Lifeboat Farm

New chickens for the pot
August 21, 2008, 12:57 pm
Filed under: Food, Menagerie

They don’t look like much now, but in 21 days these beauties will be chicks. One of our old hens, Victoria is an excellent mum and she’s getting a bit broody so we thought we’d put her ample, feathery posterior to good use.

We got a dozen fertile eggs from a local chicken breeder for the princely sum of $4. They are mixed breed shaver/barnyard eggs so while not a specialist meat breed they should be fine for a first crop of eating chickens.

We’ll keep you posted on their progress.


Crispy Morning
August 21, 2008, 12:42 pm
Filed under: Weather

We woke up to a very crispy morning today. This is the Tararua Range to the West of us – just beautiful! Thanks to Louise for taking the great pic.

The Twitter Experiment
August 15, 2008, 1:26 pm
Filed under: Technology

Karen has been using Twitter for ages for a lot of her work around communities and technology stuff. I’d been reluctant to try it due to the fact I don’t spend enough time in front of the PC (although a few wet days soon put paid to that argument).

Now I’m using it I have to admit it’s quite compelling. The basic idea is you subscribe to micro-feeds from people you know or find. These “tweets” as they are called  are limited to 140 characters so you end up with lots of little messages from a variety of people. You enter your tweets based on whatever you are thinking or doing at the time and they go to everyone else you are connected to.

Much of the tweeting is quite specific, and as everyone has a different opinion of what’s worth tweeting about, not every bit will be relevant to you. Much like listening in to a dozen conversations at once at a cocktail party, little snippets here and there will jump out as relevant to you.

Most of my tweets are about the minutiae of daily farm life, but then some people find that stuff interesting. You can find me on Twitter under the username @farmgeek – feel free to tag along.

Using Twitter

The easiest way is to go to and sign up for an account. You can tweet, add feeds etc all through the web site. The other option (and by far better I think) is to install a Twitter client. I’m using Twhirl and love it. I’ve even managed to get it working under Linux but it did take a little bit of faffing.

New Seed Potatoes
August 14, 2008, 1:21 pm
Filed under: Food, Garden

Here are the rest of the seed potatoes in various stages of sprouting. Aside from the Tui Swift we’ve already planted, we have a mix of early and main varieties including Cliffs Kidney, Rocket, Ilam Hardy, Agria, Desiree, Rua and five varieties of Maori potatoes we got from the farmer’s market. Dave and Anne kindly donated some sprouting spuds from their kitchen so I’m not sure exactly what they are, but they look like good chippers – big and floury. If they work out I’ll have to make up a suitable name for them.

Potatoes have a way of telling you they are ready to plant – given some light (but not diresct sun) they sprout and by the time the sprouts are 10cm long they are usually ready to go in the ground. Usually you want to wait until the last frosts have visited before planting.

Luckily the local feed store sells sacks…I have a feeling we’ll be storing quite a few of the surplus spuds. Look out for a future post on root cellaring (or more likely, using a cold corner of the garage to store spuds).

Wardrobe Upgrade
August 12, 2008, 4:22 pm
Filed under: Building, Decorating, The House

In our guest room we have a slightly wonky wardrobe. We assume it happened when the house was moved five years ago – the wardrobe isn’t square. You can see in these first two pictures, the angles at the corners don’t look quite right.

The sliding doors don’t fit squarely and the cupboard at the top has the same problem. What better wet day project than to demolish (and rebuild) a wardrobe?

When we repainted we removed the reproduction mouldings from around the wardrobe (they were pressed MDF and pretty unpleasant). The plan is to replace them with nicer wood mouldings when the wardrobe is finished.

As for the painted MDF sliding doors…let’s just say they aren’t staying. Come to think of it, the wardrobe lining isn’t flash either so that will be replaced in phase 2.

Here’s the wardrobe with all offending crooked pieces removed. The only original piece left is the beam on the right – it is plumb – everything else was off in one dimension or another.

Keep an eye out for the next rainy-day posting once I have the new mouldings and some rimu facing for the inside edges of the beams. Then it’s doors!

Two more lambs today
August 5, 2008, 6:16 pm
Filed under: Menagerie

We have two more bouncy lambs in the flock. I came out this morning to find one of the ewes had birthed triplets in the early hours but sadly, only two had survived. The survival rate for triplets without intervention is quite a bit lower than twins or singles and the lamb that didn’t make it was a fair bit smaller than the other two. Hopefully the rest of the girls will have their babies trouble free.

King’s Seeds Catalogue is out
August 4, 2008, 12:50 pm
Filed under: Food, Garden

The new King’s Seeds catalogue just arrived. Karen and I have been going through it, marking all the seeds we want to try this year. At the rate we’re going, it might be easier to mark the seeds we don’t want, and order the rest.

I expect this will become a family ritual in years to come. It’s a great opportunity to plan not only what varieties you want to grow, but how much food you want from the garden through the year, and consequently how much garden space you’ll need. With our desire to be as food self-sufficent as possible, it looks like the gardens are going to keep growing for some time yet.

We’ve been Kings customers for years but this will be our biggest order by far. Considering the quality of the seed they sell and their passion for preserving heirloom varieties, their very reasonable prices are quite amazing.

Also worth an honourable mention is Koanga Gardens. Based in Northland, they are great advocates for preserving heritage plants.