Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rhubarb fizz

Our garden bed at Hilton Harvest has been a little neglected of late. But we have one monster rhubarb plant! Its a great one to grow there - its apparently not favoured by passers by.

Ads has just put on a brew of fizz. We have made it before an it was yummo. Only a few bottles exploded. Well worth the risk, though. The recipe is from Sally Wise's Year in a Bottle, my fab preserves book. The recipes are not to fancy and always work out perfectly.

Here is the recipe:
875g chopped rhubarb
875g sugar
1 Lemmon chopped
200m white wine or cider vinegar
4.5 L cold water

Combine in a food safe bucket. Cover loosely with a clean tea towel and leave for 48 hours. Strain and pour into sterile bottles. Seal. It will be ready on two weeks. Open carefully!

Will post pictures of the bottled fizz soon!

Friday, January 4, 2013

2012 eggs

We ended the year with 1,386 eggs laid. This was a great result, our best to date. Of course we couldn't eat this many eggs, but it's great to give them away, barter them or sell a few every now and again.

We now have seven chooks, four Hi-line browns and three Australorps. The Hi-lines are about a year old and in their prime, whereas the Australorps are about 4 years old now. In year one the Australorps laid well but since then their production has dropped off and they're often broody. They still lay the odd egg, but I'd say that they lay about 1 a day between them whereas the Hi-lines lay 3 a day between them on average. It's early days for the hi-lines but if they keep their laying up for a few years I'd have to say that they're the best backyard layers for the burbs. Since we can't keep roosters and breed chooks there doesn't seem much point in having heritage chooks, except for their beauty and interesting looks. I love Australorps but their broodiness is a big issue. Auracanas are great for their blue eggs but they don't live that long from our experience.

The new chooks arrived at the end of January and started laying almost immediately. They laid well through autumn and there was the usual dip in production in winter, although this was much less marked than in previous years. Then they cranked up in spring and have been laying a bit less in summer. We'll keep an eye on the production from the Australorps, Lacey, Snowy and Splash. Hopefully they'll keep going a while longer so we don't have to make the tough decision over whether to keep them or not...

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 transport

This time last year we got rid of our second car and in the middle of the year we got a new electric cargo bike (a Workcycles Fr8). I predicted that we would cut our daily kms by car by 10km a day and increase our kms by bike by the same amount. The predictions turned out to be right in one case and a bit out in the other.

We ended the year averaging 29km a day by car compared to 41km a day last year. After years of trying to reduce our car use I'm pretty chuffed with this. It equates to 5,000 km less over the year. In terms of fuel costs alone we saved approximately $1,000. If you include the lower cost of running one vehicle instead of two for the year then we've saved a minimum of $6,000 which equals most of the money we've spent on our two bikes. Next year we'll pay off the cost of the bikes altogether and we'll be saving money from then on.

The kms by bike went from 9 to 14 kms a day. This means that not all the kms reduced by car were replaced by bike travel. This is because sometimes we used public transport instead. I'm sure next year we'll do more kms by bike since we'll have the two bikes going all year. The Fr8 does more kms than the Bakfiets (81kms a week against 36kms a week in the last six months of the year) because I ride it to work a couple of times a week whereas the Bakfiets does more local trips to school, shops, etc. I much prefer riding to work than driving or taking public transport. It's quicker than the bus and less stressful than driving.

The big picture is that our carbon emissions have dropped considerably in the last year and hopefully a few people have been inspired to do the same. I certainly see a lot more cargo bikes on the road.

So get out there on your bike, YOU can do it too.