Skip to main content

What’s Happening at Birdsong?

By NutritionNo Comments

Already, a year has passed since Birdsong slowed down. Several reasons were behind the changes. Initially, Rick was working on the design and manufacturing of a machine for an abattoir out west. That was six months’ worth of work. It was about time to give the soil a rest anyway, after 6 years of intense cropping. We also had a broken tractor, which we waited for months to receive parts from Europe for…and then when they finally came, we found out we were still missing one very important component. The tractor is essential for market gardening in our situation, otherwise the soil prep and maintenance would require more time than we have to give!

Then another six-month project came up, also far from home, which only really allowed Rick to be home on weekends. During that time, our eldest daughter got engaged (short engagement), and so there was a wedding to be planned (sorry, no wedding pics posted here, as I think the bride and groom would prefer not to have them posted online)…and on top of that, it was breeding season, so we were incubating duck eggs and our dog Fawn had a gorgeous litter of 8 puppies. I put a lot of time into house training pups, so this was a hugely busy season for us.

The original idea was to have a break from farming for a year, and then reassess what we’d like to do. The year is up, and although we are keen to get a veggie patch going again in our presently neglected greenhouse area, we are not so keen to go back to full-time market gardening. Especially for me, as I was homeschooling, running the harvesting/sales/ordering side of things, and managing the household, it was so refreshing to have a break and be able to focus more on the family. The children are growing up fast, and as parents, we only get one shot at raising them, so I would like to be more available for them.

For now, I’m happy to keep Birdsong open for the bulk certified organic products that we bring in, but we’re not expecting to be growing our own produce to sell, at this stage. We have learned so much during the 6 or so years of running Birdsong, and loved producing and supplying wholesome produce from mineral-enriched soil. We’re also thankful for all the support we had over the years 🙂

If you are looking for an alternative source of organic local produce, the Saturday Farmer’s Markets at Cob and Co (Toowoomba) have quite a decent variety to choose from.

An Indefinite End to Birdsong Delivery Runs

By Market GardenNo Comments

For those of you who receive Birdsong’s weekly updates, you have already read that we have changes on the horizon, and that Rick has been spending far more time engineering than farming over the last 5 months or so.

Now we’re at the point where we hardly have any of our own produce to sell, and it’s just not worth doing delivery runs which are primarily made up of items we have bought in and don’t put much of a mark-up on. I’m getting far fewer delivery orders than we’ve had in the past. We also expect to be making multiple trips to NSW this year and Rick has asked that I suspend delivery runs indefinitely.

I will still deliver this Friday 17th March, but after this we will be pick-ups only, until further notice. We apologise for any inconvenience.

What to do With all that Zucchini: #2 Walnut and Zucchini Sourdough

By NutritionNo Comments

This one may be a huge learning curve if you don’t already have experience making sourdough…but if you do have a little history with sourdough, it’s not such a stretch to make a sourdough that incorporates zucchini.

We are in a zucchini glut right now, so I’m trialling some ideas/recipes that are new to us, and posting the link to the recipe if it was any good. The photos will always be taken here, of the recipe we trialled at home. Sometimes there’s wonderful looking lists of recipe ideas online which sound great, but then you make them and they’re a flop. The goal here is to make sure we’re only sharing recipes that actually worked for us at Birdsong.

I love sourdough, but haven’t really experimented with mix-ins before. The walnuts enhance this bread’s rustic texture, and the zucchini adds moisture content and some aesthetic charm. Thumbs-up for flavour too 🙂

Check out HomesteadandChilli for the recipe.

What to do With all that Zucchini: #1 Zucchini Brownies

By NutritionNo Comments

Summer…there’s just about always a glut of something in summer. And right now it’s zucchini. As much as our poultry adore zucchini, I don’t really want to give them much yet…so its time to test-run some new zucchini recipes. I’ll post them if they’re any good 🙂

I’d never tried zucchini brownies before. The results were great, but I made the mistake of icing them with dark chocolate (which many of my children don’t like), so they’re lasting longer than expected! I’d be tucking into them except I’m presently reducing my gluten and sugar intake. I’ve yet to try these on coconut sugar and wholemeal spelt (which would make them a little healthier).

And no, you don’t notice the zucchini.

Head over to CrazyforCrust for the recipe.

Getting Aquainted With Artichoke (Tea)

By RecipesNo Comments

Over the last year, Rick has planted two rows of artichoke. I had no idea how big those thistles become! Many of the plants are taller than I am, and after all this rain, we’re finding ourselves inundated with artichoke bulbs. Besides marinated artichoke hearts out of a jar from the supermarket, I’ve not really had any experience with this produce.

So, this past week Rick asked if I could learn to use them, so they don’t go to waste. They’re listed for sale of course, but it looks like we have more than we can sell, and I know there will be other people out there like me who have just not ever used fresh artichokes!

It turns out artichokes are great for your liver, may help with managing blood pressure, blood sugar…and many more benefits. I was impressed that they contain so many trace minerals, as mentioned in the nutrition facts below.

We’ve had a go at steaming them for 3 minutes and then eating them petal by petal, dipping them in aioli. That went down well. And then I also discovered artichoke tea. It’s earthy, with no bitterness (which some herbal teas are prone to), and it can be consumed hot or cold. I’ve tried both and will continue with artichoke tea every few days, for it’s health benefits.

It’s so simple to make, you just take about three artichokes, put them in an appropriate sized saucepan and barely cover them with water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes. I poured a cup of hot tea from the saucepan, and then tipped the rest of the liquid through a funnel into a glass bottle, to refrigerate and drink cold later on. I imagine other flavours could be infused into the tea, but I haven’t experimented with that yet. Maybe bubbling the chilled tea through a SodaKing would add an interesting twist?

You could eat the artichokes that were used to make the tea, but the texture isn’t the same as 3-minute artichokes. My 10 year-old, who loves them, said the 30-minutes artichokes had a funny texture.

According to the USDA’s info on artichoke nutrition data, one medium-sized, boiled artichoke (about 120 grams) contains approximately:

  • 63.6 calories
  • 14.3 grams carbohydrates
  • 3.5 grams protein
  • 0.4 grams fat
  • 10.3 grams fiber
  • 107 micrograms folate (27 percent DV)
  • 17.8 micrograms vitamin K (22 percent DV)
  • 8.9 milligrams vitamin C (15 percent DV)
  • 50.4 milligrams magnesium (13 percent DV)
  • 0.3 milligrams manganese (13 percent DV)
  • 343 milligrams potassium (10 percent DV)
  • 87.6 milligrams phosphorus (9 percent DV)
  • 0.2 milligrams copper (8 percent DV)
  • 1.3 milligrams niacin (7 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams riboflavin (6 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams vitamin B6 (5 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligrams thiamine (4 percent DV)
  • 0.7 milligrams iron (4 percent DV)
  • 0.3 milligrams pantothenic acid (3 percent DV)
  • 25.2 milligrams calcium (3 percent DV)
  • 0.5 milligrams zinc (3 percent DV)

If you have a favourite recipe using fresh artichokes, let us know in the comments 🙂

Whelping Whippets

By Farm Gate StallNo Comments
Nala, Winston and Fawn’s soft grey brindle.

Beautiful aren’t they? The one thing you miss when you adopt a puppy into your home, is their first 8 weeks. You don’t get to see the birth, the newborn phase, see when their eyes first open, or when they first learn to walk. One of the sweetest things we watched, was when the pups first start playing with each other and trying to growl! It’s adorable, these soft little bundles trying to wrestle with each other!

As mentioned in another post, when we welcomed whippets into our home, we did so planning to breed them, in addition to having them as members of the family. We have bred sheep, chickens, ducks and guinea fowl and were keen to also learn about and experience breeding whippets. NOTE: we did this knowing that whippets are a more unusual breed to find in our state, and therefore were likely to be able to find loving homes for them. We also went into breeding whippets knowing that we can provide an ideal start to life for them…we have the space, can feed them quality food, there’s always plenty of family members home to help care for and train them etc. It’s not a great idea to breed dogs if you don’t have the time, patience and resources to do so.

Elma

Fawn has turned out to be a very maternal young lady. She had no trouble falling pregnant, an easy pregnancy and a straight forward birth, which I am thankful we were able to witness. She’s an incredibly affectionate girl, and welcomed our presence for the whelping. Her first litter consisted of four pups, in a variety of colours. Three females and one male. She hardly left their side, and wouldn’t let Winston near them!

I had found an excellent article about whelping whippets, which suggested that for these comfort hounds, an ideal whelping ‘box’ set-up, was to use a children’s frame pool, and line it with a blanket or towels. Whippets love their soft furnishings 🙂 What a fabulous idea! The size is right, the price is great, the height is excellent for containing pups until they are a few weeks old, and it’s plastic, so can be easily cleaned. I bought the pool, cut a massive king size blanket we had been handed down into two, and erected the set-up in the boys room.

As it turned out, Fawn loved the whelping box. She didn’t actually whelp in it…she normally sleeps in my daughter’s bed with her, and so that bedroom is her safe place I guess…she birthed in there, right on the girl’s jute rug. And there ended the use of that rug in our home!

But once the pups were on the ground and cleaned up, Fawn was very happy to move into the whelping box with them. There she stayed for the next three weeks. Around this time, the little monkeys learned how to jump the walls. So from there we moved to a gated pen. Around the three week mark, is when it’s best to start toilet training the pups. This was important for us, because whippets are a very indoor-sy breed of dog, so to make life that much easier on the families who would adopt our pups, we started toilet training at three weeks, using the Misty Method. Of course it made life easier on us too, because those puppies first 8 weeks were spent mostly inside our home! And yes, this worked. The families our puppies went to mentioned that toilet training the pups in their new homes was simple, because the groundwork had been laid.

The first litter at 9 days old, safely contained in a children’s frame-pool.

As there were only four pups, and all uniquely marked/coloured, we didn’t need to worry about ID bands or anything like that. But I have since found a brilliant business, WhelpingSupplies.com.au, which supplies ID bands and so many other useful whelping supplies, located on the Gold Coast. They also share free whelping charts for tracking puppies milestones, weight etc. This is very handy, especially if you have a larger litter and need to make sure all the pups are gaining enough weight.

Doggie Pile

With so many mouths to feed, a bitch who has whelped is at risk of calcium deficiency. For this reason, many people feed the new mum’s puppy food (which is higher in calcium) rather than adult dog food. We also find that organic eggs from our flock, raw beef bones, raw chicken necks and BARF from Pet Mince Direct, have been great. Our local Pet Mince Direct is managed by a very knowledgable woman (a dog breeder herself) who has given me a wealth of information on canine nutrition.

Summing it up, the first three weeks after the arrival of the pups, the dam does just about all the work. She cleans up her pups messes, feeds them, snuggles with them and it feels like all we’re doing is keeping the nutrition up to her, patting her and admiring her little bundles of joy. Their eyes open sometime around day 10-14. They start to crawl around their enclosure more. Then the dam steps back a little, starts to wean them, and we start toilet training, introducing solid food (at which point the dam isn’t so interested in cleaning up her pups messes!) and we start being able to play with them. We have six children, who all love animals, so our pups were spoiled for choice when it came to human companionship and playmates. It has been such a rewarding experience, and wonderful to be able to give our pups a great start to life that rewards both our family for being able to experience this, and the pup’s new families, who are blessed to take home a puppy who is well socialised, house-trained, healthy and emotionally balanced.

Puppies are ready to be adopted at 8 weeks of age. Any earlier than this and they miss valuable social skills that their mother teaches them.

There is a wealth of information online about whippets, if you are keen to investigate whether this breed would be compatible with your family/lifestyle. We are so grateful to have our pair, they’re delightful.

There will be future litters, and if you are interested in keeping posted regarding Birdsong Whippets, drop me a line at racheal@birdsongmarketgarden.com.au