Thursday, 20 August 2015

Square foot gardening and Hugelkultur planting mash up in containers

Well spring is really here, I have been busy planting the trailer bed using the square foot method and wishing for just a bit more planting space. Then it occurred to me that I could use square foot planting in almost any container. As luck (or my slatternly habits) would have it, I found the perfect containers in the useful pile; milk crates.
We have been collecting milk crates for years, they are so useful. I use them for book shelves, storage boxes, wood boxes, animal cages (with lids fitted), recycling bins and now as garden beds. Is there anything a milk crate can't do?
My first move was to line some crates with old hail netting to hold the soil in, then I began to think about moisture retention. After much thought I decided that a plastic shopping bag or two spread across the bottom of each crate would hold the moisture long enough to be absorbed by the lumps of old wood I threw into the bottom, I then added compost from the chook pen a layer of straw from the sheep shelter and planted them. A cover over the top to protect the tender little seeds from predators (chooks, ducks, possums and Shaun) and it was done.

These little beds are a combination of Hugelkultur and square foot gardening, I don't know if it will work, but it seemed worth the effort.

The trailer bed, all planted out, but still with some parsley from the last planting.

My new planters

Now the long wait to see what comes up.....

Shaun 'helping' me in the yard.

At presentation day at work (school) last year I got a peach tree as an end of year gift. I promptly planted it and it has grown so well. Now it has it's first fruit on and I will have to start thinking about how to protect the fruit from...well, everything.

My peach tree has little peaches.

It doesn't seem so long ago that I planted this little peach.

After a hard days work Shaun likes to relax with his friends by the fire.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Shaun the sheep - trouble with digestion.

Shaun enjoying the sunlight

Shaun has been going really well; feeding and sleeping, learning to use his legs and such and of course peeing at unexpected moments. Then a few days ago he began to show signs of discomfort after each feed. He is on Divetelact milk replacer, we always have it in the cupboard for emergency feeding of mammalian babies. We keep this brand because it can be used for multiple species and we usually only have to care for a baby for a short time before they are handed on to an animal care group, so it makes sense to have a generic milk available.

He began to show signs of distress after I increased the strength of his formula (as per the label instructions) so I reduced the strength of the milk straight away (back to the original formula A), he also stopped pooping, which was a real worry. He wasn't showing any sign of straining or constipation and my vet tech' daughter (so useful having someone trained in the family) believed that he simply wasn't getting enough milk solids to make poop. After a couple of feeds (and still no poop) I decided to call a vet for advice; the vet I eventually got on the phone after calling three emergency numbers for two different vet surgeries (it was, after all, Saturday) I got an old vet from a sheep breeding area who sounded like he had seen it all and may in fact have been doing some of it as we speak. He suggested that Shaun may have a small blockage in his gut which was causing a bit of bloat and that if I gave him oil of some kind in his bottle (at a rate of half a teaspoon per feed) and reduced the amount per feed while increasing the number of feeds, he may move the blockage out himself. So I dug out the fish oil capsules, squeezed two into Shaun's next bottle and waited...

Shaun had been having 100 ml per feed at six feeds per day, so we cut back to 50 ml per bottle and twelve feeds per day. as you can imagine this took up a lot of time and energy. Shaun stopped having discomfort after every feed though, so it was worth it. After five feeds with fish oil in them he still had not produced any poop, but was happy and bright. After the sixth feed of oil I was thinking that an actual visit to the vet was in order (on a Sunday of course) when there was a surprised little bleat from the basket beside me and an all pervading smell of fish. I looked down to discover that Shaun had produced a LOT of poop in the dog bed he has claimed for himself. We cleaned him up and gathered washing (every old towel I own is in a nappy soaker as I type) only to discover that he had more to give. This continued for several hours and he refused two bottles during that time, but when things calmed down he was back to his old self and feeding well again.

This morning he is back to 100 ml feeds and no reaction so far. I don't know if he had a blockage or if the milk was too strong, too fast for him, but that was a frightening reminder of how delicate babies are. I will be treating his digestion much more carefully in future.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Up-cycled wardrobe project - simple pants from quilt covers

With all the excitement about having a new baby in the house (see my last post about Shaun the sheep) I have been fairly busy and unable to get much crafting  (or anything else) done. This week I finally got to making myself some new pants. I have been making pyjama pants out of old flannelette sheets for some time using a pattern I made from an old pair of pants (see my post about it here), however this pattern is a little short in the back and results in me showing some bottom cleavage when I sit down or bend over, so I thought it was time to upgrade my pattern.

After a lot of diverting searching on the internet for free patterns I came across this one from Laura Marsh Sewing Patterns which I downloaded, saved and printed out. The pattern pages were glued together in order, which was a bit like putting a jigsaw together. Then I went looking for some fabric to try the pattern out on.

 In my box of useful bits of fabric I found a Bratz quilt cover, given to me by a friend wrapped around a joey that had been rescued from her mother's pouch after a traffic accident. I washed the cover, liked the colour and pattern (if not the theme) and decided to put it away for future use. I also found an old single flannelette sheet to try the pattern out on before cutting up the pretty fabric.

The pattern sheets all glued together.
The pattern pieces all cut out and ready to go.

Shaun helping out with the process.
 I cut out the flannelette pair and sewed them up as per instructed. The next step is (of course) beta testing, so I wore them around for the afternoon, feeding chooks, chasing sheep, feeding Shaun and sitting in my chair knitting. They are comfortable and warm, best of all they don't expose my bottom to the world at all. I'm really pleased with this new pattern so I think I'll keep it for future pants making activities.

Prudence gets to work.

What a stunning piece of machinery she is.

The first pair is made.

Now on to the day-wear version...

The infamous Bratz quilt cover. The cotton is good quality though and I love the colours and pattern.

I just followed the instructions on the download and before I knew it I had a new pair of pants.

Yes, I know.....I hate modelling, but I am so proud of this project I thought I'd make an exception.

There is enough material left from this quilt to make a summer top or two and a bra. I just love up-cycle sewing.