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Are You Sure This Tui Feeder Will Attract Tui ?

Are You Sure This Tui Feeder Will Attract Tui ?

That’s the question I was asked one morning several years ago upon receiving a phone call off one of our adverts in the New Zealand Gardener. The caller introduced himself as Pat and then followed on from his opening question with this statement, “aren’t they a bit expensive!”. It was obvious that he wasn’t one […]

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Deluxe Two Way Tui Feeder Proves To Be A Real Winner

Deluxe Two Way Tui Feeder Proves To Be A Real Winner

Nine months have passed since we sold our first deluxe two way tui feeder and as expected it has now become our most popular model. Feedback from our clients has been 100% positive and as the photo below suggests the tui like it as well. This feeder is located in the garden of Pat and […]

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Sixteen Interesting Tui Facts

Sixteen Interesting Tui Facts

Tui ( prosthemadera novaeseelandiae) are endemic “native and unique” to New Zealand. They are found on the three main islands and belong to the honey eater family. Tui are a fully protected in New Zealand. The name Tui is derived from the Maori language with the plural being simply tui. Europeans who first colonised New […]

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Six Ways to Stop Chickens From Eating Their Own Eggs

If you’ve ever kept hens you will have experienced the problem of them eating their own eggs. Not only is it very frustrating it can be a difficult habit to break. Here are a few strategies that I’ve employed over the years.that have worked well. Partly eaten egg

  1. Find the culprit and administer a “Mary Queen of Scots”. No, I’m joking but as a last resort you may need to cull out the offending bird or birds.
  2. Ensure that nesting boxes have a good layer of straw or wood shavings so that eggs don’t come into contact with hard surfaces. We use untreated pine wood shavings to a depth of about 10 cm. Eggs are often broken whilst or shortly after being laid. A nesting box for every 4 to 5 birds is recommended.
  3. False Hen Eggs Put some fake eggs or golf balls in the boxes as trying to eat these will dampen any chicken’s enthusiasm.
  4. Have a plentiful supply of grit, we sell oyster grit for $20 a large 20 kg bag, pickup only. Let your girls obtain their calcium needs from this rather than the shells of their own eggs. Most commercial poultry feed manufacturers add grit but I don’t believe its adequate.
  5. Bag of Oyster GritSet up a grit station within your coop so hens have access 24/7. Grit is essential  to aid digestion and in the formation strong healthy shells.
    Grit Station
  6. If possible collect eggs regularly during mid and late morning. Doing this will lessen the chances of them being broken and eaten.

Hyline Brown Chickens If you’ve found this information helpful please leave a comment.

Tomato Cat-facing

When it comes to growing tomatoes I thought I knew 95% of what there was to know but it seems that seasoned gardeners like myself  can still learn a thing or two. If someone had told me  that some of my tomatoes were affected by cat-facing I would have told them to quit pulling my lateralsTomatoes affected by catfacing Even as I write this I’m bemused that after 40 plus years of growing toms I’ve never heard the term “cat-facing”. Obviously I’m no expert when it comes to this however after having undertaken a little research I’m slightly better informed. I have noticed this phenomenon before but it’s never concerned me as we don’t sell tomatoes therefore ascetics are are a non issue and it certainly doesn’t affect the flavour. My view on tomatoes is “they don’t have to look wonderful but they do need to taste wonderful “. Cutting out all the the ugly bits is just part of enjoying delicious home grown tomatoes. Sure the supermarket variety look perfect but when it comes to the all important taste test they fail dismally.

From what I’ve read cat-facing appears to be a physiological disorder that causes scars and cavities at the blossom end of the fruit. It can be linked to poor growing conditions such as soil, weather, and fluctuations in temperature during the early stages of flower and bud development. Other fruits including apples and stone fruits can be also be affected. In our garden it appears to be more prevalent amongst the larger fleshy heirloom tomatoes like Brandy-wine and Black Krim, I’ve never seen it on hybrids such as Beefsteak or Money Makers. Excess nitrogen levels also appear to be a factor so my decision this year to ease up on chicken manure which is high in nitrogen probably was a good one. I did this not because of cat-facing but rather the high incidence of blossom end rot during the 2012/13 season. This year I only spotted one tomato with it but that’s a success story for another day.

Useful links ….
extension.umass.edu/vegetable/diseases/tomato-cat-facing

http://horticulturetalk.wordpress.com/2012/08/02/catfacing-tomatoes/

Are You Sure This Tui Feeder Will Attract Tui ?

That’s the question I was asked one morning several years ago upon receiving a phone call off one of our adverts in the New Zealand Gardener. The caller introduced himself as Pat and then followed on from his opening question with this statement, “aren’t they a bit expensive!”. It was obvious that he wasn’t one to mince his words so I decided that my response needed to be equally direct, yet to the point. He sounded likeable enough so I felt comfortable that a frank but light hearted approach would be the way to go.

I replied, “of course they work, wouldn’t be selling them if they didn’t”. I bet he’d heard that one before!. His second question received my standard response, “you get what you pay for Pat, this feeder will last for a long time whereas that cheap “made in China” one will  fall apart in a couple of years”. Just more plastic junk in the landfill.

That out of the way he went on to explain that they had lots of tui around and were looking for an effective way to feed them. The conversation ended with me giving him an undertaking that if the tui feeder didn’t perform we’d give him a refund. I thought he’d place an order there and then but no Pat wasn’t going to be rushed, he wanted a bit more time.

It was about three days later when he phoned to say that he wanted to get one. At the time orders were a little slow so I was able to get a deluxe pole mounted model on its way within about a week.

Two days later Pat rang again and said something like this, can’t remember his exact words. “That feeder is working well  and we have tui using it already, it’s only been a couple of days “. I had to bite my tongue as I really wanted to say “why are you surprised, I told you it would work”. He was excited and we had a good long chat about this wonderful new addition to his garden. Back then my feelings were those of satisfaction and a sense of a job well done as a contented client is the ultimate accolade..

However in our wildest dreams we certainly didn’t expect chaos quite like this !

Special thanks to Pat and Di for allowing us to use this amazing footage.
To view the complete range of tui feeders visit our garden shop or if you want some feedback from some happy clients.

Wishing You The Best For The Holiday Season

As another year comes to a close we would like to wish every one a Merry Christmas and a relaxing New Year. We also would like to pass on our appreciation for your continue support. and custom. Our production recommences on the 13th January however if you wish to place an order in the meantime you can do so via our Garden Shop.

“Merry Christmas & Happy New Year  …”

Don’t Be Disappointed – We Are Taking Tui Feeder Christmas Orders Now!

kaka-tui-feeder-(2)

If you’ve been thinking about a tui feeder for that special Christmas gift now’s a good time to get one, or two. Why I say this is because many people leave their order to within a few days of Christmas and that makes it really hard for us and more often than not impossible to meet Santa’s deadline.

Yes, you’ve only a little more than one month left!

Just Add Worms is a one man and a part time helper operation, my better half Rose and we are not able to make hundreds of tui feeders within a space of just a few weeks. The fact that our feeders are so popular means than often we struggle to keep up with the demand during the regular months of the year. Mention the word Christmas and our production changes from busy to flat out frantic. We would love the luxury of several hundred feeders sitting in stock but there’s just not enough hours in the day to make them up.

Some time ago I was approached by a manufacturer who suggested mass producing them in plastic but I had trouble getting my head around “plastic tui feeders”.

Anyhow the point I’m trying to make is, place your order as soon as possible and we can promise you that one of our tui feeders will bring a big smile to that special someone on Christmas morning.

Special thanks to Melissa from Wellington for this email and above photo we received 10 days ago.

“Hi Rodney,
I just thought I’d share this with you – I have 2 hanging nectar feeders which wax eyes and Tui drink out of, so I put my new Tui feeder nearby and have been putting apple on it to try and attract the wax eyes – thinking the Tui will see them drinking and follow suit. But I came home yesterday to find all the apple gone and this cheeky Kaka! I did wonder who was eating all the apple!
I will send you some pics of Tui once they figure out it’s there. Love the feeder by the way, it’s perfect! I can’t wait till the Tui realise it’s there for them.
Thanks,

Melissa.”

Click here to view the various models or here for more client feedback.

Bee Keeping -10 Reasons Why You Need A Frame Holder

Bee Keeping Frame Holders

When I took up bee keeping approximately 4 years ago I found myself on a very quick learning curve as keeping bees proved to be more challenging than I had ever anticipated. All the books made it sound so easy, but I soon found it wasn’t. Season one started off well but ended badly with the varroa mite and starvation taking its toll. Nowadays my bees don’t die of starvation because I know how and what to feed them but surprisingly back then I didn’t. The other lesson I learnt was the importance of doing regular inspections because as any wise bee keeper will tell you prevention is better and much easier than finding a cure.

During my second season I started using a frame holder when I did inspections and found that not only did it make the task so much easier it also also sped up the whole process.

Inspecting Bee Brood

Benefits of using a bee frame holder:

  1. No more knocked over frames.
  2. Lesser likelihood of dropping frames.
  3. Fewer hostile bees as a result of the above.
  4. Easier for a bee keepers back as you are no longer picking up frames from the ground.
  5. More hygienic than propping frames up against the hive.
  6. Lessens the chance of introducing germs and other nasties to your hive.
  7. Brood inspection made easier.
  8. Frames can be kept in the order in which the are taken from the hive.
  9. If you like to take photographs as I do, no more juggling of frames.
  10. Bee keepers enjoy working with happy placid bees.

To avoid any capsize I place no more than 3 frames on a holder when working full sized boxes and honey supers and limit it to two if its a nuc. (Holder can accommodate 4 frames)

Once you’ve used one you’ll wonder how you got by without it.

Bee Hive Inspection Click here for more information on our bee frame holders.

Here’s An Easy Way To Water Your Chickens

Like me you’ve probably tried various ways to provide a good supply of clean fresh water for your hens however it’s not always that easy. Problems that can arise are ….

  • Litter and droppings finding their way into the waterer thereby contaminating it’s contents.
  • Hens tipping over containers or bumping into hanging waterers.
  • Soggy floor and nesting box litter due to spilt water.
  • Sometimes its difficult to find the right sized containers to do the job.
  • Having to replace water every day becomes a bit of a bind.

When we built our first coop  a few years back I purchased a few of these cheap waterers on Trade Me but found them unsuitable for indoor use as they leak and the hens continually knocked them about. The end result was wet and smelly litter which increased the risk of disease. Broken-Chicken-WatererThe next option I tried was a vast improvement but still meant replenishing water daily and despite the container being well elevated our girls were still able to scratch droppings and litter into it.

Old-Chicken-WatererSeveral months ago I decided to trial a completely new setup which has since proved to be a great success. Not only has it substantially reduced the time I spend on this task it also provides a much healthier supply of water for our hens.

New-Chicken-Waterer-10-ltrThis 10 litre single cup model is suitable for 1 to 6 hens and will provide sufficient water for approximately 5 to 6 days. It is important to remember that during the hot summer months hens would consume considerably more than this.

Hens-Using-10-ltr-WatererThey work equally well in a coop or outdoors however they need to be placed in a cool shaded area away from the sun, as hens don’t like to drink warm water.

Doublre-Cup-10ltr-WatererThe double cup waterer shown above is in a coop with 14 hens. The lubing cups which are manufactured in Germany should be positioned at the approximate shoulder height of your chickens or hens. This ensures easy access and  hopefully puts them at a level where fouling wont occur.  These ones are about 30 cm above the floor, we have Hyland Brown hens.

All the units I have put together recently have sold and we are currently awaiting delivery of further stock. I hope to have more for sale within the next few weeks. If you would like to make an order you are most welcome to leave an enquiry here.

 

Catching Bees With A Swarm Trap

Just five days into spring and already I’m thinking about this season’s first inevitable swarm. There are a number of reasons why swarms occur and no matter how diligent you are as a bee keeper it can sometimes be difficult to prevent them. The possibility of losing 50% or more of ones bees is no laughing matter as it weakens the hive and reduces the amount of honey that can be harvested.

I remember being rather grumpy when I lost my first lot of bees due to a swarm as I couldn’t comprehend why my girls wanted to leave me and the cosy home I had so lovingly set up for them. Now when it happens emotions still run high but its more about retrieving the bees and having them stay put. The swarms I’ve been unable to catch over the years have probably been caught by another bee keeper or have perished.  Sadly without human intervention bees in the wild will eventually succumb to the dreaded varroa mite. Now that this evil pest is part of the New Zealand bee keeping scene feral bees are no more than a memory. Whenever our bees decide to shift home I’m always fearful that they will cluster high up a tree and be out of reach. Cutting back the odd branch here and there is no drama but felling a tree is a little extreme. Once scout bees return from reconnoitering out a new home its often a case of bye bye bees therefore time can also be the bee keeper’s enemy. The large swarm shown above settled towards the top of this tree and only after some precarious ladder and pruning work was I able to to get them back to ground.  The tree looked worse for wear however I did save the swarm. This same tree will be the location of my first attempted swarm trap which will hopefully encourage any wayward bees to hang about. It’s situated about 30 metres from our apiary and tends to be a popular first port of call during the swarm season. The brood box has a small yet defendable entrance, five used frames, some old bee comb and sufficient space to give them the impression that there’s room enough for a new home.

Newly Setup Swarm Trap

Hopefully this exercise will be successful and will form the subject of a not too distant blog post.

Watch this space.

Tempting Tui Into Your Garden

If you’re wanting to lure these cheeky characters into your garden there’s no better time to get a tui feeder as they are searching for extra food just now. They’re hungry because the berries and nectar which form a substantial part of their regular diet are currently in short supply. Additionally the drought which is hopefully soon to be to over has made it much harder for all the birds out there, including our friend the tui. The feeders in our own garden are never as busy as they are during autumn and winter.

Friends who live on Auckland’s North feed tui all year round however they have the luxury of living beside a large reserve full of these magical birds. The photos below showing mainly young juvenile tui were taken on a visit I made back in mid February. Come June and July these same tui will be consuming about 15 litres of mix each day. I keep telling them that they need to buy shares in Chelsea Sugar.

 

 

 

Click here if to you would like to see what others are saying about their tui feeders.

How To Convert One Chicken Coop Into Two

Building our first chicken coop two years ago was my first venture into coop construction and I felt at the time that it would be my last. The intention was to get “a few” hens  so that we could enjoy genuine free range eggs and to act upon our opposition to the inhumane use of battery cages. As any reader of this blog will know it’s become at little more involved than that now.

Shortly after getting Jessie’s our first batch of chickens I was approached by a few people who also thought it was a great idea and wanted some of their own. Why not I thought as we have enough space here to keep a “few extras” so I set about sourcing some day old chicks.

Selling them isn’t that difficult but the secret to chicken rustling is  “sell em fast” as the little critters grow like mushrooms and eat like a hoard of hungry teenagers  …. trust me I know! Have to keep them too long and you can kiss any profit margin good bye as chicken feed ain’t cheap.

Besides that there’s the other major issue of where to house them. Over the last couple of years I’ve improvised with covered in garden cloches and an assortment of make shift coops. None of these options worked very well and certainly weren’t ideal for keeping poultry. The time had come for me to build a second backup coop to make the task of chicken raising at little less demanding. The “in my head plan” I used was that of the first coop with a few minor improvements plus an increase in floor size. Having two, or three if one takes into account that this new one can be used as two will allow me to maintain an ongoing supply of replacement hens whilst still having space for those chickens that are for sale.

The images below show how it all came together.

Entry doors either side allows easy access if operating as two coops, for both the chickens and myself.

The sliding door makes for easy merging of flocks. When its time to clean the coop the perches can be removed by shifting the removable partition to either wall. The partition can then be taken out of the coop in one piece.

Unlike the first coop I added some simple stays to keep the dual access litter door open when cleaning. No more propping it open with the rake handle.

I made two removable nesting boxes as one would be too heavy and difficult to handle, each one has three compartments.

These side vents will allow airflow to the back of the coop during our hot summers with a weather proof sliding panel yet to be fitted.

Almost there, just some ramps and steps and it will be …. job done. Its been fun and yes I’m getting better at this, but I’m definitely not building anymore!

Our Hyline Browns settling into their new home ….. those nearest the camera are 8 weeks and the others 15 weeks.