Food Dehydrator and my flaxseed cracker recipe.

Anyone who has been into the shop to look at food dehydrators will probably end up hearing my stories of what I use mine for.  The majority of customers buy them for jerky or fruit leathers but I’m a huge flaxseed cracker and kale chip fan.  

20141217_dehydrator kale (1)Our Novital food dehydrator has 5 trays – as pictured above with my yummy cheesy kale chips – the yellow stuff is nutritional yeast. (Not as good as this recipe which is one of my favourites)  You can can control the heat by turning on one or both heat elements.  With one it is just around 50°C and both makes it closer to 60°C.  Being slack I throw my soaked nuts and crackers in before bedtime (on the lower heat) and turn it off in the morning. Yes it is quiet enough to run in the laundry overnight without keeping anyone wake.

Novital food Dehyd cab


Helens flaxseed cracker recipe:

1 cup total of LSA, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds – usually I have abit over 1/3 LSA, 1/3 flaxseed and the rest made of the other seeds. (This is where I get my seeds, nuts etc and they deliver really quickly in Perth )

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (this the one I use )

1 teaspoon crushed/minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon salt – I love pink himalayan, use less if you are using a ‘salty’ processed salt

Optional extras: Lemon pepper, pulp from juicing, grated hard cheese to taste.

Mix all of the above in a bowl and add Water to mix… probably close to a cup – start with 1/2 cup and work on feel.  It does soak up alot of water.

I usually leave mine on the bench soaking for at least 30 mins plus – up to a few hours while I’m doing other chores before spreading in the dehydrator shelf.  You may find yourself adding more water as the mixture sits as it gets thicker.  Its easier to remove/turn/flip the crackers if you use baking paper as in the picture below but the shelves clean very easily.

Yes you can make these in the oven – but you need to watch them so they don’t burn.

 **I’ll check these measurements again in a few days on my next batch – it’s become very much throw everything in the bowl recipe at home. And yes Mr 5.5’s gluten free (and non gluten free) friends do eat these :)

Tested on 28th Jan 2015 and they worked perfectly and tasted yum.  A single mix of the recipe ended up making enough cracker blobs to fill 2 trays.

20140507_dehyrdator nuts20140507_dehydrator crackers

There is a mouse in my bedroom.. and I don’t want to kill it.

One of the more memorable days I’ve had working here was made by a lovely 11 or 12 yr old girl who came in looking for a friendly mouse trap.  She had googled live catch mouse traps and after finding us, gotten her mother to drive her nearly 100km to come and get her one so that they could take the mouse out of her room but not kill it.  I believe the plan was to catch the mouse and release it in the park nearby.  While this particular memory is unique the sentiments expressed by the girl are not.  We have many customers who for many different reasons prefer a live catch trap for rodents.  Some live in rural areas and wish to check for native rodents (and remove them)  before disposing of the vermin, others don’t wish to kill any thing they have caught.  For those of you wondering how to tell the natives from the vermin here is a very interesting article on how to tell which rodent is which – from The Australian Museum…

So if you are after a live catch trap (for any reason!) what choices do you have??

Well if you definitely do not want to injury the critter in anyway your best bets are craypot trap – made in both rat and mouse sizes or the mouse tip trap.  Since these traps don’t have any moving parts there is much less risk in any injury occurring.

 Craypot Mouse trapCraypot Mouse  Tip Trap:  Kness Tip Trap 001

 Other choices include the ‘see-saw’ multi-catch mouse traps with either one or two entrances. See my post on these traps:

The School Chickens Turn One year old…


20141120_3 chooks 1yr old

On Saturday the 15th of Nov 2014… Sat  just been, the school chickens… who are now beautiful chooks – turned one year old.  I have put together a photo collection of their existence – which I took in to school for the children, so they can see how much they have grown.  Along with the photo collection I took in morning tea – of the chooks favourite foods.  I had the platters in an esky and got a few weird looks when I said we were going to the share the chooks favourite treats.  I suspect more than one person was worried we were having layer pellets.  I actually took watermelon and strawberries, which I’m sure that many chooks enjoy greatly.  Even the old black hens will peck the watermelon rind clean.

Bruce the rooster, whom we suspect was ‘Fairy Princess’ in the classroom, Dark Specks (probably the one named Bruce as a chicken by the children :) who is back to laying beautiful brown eggs after her attempt at brooding and Speckles – who is now off in her nest  but I have no idea at all if she actually hatched anything as I never found any evidence of a live or dead chicken, are customer favourites at the shop.  Bruce in particular is a real ‘show pony’ who lets us know when someone arrives and does his wing flapping dance to show off his lovely feathers when I take anyone to talk to him.

Photo collection of the school chickens: Chooks 1st BD

20140725_Bruce drying his wings


Helens Humidity Rant…for incubating eggs.

Just noticed I’ve been alittle slack with posting… but as mentioned last post it is incubation season and if you have been to shop you’ll probably have been told how busy it has been :)  As a result of an increase in incubator sales, I find myself giving my humidity talk.. alot!  So I will attempt to write my ‘lecture’ on humidity here – please ask questions/comment if I miss something out.

We usually recommend for chook eggs you have around 50-55% humidity for the first 18 days and bump that up to 70-75% for the last 3 days of hatching.  Everything you read will have slightly different percentages – how else would you sell soooooo many books on incubation?  The exact number doesn’t concern me… as proved with the school chickens, you can still hatch under less than ideal conditions.  My father-in-law told me when I started at the shop – if you know what you are doing, you can hatch chook eggs in a fry pan – it’s just abit easier in an incubator :)  Mother hens do not have hydrometers!  In most incubators this means that to start with you fill up a water dish – the manufacturer has done all the calculations for you and then for the last 3 days you fill up the second water dish -or in IM machines, close the vents down to one third.

Humidity is all about surface area of water – it doesn’t matter if the water dish is 5 mm deep or 10 inches deep.  If you measuring humidity and want to decrease it, decrease the surface area – cling wrap or foil works well, naturally then to increase humidity increase surface area – sponges are a great way to do this.  Other suggestions include using containers like ice cubes trays which allow you more precisely control the surface area of water.

In normal circumstances you will need to check and top up the water about every second or third day.  If you find yourself constantly filling up the water dish, consider putting a dish of water outside the incubator to boost the humidity of the air going into it – if the air going in is very dry it will use more water.  It also goes without saying that the water you use to top up your incubator should be ‘blood temp’ – just like a babies bath, so the incubator doesn’t have to warm it up.

While they are not necessary, if you do want to monitor the humidity/temperature in your incubator(s) this set allows you to monitor up to three incubators:

        Oregon Scientific RAR501

We have an incubator in our classroom – Part 1’The School Chickens’

It’s been a very busy week here in the shop- incubation season is starting.  So it’s probably way past time that I actually started the story of how we ended up with our ‘school chooks’: Bruce the rooster and the hens Dark Specks and Speckles – both of whom laid lovely brown eggs today.

We didn’t actually find out about  the incubator being in the classroom till a Friday afternoon, after school when ‘The Boy’ said “We’ve got eggs in our classroom.  They are going to grew into baby chickens.”  Naturally we were interested and so on Monday morning went to investigate.  There were 15 eggs, in a manual turn incubator and the teacher hadn’t been told much about it….so there was no water in the incubator and the eggs hadn’t been turned since they arrived.  Jeff and I looked at each other and started wondering where we could source some day old chicks, if the eggs didn’t hatch!  So we filled up the water tray, turned the eggs and volunteered to help.

The next day Jeff brought a candler to check the eggs out and to his amazement 14 of the eggs appeared to have growing chickens… and some were very close to hatching size.   So he filled up the  second water tray and we kept on eye on them everyday at drop off and pick up. I think the first chicken appeared on the  Thursday, because when I come to pick up the incubator on the Friday afternoon there were 2 chickens and some more eggs pipping.


   …Continued in Part 2.  Got to dash to do the school run.  Take care Helen

Feeders for Ducks…

I got a question the other day, that made me think for few seconds.  ‘Have you got feeders for ducks?’  People ask about baby chickens all the time and I know exactly what feeders to show them but ducks need abit more room than chooks and don’t like the ‘guards’ that many of the poultry feeders have to stop the mess and waste.  After a little looking around…and consultation with Jeff (who knows all about the different sorts of birds and all of our stock!) I realized that we do actually have quite a few feeders suitable for ducks.  So if you do have ducks and need a feeder for them, these are some of the feeders you could consider.

10 or 18kg chute feeder.. from Italy.  These come in both chicken (not so high) and chook base and there is room for a ducks bill.

       FeederChick10Kg                             FeederPoultry18Kg

The Yellow plastic 7, 9 & 12kg feeders.  These have plenty of room for ducks (or geese) to feed and they are great value.

Yellow Feeder 7 Kg   Yellow Feeder 9 Kg    Yellow Feeder 12 Kg


If you don’t want the storage, the hanging metal troughs (available in several lengths) are another option.

Novital Feeder metal troughs

Happy duck feeding, Helen & Molly

Web Link to feeders:


Grandad you can’t take the old black hens to the market

Hens at WAPE
May 2012.. hens at the shop

I’ve been trying to date when the old black hens arrived here at the shop.. I’ve a photo from May 2012 and know they were here then… Grandad and Grandma went on holiday and left them here to be ‘hen/baby sat’.  At that point in time ‘The Boy’ was not yet at school and spent some of his time at the shop – naturally he made friends with the chooks and loved to help feed them.    Anyway the grandparents returned from their travels, moved the younger Isa brown hens back to their chook pen and left the 5 old Australop hens to ‘keep down the weeds’.

Then the day arrived… Grandad came down and was having a cup of tea with us when he announced he was ‘taking the old hens to market’ and getting some younger hens …well Mr nearly 3 let out a cry “Grandad you can’t take the old black hens to market they are my friends!” and dissolved tears.  Many hugs, cuddles etc later we assured him that the old hens could stay.  So we got our first feathered staff members.

Photo of the 5 old black hens
The Boys photo, taken Jan 2013


By Jan 2014 we  now  only have 3 of the 5…the other 2 having died of natural causes.  Best guess makes the girls about 9 years old (as of 2014) and so far each spring they have laid some eggs.. it will be interesting to see if it happens this coming spring? I’ve no idea how long hens live? But google has reports of up to 20 years.



Aluminum folding trap: ‘Elliot Style’ for small marsupials

Had a question this morning about the inside workings of our ‘Elliot Style’ folding trap for small marsupials and since I took some photos of the trap thought I’d share them.  Most of these traps are sold to environmentalists or universities doing fauna surveys.  We do have people asking about them as a rat trap, but we don’t recommend them as a rat trap, as the rats can chew the mechanism if left in the trap too long.

Elliot Style trap_Flatten      Elliot Style Trap_Trigger

Being interested in the uses and history I did some quick ‘googling’ and found that the ‘Elliot Style’ trap is based on a Sherman trap invented in the 1920’s – see  Most documents about the trap are related to scientific trapping practices. To find these traps on our website see:

All about Foxlights…stories we hear about them

Sold a few more Foxlights this morning.. and for once they were actually for sheep :)  Naturally enough most of the lights we sell are for around the poultry yard and anecdotally they are working very well.  Foxlight and sheep


The word about Foxlights must be getting out there as instead of meeting customers the day after they have lost all their chooks to a fox attack (which unfortunately we had quite a number of cases of  last year – 2013) now we are getting customers buying their Foxlights before they buy the chooks.

So what is a Foxlight?  The simple version is a Fox deterrent.  It runs on a large 6V rectangle battery like the dolphin style torches and has 9 LED lights around the top.  No switches, nothing to do – the Victorian sheep farmer who designed it wanted it to be simple – it comes on a sundown, turns off at sun up and totally randomly flashes light around – rather like someone being out there with a flashlight.  I’ve been told that the flashes occur between 5seconds and 2 minutes apart and that you get anything from 1 LED to all 9 of them at once.  The light appears to come out sidewards (not from the top) so it seems to come from different directions – tricky :)  It is made to put onto a star fence picket or hung from wire.

So a great Australian invention that is doing a wonderful job (here & overseas) of protecting your livestock from the vermin fox.  To find them on our website see:  Foxlight

Incubators: the 162 egg, Digital Auto turn Cova Tutto

I realized the other day that I’ve now written several posts on a poultry equipment blog and haven’t yet mentioned an incubator!  Anyone who has been in the shop quickly realizes that Jeff is the poultry expert and the one with the experience…my incubation experience is limited to the school chickens and one batch Jeff’s dad Chris did here at the shop.  While I grew up on a farm with some chooks.. my mothers hens largely took care of themselves and if they did decide to reproduce, did so in the natural way.  Sometimes we’d find them sitting on eggs and move them into the spare run, sometimes they would re-appear with some chickens and occasionally we’d find some feathers and broken egg shells.

However I have studied hard to learn all I can about incubators and the machine I’m most familiar with is this one, the Cova Tutto 162 egg machine.  I got the job of ‘playing’ with it a few years ago when we first brought the digital Cova Tuttos in from Italy.  It is very easy to set up, and what impressed me most (I’ll confess a slight basis – I like the Cova Tutto incubators) was how it managed to keep constant temperate and humidity in the main part of our shop on a day with a 30% humidity variation and 10 degree temperate change.Incubator

Like all the Cova Tutto machines above the 24 egg, the trays are adjustable for any sized egg (one of their best selling points in my opinion!)  so if you want to do quails or geese you don’t need to worry about getting different sized egg trays.  Each tray, there are 3 in the 162 egg machine, has its own auto turn motor – and yes these motors can handle the bigger eggs. As well as digital temperature control, the incubator gives you a reminder beep to top up the water trays.  It is fan forced and has been quite popular for customers wanting to do a larger number of eggs at a time or a regular weekly hatching.

To find this incubator on our website see this link: