Saturday, December 10, 2011

Home front: micro-farm

I thought I'd take a slightly different tack today, being a sunny (but with storms looming) Saturday here,  and give you a look at some of what we do here to not only ease the family budget (which lets me buy toys) but also to supplement our dinner table with fresh-as-can-be produce and teach us all some preparedness skills.  I live in a quite well-to-do suburb, in a run-down but happy shared, rental property. We are an anomaly in our street, not only for the company we keep, the age of our house, but also the way we utilize it. Water tanks and grey-water diversion were an early step as was planning usage of the land we have to work with. 

What have we got?

Our backyard is partially concreted, and partially grassed. The green side we have cordoned off with star pickets and chicken wire, and is home to 5 hens. Princess Layer, Hen Solo, Chookbacca, Jabba the Cluck and Stormchooka. In theory we get 3-5 eggs a day. They get all our table-scraps that aren't chicken related and a mix of pellet and seeds to supplement that. I have several Webber-type kettle BBQ's and a cold smoker and a stash of firewood, for making of the tasty noms, and preserving food. Melbourne has very mild winters, and rarely reaches freezing point. Fire for heating is a luxury novelty here. 

Our front yard hosts two raised vegetable and herb beds and two rabbit hutches. The rabbits were originally three girls, but by some Jurassic Park kind of misadventure, "nature found a way" and there were baby bunnies. This lead to a second hutch and the offending not-a-girl bunny went to solitary. Normally this kind of baby-boom would make for tremendous pies, but I was forsworn to not kill and eat the bunnies out of hand. They do play a part though, and I haven't mowed the lawn for a year now. I just move the hutches and they use their faces. 

The poop they leave behind I rake up and fling into the beds. They are supposed to get a double-handful of pulled weeds each, every day, which helps to keep the beds clear. Diggers Club Copper tape strips deter snails from pillaging;  reusable non-pesticide minefield, brilliant!

We have a "no freeloaders"policy, and only plant food-crops. We rotate the crops seasonally, and almost every mean contains either veggies, or herbs from here. The leaf-litter from the neighbors overhanging vines act as mulch, old kendo shinai  slats act as garden stakes, and as in the backyard, we have rainwater tanks to irrigate with, with both soaker and dribble-hoses on hand to counter the harsh Australian summer heat and drought. 

I do most of the gardening, and chooken wrangling, and the bunnies are (supposed to be) the duty of Miss 14. We all enjoy having the gardens, and livestock, our neighbors benefit from the occasional egg glut, and our elderly Greek landlord approves of the usefulness of the land. The skills and discipline we are developing in small scale farming will suit us well, should we ever come to need to rely upon ourselves for sustenance.

1 comment:

  1. Hi! Leonie K told me about your rabbits and sustainable yard project. It looks amazing. We have a pet rabbit, but she's an apartment dweller like us.
    You might already know this, but just in case: mixo and calici virus are spread by mozzies, and are fatal to bunnies, so if you have not already done so, I suggest making the hutches mozzie proof.
    Looking forward to future posts!


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