“In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.” – William Blake

We have been working hard on preparing the house for the move.  One of my duties is to dismantle our tin garden beds, we have 6 that I still have to pull apart.  I thought I might be able to just pull them up from the ground, yet wet soil is much heavier then would be expected.

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You can see two of the metal garden beds here. The one in the foreground was my bean and pea bed.

 

While I was clearing out the garden beds I took the opportunity to harvest the Broad bean and Snow Pea seeds that I allowed to dry on the vines.  Harvesting these seeds is much easier than other types of seeds, as the seeds are kept safe in their pods.  This will give you the option of just leaving them on the vine and allowing the pods to dry out (thereby drying the seeds too). Alternatively, I could have collected the bean and pea pods, hung them in a dry environment, and collected the seeds sooner.

I find this method a little too much work.  Leaving them on the vie is much better as it takes less effort and allows me to dig the vines into the ground… returning valuable nitrogen back to the soil for next season.

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A close look at the Pea and Bean seeds I was collecting from the garden.

 

I would have liked to harvest seeds from the excellent tasting broccoli I produced this year, yet as my Geese decided that they wanted to eat the plants, I never had a chance to let them go to seed.  With the reduction in the number of Geese I will be keeping (from 4 to zero), I expect that I shouldn’t have the problem next season.

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Some of the damage that was done to the Broccoli and other plants by the Geese.

 

Finally, with my collection of some great seeds, I have completed my 13 skill in Seed collection.  I hope to make my goals much more challenging next year.

 

 

“Mother Nature is harsh, and if there’s value in dealing with a death, there’s also valuse in moving beyond it quickly” – John Marzluff

Some happy Alpacas... sorry for the iPod image quality
Some happy Alpacas… sorry for the iPod image quality

I took my family to a recent Alpaca show at the Hobart Show Grounds.  We actually went along to look at the vintage car expo, but found it would cost more than $40 for my family to enter.  Next door was the Alpaca show, free to enter, and as we were there we decided to go check it out.  It turned out to be an interesting time as there were around 30 or so Alpacas on show, with demonstrations on Shearing, Carding, Spinning and Weaving.  We also saw a demonstration on Felting, which is something that I did not know existed.  The process involved a special machine which would, through the use of special needles, bind carded wool to a piece of fabric.  This creates an interesting texture and look.  Someone had actually used this process to make a very lifelike Tasmanian Tiger pelt.

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My children had a nice time, touching the wool, asking questions of the demonstrators, and patting the few Alpacas that were brave enough to come close.  This reminds me of a  recent article in Time magazine which opened my eyes to the actions of animals and how they may feel.  It is something which I try not to think about too much, as I raise and slaughter my own animals.  The article discussed the research being conducted into whether animals feel grief, with examples of various animals reactions to the death of a companion.  I have seen this recently with my own Goose, who seems to be very lonely and sad since the death of it’s parents.  It is reluctant to come near me, even when I feed it, and often hides behind bushes when I enter the garden area.

 

Just a quick update on my house, and something I forgot to mention in my last post… on Saturday we had the first snow of the year.  The snow didn’t settle on the ground, so we were still able to get outside and have a nice day, yet it was a significant amount of snow.  Then, on Monday, we had the first frost day of the year.  This is something that should be noted, as it is useful to know when your home experiences the first and last frosts of the year.  It can help with determining planting times, etc.  This morning, we had a serious amount of ice on the ground, with my windscreen covered in a thick layer, so the temp would have been at least 0 for that to happen.   To quote a show that everyone but me seems to be watching, “Winter is coming”.

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My dog George in the snow last year.

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson

I have hurt my back pretty badly the other day, while working on our stores of fire wood.  I spent several hours chopping up a fallen tree with my chainsaw, which I realised after starting work that it needed sharpening… this probably added to my injury as I had to work harder to cut the wood.  I then cut the wood into smaller sections and carted it to my house, where it was stacked to await the colder weather.  Somewhere along the line I had what the doctor is calling a “Muscle Spasm” in my back.  Basically, my back seized up and I couldn’t stand up straight for a couple of days.  Due to this I was pretty much out of commission for a while… which is why I haven’t posted a lot.  Once my back is better I will get back into my fitness and my work on the property.

Kitty took some pictures of me in the process of this, yet the images are not on my camera.  I will have to look into that.

 

Finally, my years of playing Cluedo have paid off.  While in the garden the other afternoon I found evidence pointing to the villain that is denuding my fruit trees.  While examining the trees for any new growth I found Goose down on a bud in the fruit trees.  I didn’t feel that was enough evidence, yet a short while later I found something more telling.  I filmed the Geese eating a branch which I dropped on the ground.  The Branch had been broken off one of the trees, so I broke it into sections and dropped it under the tree so that it could break down and provide it’s nutrients to the tree.  I turned my back and walked out of the garden, only to see a Goose grab the branch.  It proceeded to remove the leaves, assisted by the other two Geese.  I filmed it to show, yet I am unable to locate this video (possibly related to the missing pictures from my camera).  For now, just take my word for it.

I spent a few hours on the weekend slaughtering and butchering the 2 older Geese, leaving the young one for a while till it grows up more.

My dog, Morleigh, was ever ready to lend a hand.  Here she is enjoyed the off cuts of the Goose.

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She looks like she is smiling.

 

“Life is hard. After all, it kills you.” – Katharine Hepburn

It has been well over a month since my hen went broody and sat on 10 eggs in her chicken house.  I suspect that the eggs are not viable so she is basically just sitting on a bunch of eggs we should have eaten.  I will not bother her though, it is coming to winter and the other hen has almost stopped laying eggs, so no need to worry about egg production now.  Eventually, if the eggs don’t hatch, the hen will get tired of the wait and leave them.  Once they have been left for a couple of days I will dispose of them after candling them to see if there is any life within.  Candling an eggs is the process of shining light through the egg so that you can see the inside.  You can buy specific tools to do this, yet I just use a high power torch in a darkened room (such as the hen house).

If the eggs hatch I will be happy, if not than it is no great loss.  Probably means I might need some new hens and a new rooster when the new seasons roll around.

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Young Goose. It was her lucky day!

The fruit trees in my garden are still being attacked each night, their leaves are being eaten away and branches are being broken.  I have checked my electric fence to ensure that there are no issues with it, it seems to be working perfectly.  I also did a couple of night time patrols of the garden, heavily armed with a torch.  I didn’t catch any small prowlers. I coming to the conclusion that it might be the Geese doing all this damage.  To this end I have decided to reduce the number of Geese that I own to zero.  In all honesty, that isn’t the only reason to get rid of the Geese.

  • They have turned out to be bad parents, by letting their young die.
  • They are costing more to feed then the amount of meat they produce.
  • They destroyed my garden (my fault for giving them the chance).
  • We want less land, so no room for Geese.

Anyway, I caught my youngest Goose to do first, as a friend wants to buy the meat from me.  I found it to have very little meat on it’s body, which was a concern.  I decided to let it go to get a bit bigger.  I then caught the white Goose, who was the odd one out.  She is three years old, so might not taste too fresh.  She was slaughtered humanly and the meat will go into the slow cooker at a later date.

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Other Goose was not as lucky

That reminds me, Kitty talked to one of our friends the other day who lives up here.  Apparently he is at his wits end… he has lost nearly all his chickens to Tassie Devils and Quolls.  He has had the branches of his fruit trees broken by Possums, he has lost lots of produce from his garden.  Basically he is being overrun by animals.  I thought that I might be able to assist him in some way so I stopped by and chatted with him.  I mentioned that I heard of his plight and asked if I could  help set up some electric wire to protected some of his things or help re-build his chicken house to protect against the murderous attention of the Tassie Devil and Quoll, and maybe work on fencing his garden to protect it.   He seemed very appreciative of my offer, yet said he really just wanted to vent his frustrations to Kitty.  Anyway, the point I want to make is to be sure to offer your support and assistance to your friends and neighbors.  The simple act of Kitty to listen to one person’s problems made him feel a lot better.

 

 

“It is easier to criticize than to correct our past errors.” – Livy

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I am sure you may recall my last posting, where I extolled the virtue of the mother goose at protecting her young brood.  Well I was incorrect about this.  The day after I posted that, I realised that one of the baby geese were missing.  Today I noticed another was gone. I searched the area and I could find no sign of the young or any evidence that they had died.  I suspect that crows took the babies while the parents were otherwise preoccupied.  This is very disappointing and usually I would take the babies from their parents and raise them in a special area.  I would do this as there is obviously a problem and I would need to step in to protect our investment of time in the animals (we intend to use the Geese for meat, so it is important to us that they pull their weight and produce for us).  As we are hoping to sell our home I don’t have the time to raise these goslings under a heat lamp, and I don’t have the space either.  Due to this I will allow them to take a chance with their survival.  Kitty and I have decided that once the last Gosling is taken it will be time for the geese to graduate to the dinner table.  They are not providing a very good investment for the amount of time I have put into them.

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One down, one to go.

I took a little time today to work in the garden, so that I could keep an eye on the geese to see if I could spot any crows hanging around.  While in the garden I noticed that my bean and pea plants were almost bursting out of the mini poly tunnels I had them growing within.  I came up with a solution which will protect them from the geese and chickens, while still allowing sunlight and water to reach them.  I built a temporary structure from a roll of frost covering, some staples, and some wooden posts which I drove into the ground and wired together.  I feel it should withstand most weather, allowing the plants to grow without interruption.

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“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.” – Mark Twain

We have some new arrivals at the Little Tassie Prepper homestead, with the recent hatching of the Goose eggs.  It was, as usual, a bit of a surprise when it occurred.  The evening before they hatched, when I went to feed the animals, I noticed that the mother Goose kept standing up and looking at the eggs on which she was sitting.  I was unsure whether the eggs were close to hatching, if she was unsure if they were fertile and was second guessing the time she has spent on them, or if it was a normal thing for a Mother Goose to do.  When my geese hatched previously they did so in privacy.  Their mother’s had gone into the forest at my house I thought I had lost them for a month and because of this I did not see them until after the babies had hatched.

When I went out in the morning to just soak in the serenity I was shocked to see the babies walking around the yard with their mother and father.  I called my family to come and see the wonder of the new arrivals.  The third goose in the yard (who is the Mother to the mother goose, which I guess makes the babies her grand geese) was very interested in the babies, yet the parents would not let her get a look.  This is strange in my opinion, as previous batches of Geese work together to protect the flock’s young.  This was out of the ordinary in my opinion.  Anyway, as you can see from the video below, the babies are having some trouble walking.  This may be common as they are only a few hours old at this point.

As you can see, there are only four babies.  The fifth egg did not hatch.  I left it there for a few extra hours to see if it would do so, yet nothing.  Something of great interest… the empty egg shells are not in the nest, at least there was very little remaining.  I suspect that either the babies or the mother ate them, yet this is only a theory.  It could be to ensure that no predator knows of the young having hatched, it could be for the mother to conserve energy, or it could be that the young eat the shell to gain grit to be used to eat.  I have never seen this before and I will have to pay attention when they lay eggs next time.

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You can see the remaining Goose egg and only a few pieces of empty shell.

After the babies hatched, over the course of the day, I noticed a large number of Crows were congregating at our home.  This is usual when baby animals arrive at my house, the Crows was to eat them.  If the babies were ducks or chickens I would have to take them from the parents to raise them myself.  In my experience Ducks and Chickens are very bad parents and do not watch over them.  I have lost whole groups of babies due to the parent’s failure to watch over their young.  I have seen Crows swoop and collect ducklings as their mother walks away, oblivious to the danger.  Geese on the other hand are very good parents.  I have seen the Geese protect the young very efficiently.  The Geese work as a team to protect the young, and they also allow the mothers a little personal time to have a bath without the babies by watching over the group.  Due to this I have allowed them to be raised by their parents.

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A happy family, with grand mother.