Archive for the ‘MacGyvering’ Category

Slow progress…

Managed to get a bit more done on the laundry this weekend, despite sickness and extracurricular activities. The floor tiles are all down now, and I’ve started the wall tiles:


(‘scuse the mess: I’ll get a better pic soon)

The tapware is coming along too:


Now we have a gooseneck tap with a spray nozzle. No sink yet though.

Can’t believe how long it’s taking, but it will be a great improvement when it’s finished.

Oh the horror

Repairing the damage caused by a water leak in our laundry kinda dominated the weekend’s activities.








Two more coats of waterproofing to go this week, then tiling next weekend.

A collateral purchase was a shiny new crowbar. It is the best $20 I’ve ever spent! I can’t wait to destroy some more stuff with it!

BodgeMW part 2

Part 2 went better than I had hoped: no clamping issues because the screws held everything in place while I glued. Glue was standard araldite which I hope will be ok. I degreased with brake cleaner which is liquid magic. It’s curing in a sun- warmed car wreck now.

Dry run:




You can see bodge spatula in the background.

Hopefully it will work. It looks and feels ok but it’s hard to work out how much force it will be subjected to. Even if it buys me a few months it will be worth it though.


My beautiful old 1982 Ford laser gave up a while back and rather than yet another backyard fix I decided to upgrade to something a little more modern.

After a period of grieving and some half hearted looking I found my new chariot, a 1993 BMW 318is for a song. Problem is though, it’s still a bit old and not all of the bits work.

An example: the driver’s door handle didn’t open from the outside. The handle has this extended lever thing that had snapped. The dealer wants $422 for the part, with a different key that is have to get changed over if I want only one key for the car. Ebay wants about $200 inc postage. Ditto the key.

I figure it can probably be bodged. I’m replacing the cast triangulation with solid aluminum. I’ll screw and epoxy the pieces together. Here is the bodge attempt at the end of afternoon 1:




The pieces go together better than that but I couldn’t hold and snap at the same time. Clamping will clearly be tricky.

A while back I disassembled a fax machine to see what kinds of bits it contained. I had the foresight to collect the screws together:


And here are the six I’ve selected to hold this bodge together:


Tomorrow I’ll start drilling and assembling.

Bread developments



Exciting news, readers: for those not keen to make paneer at home in order to make whey for amazing bread, it looks like two spoons of sour cream will do the trick. These puppies are riding like the dead at zombie apocalypse. A little glutinous rice flour from your Asian grocer and a couple of handfuls of linseeds (flax seeds) also contribute to a dough of superior texture. Results to follow after baking is complete.

Laptop fixing





My little laptop (eeepc 1005p) broke: when the screen was angled further back than 85 degrees it went black. Some googling later I suspected the video cable, which is nice and cheap but buried under pretty much everything else!
The disassembly went pretty well. My thanks to Binh Nguyen and others. My brother in california sent me the cable to avoid about$ 28 in postage. With everything screwed back together it works again!
Suburbanite farm is mainly about the farming but we really love the idea of repairing things and just having a go.

My computer died and I lost a month

So the title says it all really and that’s more or less why it’s been so quiet here lately.  I just can’t be bothered typing a whole post on the iPod touch.  Also, winter is truly upon us; though it does not officially start here until June 1, last week we had -7°C overnight.  So not as many interesting things have been happening in the garden.  Our brassicas are looking a bit sad (I don’t think they are in a great spot I might move them) and the herb garden is dying back, though the garlic, peas and broad beans are sprouting and growing nicely.  I’m counting the days down to the winter solstice (29 to go!) so the days will start getting longer again.  It’s not even winter yet and I’m already hanging out for spring!

The three sussex chickens have slowed down their laying with the shorter days and we usually only get one egg every few days now.  This is one of the down sides of having purebreds rather than commercial hybrid layers whose tendency to broodiness and winter slow down have been bred out of them.  However I much prefer to be helping to keep increasingly rare breeds of chicken alive, so I am happy with the purebreds.

Craig the rooster started crowing a few weeks back and he and Red started having a few tiffs so we moved Craig in with the chicks on the other side of the house.  He is now king of the roost over there rather than at the bottom of the pecking order in the big pen (he was just so small compared the the enormous sussexes and Rhode Island Red!), so he is a Very Happy Boy Indeed.  I finally finished building the little chicks a secure run with a roof, which is now installed.

New run

Chicken sized door

This side butts up against the existing coop

Run with the lid down

Hanging feeder

Chicken sized door to the outside

All in place. The bricks have been replaced with latches now too.

The big pen has been in a bit of a state of flux over the last few weeks as our friend has been bringing us her boys as she is downsizing her flock.  Some are a bit small to eat yet so we are growing them out.  We’ve now eaten two Rhode Island Reds (this one, plus another a few weeks later), and at the moment we have five boys in the growing queue – another RIR, the two barnevelders, an ancona and an araucana.

RIR #3 and ancona boy

The barnie boys

Red and the two barnies

Including Red and Craig, we currently have almost as many boys as girls, but luckily Craig is the only crower, and he doesn’t crow much yet and so far the neighbours don’t seem to mind.  I dearly wish we could give them eggs for being so great about us having chickens, but we just don’t have any!

And finally, some chicken dramas recently:

  • One of the barnies ripped off a toenail/claw.  It was only half off at first and it bled a lot so he got to be isolated for a few days until it pretty much dropped off.  Incidentally, this is now the only way we can tell the two barnies apart.  This one is Barney, the one will all his toes is Fred.

Missing a toenail (don't worry, it's actually betadine here)

  • Juniper got a cut on her comb
  • The sussexes all got lice so everyone (including us in the process – ew) got to have several extra Pestene (flea and mite powder) doses.  Dusting flapping animals with a fine powder.  Not as fun as it sounds.
  • While excavating to install the new chicken run we discovered a family of mice living under the little coop.  Four baby mice were rapidly dispatched with a spade, and six more (and counting) with traps since.  This area is in the middle of a mouse plague so I suppose we couldn’t stay immune forever.

Excavating a mouse house under the little coop

Four baby mice

Well, that’s about all I’ve got time for now.  Off to bed soon, early to bed early to rise and all that – it comes with the farmer/toddler territory!

Four more chickens…

We have four more chickens.  This is clearly becoming something of an addiction.

The first is a Rhode Island Red boy, (creatively named Red), bought from the same place as the three Light Sussexs.


Red is about 12 weeks old and therefore not crowing yet but will be by about 6 months so we are hurriedly improving the coop to add an enclosed and hopefully sound proof box for him to sleep in before then.  Red will be the first of our breeding chickens – he and the Light Sussexs will produce sex linked chicks.  This means day old chicks can be identified as girls or boys by their colour, and we can sell off the girls as chicks and raise the boys to eat.  I have no idea what crossing him with the Wyandottes will look like, but it sure will be fun finding out!

We bought Red last Sunday and put him in with the other six girls, who are much bigger than him (for now…) where he was promptly made aware that he is the bottom of the pecking order while he is smaller.  He was doing okay in with them, but seemed a bit lonely and I’m not sure how much food he was getting since the others would chase him away.

He probably would have been okay by now, but on Wednesday we got three more Wyandottes – two tiny gold laced and one a bit bigger from Raf’s blue laced red project who were much too small to go into the pen with our now rather large 21 week old and 16 week old girls.

So we knocked together a new mini coop and run for them (on a scorching 37°C day no less) until they are big enough to go in with the rest of the flock.

New run

Mini coop

We moved Red in with them, figuring he would at least then have some friends for now, plus by the time we move them all in together he will be big enough to assume his rightful place at the top of the pecking order!  Once these four are in the big coop, the mini coop will be our broody pen.

So the new tiny gold laced Wyandottes are Sage and Thyme, named after herbs since their run now encompasses some of our herb garden.




They look a bit scruffy at the moment as they are still little and growing in their feathers.  They are going to be just gorgeous though – much more gold than Paprika.

Bleu (also creatively named) is the Blue Laced Red.  Well, sort of – it’s not yet a recognised breeding colour in Australia, and the colour is still being developed.


She is such a stunning bird, so much so that she might go back to Raf’s to be bred from if she turns out very well.  Her red colouring originally comes from a Rhode Island Red rooster (quite a few generations back) and her red is very close to Red’s red.  (Wow that is a lot of reds for one sentence).


She is apparently a sibling in the same generation as our original three Wyandottes, but she is quite a bit smaller than Paprika and Juniper, and still a little smaller than Pepper – closed to Red in size.

The four of them sorted out their pecking order in about four pecks and Red has taken charge and is showing the others all about being a chicken here at the suburbanite farm (having three more days experience, naturally).  Bleu also seems quite sweet tempered and is taking care of the two littlies.

All four in the mini coop.

Chicken run

After seeing the setup that the people we bought the chickens off we decided to build a further outside run for our chickens.  We had always planned to allow them to free range around the garden, but we realised that we really needed some sort of enclosure for them, but more to protect our veges from the chickens than anything else!  So yesterday we bought a roll of cheap chicken netting and using for the most part makeshift stakes from around the garden/garage we built a bodged together run.

Coop plus outside run

We will add proper gates for easier human access later, but we for now we were focused on getting it up so that they could get outside and have access to grit.

They seem to love it!

Happy chickens

We also realised that the roost we had built them was a bit small in diameter for the chickens so we pulled it out and made a new one out of some tree branches.

New roost

They also never used the ramp to get up to the table in the coop, preferring just to jump up and down so we took it out as it was taking up space.

Chickens in the coop

I’ve also spent lots of time on the interwebs forums trying to work out for sure whether we have pullets or cockerels.  So anyone with knowledge who can tell us please let us know!

The coop is done!

After almost a week of 12 hour days working on the coop, it is finally all done!  Well, done enough for chickens to move into.  No doubt we will find things to fix and add as we learn and experiment with keeping chickens!

Some pictures from the past week of work:

The roost

One row of wire on

Two rows of wire on

Almost all the wire on

All done!


Awesome Macgyvered latch

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