Nicola Apps Permaculture Workshop

These photos are from the recent permaculture workshop that Nicola Apps held at Three Churches in Emu Park. It was a great weekend and Three Churches was an amazing venue, the people out there are doing an incredible job and I hope that we will be able to have a L2L meeting out there in the near future!


Wicking Bed Construction

Shade House Constructions

We have been busy building shade houses lately. Moving in this direction is letting us deal with the crazy heat that we are having and overcomes the issues that we have with cabbage moths and fruit flies. This 36 square meter shade house is one I have put up at my parents house. My mother is a total green thumb so it is always interesting to see how things are going when I drop around.

The next project is to finish the 50 square meter shade house at our place. All the steel was free recycled scrap which I am running out of so I have started welding together shorter lengths to get enough to finish the project.



October Meeting

I completely forgot to post the photos from Daley’s October meeting. Daley has been experimenting in lots of different ideas including mushroom growing and raised vegetable beds. Robert also turned up and shared a huge amount of different seeds.



Jaboticaba Fruiting

Lindsay, Luke, Judie and I met Heather and Alan at the recent grafting workshop and were invited out to have a look at their amazing property. Although they mostly grow Lychee's and Mangos commercially there was a wide variety of other fruits and nuts growing around the property. The one that interested me the most was the Jaboticaba trees.

Jaboticaba are a Brazilian fruit that grow on the wood of the tree and have a very pleasant flavour. The skins however have a lot of Tannin and should not be eaten.



Rare Poultry Breeders

I met this charming lady and her equally charming pet turkey at the small landholders day in Yeppoon recently. There were a lot or rare breeds on display and some really tame pet birds that had been hand raised.

For more information contact Jane Cockerton on 0438 169 915




Mini Goat Breeders

I didn’t realise it but CQ has a miniature goat breeder. These diminutive guys get to around 60cm in height and are a lot easier to maintain then their larger cousins.

For more information check out




Grafting Workshop

I attended an awesome weekend grafting course run by the Capricorn Coast Landcare group and the Capricorn Edible Plants group. The course was free with funding from the Australian Government and expertly managed by local grafting guru’s Tony Welch and Alby Wooler.

I can honestly say that I went along thinking that it would be a useful skill to learn to graft but would mainly just use the knowledge to graft a few avocado and mulberry trees. By the end of the course I had a totally different outlook and believe that I will probably graft tomato’s, egg plants and other fruit and vegetables from now on rather then just relying on chance productivity from seeds. Also there were some great tips like using root stock take from the Devils Fig which has a high resistance to wilt virus and grafting tomatoes and eggplants onto them. This also extends the life of the plant as the root stock has a much longer life span then the tomato root stock.

I really want to thank Tony and Alby and am sure that I will have years of experimenting ahead of me!


CAM00508CAM00504Devils Fig












Devils Fig

Washing powder finale

This week I came to a conclusion, I could keep hunting for the “perfect” washing powder recipe or I could IMG_0834[1]stick with one I have. Really what was so wrong with it? It gets most of my things clean and smelling fresh… just spray the stains. I am happy that I am getting our clothes and linen clean with less chemicals and go with that. Then I discovered a recipe for homemade stain-remover spray (which I have not tried yet) and this… IMG_0835[1]Australian Botanical Soap, you can find there website here.

So I made some up into washing powder, the lavender smell is so strong that I did not need to add any essential oil. It actually looks and smells exactly like regular washing powder (the nice kind). It cleans the clothes and makes them fresh. I also liked that they used sustainable palm oil. This is important as it gives the communities who would destroy orangutan  forest, an alternative way to survive; allowing them an income for now and setting up for future generations. This soap also feels closer to the castile soap in texture, so I have hope that I may (after a few washes) need the pre-wash spray less.

I used the 2nd washing powder recipe and after the 3rd recipe I have become accustomed to the freshness that comes with the addition of acid so now I add a small cap-full of vinegar to each wash instead of powdered citric acid. When grated, this soap makes about 1.5 cups I used a “1 cup” ratio and then made the second part with my 1 cup a quarter cup… this saved me a maths equation.


I have not found the Natural New-Age Mum’s pre-wash stain remover that I found here to be particularly effective, however it might work for you, and it does make the wash smell nice. I have read that Lemon essential oil is an effective stain remover as is tea-tree oil. I also read that coconut-oil based soaps are more effective for laundry soap powder, I may experiment with adding the above oils and coconut oil soap to my powder. If you are still searching for your “goldilocks” laundry powder recipe you may find this helpful.



OMG how cute is this. There was a staff email to come and see the new goats at the Ag farm where I work so I went down and had a long cuddle of this little guy, “Smurf”. He just closed his eyes and snuggled in and probably would have stayed there all day if I let him!

If we didn’t have melioidosis in our soil I would get some mini’s in a heart beat!

New recipes with Thermie

IMG_0823[1]I love Chicken Tonight Honey Mustard sauce, but I am not keen on the additives. This week I found on the recipe community a recipe that is how I remember it tasting, but looks slightly brighter in colour. Recipe here. Honey was not as excited as I was but he ate it without too much complaining. I also decided to try “filleting” chicken legs. there were a few bones that made it in, but I liked that I saved some money on the chicken meat, and our fury child had a huge treat he would otherwise have missed out on. It didn’t take that much longer to dice the chicken and it helped to have it slightly frozen still. If we didn’t have a huge Meremma that would be offended if we didn’t share our yummy food with him, keeping the bones would be invaluable for a delicious chicken stock. I now regularly offend our fury son by keeping our bones aside to make stock. IMG_0822[1]
What was somewhat disappointing in Honey’s reaction to the fist recipe, was completely restored in his reaction to the next one I tried this week, Chicken Satay also on the recipe community here. There were many to choose from, I did not have all the ingredients so made some substitutions… Fish sauce for oyster sauce, soy sauce for tamrai, sweet chilli sauce for a chilli, masala for fennel. Also honey is anti-mixed food, so I kept the veggies separate, steamed in the varoma.
The first batch of Satay I made, I added mushrooms to, as we had some and it was nice too. Our visitors enjoyed the food, and we enjoyed their company. Probably the next best part of having so many people love the food I made, was making some peanut butter. Honey turned me off buying some once by mentioning the “rats per tonnage” thing… We had lots of fun making it in under a minute with a Zero RPT.
IMG_0819[1]Tonight I made this recipe. If you are not a member of the group you may not be able to see the  I used mostly fresh herbs- ginger, garlic, onion, chives (from our garden) and corriander. I made the sauce in Thermie and poured it over some chicken wings (minus the “finger” parts, Snuffy enjoyed them) in the slow cooker and went off to work (I got this idea from a TM consultant who is in the group, she used drumsticks). When I returned home I cooked the rice and veggies in the TM bowl and varoma. It was very nice. However I think I will add some sweet potato next time to the curry. If you have any type Thermomixer machine, or even want one; I absolutely recommend joining this group on FB. Also worth a look is Thermobextas and Thermostruck.
Chicken Madras - HCG P2 Compliant, Paleo, Grain Free, Dairy Free
By Nikalene Riddle (Skinnymixers FB group)
I used Sweet chilli sauce instead of chilli flakes,  Omitted 2 handfuls of baby spinach and served with brown rice in lieu of cauliflower rice

Washing powder 2

For some reason this was not posted till now, but it was written months ago… Ok today I was down to 2-3 scoops so I decided to try out the bicarb soda, soap and washing soda recipe I found on the internet here, which was recommended by another blogger who has a blog called Caleigh's Corner.


16 cups baking soda (8, 4, 2)

12 cups washing soda (6, 3, 1.5 )

8 cups of grated castile soap/pure soap (4, 2, 1)

10-12 drops lavender essential oil

Brackets mine, as it makes quite a huge amount and I only had 2 bars of soap left. I did not worry about the essential oil, as stated before... I am happy with adding the water soluble stuff to the load as I go.

We do not have castile soap yet but I noticed you can get some very reasonably priced at chemist warehouse.

This time I used the thermomix, maybe I should have used a mask as the dust particles got into my nose and throat. However I cannot be blaming the washing powder entirely as well I am quite afraid of toads... earlier today, I found a dead one in our house and screamed like a banshee. Honey thought I was being attacked by an axe-murderer and came in to find just a smallish huge dead toad. I cringe just typing this stuff.


The clothes smelled fresh straight out of the washing machine. Slightly different to the last “potion”. But looked just as clean and smelled pretty much the same when dry as the previous powder did.

The wet clothes felt slightly different, and dry were perhaps a little starchier. I will play with the amounts of powder to see if I can tweak the perfect wash.


The last powder I made lasted until today. I was keen to see how this worked using pure soap Coles brand. This little beauty has really impressed me as a stain remover. It appears to be palm-oil free too. I used the 4:3:2 ratio, however the 3 blocks of soap I wizzed made slightly more than 2 cups and I added the lot. I will keep you posted as to how it cleans the clothes.


The Castile soap was better for general stain removal. There are 2-3 articles of clothes that I constantly have to check before popping them in the wash for stains. When I remember to check them, and rub some soap with water on the stains they come out clean, otherwise the stains do not come out in the wash. This could be the fabric that the clothes are made from, I even gave in and bought a spray stain-remover to save time and they were still spotty.

There was no marked difference between the Coles and Woolies brand pure soap, the Coles soap smelled slightly better when the box was opened but the clothes smelled the same after a wash.


IMG_0793[1]I noticed on a few recipes that citric acid was used in the home made washing powders. You had to be careful not to add too much as it would interfere with the salt and washing soda balance. I had heaps of powder left so I decided to add some vinegar with the wash. I had somewhat better overall results, however the 3 garments were still a problem. Making sure the soap was ground to a fine powder was also recommended. I wizzed the rest of my powder for 20 seconds and the results are at the side.

I added vinegar (about half a bottle) to an empty bottle of water soluble eucalyptus oil, with a cap full of 100% eucalyptus oil and have been adding that to the wash instead of the customary cap of eucalyptus oil. This has saved money on eucalyptus and still leaves the clothes smelling fresh.


Stain removal is better than other ones I have tried, it worked on a tomato sauce stain without spray, but oily stains are still a problem. Though it’s not quite as good as bought powder, I am looking forward to trying the addition of sard soap and a bar of castile soap. I will halve the powder I have left and add castile to one lot and sard to the other… Several weeks later there was not much difference in the quality of the wash. I did not find the addition of with bar of soap to be particularly more effective in a cold wash as we use.

Testing the Grain Mill

We did the first test run of the grain mill tonight attached to the drill press motor. I am not 100% happy with the results but it is very functional. A couple of things are still problematic, first the mill is turning at 2 times per second which is twice what is recommended as the optimal operating speed. Secondly when you switch the motor on it is necessary to give the flywheel a quick nudge to get the momentum going. This is not really an issue except I would like to put a safety shroud over the flywheel and belt which would mean that I would not be able to give it a push start. Both of these problems would probably disappear if I could change one of the pulley sizes to halve the speed.

We filled half a 4 gallon bucket on the first run which is probably as much as I would do on any single run as it was necessary to allow the motor to cool down. This setup will do fine for the amount of grain that we need to mill but I will be keeping my eyes peeled for pullies and motors that I can scrounge that might be better suited for the job.

Motorize Country Living Grain Mill Motorise Country Living Grain Mill

Thermie Washing Powder; mix 3

I found this recipe on The Road To Loving My Thermomix blog. The difference between this recipe and others I have see is the addition of acid and salt.

I must say I was sceptical that the salt would rust the machine and make the water “hard”. However, it is apparently handy for scrubbing power and prevents mould as well as being a natural disinfectant.

I made a 3x lot as I had almost that amount of citric acid. It had been sitting in my cupboard for a while and had stuck together so I had to destroy the carton to remove it. A quick blend in the TM and we were good to go. IMG_0792[1]

There is no dropper on my EO so I added it by the cap full, one cap for each “lot” and an extra one for good measure, basically I wasn’t sure if it was more diluted than essential oil, but it seems they are pretty much the same thing.

To get the soap fine enough, I should not have put more than 2 soap bars in at a time. The soap came out rather coarse, if it’s a problem I will re-blend it.

Some sites recommend that you leave the oil in for a few days before you use it. So I am using up my old stock, and will blog the results.

Alterations I made

I had about 2.5x citric acid what I needed for one lot of washing powder. As the TRTLMT website recommends not exceeding the 1/4 cup to 1 cup ratio of citric acid:washing powder, I added 3x everything else, however only 2x the salt… I just could not make myself do it.

The recipe also recommends the addition of one cake of Sard laundry soap for stain removal. I may try adding some Castile soap that I have left from my previous experiment to see how it goes too.

Sprouting Avocado Seeds

Judie and I love avocado’s and go through a lot of them on sandwiches and in cooking and I was interested in putting in a few more avocado trees in the backyard. I checked the net and found a project that someone was doing where he sprouted seeds in glass jars by putting three toothpicks in and then filling the jars up until the water touched the bottoms of the seeds.


We tried this and put a bunch of bottles on the top of the fridge but didn’t seem to have much luck until weeks later Judie realised that a bottle hidden and the very back had a seed in it that had sprouted with a vengeance.













It appears that this was something that I really shouldn’t have tried in the cold weather as there was such a high failure rate but I will be giving it another go in late spring.

I also found that the plant had a bit of shock when transplanted to potting mix. I soaked the roots in Seasol for a while before transplant but found that the seedling didn’t take of again until I put the pot in a bucket and added 10 cm of water to the bottom to keep it nice and wet.

August Lawn to Lunch

Saxon Bellows
A Saxon Bellows

Vinegar, Herbs and how to make Olive Leaf Extract.



Bamboo Flutes

Bamboo Flute and Walking Stick

Cheese Making

Egg smoking demonstration

“Nuclear Cold Remedy” Honey and Garlic! and a cobb oven.

Italian Soup- Thermie Style

This week I made Italian Soup in the TMX. I halved the recipe on the packet and there was still not much room in the TM bowl. I do not make it exactly the way the packet says I should. I swap the cabbage for potato and add the ingredients at different times. The result from these timings was the the lentils and veggies were not quite soft enough but still nice. I like the method for making Maltese soup which I shared before, and I have applied that to the Italian soup. It means that all parts of the soup are soft and comforting to eat. Trying a new method for the recipe. I have popped the ingredients in bold so you can easily see what you need.
I chopped the ham from the bone, leaving some pieces with skin on and a little ham fat. I then popped it in the TM bowl with some butter on Varoma reverse speed soft/speed 1. I left it cooking for about 10 minutes. Then removed the ham and wizzed the onion, and popped the ham back in and continued to cook as above for another 6 minutes.
I had the lentils (I used the Italian soup mix) soaking on the side while I was preparing beforehand. I popped IMG_0773[1]them into the basket with the potato (about the size of a bar of soap, cubed) ham and onions. The basket was pretty full. I popped in some water, veggie stock and tomato paste and set that to cook on Varoma speed 4. I had to turn it down to 90 after about 10 minutes as the soup started bubbling over.  When it was time to add the carrot (diced) and a 1/4 cup brown rice, they would not fit in the basket, so I took it out and had everything in the TM bowl cooking at 90 degrees on reverse speed soft for half an hour.
I then repeated the step above with the celery (diced, reverse speed soft 90 degrees for 30 mins). Then add a handful of pasta to a casserole dish and pour hot soup over and stand for 30 minutes. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice, and a slice of bread.
Cooking with less ingredients, say 1/3 of the lentils mix and a little less ham (leaving enough room for the carrot and celery) would mean that I could cook it on a higher temperature without the mixture bubbling. If I was making it in the Kogan TB, I would keep the lentils, veggies and ham in the basket, so they were away from the blades.
Certainly making it this way means that there was not a whole heap of soup that I was eating for days on end. There was enough for dinner for 2, lunch for 1 and breakfast for 1. If More food was the desire, than cooking it for longer on lower heat would work too. If using a TB you might have to sacrifice a little in appearance… but then again its soup, is it meant to be pretty?

I have tried this recipe in the Kogan withoth the blade cover but it shredded the ham, so I made cabonara instead.


RoosterHoly Mackerel, I don’t believe it, roosters are legal in Livingstone Shire!! When Yeppoon belonged to Rockhampton Regional Council I checked to see what the regulations were on poultry and was told that I was allowed 12 chickens and no roosters. I have stuck by this every since however recently I was bemoaning the fact to a friend that the only egg that hatched out of the last batch of fertilised eggs I put under a broody, turned out to be a male.

A relative of his works for the council so he checked into it and apparently the rules are completely different under Livingstone Shire! Now I am allowed 20 chickens including a rooster but there are some rules that go along with this that I consider completely acceptable.

The first rule is that I must acquire a permit which costs $72 and the second is that I have to take all possible actions to ensure that the rooster doesn’t create a nuisance to my neighbours. (There are also housing and hygiene rules)

I went visiting my neighbours and explained that I wanted to do this and was prepared to build a sound proof night box for it. I agreed that the rooster wouldn’t be let out before 9am which would be set with an electronic door opener. The neighbours were very supportive of this and one of them even asked that I didn’t use a night box as she grew up on a farm and loved waking up to the crow. I told her that the last thing I wanted to do was to upset all the city folk so he would have to stay in his box until mid morning.

I am still researching the best methods of sound proofing but will probably go with a cement box with foam lining and a good air ventilation system to make sure he has enough air. I will have a crack at it this weekend!

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