Sunday, March 17, 2024

Wwoofers, helpers, volunteers and long term farmer opportunity

This Blog post is to introduce our farm "Serenity" and ourselves, Kim and Lucy, to potential wwoofers, volunteer helpers or other people wanting to learn about living a permaculture lifestyle, including long term options. For regular updates and newsletters, sign up to my Substack newsletter here. 

We have a 50 ha farm in the Gympie Hinterland, just over an hour from the Sunshine Coast and very close to National Parks. Our farm is managed using regenerative farming techniques like rotational grazing, permaculture principles, syntropic, organic and biodynamic methods, as well as Natural Sequence Farming.  We grow a lot of our own food, both plant and animal and buy organic foods that we can't grow. 

We run a small commercial herd of cattle that we manage in a rotational (cell) grazing operation, which enables us to reduce or completely remove any need for chemicals. In very wet years, we have had some trouble with ticks and fly, but mostly rotating them and not allowing them to stay in one paddock too long, will work to break the life cycle of these pests.

We have goats and sheep, which we rotate around paddocks using electro netting and moved every few days. Chickens are raised for eggs and meat, and of course the composting services they assist with. We have ducks for meat and slug control. Our milking cows provide milk, cream, butter, cheese and with a little help from the chickens (eggs), we make delicous icecream.

Volunteers are always welcome on the farm; however, we are now targeting those that want to learn more about living a permaculture lifestyle. This will mean, learning about and helping out with feeding and caring for the animals and gardening jobs of various nature. Eating this kind of food is another experience in itself and we value the no waste principle by preserving any excess. Longer term volunteers will learn how to make cheese and many other preserves. 

Apart from short term volunteers, we are also looking for someone, preferably a couple to stay on the farm long term. This could be living on farm and working for board and keep and working off farm, or setting up their own farm enterprise - maybe a market garden, free range chickens or we're open to other ideas. This offer will not be gone into lightly, as we need to be able to all get along. The important thing being that we have mutual respect. We are an older couple with a lot of knowledge and skills that we want to be able to share with the younger generation. Land is expensive today and not easy for the average young person to get into. We have the land and as we age and want to reduce our workload, we would like to give the opportunity to someone to utilise our land, in return for a little help on the farm so that we can continue to grow and process our own food.

If you are interested in coming to Serenity (short or long term), please send me an email with your resume or other reason for wanting to come to us.  It's guaranteed that you will eat well and you will be welcomed into our family. We practice what we preach and are keen to share our knowledge.

If you are reading this and know someone that might be interested, please share this post.

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Happy New Year AND Moving over to Substack

Happy New Year!!!

We have had an amazing start to this year and I know it's going to continue to be a good one. 

I have made the decision to move this Blog over to Substack. It's a different system and I think it will work well for me.....once I learn how to use it. You will be able to subscribe there and get an email when I do an update. I can't seem to be able to take an email list from this format, so you will need to subscribe yourself. If you were receiving my "Lucy's Farm Kitchen" newsletter, I will be able to export those email addresses. Substack will replace both the Blog and the newsletter. 

I really hope People will come across and follow me on Substack - I enjoy both blogging and the newsletter writing and love to share what I know, cook and do, and it'll be nice to be able to see that people are following along. 

My first substack email will go out soon, and you can sign up Here on Substack

I hope that you like the new format. It's exciting for me to see what might happen with it in the future, but also a little sad as I still remember when I started this blog over ten years ago.......

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Milking cows

Is having a milking cow a pleasure or a pain? Sometimes it seems like a painful chore, and it can be very annoying when the cow or the calf does not do what I want it to do, when I want it to do it! However, most of the time I find having a milking cow a really nice and even relaxing chore. When I sit down to milk an easy to milk cow or I use a machine on the not so easy cows, I use this time as a meditative time.

For example , I have Ruth who is very quiet and I can even milk her with just a feed bucket in front and not in a milking bale. She has four lovely shaped teats so physically milking is easy and I can just rest my head against her flank and wander off in my mind! And then I have Blanquita. She is my highest producing cow, but not easy to milk - small and tight teats. I like to milk her with the machine and then it becomes a pleasure rather than a pain.

This is me milking Ruth when she first calved.

At the moment, I’m using a machine as I have Blanquita and Collette who are both hard to milk and even though Ruth is easy, she’s getting milked by machine too. The machine can be relaxing. I just pop the suction cups on and sit and contemplate. The machine makes a rhythmic noise and I can just zone out to it. I’m actually writing this as I milk, because I often think of things I want to write about while milking so I thought I might as well give it a go and will put it on the computer later.

Milking by machine is quicker to milk each cow, although I would argue that point if all my cows were like Ruth. Although, it is so much easier on my back, which is one of the original reasons I got a machine. What takes more time though, is the clean up process. Washing it afterwards is a little bit more work than just standing up and carry the bucket to the kitchen!

If all my cows were like Ruth and I only milked one each day, I wouldn’t bother with the machine. But, I like to make cheese and butter, so sometimes one cow is not enough. Sometimes one cow can be more than enough, but I just happened to have three calve all at once, so three it is!

Another really nice thing I enjoy about my cows is watching them! Our house is on a hill and most of the milking cow paddocks are below the house. I walk out to the garden or when I’m walking down to lock the calves up, it’s just such a nice view and to see them in that view makes my heart happy!

I only milk when I need or want to milk so the calves stay on the cow all the time, except for the nights before I milk. In the afternoon I separate the calves from the cows and then after milking I put them back together.

My life will be complete when I have about four cows like Ruth. All jerseys, 2 to milk at a time and easy to milk and manage. Yep I don’t wish for much in life!

Friday, October 13, 2023

Aging well

I’ve heard a bit of talk recently about the show about the Blue Zones on Netflix. I don’t have Netflix so can’t speak about this particular series; however, I have read a fair bit about the Blue Zones and about Dan Buettner.  If you’re unfamiliar with the term blue zones, they are basically areas in the world that have a higher than “normal” incidence of centenarians (people living to 100 and beyond). Some of the reasons that have been given for this are:

  • ·        Diet – people still eat a fairly traditional diet, with very little or no modern convenience foods
  • ·        Community – people are still in contact with family or friends – in most areas, multi-generational living continues – old people aren’t put in aged care facilities.
  • ·        Purpose – people still led an active life and had a reason to get up and about.

What I’ve read about Dan Buettner, is that he seems to have “cherry picked” some of the zones that support his theory that being vegetarian is one of the key reasons. This annoys me because it is simply not true. There are some that are completely vegetarian – the seventh day Adventists are, but they also don’t drink or smoke.

An Icelandic community has a high rate of centenarians, eat a lot of meat – mostly well fermented fish. Traditionally, it would have been difficult to be a vegetarian in a very cold climate.

I remember listening to an interview done by Richard Fidler with a gentleman that had written a book about Sardinia (a blue zone) and he was shocked that even though they ate mutton, and cooked in a lot of fat, they were healthy – they were healthy despite this fat consumption!! I say they were healthy because of the fat consumption! Incidentally, I got that book out of the Library to read, and they didn’t eat a lot of meat, but they ate some and traditionally cooked a lot of meals in Lard. This is common in a traditional Mediterranean diet – lard for cooking and olive oil poured over everything before eating! They would often grow out a pig to preserve for salami and ham and of course lard etc.  

My problem with someone trying to suggest that being a vegetarian is going to enable you to live to 100, is missing the whole point. These people are living a long time because they are eating a traditional diet, they keep active, they are happy and they have community around them.

It is very difficult to eat the perfect diet for perfect health! There are so many conflicting views about what to eat, and even when to eat. It makes it almost impossible to work out what is right. I think what is right for you, maybe totally different for someone else. Start at the beginning……learn to cook what you like to eat, learn to listen to your body to see if what you like to eat makes you feel good. If you don’t feel good, learn to cook food that makes you feel good. Listen to your body!

I eat freshly ground spelt sourdough, because I like a little bread and only want to eat what makes me feel good.

Take away the obvious inflammatory things like gluten, dairy and bad fats. Cook meat and veg, make soups, eat eggs instead of cereal. Eat real food! Don’t eat packet food. When you take away gluten and then you eat it again, if it doesn't make you feel bad, then you can probably continue to eat it. But eat it in moderation. Our bodies don’t need a lot of grains whether they have gluten or not. Dairy may not worry you, or it might…..listen to your body. And fats, well stick to the saturated variety and you will be much better off – animal fats and coconut oil are the best to cook with. Olive oil for everything else.

A pretty typical breakfast for me - eggs, tomatoes and cheese.

Salad - a meal in a bowl - meat with lots of salad ingredients!

Once you start eating better, you feel better and then you want to do more… can move more, walk in nature, dig a garden, play! Then when you feel happy because you feel well and are enjoying moving more, you start to meet more people and enjoy that community. And then you have the secrets to aging well!

That is my plan, what’s yours?

Saturday, September 9, 2023

I want to do it all

I want to grow my own food, preserve it, cook it, eat it, share it.........I want to do it all. I just can't! I have always loved blogging as I find it a way to share what I do with other people, and perhaps show people that it's possible to grow some food and cook from scratch. I also want to share what I know about how to farm regeneratively and in a way that grows healthy food for animals and people. There are not enough hours in the day. OR maybe I'm not young and have boundless energy anymore!!

I thought for this blog, I'll just do an update of what's in my garden and briefly what's happening with the farm and animals. 

The goats and sheep were becoming problematic moving with the cows as we started getting very low on feed and they decided that they wouldn't stay in the fences any longer. We got rid of a lot (put in freezer or moved on to greener pastures) and now we rotate them in electric fencing again. 

We have pigs again and we move them around in electric fencing! We put them in the syntropic row - they're only little, they won't cause much damage. We'll be moving them very soon to another spot! We'll run them above the contour so that the fertility will wash into the contour and spread down the hill. 

The ngunis are going well, quite a few calves on the ground now. They are so pretty!

I'm also milking most days and making either cream or cheese. I've now got 3 cows, although two have had problems with mastitis so aren't 4 titters. But I'm getting 20+ litres so plenty of milk still.

We have baby chickens - 6 out of 14 hatched, so not a good result. And we have another chook sitting on eggs. On top of that we have 14 roosters fatting up in our bottom garden/food forest. These roosters we were given, so we didn't even have to breed them ourselves! 

The garden is going so well.....well, it's got a lot of diversity! Maitland installed a sprinkler system, which has made life so much easier over this dry spell we've been having. I have a lot going on and we eat something out of the garden at each meal. We've been overflowing with citrus and are now on our last orange tree (out of 3). Grapefruits are still going. Lemons and limes are all but finished, although plenty of bush lemons still out in the paddocks. 

I planted the seeds from our asparagus and have planted them out. This is the second time I've done it. I won't be able to eat them for a few years, but then we'll have asparagus for the next 20 years!!

We keep throwing avocado seeds into the food forest. Here's two fairly close together - there's quite a few that have come up.

A bunch of bananas on our Cherhill Bananas. We brought these with us when we came - not quite two years ago.

Very happy with the size of this carrot. I plant carrot seeds in any spare spot in the main garden bed, so we always have a carrot or two to pull out. Not always this big though!

 This is a celery that has has re-grown from last season.  The celery has self seeded, but this one is growing out of the old stump - might be a bit hard to see in the photo. But I was impressed!

I finally have eggplants fruiting. I planted them before winter and they struggled along until now.

Warrigal greens self sown from last year.

Strawberries! I got a bucket full of strawberry runners from a permie friend and planted them every where in the food forest as well as some on the edge of my main garden. We've been eating a few every day. You'd have to grow alot to have enough for jam!!!!

We bought a rotary hoe and have made some new garden beds on the flat area. I've already planted tomatoes on the furthest one and these two closer ones will be eggplants and zucchinis. 
I've been making my own seedling pots out of arrowroot or banana leaves and recycling toilet rolls. I'm very happy with how the plant material ones are going. I use old black plastic trays as a holder for them. 

Cavolo nero is the kale that keeps on giving! Most Kale does keep growing well, but this is my favourite one.

Lettuce in the front with some spring onions, but at the back are my proper onions that haven't bulbed up.....maybe I need to weed them again.

More lettuce this time all self seeded alongside the self seeded parsley.

Orange tree in the background and jungle in the foreground.

Parsnip!!! I've got a nice little patch of them!

We've been feeding the goats branches of trees to supplement because of the lack of good grass, so I collect the branches and chip them. That's the pile on the left. The pile on the right are cassava cuttings from the big cassava processing I did recently with the help from some friends from the permaculture group. I've started chipping but it seems to take a while and I only have spare bits of time!

What are you up to in your part of the world? Is it dry? We've had a few storms go around us (one we got!) and it's been a very dry year so far. Lets hope we get some good rain soon.....

Thanks for taking the time to read to the bottom of this post.......much love, Lucy

Sunday, July 9, 2023

An AI essay on Permaculture

My son was talking about AI the other day (artificial intelligence). He has an AI assistant thing on his phone who writes stories that he then reads to his kids. He asked me what I want to know about, so I asked him to do an essay on Permaculture for me......this is the result. I actually think it's quite good. Although, I do find the whole topic of AI a little scary.

Permaculture: A Sustainable Approach to Living

Permaculture is a concept that aims to design human environments and cultures that are in harmony with nature and its processes. The term was coined by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren in the 1970s, based on the words “permanent” and “culture”. Permaculture draws inspiration from indigenous and traditional practices, as well as from modern ecological and design sciences12

Principles of Permaculture

Permaculture is based on a set of design principles that guide the creation of productive and resilient systems that can meet human needs while regenerating natural resources and ecosystems. Some of these principles are: 2

  • Observe and interact: Learn from nature and adapt to its patterns and feedbacks.
  • Catch and store energy: Capture and use renewable resources such as sun, wind, water and biomass.
  • Obtain a yield: Ensure that the system produces useful outputs that can support human well-being and livelihoods.
  • Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: Monitor and adjust the system to maintain balance and avoid waste and pollution.
  • Use and value diversity: Incorporate a variety of elements, functions, species and interactions to enhance resilience and productivity.
  • Use edges and value the marginal: Utilize the interface between different zones, elements or systems to create opportunities for synergy and innovation.
  • Creatively use and respond to change: Embrace change as an opportunity for learning, adaptation and improvement.

Applications of Permaculture

Permaculture can be applied to various fields and scales, from urban to rural, from individual to community, from local to global. Some examples of permaculture applications are: 12

  • Regenerative agriculture: Designing farming systems that mimic natural ecosystems, such as agroforestry, polycultures, perennial crops, organic methods, etc.
  • Town planning: Designing settlements that integrate human needs with ecological functions, such as water harvesting, energy efficiency, waste management, green spaces, etc.
  • Rewilding: Restoring degraded lands and habitats by enhancing biodiversity, soil health, water cycles, carbon sequestration, etc.
  • Community resilience: Building social networks and structures that foster cooperation, mutual aid, local economy, education, culture, etc.


Permaculture is a holistic approach to living that seeks to create sustainable environments and cultures that work with nature rather than against it. It is based on a set of design principles that apply whole-systems thinking and observation. It can be applied to various fields and scales to enhance productivity, resilience and regeneration. Permaculture is not only a practical concept but also a way of thinking and living.

1: 2:

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Cooking for Ukraine

I've been learning a lot about Ukraine over the last 12 months as a Patreon of Olia Hercules. She is a Ukrainian food writer and recipe book writer, living in London. She is using patreon to raise funds to support her father and other family and friends who are either fighting or supporting the fighting in Ukraine. She shows that every little bit helps, and the funds often go towards medication and other personal items to people living in Ukraine.

Some people may think of Ukrainian food as being a bit plain or stodgy, and yes, they do eat a lot of bread type things and potatoes and cabbages, but it is more than that. Ukraine is a very fertile country, and the average family has a strong link to the land. The land that produces the food they eat, the land that has already been disrupted by Russia once before, and now the land that they want to keep their own.

It could perhaps be considered peasant food, and this is because they traditionally grew a lot of vegetables over the summer months and then preserved it for the winter. They did not have supermarkets like we have now, so ate simple good quality food.

Fermenting was a common way to preserve, and they would ferment the food and then store it in cellars or even water bath it for longer keeping. Yes, we now know that heating kills all the good bacteria, but through fermentation, it has become acidic enough to safely water bath for long term preservation. Water bathing or cooking doesn't destroy the vitamins etc in the food. They didn't only ferment vegetables, they prized pork fat, so would preserve this with salt and keep it in the cellar too - not rendered fat, salted fat. I haven't tried it yet, but probably will when we kill a pig that has enough back fat on it.

I even got to learn about a new cheese - Syr

I have bought the book "Summer Kitchens" by Olia and just about everything in it resonates with the way I like to cook. The secret to serving/cooking delicious peasant food is to use very good ingredients. 

Practicing some bread rolls - garlic buns and pyrizhky (filled buns)

I am hosting a #cookforukraine luncheon this weekend. This is a fundraiser for the children of Ukraine. Olia is an ambassador for this program through Unicef, and she has inspired me to do more, even though what I can do is limited. So, if you'd like to support this cause, please donate through my fundraising page. Nothing is too little. Thanks so much.

Donate here