Feather your Nest Friday, 2nd October, 2020.

 It has been a very good week.   And it seems like a month since last Friday, certainly not a week.   Now we are in October!  

Some of the ways I was able to build up things at home and get ahead were:

I made Mint Jelly.  I will repost Lesley's recipe in  The Tuesday Afternoon Club.  It is a good and easy recipe.  And the kitchen smelled lovely!

I am writing at night and realising I didn't take a photo of the finished jars yet.     It is delicious and I also then water bath preserved my jars. 

I started to plant up my first raised garden bed.    When I think of all the work to fill these beds!  I am glad we started months ago as now I think the soil is pretty good!  There are layers of shredded paper, leaves, newspapers, manure (sheep and chicken) hay,  volcanic soil,  stinging nettles, cardboard boxes, tea leaves, coffee grounds... and goodness knows what else.   This is the very beginning of planting the first one.

It is not much but I am excited anyway!  I have basil, tomatoes, capsicums and cucumbers.  Elsewhere I added Thyme and Oregano. 

I am collecting around two dozen eggs a day.  I can bake and share plenty of eggs. And trade some.   One thing I made was a big Impossible Pie.  It was delicious.  With a big salad this makes a dinner then lunches.  They are perfect for making in small portions too ie a muffin tray.  I love these for picnics or breakfast even.   

I was able to see Lucy, the girls and Sidney.  While Elsa is still big... Rapunzel is getting a run with the girls.  So I had promised to help with Rapunzel hair.   I went armed with reels of ribbons.  ( NOT the French ones!) 

Harpers own hair ends at about her waist.  Then it is all ribbon.  Artfully blended haha!

Scarlett has a Belle dress and a Rapunzel hair do.  We like to mix it up.  :)

We had our first warm days that feel truly like Spring.  Although I have a lot of weeding to do the flower garden is starting to look nice.   I have planted lots and lost lots.  The very hot days here can be hard to survive.   But some things have made it and covered in flowers.  

I finished re arranging things to use the new shelves Andy cut me for four cupboards.  I got eight new shelves which made a world of difference.  As was the case last week as I moved things into those shelves and organised them and one thing led to another...   It looks so much better.   

I pulled everything from the present cupboard and made Christmas lists. I forgot half of what was in there! This gave me a list of things to make and a few to buy.  I am doing these things now.   
The last two times I went to our local Supermarket it looked like a swarm of locusts had been through.  Each time I checked for Hams and Turkey...   there are none of either.   I checked fresh and frozen.  I can get sliced turkey from the deli.  But an actual turkey,  turkey breast, roll... anything... no.     
I am learning not to assume anything anymore! 

Part of all the moving things revealed how many jars I have.   I can see canning jars are so sought after.   My neighbour gave me several car loads of  Fowlers Canning Jars earlier in the year.   (In Australia these are to us what Ball jars are to USA ladies)     She kept asking if I was sure I could take more?  And I just kept saying yes!     She also gave me an electric canning unit. 
At the time I thought that God sure must be planning on sending me a lot of produce!    Summer isn't here yet so I don't know... but Dad had me lined up to go harvest a huge old apricot tree.  I won't forget.  And there are a series of apple trees I know about now.  Several Fig trees and a Mulberry....  two pears...   
Now I see what a gift these jars were!   Seeing shelves full of jars is beautiful to me. 

With these cupboards done I know much better what I have.  Now I have another cupboard that if I can get shelves in that... I can do the same with my fabrics and sewing.  

So it was a good week.   The farm had rain and is green.  The sheep are white from being shorn.  The fruit trees are covered in blossoms.  The cottage is ALMOST finished.  So there are many blessings. 
Sometimes what we are trying to do seems endless.  But work does add up.  You do, largely, reap what you sow.   I planted a ton of zucchini seeds in paper cups.  Now I have a ton of tiny zucchini seedlings just poking through.   They look so cheerful!   Everything seems to have steps.  Often the hardest step is the first one.  Then you gain some momentum!  

How did you build up your home, pantry or garden this week?  I hope it was a week of opportunities and good for you too.xxx


  1. Annabel,
    What a wonderful fruitful week you have had.
    The girls look adorable in all the ribbons.
    I do have to say I can't wait to see your mint jam. it has to be amazing.

    I had a productive week here, surprisingly. I started inventorying my pantry, finished the beverage pantry. Roasted 3 pie pumpkins and came out with 13 cups of puree and 2 cups of pumpkin seeds roasted. I also have a small jar of seeds to plant next year.

    We went to the Apple Orchard and purchased a half bushel of MacIntosh Apples, husband's favorite. That is about 22 to 24 lbs worth, it ran us $16 but we haven't been able to find them in the grocery stores. I will be making a pie today with them and muffins with some of the pumpkin puree. (will also start a batch of apple vinegar with the cores that are left and jelly with the peels.) Just can't let things go to waste here. Prices seem to go up daily, sometimes i feel like hourly. We need to do all we can with whatever we buy to maximize our cost.

    I am finished with Fall Cleaning the house, it's a good feeling as we finished the power washing on outside and washing windows. Now I can concentrate on our pantry reorganization to make more room. I am trying to get set to not have to venture out in winter as much.

    We started Christmas shopping little by little, starting with gifts for the Grandchildren. Praying it doesn't hurt the budget as badly.

    Have a Blessed Weekend Dear and All Bluebird Ladies out there.
    Love, Rosanne

    1. I think that is like 20 or 25 lbs... so I'm going with 10 kilos or more. That is a good amount of apples. You will have fun with those. I think apples are so useful and versatile.
      Also Pumpkins are useful and good! I have some I need to be doing the same as you!
      Most of my cores the parrot eats. They are his favourite thing. Last year I made apple jelly and it was good!
      I am glad about the Christmas shopping. I did some more tonight. I feel good to have things put away. That was a good week Rosanne! With love Annabel.xxx

  2. Dear Annabel,
    So lovely to see your post this morning! Your granddaughters are beautiful. They remind me of our two oldest. They loved dressing up in Disney princess costumes, too.

    We don't have apple trees, but we were able to get a bag of MacIntosh apples and one of gala, some of our favorites. We have enough that I can make and freeze some that are getting a bit soft as applesauce.

    My husband's doctor gave him samples of his most expensive medicine, probably $300 worth. My neighbor had shared that she hoped to get a second freezer and wondered if I thought it was a dumb idea. I talked it over with my husband and he agreed that it would help them keep things like milk, meat, cartons of frozen eggs and even bread that they received at the food pantries and they sometimes get a lot or go a while without getting. My dear husband suggested we get them a freezer with some of the money the medicine would have cost. I was so proud of him for thinking of a way to get them the freezer and let them know we were passing along a blessing we had received so they wouldn't feel like it was charity. When I was ordering the freezer for them, there were 2 left, so I snagged one for us, as well. I can use it for some of our things and also have a way of preserving the excess we are sometimes able to get for our other neighbor who is graciously helping 7 families.

    Wishing you and the other bluebirds a healthy, happy weekend!
    With love from Arizona,

    1. Dear Annabel, Chloe's baby shower was beautiful last week. I read your post, but had no time for comments. Your garden looks off to a wonderful start, but ours in the states are winding down. Harvested the last of the peppers and brought in the green tomatoes which will hopefully still ripen.
      I love Harper's and Scarlett's Rapuzel hair. So glad you were able to get together with the granddears. The flowers are lovely. I'm thinking they are lupines, like we have here.
      God's blessings, Laura

  3. The girls are adorable! That is a fun memory for you all! It will be so nice to have all that fruit in jars and they are the most beautiful decoration on shelves I can think of.

    I have a ham in freezer from back at Easter time that I am saving it for Christmas because I don't know if they will be easily available. Many are having trouble finding pumpkin but I have five cans so those are being saved for holiday pies. For weeks we had been looking for canned tomatoes to restock and then one store had them on sale for 3/$1 which is crazy cheap. They had an ample supply so we bought a lot because there was no limit. We are working on cleaning out and reorganizing all our pantry spaces. There have been some surprises but it is always nice to find you have more than you thought. It is really cooling down here now with chilly nights. Today is a soup day and some will go to our neighbors whose Mom is dying of cancer at only 56. So sad for them.

    Have a good weekend!

    1. Dear Lana,
      I love to see preserves lined up... also to me the are beautiful and better than any ornament!
      I am aiming to get a ham in my freezer. I am glad you have one. I love soup weather and how nice of you to share with your neighbours in their sad time. Even though we are in Spring we suddenly reverted back to cold weather here but it came with lots of rain so it is good! Just cold! With love Annabel.xxx

  4. Dear Annabel, I forgot to mention, I do like your new fresh start, but I want ed to check that all your old post will remain up and readable? I didn't find you until this year, so I'm still working my way through all the old ones. They are all very useful and have great information.
    Blessings, Laura

    1. Hi Laura, Yes the old blog will stay and often I will link back to recipes etc. Thank you for telling me you are still there reading. xxx

  5. What a week! The girls are gorgeous, I remember those dress-up days, were they really so long ago? Hannah is 25 so, yes, it's been a few years. I planted out some Lazy Housewife Beans and some bush beans into a prepared bed. Already they are coming up. My hydrangeas are starting to green up after looking like dead wood all winter. The last of the winter silverbeet is needing to be harvested and dehydrated or frozen. I had a small win with strawberries $4/kg, so 2kg have been dried. I'll add these to yoghurt and to muesli for summer breakfasts, and to trail mix for when we go camping (I'm sure we'll be able to go camping soon!). Two kilos of strawberries made 6 x 500ml jars jam to restock the shelf. Also still drying frozen veg. Some friends think I'm crazy, buying frozen veg then drying, but it frees up freezer room and makes them shelf stable, so no need to keep in the freezer. Hannah requested two smaller doyleys to match the orange one I made a couple of weeks ago, to use as a Duchess set for her teapot, sugar and creamer, so that is done. I swapped some craft supplies for some canning jars and lids with a friend -yay! As seeds have become available, I've been buying them to fill the gaps in the seed box. I think seeds will be important and valuable to have in the coming months. I was able to get mushrooms for $5/kg and they were the perfect champignon size, so they have been canned. Switched over to the summer quilt and washed and dried all the winter bedding and put it away. Windy days are perfect for this. I ventured into the supermarket to see for myself what it was like. Not good. No frozen veg at Coles. Lots of well spread out groceries, in odd spots. Not a lot of what I consider real food/ingredients, but plenty of chips, chocolate (I did buy some of the $5 blocks), soft drink etc. Fruit and veg was a tad limited and boy has meat become expensive. Aldi was much the same - noticed that shelves were only one tray deep on most things, the centre aisles were almost empty. Butcher was the same - lots of expensive meat but not a lot of family budget friendly anything. And finally managed to get our wardrobe sorted out and tidied. It has been bugging me for months. Have a lovely, blessed weekend. Cath xxx

    1. Dear Cath,
      My one Hydrangea is in a big pit. It is looking like it is going to be huge this year!
      Also... I was drying a lot of frozen veg. when the fire was going. I need to convert now to an actual dehydrator. I swear by it now! It freed up all that freezer space! Freezer space is valuable! So I dont think it is crazy I love it.
      It is great to get the bedding all washed up and fresh. To me this smells and feels so good!
      You really achieved a lot this week Cath. Change of seasons gives us a whole lot of extra things to do! We had our first really warm day yesterday. And just like that it is growing season! So I have a bunch to do! Have a good weekend! With love, Annabel.xxx

    2. My Hydrangea is in a big POT not a pit lol

  6. Those garden beds are going to give you some amazing produce. All the work and all the goodness that is slowly breaking down in them is going to be such amazing food for you plants.
    Over this past week I have been gradually cleaning up and tidying up our veranda. It runs the full length of the house and is 5m wide, so it is a large space. It is also a space we spend a lot of time in all year round, so it is worth the effort of keeping it looking good.
    Rapunzel is big in my Grandies house. My DIL was looking at fabrics online for her little business. She was scrolling past some Rapunzel fabric when 4 yr old Matilda saw it. She asked Jo to buy it so Granny could make her a dress. The fabric arrived here yesterday. I have a tshirt dress, a tshirt and a pair of shorts all cut out of the piece sent to me. There was only a few scraps leftover. You all know what I will be doing this weekend.
    We are supposed to be having a wetter than average summer coming up. So far Spring started with a bit of rain and then nothing. I am watering everyday and thankful for our bore to be able to do this. The grass is starting to brown off around town. I am looking out the front right now with the sprinkler going. We put it on in the early morning of the late evening. Another aspect of the dry weather is the lack of fruit set on our mango and avocado trees. We had so many flowers and were really hoping this would be a good fruit year. Nope.
    I am going to finish my cup of tea, get dressed, make the bed and then get the Rapunzel order finished. Life is girly dress making good.

    1. Dear Jane, Thank you! I really hope so. I have followed all your container gardening. You have inspired me a lot. And you show what can be done!
      It is so cute Matilda would spot fabric and want a dress in it... and ta dah! Nana is the one to send it to! I cant wait to see this all. I have been collecting fabrics to do Christmas/Elsa/Snowflake pillowcases. I know I will have left overs... so I am thinking to make scrunchies and other things from the scraps...
      Your outdoor living space is beautiful. What an asset. A good week Jane! Have a good weekend! With love Annabel.xxx

  7. Hi Annabelle, I love the Elsa hair you made for the girls. My great granddaughter is 3 and an Elsa fan. She would love that! Do you use your mint jelly on toast or crackers or for something else? I managed to make a GF banana bread and GF muffins for myself this week. They are pretty tasty. Found the recipes on the back of Namaste Gf flour. Is your impossible pie a dessert or for a main meal? I think I use to make one but it was a dessert I believe. Thank you for sharing your life with us and encouragement. Nancy

    1. Dear Nancy, Mint jelly is used with lamb roasts (mainly in our household) like maybe you would use cranberry jelly with a turkey roast. It is so delicious somehow a perfect combination.
      The impossible pie is really like. quiche without pastry. Inside I put in about a cup of GF flour (self raising) and it sets up with a bit of a crusty edging and is easy to handle. In this one I had onion, bacon, sun dried tomatoes and cheese. You can make it more like a frittata too with roast veggies in it. It is versatile and good.
      Your banana bread and muffins sound good! Have a lovely weekend Nancy, with love Annabel.xxx

  8. Your week sounds wonderful. Our week has been quite slow. My granddaughter loves Elsa but hasn't twigged to Rupunzel. The poor little mite has very little, baby find blonde hair. I look forward to seeing how her hair will be when it grows in properly.

    1. Dear Suzan, I had hair like that when I was little it was so fine and so light. But eventually I had very long hair. First we had Emma Wiggle... then Elsa... these have given me lots of things to make and ideas! With love, Annabel.xxx

  9. Hi Annabel and so lovely to see the lovely flowers in your garden and lovely about the fruit and mulberry tree blossoms too :) . Wonderful you were able to see the girls and Sidney and spend some quality dress up time together. The raised garden beds look good and I can see how much effort you have put into filling them and using all those eggs in many dishes is fabulous. Hope you can find some turkey and hams in the store before Christmas to purchase.

    We too have citrus blossoms everywhere and a really strong citrus scent everywhere from them and have a mulberry tree laden with mulberries we need to harvest and to make jams and freeze some too for the coming hot weather.

    Our Vicky challenge added up to $234.75 in savings last week :) .

    Gifts -
    - Said yes gratefully to a lovely friend who offered me a 4 layer food dehydrator for free as she had too many of them. She buys them when she finds them in op shops cheaply. I did offer to pay her for it but she refused saying she purchased it very cheaply and said as long as I use it regularly it has found a good home and that is indeed what we are doing :) .

    Internet listings -
    - Listed 6 items on a eBay free listing promotion saving $9.90 on usual listing prices.

    Earnings -
    - DH did a paid gardening job and earned $50.

    Finances -
    - Banked more money not spent in some of our budget categories into our 6 month living expenses emergency fund bringing us to 54.81% of the way there.

    Purchases -
    - Bought a solid metal trailer ramp to suit our trailer (last in stock as you guessed in made in China) saving $220 over buying it elsewhere. The local company that sells them and fits them said they are not getting enough of the trailers and parts in to meet local demand and it would be some time until they got some more. Our trailer is also made in China so we know they can fit this to our trailer without many modifications as the lugs line up etc.

    In the kitchen -
    - Cooked all meals and bread from scratch.
    - Dehydrated our first dozen eggs (bought on clearance for $1.60 doz) in our food dehydrator using power from our solar panels and they turned out really well and are packaged in glass jars with oxygen absorbers in them. We saved $4.85 over buying the equivalent amount in the supermarkets.
    - Did a mini clean and pulled out the 2 upright freezers and fridge in the kitchen and vacuumed and cleaned the floors and vacuumed the coils so they run more efficiently.

    Have a wonderful week ahead everyone :) .

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

    1. Dear Lorna,
      That dehydrator is fantastic! It is set for a work out I reckon! Now I am started I really love the dehydrator and the combination of dehydrating and vac sealing. It is so space efficient too. Powders is my next direction... this intrigued me but things like kale or spinach powdered (or tomato ..) mean a small amount added to something gives a huge boost of nutrition. Like a vitamin tablet really! I had not thought of eggs!
      A trailer ramp is very handy. And the story is another to my list of hearing how all these businesses are reduced to nothing left to sell... we know of so many. All they can do now is take orders... even the car dealerships here... How long can businesses go like this?
      Yesterday was really warm. The blossoms in the orchard have come out big time! It looks so pretty. I get excited when I see the tiny beginnings of fruit!
      You had an excellent week. I love that you can dehydrate using the solar power = free!
      I enjoy seeing your progress Lorna you are consistent and diligent and I love hearing your week! With love Annabel.xxx

    2. Annabel yes you are so right about the businesses with nothing to sell and when we arrived they had sold out completely of trailers and the full ramp we purchased the last one they had so we snavelled it :) .

      You are right about the vegetable powders adding vitamins to our cooking too and will be looking into that shortly too.

      With dehydrating the eggs you can fit about 6 eggs on each tray with a plastic rim dehydrator disk in each tray to stop the eggs running through the trays. We whizzed up 6 eggs at a time in the food processor, poured them in the trays and straightened with a spatula. Have to make sure they are dehydrated at a temperature of 57 - 63 oc for 8 - 10 hours until dry and crumbly.

      Once dry whizz in food processor to powder them finely and put them in an airtight sterilised glass jar with an oxygen absorber in them. They last 5 months to 2 years on the pantry shelf in a cool dry environment or in the freezer for up to 5 years.

      Good to have on the shelves if the chickens stop laying and you can just rehydrate them to use them.

      Have a great week.

      Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

  10. Dear Annabel, I love the photos of the girls. They are beautiful girls! I also love how they love dressing up. I also love the look of that mint jelly. I would love to try and make that. Delicious! That veg bed looks great. It is exciting to see those seedlings grow. I love the amount of eggs that you are getting. I agree about the shops, both grocery and big chain type stores, some aisles are often empty...it is important to stock up when we can. I bought a heap of canning jars this week. I also made a double batch of laundry liquid and miracle cleaner and shared it with family. I made a few GF zucchini slices with our eggs, one for a beautiful friend who has just had a baby. I plan on getting a dehydrator next, more seeds and the paper cups are a fabulous idea. Fantastic tip. I also need to go through your old blog and get out my book to write notes. Lots of love, Lily

    1. Dear Lily,
      If I am out anywhere and get a coffee (or Andy does) the paper cups are saved for seedlings. They are really good little pots! If you know anyone who routinely gets coffee out get them to save them for you. Right now I have so many little seedlings coming up in them!
      Your zucchini slices sound delicious. And a lovely thing to give to help your friend. Also the miracle cleaner! The house smells wonderful when you use this. It works so well. I like that I can breathe too as some cleaners literally take my breath away.
      I am glad you got those canning jars! Save your regular jars for your dehydrated goods. Recently I showed how to vac seal basically any jar of dehydrated goods. This could be handy for you when you get going with your dehydrator. I am loving what can be done with dehydrating. Very space efficient too!
      Thank you for a beautiful comment Lily, with love Annabel.xxx

  11. Hi Annabel, I only discovered your blog this year - and what a year to discover it! Thanks to your suggestions and predictions we have worked diligently to build up our pantry and even bought a deep freezer. I’ve also been looking for turkey rolls this week but didn’t see any (in Canberra). We have however got zucchini and spinach in our new wicking beds - the heat and drought last summer killed so much of our produce that we thought we would try something different this year. I hope they work. The potatoes are thriving. We have been picking up free wooden pallets from a local business and putting in more garden beds, my husband is very handy and has made beautiful wooden edging, for free! I also picked up some heavily reduced LEGO kits for my kids and my niece and nephews for Christmas (Kmart had a great sale). I already bought the kids’ summer clothes back in August because I wasn’t sure what the shops would have.
    I’ve been on leave for work so all these little things have really been a blessing. I am still reading your old blog to gather ideas and inspiration, thanks so much for all your great, practical advice.
    Kirsty 😊

    1. Dear Kirsty,
      Thank you so much. What you have said has really encouraged me. When we felt to buy our big freezer it was about October I think last year. Since January freezers became hard to get. We were so happy to have this freezer. Now we are literally Turkey "hunting" haha! You have done really well getting ahead with the Christmas gifts in the sales. And the clothes I feel is a good idea too for growing children.
      It is wonderful about the wicking beds. We had only one day last summer of extreme heat and it was a shocker. Hard for anything to stay alive. Shade over things on those days can be the difference though. Even an old sheet thrown over or a market umbrella... anything on those days might help. It is fantastic about your husband being able to build things. I dont know your situation yard wise but you know me I am sending him messages to build a chicken house :). With the pallets... in Adelaide I saw many deep boxes ... square ones or longer ones... they had wheels attached. They were made as planter boxes and some of the cafes had them planted up outside. A business started up and you could order them for starting your own veggie gardens in. They were incredibly expensive! Like hundreds each. But they looked wonderful and I thought mmm the wheels is genius as on hot days you could move them or on windy days etc. Also they would make wonderful gifts for anyone with a garden interest.
      I am so happy to hear how you built up your pantry. You are doing a wonderful job. Thank you I loved hearing this! Love Annabel.xxx

  12. What a beautiful and fun idea using the ribbon for Rapunzel hair! I'm remembering that for future granddaughters :) The raised bed you have lovingly built up looks amazing and what a blessing to now be able to use it. That's a testimony to the reap what we sow.

    Much of our week was spent at home just doing our usual homemaking activities and school.

    We harvested the last of the produce from the garden - mini bell peppers and squash. We decided to try cold frames in the spring for an early start so will wait on that. I hope to order seeds by the end of this month.

    The wood we cut last week was sold and delivered this week. That will help with a medical bill and the rest into savings.

    I saved a small amount buying pet food through Chewy, submitted receipts to rebate apps, got 2 Christmas stocking stuffers for each daughter, and used the library for reading fun.

    More on my blog at https://cottageonblackberrylane.com/2020/10/04/frugal-living-october-3/

    1. Dear Jenny,
      The wood you sold and then paid the dental bill.. that was excellent! Your bell peppers and squash sound very good. We have some old windows that I have been using to protect some seedlings and create a bit of warmth. I am also trying some different things!
      I wondered if we would ever fill the raised beds. Until they were build I didn't comprehend the amount it would take! And as things composted they shrank of course and so it went! But steadily they filled. We just have to keep at things!
      It is really good you are ahead with stocking stuffers. I have been chipping away at Christmas gifts too. I got the girls Elsa summer pjs that are gorgeous so they are put away. The usual homemaking and school are busy in themselves. School is a lot. So all extras are a bonus! With love Annabel.xxx

    2. Hi Annabel,

      Just a quick note to tell you how I appreciate everything you do for us and the new layout is very pretty! I am inspired to try making jelly with my mint next year. The girls and your flowers are beautiful!

      I hope everyone has a good week,

    3. Thank you Kathy! If you have mint another lovely thing to make is Raita. I just get a bunch of mint, a teaspoon of cumin and a tub of a nice creamy yoghurt and blend that. With a curry or samosas it is just divine! I am also looking at making mint sauce... which is like mint jelly just as a pour over sauce... will try this with the next bunch of mint I get. Thank you so much.xxx

  13. Good morning one and all. A lurker here.... 😊. Turkey products would be scarce I suspect due to culling of turkeys and chickens as there were outbreaks of avian flu in a rural region which produces much of our poultry products in Australia. Production is expected to step up now but alas not in time for Xmas. Something else to factor in, considering potential animal associated outbreaks when looking at our food security issues.

    1. Dear Lynda,
      Thank you., yes there have been a lot of issues and Mum was saying also with free range birds as they became in danger or expose to this virus and suddenly free range wasn't a good idea anymore. Also in the last year or bit longer maybe something like a third of the worlds pork was wiped out. Also by disease. That is huge. Chicken processing plants were closed and cut down on capacity.,.. this all has to impact supplies. Absolutely. And it is nice to see a lurker saying hi and I appreciate your info! With love Annabel.xxx

    2. Annabel, yes that's true, the outbreaks impacting on free range poultry. I buy free range chicken meat and eggs. It is saddening to see the free range producers having to curtail their birds' freedom. It certainly made me think along the lines of should one have chickens, one now need to consider the more than likely possibility re having to contain them. One more reason for me exploring vegan nutrition, just in case.....

  14. When I first filled my raised beds (about 140 square feet each) I was told it could cost $200 EACH for topsoil. That would be either buying it in bags or in bulk and having it delivered. I read an article that said to use whatever native soil you have (I had some dirt from fencepost holes) and mix it with however much compost you have (in whatever state of decomposition--mine was about half-finished) and then top it with a couple of bags of garden soil. I did this, and boy, was it good stuff! However, it does settle, so last year I added more compost, mixed it in, spread a couple more bags of garden soil on top, and planted again. More good stuff! I will have to add more compost in the spring--this seems to be an annual event, but you can grow anything in it.

    When we added compost last spring, we didn't have leaves to start another batch (wrong time of year). However, my daughter is developmentally disabled and the workshop where she works shreds paper, among other things. There are rules on how most types of shreds are discarded, but it is surprising how many people pay .41 lb. to have all of their junk mail shredded. No rules for disposal, so it usually goes to the dump. I was given several big bags of shredded junk mail and used that instead of leaves. I believe I got that idea from you. It has composted beautifully.

    I compost leaves/paper shreds, a small amount of grass clippings, early-season weeds and garden plants before they go to seed or get diseases or mildew, kitchen waste (no meat or bones) and manure when I can get it. The first year I got alpaca poop, which was fabulous, but I can usually get chicken poop. I prefer to compost it because it is too hot to use straight.

    Periodically, I hear not to compost coated papers or paper printed with colored ink. This info is way outdated and probably wasn't correct to begin with! Paper coatings are made from kaolin--clay--and are no problem. Also, printer's ink of all colors is soy-based and has been for at least 35 years. I know this stuff because my husband worked in the paper industry (coatings) and I worked on newspapers and had to sit through many product safety lectures.

    1. Dear Maxine,
      I have heard of people paying big money for soil. But we didn't pay anything... however I am lucky with access to manure and the soil my brother delivered here in his truck! I have found the shredded paper did break down so well. To think I had reject that idea in the past. However many on you tube making great compost include it and the worms break it down most happily. So free! cycling! All good! This is good info on the coloured paper as I was wary of that. Now I know! How good this is! I know the soil will need to be topped up each season but compared to the initial job of actually filling these beds this is pretty easy. I will continue to watch for potential fillers. Now the shredded paper is going into the chicken house... they compost this for me and it will end up in the beds. The test will be now to see how my plants grow! With chicken poop... I add a bit to my watering can and make a weak liquid fertiliser. Its disguising lol but it seems good. For anyone reading and wanting good soil, compost, to fill a raised bed... I hear of people bagging up green material to get rid of it. Put the word out to everyone you will collect it! All goodness. Thank you Maxine! With love Annabel.xxx

    2. Getting dirt from your own property isn't a big deal if you are rural (you can always skim it off the top), but if you live in town--as I do--it's expensive. The dirt from the fencepost holes was literally all I had or could get. The compost (which I had at our other house and brought with me) not only saved $200 per bed, but produced a superior growing medium. It is pretty much weed-free because I am careful what I put into it (nothing that has gone to seed). It is getting worms in it now, so it continues to improve!


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