Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Snail Plague Update

Following on from my post the other day about our snail plague the 500+ snails have now been delivered to the wildlife carer who was astounded at the number we had collected.

She ended up paying us $50 for them which we were happy with considering she was taking them all off our hands.  We still have more snails but most of them are just fed to the chickens.

Hopefully we will have less destruction in the garden now that we have less but I suspect there are probably many more hiding in the garden.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Things That Make Me Smile

Over the last week all of my hippeastrums beside the driveway have burst into flower.  The whole patch was planted from bulbs that Hubby picked up from a job where they were being thrown out. Their loss our gain.
Although they only flower once a year they make me smile and add a burst of colour to the drive way.

They even make Jessie smile.  And looking at her made me smile.

Until she got distracted by something much more interesting.

This weekend is the classic car show I am the event director for and things are all on track.  We are praying for fine weather and a good turn out and i will share some photos next week.

What are you doing this weekend?

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Farewell Freezer 2 (Finally)

After more than 3 months of waiting today we finally said farewell to Freezer 2. I am not going to go into all the details but in the end we were not able to have her killed at home due to the unprofessional unreliable home butcher.  
This for us was really disappointing as we wanted to have her under as little stress as possible right up until the end.

In the end we sent her off to a family owned abattoir and her carcass will then go to a local family run butcher who will do the processing.

Today I had the job of moving her from our place through the neighbors paddock to their stock yards and loading ramp.
Hubby was at work and I was a bit worried that she would play up or get freaked out at being lured into the yards and then run away leaving me chasing her around the paddock and us both ending up stressed. 
But I needn't have worried.
With a wheelbarrow full of cut grass positioned just inside the pen and some broccoli plants, that refused to do anything other than grow leaves, tucked under my arm Freezer 2 calmly followed me from our place through the neighbours paddock and into the yards.  I then left her there for a few hours with the wheelbarrow of grass and a trough of water.

When the truck finally arrive to pick her up the driver took one look at her and said " Gee she's fat" he then asked me if I wanted a hand to load her.  I said that I would try and get her on myself since she knew me.  I calmly got her into the loading chute and then she just stood there like a stubborn old mule.  I got her moving forward towards the ramp after a bit of pushing and then she got stuck in the gateway between the chute and the ramp.

Yep her great big fat stomach was keeping her from moving easily up the ramp.  So I whacked her on the rump with my hand to try and get her moving but she was just standing there like a stubborn mule again.  I got the cattle truck driver to come and have a look to see if she really was too fat and he told me that she would fit even though it was a bit of a squeeze.  So I went around to her side and got her to move back a few steps and then got her moving forward again this time keeping her moving all the way up the ramp and onto the truck. Whew job done.

I have to say there were a few moments there where I really did think that we were cursed and that this would just be another failed attempt to have her killed.

Once she is killer her carcass will be sent back to the butcher where she will be hung for up to 2 weeks.  The butcher will then cut her up as per our specifications, pack, cryovac and freeze all the portions for us.  
The big benefit of this is that it will last well without getting freezer burn and can go into our freezer and be left there as it is packed.  With home kill meat it would get packed by us and stacked in the freezer unfrozen so we have to keep rotating it while it freezes so it all freezes evenly.

So now we just have to wait and see how much she weighs in at as a carcass. We are guessing at over 300kg but will wait and see.

I will post an update of how we get the meat portioned up and how we deal with such a large quantity in another post.

For now I am just glad this stage is over.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Pestilence and Destruction

Sound the alarm we are under attack!

Attack from a plague of snails of biblical proportions.

I am not sure why but this year we have more snails that I have seen here in the last 5 years and I would have thought with all the dry weather over winter it would not have been great snail breeding weather, I guess I was wrong.

Check out the below, this is how many snails we collected from the garden on day 1.

Since these photos were taken we have collected another 200 - 400 snails from our garden over a couple of days.
So rather than just think about how we can get rid of them  (I have a plan for that) I first started thinking about what is this infestation telling me about our garden?

The ideas I came up with were that:
We need more lizards and frogs (our winter was quite cold and we have not seen as many frogs as normal)
We should be raising ducks, although I am not sure they could be controlled to just eat snails)
Our veggie garden is not the major food source (although they seem to be big fans of my seedlings) as we are seeing some damage but not complete devastation
We could be eating snails as a form of protein (I am not entirely joking about this )
We need to be more diligent and feed more of them to the chickens
We need to snail hunt on a regular basis to control the population
Our humid shade house is the perfect breeding ground for snails

So what am I going to do with over 500 snails?  Well I am taking then to a wildlife centre.

For the last few weeks Hubby's parents have had a carpet python in their garden.  Because it had not moved and we thought it was injured they called a wildlife carer.  The wildlife carer came and confirmed that it had a broken back o took it away to be euthanasied.  But at some stage during the conversation the wildlife carer told my in-laws how they were buying in snails to feed to all the lizards and that there was a snail shortage (yes because they are all at our place) and they were having to pay up to $1 per snail.
Ding ding ding!  Show me the money!

So the plan is to take the snails to Brisbane (Hubby has to go anyway) so that the wildlife people can make good use of our excess and hopefully we can bring the pestilence and destruction to an end, well we should slow it down at least.

We are pretty sure they will be shocked at the number of snails we are delivering so it will be interesting to find out their reaction.

Do you have excessive snail numbers, or anything else, at your place?

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Hanging My Garlic For Storage

Following my post the other day Cheryl asked about the hanging rack I use.  Well it is nothing special just a portable clothes rack we got from Ikea many years ago before we purchased some freestanding wardrobes.
It is currently set up out in the laundry and we use it for hanging coats and hats on as well as the garlic.

The hanging rack

I then take a each of the garlic bulbs and tie them to the rack one by one.

You just keep tying them off and I posted about this back in 2011 when I had a bumper harvest and you can read about it here where there are more photos.

This year I harvested my garlic a bit late and a lot of the stalks had dried out and I was not able to tie them off individually so instead tied them together with kitchen twine and then tied them to the rack in bunches.

There were also a few bulbs that lost their stalks entirely and these ones will be the ones I use up first.

The bulbs that lost their stalks were also the ones that had lost a lot of the outside layers of papery skin.  This means that by the time you have brushed off all the dirt there is not much skin left on them hence these need to be in the first group to be used up.

I will not be planting garlic next year as since we will not be staying here I will use the garden space for something else.  This also means I can eat all of my home grown garlic and not have to think about having some left for replanting.

How do you store your garlic?