Bees, Battery hens, and Baking Bread.

We did it! We started our sour dough culture! Here’s a picture of it on day 2.

The idea is to use naturally occurring yeasts in the air, keep them cultivated in a ‘starter’, and take from it to bake your loaves. In that way, this is our first fully-fledged “Hill Shadow Loaf” with yeasts from the air of Mt Dandenong!

Ben did it. And I was AMAZED how light and fluffy it was!


Not at all like any dense, large-holed, peasant-bread-style sour dough I’d ever had before..!? Then he finally admitted that he added packet yeast. He CHICKENED OUT! Bahahaha. So as I type this, the first REAL Hill Shadow Sour Dough Loaf is proofing on the window sill! NO ADDED YEAST. Just spelt flour, wheat flour, water, a little salt, and our homemade starter.

If you want to give it a go too, here’s where we got our information.

The next exciting thing that happened this week is that the fabled “Hill Shadow Ferals” proved themselves to be real! We were told there was a perennial swarm of bees that returned each year to the barn wall, un-deterred by sprays or people, although the previous tennant was unsure if they were bees or wasps. Oh-oh.

Then this week!:

They are indeed bees!!! Too big to be natives, but i know NEXT TO NOTHING about bees. But I want to know! What an amazing natural resource we might have stumbled upon! Now I just have to work out what to do next…

We were also inspired by the kitchen garden at Heide Museum of Modern Art. And we put in some tom thumb tomatoes, oregano, and capsicum seedlings. Hopefully they wont go the way of the beans: Only one of them is unscathed by slugs.


And finally, we picked up our 12 new Isa Brown hens, rescued from a battery farm by Crystals Barnyard.

Poor girls are in pretty good feather condition, considering. It was heart warming to watch them on their first free-range day: They couldn’t believe they were free. Some were reluctant to leave the henhouse. Others luxuriated in the dust and afternoon sun.

It’s lovely to know that this will be their life from now on.

Right, now Im off to pick Katie up from Kinder, put my sour dough in the oven, and decide what to do with thses GORGEOUS strawberries I got from the produce market this morning…

Have a go at starting a sour dough from yeast at your place! (You dont need a farm!)

Brownies, baking, and balloon-legs.

Poor old Will has a fat leg! Im not sure how, but he’s cut it somewhere in his paddock, and its puffed up like a balloon! I’ve hosed it out & sprayed the wound with tea tree, and added some garlic and tumeric to his feed for anti-inflamatory effects, and we’ll see how he goes. Other than that, he’ll be resting.

Which you know he hates.


Today Katie and I cooked up a batch of brownies while Tara had her morning nap. These were using coconut flour, and let me just state from the outset that I haven’t had alot of success with coconut flour recipes. And by that I mean, no success. everything Ive cooked has turned out rubbery, tasteless, or dry.

But at last! SUCCESS!!! These brownies are BEAUTIFUL! AND refined sugar and grain-free, which is a bonus! Even the kids wanted seconds!

So of course I will share the recipe! I got it from Pinterest, but I gather the original is from .

PALEO BROWNIES (No refined sugar, dairy, grain)

1/2 c coconut flour
1/2 c cacao powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 t baking soda

Combine these dry ingredients in one bowl.

1/2 c honey (Raw if you have it. Pretty sure you could use maple syrup too)
1/3 c coconut oil
5 free range eggs
2 T water

Combine these wet ingredients in another bowl.

Slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, stirring well. pour mix into a well-greased 8×8 brownie pan and smooth top. The original recipe says ‘bake at 350 deg F for 30 minutes’ which I think is about 170 deg C, BUT my oven is hot and fan-forced, so i only baked for 27min at 150 deg C. You know your oven: Just keep an eye on them. If the top is ‘dry’ and it is ‘springy’ in the middle, I reckon you’re done.
Let cool before slicing.

Om nom nom.

Got any other proven yummy coconut flour recipes you can share?
Now excuse me, Katie and I have some important bowl-licking to do…

6 weeks!

We’re on the countdown!!! Yippee!

We’ve been told the current mountain house residents move out on the 1st August – which means moving day is getting closer!

As it’s such a blustery, windy, squall-y day out today, I’ve been inside with the biggest pot of tea you’ve ever seen, my Grass Roots magazines, homesteading books & blogs, and my imagination. Here’s some things I’d like to do in the new place:

  • Honey

I’ve been told a swarm of bees regularly returns to the old shed. I don’t know if they’re native or feral. I know NOTHING about bee keeping. But the whole idea has my imagination going wild!

  • Vegetables & Fruit

We’ve got visions of using recycled windows to make mini green houses, upcycled brick pallets as fences and to grow herbs and strawberries in. There’s already established mandarins, oranges, lemon, lime, grape fruit, pumpkins and tomatoes. Im having visions of berries, zucchinis, beans, peas, spinach, beetroot, caulis…. *oh my*

  • Chickens

There’s already 8 Isa Brown hens and a very handsome rooster of unknown breeding in residence, and whom we will inherit upon moving in. Free range eggs!!! Baby chicks! Meat…???? (Don’t know if I could bring myself to… you know…)

  • Yabbies

Already in residence in the dam!

  • Goat

Firstly for weed control. But maybe milk? Meat? (Again…. *cringe*)

  • Rabbits

Already in residence, and kept in check by fox family (Also already in residence!). Wouldn’t want to mess with the population too much as it might encourage Mr & Mrs Fox to look further afield to feed their babies (ie, our chickens!). However, maybe we can trap(?)/shoot(?)/lure humanely into a pot(?) one every now and again…?

  • Interior decorating

Think open wood fire, patchwork quilts, crochet throws, eclectic recycled furniture, bunting, vintage greens, miss-matched tea cups and dinnerware, huge plaited rugs, and the smell of freshly baked bread. Mmmmmm….

  • An outdoorsy life style for my kids

Digging, swinging, treehouses, sunflower tepee, bonfires, damper, bushwalks, worm farms, strawberry binges, picnics, ponies….