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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fencing Tips

Over the last couple of weeks we have been doing a little bit of fencing and it seemed a good idea to put a few ideas down to share.

Fencing Wire

I must declare up front I hate barbed wire. It is just a pain to use. Some farmers will swear that a boundary fence must be barbed wire only. I disagree. A well made boundary fence with plain wire with two electric strands is excellent. But we each have our own perversions.

There are a number of wire manufacturers and each has a range of products. Over the last 25 years we have tended to use a single product finding it appropriate to both electric fencing and non electric fencing. It is the 2.50 mm medium tensile wire. Waratah use the name Flexabel Longlife. It ties off easily and doesn't distort. If you are into professional fencing you may tailor your wires to each application. This is just a good general purpose wire for the small holder who only wants to keep one roll of wire in the shed.

Tie Off

Every one has their own preferred method.

Gripples are good and you can even get away without the special $200 tool. They still require a neat finish for the exposed ends. There is a tool to loosen the Gripple and tightening the fence (using the special tool) is simple.

The tried and tested method is the standard chain strainer which almost everyone has but not everyone does a good job of it. Having a gauge to measure the tension in Kilo-Newtons is very useful if you are not an accomplished fencer. There are a few options in the gauges.

In recent years I've moved to using ratchet wire tensioners almost exclusively. They are quick to install and adjusting tension is quick and easy. And they are perfect for short runs. My preferred option is this only because it is inexpensive. There are larger and more expensive units and some come with a built in bullnose for electric fencing.

There are many other tensioning gadgets and tools which work well. It is just a matter of finding one that appeals to you.


There are only a few knots required.

Figure Eight for joining two wires not under tension is demonstrated here.

Tying off at a strainer with a termination knot is here

There are many options when joining two wires using a chain strainer. My preferred Option is the Donald Knot or Speed Knot. The reason being it is quick, simple and one of the strongest knots

Finally the most useful not really a knot is the Cobb and Co Hitch.

Wire Spacing

A tremendous topic. At our work property almost all the fencing is single wire electric and I've experiencing no major problems over ten years. In fact it has the benefit of a quick and simple repair once a tree has collapsed over the fence. Great long distances between steel posts keep the costs low.

Boundary fences elicit a lot of discussion. One fallacy is that tightly spaced wires are required with calves. The truth is calves will walk through any fence. And they will walk back again when they are hungry. There is the odd calf that  needs to be collected. But that is the joy of owning stock.

With boundary fences we electrify the top wire to discourage leaning over and jumping. An electrified middle wire helps prevent scratching of rear ends and pushing through. Earthing the other wires adds a bit of punch to the effect on the animal.

Keeping the lowest wire about 300 mm off the ground assists in preventing corrosion and provides a bit of room for returning calves and transiting wild life.


Bits of wire left on the ground are not a good idea as they can be ingested by stock. Either wear a tool pouch and keep your offcuts and trimmings with you or have a 20 litre bucket at each end of a run where offcuts can be dropped as you proceed.

Tie offs should be neat. You can cut off or break off the wire leaving no protruding piece which is my choice because it looks neat and can be achieved without a tool when using Flexabel wire. Some prefer to leave a long piece after the tie off so that it can be undone if needed. When leaving an excess piece make sure it is twisted back neatly and isn't poking out to take out an eye.

Three or four twists  are only needed for a secure finish

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


One of boundary fences has given up the ghost. The top and bottom wires were replaced by our neighbour a decade or more ago but the barbed wire middle section is 50 plus years old and finally giving way. The wooden posts are a bit rickety but a lot of new galvanised steel posts have been inserted over time.

Rather than dismantle the entire fence and start from scratch we decided to remove all the wire except for the top and bottom. Add steel post braces to all the wooden posts and put in two new wires. With a little effort we could make the top and middle wires capable of electrifying which would taking the animal pressure off the fence.

This patch up process would only take a couple of days and add another 10-15 years to the life of the fence with the only cost being labour and a couple of hundred metres of fencing wire.

Not much to salvage

The first step was to put up a temporary electric fence to hold back the animals in the neighbours property while the repairs were undertaken.

A temporary fence to exclude the neighbours animals

The top wire had been attached to the steel posts with tie wire and all these were cut off and insulators installed. Each end of the top wire was cut and Bullnoses installed and just before the connection was completed a host of poly pipe tubes slid onto the wire i.e. one for each wooden post. These tubes will insulate the wire from the wooden post.

Top wire and middle wire insulated for electrification

The fence had been routed around a couple of trees in past, a really bad idea for any rural fence. Rather than redesign the entire fence we installed poly pipe sleeves to keep the wire off the trees. The problem with using live trees as part of a fence is the tree grows putting tension onto the fence. But the worst thing is the bark quickly rusts the wire. Our patch up should be good for a few years.

Protective sleeves to prevent corrosion

Using a tree as a strainer is a bad idea but we can live with it for now

The metal strainer at one end had no stay and one was retrofitted using some old galvanised pipe. The bracket was manufactured from a piece of pipe and expanded to fit the strainer. Four metal tek screws hold it in place. Fence tensioners are in place ready to tighten the wires.

Retrofitted stay

The stay is concreted into the ground but before the concrete is poured a number of steel star picket off cuts are hammered into the hole to provide reinforcement. Once the concrete has set in a few days the fence will be tightened using the tensioners.

The positioning of the stay and how it is embedded in the ground are critical. When a strainer has tension from two directions a single stay must be located at the mid point. Using two stays i.e. one for each strain direction will result in the strainer eventually tipping. A pure physics issue.

The quality of the embedding is critical to keeping the strainer upright. There are various solutions. Some fencers use large flat plates of wood or metal to increase the surface area that the stay presses against. Others drive a wooden post deep into the ground for the stay to rest against. In our shallow soil some old star picket offcuts hammered as deeply as possible and concreted to the stay have proved reliable.

Concreted Stay base

The last thing that was added was a simple switch for the neighbours to allow them to easily turn off the electricity to the boundary. It is clearly marked with a bright Orange sign made from recycled plastic.

This is not the prettiest fence but it is robust and the electrification will keep the animals from using it as a scratching area and provide some longevity.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fresh Fruit All Year Round

Our goal at HHF when we first arrived was to have fresh fruit available all year round. We chose the Orchard trees based on their documented fruit maturity month. For example we have lots of Citrus trees which grow well in our area. The first Mandarin is ready for eating in May and the last Mandarin in October with a few Oranges holding on until November. Mulberry comes on after the Mandarin followed by Peaches and Nectarines, then Plums. Grapes and melons are followed by Apples and Pears. Dragon Fruit fills any gaps about this time. Occasionally we get some Bananas and the occasional Pineapple. All a welcome diversity.

The transition period of April/May is covered by our Cherry Guava (Botanical Name: Psidium cattleianum Plant Family: Myrtaceae). This provides a high vitamin C fruit for our nightly yogurt from April through to July.

Our tree is planted beside the chicken run and benefits from the proximity to lots of fresh nutrient while provide some shade for the chickens and a they return the compliment by cleaning up the fruit fall.

There is this steady progression of fresh vitamins and minerals in our diet. We don't juice our fruit except to make wine from excess fruit. The fibre is just as important as the  juice. Juicing just increase the amount of sugar consumed without making the gut work.

An attraction of Cherry Guava is that the fruit matures gradually not all at once
The sugar content of Cherry Guava is quite low and it would be unsuitable for wine making without adding sugar. Like lots of small fruits it probably would freeze although we haven't tried this. By having such a variety of fruiting plants we are able to save energy by not having to freeze or preserve fruits. The only short coming of our plan would be if we have a bad harvest and a gap opens in our plan. Backup plan is homemade ported prunes.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Concrete Mixer Update, Sunday Lunch, Ciabatta

Our lunch with friends was scheduled for a 12.30 start encouraging us to both rise early and finish off any last minute tasks.

I was supposed to collect milk yesterday evening but shortly before heading off the neighbours called in to let us know that our three cattle were in their leased paddock. They (the neighbours) are animal lovers and have a huge collection of stray and previously mistreated animals. Our three cattle were eating their purchased hay but they weren't concerned, just wanted to let us know. I was concerned. They had only just been moved to a fresh paddock groaning with green feed. What was going on? While Jean chatted to them I went down to our back paddock to find a wooden fence post snapped off and laying down with our three strays waiting on the other side begging to come back. Standing on the wires to keep them down was enough to encourage their return. An hour later having brought down some steel posts, hammer and wire the repairs were complete and some other weak spots toughened. But too late to get milk. So that was my priority this morning.

Jean continued on in the kitchen with all the last minute preparations. All those little tasks that can't be done too far in advance. We set the table between us. The Biga for the Ciabatta was souring in the Bread Maker and just needed the final ingredients added and set to mix. This time rather than make a full load, everything was halved to make a much smaller batch which worked well. The risings were all planned ahead so that the baking would finish just as the guests arrived.

Fresh Ciabatta

Being well organised for a change we both had plenty of time spare and it meant a trip to the workshop for an hour to spend some quality time with the concrete mixer being refurbished.


Air Compressor

The job has been split into two for ease. The base which includes the electric motor is in progress now. Previously the wheels had been cleaned with a descaler  attachment on the air compressor. Then a wire brush attachment on the drill worked over the surface of the wheels and one of the metal panels. These were then painted with Rust Converter and left overnight.

We purchased the Air Compressor a couple of years ago. Rather than get an inexpensive small handyman unit we waited until we could afford a more versatile large model that would handle all sorts of air tools including a spray painter. It really has been worth the larger investment.

The metal wheels and some of the protective cladding.

Today with the spare hour these three items were cleaned down with a damp cloth to remove the excess Rust Converter and an additional wire brushing. They will be painted eventually but I'll wait until a few more components are ready for painting.

The next item for attention is the electric motor. It works but is in a poor state of maintenance. With the time allowed it was dismantled except for the pulley side which is a bit stubborn and will need more love.

Just needs some love
Lubricant and pressure

Back to the party. A shower and coffee before the guests arrive and we have an enjoyable afternoon eating, drinking and chatting. The visitors leave by 4 pm and after a clean up there is time for me to return to the workshop and work on the project until after dark. Great day.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ciabatta, Watermelon, Rose, Perry, Garlic, Yogurt

Part of the preparation for lunch guests is some bread. In this case Ciabatta which requires starting a day earlier with the making of the Biga which is pretty much just a sourdough but using a little yeast. Tomorrow it will be used to produce those chewy free form loaves that go so well with baked Camembert and other dips.

Biga after 24 hours

Summer is finally at a close as we consume the last watermelon. Orange Glo a melon we tried for the first time appears to be late season ripening. If this is the case and not just good luck it will be perfect to carry us through until other fruits are ready. The fruit on offer at the moment is the last of the Dragon fruit and the first of the Cherry Guava. In less than a month the first of the Citrus i.e. Mandarin will be ready.

Orange Glow Watermelon

It is the time of month where some wine work needs to be completed i.e racking some of the reds that were pressed and demijohned a little over a month ago. This is the process to take them off the coarser sediment to prevent any unpleasant flavours in the wine. Today the Tempranillo was done. While in the Cave the Packam/Williams Perry was bottled. Only 15 litres or so producing about 40 half bottles. This Perry has a magnificent yellow/orange colour. Will look forward to sampling in a couple of weeks.

While bottling it was decided to also bottle the very small amount of Rose that we made. Only seven litres. The Merlot Rose was incredibly good. It had a balance of fruit and oak flavour and not that sickly sweet Rose that is prevalent in the shops. Just a refreshing luncheon wine. Will serve some to the guests on Sunday.

Merlot Rose

The Garlic planted last week has started to pop out of the ground. The bulk of the 450 cloves have now sprouted. A wonderful sight to the gardener.


Unlike house work, food production is an ongoing task. Because of a slip up in planning on my part we had to go two nights without yogurt. But a batch is now made and a little draining tomorrow will provide us with a few weeks supply. There is a steady flow of production in the kitchen that doesn't always rate a mention in the blog. Cheeses, Butter, Yogurt, breads, scones and various other essentials are always in steady production in the background. All part of the process of a healthy lifestyle.

Yogurt made but not drained.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Concrete Mixer, Chocolate, Stray Dog, Torch Repair

We have visitors coming next Sunday for lunch. Some friends that we haven't seen for a few months. Jean has been inspired to try a few different recipes for the event.  Smoked Salmon Pinwheels, Anchovy Straws, Baked Camembert, Fetta Tart Vanilla Bean Pastry with Chocolate Ganache, mixed berries and Cream.

The lead up work has been trialling some of the not previously attempted dishes which is just as well as there have been some serious disasters. Not that I'm complaining as I've been the recipient of some meals that didn't work out (they may not look right but they taste fine). On one particular day for some inexplicable reason everything Jean trialled failed to come together as it should. Fortunately, perseverance paid off.

My small contribution was the chocolate for the Ganache. The standard recipe of three parts Coconut Oil, one part Honey and seven parts Cocoa Powder always works out to provide a rich extremely tasty chocolate. After making a large block of plain for Jean to melt into the Ganache it was decided to restock our chocolate supplies; Plain thin chocolate shards which just melt in the mouth - Jean's favourite, Chocolate block with roasted peanuts and coconut chips - my favourite, Ported Prunes dipped in chocolate, roasted Almonds in chocolate and with the leftover material Chocolate and Almond Meal shards. That should keep us going for the next few days.

Plain shards

Chocolate Roasted Almond

Anzac Day started with a lengthy thunderstorm with which the rain was welcome. It also brought with it a stray dog who was wandering up and down our house yard fence line in distress. Jean let her in and although she didn't want to be touched she settled down on the door mat and wandered in and out of the house from time to time. Tentatively wearing welder' gloves I eventually grabbed her to inspect the collar but it had no ID. Jean, who has a memory for these things had a vague recollection that she had seen the dog before. We were going to wait until the morning to take her to the vet to scan for a microchip but eventually Jean went into the township to find the suspected owner. She returned with no good news. The woman who she thought might own it said it didn't sound like her dog which supposedly was with her kids at the local bowling club. Jean left our address just in case.

An hour later the woman turned up and claimed the poor dog!

One of our really old rechargeable torches was waning. Rechargeable batteries eventually reach end of life after a certain number of charges. Being a frugal and enjoying a challenge I dismantled the torch and removed the batteries. They are not designed to be replaced but being standard AA batteries a little soldering and an hour's effort provided a fully functioning torch which will ,be handy in the workshop as often I'm caught there after dark groping my way back to the house.

Last month the bulky items clean up yielded a functioning but old concrete mixer. It has been sitting in the workshop for a month teasing me with the excitement of a dismantle, clean and rebuild. Today the process was started. What an amazing piece of equipment. Despite having been out in the weather for a long time, under previous ownership, is still in good shape. The high quality metal construction has some surface rust only. The screws and bolts are of such quality that they unscrew with ease despite the rust. Each bolt and screw is of the ideal length for the job. This thing must be 50 years old, manufactured in those days when high quality built to last materials were used. I'm going to enjoy this.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Beach Day

Being Nikki's birthday and also being some time since we took the dogs for a drive to the beach, today was the day. Not an easy task to perform.

The contract fencer the boss across the river employs wanted to work today and needed some direction. That was 7 am to 8 am. While there the cows were moved and the paddock harrowed. Home via a friend to drop of the innards of a front loading washing machine (free to good home) that was in our workshop. He wants to build a rotating  brazier with it.

Just enough time to change and head down to the pool for the last day of torture with the pool manager. Must be catching up with us as we both perform sluggishly but are pleased with three weeks hard work.

After making a thermos of coffee and lashing a scone each with butter and honey we pack the dogs and go to Hawkes Nest. We had forgotten it was school holidays and the sunny warm day has attracted crowds to the shoreline. Coffee and scone at the Winda Woppa end of the town. The only sensible thing is to go to the Golf Club end where dogs (and 4WDs) are allowed. There are more 4WDs than dogs but our kids have a ball.

Lisa saying how great it is to be at the beach

Because they haven't been for a while the walk is short but tiring for them. They get packed back in the car taken home via the oyster man.

Once home they just flop down completely exhausted. Nothing like a drive and a few hours at the beach to tire you out.



Birthday boy Nikki

We don't feel all that energetic either. The oysters are delicious.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mushrooms, Fitness Update

Luck was with us this week in the Mushroom experiment. We found (in one store) Swiss Brown, Oyster and Portobello mushrooms all in small economical packets. Enough in each container to taste test and to also place a couple in our coffee grounds to see if we could propagate them.

A layer of coffee grounds in the jar, hand shredded pieces of mushroom in a pile in the centre, surround and cover with more grounds. Grounds to be moist but not so they ooze moisture when squeezed. Loose lid to allow breathing. Keep moist.

On the second last day of our manic swimming fitness program at the local pool the manage and my swimming partner made a very stunning statement:

"I was playing with my grand children over Easter and I found I had this amazing amount of energy. I was able to run about with them all day. This last three weeks has really made a difference"

So there you have it, final scientific proof that fitness is good for you.

Of course that didn't take away the pain from the four 30 second laps. Out of curiosity I wore the heart rate monitor today. The chest strap also made a good excuse as to why my lap times were a bit off. After the fourth 30 second lap (just made it) it took a few breaths before I could lift my arm to check the rate. Only 151 bpm. That indicates I still had some fuel left in the tank and was bludging. Oh well, last day tomorrow. Will really give it a hard time. Hopefully won't need an ambulance.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Fuel Container Repair

Some time ago we picked up a 20 litre Jerry Can from the Dungog Dump Shop for next to nothing. These 20 litre containers cost up to $50 new. After a good clean and a couple of coats of paint it went into use as one of our fuel storage containers. Unfortunately the rubber gasket in the cap was damaged and it had a tendency to leak if not fully upright. Not a useful container to have in the boot of the car after visiting the petrol station.


Another thing to remember is that petrol contains highly volatile additives which are needed to ignite the fuel in the engine for optimum performance. If the container is not airtight these volatiles evaporate and you are left with fuel which is not ideally configured for its purpose. The fuel will work but not as efficiently as it should. Hence we keep our containers well sealed and rotate the stored fuel to ensure everything is as fresh as possible.

Just backing up a bit. We try to keep some spare fuel at home as the nearest source is at least 20 kilometres away. The tractor uses diesel and we keep it topped up and a couple of containers of diesel on hand which is plenty for its light work. Our car is petrol as are our mowers, generator and the water pumps on the dam. In the dry spells we pump water up to the 20, 000 litre garden water storage tank to be distributed to the fruit trees and vegetables. Having sufficient fuel on hand for these water pumps is critical.

The generator is efficient but we try to keep enough fuel on hand to run it for a few days should there be a power outage. It also makes sense to only collect fuel when there are other tasks to be performed as part of the fuel collection journey. Fuel prices vary from week to week and it also makes good sense to purchase (restock) at the optimum time and not be forced to top up in peak periods.

Rather than toss away (recycle) the faulty fuel container we checked to see if new seals were available. And to our surprise they are a standard stock item at camping and auto parts stores. For an investment of $10 a set of three was acquired. And with only a few minutes work a refurbished fuel container joined our collection.

Repair kit

Monday, April 21, 2014

Inspirational Work Environment

At last some spare time provided an opportunity to commence the clean up of the workshop aka Shed of Inventions.

The surprising thing about cleaning up is that once underway you wonder why you didn't get around to it earlier because it doesn't take all that much effort. This time of year is just perfect for workshop based events. The temperature is neither too hot nor too cold.

A quick whip around the floor winding up extension leads and putting away or aside any major items then a good sweep through all the uncluttered areas. Now that the chicken food has been moved to its own shed near the chicken run some uncluttering was in order making it much easier to navigate the workshop.

Any tools still sitting out were put back into their assigned space. An interesting phenomena is that when a tool is not put into its assigned place it is difficult to find. The Stanley knife (box cutter) has been missing for a while. That is because it was not hung back onto its hook but put on the shelf below. Over time the mind has placed a firm map in place and every tool is reached for by a pre programmed hand. No conscious thought involved. Change the location and even thought that tool is only inches away  it is impossible to see.

So well went the cleaning that motivation increased to the point that at least two of the many repair jobs set aside were undertaken whilst cleaning up. A rivet gun repaired and reassembled and one of a pair of safety work boots had its sole re-adhered.

Time ran out and off to lunch with friends but the eagerness to get back is in the heart. A little start has energised the enthusiasm to spend more time repairing and cleaning. On the next visit the workshop vacuum cleaner will get a workout clearing those broom inaccessible places and another repair job or two will be attempted.

A clean and tidy workplace is a real pleasure.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fitter, Faster and less Fat

The daily routine of attending the local swimming pool continues. Usually now about 1 pm as that suits the pool manager. Now that Jean is back from Benalla we both go down. There was one day when I went down with Jean at 8am and then back again at 1 pm but that was just too much.

With the pool closing for the season in a few days we are all motivated to get in those last few sessions. I'm sure if it was the beginning of the season we would not be that enthusiastic.

Jean does her bit separately. But she is no slouch getting 40 laps (1 kilometre) completed. The pool guy and I vary our routine from day to day. Sometimes it starts with a slow 10 laps to warm up other times it is 20 laps turning on 40 seconds. This is an indication our fitness has improved as we would normally do those laps on 45 seconds. Just that little more pressure to work harder.

Today we did three 100 metre laps on 2 minutes 30 seconds after doing 20 laps on 40 seconds. This seems reasonable but it isn't. The body doesn't accommodate the change in distance as it should. Four laps make up 100 metres. At a steady pace it only takes about 2 minutes and 5 seconds to finish the four laps. A rest of 25 seconds and then off again. This next 100 metres takes a little longer and the rest time is shorter. The last 100 metres is fine until the last lap when it all catches up with you. I say it's fine because you know it is the last 100 metres and a little adrenaline flows. But there is not enough oxygen. You are pulling harder as this is the last lap and a bit of a race. To get more air the head is lifting higher to suck in longer. The arms and legs lack energy. There is the fight of the mind over the body. It never seems to get easier.

So that's 32 laps completed. A pause as air is gulped and the heart eases towards semi normal. Now starts the worst part of the daily training. The test of fitness is the 4 laps we do every day right near the end. They have to be done at 30 second intervals. Lap 1 is a breeze at 25 seconds. Lap 2 is 28 seconds. Lap 3 with a mighty effort squeezes in at 29 seconds, just barely time to turn. Lap 4 is the final test and the killer lap. The push off at the deep end is always sluggish as there is almost no energy. The lungs are screaming for air and exhaling under water eases the pressure a bit but as you surface you're gasping for more air. The clock is running and despite every effort to maintain some style it's near impossible. Gasping for air and trying to pull as hard as possible to get to the end before the 30 seconds has expired. Once the wall is in sight there is some motivation to pull a bit harder squeezing in a few mouthfuls of air. Just on 30 seconds. Two weeks ago the last lap always took 33 seconds. So that means a 10% improvement. Does that mean in style, motivation or fitness? Don't know.

But the goal is 40 laps and we have only done 36. Jean has finished her 40 laps and gone to the showers. Once the breathing is back to normal and the tingling in the extremities subsided we embark on two sets of two laps. Sprint to the deep end. The goal is as close to 20 seconds as possible for me and as close to 15 seconds as possible for the pool guy. We get a breather at the end of the first lap of the set and a slow crawl back before repeating the sequence.

My previous best time is 20 seconds and his is 16. But not today. 22 and 19 is the best we do with two attempts. Not every day is perfect.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Camembert, Mushrooms, LED and lots of other things

Gradually we have been reducing the volume of Camembert made at any one sitting to making it more often in order to maintain a reasonably steady supply. This involves less than 10 litres of milk which translates to about 10 small rounds. The other modification to our processing is to make some thin rounds and some thick. This serves to spread out the maturity time. We still end up giving a few cheeses away to friends but now it is in a more manageable quantity.



We now have the coffee grounds needed to start the mushrooms but couldn't get any Oyster mushrooms to start the process. In the interim we will use the standard button mushrooms as a trial.

Aldi had another pile of specials which included LED light globes with a decent number of Lumens. We collected a couple more to replace an outside spotlight which is undercover and doesn't need to be waterproof and one in the workshop we use for short term lighting when making a quick visit which negates turning on a bank of fluorescent tubes.

Cobwebs not included

We have been slowly replacing various types of globes with LED. The trick is to use up the ones we already have rather than turn them into landfill unused but at the same time be economical with power usage.

In preparation for the next fire season we've acquired a fire proof storage box (again from Aldi). It's just large enough to hold various critical documents such as Wills, identification documents and financial papers. The shortfall in our fire plan had been what happens if there is a fire and we are not there to take away bag holding these documents.

Fire and waterproof case

A small fire extinguisher and smoke alarm were purchased for the Cave.

Rather than try and do every thing at once we are slowly addressing small parts of our preparedness plan. This spreads out the cost and makes it all manageable (affordable).

Friday, April 18, 2014

Garlic Planting, More on Mustard

A big day in the garden today. Jean is the chief Garlic planter - I'm too rough and ready. While she was away last week three panels of one of the garden beds was prepared with chopped green manure and compost. Now Jean adds Lime and Sulphate of Potash as recommended in one of the gardening books. Then the bed is gone over with a small hand fork to ensure a finer tilth. She measures out distances and lays down the first grouping of bulbs to see how they will fit without crowding. We plant a little closer than most. The soil is rich and the closeness will reduce the weeds.

There are 13 groups of Garlic to plant. The first four groups fill the three panels with 177 cloves. Jean takes a break to wash the dogs while I chop green manure in another two panels and fork in loads of compost. With the dogs done she returns to perform the final preparation and continue planting. It's obvious that she will need more panels to complete planting all 450 cloves. There is some spare space at the other end of the bed. It gets a good weeding and a really heavy application of compost. Later in the day she found herself a foot short of a finished task and dug over the last little bit herself. It was a big job this year and we are both very pleased to have completed such a large and important task.

Almost the entire bed devoted to Garlic.
When the garlic is reaching maturity the watering needs to be stopped to enable the corms to fully set. Having an almost full bed of Garlic will make it easier to stop automatic watering and hand water the couple of panels that hold other plants.

In the mean time the Broccoli needed attention. The plants had grown sufficiently large enough to allow the pesky Peacock to continue his leaf pruning over the existing mesh guards. resurrecting some tall mesh panels from storage an exclusion zone is installed.



The Orchard and Vineyard are heavy with Autumn growth and the ride on mower is given some exercise. While out and about one of the large silage one ton bales which we chainsawed into four sectors is broken up and various garden beds get a heavy application of mulch. All part of the plan to reduce watering needs next Summer.

When making mustard always use cold water/verjuice/wine/vinegar when adding to Mustard powder. There is a chemical reaction that occurs producing the pungent odour and sharp taste. If  using warm or hot liquid the burning sensation remains bur with a slight bitterness and complete lack of flavour. If you cook Mustard the pungent overtones are lost.