- Just picked up our third lot of chooks/ducks. We tried it a little differently this time – free-ranged over a smaller area, kept the food up to them a bit more, kept them a week or so longer. The smallest is over 3kg and the biggest is over 4kg. They’re so big that the guy who runs the poultry processing place came out to ask me about them. And then he charged me extra. On a related note, we need to go and get a new freezer tomorrow…
- Planning a veggie patch so large that you need to use a huge rotary hoe may be ambitious. Realising that you need to use your tractor might push it to over-ambitious. Ending up having to get your farmer neighbour to use his giant tractor might push it firmly into the realms of the ridiculous. On a related note, we’re good to fence off our housing-block sized veggie patch this weekend. WooHoo!
- For the curious amongst you, yes, a chainsaw IS a precision fencing instrument.
- Linhda set fire to the compost bays. Again.
August was huge because it’s when we breathed life into The Patch! The Patch is our largest veggie area, and is a little over 300 square metres, with about 250 of that being productive and the rest being paths and compost bins etc.
It was a long process, and took most of the month, but is the backbone of our veggie self-sufficiency.
It all started with the chook poop. We had a heap delivered and may have overestimated. I basically had them deliver the biggest load they do, and it turned out to be too much by at least a factor of 2. We tried to get Sheldon (our tractor) and our disk plough through it, but it was too thick and greasy. If we had enough weight on the plough to dig in, then Sheldon would just spin his wheels. If Sheldon could pull the plough, then it was just rolling across the top.
My solution was to plan a weekend of my wheelbarrow, my sturdiest shovel, and my iPod, and move half of the chook crap someplace else. I was about 10 minutes into this less-than-awesome idea when I felt a tap on my shoulder. Farmer John had seen what I was doing, couldn’t get my attention because of the iPod part of my plan, and so had jumped the fence to get my attention. He offered his “small tractor” to help. God bless him.
What would have taken me the entire weekend was done in 20 minutes. After that, Farmer John brought in his “Little Tractor” and ripped the area for us. I repeat: God bless Farmer John.
Dad and I then spent an entire weekend fencing it. My original plan was to make a rabbit-proof fence around The Patch. Farmer John dissuaded us though, saying that there hadn’t been any rabbits in the area for years. That turned out to be ironic, but saved us some work and time.
The fence between the back yard and The Patch was your typical, run-down, barbed wire strewn monstrosity.
It bothered me, and I wanted to replace it with an electric fence. Unlike the fence we’d put around our backyard veggie patch, I wanted something lower. We went for smaller droppers and it turned out great! Being low means it brings The Patch and the back yard together.
It was a lot of work that we’d not originally planned on, but was well worth it.
When the fences were sorted, I mapped out the beds by digging paths between them. The original plan was to have half metre paths, but they ended up closer to 300mm (1 foot).
I then spent an entire day planting out the beds, including cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, celery, spinach, and silver beet. At most I got a fifth of the way through.
It’s hard to overstate just how important The Patch is to our little venture. It’s also hard to overstate just how much work went into getting it set up.
The lower electric fence for The Patch inspired us for the other two veggie patches in the backyard. We ended up repeating it for those two beds.
The lower fences are really quite attractive, and they keep the dogs out of the veggies.
At the same time, I set up a small hothouse and planted out some veggies and herbs in preparation for the warmer seasons. I planted:
- Pumpkin x 2
- Tomatoes x 3 (black Russian, roma, grosse lisse)
- Chillies (Jalapeno, Naga, Cayenne)
We also bought and planted a couple more fruit trees:
- Golden Queen Peach
- Coe’s Golden Drop Plum
August wasn’t all about veggies though. We also got our third lot of chooks done, along with a couple of home-bred ducks. This was, hands down, our largest poultry success. The smallest chook was over 3kg, while the largest were over 4kg. They were so large that the man that runs the processing facility came out to talk to me about them and ask how we did it, and then to tell me that he’d have to charge me extra because of their size. Bastard.
As important as this all was for our veggie and meat self-sufficiency, the last thing in August was equally exciting. I got a new axe!