The Orchard Digging Begins

The orchard was plotted out the other day and despite being one handed, I decided to start digging the holes today. Even though the post hole digger is here, after last week, I am a bit scared to say the least, so out came the shovel.

Digging one handed is a bit tricky so I decided to enlist some child labour … I mean help.

Once the holes have been dug to about 500mm deep and 500mm wide, I will backfill with cow, sheep and alpaca poo mixed with the dirt. This will sit and decompose away for the next few months ready for the bare-root stock! Only 2 holes dug so far, the help is a bit slow, but fun to watch 😉

25 fruit trees will go in this plot, most likely apples with another 25 stones fruit trees to go in another plot. There is also some room for about 20-30 cherry trees to go in.

May need to invest in a ripper as well…ummmm more toys to hurt myself … I mean work with 🙂

First Catch in the Dam!

Tano-Li and I were feeling a little bored this afternoon so we decided to go fishing! I had stocked the dam when we first moved it with trout, golden and silver perch and really didn’t think we would catch anything, but thought it would be fun just to have a go. So we got a rod, re-rigged it and then dug up some worms. A sure sign of healthy soil is an abundance of worms, and an abundance we have. After a couple of shovels, we had enough worms to last a very long time. TL and I went down to the dam and chucked a line in. He was so patient, waiting happily sitting on his seat and watching the float. KL came home and prompty joined us. He was, well shall we say less patient and lost interest within a few minutes. So I took over, slowly reeling in the line and BANG got a hit! In it came, me thinking it’s a little trout, but to my surprise, we caught a 30cm silver perch!

Tano-Li & Lightning

The two stars of today! Lightning and Tano-Li 🙂

For the last 2 weeks I have been wondering how in the world I was going to move both Bill and Ted into ther new paddock with the sheep… I moved Ruphus, Maa and the rest of the flock easy enough, but Bill and Ted were proving to be a little tricky. I tried all of the dogs on them. First Lightning. At 5 months old, it was a little early to get her working, but she did manage to chase them round in circles, but was a bit scattery with instructions. I found that if she didn’t start chasing the alpacas first, they would turn and try to run her down! At least I know they will be great herd guardians!

Next it was Coolie’s turn. She was great! She managed to get Bill out of the gate and almost got Ted! Unfortunately, she is going deaf and could not hear anything I was calling, so Bill managed to get back in and then they were off again…

Next Jedda… ummmm what can I say about her… well at least she stayed at my feet… not much else….

Fast forward 2 weeks. Tano-Li and I went to do the morning chores, let the chickens out, give them kitchen scraps and check on the animals. Both Bill and Ted were up at the gate and Lightning had managed to escape from the backyard (again). Bill and ted were eyeing Lightning off but stayed at the gate, so I opened it up fully and stepped back…. Slowly they came out, further and further, and finally enough for me to close the gate. Right now they’re out… how the bloody hell am I going to get them down to the new paddock without them running of into the winter paddock – in which case I would still be out there trying to round them up, and would be doing so for the next ummmmm thousand years! Cue Tano-Li! I asked Tano-Li to go down to the sheep paddock gate, mainly to get him away from the alpacas just in case. He went straight down to wait for me. Next cue Lightning! As opposed to two weeks ago, Lightning stayed behind me and darted left and right to keep the alpacas going in a straight line! We got them near the paddock and Tano-Li opened the gate. Bill tried to do a runna, but Lightning just rounded him back up with Bill. They then saw the sheep and then ran straight for them….into the paddock!!!!!

Perfect work by my two stars of the day: Tano-Li and Lightning!

Lemon Squash

Decided that my tractor needed a name and it really wasn’t long before I came up with Lemon. She is running beautifully now after giving it a tune, distributor overhaul and a carby refurb. From cold, she starts without the choke on the first pop now which is better than before! I still have to adjust the points gap in the distributor which won’t be a major drama, and will also change the spark plugs over. I will clean the old plugs and keep them as spare, but while I am servicing her, I may as well do the rest.

My mate Pete has aptly named his post-hole digger  that I am borrowing, “Squash”. Why you may ask? We were moving it off the trailer yesterday arvo and as we lifted, my fingers were not in the most ideal position. Surfice to say, the auger swung on its pivot point and crushed a couple of fingers. Ring finger on the left hand, where the finger nail had just regrown after a previous crush injury last year, had the nail rip of again! This recieved some stitches and should be ok and the nail shoud regrow again again. But the left index finger is a different story… It got crushed in the pivot point and a chunk of the finger was squashed and removed down to the bone. It was operated on today and the surgeons amputated my finger almost to the first knuckle (according to the surgery notes). I am yet to see the result, so can not confirm how far they went, but am assured they did their best to remove as little as possible.

I would post a picture of the finger, but I think it would traumatise too many people (me included). Anyway, there are worse off people in the world than me. I still have my family and my health 🙂

Lemon Squash anyone?

Killer Sourdough Sandwich Bread!

While Ava-Li was still cooking away in Hayley’s womb, I was busy preparing my new sourdough mother. 1 1/2 weeks later the mother was ready jst after Ava-Li was born so I am naming this mother, the Ava-Li Sourdough Starter. Anyway, I have been hunting around for a good sourdough recipe that does not produce strong sour flavour and one that has a soft textured crumb and a lovely chewy crust. Finally I think I have hit the jackpot! The following recipe is not for the faint hearted, it took me a good 18 hrs to make, finished baking at 12:25am this morning!

Ingredients:

  • 250grams of sourdough starter
  • 1.1kg of strong bakers flour
  • 500ml of tepid water
  • 20grams of salt

Stage 1: Start with the warm water in the measuring container, and add in the starter. Mix it through thoroughly. Sift in 250 grams of flour and whisk it all together. It’ll make a thin slurry, or a light batter. Allow to stand in a warm place for an hour.

Stage 2: Sift in another 250 grams of flour, stirring it through with either a heavy whisk or a large spoon. It’ll be a thick batter now. Allow to stand in your warm place for about two to three hours. It’ll be forming bubbles by the end of this time.

Stage 3: Pour the mixture into your mixing bowl or plastic box, and add in 250 grams more flour. It’ll be a really soft dough now – you could still pour it, but only just. Allow to stand for another few hours in the warm place.

Stage 4: Add in the final 250 grams of flour and then the salt. You’ll need to knead now. It should end up a pretty silky smooth dough. Give it a solid kneading session, so that it shines. If it doesn’t, rest it for 15 minutes and have another go. Divide the dough into two even weight chunks, roll each into a ball, then gently place them into bread tin.

Allow to proof for as long as it takes to completely fill the tins, with plenty of dough coming over the top. You’ll find that it can rise a long way before it needs to be baked. This took about three and a half hours for me in a very warm room of about 25 deg celcius. It can take longer – by all means work towards filling the tins with light dough. The important thing is to keep them from skinning while the final proof is occurring. I used cling film coated in olive oil for this.

Baking:

Once proofed, bake at about 210 degrees celsius for 45 minutes.  Next time I will make 2 loaves, one for fresh eating, one for freezing to use during the week. I will also look at baking in a hotter oven, say 220 degrees celsius, still for 45mins to get a deeper coloured crust. I let the bread cool over night and had some toast in the morning and a sandwich for morning tea. Yummo!

Recipe courtousy of: http://www.sourdoughbaker.com.au/recipes/white-sandwich-sourdough.html

The expansion of the Clan! World domination one step closer!

Things started moving this morning, and Hayley made the call to our mid-wives. Once Hannah got here, they really started moving and then Andrea walked in the door just as Hayley really hit transition! Surfice to say everything went perfectly to plan and I can’t sing my praises enough for my beautiful wife Hayley!

Thanks to Aimee for looking after the boys! Thanks to Andrea and Hannah for being the great mid-wives they are and thanks to both my boys Kobe-Li and Tano-Li for being so fantastic while watching the birth!

Welcome to our beautiful baby girl Ava-Li Quach, born 10th April 2011, 3:45pm at 8lbs 6oz!

I know I said I wouldn’t fiddle with the tractor but…

Yes yes, I know I said I wouldn’t fiddle with the tractor but she was leaking petrol. I thought it was the fuel bowl and the petrol was coming through the thread, but on closer inspection, it was the flange weld onto the actual tank. Bugger, going to need a new tank… at $300 there had to be a cheaper way… ah hah! All those 4WD dvds have finally come in handy! I remebered an episode where John Rooth and crew punctured a fuel tank going over some rocks. He used soap – yes that’s right soap – to plug up the hole and then used a 2 part putty to permanently plug the leak. So got the soap, rubbed it in well to seal the leak, cleaned and sanded the area and then applied the putty. 3mins later the putty was hard, 1 hr later it was solid! No more leaks!

Anyway, took her for a workout today, to check that everything with the cooling system was ok. Slashed the front orchard paddock, in ready for the hole digging for our bare root apple and stone friut trees to come in winter. After a good 30mins of work under load, all working perfectly!

Now to source 5 tonnes of lime and 1 tonne dolomite…