Archive for December, 2010

Olives

We have an amazing olive tree that has given us a massive crop pretty much every year since we’ve been here. We estimate it to be at least 10-15 years old, but if it was planted when the house was built it could be up to 30 years old.  We planted a secondary olive tree when we first bought this place and this spring has been the first time it has flowered!  So next year we should have both trees giving us fruit.

The main olive tree on the left with our new little tree on the right.

The only year the main tree gave us a smallish crop was after we pruned it heavily the previous harvest.  Every other year it has given us at least a plastic shopping bag full of olives.

About 2/3 of the crop post pickling.

This, however, has been the first year we have successfully managed to pickle the olives, mainly due to the discovery of Milkwood‘s fabulous how to pickle olives video.

This year's crop, desalted and ready for eating.

Next year’s crop also looks like it is shaping up to be a good harvest.

Olive flowers

Next year's crop - tiny olives

I can’t wait to see what the new tree’s fruit is like.  Yum!

Chicken run

After seeing the setup that the people we bought the chickens off we decided to build a further outside run for our chickens.  We had always planned to allow them to free range around the garden, but we realised that we really needed some sort of enclosure for them, but more to protect our veges from the chickens than anything else!  So yesterday we bought a roll of cheap chicken netting and using for the most part makeshift stakes from around the garden/garage we built a bodged together run.

Coop plus outside run

We will add proper gates for easier human access later, but we for now we were focused on getting it up so that they could get outside and have access to grit.

They seem to love it!

Happy chickens

We also realised that the roost we had built them was a bit small in diameter for the chickens so we pulled it out and made a new one out of some tree branches.

New roost

They also never used the ramp to get up to the table in the coop, preferring just to jump up and down so we took it out as it was taking up space.

Chickens in the coop

I’ve also spent lots of time on the interwebs forums trying to work out for sure whether we have pullets or cockerels.  So anyone with knowledge who can tell us please let us know!

Garlic

So a while back we cleaned out the fridge, and rather than chucking the sprouting, dried up garlic cloves from the top shelf, I stuck them in the ground.  Quite a few sprouted, and I pulled one up a few months back and it didn’t look anything like garlic. So we just left them alone to keep growing.

Then, during the recent rains, a friend suggested we pull them up before they get all dank and slimy.  To our surprise, they had turned into small but perfectly formed bulbs!  And they’re a beautiful shade of pink.  And to top it off, they’re totally delicious.

Introducing…

The lovely chickens who have joined the suburbanite farm are Henrietta, Penelope and Adelaide.  They are Light Sussex pullets of about 15 weeks old.

Henrietta is definitely on the left. It's hard in this photo to tell the other two apart but I think Penelope is in the middle.

Adelaide may actually be a cockerel, we aren’t sure yet, but she/he definitely seems to be the leader of the group.

The coop is done!

After almost a week of 12 hour days working on the coop, it is finally all done!  Well, done enough for chickens to move into.  No doubt we will find things to fix and add as we learn and experiment with keeping chickens!

Some pictures from the past week of work:

The roost

One row of wire on

Two rows of wire on

Almost all the wire on

All done!

Finished!

Awesome Macgyvered latch

Rain rain rain

The new drainage has been getting a bit of a work out these last few weeks and it seems to have been up to the challenge!  The garden has just exploded with the amount of rain we’ve had.  Measurements at the nearest station (about 30km away) are 119.4mm for November and 138.8mm for December so far.

Here are a few pictures of our swollen local creek last Friday.

The creek over flowing

Submerged tree

Water over the path

What would MacGyver do… with a broken mower?

A little while ago, our mower started smoking like a bus queue… of dinner ladies.  It began as a $15 broken mower from revolve and it came close to returning to whence it came.

Lots of smoke with these old B&S engines apparently means one of two things: catastrophic failure or the need to replace or clean out a cheap part.

Step 1: head off

So the bore looks good, not that the photo shows much.  That’s reassuring.  But there’s plenty of carbon around the valves and the plug looks horrendous:

It looks like some kind of Liberal carbon party.

So there’s lots of oil in the cylinder, but the bore is ok (piston slid really nicely too).  My suspicion, thanks to the awesome power of teh interwebs, falls to the breather / valve cover thingy.  So it’s been sent to the naughty corner, which in our house constitutes a jar full of metho:

So it can think about what it has done, and hopefully reform its wicked ways.

The principle at work here is that to keep oil from being pumped into the cylinder and interfering with the fuel/air burning, the crankcase is kept at a low pressure through the operation of this valve, the breather.  The copper coloured circle is held up to the front of the silvery box by a spring.  When the pressure in the crankcase exceeds the pressure exerted by the spring, the disc is pushed back and gasses escape past it, through a tube in the block and into the air cleaner side of the engine, where those crankcase gasses are burned in a sensible fashion.  Somehow the thing has become clogged with or full of oil or something and this process isn’t working properly.

Next step is to clean the hole that runs through the block, the little pipe and the air cleaner housing where it emerges.

I think it’s the small engine equivalent of the PCV valve – a neat history of which is probably here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PCV_valve#History

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