“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.

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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.

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.

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Picture from the ABC News website. I thought that car on the right might be my car, yet the water level is too low.

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.

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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.

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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.

“The marble not yet carved can hold the form of every thought the greatest artist has.” – Michelangelo

As part of my improvements to our kitchen I have been focusing on our storage.  Having adequate storage space for food and other kitchen supplies is important, possibly more so to a Prepping family than to a non-prepping family.  In the past we have made do with the spaces we already had available, such as the area under our stairs.  With my building of the shelves in our kitchen I am focused on improving our storage space and making it suit our needs.  An example of this is that I have set out to ensure that the spaces between shelves match the items we would store (such as long life milk).  The shelves are also laid out in a manner which allows us easy view of the items we have, and any that we need to replenish.

Earlier this year I created a series of shelves which turned out much better than I had hoped.  I ended up using old wooden cupboard doors (which I had removed from the kitchen previously) as the basis for the shelves, which made the first ones very inexpensive to create.  Over the weekend I decided it was time to complete this project.  I had already bought the materials required, such as a laminated wooden boards and 2×4 planks so all that was required was my willingness to get finished.

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The whole job wasn’t as difficult as the last set of shelves I installed.  The first shelves I installed took much longer to complete, I was inventing the process with no real knowledge or experience in shelf construction.  This time I had already developed the process so I was able to install a shelf in less than 30 minutes.  I was restricted in my work time by the rain outside (I was using a circular saw on an extension cord… I couldn’t do that in the rain) and I was also slowed down by the need for me to drill holes and screw into a plastered brick wall.  The project s pretty much completed.  I do need to plaster a whole I made in the back wall, and I am also thinking about adding one more shelf to the top, yet that is all for another day.

“But man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” – Ernest Hemingway

A week ago I decided to move my fodder which I had been growing in the mini-greenhouse for several years, to my normal greenhouse.  The mini-greenhouse didn’t have any real problems by itself… everything worked well and the grain grew nicely.  The front door panel didn’t close properly, yet that wasn’t a big issue.  The problem lay in the little visitors which I had noticed… little sparrows had worked out that they could sneak around the plastic cover and eat their fill of the grain.  They were not eating excessive amounts, yet it was irritating that a couple of dozen little birds were eating my chickens food as well as pooing in the grain.

I decided that I would move the fodder to my nearby greenhouse.  The door was easier to close and it would prevent any little birds from taking the fodder.  For almost a week I had no problems, then I had a nighttime visitor who decided that my fodder was for them.  They knocked over a bucket of fodder, and ate the majority of another.  I found evidence of a possum (possum poo) in the greenhouse.  I decided to use a little scrap wood to block the door before I left it for the night and waited till the next day.

 

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As you can see from the above image, something entered (possibly under the zippered door) and knocked over fodder buckets, punnets of soil (I will intending to plant into them later) and spilled water everywhere!  I picked up the buckets before I took the above image.  There was also 10 times the animal poo was present.

It was pretty shocking that maybe a whole family of possums would do such damage.  These animals not only ate half my fodder, and tipped over the other half… the also pooed into the buckets containing fodder which they didn’t eat.  Basically, the crapped all over my fodder operation.

I have since used large pieces of board to block the entrance to the greenhouse and restarted my fodder growing.  Such are the joys of living in the country.

 

 

“The years have passed like swift draughts of sweet mead in lofty halls beyond the West” – Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien

I have been posting a few images to my Instagram account, showing the great progress I have been making, and made, on my mead production.

I have followed a recipe that was given to me at the Huon small farm expo, by a homebrew group, and I am very impressed with the ease and taste of the first batch.  I am thinking I might need to ask a couple of friends to try it… Kitty and I have tasted it and enjoy it, yet I don’t know if we are biased as we (I) made it.

I started a couple more containers of mead after the last batch, in order to keep the momentum moving.  One of these was following the same recipe as my first batch, the second almost the same yet instead of an Orange I used a Mandarin.

So far (I think it is 2 weeks since creation) I am really looking forward to tasting the Mandarin mixture.  It already smells sweeter and looks like the best one of the two.

I scanned a copy of the recipe in order to share it with you all.  After I am satisfied with my take (I modified the recipe a little) I will share my version with you all.

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“The garden is growth and change and that means loss as well as constant new treasures to make up for a few disasters.” – May Sarton

Winter has hit us with an unexpected cold snap this week.  We were still enjoying fairly warm weather up till this point, with many a day spent outside without anything too warm on to keep out the cool.  I have been contemplating when I should prune my fruit trees and where to begin my winter garden.  I did not plan for the swift onset of winter and I have paid for it.  My son’s rabbit, Marylin, gave birth yesterday.  I had expected this to happen this week (considering when she was mated with the father of the bunnies), yet I didn’t expect the cold to be so… cold.  She gave birth to nine little bunnies, yet (maybe due to it being her first litter, or the effect of the cold) they all died.  My son was obviously very upset about this and I explained to him why this occurred.  That Marylin would be a good mother next time, yet we would wait till closer to Spring before we tried again.

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Here is Marylin sitting among the hair she removed from herself to make a nest.

We had a little funeral for them, where I said a couple of things over their grave.  I planted them beneath my Peach tree, which my son seemed to appreciate.  I think the little funeral made him feel a little better, as though there was closure on the sad little affair.