Archive for November, 2006


Sunday, November 19th, 2006

Our cows did a great job cleaning up the long grass in the front paddock, but they are heavy animals, and have ended up damaging the soil on some of the steeper parts of the paddock. In those areas, the vegetation has been trodden away completely, exposing the bare soil beneath. The problem was exacerbated by all the rain we have had lately.

Becky plants seeds on the steep area of the future goat paddock

Obviously, we need to avoid erosion and loss of topsoil in areas like that. Here are some of the strategies we are using (or planning to use) to improve the situation.

1) Ideally, we wouldn’t have the cows in that area at all. At the moment, we are trying to arrange to get a couple of goats. Since the goats are lighter, they will be better suited for grazing very steep areas.

2) Whether we are grazing goats or cattle, we obviously need to be especially vigilant about conditions in that paddock. Things can get messed up very quickly in there if it starts to rain heavily, as was the case when the damage occurred.

3) If an area gets broken up by the feet of the cattle, we can plant seeds on it in order to regenerate it and turn it into useful pasture again as soon as possible. The new plants will help to hold the soil and prevent further erosion.

4) Eventually, we hope to plant trees on the areas of the Farmlet that are very steep or otherwise problematic for grazing. This is the best longterm solution for preventing erosion. We could choose to plant trees that will provide forage for the animals and/or food for us, in order to maintain or even increase the productivity of our land. This is a very popular permaculture method.

Yesterday I sowed seeds on some of the damaged areas in the front paddock. I sowed chickory seeds, as well as a mixture called “herbal ley for grazing animals.” We hope that these plantings will eventually provide more varied and healthy forage for our animals.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Hair Wash

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

It’s time to wash my hair again. That’s not exactly breaking news (!), but I thought it might be a good moment to write a post about how we wash our hair here on the Farmlet.

Since about April this year, I’ve been washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar.

How do you do this?

Just put a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in a dish, and mix with enough water to form a soft paste. Once your hair is wet through, apply the baking soda paste to your scalp (only the scalp, not the rest of the hair). Take some time to massage the baking soda into your scalp with your fingertips. Leave for a few minutes, massage a little more, then rinse thoroughly.

After washing out the baking soda, I rinse my hair with a solution of water and apple cider vinegar (about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, 3/4 cup of water). I don’t apply this solution to the scalp, only to the hair shaft — especially the ends. You can rinse out the vinegar if you want, but I like to leave most of it to condition the hair. Of course, I smell like a pickle for a while, but the odour disappears once the hair dries.

NB: Baking soda is a strong hair wash. It will probably dry out your hair if you are using it too frequently (I think this is also true of most commercial shampoos). The formula works best if you wait until your hair actually needs a wash — this might be about once a week, depending on your hair and your lifestyle.

This simple baking soda and vinegar formula seems to work fine for me (My hair is normal to slightly oily, with a tendency to get a bit dry at the ends.) Reputedly, baking soda doesn’t work too well on dry hair. People with dry hair might try using honey, which is a natural emollient, to moisturise the scalp. I’ve heard that this works, but have never tried it.

I wish Kevin and I had known before this year that we could wash our hair like this. It’s a simple, inexpensive trick that really works. Admittedly, Kevin and I are not very fussy about the state of our hair. We never bothered with designer haircuts, blow drying etc., even when we were not living out in the wopwops. Still, I think our hair is in better condition than it was when we were using commercial shampoo. And then there are all the dodgy chemicals and additives that we are not pouring onto ourselves and into the environment.

Contributions to Farmlet

Friday, November 10th, 2006

Becky and I have received two generous donations from Farmlet readers:

AB sent US$25

Ran sent US$40

Thank you both very much!

Creatures in the Long Grass

Friday, November 10th, 2006

Our front paddocks haven’t been grazed for a long time, and have become pretty overgrown. When we put our cows in one of the paddocks a couple of days ago, the grass was nearly over their heads! Fortunately, the cows take their job of mowing down the grass very seriously. We need to get the grass in those front paddocks under control and include them in the regular grazing cycle. Since the cows get most nutrition from the new growing tips of the grass, and don’t do so well on old rank growth, it’s better to graze an area reasonably regularly and not let the grass get so long.

Hungry heifer, Rosy

Before we could put the animals in the front paddocks, we had to pull away ropes of kikuyu grass that had grown over the electric fence. As I took a step forward to tug on an especially big rope of grass, something caught my gaze — something small and green and wonderful. There, on a big lush leaf sat a little green frog. I called Kevin, and we spent a good while admiring this fine creature. We have a stream and several boggy areas on the Farmlet, which should be good frog habitats, but this is the first time we’ve actually seen a frog here. We hope we’ll see more as time goes on. Since we’ve fenced the cows out of the stream area now, it should become an increasingly attractive wildlife habitat.

Green and Golden Bell Frog

Garlic Scapes

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

Yesterday we enjoyed a shared lunch at the home of some friends who live up the end of this road. We relished the delicious food, conversation with like-minded individuals, and a leisurely wander around part of a beautiful organic property.

During our post-prandial wander, we stopped to admire the garlic beds, and noticed lovely tender scapes (flower heads) emerging from the elephant garlic. Garlic scapes need to be picked off, so that the plants channel their energy into forming larger bulbs rather than flowers. It turns out that our neighbours don’t care to eat garlic scapes, so we and the other visitors pitched in to help pick them — and left for home with boxes full of these tasty treats.

Garlic scapes

Eating garlic scapes takes me back to the year when I lived in Korea, and tasted garlic scape kimchi — a spicy, lacto-fermented delicacy. (Before that, I didn’t even know you could eat any other part of the garlic apart from the bulb.) I can’t find a recipe for garlic scape kimchi, so have improvised one, which I’ll post on this website if it turns out ok! Apart from making kimchi from the scapes, we’ve also enjoyed them sauteed in olive oil with a little salt. Cooking mellows their pungency, leaving a delicious asparagus-like taste.