What's happening at the Hetzel House

14 March 2018
While I've been writing The Simple Home series, you've probably noticed I'm not writing much about what is happening here on a day-to-day basis. Well, my friends, we're still pottering around doing what we do. Currently we're moving from a fairly slow time, when the weather restricted what we could do outside, to our busy season.  March is when we plant our garden every year.  The garden beds are still full of weeds with only one 90 percent ready, the rest are waiting their turn. We hope to visit the market next Sunday and buy a range of seedings. These will be planted along with seedlings we have growing in the bush house, Glen Large garlic from Green Harvest, ginger plants and Welsh onions in poly boxes and a stand of potatoes in a cage. We're keeping it small, having reduced the size of the garden last year, but we should have a good range of what we eat and that will help cut back our grocery bill while giving us the freshest food possible. It will be good to get out to the garden once again.


Above are the new chickens and below are some of the new and old chickens together.
Below are two of our Barnevelders - a silver lace and a blue lace.

This year we have the added wonder of six new chooks. I'm naming them after women we know.  They are Barnevelders - Jean and Tricia, Plymouth Rocks - Sunny and Kathleen and Rhode Island Reds - Sarndra and Diane.  That gives us a grand total of 13 pure breed chooks and one farm yard cross, she looks like a small New Hampshire.  When the new girls start laying in about 6 weeks time and the old girls get back to laying after a hot and humid summer, we should get about 10 eggs a day. Now we're getting one or two.  I'm giving them high protein feed at the moment in addition to their normal rations. It's just stale bread, and today, old organic corn chips, and a sprinkling of Weetbix crumbs from the bottom of the pack.  Over that I pour full cream milk that I make up using water and powdered milk.  The extra protein and shorter days should get those gals back to laying very soon.




Another task I used to carry out daily and let go of while I was busy - bread baking, is back.  I missed the routine of daily bread but I knew my time would come again, and here it is. I'm currently fine tuning the five minute artisan bread from the book of the same name. I used to make it years ago but when I was busy I bought our bread from the local baker.  At $6.90 for a rye sourdough and $4.70 for a preservative-free sliced loaf I'm glad I'm back baking my own. We don't eat much bread now that we have our main meal at noon. We only need a bit of bread for toast and an occasional sandwich. So the loaves I'm making are smaller, I make enough dough for two weeks and the dough sits in the fridge until needed.  It's easy, no kneading and it's got a great taste.  It's not sourdough in the traditional sense of wild yeasts, but it does ferment and complexity develops the longer it sits.


When I stopped baking, I froze all my flours and now I'm going through the remains of them before I stock up on fresh flour.  The bread made yesterday was a mix of organic white and spelt.  I'll do a post about baking bread when I finished my tweaking.  I've put away my bread-maker and the place is now taken with a meat and bread slicer. Next week, when I replenish the freezer meats after defrosting and cleaning, I'll be making cold cuts again and these are best cut on a slicer, so is the bread.


I've have a range of beautiful organic cotton from EcoYarns but as my eyesight isn't great at the moment, I've put it to one side until I can see what I'm doing. The only sewing that's been happening is what's going on in my head and I have quite a few projects planned after we get the garden planted. In the meantime, I've made use of an old woollen blanket my parents used to have on their bed. It's a double, pure wool Marnock blanket produced in the Geelong area and it's probably 60 years old. Instead of letting it sit unused in a cupboard, I've cut it in two pieces to make smaller blankets for the living room during the colder months.  When I get my eyesight back to normal, I'll blanket stitch along the edges to maintain the look and integrity of the blanket. I think my mum would expect that to be done.

We're looking forward to spending some time with our family on the weekend. It's Jens' birthday today and the family has been invited over to their place (5 minutes away) for a sausage sizzle, dessert, a few beers and a game of darts.  Simple pleasures, nothing fancy, just relaxing with the family and the dogs. Jens and Cathy have two Airedales so Gracie will come along and will probably be run off her little stubby legs chasing the other dogs. ;- )  Good times.

What are you doing?

ADDED: I forgot to mention above, I phoned the eye doctor yesterday to tell them my phone was broken and to call Hanno if they need me and was told I'm not having my eye done this week.  The appointment I thought was for the hospital is for a post-op check.  So more waiting, I'm afraid.  >: - (

30 comments

  1. I love these posts about everyday happenings! I smiled when you mentioned the cost of buying a loaf of artisan bread. That's what I was rambling about in the comments section a while ago. I am looking forward to your post about baking bread. I bake bread in the oven but I haven't for a while as I was eating too much which lashings of butter. I am I interested in how you keep your dough in the fridge until you need it. I didn't know it was possible. Can I do that for ordinary bread and do I need to cover it to prevent it drying? Sourdough is a mystery to me. I would love to know how to get started on that.
    You made me smile with your comment about the only sewing going on is in your head. I have lots of projects in mine!
    Have a lovely day Rhonda and best wishes to Hanno. I hope your eyes feel better soon.

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  2. I love the idea of making a big batch of dough and keeping it in the fridge. I wonder if that bit of fermenting is what gives yours that lovely texture :)
    Here in Dallas TX the weather is beginning to warm, and we too are planning the garden. So far lettuces, peppers and basil have been sown.
    We dropped the top of the toilet tank whilst jostling the flapper. Endless repairs in an old home. My husband was able to glue to top together, but it looks like Frankenloo, so I'm working on a chenille topper for it. That's about all here, just making do and living simply. Happy Wednesday!

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  3. Rhonda I hope there isn't a problem with your eye after the op. My sister took 5 months to get her sight back as she had a cornea problem which was undetected when her cataract was removed. It has pretty well healed up now thankfully. Hopefully you will be able to get back to the sewing soon. It is nice to be able to get out in the garden once again without being burned to a crisp.

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    1. Chel, I went in the day after my first op and they checked my vision then. I have just under 20/20 vision in the fixed eye.

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  4. Good morning. I love the photos of your girls. The new ones seem to have settled in well. When I think of doing something, as opposed to actually doing it, I call it virtual. For example, if I am thinking of redesigning a garden bed, I call it virtual gardening. Unfortunately, I often do more virtual things than actually doing things!

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    1. Ha ha Pauline, I have have the same "problem".

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  5. Nice idea with the blankets, and your lacy chickens have such pretty feathers! So, you plant your garden in March - and it's going to be fall there, not spring! The world is an interesting place. You garden through the winter; today I didn't go to work because the library closed: snow all day. This happened last Wednesday, too. March is a wild month in New England, or it can be. And our gardening season is so short, compared to yours! We can't plant many things till late May because we can still get frosts until then.

    I do love the beauty of snow, but I would really like it to be gone by Easter. :)

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  6. Rhonda I love your bread improving bowls. Where did you get those from please?

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    1. Hi Jane, it's called a banneton. I bought mine online. Just Google the name and they'll come up.

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  7. I love that you are finding a way to use a blanket that is 60years old (or thereabouts). I think blanket stitching around it will indeed be just right! I have a few sewing projects I want to get started on but haven't been able to pre-wash the fabric with all this rain and showers. Can't complain about the "good stuff" falling from the sky though ... I will be planting out my veg patch on the weekend too. I am a tad excited about that. Happy gardening, Rhonda and Hanno! Meg:)

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  8. I really love your day to day posts. You are such an inspiration to me and what's great is that it helps keep me focused on where we are going in our own home. You are the rock star of home management!

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    1. Wow, that is high praise, Franny and Danny. Thank you. ☺️

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  9. I am now totally converted across to no-knead bread too, such a big time saver and I just prefer it taste-wise. It is also a slower process which I like too. Your new hens are just beautiful too Rhonda.

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  10. I really should look into a meat slicer like that. My husband has a heart condition and must eat a low-sodium diet, which means that most cold cuts from the deli are off-limits for him, except for their low-salt roast beef, which adds up quickly! Would be much better to roast a turkey breast or something at home, seasoned so he can eat it, and slice it up for sandwiches. Thanks for the idea!

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  11. I just tried out a new no knead French bread recipe yesterday myself (I refuse to knead, lol!) I used to let our machine do the kneading but the dough bowl bit the dust and a new one isn't in the budget.
    I love that blanket, it looks so cozy.
    Best wishes for your eye health!~TJ

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  12. Love the soft colours of that blanket. I have a very old car rug which my grandparents used in the days when heaters in cars were unreliable. I still use it in the car over my knees when we set off on long journeys in the early morning and there's a chill. It is a double sided rug made of fake fur and is rather like a teddy bear!
    Please may we have a photo of Gracie when you have time.

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  13. That bread looks delicious. I've always wanted to learn how to make bread!

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  14. I like the thought of having bread dough in the fridge for when ever you need bread. I will have to do some research for some good recipes. Waiting for medicine appointments can be hard, it’s nice to be done and on the road to recovery. Simple family time is always the best. It’s the slow simple life that brings the most memories and joys to our lives. Enjoy

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  15. Hi Rhonda, this might be a silly question but how long after can I use frozen flour after its expiry date?
    Thanks in advance :)

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    1. Laura, I think flour has a 'best before' date but most flour has a long shelf life. If it's plain flour, you can use it as long as it doesn't smell rancid. SR flour will be okay to use but the rising agent probably won't work like it does when it's fresh. You'll have to add more baking powder.

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  16. I remember my mum and dad had the same colour Blankets and I scored them when mum was packing up house.
    Claire in Melbourne

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  17. Sorry to hear your second eye op has been postponed, it must be difficult having one good eye and one waiting for surgery with presumably no suitable glasses to deal with that split. Barnevelders are my favourite chickens, I really love our two, so pretty.
    I bought a wool blanket with the old silky edging from the op shop, the wool part was in excellent condition but the edging was faded and had torn in places. I made a new cotton border for it as if I was finishing a quilt. I'm really happy with it and being a queen size blanket I think it was quicker for me than blanket stitch. I do love taking care of old things so they last. We also pulled out the last of our summer vegetable garden yesterday in readiness for improving the soil and spring planting. Love this time of year!

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  18. Hi Rhonda, your long ferment bread looks so good and really is just as good as soughdough without all the hassles. I love your little frown pic, I need to learn that one. Rhonda, when I was cleaning up my layout I inadvertently wiped your blog from my list of favorite blogs. (Insert frown motif here) I've been frantically trying to reinstate it with no success. It's my fave blog to read and recommend so I just can't bear it not to be there. I'm trying to find your email address to contact you but can't find that either. (insert frustrated frown motif here) Hoping you can steer me in the right direction, as I'm able to add other blogs to my blog list, but just not yours!! Help!!

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  19. As much as I enjoy the practips tips, learnings and advice from you, by far my favourite is hearing about your everyday life. It so helps put everything you espouse into context, and I find it both motivating and inspirational, and somehow more do-able. Thank you.
    Leiani - Perth WA

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  20. Oh that bread looks awesome - I look forward to your post about making bread, your instructions are always so clear. we also dont eat a lot of bread, but keeping the dough in the fridge and baking as needed sounds like a great idea.

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  21. Love the Blanket Idea I have inherited a couple of Tassie made ones recently and they would easily be as old. I've darned a few holes and are using them for the kids athletic badges to patchwork onto it and it will keep them snuggled on cooler athletic days and a momento to boot. Thank you so much Rhonda for all your great tips and ideas, I've just started working again away from the house after my children go to school and the routines and tips from you that I've put into place over the years have help keep things steady and in order. Thanks again and hope your eyes feel well soon:-)

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  22. Hi, just reading about your new chooks and the high protein feed you give them. I also give mine the higher protein feed, it makes such a difference to egg production as hens won't form eggs if they don't have enough excess protein to form the shell. I was wondering if you grow Arrowroot? I came across it about 5 years ago and have been growing it ever since as fodder for my hens. It is high in protein and they absolutely love it. I cut the leaves and it regrows so fast, every year I separate the tubers and have so much of it around the garden now. From your photos I think you are in Qld too, and it is very well suited to our climate. From memory, I think I bought my first plants as tubers from Green Harvest.

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    1. Hi Gabbi, thanks for the tip about arrowroot. We're in Landsborough.

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  23. I’m enjoying your post. I live in the southern part of the US and had to look up the word chook. Now I can add it to my vocabulary. Thanks for having such a delightful blog!

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