Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Curious chooks

I heard the alarm cry of the plovers and rushed to the window to scan the sky, just in time to see the wedge tailed eagle fly past. By the time I reached the chook shed, all 14 of them were safely inside the yard so I shut them in. I thought I'd take the opportunity to get a few promotional photos of the four 16 week old cockerels, to see if I can find homes for any before they start crowing and create trouble in the hen house. But my shots were chook-bombed by curious hens and one loud rooster! They all came up to peer at me as I crouched to take a photo. Funny.

Friday, March 23, 2018

From sheep whey to vodka

Turn water to wine? How about sheep whey to vodka? Hartshorn Distillery in Birchs Bay, Tasmania is doing exactly that. This week we attended a local business function hosted by the Kingborough & Huon Business Enterprise Centre. Owner and head distiller Ryan Hartshorn had the idea to turn a byproduct of his family's business Grandvewe Cheese, whey from sheep milk, into vodka and gin. We had a tour of the premises (I was happy to scratch the chin of one of their friendly sheep) followed by a tasting. The fermented whey is distilled in the pot still (pictured right) and to make gin, the spirit is distilled through the beautiful glass reflux still pictured below, passing through a blend of secret herbs and spices (well, botanicals) including some local Tasmanian flowers and leaves. Ryan even paints each bottle by hand, resulting in a truly ewe-nique product that would make a lovely gift from Tassie. I liked the "whisky-like" barrel aged vodka, so I bought a bottle to take home. P.S. For more sheepish humour courtesy of Grandvewe, see below.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Mother hen

Of the three broody hens that were sitting a while back, one managed to hatch four chicks and is now happily raising these tiny feathery tufts in our enclosed orchard. Isn't she beautiful? She has super-powerful legs for kicking up dirt and digging huge holes under the apple trees, teaching her charges to forage for food. It's our second batch of chicks for this season, both hatched and raised by hens. For once we haven't used the incubator. Unfortunately, from the first batch of five that are now 14 weeks old, four are male. Over the years we've had pretty bad luck with the hen-to-cockerel ratio. I'm crossing my fingers that we get at least a couple of girls this time. P.S. Anyone want a nice young Barnevelder rooster?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

In the orchard

This year, our little Williams Pear tree has excelled itself, producing a bumper crop of large fruit with delicious sweet, soft flesh. They are quite unlike the floury ones with very thick skins that we got from the same tree last year. There are a few Josephine pears yet to ripen too. This year we've also had our first Victoria plums which are very tasty indeed, although the Angelina plum tree next to it did not fruit at all this year.

Next to ripen will be a couple of varieties of apples (Cox's Orange Pippin and Pink Lady) and some Josephine pears. I'm so happy that our tiny orchard is starting to bear fruit.