IN A PREVIOUS BLOG I SHARED that we are planning to grow all our vegetables and to that end we are building a pink greenhouse. This weekend when we went to Fernlea to work on the pink greenhouse , I said to the Hobbit I would just nip down to the shops to get some supplies. For our veg needs for the weekend meals I bought a couple of onions, 2 corncobs, 3 sweet peppers, and 2 zucchini.
As I started unpacking the food I did a quick calculation, if we were going to use an onion a day that would mean we would need to grow 356 onions a year, panic set in.
How do farmers do it?
KEEP CALM I thought, we always have snails, and lots of them at Fernlea, however I am not sure if the snails we have are edible. Plus I have never eaten snails but I am sure if I find a recipe with heaps of garlic I could probably give it a go. I am sure the Hobbit will.
Then a thought struck me, what if we grew snails for the market. Quick google search and I found the Tough Nickel site that tells me the edible snails in New Zealand are called Helix Aspersa – very helpful. Mmmm but was more exciting was that was that the site said farming land snails was a lucrative business. Alibaba has snails for sale at Eur 3.5/kg.
Going to need to look into it, and happy to talk with anyone interested in snail farming in NZ. Food and income, panic starts to subside.
PLUS I nearly forgot we have our chooks and they give us eggs, well when they are in the mood. Our chooks are all named and totally spoilt, they are the only chooks in the area with designer digs.
Our neighbours had a cockerel that was superfluous to needs. He was a handsome fellow and so when they offered him to us it seemed rude not to give him a home. The first thing we needed to get him was some friends, preferably girl friends.
I duly asked the Hobbit to the SPCA to see if they had any ex battery hens that needed a good home. He came home like an excited school boy, saying, “You will never believe what I have in the car.”
And that was the truth, I would never have guessed he would come home to two muscovy ducks and another cockerel! In the end we had to ‘buy’ two hens.
And so it came about that two ducks, two hens and two cockerels were free ranging around the Love Shack. While free ranging chooks sounds great, the reality was having them poo everywhere and scratch up the plants is NOT. Suddenly building a chook house and run became a NUMBER ONE priority.
The Hobbit chose a sloping spot with trees for shade and cover from the hawks as the site for the chooks house and run. Using recycled posts he fenced in a large area of around 80 square metres. Choosing a sloping spot was also important because in the wet season the water runs away and the ground doesn’t get too muddy.
Next step was building the house for them to roost at night. We had lots of discussions about designing the house so it was easy to clean and we decided to raise it so that we wouldn’t have to bend over as we grew older.
Function requirements sorted for the chook house, I focused on ‘the look’ and suggested that we build either end with bottle walls. My logic was, we practice building bottle walls for the chook house and then we can possibly use the technique elsewhere. Seemed reasonable. Our adult children and spouses visited over Christmas that year and each couple designed one end of the walls. Designs done, they went home and we were left to complete the bottle walls by adding a plaster around the bottles and then chipping the excess off. It was a labour of love. Working on the project over the weekends took from Christmas to Easter to complete.
The chook house has been going strong since 2012, it is very easy to clean and I am sure our chooks really appreciate the bottle walls and living in the smartest chook house in Kaiwaka.
Post script …. we won’t be building any more bottle walls!