I made two Coulommiers Cheeses early in April.  I became a bit worried about this one, pictured, as the mould was taking on some interesting hues!  I decided I would eat this cheese before it had fully matured, just in case there was a problem with the mould.  As it turns out, after reading up on Coulommiers Cheese, it often takes on a brownish/red mould, so I probably needn’t have worried.  I am so glad I did crack it open, however.  It is delicious!  The cheese is still firm, due to its lack of maturity, but it is silky smooth, with hints of mould.  I have now wrapped version 2, to enable it to mature for the requisite 4-6 weeks.  I am excited to compare notes on the texture and flavour of both versions.  This cheese, pronounced Coo-lum-yay, is similar to a Brie.  I love soft smelly cheese! 🙂

I haven’t been ill for over 12 months.  That’s right, no cold, no ‘flu, nothing!  The reason this is so astonishing,  is that I used to catch a cold or ‘flu every. single. Winter.  and then remain ill for an entire 3 months.  In addition to this, I have suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome in its varying forms for about twenty years!  My journey towards health has been long, boring and convoluted.  In short, I have tried every supplement, been on every diet and eating regime known to mankind, and nothing, nothing, has done any good!  Well, until I happened upon the work of Dr Natasha Campbell McBride and the GAPS protocol.

I have slowly, but surely, begun to heal and seal my gut, the source of all dis-ease.  My body is re-building itself, and I am now on the path of detoxifying, which includes gradually having my toxic, leaking mercury amalgam fillings removed and replaced from my teeth.

The lifestyle of simple, self sufficiency we have set up here at Baringa Park is extremely supportive for someone like me.  The food is organic, fresh and nourishing, there is peace, quiet and calmness, essential for  a person, like myself, who has burned out adrenal glands.

What did I do?  I removed starches, sugars and all grains (yes ALL) from our diet.  I added fermented foods (including kefir and fermented vegetables), bone broth and coconut oil to our diet.  I have learned to manage my stress – this was KEY for me.  I drink raw, organic goat milk every. single. day!

Lately we have been playing around with introducing certain foods back into our diet.  The GAPS protocol is not a ‘forever’ regime.  It is a healing protocol, designed to heal the human system over a period of time.  I originally committed myself to a minimum of 2 years.  We have discovered that small amounts of sweet potato and plain potato (both starches) are tolerated now.  Also well soaked lentils seem fine for the family, although my gut complains a little still.

It is amazing how tuned into our own bodies we are now!

The road has been long and rocky and there is still a way to go.  After all, 20 years of damage cannot be healed overnight! 🙂

Water kefir brewing

Raw goat milk kefir

Fermented chillies

We don’t miss out on baked goods either.  A selection below of some GAPS friendly cooking!

Meringues made using honey in place of sugar

Pancakes made with coconut flour in place of grain flour

Muffins made with coconut flour

Slice made with coconut flour with honey, coconut, lemon frosting

I have three horses here on my wee farm.  I made the tough decision to lease my rescued Standardbred, Banjo McGregor about a month ago.  I have issues with the racing industry, both ‘the gallops’ and ‘the trots’.  One, among many, of the reasons for this is the way horses who are too slow, past their prime or broken down are basically thrown away.  Many end up as pet food, but some are rescued.  My Mojo was a rescue, and some years after he came to live with me, I was compelled to make the eight hour round trip to a little place called Coleambally in NSW to collect another unwanted Standardbred.   This one was apparently, “Too good for the dogger!”  I was horrified! I borrowed a neighbour’s horse float and set off, armed with a great deal of paperwork, as it was at the end of the Equine Influenza outbreak in 2008.  Banjo floated brilliantly and was very easygoing, not even batting an eyelid when he met his first pig!  Standardbreds, in general, are known for their placid temperaments and can make fabulous partners with their humans, excelling in many disciplines aside from harness racing!

Banjo as a 2yo meeting his first pig.

You can see Banjo is in racing condition here on his first day at Baringa Park.  His coat was liver chestnut and he was 14.3hh.

Banjo as a 6yo just prior to his lease about 3 weeks ago.

As you can see, the horse above is totally different from the young 2 year old who first arrived here.  His coat is a rich chocolate colour, due to grazing on our re-mineralised pastures.  He now stands at a massive 16.1hh, and has learned how to be a horse in the past 4 years.

So later today, I am going to collect my horse.  It has been a difficult time for us both, being separated, and as things did not work out for him at his lease home, Banjo is coming home! 😀

 

A month ago I set down a Manchego cheese to mature.  Today I cut it open! 🙂  What a delight!  The texture is creamy, the flavour mild, the consistency firm and compact!  I followed the recipe on p128 of Ricki Carroll’s book.  This is a Spanish cheese, usually made from sheep milk, but I naturally used my goat milk.  It can be eaten in as little as five days, but I chose to wait until it was Manchego Curado, which occurs after 3 to 12 weeks of maturing!

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As you can see, the rind had begun to develop.

I could have left this cheese for up to 12 months for Manchego Viejo, or set in down in oil to mature for longer than 12 months to become Manchego Aceite.

I have loved horses since I was a little girl.  My Dad bought my first pony, Scamp, when I was twelve.  It was the happiest day of my life – period!  Scamp was the love of my life, my pride and joy, and we were mates for twenty five years.

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Here is Scamp, as I  saw him when we first met.  The year was around 1979 and he belonged to a riding school.


So how does this indulgence of owning and loving horses fit in with a simple life with a goal of self sufficiency?  For me, well I cannot live without horses in my life, it is that simple.  If I need to justify keeping horses on our small farm, then I can sum it up in one word. Poo!  Horses poo, and they poo, a LOT!  This manure is fantastic for the soil.  Because we are completely chemical free, and only feed our pastures lime minerals, seaweed and worm juice, we have very, very healthy populations of both Summer and Winter active dung beetles.  Why not use the manure on the garden?  Well, one must be very fast around here, in order to grab the poo before the dung beetles have turned it into the earth! 😛

Today, the horses in my life are Mojo and Fabrice.  Horse number 3, Banjo McGregor is currently out on loan.  His fantastic capacity for teaching humans, being utilsed elsewhere for the next 6 months!

ImageFabrice is a grey Welsh/Arab and Mojo, a bay Standardbred

We raise old fashioned, heritage breeds of pigs.  There are several reasons for this.  We are interested in slow grown, flavourful meat from pigs which live outdoors on pasture.  The old breeds are meant to live outdoors and do very well in this environment.  They like to graze and wallow and sunbake.  They grow at a slow rate and put down lovely nutritious fat with incredible flavour.  These breeds have become rare since the advent of pink commercial indoor-raised pigs.  The commercial breeds grow fast and lean, and are kept in dreadful indoor, intensive piggeries.  We do not support treating animals this way.  We believe in giving our animals the very best life possible.  If people were more connected to their food, the world would be a healthier, happier place with less cruelty.  If we eat meat, we surely must recognise that a being will lose its life.  We accept this, and respectfully raise and slaughter our animals to feed our family.

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We raise free range rare breed pigs.

Meet the herd

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Priscilla – English Large Black 4 years

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Pitu – English Large Black 6 years – retired

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Pearl – English Large Black 6 years

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Penelope – Wessex Saddleback 5 years

(She was a little busy for photos)

updated (19 April 2012) to add that I am likely keeping the little gilt with the big white stripe as a replacement breeder.  She shall be named Pascall!

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Pickle – English Large Black – 4 years

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PigE – English Large Black 2 years

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Piper Louise – English Large Black 7 years – retired

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Pippa – English Large Black 4 years

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Pixie Belle – Berkshire 4 years

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Pollyanna – Berkshire 4 years

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Prince – Berkshire boar 3 years

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Perry – English Large Black boar 5 years

(not interested in photos today!)

I started making cheese a month ago.  The aim is to be able to store the abundance of Summer/Autumn goat milk for the leaner Winter months.  I chose to store it in the form of cheese! 🙂 Never having made hard cheeses before, this was a steep learning curve.  Luckily for me, Ricki Carroll’s book ‘Home Cheese Making‘ is easy to follow with step by step instructions.  My very first hard cheese was the Farmhouse Cheddar (p104).  The only variation, between the recipe and my cheese, is that I made it with raw goat milk, not pastuerised cow milk.  We prefer to keep our milk raw, to retain all the health giving enzymes that naturally occur in the raw milk.  This cheese was aged for 30 days, under wax, in the cheese cave, and the great unveiling occurred last night!  It was with much excitement that I cracked open the wax on my first ever Farmhouse Cheddar!  The structure looked good, reasonably soft with some good holes.  It sliced well, was slightly crumbly, and the flavour was great, with a nice tang, if a little too salty.  I can remedy the saltiness next time, by reducing the amount of salt I add to the curds.  All in all, a success, and I will continue with my amateur cheese making whilst I have a plentiful supply of milk! 🙂

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Farmhouse Cheddar

Today I attended the Alpine Poultry Club’s Poultry Auction.  What a glorious Autumn day it was in our beautiful North-east!  My aim today was to find some point of lay pullets, in the hope that they would lay well through Winter.  I was seeking heavy breeds which I could later breed some good table birds from.  I was vaguely hopeful that someone might have some fertile eggs for sale, even though the season is well finished, as I would like to run the incubators one more time before Winter.  Unfortunately there were no eggs on sale, but there was a lovely selection of chicken breeds, both bantam and full size, as well as ducks, turkeys and geese.  I was pleased to see 2 pens of Brown Chinese Geese.  These usually sell for $50 or more per bird, but looked like they sold for around $50 per pair.  I used to raise geese and love them, but really do not have a suitable yard for them, so wistfully passed these magnificent creatures by today. 😦  I was also very, very happy to see several pens of my favourite, SIlver Grey Dorking chickens.  They raised a fair bit of interest and I was happy to chat with prospective buyers about this delightful rare breed.  I wonder if the owners realised I had a part to play in the very good prices these birds fetched!  I did bid on a pair of pullets, but they went over my limit.  I also bidded on a trio of young Rhode Island Red chickens, but was again outbidded.  The only chickens I managed to snaffle was a pen of 4, 2 week old chicks.  I paid $16 for them!  They are unsexed, and I have 3 Plymouth Rocks and 1 Silver Laced Wyndotte.

The one bird that won my heart was a very young turkey Tom.  He was so talkative and allowed me to pet him through the cage.  I was the first bidder, at $10, for him, but then I realised, as I do not have any turkeys, he would be very lonely should I win him.  I found a gentleman who breeds and shows turkeys, and we chatted about the 4 very large Toms that were for auction down the end of the row.  Apparently these were show quality birds.  I decided to bid on all 4 as well, so that my little guy would have a friend.  Having never kept turkeys before, I figured they would make excellent table birds should things not work out between us! lol

Things did not all go my way, and I only came home with 2 of the large Toms.  These are show quality Bronze Turkeys, and I have fallen in love.  Bronze Turkeys are listed on the rare breeds trust website as ‘at risk’,  so I am very happy to be a part of the survival of this magnificent breed.  I can’t wait now to find some gorgeous turkey hens for my boys! 🙂

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My new Turkey Toms, T1 and T2
(now (18 April 2012) known as Truffles on the left and Tambo on the right :D)

Duck meat is super delicious with lots of flavour, and wonderful fat which can be stored for cooking potatoes and things in 😛

We prefer to raise pure and rare breeds, and started our duck flock with Pekins for meat, and Khaki Campbells for eggs.  Over time, and looking for an even meatier bird, we introduced Aylesbury Ducks and Muscovies to our flock. 

Ducks are messy.  They poo everywhere and it is sloppy, runny poo.  They trample your garden and spread water everywhere, but they are the best bug control you will ever have in your orchard!

I love to use duck eggs in baking.  The whites fluff up for the perfect pavlova and the perfect sponge cake.  Due to our current dietary restrictions, I now bake with coconut flour.  Coconut flour baking requires a LOT of eggs, and I make a wonderful chocolate slice using 8-9 duck eggs at a time.

 

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