My Goodness…

It didn’t actually take that long to recover from gallbladder surgery! I just got really slack – and the garden was pretty awful for a while there and life here was really busy – so I just didn’t post.

But a lot has happened in the interim.  We have a new addition to the clan, Buster (pictured) who arrived on the scene about 6 weeks ago – he’s a very good boy but does have a penchant for digging holes or rather craters in the back yard. Ironically he doesn’t dig at all at the farm where he has 250 acres to go crazy on. Go figure. He’s a pretty submissive Kelpie who is coming along in leaps and bounds in regards to confidence and coming out of his shell, but the cats have him well and truly stitched up.

In October J and I decided to commune in domestic bliss in the city – so the cats and I packed up and moved across town.

The knocked up ewes that I mentioned in my last post gave birth to almost 90 lambs  and we’ve had the joy of castrating, de-tailing (I’m sure theres a technical term for that) and shearing them (I was chief dag sweeper)  here’s some lovely pictures of those adventures  HERE

Em x



Old crazy ears Buster Dog

Moving into winter…

Dear Thyme and Half readers, I apologise for the break in transmission for the last however many months it has been… life and a dicky gallbladder got in the way.

Said Gallbladder has just been removed so hopefully there will be more updates to keep you entertained in the near future.

Since I last updated, much has happened – the honey has been harvested, the garden beds have been cleared for winter produce, the calves have been sold at the sale yards (J got his name in the paper for his prize winning calf), and the ewes are knocked up and are fit to burst.  Not to mention at times torrential rain down in Gippsland – our driveway is currently out of action due to a broken drainage pipe.

Anyway – I just thought I’d check in as mums friends have been harassing her for me to update,  so to tide you over, here are some of the photos taken over the last few months

Honey Harvest can be seen here

Pictures of our cattle and J’s prize winning calf are here along with pics of the Beloka Kelpie stud down in Welshpool.  Hopefully we will be getting a kelpie pup soon to help with the sheep and also as a part time city dog as well.

More to come once I have recovered!

Em x

Harvest time

Have I mentioned we have stock now? Well we do – 50 ewes, two rams (Roger Ramjet and Gordon Ram-sey) and 9 cows (I think) that are in calf.  Does this make us bonafide farmers?

It’s been harvest time around the farm – picking all the tomatoes, herbs and bloody spaghetti squash that overtook everything!  It was my birthday the other day and the ever practical J bought me a food dehydrator so I can dry out fruit, herbs etc. to use through winter – or to create my very own spice blends (which is something that actually does interest me).  We are yet to try it out but I’ll be sure to report in when we do.

The bees have gone crazy and when we went down to the farm last weekend there were so many some of them had moved outside the hive. We got the first taste of honey from the lid of the nuc hive and haven’t even gone in the main hive yet – but mowing the lawn last weekend all I could smell was honey! Now I know why Winnie the Poo got in trouble.

Here are the photos from the past few weekends.

Mum click>>> HERE

And here is my Sweet Potato Soup recipe.

  • 1kgs Orange Sweet Potato
  • 500gs bacon bones
  • 2 med onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • bay leaf
  • 4 sage leaves
  • sprig of fresh tarragon
  • 500 mls chicken stock
  • 200 g cream cheese

chop onions, garlic and sweat off in large casserole with 2 tblspoons of oil, add in peeled roughly chopped sweet potato and cook for 5 mins. Add bay leaf, sage, tarragon, bacon bones and stock – cook for 1 hour on simmer – take out bones and bayleaves – add cream cheese. Turn off heat and blend with stick mixer.  Enjoy!

The Day of the Triffids

Ok so that title might have been used somewhere before…

So it’ s a new year! Happy new year to you all – we spent two weeks down the farm over the Christmas break which was good – and in all honesty not much changed in that time in the garden stakes (that’s a gardening pun right there), but between the beginning and the end of January it’s like the garden took a dose of growth hormones.

We were in awe when we headed down there for Australia Day – and somewhat confused as we had no clue what was what in the squash/zucchini/watermelon/pumpkin department – next year we will learn to label what we sow. What looked like it was struggling to take root three weeks before hand was suddenly up to hip height, the Jerusalem artichokes almost 3 meters tall… I stood in awe for about five minutes just looking at it.

I ended up harvesting what I thought was a well overgrown white zucchini and decided to make some fritters with it laced with herbs and organic Gippsland goats cheese – it was only when I was halfway through the making of them that I twigged that it was actually a spaghetti squash! This was the one thing I planted that I thought wouldn’t make it as the pack said it is a tropical plant – it in turn has taken over the whole garden bed and is now trailling along the lawn.

Other than that – we’re about to have some major success with tomatoes, corn, capsicums, chili, herbs galore (including my beloved french tarragon), rainbow silverbeet, Jerusalem artichokes, borloti beans, green beans, zucchini’s – I’m yet to work out if we have watermelons or rockmelons as they are all in with the spaghetti squash.

The apple tree is also in full fruit – and we’ve picked about 120 of them so far – they are cooking apples though so not everyone is keen to take them off our hands. Although J’s mum has made some lovely apple jelly which I’m thinking would go very nicely with some roasted pork…  and then there is always the ever-growing rhubarb.

In other news… J has purchased his first sheep – 50 sheep and two rams to arrive next week which is very exciting and no doubt the rams will be very busy – in order to supply me with my house lamb in July – I’ve already decided that I will call him Cutlet… I thought Rogan Josh didn’t quite roll off the tongue.

The bees have also been very busy as the pictures will attest to – J has two full hives and one nuc hive on the go at the moment and he assures me we will have some honey by the end of summer which is a little bit exciting.  I’m looking forward to having our own honey!

Ok so here’s the pics HERE from the farm at the end of January


Its’ been about that since I last posted huh? Sorry.  I know mum is champing at the bit for me to write something.

It’s been mad around here – between work being flat out and getting prepared for Xmas down here at the farm with the whole family – I’ve not had much time to blog. We have the whole kit an kaboodle descending on us in a couple of weeks for the Xmas break  – kids, parents, a sibling, cats… the full shebang, so we’ve been madly re-arranging furniture, cleaning – buying stuff in preparation. We even braved Chadstone last night to get presents for the family. We deserve medals.

It seems now summer has fully hit – and the garden had really taken off, but when we arrived this morning there was a lot of damage – we must have had a big hail storm in the last week as things were ripped to shreds. God knows there was a massive thunderstorm last Saturday where rain was going sideways and the power went out.  The storms are a lot more violent than the Queensland storms that I grew up with, but impressive to watch.

All in all the garden has been a bit hit and miss – I”m not sure if that’s because it was a ‘no dig garden’ or not  – it seems there’s not a lot of top soil to plant things in – it’s getting better as the beds settle, but I still think we’ll need to top the beds up with a good 1/2 tonne of composty topsoil again before winter.  No doubt it will be a bumper crop next year once the bed has broken down and composted itself so in that sense it has been a worthwhile experiment.

Most of the winter crops were fizzers – we had a good result from the broad beans and herbs – all else that we planted was a bit disappointing. We got about two heads of Broccoli,  4 baby beetroots,  a bag of pearl onions (which I am saving to roast for xmas lunch… no that’s not the entire meal but a bit of our toil on the plate).  We had a few manky carrots with more twists in them than a detective novel,  no cauliflower – no brussel sprouts (think the soil had too much chook poo – they all went to flower without sprouts!).

Oh well, you live and learn don’t you.  It’s been a steep learning curve and I think we’ll  know a bit more for next year – such as – buy seedlings, don’t attempt to grow from seed if you’re not around 24/7  – the snails will thwart you every time. They have been shocking this year – it’s a continual battle with pellets and rain of late.

So all the spring stuff is in now – capsicums, basil, tomato, rainbow silverbeet, french tarragon (yes I found it!), parsley, new coriander (the old one went to seed) chervil, thyme,  chili, watermelon, borlotti beans, spaghetti squash, lazy housewife beans, zucchini, rockmelon – we planted it all from the bounty of diggers club seeds we bought months ago – trouble is, we don’t know what’s what as it comes up as we didn’t label anything as we planted it (note to us… label things).   Oh well it makes for an exciting time to guess what the hell is a weed and what’s a plant at the moment.  J is notorious for pulling things out in his vendetta agains couch grass – I’ve had to very clearly point out where I planted lemongrass.

The raspberries have really shot up – but we’ve only had one actual berry so far and we split it.  The strawberries are going gangbusters – we’ve had about 5 punnets worth so far and there’s plenty more to come. There are apples on the trees, the occasional plum (although not as many as I’d like) and as always a plethora of unwanted blackberries  – in fact as I type J is out on the trailer with the spray trying to conquer about 20 acres of paddock riddled with blackberries.  Truth be known I actually quite like them, but understand they are a pest. He just out and out refuses to eat them in protest. He walked away from a muffin shop last night in disgust because they dared to offer a blackberry muffin…. so I’m now resigned to the fact that I’ll have to eat blackberries in seecret for the rest of my life.

I’m actually looking forward to Christmas as I have about 17 days off which is unheard of!  I often take a day here or there to extend my weekends but rarely take a big chunk of time off from work – we have a day at the Stony Creek Races planned after Xmas which should be something else.  A few day trips here and there but mostly just kicking back with a few wines on the verandah and bbq’s for dinner is the plan.

Now to the bees…  all was going well… until today.  We arrived this morning and I was unpacking – J was up in the bungalow doing bloke stuff and I went out to look over the garden, I heard an almighty hum and saw a cloud of bees rising up over the fig tree (which is massive).  Turns out they were swarming and it was lucky were were actually here so J could catch the swarm and re-home it. He encountered his first sting (which I think is pretty good going to only have one sting so far!) It took him an hour or so and a bit of swearing but we think they are ok for now.

So I have a recipe for you – my friend Desiree’ makes this phenomenal peach pie – and I asked her for the recipe a few weeks ago as peaches are back in season. I recommend you give it a go – it’s dead easy to make and the taste is sensational.  It’s called Fairy Anne’s Peach Pie as  Desiree’ got the recipe off a woman called Anne who she used to work with in a kids fairy shop  – make it,  you won’ t be sorry – the peaches caramelise and blend into the gooey filling – serve it just warm with ice cream and a dollop of cream.

As to what to cook it in, I’ve used a shallow pyrex pie dish before and that’s worked well. Today I’ve experimented with a springform cake pan… we’ll see, could be disasterous! (update – it wasn’t,  but make sure let the cake cool right down before undoing the spring sides).

Fairy Anne’s Peach Pie (via Desiree’ Lang)


  • 125g butter
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 C plain flour
  • 1 Tbsp White Vinegar


  • 3 Large or 4 med peaches
  • 1 Cup sour cream
  • 1 Cup brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp plain flour

Melt butter in saucepan, add brown sugar, flour and vinegar.  Turn off heat and mix together until a pastry consistency.

Press into a pie dish, fill bottom and sides – prick bottom with fork and bake in 200 degree C oven for 8 mins.

Take out crust.

Pit and halve 4 peaches (if small) set aside – Desiree’ uses peach halves I cut them into 8ths and fan them out – I’ll leave it up to you…

Mix sour cream, brown sugar and flour in bowl – mix well, dunk peach bits in the mixture then place on pie base (pitted side up if you’re doing peach halves) pour over the rest of the mixture and then bake for 15 mins at 200 degrees C , lower heat to 180 and bake for a further 40 mins until sour cream mix is set and caramelised.  Let the pie cool (the hardest part) and serve just warm… and thank me later for this sensational recipe.

And click the link HERE to see other photos from the past few weeks

Living and learning

It’s been a while, sorry about that!  It’s been a mad few weeks – J was back from Amsterdam the weekend before last for one day and I had to go visit a sick mum last week (who is thankfully now on the mend) in Qld. We’ve just had a extra long weekend down at the farm which was really good – even if it did rain most of the time…

J arrived back in Aus and his priority was to transfer his bees from the nucleus hive to the permanent hive – which turned out to be quite interesting (and not at all as dangerous as I thought it might be) although we did get to see more than one bee – unlike myself and my non-eventful experience with the bees first time around.

So the bees moved across and seem quite happy in their new house – next thing we know J gets a call from the bee supply place on Wed last week saying a queen he had requested weeks earlier had arrived – trouble is he had no other bees to go with her.   He called another bloke down the road from the farm who keeps bees and as luck would have it he’d caught a swarm that had no queen.  It seemed like a match made in heaven so J hightailed it down to the farm again with his queen and picked up his swarm and now we have two bee hives.

I headed down on Friday night – it was a pretty miserable weekend weather wise – warm on the Saturday just gone and wet for the rest of the long weekend (was Melbourne Cup here).  So we actually got out and about in the local area to have a look around – which we don’t normally have the time to do, but we both had four days off so decided to make the most of it.

We went to the Mirboo North market – on the hunt for tarragon – which was never to be found – but a gourmet sausage was! And then off to Maria’s Recycling Emporium (aka Jacksons Bric a Brac, aka Woman of Steel) which was quite an experience…

Maria is a small woman in her mid 60’s I’d say –  who basically runs a junkyard in the middle of the bush –  she swears like a trouper – I’ve never heard anything quite like it except when in the company of sailors.   She drives a forklift and moves crap from one side of her junkyard to the other – swearing all the way and ordering around two weary looking blokes (who I fear might have been related to her…   I’d be more comfortable in thinking they were getting paid for the experience not getting screamed at like that for love or obligation).

J had warned me she was a character, but she didn’t waste any time in showing it – we get out of the car and she says or rather yells to J “Whaddya looking for lolly legs?!”  he doesn’t blink an eye as he’s dealt with her before,  “outdoor table…”

“Ahh go up round the back up past the caravans! Go right round! You’ll find what you’re after!” she told us.  We didn’t. But it was an experience just to look. Walking through junk to the dulcet tones of her screaming out F bombs to her two blokes and careening around in her forklift like a bat out of hell.

We tried to escape while she was on the forklift, but she was on to us and bailed us up as we got in the car and told us to come back every now and then and we’d find one.  She’s been on Postcards apparently and featured in the Herald Sun – you can see why – she’d make for a good story but they’d have to do a lot of editing and bleeping just to get the story to air.

After that we headed to Foster to take a look around – I’d never been there so we thought it might be worth dropping by – there wasn’t much going on so we grabbed pie at the local bakery and headed back towards the farm.  In a small town called Dumbalk (and I mean small – it has a post office a gravel supply and a bottle shop) we stumbled upon a auction going on at the local football oval so we dropped in.  Basically it was all the local farmers auctioning off pretty much anything you could think of, irrigation pipes, chooks, hay balers, saddles etc.  there was even an old 70’s Mercedes (although the owner had left the keys in Melbourne). They put everything around the outside of the footy field and the auctioneers go from one item to the next auctioning it off. Sotherby’s it is not but it was good fun to watch.  J had his eye on two quad bikes and four piglets, but it was cash only and we were miles from a town with an ATM so we just looked on at this one.

There’s not much to report on with the garden – we are living and learning – we put too much chook poo on and a lot of our  greens have overdosed on nitrogen and have gone to seed without providing us with veggies – seems they didn’t get the memo about that bit… Brussel sprouts were ripped out with no crop but a lot of leaves and flowers – and brocoli was a lot the same.   The herb section is going well, along with newly sprouted corn – some rainbow silverbeet and squash that I’ve germinated on my windowsill back in Melbourne.  I’ll get some seedlings this weekend to put in to fill in the holes where things have had to come out.

So to date the garden has done ok but not been a resounding success… but we’lll get there… I’ll be putting in more tomatos, basil, capsicum and chili this weekend which should take off fairly well in the warmer weather.

In other news – poopy birds eggs have hatched in the nest on the back verandah and she guards her babies like a hawk, not like a poopy bird (techincally I think she is a Swift).  I spent a lot of time watching them on the weekend and trying to get a shot of poopy bird flying in and the babies going crazy with their mouths open for food. It took me four whole days to get those shots so enjoy them. I ended up ninja like through a window with my camera on zoom which explains why they are a bit blurry.  Also poopy chicks are just like poopy mum I noticed… they get up and turn around and poop outside the nest and onto our verandah – I never knew that baby birds did that – so my stalking/lurking has at least educated me on birdly ways.

Here are the photos from this past weekend – including our stop at Maria’s and poopy bird and Co.    Mum click HERE

I Love Spring

Well, when it finally arrives (if you live in Melbourne like me)!  When I left for work yesterday morning, I watered the zucchini seeds germinating on my window sill and there was nothing of note in the little pot … 29 degrees later and by the time I got home at 5.30 look what was waiting for me!

Spring has sprung!