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How to make marmalade in the slow cooker!

A friend gave me a bunch (a bushel? a peck? a lot, anyway) of Pomellos that he had growing on his tree. Pomellos are a bit like a really big grapefruit. Its a citrus at any rate! Since I had a ton of lemons and a couple of oranges already, I decided to make a tri-citrus marmalade!

I wasn't in the mood to stand at the stove all day since it was so glorious outside, and when I was washing up the dishes (yes, from last night) I looked at the slow cooker and wondered... "can you make marmalade (or jam) in a slow cooker?"

It turns out the answer is yes!

Here's what I did...

Using leaves as deep litter in the chicken pen.

We get seasons up here in the Hinterland! This means that we get lots of leaves on  the ground as well. This is a resource I haven't had before as living in Brisbane, there are very few deciduous trees around to collect leaves from. It turns out that some people up here sweep the leaves into big piles and burn them or collect them up into bags and take them to the dump!?

I have a friend who has an avenue of deciduous trees and he wants all the leaves off the grass. He was keen to blower vac them into a gully, I was keen to collect them all in the trailer and bring them home. It took about ten trailer loads to get the bulk of them home (and he thinks I'm mad into the bargain) but how could I pass up all those lovely leaves?

Here's what I did with them...


The first few trailer loads went into the chook pen on the floor. I piled all the leaves onto a tarp and then dragged them into the pen and upended the tarp. It made a messy big pile that covered the stump and branches an…

My free, chook proof (so far) scavenged garden fence!

Since we moved to the hinterland I have been keen on getting a vege garden up and running for a couple of reasons. One, because the shops are so far away and two, because the soil and weather should allow us to grow veges!

So I waited a few months to see where the sun fell, where the rain water flowed and what sort of winds we had - actually I had too much unpacking and rearranging to do to worry too much about anything else, but while I was hanging curtains and putting boxes in the trailer to go to the dump, I was noting the sunny spots, the drowned out tank over flow patches and the areas that never got any sun!

Once the inside of the house was sorted (well, lets say its liveable) I turned my attention to the prospect of a small herb and vege garden. I have no money to spend on this garden so it was going to be small by necessity rather than choice. I also have a flock of hungry chickens who think that all things green are for their dining pleasure (goats may be less destructive tha…

Small Scale Backyard Hugelculture!

I read an article, ages ago, about a woman who never let a shred of organic matter leave her property. She also collected as much greenery, dead leaves, left over food from a local day care and any organic matter that she could lay her hands on and turned her yard from a barren moonscape into a lush suburban oasis. This long-ago-read story has been my basis for not getting a council green bin and not allowing my husband to take a trailer load of anything organic to the dump - even though its free for us to do that!

So what do we do with all those random branches that fall during a storm? What happens to the bottom of the chook coop when it needs cleaning out? What do we do with all our prunings and rakings after a garden tidy?

What doesn't go into the formal compost heap gets put it in a pile in a hidden part of the garden and after a couple of years, its all composted down and is a really good place to plant new plants! It turns out that this "no waste / cant leave the prope…

Eating weeds! Trying Plantain Lanceolata for the first time!

There is this big paddock down the road from us that I walked the dog at the other week. It seems to be quite a few acres and has lots of areas for us to explore next to the creek. Walking the dog here coincided with reading a post about eating weeds. On our next walk I saw huge quantities of what we called, "soldier seed plants when I was a kid. We played a game where you picked the seed head on a long stem and then swung yours at the other persons, who was holding it still. The idea was to take turns and break the head of the other persons soldier to win.
It turned out that this weed to also be an edible plant!

I did a bit of research and discovered that this weed I have spent my life walking over and never knew its real name is actually a member of a nutritious vegetable family!

I so had to try some!

Here's what I did...


First do a bit of research and make sure you know exactly what you are planning to eat and make sure you are getting your "weeds" from a place…

Making a bench seat legs with stumps and milk crates!

We were given a wooden table with two long seats set by a friend who was moving house. They were all a bit past it and we meant to paint them and do them up a bit, but never did.


 Eventually the legs on the seats rotted out taking the back part with them. The seat part of it was fine and I still wanted to keep that bit, just in case we figured out a way to put new legs on them... one day.

And we did!

Here's what I did...


The first incarnation involved simply putting them in the garden on a couple of milk crates after I painted them again...


Simple, weather proof, cheap, easy - but granted, maybe not the most glamorous bit of garden furniture you have ever seen...



And then on the way home a few weeks ago, we saw a guy giving away "free firewood" from a gum tree he had cut down in his driveway and just wanted gone. We filled up the boot with the ones we could carry (hardwood is very heavy we discovered)  and so the tree stump legs for the bench seats were created! This on…

Where to put a sick or injured chicken...

We have been keeping back yard chickens for about twelve years now and sooner or later you get a sick chook that needs to be separated from the others for its own safety (Chickens will attack and kill a weak, sick or injured chicken sometimes) and in case what it has caught is contagious and so the other don't all catch it.

I spend a lot of time watching my chooks (we don't have a TV remember!) and as a result I pick up on things that don't seem quite right quite quickly. If I see a chook limping, sitting a lot, staying away from the others, not joining in when you throw treats on the back yard or just not seeming right AND I can catch her pretty easily, then there is definitely something wrong.

This post is not so much about why the chook is sick but how I "hospitalise" them when they are.

Here's what I do...

I spend a bit of time watching the chook in question so I can see what she can and cant do before I catch her. Can she walk? Is she eating? Why did sh…
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