he shook his head and laughed when I said I might get myself a hive.

But some things are meant to bee, haha, and I have been offered a hive, just one but I said to husband that I would do all the work with it myself.  More head shaking and funny noises.

We have been to look at it and it is chockers, the bees look OK, they weren't aggressive.  The bloke giving it to me hasn't worked it for a long time, he is not well, his house is for sale and he wants to travel...He has extra frames and a few boxes he says I can have too.  How nice of him so I told him that he can have the first lot of honey I get from it.  I have found a spot to put it and have cleared that so it is ready as soon as husband has time to pick it up for me.

Another thing to show me that I am supposed to get this hive is that the husband is working in the area and coming home every night.  Earlier this week he brought home the *dogs vomit* which is what they call the scrapings from the nukes they do.   A couple of buckets of smooshed up wax and honey.    I rang the boss and asked, pretty please, if I could have it.  He said I could so I pushed my luck and asked if I could have it all the time when they are working this area.  It's only for a month or so a year and there wont be a lot, maybe a few buckets full.    They do put it through the plant but when husband works by himself doing the nukes it's easier for him to bring it home here.  My *processing* it actually saves it having to be stored here and taken to Perth sometime.

I reckoned it would be a good opportunity to see if I could handle bees flying around me and the stickiness and mess that goes along with the job.

I must admit that the husband set up the buckets to drain into a second bucket.  He also squished all the wax to get the honey to come out.  It had live bees in it and I didn't like having to squash them but because they were covered in the honey they wouldn't have lived anyway, they were damaged and struggling to move.  It's not nice though so shows that it will be important to keep everything covered and away from bees flying in.  And they do fly in. 

And what better than filling up a jar to take home with you.  Or fresh honey on bread for a quick snack.

Hundreds of bees are hanging around the shed still but that is because there are hives in there that need to go back to the processing plant in Perth.   I will have to walk through these bees for another few days, until the hives are gone and the shed has been cleared of honey and wax smells.   I haven't been stung yet, I am wearing shoes when over that way but no bee gear, no overalls or bee hat and net.  Like I keep being told, the bees aren't wanting us, they want the honey they can smell.

We used an old deep fryer to melt the wax.  We half filled it with water then put some now emptied and washed wax in, brought it to the boil, turned it down a bit while we used a bit of mesh to scoop off all the cruddy stuff from the top.

Husband cut some cans down and we scooped the wax from the top to make 5 of these.  The next lot I did by myself, alone, with no wax is nowhere near as clean and I need to remelt it and do it again.

I don't know what I will use this for yet.  I have some wick and will make a few candles but we don't use candles so don't need a lot.  I'll probably just bag it up and leave for the mice to eat but I hope not.  I hope I put it away properly and use it so it's not wasted.

There are beauty products that can be made with this, or furniture polish...I use neither so don't know if I will try that at all.  Do you use wax like this for anything?  Do you have a hive and collect your own honey?  Tell me it's a great thing to do and I will learn to not mind the stings too much...