Second Xmas Weekend

 

We needed to check out a few houses so decided to use the trip to spend another few days working on the veranda (and of course enjoying the country air).

We managed to find a house, which we have put an application in for. Hopefully they accept it and we may be moving in as soon as next weekend.

It gave us the opportunity to check out some of the back roads between Collie and Brookhampton. We found a few little roads that we had kinda wondered where they had ended up.

The main job for the weekend was to put it the support beams for the decking. Once I had put a few in I started getting paranoid that I hadn’t included enough post supports, just to be on the safe side I added another 7 post. That makes it 15 posts for a 6x3m area. I feel like it’s probably over engineered now, but better safe than sorry.

The beams and posts took less time than expected and by about lunch time on Saturday they were all in.

Donut and Michelle decided to come out for a visit, gave us a chance to play with the bow. I feel like losing arrows could make the bow just as expensive to shoot as the rifles, but hopefully as my skill level improves I’ll lose less of them. I managed to lose one completely (I think it’s inside the mound) and Donut managed to damage/bend one (although I think I fixed it).

For the afternoon I laid out all the decking that we have to see if we had even close to enough. From a high level look it seems like we should have pretty close to the right amount, although my gut says we’ll probably by a dozen pieces short. One one way to find out, so I started trimming where necessary and installing them.

While the drill batteries held up (for about 4 hours) it was a pretty painless job. Shan pulled the nails and screws out of the boards, I cut them down and screwed them in. Nic and Harry enjoyed playing in the van and once there was a bit of decking laid jumping on the deck. Once the battery was drained I started screwing them in by hand, that got really old really fast and I only installed about 4-5 more boards.

Sunday I spent the morning clearing up the blackberries (my never ending job) and we headed home early.

In NZ accent “my deck is starting to look pretty impressive”.

It will be great when it’s finished.

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Christmas 2017

I didn’t get as much time out there this year as last, but I still had 2 nights to get a few jobs done.

As friends and family already know, I’m starting a new job in about 3 weeks time, we’re moving from Perth to Collie, we will be about 90min closer to the block, so I’ll hopefully get more time out there. It also means that I need to curb back a few of my hobbies, our neighbour got our chickens (so that we can still get free fresh eggs until we leave) and someone should be picking up my breeding pair of rabbits in the next week or 2.

In preparation for moving I loaded up the trailer with as much as I could, I also finally got up the effort to add the tool box to the front which gave me even more storage space, everything I could think of that I don’t need at home and that could be handy at the block. A fair bit of wire, wood, Jerry cans, concrete, render, blinds as well as a tonne of recently collected sheets of tin.

We had Christmas at home and then with family in Bunbury, on the way past Mandurah I swang in and grabbed a Christmas present for myself (semi block related) a compound bow, rangefinder, kukri and a few other hunting toys.

I spent most of boxing day at shan’s parents before heading out in the afternoon. By the time I was unloaded and had set all the tin and ladders up to get the roof on, I only got one peice on before it was dark. But it was all ready for the next morning.

I started bright and early, it was a great cool morning, actually had a lot of fog which is a bit unusual for Summer,  first minor complication hit straight up, the tin needed to be 3m long, preferably a bit more to give a good overlap, all the pieces I had laid out the night before were actually 2995mm, so close, but no joy. Thankfully I had some more that were 3.4m, bit of overkill on the overlap but the job got done.

Next up I had planned to get a bit more of the veranda done (had the additional wood on the trailer), however I quickly realised that the screws I had been using for the roof were too short and I had nothing bigger.

I laid all the timber out to make sure I did have enough but couldn’t do much more. I did add a couple of extra support posts in the middle, i’m not sure if they were 100% necessary, but they will make it extra solid and I had the cement/wood available to do it.

Next up was pulling the tractor out to fix the clutch. My brother in law in is much more competent than me with metalwork so I asked him to fix the clutch, a bit of bending and a bit of welding later it looks almost new. Thanks again Cam, I may have a bigger job for him some time soon that i’ll need to pay him for, but i’ll leave that for later.

As per normal the tractor battery was flat and it needed to be jump started, I also still had the trailer attached to the Patrol. I decided that I could squeeze myself into some tight gaps and jump the tractor, unfortunately I couldn’t quite fit. I needed to reverse out and was focusing on the trailer, I managed to swing the side of the car into a tree. It doesn’t look that bad, but pretty disappointed in myself for screwing up. It’s a perfect example of why we have the older Patrol rather than a newer Pathfinder as Shan would prefer. No need to feel too bad if the Patrol gets dinged up.

In the end I needed to pull the battery off the tractor and charge it separately anyway. After the mini drama of starting the tractor, fixing the clutch was super easy. Only dodgy part was using a bent nail as a split pin, but I’m sure most farmers would have done that at some point.

For lunch I decided to have a play with my bow. It seems to be sighted in at 50m, we also have our 50m shooting range already set up so it worked out well.

I feel like I did reasonably well for my first time playing with a bow. I managed to break 1 arrow, no idea how, but it scared the shit out of me. I also managed to put 1 arrow straight through the entire mound. Out of the 20-30 shots only 1 went all the way through so i’m guessing it must have just hit a lucky section in the mound.

After the fun I needed to get back to work, I headed up the hill to work on the stumps. Over the course of the trip I got 3 out and dug around a couple more. Very slowly but slowly getting there. Hopefully when we live closer I’ll get more out sooner.

The following morning my focus was mainly on the bracken end of the property. With mum and Kelvin being away for the past 4 months or so the bracken is making a comeback, most of it isn’t as thick as it used to be, but some parts are getting back to 6ft tall. I had a bit of fun trying out my new kukri re-cutting one of my trails that I haven’t used in about 6 months.

The kukri seems to care less about what part of the blade you use compared to the bolo machete that we already had, but that also makes it easy to pay less attention than you should. I was lucky on one swing that I only cut through my glove and took a chunk of skin off my knuckle. It could have been very slightly different and I may have lost a finger.

When I finished the path I made my way over to the blackberries. As expected the blackberries had fruit on them, more of a surprise was that one of the big fig trees had fruit also, we have never seen fruit on it before. If we’re lucky we might get to harvest some before the animals get it all.

I spent a few hours pulling/cutting back blackberries, I also pruned back some of the figs that seem to be taking over almost as much as the blackberry in some places.

As I was starting to think about heading home I got a message from donut that he and Scott had a job nearby and they were swinging past to see me. The visit gave me the break I needed and after they left I got back into it and got about 80% of the patch looking respectable.

Our ‘bore’ still, just barely, has water in the bottom of it, probably only 3-4cm deep, but it’s something. The pomegranate guild is coming along nicely, the only thing in it that may not make it is the apple tree, I’m surprised at how well the gooseberries are doing in the summer heat with very infrequent water, the avocado is also starting to love life.

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Thats it for us for 2017, it was a big year. I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t get the driveway done. But we have set up our roofing, toilet, some rainwater catchment and got a few more trees in, next year will be bigger and better than ever.

Block goals for 2018 are:

  • Driveway finished
  • Gravity water to the van (real showers finally)
  • Van decking
  • Wood heater for the van
  • Solar for the van to run a fridge full time (funds pending)
  • Build the swale between the big tree near our van and at least half way to the cabin (50m).
  • Plant out at least half of the seedlings from my nursery (at least 150 to plant)
  • No doubt many more things that will pop up along the way.

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.

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.