Everything old is new again….the Tray System

In the process of relocating to our new home on Macleay Island, I came across some of our old aquaponics growing systems. This one is called the tray system. The tray system has been in use for decades. It was popularised by Australian Hydroponics pioneer Joe Romer in his excellent book "Hydroponic Growing in Australia" It was among the first growing systems that we ever used. Simplicity … [Read more...]

A New Direction #4 – Macleay Island

Almost three months ago, Jan announced her desire to live on a Moreton Bay island - in a house made of shipping containers. In early November, we made the first of two visits to Macleay Island.  On a subsequent visit about a fortnight later, we discovered what was to become her future home. Last week, two trucks and a trailer carrying our goods and chattels rumbled off the vehicular barge and … [Read more...]

A New Direction #3 – The Big Picture

While the physical elements of our proposed sea-change are about living on an island - in a house made from shipping containers, it's really about reclaiming control of our circumstances in the interests of a more secure and satisfying life. While I'm approaching the traditional retirement age for men (and knowing how Mother Nature deals with redundant organisms), retirement has no appeal for me - … [Read more...]

A New Direction #2 – The Motivation

In my last post, I spoke about how my partner had revealed her ambition to live on an island - in a house built from shipping containers. The "island" thing came as no real surprise - since Jan had often spoken about wanting to live near water. The shipping container idea was different.  Jan had always scorned my taste for abstract housing options.  When pressed on that point, she revealed that … [Read more...]

A New Direction

Several months ago, my partner Jan (and our son Shannon) designed and built a fire pit. Following its fabrication, we spent several very pleasant cool evenings enjoying its warmth and the mesmerising effect that comes from watching an open fire. As it happens, those fiery meditations generated more than just a sense of well-being. We began to talk about our lifestyle aspirations.....what we … [Read more...]

Using Quail Eggs #1 – Boiling and Shelling

One of the important upsides of keeping quail is that you get a daily harvest of clean, fresh eggs. Nutritionally, they are no different to eggs from chickens - and they can be prepared and eaten in all of the same ways as you do with chicken eggs. One obvious limitation is that, since about six quail eggs equals one chicken egg, making omelettes using quail eggs takes some time and effort.....but … [Read more...]

Farm Journal – April 2013

Between my professional role as a technical support manager, our Creek Street Micro Farm, three integrated food production web sites and various other writing projects, time is at a premium - so I'm always looking for new ways to leverage my efforts so that they benefit the largest number of people possible for the least amount of time expended. To that end, I've set up this monthly journal - to … [Read more...]

Japanese Quail #7 – the Post Mortem

Incubation is about hatch percentages - and every unhatched egg is an opportunity to review (and improve upon) your management practices  Any competent incubator operator should be able to conduct a basic post mortem examination of the unhatched eggs. Incubated eggs start to go off very quickly - so getting the examination done quickly is a good idea.  I use a plastic tray and a knife with a sharp … [Read more...]

Japanese Quail #6 – Analysing the Hatch

The hatch commenced some time prior to 6.00am yesterday - by which time, we had 8 chicks.   By nightfall, the numbers looked to be around 25 chicks.    I ended the hatch at 7.00am on Thursday 2nd May - number remain unchanged from 25. Theoretically, we could have hatched 100 live chicks from 100 fertile eggs - but that was always unlikely for the following reasons: Genetics of the breeders - … [Read more...]

Japanese Quail #5 – Hatching Chicks

The hatch is underway. My partner Jan drew my attention to the fact that "there is somethin' happening in the incubator" at 6.00am this morning - and she was right.  The first 8 or 10 chicks were staggering about drying off. Last night, some 334 hours after setting them, I took all of the eggs from the auto-turning mechanism and gently laid them on the mesh floor of the incubator. This is a task … [Read more...]