Chookie's Patch

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by Chookie, May 30, 2014.

  1. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Has been awhile since my last post!

    The garden has been good and bad. The wet weather has kept the soil very wet over a long period of time, causing a few plants to die. The dill, cauliflowers, chills, capsicums have all died in the wet soil however others like broccoli, eggplants, tomatoes, silver beat, lettuce and a lot of herbs have thrived. I will have to pop in some raised beds to tackle this problem over the wet season. Will have to think more about drainage over this period and how to solve and get around this. Looking more into wet soil loving plants to plant out over this period.

    I had around 100 seedlings to go out into the new veggie bed but accidentally left the wire cage off while I had lunch. When I returned 30 mins later brush turkeys had eaten and scratched the whole lot up, somehow managing to even push the trays of the table >:/ not happy! I think I managed to save 4-5 seedling out of the lot.

    Initially a lot of plants were getting hammered by caterpillars and other pests, especially the tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, kale and silver beats. I have not sprayed yet and have just concentrated on planting flowers and herbs but they are not well established just yet. 2 weeks ago however I was absolutely thrilled to be visited by a 'willy wag tail', for those of you not familiar with these, they are a small predatory bird that 'wags' its tail over the ground and catch insects. I mowed the lawns and he/she hasn't left since. Every time I go down to the garden the bird is tirelessly going through the veggie patch searching for insects. The enclosure protects it from larger birds and from past experience, I'd say its not going anywhere soon. As a consequence the pests are disappearing and I'm getting better growth all thanks to one small bird.

    Regardless of my efforts in fixing my very old hot water system and putting on timers etc it died anyway. Still not sure what happened to it but it just packed it in all of a sudden. Water tanks have been put on hold and Ive invested in a heat pump instead. Pretty flash looking unit and I can also set timers myself now. 75% more efficient then the last system and can reduce that further by setting timers so its runs of the solar etc. As far as being functional its working much better then the old one, very happy indeed.


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    The quest to lower energy consumption is now reaping its rewards. Energy consumption is down by 2/3rds and so are the bills! This does not include the new hot water system either so keen to see what my next bill will be. It should all pay itself off quite quickly.

    Hopefully more pics of the garden soon:)
     
  2. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    Chookie! bird sounds like a keeper! i hope it will continue to hang out there and help out even more, perhaps even have babies...

    sorry to hear about the brush turkey taking out the seedlings, sometimes it seems the critters have it in for you, but they are just doing their thing and easy food is good livin'...

    celery comes to mind for a crop that likes regular moisture, but i'm not sure how they do with heat.

    are you running the whole system off your solar setup? 2/3rds less is always nice on the bills.
     
  3. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Sorry to hear about the soggy times, but I know you will get that worked out to your advantage. We are going to start putting in raised beds this summer so they will be plant able for the fall planting. Rains here have been monsoon like for two months now.
    Sweet heat pump! I know you are stoked over those savings. Are bush turkeys good to eat?

    Sounds like an awesome bird that has come to help you out with the bug problems.

    We seem to have some new predator critters, feral dogs. At least they don't go after our crops but if they go for the chooks when we get them, they will be used for target practice and composting.

    Cheers mate
     
  4. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Hey Songbird:) Im hoping the bird stays as well, so handy to have around!

    I hear you about the turkeys, they are just doing their thing but I wish they weren't so good at scavenging!

    Will give the celery a go, havent planted any at this stage so will try.

    In regards to the solar, during the day we can run everything of the solar and are good. The evenings and nights however is were the costs is coming from, with no batteries we still rely on the grid when the sun is gone and its pretty expensive. Should be interesting to see how this new 'powerwall' will changes things. It seems energy storage will be a focus now and we should see some competition and cheaper storage options soon.
     
  5. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Hey Bryant:) Your right the wet comes with its advantages as well, some species just love it so some positives as well. Like yourself raised beds will have to be made here as well but the thought of dragging more soil down the hill makes my back hurt just thinking about it lol Wish I had better access for vehicles!

    The brush turkeys are great to eat! Very tasty BUT they are now protected. Their numbers dwindled at one point but have now made a come back with a vengeance and we are now seeing huge numbers returning and also seeing them in places never seen before. They certainly have their place and I wouldn't dream of eating one. Even though they are so troublesome lol

    Sorry to hear about the dogs mate! Thats terrible, they are so destructive with the wildlife and once they get a taste they wont go away. Whats gets me is that a lot of the time they just frenzy kill everything in sight leaving nothing behind. Can wipe out years of work and a whole blood line in one brief moment. I think you idea of removal is the smartest thing to do. Ive had a couple roam through here but they are domestic and my enclosure is dog proof so they don't come often or do anything bad. Feral is a different story though....
     
  6. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    we've gone through a similar thing here in the northern USoA with the wild turkey. they were common and then were overhunted and since have returned in population. now it can be common to see flocks of 30-100. they've since brought back hunting for them too. these are not pests for our yard or gardens they stick to the open fields and wooded areas where people aren't about. we don't feed or encourage them so they've not been on our place much at all but we've had some friends have them lay eggs in nests right along their sidewalk.

    as for solar energy storage the whole world would appreciate a cheap means of storing extra energy. i take it where you are at the power company is making it too hard to sell energy back to them during the day so you can't net meter or bank some energy until the night comes along?
     
  7. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Great to hear about the turkeys there, is good to hear some 'comeback' stories now and again. More often then not we hear about everything becoming extinct, so its refreshing:)

    Yes your right, the power companies make it difficult. They sell me power for around $0.28. During the day I try and use most of my power so it doesn't come off the grid. In addition excess energy production during the day is sold back to the power company but they only buy it back for $0.08. With no storage, at night we are forced to use their power and thats really what we are paying for now. Since the announcement of the 'powerwall' our energy provider also announced new storage systems they are working on, for small scale solar systems. Finally we are seeing some competition with battery storage. These newer systems are smaller, cheaper and more efficent, so will make it viable for small scale producers like myself. Very exciting times :)
     
  8. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Our power company pays little for grid-tied services, we are looking at installing one that is grid-tied but with a disconnect so when the power goes out we can operate on the batteries.
    After looking into self installation or using a local company, we have decided to go with the local company doing the install for us. Cost for the 5 kw system with everything needed (including batteries) will be 10,000 US dollars. Not really so bad a price since it includes the labor to install, hook up to the electric company and all. My biggest concern is the cost of battery replacement when that time comes. We have developed an overall plan which will use wind power and solar panels and the company I talked to has both systems and will do the integration of both so best option for me since it will keep me from screwing up anything.
     
  9. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    Chookie i'm not sure how much water you have available where you are at but perhaps pumped storage and then running that through a small generator at night would be able to provide enough energy for lighting at night? when you figure what the replacement costs for batteries will be having to replace a pump/generator motor once in a while may be much less. the other thing is that you have a pretty high roof so to put a tank up high to capture that water from rains and to use it as extra generating capacity would be free energy along with having free extra irrigation water.

    i've not done any research lately on small hydroelectric, but it might be worth looking into. i know that the LED lights are getting very efficient, so to run lights for house for a few hours in the evening might possible with 50-100 watts of generation.
     
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  10. songbird

    songbird Senior Member

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    coincidentally, had a very interesting and close encounter with a wild turkey today. before i'd said that they don't come around our place as they stay out in the fields, but last night or this morning one managed to get hit in the road here so i had to go out today and bury it. them are big birds and heavy too. poor tyke. amazing too. paid my respects to him and the worms when buried back by a new strawberry patch.
     
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  11. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    Since I went raised beds, hip high with rio running down the middle i havent had the turkeys digging up my veg. They like a bit of room and prefer a bit of fresh soil with little stuff in it to established and confined. I had 2 wild peacocks around here for a few days and they frog marched the turkeys off the block Just followed them and made them leave. They are beautiful and efficient and dont do any noticeable digging
     
  12. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Hey Chookie, How is everything going? We paid our down payment on two Guinea Gilts last weekend, cute little buggers, now have to locate a shoat that isn't closely related to buy so we can start the breeding program.
    We started a little drought cycle at the start of July and I'm hoping it breaks before the end of August. Till then we are watering the fruit trees and what's left of the gardens.
    Cheers mate.
     
  13. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Interesting idea that, will look into that a little more, thanks!
     
  14. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Well now this pen is done I have no problems at all, so we are all friends now ;) They are breeding and running around everywhere at the moment. I see mostly males fighting and chasing each other but Ive seen huge flocks of females in the yard.

    If I grow extra beds outside the main pen, I'll give the raised beds a go and see if this will help, cheers :)
     
  15. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Love Guineas! Hope the breeding program works out well and hope you get some rain! Feel bad as we are so spoiled with rain here..
     
  16. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Has been so long since I last posted! Have been on holidays to Western Australia and have had a few house projects on the go. Had to restore and old hardwood deck, I thought it would be an easy job...but i was wrong...very wrong. Its done now so I can get back to other less painful projects.

    Learned a few lessons over winter, the soil never really dried out and then lost ALOT of light over winter being on a south facing slope. Some plants did really well but others just didn't like the constant moisture. Will be more selective next winter when planting.

    Happy to say after all the work and soil prep etc this system is now complete and working really well. The chooks are eating better due to all the fresh greens being thrown into their runs. The chicken runs/garden beds themselves are much cleaner and healthier then Ive ever had before, the rotations have taken the stress of the soil and I don't worry as much about parasites and other poultry diseases.

    I Was a bit late planting this spring and it was looking a bit bare for a little while after harvesting but now cranking along again. The chooks have been enjoying nibbling away at herbs and greens planted along the front of the beds, this has been really good for their health. Silverbeets, lettuce and rocket are all doing really well. Other herbs are becoming well established now.

    [​IMG]


    Cucumbers are coming along nicely, will plant this patch out with melons, pumpkins and Zuchinni's as well. Already harvested some beetroot at the back there. Corn is coming up but not that fast.....


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    An artichoke planted way too close the the fence lol ooops, a lot of space left from harvesting but it's filling up fast.


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    Bannana is doing great and is powering along, cant wait to get some fruit this season.


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    Sugar snaps and snow peas also doing well but not many make it back to the kitchen....so tasty I cant help eating them all off the vine lol


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    Chook numbers are quite low due to last years rooster. He produced males 95% of the time... So he's gone and it's taken me awhile but finally have another decent rooster and hope for better results this season. He's still in isolation for awhile to ensure he's healthy before introducing him to the flock. Itching to get some eggs in the incubator.

    I'm really happy to be finally eating from the garden. Not a great deal but it's begun. Herbs like mint, oregano, basil and parsley are abundant now, others still need more time to become established. Have had small crops of lettuce, beetroot, kale, silver beets and rocket but hope for much more this spring/summer.

    Hope everyone is doing well

    Cheers

    Chookie
     
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  17. Bryant RedHawk

    Bryant RedHawk Junior Member

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    Awesome looking garden, I'm glad it is coming together for you. Hope that new Rooster gives you many hens, nothing like fresh, home grown eggs.
    We should be getting a new starter batch in the spring here.
    The Guinea Hogs are doing super, but now I have to get some panels to separate them from the areas I plant for them to have enough green food to eat, I was amazed at how much grass they like to eat. Our boar has already shown that he understands his job and is happy to comply, even though neither him or the two girls are old enough to do any breeding yet, they are practicing.

    Cheers mate, and here's to reaping the rewards of all the hard work.
     
  18. grantvdm

    grantvdm Junior Member

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    Wow!! Great Stuff!
     
  19. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Thanks grantvdm
     
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  20. Chookie

    Chookie Junior Member

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    Thanks Bryant,

    What do you mean by 'starter batch'?

    Oh and I thought you meant guinea fowl! Wow must be great to have some hogs around, that was my original plan with this garden but they were just too destructive. Im keen to see how they go digging up your garden, do they compact/compress the ground much if left for too long? Do they dig up the entire bed or just sections? Still keen to explore the pig tractors more.

    Good luck with the breeding mate, hope you don't have too many dramas ;)
     

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