Friday, March 31, 2017

Small Farms Expo 2017

We love going to the annual Huon Small Farms Expo out at Ranelagh. We don't have a small farm, just grow a few veggies and have a few chooks. But it's great to look at all the equipment, livestock, seed and feed available and think, "maybe one day". This year there were some great talks from experts, about everything from fencing (how to keep wallabies and possums out, and let your resident wombat in without him destroying your fence) to value-adding to farm produce (in this case, a potato grower who now supplies potato salad to the major supermarkets and makes real vodka from potatoes). Have a listen to this interview with Mark Jessop from the Huon Agricultural Society on ABC Radio's Country Hour about it: he did a great job of explaining why it's such a popular event for people in the valley and beyond. And have a look at this lovely little video from Harcourts Huon Valley showing a drone's eye view of what it looked like on the day.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Old school mouse traps work best

A couple of days ago some mouse droppings appeared under the fridge. Time to set the traps. First night out and success! One little mouse quickly dead.

We've battled mice in the chook shed before and found the traditional, low tech sprung trap on a wooden base work better than any of the fancy new contraptions. Not so for rats. They are way too smart to be caught in the larger version of the same trap. Unfortunately, we had to resort to using poison on the large and healthy family of rats that moved into the chook shed last spring.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

#BeBoldForChange in the valley

Our local business enterprise centre hosted a dinner at Home Hill Winery for International Women's Day on 8 March. How lucky we were to have a panel of speakers of this calibre tell their stories and provide realistic and practical advice for other women in business.

From left to right:

Frances Bender, executive director of ASX-listed salmon producer Huon Aquaculture. One of things she talked about was the impact of technology on women's lives, now that the ability to work from home allows many the flexibility they need to continue in their careers.
Diane Tompson, managing director of the Powercom Group of companies. She said it was important to "just ask!" if you don't know something and to put your hand up for roles and opportunities even if you don't believe you are the perfect candidate. Chances are, that person doesn't exist.
Adriana Taylor, Commissioner of the Huon Valley Council. Adriana mentioned the existence of "two glass ceilings" - one that can be overcome, and one imposed by women on themselves.
Rosie Martin, speech pathologist, founder of the charity Chatter Matters and 2017 Tasmanian Australian of the Year. One sage piece of advice Rosie had when asked if she had any regrets or things she would do differently was "start earlier!" Good point...

Panel moderator Polly Venning did an awesome job of asking insightful questions that got everyone thinking. And you can't beat Home Hill for beautiful surroundings and great food and wine. Who knows, it may become a feature on the annual calendar.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Restocking, part one

Three out of my four Barnevelder hens are moulting and off the lay, and this summer, I didn't have time to incubate a new batch. It's a lot of work and not compatible with business travel. And we'd have to acquire some eggs as we don't have a rooster at the moment. So when an email arrived from a friend over the long weekend that they had 17 two-day old chicks free to good home, I jumped on their kind offer. One of their hens had taken herself off to her own private nest and managed to hatch 17 out of the 20 eggs she was sitting on! So we collected eight super-cute balls of fluff on Sunday (seven yellow and one black) and reduced the load on mum. Although I felt kind of sad taking them away from her, in a few weeks I guess she won't want to know them.

The new chicks have now settled in to their new temporary accommodation in our garage. They are a mixture of mainly New Hampshire with some Australorp so it will be interesting to see how they turn out and which sex they are. They look quite different from Barnevelder chicks.

Monday, March 13, 2017

The day the ice cream ran out

The first day of this year's Taste of the Huon festival dawned damp and misty. But by mid-afternoon, we were hungry and headed to Ranelagh to sample some of the tasty things on offer. Blueberry cider from Pagan Cider. A pork empanada for me and a corn bun filled with pulled pork and ranch sauce for David. Some of the 'smallest pancakes in town' a.k.a. dutch Poffertjes with icing sugar and cream. And an ice cream sandwich: two biscuits filled with salted caramel crunch ice cream. All delish. Unfortunately for the stallholders, it wasn't terribly busy, but we had a very pleasant time indeed.

Today was a completely different story. I was on volunteer duty with the Huon Valley Dog Walking Association, checking parked cars in case there were dogs left in them. Dogs are not allowed at the event, so sometimes people unaware of this bring them and then decide to leave them in the car while they pop in for a while. And just like kids, dogs left in cars when the sun comes out can die very quickly. It was sunny and hot and the crowd was huge. The sea of cars stretched off into the overflow paddocks. The queue for the ice cream stalls was long. By 2pm one ice cream maker had sold out and the others were making a killing! There was even a queue for the free sunscreen.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The opposite of Tasmania

This week I was lucky enough to travel to Dubai for a work event. I've been through the airport several times but never been outside before. Most of the time I was in the huge 5-star Jumeirah Madinat resort and conference centre complex, modern but built to look like something ancient. Kind of like an Arabian Disneyland, a little too perfect. I got up before dawn so I could walk along the water and get some photos to post on social media (for work of course... also below!) Many of my photos feature the striking sail shaped Burj Al Arab, which changes colour constantly during the day and lights up at night. You can't help it when it grabs your attention every time you see it. From the natural beauty of Tasmania to artificial beauty. Both beautiful, just different.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Summer salad garden

My garden is suffering serious neglect, due to work travel and other commitments. I didn't go crazy this year - just planted some stuff and if it dies, it dies - but despite my lack of input, there are a few things worth eating from our garden. I only planted four tomato seedlings this year, all in the greenhouse, and over the past few weeks I've been getting a nice handful of tomatoes ripening every day. And I picked my first cucumber today! And we've got silverbeet, lettuce, herbs, some beetroot... thrown together with maybe some feta cheese from the fridge and a nice dressing, they make a very tasty summer salad.