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GaryD

The Evolution of a Permaculture Micro-Farm

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Hi.

 

Yesterday, I fitted out the retention pond that is a feature of the water harvesting design in my backyard.

 

I laid some old carpet that I scored on my way home.  The old folk that owned it were glad to have me take it away.  The carpet will prevent the liner being holed by stones or old tree roots.

 

I then laid some geotextile over the carpet to fill the gaps….before laying the EPDM liner.

 

I filled the pond to fix the liner in place and added a plastic pallet upon which I placed my collection of water plants.

 

Now that the liner is in place, I'll even up the perimeter and secure the liner edge with cement pavers.

 

Gary

 

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I want to put some fish into the pond to stop mosquitoes from breeding in it.  Anybody got any suggestions for non-invasive species that would be suited to a non-aerated pond of this size?

 

So far, common carp goldfish are the ones that most readily come to mind.

 

Gary

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Hi,

 

Today, we spread 4m3 of gravel along the side of the house to create an all-weather pathway.

 

We also used the Kanga machine to dig out around the edge of my new pond - so that I can shape the edge more effectively.

 

I love these machines for the fact that each bucketful of earth that it moves is probably the equivalent of a builder's wheelbarrowful……and it only takes seconds to fill and empty.  Far quicker than me and far better for my old back.

 

The dirt that we removed from the pond site was used to level up a larger section of yard behind the shed.

 

I'm stoked at the way that it's all coming together.

 

Gary

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Edited by Gary Donaldson (see edit history)

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Today, I spread about 20 bags of horse and poultry manure across the fodder forest space that I've created.  That will inject some nitrogen into the tree mulch and speed up its decomposition.

 

I also put a couple of bags of horse manure into my recently (re)established worm farm.  It's been going along nicely and the horse manure will provide the food necessary for rapid expansion of worm numbers.

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Hi Gary

 

Good to see it all progressing. I have a small pond and a few tubs filled with water lillies, I use gold fish for mosquito control and they do an excellent job. They dont require aeration or filtration and I never feed them.

 

Cheers

 

Joey

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We've had more rain today…….quite heavy at times.  It looks like the water harvesting elements of my fodder forest space are getting charged up a bit sooner than I expected.

 

Joey…..I plan to get a handful of goldfish for the pond…..for mosquito control.  The mosquitoes have been bad this year….with several hundred cases of Ross River Fever reported across Queensland…..much higher than last year.

 

I left the water in the tub that contained all our aquatic plants (prior to moving them to the pond) and there must have been a couple  of bits of kangkong left in it.  They've already sprouted some new leaves. That stuff is a powerhouse when it gets going…..and there's scarcely a thing on the planet that won't eat it…..including smart people.

Edited by Gary Donaldson (see edit history)

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Today was a huge day in the evolution of our Permaculture micro-farm.

 

I took delivery of 12 jumbo Japanese (coturnix) quail……3 males and 9 females.

 

And I couldn't be happier.  Life without quail just isn't the same as with them.

 

These guys are the largest birds that I've ever been able to obtain…….having been specially selected for meat conversion.

 

They were expensive but they will serve as the foundation stock for our breeding program - so hopefully I can recover their cost through live bird sales.

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:startle: WOW!!! Are you sure they are quail? It might be an early April fools gag and they have slipped you some emu chicks.

 

I see from the bureau of met data that Brisbane city centre had 157 mm in two days, that is plenty of water to deal with when the yard is bare. if I had that here, my house would be gone

Edited by yahoo2 (see edit history)

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Hi Yahoo,

 

I have yet to get them on the scales…..and they are still growing.  It looks like they are about seven to eight weeks old because they are just starting to lay eggs.  They'll slowly fill out over the next 3 - 4 weeks.

 

Yeah…….we're not like California…..no shortage of water here.   The water harvesting earthworks that we did recently are getting a good charge through the rain.

 

The ongoing warm weather is doing good things for our BSF larvae.  I haven't been near the BioPod for severa days and the image shows the result of that.  Our new quail are going to get introduced (in the culinary sense) to the larvae this morning.

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Well, as much as I'd like to report otherwise, our new quail didn't know what the larvae were.....but they did know that they weren't going to touch them - much less  eat them.  Same deal with some kangkong that I picked for them.  

 

I get the impression that these fat little birds have been in top paddock since the hatched.  They aren't afraid to dig into the expensive game bird starter (28% protein) that costs me $1.40/kg.  

 

I was hoping to use that as a supplement to a more natural diet but it looks like that's going to take a while for them to get used to.  C'est la vie!

 

I haven't heard them crow once since I got them.  I suspect that they are closer to six weeks than eight.  The males are clearly not sexually mature since everybody's got their feathers (even the odd chick feather) and that isn't the case for long once the hanky panky starts.

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I had planned to use cement pavers around the edge of my pond but I've changed my mind about that.

 

Yesterday, I spent several hours modifying the edge so that, when the pond fills, it overflows evenly around the whole pond edge.....irrigating plants.

 

I also want to create a shallow shelf around the pond edge....so that I can place aquatic plants in pots around the pond edges.....but in the pond.

 

Creating edge opportunities for food production is an important Permaculture strategy.

 

One of the things that I've noticed is the substantial amounts of soil that need to be handled to make apparently small changes in the landscape.

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The rain continues unabated.  I thought we had got it all in February but March has been very wet…..particularly the last 14 days or so.

 

My new pond has collapsed around the edges.  It had not had adequate time to settle properly and the rain has washed the edges away underneath the liner.

 

I'll wait for the pond to dry out……during our winter…..and then I'll reshape the pond and reset the liner.  At the moment. that seems like a long way off.

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:startle: WOW!!! Are you sure they are quail? It might be an early April fools gag and they have slipped you some emu chicks.

 

I see from the bureau of met data that Brisbane city centre had 157 mm in two days, that is plenty of water to deal with when the yard is bare. if I had that here, my house would be gone

 

Hey Yahoo,

 

I weighed three of my new quail today. 

 

This NSW DPI fact sheet says….

 

If the birds have not been subjected to genetic selection for bodyweight, the adult male quail will weigh about 100–140 g, while the females are slightly heavier, weighing from 120–160 g. 

 

 

My new birds range from 360g to 450g - and I think they are still growing.  

 

I'm fully prepared for the likelihood that genetic selection for bodyweight will be at the expense of fecundity and hatchability.

 

 

Gary

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I'm fully prepared for the likelihood that genetic selection for bodyweight will be at the expense of fecundity and hatchability.

 

Maybe, genetics is all about generations multiplied by sheer numbers. A bigger quail breeder with good records could keep reproduction and survival rates quite high while still maintaining large birds, probably 30 generations of birds have hatched since that DPI facts sheet was printed.

 

Do quail get overfat when they are fed a lower protein high energy diet like broiler chooks can?

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Maybe, genetics is all about generations multiplied by sheer numbers. A bigger quail breeder with good records could keep reproduction and survival rates quite high while still maintaining large birds, probably 30 generations of birds have hatched since that DPI facts sheet was printed.

 

Do quail get overfat when they are fed a lower protein high energy diet like broiler chooks can?

 

A phone conversation confirmed my fears.  It seems that hatchabiity runs to about 40%…..against 65% for general run of the mill quail.  I suspect that this blood line will become generalised over time since the current owners of the line see quail as more of a sideline of their poultry business.  They came to own it because the previous (more dedicated) operators developed an allergy to the feather dust.

 

Quail do lay down some fat but nothing like the same proportion that broiler chickens do.  I'm fortunate in that I've found a local supplier of Laucke's Game Bird Starter - 28% protein - the best I've encountered.  Previously, the only way we got protein levels that high was to mix it ourselves.

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A long time associate bought some jumbo quail eggs (from a different breeder to mine) and incubates them.  He's got 19 chicks out of 39 eggs - a hatch of around 50% - a good outcome.

 

We had our first casualty. One of our hens died - no apparent reason. 

 

I've had the birds on an extended photoperiod for the past few days - egg production is on the increase.

 

Our place is starting to dry out after the recent rains.

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I've begun to refit the Quail Hilton in readiness for the upcoming breeding season.

 

Plywood floors have been installed and painted.  I'll attach the doors and end panels tomorrow.

 

The breeding pen will be located on the top tier of the pen so our new birds will have much more space.

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This week has seen more heavy rain - the product of a storm cell which has damaged large parts of Sydney to the south of us.

 

The only practical development since my last post has been the installation of a sheet mulched plot along the front fence line.  I intend to plant food trees and plants in this space.

 

Outside of that, my time has been directed at research and reading.  I've revisited the work of Dr Paul Olivier (waste transformation in natural farming) and Dr Paul Stamets (mycorestoration and mycofiltration).

 

Gary

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Hi,

 

Last weekend, I planted out 30 pigeon pea seedlings - and another 16 Russian comfrey plants - in our emerging fodder forest.  The Moringa trees that I planted several weeks ago are growing.

 

Yesterday, we installed a 5000 litre rainwater tank.

 

Gary

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This week, we bought a chicken tractor.  Today, I assembled it in the front yard. It's 2700mm x 1800mm x 900mm (9' long and 6' wide and 3' high) 

 

It will accommodate 8 laying hens.

 

I'll use it to create fodder garden plots around the front yard.  It will stay in the one place for several weeks while the chickens clear the existing grass and dig up the roots.  We'll add lawn clippings, plant residues and kitchen wastes…..and the chickens will eat what they want and dig their manure in with what remains - and compost it.  

 

Then, we'll move the tractor and start the whole process again.  The space that has been vacated will be planted out to a green manure/chicken fodder crop.

 

Over time, we'll create a number of such fodder plots.  As the soil fertility builds, we'll plant out tree and shrubs in the plots…..and we'll either move the chicken tractor to the back of the block - or keep it in the same place and use it as a chicken composter. 

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