Broken clutch, stumps and starting the deck

Thanks to a quickly arranged meeting in Collie on Monday we decided to double up and have a second weekend in a row down the block.

My main goal for the weekend was to get a few stumps out along the driveway, I spent a good 5 hours on Saturday morning with the mattock, shovel, chainsaw, sledgehammer and tractor. All for a grand total of 1.5 stumps removed.

It’s always disheartening seeing how much work goes into clearing a small area, but it will be worthwhile in the end.

My stump removal exploits were suddenly stopped when the clutch in the tractor fell to the floor and stopped doing anything.

Thankfully I was in a relatively clear, although kinda steep and very uneven area. My first thought was that a split pin had snapped and it would be a quick fix. However once I had a look it turned out to be a snapped rod, I decided there was no point worrying about it up on the hill. As I was getting up the clutch was nice enough to swing up and split my lip, normally I wouldn’t care, but I’m hoping to look presentable for the meeting, thankfully it was 95% healed up by Monday, I don’t think anyone would have noticed.

My solution to driving it down was pretty much the good old fashioned, “if you can find em, grind em” , it was a very slow 1km (in and out of the trees) back to camp.

I pulled out the broken (and due to the drive down very bent) rod. Not sure if it will be a repair job, but I’m leaning more towards it being a replacement job. Thankfully, my brother in law is pretty handy with a welder, so I’ve left it with him. Thanks heaps Cam, I’ll owe you another load of wood.

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Shan helped a bit with the digging, but most of the time I was up there she spent looking after the kids and when she had a few minutes free mowing the lawn around our caravan, she was pretty happy with her patch of shorter grass.

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After some lunch we decided to pick a new job, it’s one that I wasn’t really planning on doing this weekend but it seemed like a good one to do as a family and let us stay in the shade a bit more. We started leveling and cutting out notches for the deck, I think i’m starting to get fairly good at cutting in the shape for the timber, for mature chainsaw work it looks pretty neat. It’s a slow and steady job to try to keep things as close to square and level as we can when working with our own logs.

 

I also spent about half an hour digging the ‘bore’ out a bit deeper, it’s getting fairly low and starting to be a mosquito breeding ground, if frogs get in there it’s to deep for them to get out, I’ve dug it out so the 1 side is a steep ramp, hopefully that makes it a bit easier for wildlife (frogs to eat to Mossie larva) to use and will give us a bigger collection area when the water level comes back up in autumn.

Shan decided that she needed a better shower, in the medium term we’ll have a real shower in the caravan but at the moment we don’t have pressurised water, so she got herself a little solar shower, it’s nothing fancy, but she said it’s the best shower she’s had out there.

Last time we were here Oscar and I collected a ton of acacia seed (a bucket of seed pods), I spent a few hours each night this time splitting the pods and collecting the seeds. In autumn I’ll scarify them and hopefully end up with a few more of these bee loving, nitrogen fixing natives around the place.

Sunday was more decking as well as pulling some blackberrys, it was due to be a 35c day and we were pretty much out of good food (there’s always plenty of pasta, rice ect, but not what you want for lunch on a toasty day) so we headed into Bunbury at about lunch time.

It was a quick and relatively unplanned trip, but turned out to be reasonably productive.

By complete chance I ran into one of the Facebook members on Monday, he had seen my name and I mentioned that I had just come back from my block. He put 2 and 2 together and asked me if I was from Quinsgunnado. Not gona lie, it made me feel at least slightly famous =p it really shows that it’s  small world, you never know how people will link up.

Our next trip will probably be over Christmas, or depending on how a few things work out we may have to cancel that trip, but we’ll see.

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Fire Breaks and more Roofing

It started off a fairly standard weekend, heading down out with a loaded up trailer on a Friday afternoon.

But this time turned out to be a little different. About half way there we were stopped for one of Nics many toilet breaks. I was going over the nights to do list in my head. Then suddenly I realised.

I didn’t have the keys to the caravan.

We were already an hour from home so there was no turning back.

We always try to live by the motto 2 is 1, 1 is none. Our backup for the block is mum and Kelvin’s cabin.

This was going to be a pretty good test of that, thankfully one of the keys we had opened the cabin. They have a lot of the same things as us, pots and pans, cups, cutlery. They also regularly have the other grandkids out there so some of the kid specific stuff is there also.

Oscar came out on the Saturday, he tried to pick the lock, but didn’t have much luck, I did have bolt cutters, but the challenge to see what we needed sounded like more fun.

Overall,the main things that we were missing were;

  • A kettle (we have 2 in the van but mum took hers with her to victoria)
  • The kids baby bath (it’s great for adult baths also)
  • The inverter (no power was a bit inconvenient although there was a tiny bit of solar lighting and a phone charger in the car)
  • The tractor battery (I had to pull the second battery from the patrol which we didn’t need because there was no inverter =p)

Not too bad really, a couple of things that we can do to make things easier for next time. The major one being, leave a key in Bunbury so that we can swing by there in case it happens again.

One of my big jobs for the weekend was putting in the fire breaks, realistically, if any fire came through my breaks would do nothing except maybe divert a grass fire into the trees. But I used it as a chance to get better at the more detailed use of the tractor bucket and blade.

It started off fairly thick and long grass in the cleared areas.

 

Ended up looking pretty good, cleaner than what most of the neighbors have. The bush area (where the break is least useful) was pretty easy as it was basically just pulling all the leaves away.

 

Over the past few weeks we managed to track down a few more pieces of long tin for the caravan roof, they are now up, and we have a full 6x3m undercover area to keep the sun off us. Just 5 more pieces and the whole roof will be on. While doing it I managed to fall/badly jump off the ladder and Land on a brick, twisted my ankle pretty good, but managed to walk it off.

The last showy job was using some of the smaller tin to finish up the roof for the tractor shed.  It still needs a ridge cap and of course some walls, but it’s almost to the point that we don’t need the tarp.

 

Apart from that, Oscar spent some time putting holes in things and I spent some time pulling blackberries, digging stumps and just general observation.

Oscar tried to mow some of the longer grass around our caravan, but 1 lawn mower wouldn’t start and the other didn’t have fuel. Must remember to bring some with us next time.

The bore is almost dry at the moment, but it’s still only shallow so when it gets a bit drier I’ll spend some time getting it a bit deeper.

A lot of the plants are suffering already, it seems like the kangaroo pressure is higher than normal this year, it also seems to have dried out a bit quicker than normal.

We have also managed to track down a source of food grade IBC’s for a decent price, can get up to 1 every 2 weeks which is way more than we can handle at the moment, but should make a few of the water based projects a bit easier.

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When we got home, we had all the normal jobs, the rabbits had managed to break their waterer (again), while I was fixing it I noticed something fluffy at the back of their feeder, unfortunately, one of the baby’s had managed to crawl inside it, once in there was on chance for him to turn around and get back out. If you play stupid games, you win stupid prizes, this prize was drowning in food.

We have a few personal things that are putting a few plans up into the air at the moment, but we are planning to get out for a week over Christmas. It’s looking like that will be the next big update.

Biggest ever batch of Beetroot

Every year we put away a fair bit of beetroot, it’s super easy to grow and easy to preserve.

This year we managed to borrow a neighbors garden bed so we sowed a bit more than usual and they had a bit more space to grow.

This was our second, and main, harvest of the year clearing out both our bed and the neighbors, we ended up with 2 big buckets of beets which ended up 7.7kg once they were cleaned up and the greens removed. A pretty huge harvest by our standards. The rabbits (including the 5 babies that are growing out) had a good feed for 2 days from the greens.

The recipe we used is pretty much our go to now for beetroot, it is based on the below with the addition of mustard seeds and orange peel for a bit of extra flavour we also use a bit less onion.

http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_06/pickled_beets.html

We had to do almost 4 times the standard recipe size and only had 3-4cups of the liquid left when we finished.

For the first time ever we filled our canner to the brim. Then had to do a second batch that was about half full.

Because of the volume of food and because I was working alone at the packing stage (things cooled as I packed)  it took almost an hour to get it to the boil, but we got there.

End result was 5 salsa jars, 16 half pints and 9 pint jars of mainly sliced but also a few pints of baby beets.

We still had a little left from last year’s crop and 4-5 jars from the batch a few months ago so now we have a shit ton (yes that’s the proper term) in the cupboard.

Lucky I have some in laws that are willing to take some of it off my hands.

Next year we may scale back slightly, but it was way more efficient doing a huge batch. It only took about 20% longer and we ended up with over double the end product which kinda makes me want to scale up more.

Is there a market for home made, better than organic sliced beetroot? What would you pay for it?

September Long Weekend

The long weekend was planned to be a team effort with a fair few people to help get the roof over our van.

The weather however had different plans. A few days before the trip we were forecast to get up to 45mm of rain over 3 days. That put a bit of a dampener on our free labour lol.

By some freak change in the weather we only ended up getting about 15mm of rain (almost all on the Sunday night), so it actually ended up a nice weekend.

On the Friday night we swung past my sisters house for some more scrap tin, then to Shan’t parents house to pick up the wood for the annex. We stayed the night there and were off to the block bright and early on the Saturday.

I started smashing things out and getting the frame up, by the end of the day I had the tops frame roughly up with half pieces leveled and property in.

Shan took a bit of time in the morning to head to Balingup with the kids, they picked up 6 black walnut seedlings from one of the Facebook group members in exchange for a few things I had grown. She also had a few kangaroos, cockies and various other things that Nic loved to play with.

While they were out I had a minor incident and managed to drop the top of the pole I had just shortened on to the van. I didn’t think much of it, put a peice of tin over the tiny crack and weighed it down with some bricks. More on that later…

We have a second fire drum now and found that having 2 fires is way nicer than 1. Means that you can keep the front and back warm at the same time. Nic helped make sure we had plenty of well stacked wood for them.

Both the kids slept well and I was the first up in the morning, it wasn’t long before the frame was all together, level and secure. Next up was putting some tin on.

We’ve been collecting tin for a while so I figured I would have enough to do most of the roof. I didn’t however consider that I have 3 meters between the beams. Most of my tin is in 2m lengths.

I still had 6 pieces that were long enough, I think we will need 16 in total.

During Sunday I managed to get the front right quarter up before the rain that had been promised all weekend finally came. From about 2:30 it came down fairly hard for the rest of the day.

That gave me a chance to check on my swale over in front of the cabin. I did dump a little bit of water from the rainwater tank to exaggerate the effect, it was pretty fun to see the water rising. My levels aren’t quite right, but there was at least 10m of water in it without it being more than about 3-4cm deep in any one place.

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That night was when my little log on the roof incedent came to fruition. Shan and I were toasty and warm in bed with the kids asleep (in the ‘kitchen’) when out of nowhere we heard what sounded like a down pipe gushing water.

The ‘down pipe’ was in the cupboard above our bed and was where our roof full of water decided to drain. I drilled a few strategic holes in the roof and think I’ve made it so that it will all stay drained.

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The half of the bed that was soaked had been Shan’s, but she made a convincing argument that she needed to be on the other side because of many ‘reasons’ that I’m sure would be impossible to articulate.

The following morning I used the last 2 pieces of tin to cover the back right of the van where the crack is. But we’ve left towels and containers under the main drill hole just in case that isn’t enough. We’ve also moved the mattress in hopes that we have a dry place to sleep the next time we’re down.

A few of our plants are starting to take off, our little guild around the pomegranates is doing well. In that section there are 2 pomegranate, an apple, an avocado, some sweet potato, gooseberries and parsley with a few nasturtiums starting to come up as well. The only one that is struggling is the apple which looks like it’s been getting chewed on pretty hard by the kangaroos. I had meant to track down some wire to protect it but didn’t end up having time.

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The lemon tree isn’t doing very well, but I’m still hoping it makes it. We’ve got a few dozen lilly pillys coming up in the windbreaks that we planted, but it will be a while before we know how many will make it.

On the Monday, not long before we left, I decided to a aerate the ‘compost’ from the composting toilet. It was a job that I was a bit nervous about. Stirring up a big bucket of poo isn’t high on my bucket list.

It actually wasn’t bad at all, very minimal smell and nothing recognizable as poo. The only thing that gave it away was the pieces of toilet paper that are half broken down. We’ve now got 2 full buckets. Once we get 2-3 more then we can combine them into a heap up on the hill to one day be perfect to fertilise the non-edible trees on the top of the hill.

All in all it was a super productive weekend. We need a few more like it I think. But for now we’re on the lookout for more (longer) tin.

If you aren’t into the more techy side of things you can stop reading here, it’s mainly me just documenting my confusion.

I’m also keeping a very close eye on my batteries, if anyone has some insight I would love to hear the advice. The dual battery system in the car was in it when we got it so I’m not 100% sure what the various sensors and switches do. We’ve had issues with the aux battery not charging and have had to swap the 2 around to make sure they both charge. When we left to go back to Perth they were both saying they needed charge (main on 12.3v aux on 11.8v). When we arrive they both still said they needed charge (main holding at 12.8v which I thought was fully charged and aux at 11.9v). It’s now Wed arvo and with normal driving the main is reading 12.79 and charged. The aux is 11.94v and obviously still needing charge.

With the car running the main battery is at over 14.3v, I just can’t seem to get the power into the aux battery. I’ll give it until the weekend with what I think is the bypass for the dual battery on. Otherwise I may need to swap them out again to keep the aux in good condition.

Reading and watching videos can teach you a lot, but when it comes to real world troubleshooting things get trickier.

With what we’re planning I will be the ultimate jack of all trades. It’s a great adventure.

Strawberry Topping, Beetroot, Apple Sauce and More

Over the weekend we got up to a bit of canning, it was half planned, half massively expanded because of cheap produce.
All of the recipes that we used are safe for water bath canning so you don’t need any special tools, just a pot of boiling water to keep the result on the shelf for at least a year.

Sorry there are less pictures than normal, I am having some phone issues and lost any photos that weren’t posted on facebook.

It all started with;

Beetroot
Paul, our next door neighbour loaned us one of his raised garden beds for the winter because we were having issues with Nic pulling out seedlings and he’s not a winter gardener.
He is looking to put in his summer crops next weekend so we harvested a big bucket of beetroot. I managed to open up my finger while cleaning them, but it was a nice clean cut and is healing fine.

We always try to start with a USDA approved recipe and then adjust based on our tastes (when we are sure it’s safe to do so). Beetroot is something we’ve been preserving for 3-4 years now so we’re getting more comfortable with the recipe changes.
http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_06/pickled_beets.html

We had enough beetroot for about a quarter of what is in the recipe, that was our base to which we added some extra cloves, the peel of half an orange as well as a tablespoon of mustard seeds.

A big challenge is judging how much liquid is going to be needed, it varies depending on the size and shape of the beetroot. I did roughly twice as much liquid as the scaled down recipe suggested to have enough for each jar. I always seem to have either way to much of not quite enough.

We need to wait a couple of weeks before they are ready to eat, but i’m quietly confident that these will be our best beets yet.

Strawberries
Shanelle noticed a place up the road who were selling less than perfect strawberry for $5/shopping bag, I honestly couldn’t see any problems with 95% of them and they would be perfect for canning. I would guess it was about 3-4kg worth.
We still have strawberry jam from last year so we decided to do something different this year.

Strawberry's

Strawberry Syrup/Topping
http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_02/berry_syrup.html
Was our recipe and we stuck to it, hardest bit we pressing the juice out because I didn’t have the right tools, just a strainer/sieve and a spoon, but still got 90% of it. The mushy mess that was left over is for Harry to munch on.
It ended up delicious, we’ve used it on chocolate pudding, ice cream and pancakes already. Way better than store brought.
Shan thinks we should do a bit less sugar next time (she said it was a bit sickly after a few pancakes), but it’s supposed to be a sometimes food so I don’t mind that it’s a bit over the top.

Apple and Strawberry Puree
While I was doing the strawberry’s, Nic decided to start helping, so I put him to work peeling, coring and slicing apples.
Obviously I needed to load the new ones on for him, but he was actually very helpful. Smashed through 3 bags of apples that Shan got from the spud shed for $0.49/kg.
We added 50% strawberries and 50% apples by very rough volume to a pot and used a hybrid reciepe somewhere between apple sauce (see further down) and the below.
http://nchfp.uga.edu/how/can_02/fruit_puree.html
Next time we probably won’t add as much water as we did, but Harry has been loving it with his weet bix and as a snack.

Apple Sauce
Last but not least was the apple sauce with the rest of the apples. This is another one that we’ve done in the past, but Harry’s love of food destroyed our stock of it. Hopefully now that he is on to more solid stuff he won’t gorge himself on all of it.

Not a bad effort for a day in the kitchen. It’s days like this that I 100% agree with Shanelle that we need a bigger kitchen.
And probably a bigger stove, and an urn for instant boiling water, cheese cloth or similar to get the juice out better, more head space above the stove, a label maker for the jars, probably a dehydrator.
Hmm, we’ve got a bit of a shopping list if anyone wants gift ideas for the kids birthday =p

It always feels good when you can turn a few $ worth of in season produce into a value added product that can be stored in the cupboard until it’s needed.

End Result

Rabbit Nuggets (Popcorn Rabbit)

We had a rabbit that had been sitting the bottom of the freezer since February, I felt like a home grown feed so we decided to do something a bit different.

Kentucky Fried Rabbit (KFR), although I guess you could change things up and do it with chicken for a substandard product =p

We’ve done it once before but we changed up the seasoning this time around, and will probably keep changing things up every time we do it because we don’t really measure.

It was a bit easier do-boning this time as I hadn’t already spent a few hours killing, gutting skinning. I think the fact that it was still half frozen may have helped as well because some of the meet seemed to pull fairly neatly off the bone.

It was a team effort for Shan and myself, although Harry decided to lose his mind a bit half way through so I finished it up.

I cut the meat into squares aiming for about 2cmx2cm (although they varied in shape a lot in both size and shape).

The crumb was a bit of a guess, I vaguely remembered when I was at shot show the guy from ‘Hunt, Catch, Cook’ had done it was paprika, so I used that as a bit of a base.

My rough recipe (with guidance from Shan on what works) is as follows, enjoy my incredibly vague units of measurement;

  • 2 parts breadcrumbs
  • 1 part plain flour
  • a couple of mm of Paprika, although I probably should have added a bit more
  • couple of decent shakes of ‘Italian seasoning’
  • bit of garlic salt

Nice and easy, dunk the pieces of meat in egg then into the crumb. chuck them into a frying pan with a cm or so of hot oil.

Mix them around for a few minutes until then look good then onto a plate with some paper towel to soak up some of the oil.

Served it up with some mashed potato, carrot, corn, beans and peas. Nic loved his so much that there were no nuggets left by the time I got there to take the pic.

Every time I cook with a meat rabbit (compared to wild rabbit) I’m amazed at how much you get from it. I ate way more meat than I needed to and it was comfortably enough for Shan, Nic (who though rabbits nuggets were about the best thing every) and myself with a big container of it for lunch at work the following day.

If you are on the fence about wanting to eat rabbit then I highly recommend it like this, you really can’t go wrong. Anything fried is always a hit.

Weekend Double up 2/2

The second of my 2 weekend out getting our veranda started.

This weekend I managed to get all of the posts up, it was a bit of a challenge on my own, but the tractor helped a lot.

I only managed to bump the van with 1 of the poles as I was trying to maneuver it in so not a bad result and no damage done.

It’s just barely starting to look the part, hopefully for next visit I will have lined up some wood and I can start getting the roof on.
I’ve given in an got myself a new chainsaw, it’s another cheapy, but with the way they get treated I’d rather buy 5 $200 chainsaws than 1 $1,000 one. Hopefully it does me well for a few more years. The $100 ozito did me for almost 2 years and survived several trees falling on it, we’ll see if the Chinese Sthil rip off does any better.

On the Saturday morning I was woken up by a kookaburra on the front step of the van. Wasn’t a bad way to get up on a chilly morning, when I opened the door I noticed that I had a few other visitors, a sheep and her lamb were having a feed just up from me. They freaked and bolted as soon as they saw me so I didn’t manage to get a picture. They were pretty ratty looking, but I’m happy for them to help keep the grass down.

I’ve fixed the toilet shed and added a ton of bricks to the roof so hopefully it doesn’t flip again, I’ve also labeled all of the trees that I’ve planted so that in 10 years time I know where they came from.

Noticed that we have a few acacias growing well, they are about the only thing I could see in our area with flowers for the bees.

They have been specificly id’d as;

Acacia Longifolia (Sydney Wattle) and Acacia Mearnsii

Which I’m told are dreadful weeds from the east coast. I particularly like the A. Longifolia, I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of seeds fell into some hot water then got thrown around by accident.

It would be a tragedy to have some nitrogen fixing bee forage which is happy in degraded soil appearing in a few areas that are barely growing onion grass at the moment.

This coming weekend I’m swapping a few fruit trees with people I’ve met on Facebook. It’s great to find people that have different plants that they want to trade, gives me new material to learn to propegate some different things.

If you’re in the Perth area and are after; Lilly Pilly, Mulberry, Pomegranate, Willow or anything else that I’ve mentioned starting a lot of in the past let me know what you have and I’d love to work out a swap.

Weekend Double up 1/2

In a bit of an unusual turn of events we had about 8 weeks without being able to get out to the block followed by 2 weekends in a row out there.

This is the first of those weekends.

When I arrived I noticed a bit of damage, the toilet shed is on it’s roof and our van lost a piece, but everything can always be fixed. I also dropped off a ton of tin and pvc pipe, it should be enough tin to finish the tractor shed and enough pipe to run the gravity fed water supply for the van (including the shower).

 

I started off with a very optimistic list of jobs that I wanted to get done including starting to dig the lower swale so that I could plant out the apple and apricot that I have temporarily in the ground in Perth. After how slowly I got things done on the first weekend that has been removed from the to do list for now.

The main job now is getting the caravan poles up for the annex.

The annex will have 9 posts, 3 behind the van and 6 in front of the door, the roof will go over the top of the van giving us a bit of a buffer from the summer sun and also making it much easier to catch the water off it.

I’m doing a bit of an experiment with the poles. I’ve read a lot of articles about the best way to preserve the poles ranging from cement to oil to random chemicals that I probably don’t want to touch.

I decided that it was worth doing a bit of a test. We are putting in a range of poles that have been;

  • Fire/Heat Treated x2
  • Fire/Heat treated with engine oil x2
  • Engine oil x2
  • Cement x2
  • Just dirt x1

The most controversial I think is the fire treatment, it is based off a very old japanese method called Shou Sugi. In particular using this method to preserve pole wood has had mixed results so I figure its worth seeing how it works out for us. You can read a little more below;

https://permaculturenews.org/2016/12/05/shou-sugi-ban-preserve-wood-using-fire/

The others are more conventional and will be interesting to see the results.

My bet is on the combination of fire treatment with the engine oil but i’m curious to hear other peoples opinions, feel free to comment below or on the facebook page/wherever else you like.

So far I’ve managed to get 2 of the poles up and finished all the oiling/burning. I will probably give them a quick re-oil before I put them up next weekend.

 

As always we had other things going on at the same time, Oscar spent some time sighting in his new scope on the .303, he managed to put a nice hole into my brand new shooting frame and a 1 in a million shot (at least for his rifle) shot out the wire that was supposed to hold the targets.

 

The pomegranates are looking pretty good, they seem to have survived the transplant shock, the avocado and various under story plants in the little guild are looking pretty happy as well. The lemon tree ins’t looking very happy, but there are still a few green branches so hopefully it will come back in the spring.

 

I had a bit of fun lighting the fire over the weekend, w always have multiple methods of lighting a fire at the block and I generally have a few methods on me at all times, but 8 weeks with about half a meter of rain made things pretty tricky. Lucky I had the mapgas torch as a backup. It helped keep things toasty over the chilly weekend.

 

The dam is holding a little bit of water, but the driveway is holding almost as much =p

 

I’m also nearing the end of my PDC, just have my final assessment and design exercise to go. It’s not due until Christmas, but i’m hoping to get the vast majority of it out of the way in the next month assuming there isn’t to much else to distract me. But as the people who know me would be aware, there is always something going on to distract me.

 

Recent Rabbit Failures

I always tell myself that I’m as happy to share my failures as I am to share the successes, but I realised this afternoon that my biggest failures in the last few months I haven’t even mentioned on the blog or facebook group.

My struggles/mistakes lately seem to be largely around the rabbits.

It started (although I didn’t realise it at the time) when we processed the last batch of rabbits I think we did a batch after the post below but the most recent time I mentioned it was;

https://quinsgunnado.wordpress.com/2016/12/21/pressure-canning-rabbit-stew/

I always make the mistake of letting the rabbits grow out a bit too much, they end up pretty well adult size by the time I usually finish culling the last of a litter. In this case, one of the black babies must have been particularly big. Because I mistook the black breeding female for a baby and left the ‘baby’ in the cage.

I killed my breeding female and didn’t even know.

When dad was over I bred the black female in hopes of getting a nice looking litter to sell rather than eat. They had a lot of issues and didn’t really seem to do the job very well, but I just put it down to them having a bad day. 4 weeks later (when ‘she’ should have been due) nothing had happened, no nesting, no fur pulled out, no babies.

I decided to have a closer look, that’s when I realised my mistake, I had a black male rather than a female, he will have to go when I feel like a nice slow cooked stew.

Unfortunately my mistakes didn’t end there. I decided to breed the white female, things went much smoother with the breeding and about 3 1/2 week later she was showing all the signs that babies were on the way.

Unfortunately, things went downhill from there. She had her babies on a Thursday night/Friday morning which is pretty standard when I breed them on a Sunday (rabbits are very exact about their cycles). The Friday was raining heavily and winter was finally setting in so it was icy cold.

I checked on them Friday after work and there was a dead baby outside the nesting box. Things like that happen and I wasn’t too worried to start with, but then I felt inside the box to check on the remaining babies.

There was a leak in the roof that I hadn’t noticed and water was pouring in and soaking the nest and babies. I was starting to get pretty wet but spent the next half an hour trying to make the hutch water proof again, I managed to stop 90% of the water.

I reached into the hutch and felt that there was at least one baby and it was still moving, but I didn’t want to spend long with my icy hands stealing their body heat so I went inside and hoped for the best.

The following morning I went out and checked on them, I convinced the female to come out of the nesting box with a bit of basil bribery and went about checking on the babies. There were no babies in the nest, I’m guessing they died in the night from the cold/wet and the mum ate them (not unusual either).

As you can see, we’ve made some mistakes and had to bear the consequences, but we’ll keep on learning from our mistakes and trying to do better. I’ll give the female a few weeks break and probably breed her again in mid August for a mid September batch of babies, they will be nice and big for Christmas.

I considered giving up on the rabbits after everything that has happened, but between the very high quality fertiliser and delicious meat they are definitely an important part of the homestead and worth continuing with.

I’ll try to remember to include the mistakes we make along with our successes because it’s more important that we and other learn from our mistakes than from our successes.

June Update

When I first started writing I didn’t think there had been much happening, but has actually been quite a bit, we just haven’t managed to get out to the block to get things done out there.

Shan managed to score an Apple and Apricot tree for me to dig out, they have been temporarily planted in the front yard so that they will hopefully survive until we head to the block. I have no idea of the varieties, but I figure at the very least they will provide animal feed or some cider apples.

I also decided to re-do my second set of soil tests. I’m a bit worried that I had to much soil in the jars originally so they couldn’t separate properly, I put half the dirt from each sample and put it into it’s own jar then added the 2 amounts together. Ended with less clay than I originally calculated, but is (I think) much more accurate.

It’s looking very likely that we can build a dam on the hill as well as possibly around our caravan but not so much towards the bracken area (although the bracken is where our spring is). So I might need to do some thinking on exactly what we should do.

I’ve worked on my metalworking skills for a few jobs. First up is a target frame so that we don’t need to rig things up with sticks and rocks. I think the rule will be that if anyone shoots the frame or pegs then they owe a dollar to the block fund. Next up is a swing around BBQ for over the fire. It currently has a hook and a grill, it will also have a plate added before we install it.

Our little nursery is still coming along well, we’ve got a few more avocado’s, mulberry’s and a ton of other bits and pieces growing up nicely.

I’m also almost finished the lecture part of my PDC, i’ll have to start doing up my formal design soon.

Hopefully next month we will get to the block to keep on building things up, or at the very least chilling around the fire.