Sunday, October 4, 2009

The project changes in 2010

We've been living on our five acres of bushland since Easter 2007. So we're fast approaching the three year mark! I've got to say, the end of this year marks the turning point for us all. This isn't the part where I announce we're, this is the part where I announce we're making big changes (here) next year.

The front wall, before retaining

I was tempted to start a new blog in private (Bushland Project II) as I felt the new direction would be too extreme from where we started. Only when I had something to show for all the drastic changes, was I going to reveal the new blog. But there's no mystery - nothing to hide - it's just another change like so many we've been through. I guess I was afraid people may think us crazy for doing what we're contemplating.

I'll give you an example to mark our new direction...we're going to be selling all our chickens. Told you it would be extreme. But we may keep three; it all depends on reaching our objective which is reducing our responsibilities to meet the function intended.

We started keeping chickens for fresh eggs and I suppose the romantic notion of country life. Soon I became obsessed with breeds. Which isn't a bad pursuit in itself, but when measured against our finances and wider ambitions for this place, it was becoming unbalanced.

Hilltop chicken coop

Time to strike a new balance. Something which meets function, finances and our family. At this stage, the plan is to keep Hilltop our main chicken coop, with chickens bred to produce eggs. I'm leaning towards New Hampshires, as they're still a heritage breed with a good reputation for egg production. We may or may not keep a rooster. It would be desirable to keep one, but it has to meet our objectives.

By doing this, we'll effectively reduce our feed bill by half or more, and free time and resources to pursue the most important strategy here - food production.

Middle ridge chicken coop - marked for new propagation area

This is why our chicken coop dubbed, Middle Ridge, will be renovated to become a propagation area. We've got the shaded run already, where we can propagate cuttings, grow crops and the chicken coop itself will be turned into a potting area come greenhouse. We'll be ripping the roof off and making it high enough to walk through.

This is just a small taste of the changes we'll be making in 2010. It sounds ambitious and radical from the direction we've been traveling. But while country life is kind of romantic, we have to be able to manage it within our finances and main objectives. Food production has been shafted for a few years in favour of setting up chickens. Now it's time to wind that back to strike a better balance between the two.

We feel re-energised now we have a plan to follow. There are other changes on the way also, but all in good time...


  1. Hi Chris

    Good on you for taking the time to evaluate the balance of your interests. I finds its so easy for life to get out of balance when i find something i'm passionate about. I imagine heritage breeds would have been very addictive :-)

    If the chooks are taking too much time and money and you want to put more effort into growing food - one option is to consider a permaculture system where the chooks work for you. I visited an unreal permaculture garden last week ( They have a system where they have numerous circular gardens (it looked like atleast 30) and a handful of chicken domes that had a number of chooks each. The domes are put on a garden once it is fisnished and the chooks clean up the leftovers and prepare the ground for then next crop.

    Mark and Kate run the property (with the assistance of a few WWOOF) and produce enough veges and eggs for numerous local families. It is such an impressive idea.

    Enjoy your change of direction :-)

  2. G'day, I didn't recognise the sign in name at first - but I recognise the lovely lady in the photo of your profile.

    Thanks for dropping in, Tricia. :)

    Heritage breeds are incredibly addictive, LOL, and the permaculture system you described with chooks, is tucked away in the back of my mind for later. I was about to launch into making domes recently, but the timing is wrong.

    I decided our existing veg area needs time and resources committed. Once we actually get that system working, and producing, then we'll move onto other permaculture ideas.

    Thanks for the link, I'll go check it out. I bet you had a ball in their garden. I would! :)

  3. Hi Chris, I think your choice is a wise one. I keep 12 bantams here, they are working chooks though, each morning out into the garden to both hunt for food (we do give them some seconds wheat each day) and they of course weed & fertilise the garden, the eggs are a bonus.

    Although like you I would love a lot more of them, like you I have found there needs to be a balance, they have to remain "earning their keep", that means sustainable numbers for us.

  4. I totally understand the chicken addiction. I'm waiting on some new eggs to hatch myself...

    But we do try to keep ours mainly for practical purposes. Our 5 chickens that we have now supply us with enough eggs, most of the new ones we will sell (I have willing customers in my family, who always take any extra eggs we have).

    I'm looking forward to seeing how your new garden goes. How are you coping with the lack of rain? That's what's been stopping me getting out into the garden this year.

  5. Hi Chris
    Certainly looks like an interesting new direction. Can't wait to see where it leads you.

    Kind Regards

  6. Yep, earning their keep has to be the way forward, molly. It's taken me a good 12 months or more to really appreciate the fact. :)

    Rinelle, we haven't had rain for well on a few months now. It teased us the other night though. Probably rained just enough to clean the dust off the tin roof, LOL.

    That's why we're planning to build an enclosed veggie area. The weather is just too erratic for anything to grow. By cutting down on evaporation from the wind, and scorching from the sun, some plants may just manage to crop!

    It's disheartening, the lack of rain, but we're up for trying something new to make do. :)

  7. Hi Belinda and welcome. :)

    It's a new direction for us and hopefully for the better. I look forward to sharing, especially the stuff involving recycling. I get a real buzz out of repurposing stuff.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Chris, look at my blog under the labels, wicking beds, put those under some shade and you will be amazed at how little you water, the secret lies with their wicking.'

    Add worms and you have the perfect self fertilising garden bed that needs watering about once a week peak summer!

  9. ohhh a new adventure how exciting, i am glad to hear you will be keep a few girls, there is nothing like hearing them fuss around the yard & all those beautiful fresh eggs yum
    i hope the new way of gardening works out well, i could not even imagine how hard it is up there for you with next to no rain, so i will have my fingers Xed

  10. Hi Chris
    Yes 2010 sounds like it will be radical for your family. I am glad you will be keeping a few of your girls for eggs, nothing is better than homegrown eggs!
    The lack of rain is so disheartening. I am using grey water on every bed I can and the plants are still suffering in this wind.
    I don't think you are crazy, I envy you! Goodluck with your new adventures, and please keep blogging about them.

  11. Good on you Chris for the new direction. Growing more food for yourselves will make your property more sustainable and reduce your costs over the short to medium term. If there is an organic gardening group in the area, it is a good idea to get connected with it. Otherwise the Brisbane Organic Growers Inc (BOGI) group still relatively local. While you will unlikely be able to attend many meetings due to the distance, the newsletter is very informative in itself.

  12. Sounds exciting Chris and I think really important to be able to sit back and evaluate what you are doing and to take off in new directions if that is what is needed. As to the chooks, I know what you mean about how addictive it can get, especially the different breeds. Because we have a small suburban block we've hit capacity pretty quickly and although it's tempting to get more (just because!) they really need to be able to work in with the rest of the garden. We use the dome system, as you know, but I think it is a lot of hard work in many respects and we don't have enough room to make it work properly. Your way forward sounds smart and as you say, when you've got things moving you can always re-evaluate again. It's hard to change plans when you've invested physical work and a lot of time thinking it through but that's not a reason to stick to something that isn't working for you. Good luck! I love that Middle Ridge will be your propagating area and my favourite of your houses will stay put for the chooks. By the way, we took a lead from Middle Ridge and adapted the idea for the covered area for netting our fruit trees - will post about it soon but it worked well! Bye now, Jacqui

  13. I'd love to see how you netted your fruit trees, Jacqui. Everyone has their own take on a polypipe hoop structure. It depends what materials you can get ahold of and where you plan to put it.

    I look forward to seeing how it progressed. :)

    Thank you Nicole, littlefarm and Spots for your comments as well. I did read them at the time, but I've been distracted from commenting sooner.

    I'm sure I'll keep coming back to this post when we're changing things around here. You've all been very generous with your words of support. Thank you. :)


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