Thursday, 15 November 2012

Easy, fuss free way to worm your chickens!

If you have chickens, sooner rather than later you will have to worm them. Especially if you come across this sight while walking barefoot through your chook pen...

I had no idea what this was when I first caught sight of the gently swaying bundle of tentacles warm and cuddly in a recently dropped, dropping!

A quick Internet scan and it seemed they were very likely to be round worm - but no matter what they were called they needed to go. Worming chickens seems quite easy when you are at the local produce shop with a selection of wormers in hand. Basically, you remove the chookies water a few hours before bedtime (to ensure they are thirsty in the morning) and then the next day give them water that is laced with the wormer - and watch them spend the day dehydrating in the hot Queensland sun rather than take the one sip required to kill off the worm population that have taken up residence in their guts.

After a week, I was convinced that some of them may have taken the required sip but the rest of the chookies were showing all the symptoms of having worms still.

So, I wormed them again in the conventional manner and once again, it would seem that a bunch of chickens is a bit smarter (or maybe even stupider) than you might first think. No matter what pretty shade of green that wormer was, they werent having a single sip of it.

What to do? Then I had this fabulous idea -

Here's what I did...

Got out the worming solution (and the mite dust as I thought I "mite as well" de-mite them at the same time!)

Read the instructions carefully - my maths is a bight rough and ready so reading the instructions is always a good place to start!

Then I worked out the ratios for a much smaller amount of final liquid by halving the amounts on both sides of the equation - as you can see above!

Measured out the smallest amount

And mixed it together in a container  - and found a stale white bread roll. This method will work with any bread roll but the white will show you how much worming solution you have soaked up into the bread...

Dunk a chunk of bread roll...

Let the chookies out and feed 'em the worm solution laced chunks of bread!

This method works better for making sure all the chooks get some worming solution inside them! To distract the more dominant chooks, I just throw some unsoaked bread a long way away and let them run after it while handing a laced bit to the other chookies. works a treat for me! If you have more than 4 or 5 chooks it may pay to have someone else with a checklist mark off the chooks who got a piece as they get it so  no one gets missed. I saw this at Canberra Zoo when the keepers were feeding twenty or so fairy penguins a fish or three each. It was amazing to see as they all looked the same to me! But they assured us that this way even the small, infirm and not so confident get enough food. Worked for the penguins that's for sure and Im sure it will work for larger groups of chickens too!

Normally I don't feed my chooks white bread but this way I can see if the worming solution is in the bread and if they ate a bit that has it in it as it dyes the bread green.

Now I know each chook has about 10mls of worming solution inside her - the guy who sold it to us assured us that they only needed a few sips each to be effective. I haven't seen any more worms in the chooks poo since I did this but since one of my baby chicks died last week of no apparent cause I'm thinking that maybe a gut full of worms may have been the reason. So I'm anxious to make sure that each and every one of them gets dosed - especially the baby and the teenagers so that they don't succumb to a worm burden also...

Some thing else I read about worming was to use a different wormer next time I worm the chookies, which should be done every 3-4 months (or six months depending on which book you read) This is in case the worms build up a resistance and even though you are dosing them regularly, they still have too many worms to be healthy. I will check the active ingredient and try for a different one next time they need worming.

Oh - and as for de-miteing the wee darlings... I wait for them to go to bed and the put the dust into my hands and then open the coop and dust them one at a time while they shuffle about on the perch. The big older chookies just take it as an undignified intrusion not worthy of having attention paid to it- although they cluck indignantly. The smaller, more flighty ones explode all around the coop like wee dusty firecracker trying to let you know that they are, like so, not into being de-mited! I sometimes wait for full darkness to do the littlies as they don't carry on so badly in the dark (and are probably dazzled by the torch light)

Score card:
Green-ness: 2/5 chemicals are not the best green thing to do. If I had noticed sooner, cider vinegar and/or garlic in their water is meant to be effective.
Frugal-ness: at $14 a bottle - its not frugal unless its effective... And if I have to buy a different bottle next time its even less frugal...
Time cost: About 3 minutes to do the maths and make up. About 10 minutes to make sure all the chookies got a decent dose!
Skill level: Maths skills, mixing and throwing accurately to the "right" chook!
Fun -ness: Great fun to know that they are dosed and simply not just hoping that they are!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

How to eat a single beetroot!

Back in New Zealand, it was easy to grow things. You popped the seedlings into the garden in the morning, watered them once and came back at dinnertime to harvest them! Well, at least that's what it felt like.

Now that I live in Queensland, Australia (by the way - that makes me a QueeNZlander in local parlance!) Things are a bit different in the garden. You pop the seedlings in the garden in the morning and by lunch time they are withered, dried up and blow into dust by 3pm.

It has been a long and frustrating journey to grow anything but tumble weeds in the back yard (imagine high noon in the desert and you have the idea!) but today... *drum roll please* I harvested a single beetroot!

Now, the issue was how to enjoy such a delicacy between the two of us (our latest student from Austria was comatose after a two day flight and probably wasn't going to be excited by my single beetroot dish no matter how exotic...) Since I was knee deep in organic and permaculture books at the time of the harvest - it had to be a raw beetroot concoction!
Here's what I did...

My single beetroot harvest - with the bowl of greens for our salad lunch in the background.

The greens and the beetroot leaves went into the salad...

And the beetroot got peeled and grated - once I got him cut, I saw the beginnings of the white rings. I think he just might be one of those chioggia one. That's an heirloom variety that has white and beetroot rings all the way through it. I think I will let the others grow a bit bigger before harvesting them to see if the rings get more pronounced.

My bro-in-law gave me a recipe for a raw beetroot and chocolate slice a while back and so I decided to make a variation on that theme for my very first beetroot harvest meal!

1x beetroot of probable heirloom heritage (or any home grown beetroot really!) - grated (preferably by the husband. I don't know why but I'm sure it tastes better!)
3 tablespoons of cocoa
about a cup of shredded coconut
about 1/2 cup of dates shuzzzed up in a processor

He then mixed this altogether and pressed it very firmly into a tin, popped it in the fridge and we had it for dessert cut into squares with yoghart.

But I didn't have any dates, or enough coconut so I improvised...

1x beetroot as above
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
3 tablespoons of cocoa
A couple of handfuls of dried mixed fruit (like for fruit mince pies)
10 crushed plain bikkies left over from the cheesecake-in-a-jar experiment
and a blob of butter

mixed thoroughly
Pressed into a tin and popped in the fridge for 3/4 of an hour
ate in the garden with a blob of yogurt in the company of the husband and a few chickens!

Quite yummy!

Its a bit cherry ripe-ish with a hint of earth and the squish of raisins! It might work for a kids dessert (or maybe breakfast?) certainly worth a try, at any rate!

If you have never had fresh beetroot before - this has got to be a wonderful introduction to the joys of such a vegetable! Give it a go next time you have a fresh beetroot just lying around the place!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 to grow and eat your own fresh raw food!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 to make dessert with what you have to hand!
Time cost: About 5 mins to make. 3/4 hour to "set" and not long enough to savour!
Skill level: very basic - doesn't even involve turning on the oven!
Fun -ness: So much fun to eat your own harvest!

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Picnic in-a-jar ideas!

Some good friends decided that we needed to get together for good food, nice wine and great company and so invited us on a picnic. Yay - we love a picnic! It took a few weeks from invite to actually getting together due to rain, work and train timetables but it was so worth it when it finally came together!

I saw a picnic idea on the net that I just had to try! It was cute, sustainable, used things I already had at home and cost me nothing...

A picnic in a jar? Its fun and looks good too!

Here's what I did...

I made strawberry cheesecake into 4 individual jars - screwed the lids on and packed them into the picnic bag!

I made a rocket, feta and garlic dip and a roast capsicum, parmesan and cashew dip (by shuzzing them up in a blender until they looked and tasted good!) popped 'em into a jar and into the picnic bag too!

I made a few feta and onion tarts that sadly, didn't fit into any jar I had...

Found a spot with a view of the river, some wine and some wonderful friends and proceeded to chat the evening away!

Some long handled spoons - and dessert is served!


Due to work commitments, I didn't get to explore this concept any further this time but there are some great salad in a jars in my future, I can predict! I had never considered the practicalities of jars for these type of things. We normally take crockery, not plastic, with us these days so it wasn't a big deal to add some more breakables to the cooler bags. I wrap anything breakable in tea towels and so if it does break the resulting mess is contained in the teatowel and not through the whole bag.

With the summer months coming up and school holidays just around the corner, outdoor dining will be a staple part of our diet. Its time to put the slow cooker away (sob) and move onto the next feasting phase of the year - The Picnic! Have a look at these sites for more wonderful "in a jar" ideas

salad in a jar
Becoming sandwich savy
The family kitchen

skewers9 500x477 salad on a stick salads food appetizers
Sugar Laws - Salad on a Stick

"Salad on a stick?" - this one I gotta try! The post itself is worth a visit!
There are so many things that can go into a jar and be taken out on a picnic that I had never considered! Once you start exploring this concept you will find many things that overlap - what about salad in a jar for work lunches - keep 'em airtight in a jar in the fridge and take one out every day for a healthy lunch at work and school - add a fork attached with an elastic band and you're done!
For the salad one, the dressing and the able-to-be-soaked-in-dressing-for-a-while veges go on the bottom and then you layer up the various veges and salad ingredients. Then you either tip the jar into a snazzy bowl at work and eat it (the dressing will now be on the top and your lettuce on the bottom in the more traditional salad fashion) or invert the jar (with the lid on of course) a few times to distribute the dressing through the salad, open and enjoy!

This is also a good idea for portion control, if you need to and also for making different salads for different tastes/allergies or intolerance's.

I think it just looks cute! 

Score card:

Green-ness: 5/5 for again - upcycling and/or recylcing!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 no cost picnic ware that is on trend? go to the top of the class!
Time cost: No more than it takes to make and put together a normal picnic
Skill level: Picnic preparation level!
Fun -ness: Its so much fun to watch peoples reactions!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Easy to make fabric covers for milk crates!

Like most households, milk crates appear in and about our house as they are the right size to sit on, strong enough to stand on and the right shape to store things in. They are usually free or picked up for a dollar or two at garage sales or at dump/tip shops. They come in red and blue in our area (depending on weather they are originally from Paul's or Dairy Farmers!) and that simply doesn't go with my outdoor decor - neither does the plastic look but that's another issue. Something had to be done.

I decided to cover them with material that fitted in with the rest of our current outdoor setting - A quick look on the Internet for inspiration and confidence and...

The finished product being modelled by the cat!

Here's what I did...

I started with the standard Brissy Blue and Red Milk Crates...

Then I bought a sheet and a couple of pillow cases from the local Footprints Op Shop

This is less a pattern and more a method to follow - Cut the sheet into a strip that fits around the sides of the crate with a few inches to spare that will go over the top. Pin and then when you are happy, sew it into a tube (seams inside) and fit back onto the crate.
Fold the top down so it fits snugly into corners/triangles and pin securely.

Sew each corner so it stays in that position and put back onto the crate.

If you want to use these as small tables or to sit on - a layer of cardboard makes all the difference!

Unpick the pillow case into a large piece of material and cut a square that is a couple of inches larger than the top of the crate. I used an iron to press the pillow case into the right shape and then pinned it to the tube piece on the crate.

Its a bit tricky to sew on but can be done with a bit of patience...

For extra padding, I folded up a bit of old towel off cut and put it between the crate and the cover (not in between the green and the patterned bit - that's way to tricky for my sewing skills!)

Once the top is sewn onto the tube, put it back onto the crate, place in back yard to photograph and a cat will leap upon it and claim it as her own! - At least that's what happened to me!

Obviously, a reasonably relaxing place to spend an afternoon!

I ended up making four covers - but can't find the fourth crate that I swear we had...
And then the Husband came home and the cat thinking that he might feed her, leapt off to greet him after spending nearly an hour preening and sleeping on my brand new crate covers!

There are some amazing examples of these on the net. Put something like "milk crate cover" into google images and surf away! These ones were the ones that inspired me!

There are some great examples of using crates for very stylish storage in the home, some where an armchair has been made from crates and some funky playroom/classroom stoage ideas! And for the crocheters and knitters - have a look at this!

Its another straight-ish line sewing project that has plenty of room for slack, misunderstanding and guessing (that are trademarks of my style of making things!) and is cheap enough to have a go at even if it doesn't work out exactly as you had hoped - It would seem my Harper's Bazaar taste is not matched by my beginners sewing capabilities!

Score card:
Green-ness: 5/5 upcyling, recycling and multi purposed item created!
Frugal-ness: 5/5 for getting four covers made for $6
Time cost: The first one was a bit fiddly - maybe 20 minutes - and then I made the other three in forty minutes
Skill level: Basic straight-ish line sewing
Fun -ness: Great fun to make something cheap and useful so easily!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Slowing Down the Slow Living Essentials Way - October 2012

I have been following Christine at Slow Living Essentials for a while and in January she set a challenge to record on our blog, monthly, how we have "slowed down" under nine categories - I have been doing this for the last eight months and really got a lot out of it. This is my October reflection on Slowing Down - the Slow Living Essentials way!

NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch over packaged, over processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead.
At the beginning of this challenge, this is something I wasn't doing regularly. These days its the "norm" to be cooking something for dinner. We have our "take away night" on a Thursday when after we have been to the library, we pop into the shopping centre and buy a $5 late night meal deal meal and get out takeaway fix then. It feels special but is still a great bargain, even more so when we bring our own water or drink from home!
Home made Onion and Feta tarts for a Monday night picnic with friends!

PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve.
I have started making sauces for presents for Christmas this month starting with a base of Aldi crushed tomato's. At $3 for a can that was 2.9kg of skinned, cored, diced and pureed tomato's - I couldn't see why I would buy tomato's at $8 a kilo and still have to "process" them! I saw the tip for making sauce from these Aldi cans on Rhonda's website - Down to Earth - always worth a look!

REDUCE: Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing.
Repaired the curtains in the lounge this month - well over due and not as hard or as bad as I thought it was going to be! Also repaired the scuff marks on a pair of shoes, so am doing ok in the repairing stake this month!

GREEN: up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade products.
I had a quick look under the sink and other than the caustic soda that I use for soap making and the detergent that the husband wont give up (he does do 99% of the dishes in the house so I guess he gets to choose what he washes them with) There is nothing else that is a commercial product anymore!

GROW: plant/harvest. What's growing this month?
Its so good to be able to report something in this section after months and months of trials and no results! Still got lettuces coming out our ears - we can just about have lettuce salad every night at the moment. Time will tell if I have staggered the planting well enough to give us lettuces for another few months anyway!

I'm probably not going to get any kale or Broccoli this month as the white cabbage butterfly's have found the plants, despite being planted all over the place and not in one 'easy to find block'. But the chickens think its great and come running over when I go into the garden and hang around the caged lacy kale while I lean in and pick of big fat juicy caterpillars for them. I'm getting great eggs from the greedy ones at the moment!!!

CREATE: to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others.
Not enough of this happening this month. I started another rag quilt for the other baby but its no where near as good as the first one. Brighter and bolder but seems to have a few holes and various other "technical" issues... not sure weather to persevere or to start over at this point...

DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests.
Uni readings, uni readings and a book called "Visit Sunny Chernobyl - and other polluted places" Its an amazing read about a journalist who goes to Chernobyl, India, China and even out to the Pacific garbage patch and tells us what its really like to live in these places. I found it fascinating - and learnt a fair bit too!

ENHANCE: community: The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold.
Too much work and not enough community outside the work place again this month dammit...
I'm guessing that with the Festive season rapidly approaching that this will be a feature of my life until Christmas Eve. And then it will do an abrupt back flip and become all play and no work (and no money) time for me - Ah well, its better to make hay while the sun shines than to wait for the rain and lament the lost opportunities! Roll on the long hot lazy days of January!

One of the kitchens and some of the gorgeous girls I work with!

ENJOY: Life! Embrace moments with friends and family.
We have had a couple of family and friends events this month - starting with our decision last year not to "do" Halloween. We grew up in NZ and the UK and neither of us "celebrated" Halloween. We read about it in American books but never saw anything of it in our own childhoods. As October is the beginning of the BBQ season, we started having BBQ's that had a Halloween flavor. Each year they got bigger and bigger and we decided that enough was enough and this year chose to do something that was a bit more meaningful from our own heritages. So this October we had a Hangi (Maori earth oven) and invited 30 of our friend, family and neighbours over to help us eat it! Next year in Autumn we will have a mid winter medieval type feast for the Englishman to preside over!

IMPROVE: Change or create a habit, work on an aspect of mind, body and soul that needs a wee tweak.
Now, I'm doing really well with the chocolate - or should I say with the not buying chocolate - so I'm pleased about that. I manage to drink way more than the litre that I set myself in the second challenge - so that's worked well for me too.
As for the 9pm challenge for last month, that's been really hard to do. I am simply not home so many nights of the week at 9pm. Until I did this wee challenge, I would have thought I was home at least 1/2 of my week...But I'm not.
However, with one or two quite notable exceptions (both involving just getting to the end of the chapter, or the end of the next chapter or until he gets out of India or until he gets to China... or I get to the end of the book - which ever comes last...) I have been fairly good, when I have been home. The alarm on the house phone goes (my husband can do amazing things with a phone system - sometimes I even use it to call people on!!!) and I look up at the clock and reluctantly start putting things away and generally am in bed and asleep by 9.30 - 9.45pm. I am still waking up at 5.30am so at least I am getting enough sleep - on the night that I am home!

This month I think I will try to go to yoga at least twice a week and if I cant for some reason (which is likely to be work related) then I will do a 20 minute guided imagery meditation thingy that I have recorded on my mp3 player so at least I get some down time that is relaxing and centring in such a hectic or long day!
The lovely Jodie from Source Yoga

I love this check-in at the end of the month! I love cruising over to other blogs and catching up on whats been happening for others and enjoying reading about every ones exploits, thoughts and ideas. I do always leave comments but have noticed that sometimes they don't come up on the comments page or I can't get past some of the 'security' devices ("type in these letters" thingys). So, even if you can't see my comment - know that I have been visiting!

Thanks for the opportunity to share again Christine!!! Have a great month everyone! - Kara xx

9pm beeper just went - will pop the pictures and links up tomorrow! ok so it was nearly a week later - but I got there in the end! - K xx

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