Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Stone featherless broke

Egg production has stopped up here at Schloss Geisterwald. Here's why:

All three of my hens have gone into moult, as has Sebastian Vettel the rooster, who has dropped some of his glamorous tail feathers and now looks decidedly scruffy.

I have two young girls who are only 13 weeks old and so some way off laying. The pullets I have ordered are not due to be collected until April/May. So we have entered the annual period of egg poverty and if I need eggs I'll have to BUY some. Wouldn't it be good if Australian consumers could choose which eggs they want to buy using consistent labeling? What do you think "free range" means?

Monday, March 28, 2016

Making hay

The local pet food store was apologetic. "Sorry we have had to put up the price of hay," read the sign taped to the register. "$19 a bale." It's been a terribly dry season and feed for livestock is scarce. In past years, we've been able to pick up hay for the chook shed at $5 a bale. This year, anyone with bales for sale was really "making hay", as the saying goes.

It's been very tough for farmers, not just in Tasmania. Today I read this great story about a guy from Leeton in NSW who has organised 11 volunteer convoys of road trains carrying $10 million worth of donated hay for farmers doing it tough over the past two years, simply because it was "the right thing to do". Brilliant. I hope that this year the grass will grow and feed will be plentiful. The weather man on ABC Radio's Country Hour program said last week that we're expecting "above average" rainfall in Tasmania over the next few months. I love the sight of freshly baled hay drying out in the paddocks. These ones were in a friend's field down the bottom of our road at Christmas time.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Pepperberry bonanza

Today a friend popped over and picked a huge bucket load of Tasmanian native pepperberries. I had already picked what I wanted. I dried them spread out on baking trays on top of a cupboard and they're now in jars ready to use in place of regular black peppercorns for added flavour, colour and heat. It turns out that this year's batch are quite spicy!

On a visit to Kingston-based Essential Oils of Tasmania last year, I learned that pepperberry bushes only flower and produce fruit every three years or so, which would explain why we had very few last year and the year before that. This year has seen a bumper crop. Perhaps I'd better pick some more...

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Possums don't like pears

For the first time, our little orchard has borne fruit. We have two small, espaliered pear trees (one Williams pear, one Josephine), both laden with fruit. They are definitely  not the perfect supermarket variety, more the lumpy and bumpy organic variety, and I am so looking forward to trying them! I have picked a few but they are still very hard and need to ripen. No apples, but happily, our little trees were not attacked by possums this year. Two of my apple trees died last winter and I had to pull them out, the others are all stunted after two years of having all their leaves eaten by possums. The pears were spared. It seems possums don't like pear tree leaves.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Sunrise walks

The days are getting shorter at both ends. The sun now rises after 6am, making it the perfect time to go for a walk or run to kick start the day. It's still cool, but light. Need to make the most of it before I'm back to walking in the dark, all too soon.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Drink Tasmania(n)

For a girlfriend's birthday, a small group of us 'locals' from Hobart and surrounds joined the Drink Tasmania 'signature tour' last Saturday, together with visitors from Melbourne, USA-via-Sydney and Canada-via-Brisbane. Starting with a 9am coffee and a taste of Lost Pippin wild ferment cider at Brooke Street Pier, our super-friendly and relaxed guide Dolly drove south to Home Hill Winery in Ranelagh where we sampled some of their lovely wines, then Pagan Cider where we tried several delicious ciders including a strawberry and a quince.

We had lunch and a Willie Smiths cider tasting at The Apple Shed in Grove, before heading back into Hobart for a whisky tasting and history lesson at Lark Distillery. From there we headed out to Cambridge to see how Lark's whisky is made. I have been on other distillery tours, and none explained the process as well as our host did at Lark. Finally, I really understand how it it made... and the difference between 'whisky' and 'whiskey'! On the way back into Hobart we popped into a shed in an industrial estate, a.k.a. one of Tasmania's newest breweries, Last Rites, to sample some of their wares.

We had such a lovely day. It reminded me that tourism experiences are not just for tourists. Get out there and see what our beautiful island has to offer.