“A true friend is one who overlooks your failures and tolerates your success!” – Doug Larson

We have had much work to do over the Christmas period, in addition to the normal festive season activities (as well as spending weeks trying to fix my blog and my computer). A situation I experienced was with one of my young Roosters.  I had placed three from my batch of 9 hatched chicks into a separate chicken tractor.  These three had been identified as males, yet I still had 6 left in my other area of who I was unsure of their gender.  After a couple of days of observation I witnessed one (which I had on my “possibly a Rooster” list) pecking the other chickens to assert his dominance.  I felt bad for them and moved him to the Rooster pen.  Those Roosters bullied him around a little, yet it seemed like they had accepted him, so all seemed well for a week.

 

While I was feeding them one morning after Christmas I noticed that the newly moved Rooster was having a little trouble walking.  He seemed to stagger a lot.  I thought he may be unwell, so I decided to keep an eye on him, yet as I was busy with other chores I left him alone.  When I fed them the next morning I noticed that he was not walking at all.  On investigation he seemed very lethargic and unwilling to move to even eat the food I placed in the pen.  I decided to check him closer and when I picked him up I realised he was almost starving… he had wasted away till he was almost skin and bones.  I felt terrible for him, I am supposed to look after these animals and I had allowed him.  I gathered some feed in my hand and fed him some, yet he ate very little.  I decided that it might be best to place him in the original pen to protect him from any predators (such as cats) and hopefully he would recover.

The next morning my son was checking the animals and he came to tell me that the chicken was injured.  I rushed out and found the Rooster, able to stand now, yet still unable to walk properly.  His head was a bloody mess, with missing feathers and a large amount of injuries.  It appears that the chickens had taken revenge, or possibly just bullying an injured Rooster.  I quickly took him from the pen and decided that I had no place to place him but to allow him to free range.  I gave him some additional feed, yet I let him roam the garden with the other fully grown chickens and Rooster.  I didn’t expect him to survive long, as he had trouble moving, and I was concerned the Rooster (or a cat) would kill him.

His wounds look much better, yet he is still a bit bald.

Now it is a week later, and he is going well.  He is very nervous and is sometimes chased by the chickens, yet he is now able to run and walk.  His wounds have almost fully healed and now he spends his days with me when I am in the garden.  I don’t believe he is with me out of love, I suspect it is due to my frequent intervention when he is being chased by another chicken as well as the fact that I often throw him a snail or two if I find them in a garden bed.

Despite all this, I sometimes think about this guy’s future.  He is a Rooster, so I won’t be keeping him.  I will have to get rid of him eventually, and people don’t normally buy Roosters.  It most likely will come to me to eventually eat this little guy, and I am not really looking forward to that.  I have formed a bit of a bond with him, going so far as to name him “Buddy”.  I don’t have to make a decision now, so I will have to consider my options as time progresses.

“Every bad thing that’s happened to me has defined me, has shaped, has moulded me.” – Natalia Kills

I seem to be experiencing some issues with my site.  I believe it occurred during an attempt to change aspects of the blog, combined with installing a new hard drive.  I am in the process of attempting to correct this, yet it appears I have lost all posts from November and December.  I will try to locate backup versions to replace them.

I also appear to have lost a huge amount of images, so I will try to correct this too.

I hope to have most of this fixed by 14 January 2017, or at the least I hope to have the site functional once more by that date.

“There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before.” – Henry David Thoreau

The eggs which I placed in my incubator hatched… exactly 21 days after I turned on the machine.  When this happens, when I help life be born (or hatched) it fills me with a great sense of joy and accomplishment.  I asked Kitty to assist by taking a little video of the first to hatch from their egg.

A little video of the new arrival. Such a bold little chick #chick #chicken #birdinthehand

A video posted by Little Tassie Prepper (@littletassieprepper) on

This one is pretty bold, after the video was shot it was walking all over my hand, causing me to have to take steps to stop it from leaping off several times.  So far, nine chicks have hatched from the incubator and are currently in the brooder box.  I hope that one or two more might make it out of their shells (I know that one has died in it’s shell, having failed to make a hole to break out of, which is pretty sad).

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Here is the adventurous little fellow.

On Monday night I decided to try to make yogurt, using the Erica Straus method.  I had heard her on the Survival Podcast a while ago and I always intended to try this, so Monday seemed like the best time to do it.  I almost followed Erica’s instructions to the letter (apart from the part where she used an Oven Warming draw.  I don’t have that so I used a Yogurt maker container).  The Yogurt came out looking great, it was a good texture and tasted pretty good (although as it was plain yogurt it was a little bland).  I did notice that a couple of hours after tasting it for the first time I experience some stomach pain, yet I put that down to working too hard in the garden.

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I used my EasyYo container to make the yogurt. It didn’t turn out as great as I had hoped.

The next day I took the container of yogurt to work, and after adding a teaspoon of honey, I ate the container for my afternoon snack.  Well, ate wasn’t really what I did, I had to drink it as it had become very runny.  When I arrived home the stomach cramps began… I am sure that it was related to the yogurt.  The pain began to increase until I had to lay down.  Turned out that I didn’t really make Yogurt, I cooked up a batch of food poisoning.  I suspect that the yogurt culture I added was no good… it was close to expiry.  I am going to take a break from trying this, yet when I try again, I will be sure that the culture is as fresh as possible.

“I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” – Jimmy Dean

Today, on the drive home from work, a truck crashed and blocked the road for several hours… stranding me on a country highway.  I arrived an hour before the clean up was completed which meant I had an hour to chill out in my car.  I could see a few police cars, yet no actual police, so I had no way of knowing what was going on.  I did consider getting out and looking for answered, yet i I used my mobile phone to call Kitty, who filled me in on the situation. Facebook does have it’s uses.

I spent most of the time finishing off a book I was reading, listening to a podcast, and watching the action.  I was pretty far away, yet I had packed a set of small binoculars in my bag some time ago.
binosNot the greatest pair in the world, yet they are small, cheap, and they allowed me to view some of the action while they were removing the crashed truck from the road from the dry front seat of my car.  I was pretty comfortable while I waited.

Kitty told me when I arrived home that she had gone out and encountered the same blocked road, yet instead of waiting (she didn’t really have that option, as she needed to get the kids from School) she decided to follow a truck who (she hoped) was driving an alternate route.  Around 45 minutes in she told me she began to panic, it should have taken 15 minutes to get home on the highway.  She realised she didn’t know where the truck was really heading, she had hoped it would be our home town.

Around 15 minutes later she emerged from the forest in a location that was familiar to her and she managed to drive home, yet the experience left her quite shaken.  I think it might be smart for the two of us to practice driving some of these alternate routes for any future event that might occur.

 

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” – Dalai Lama

I have taken a couple of weeks off work to do some work around the house.  My plan was to sleep in, spend some time in the garden, and lounge around.  Kitty has other ideas…

First week I have been clearing up the mess I made from my last few months of work on the house and property, then I had to get to work on the kitchen.  I had completed building some shelves in the kitchen earlier in the year, now I had to remove one of the kitchen benches in order to install a set of kitchen shelves from the 1950s that Kitty bought.  When I removed the bench I realised I needed to take care of the floor  Under the bench was the remains of three layers of linoleum dating back over the last 50 years, a type of chipboard type layer, and the an amazing wooden floor which was crying out for rejuvenation.  I decided that I needed to fix the floor as well.

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Here is part of the kitchen after I began removing some of the draws.

I have never done anything like this before… I once assisted an old friend with sanding his floor, yet that was almost 20 years ago.  Despite this, I thought I would have a try.  I hope that I can complete this in the next couple of days.

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After removing the tiles and cupboards.

In between all this work, I also found some time to put a dozen eggs into my incubator.  Reggy, our new Rooster, has been busy with his girls, so I decided to save some of the eggs for hatching.  Hopefully this batch turns out as great as my last one.

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More sadness with my animals this week.  One of our little girl bunnies, the one born from Ginger and Rodger, died on Wednesday night.  I have checked her over and I can find no reason for her dying… she was healthy, well fed and watered.  My daughter and I buried her under one of our plum trees.  I did suggest that I might skin her and use her skin for something, yet after the ugly stares I received I decided that was a bad suggestion.

“…certainly not by biting off the hand that feeds us…” – Lynn Margulis

I have been spending some time working on a new Instructable, describing how to make fodder using my new system.   I hope to have it up on the site in a couple of days, so stay tuned for that.  The process isn’t flowing as easily as my previous submissions, yet I hope that it will come out easy to read and understand.

 

We have another new addition to the house, I bought a nice Rooster named Reginald (or Reggy as I like to call him).  As some of you know, I have been on the lookout for a new Rooster for a couple of months now… I was beginning to worry that I would never find the right one.  I found plenty of people offering Rooster from different species, yet I really wanted to stick to my Australorp breed (as least for the moment).  Well, after weeks of searching I made a decision on Saturday night that maybe I should find a different breed to try.  To that end I started to search for different breeds in my area, and it was then that I noticed a new ad for an Australorp Rooster.  Someone in Cygnet was offering them for sale for $10 (previously asking $15), I couldn’t let this one go.

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Here is our new Rooster, Reginald. Please ignore the mess in the background.

Early next morning the whole family and I set out to meet the new Rooster.  He was living in a pen with around 5 other Roosters and a dozen or so Hens.  I was allowed to grab which ever Rooster I liked (although it turned out to be which ever Rooster I could catch), and I ended up getting a hold of Reggy.  He is a fine looking boy, he seems a little larger than my current Rooster.

 

I delivered him home and set him up in the hen house to stay the night.  I wanted him to be used to the location before I opened the door and offered him the chance to flee, although I am sure that once he realised he is going to have 7 hens to himself he was very happy he came to live with me.  He was so happy that within 10 seconds of leaving the Hen house, he mounted and mated with one of the girls.  This Rooster is a real chick magnet.

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Here is Reggy getting to work right away.

The Rooster I already owned has been waiting on Death Row for several weeks now.  He is my last Rooster and I have been trying to work out a way to justify keeping him.  I can’t keep him to breed with the girls, as they are his sisters and mother.  No one seems to want to buy him, and he is just eating food, messing up the grass, and making a racket in the mornings… yet I still didn’t want to eat him.  Well, he made it a little easier for me last night, when he decided to attack me when I fed him.  I blame the fact that I brought home a new Rooster, so he is a little put out.  When I went to feed him he started to bite my hand and scratch my arm with his claws.  Right then and there I decided that when I get a chance I will have to eat him.

 

“I’m going to sleep well tonight knowing that I made the right decision.” – George Ryan

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a camping hammock to help fit out my Get Home items.  I had intended on making my own, using various items to be “MacGyvered” together into a functional camping hammock.  As I began work on this project it seemed it would be more economical, lighter, and more robust if I just went and bought a cheap hammock from eBay.  It was produced in China, a producer on who I do hear a lot of negative comments.  I am not opposed to buying things from China, especially if it turns out to be a good product.  The idea of not buying from a whole country reeks of racism in my opinion.

 

The hammock arrived the other day and I have managed to run a couple of small tests in my backyard.  The weather hasn’t been conducive to a full test, or even any recording of my test (Extreme Wind, rain and cold have been the norm here), I will endeavor to get a review completed as soon as I can.

Picture from the seller’s eBay page. It doesn’t look to bad to me.

I have had to make a few adjustments to the hammock before I could really use it.  It didn’t come with instructions so I have had to work it out for myself.  The ropes they provided were not long enough for my needs to I added a few of meters to each side of the hammock, as well as a couple of sets of carbineers to assist in quick set up of the structure.  It also didn’t come with any rain cover, which isn’t a big deal as I had already bought one for myself made hammock project.

So, watch this space for a review on this item

“Life is a tide; float on it. Go down with it and go up with it, but be detached. Then it is not difficult.” – Prem Rawat

Emergency situations can be difficult to anticipate.  Even when you are expecting something, you may not have all the information you need to make an informed decision.  In the south of Tasmania this week we have had some wild weather.  On Wednesday we had a serious amount of snow covering most of the areas above 200m (I even had snow at my house, which is unusual).  We had sever wind which had injured people and caused a lot of damage on Thursday.  Today, Friday, we have floods.  There were some warnings that there could be some flooded roads, and to check the applicable websites.  So, this morning (before I left for work) I dutifully checked the websites… they didn’t mention anything too serious about the flooding.  The river at the Huonville bridge was high, yet it didn’t say there were issues.  I also checked the local Police website… all clear there.  So I left for work around 6am.   I was careful on the roads, yet there was nothing really to worry about.  No mini-rivers running across the road like last night, no large sections of water.

Picture from the ABC News website.

 

This all changed as I approached the Huonville bridge.  Due to the dark, I couldn’t see much more than a dozen flashing lights in Huonville.  I could see headlights beaming light everywhere, and traffic was jammed on the bridge.  The side roads were closed (which I knew would be the case from the weather website), yet nothing of note.  I was behind a truck, so I couldn’t see anything ahead of me as I stopped on the bridge.  I had to wait for a couple of minutes before my lane was allowed to move forward.  They seemed to be letting through each side of the road, one side at a time.  I kept looking around for someone to ask, or a sign to tell me what was happening… yet nothing was there.  As I edged forward I came closer to the service station and I could see a huge amount of water flowing through there, yet no one was making a big deal of it, so I (stupidly) crept forward.  I finally saw a man standing on the road, which I could see now (or the small part I could see due to the darkness and the truck blocking the way) was covered in water.  He was standing in ankle deep water, so nothing too serious, yet before I could ask a question he waved me forward.  Obviously I should keep moving.

I drove onwards behind the truck for a couple of seconds and then I realised the depth of the situation… I was driving in deep water!  My car was struggling to make it.  I could hear my exhaust spluttering, so the water must be deep enough to cover that.  There were people on the sides, spectating on the traffic.  I am sure a few of them pointed at me.  The little car was floundering, yet I had to make it through the flood waters.  I was looking around, trying to figure out the situation.  These seemed to be deeper sections, which the truck easily drove through, and I had to avoid.  I was desperately trying to work out where I could pull over to stop, yet all I could really do was drive on.  I think the truck in front of me ploughed some of the water from the road… making it a little easier for me.  After a couple of dozen seconds I made it through.   I had to stop to get some petrol, and it was as I slowed down that I noticed the car was making some weird noises, especially when I braked.  The breaks didn’t feel right.

I kept on driving after fueling up.  Checking the breaks, till they eventually started sounding better.  Apparently just after I made it through, the bridge closed… I really should have slept in a little this morning… I could have had a day at home.  Six hours later, the road alerts have been removed, so the road is safe for traffic.

An aerial view of Huonville from the ABC News website.

Did I learn anything?  Yes, I learned not to rely on the government (yes, I should already knew that)…. I shouldn’t trust their websites, I shouldn’t have confidence in SES workers judgements.  I really shouldn’t have crossed the bridge…. And I wouldn’t have if I knew what the situation was in Huonville.  Next time, I will have to be more aware of my circumstances and make an assessment for myself.  All my preps were not going to be much use if my car was stuck in high water.

“Memory always obeys the commands of the heart.” – Antoine Rivarol

This afternoon I had to put down my long time Rabbit, Ginger.

 

Over the last week she had developed a growth on her face, which was most likely an possibly an abscess.  Unlike with us, an abscess in a Rabbit is very difficult to remove.  It takes scans, surgery and medication to correct.  While I am attached to this Rabbit, I am not about to spend hundreds of dollars on her medical treatment.  Some people may think that I am heartless for this, and I understand that… yet I ensured that she was not in pain by having her put to sleep.

We decided to bury her on the edge of the property and I planted a nice Banana Passion-fruit vine on the spot.  My kids were a little sad about her death… she was a very good rabbit, being a good mother to her little ones.

 

 

“While we are postponing, life speeds by.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Last weekend I have made an effort, between my normal chores and preparing a couple of Roosters for our dinners, to work in the garden.  The weather hasn’t been the greatest, with a high amount of rainfall and very cold nights, so I have been forced to focus on things close to home.

I do talk a lot in my blog about gardening, which I am sure you may have noticed.  No, I am not about to change my blog into a gardening blog!  For those of you new to prepping, gardening is key to food security. There are a couple of ways I can ensure my families food security… stock up on food (which we do a little of, we try to keep at least a months supply of food in the pantry) or develop a way to make my own.

Gardening ensures that I have a way of bringing food to the table.  Gardening provides me with a way to bring fresh, high quality food to my family… food that I know is good to eat.  It is also allowing me to practice producing my gardening, as well as showing my children the process of bringing food to their plates.  Finally, it is so satisfying to gather food after all that work and be able to eat (and share it with my family).  It really makes me feel a sense of well being.

Storing food is a great, it is much easier that gardening.  If you have the money and the space it you can trade them for a large amount of food.  I don’t have a lot of either, so I keep my food supply to a months worth (although, with my recent work in the kitchen, I am going to be able to increase it to two to three months worth).  You have to remember though, that canned food has a limited shelf life. I opened a can of Apricots the other night.  The can was 4 years old and as you can see, the contents were not great.  I still ate some of it and it did fill me up, yet it wasn’t that tasty.

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4 year old can of Apricot halves – not in the best condition

I also opened a 4 year old can of cured ham.  It had stored a little better, yet it didn’t taste as great as a fresh can.

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My garden area just before digging.

As I mentioned, I have been working in the garden… trying to prepare the garden for the coming Spring, as well as get some produce growing.  I cleared several areas of weeds and residual plants which I grew over summer.  After an hour of digging and weeding I was ready to plant 6 different types of peas.  I will document my progress with these over the coming months.