Diatomaceous Earth – Natural Chicken Insecticide Parasite Protection

What is Diatomaceous earth? It’s basically rock containing fossilised micro skeletal remains. It’s usually crushed into various grade of powder and used in different applications.

How does diatomaceous earth work as a natural insecticide? The simplified version is that it’s the equivalent of insects dragging their bodies across a field of super sharp razors that cut through their exoskeleton (armour). As to its efficacy, I’ll leave it up to you to decide. Seeing as I was new to chicken keeping I thought it best to outlay the cost to give the chooks a head start, especially given they were coming from an egg production farm with a condensed living environment and could be bringing mites and other bugs with them. The chickens already had a lot of feather loss and I had no idea how much of that was due to parasites.
Here’s an article to leave you a little more confused   :o)
How to use it with chickens? You can add it to their feed as well as put it in their dust baths and nesting boxes. I use it mostly as an additive to their dedicated dust bath area. I just mix it into the top layer of sand and the chickens do the rest.

It’s a super fine particle so you will want to wear a dust mask when handling it. After all your don’t want mini razors in your lungs right? I never handle it on days that have even the slightest wind. Other than the respiratory factor it just goes everywhere with the slightest gust when you try to place it. If I don’t have a mask I definitely pull my T-shirt up over my nose ninja style. It’s not perfect but a better precaution than than not doing so. It’s been nearly a year and the chickens have no respiratory conditions that I know of. I stir the DE in with the sand and I think it binds to the sand grains reducing the amount that floats up in the air while still getting flicked under their wings.

You’ll find most diatomaceous products in Au come from Mt Sylvia.
I use their DE.Fines with my chickens (Yes it’s food grade, check out the link below to Mt Sylvia). I spoke to their rep and he said the Absorbacide is ~10 microns and the Fines are ~30 microns.
Seriously, at that level you know there’s going to be 10micron particles in amongst the ‘massive’ 30 micron ones.

When I got pricing I rang mostly produce stores thinking they’d have cheap bulk pricing but they all seemed to be ludicrously expensive too. Pricing ranged from $9/kg up to $60+/kg !
I highly recommend Farmcraft in Acacia Ridge. I get a lot of my rural supplies from them. My Barastoc Golden Yolk feed for $15 (lot  places are $20-$22) and my DE Fines cost $39.95/20kg bag  That’s ~$2/kg!
Just call ahead as you may need to order it in.
There’s a very good chance the smaller packaged expensive DE you get comes from Mt. Sylvia. You can read all about their products here.

I chose fines because I figured there’d be absobicide sized grains in there as well as the 30 micron grains, which it does. It was my balance between insecticide capabilities and possible respiratory issues for the chooks (and myself). Plus it was the best bang for buck. I’m trying to minimise inputs to my permaculture system but I’m not going to be able to grab a shovel and start mining DE so I may as well keep these costs down by buying a large bag that’ll last for ages.

Goodbye Honda Integra

This was my 1994 Honda Integra VTiR. I had to let her go today. Bought in 1998  for $24,000 with 70,000 km’s on the clock, it has served me well for 18 years. In that time it has never needed a major mechanical repair, in fact the most expensive things have been suspension done twice and clutch once. Both which I consider consumable/ wear and tear servicing. Alas her clutch was about due again (~$800-1000), the airconditioning needed a regas (~$200), registration renewal (~$700) and the clincher for me was a small leak from the head gasket which would be its first major engine repair @ ~$1000. Normally I’d keep fixing things as required and for the last few years I’ve repaired a lot of things myself but those repairs above were getting out of the scope of my tools at hand and willingness to have the downtime while working on the car by myself. Also these days I find myself more in need of a ute as well as some days my creaky knees kill me getting into this low machine, so I thought it might be time to move on.

I do find it strange that cars are almost a disposable commodity these days. A lot of people told me to just send it to the wreckers. Given the price of second hand parts for these Integras the wreckers would easily make  $5000+ from parts over time. However because it doesn’t look pretty and its high mileage, as a whole car it’s apparently worth nothing according to most of the car dealers I went to. So ironically the cost of the individual parts to repair the Integra are exorbitant, yet once all those parts are in a fully functional car the package is worth nothing!

I could have spent $1000 redoing the clutch and renewing registration and trying to sell it privately but the second hand car market says it’s worth barely $1-1500, so in the end I handed the keys over to a dealer for $300- I really hope one of the many fanboys/girls of these Vtec Integras gets it as a project car and gives it a new life.


I gave it a massive clean out. First time in over a decade!



A strange little sidenote: I love math as in I reset the trip meter every filled tank so I could calculate my fuel economy. That’s a lot of consistent mathing over 18 years. A while ago I was in the middle of nowhere and there was no premium unleaded fuel 98RON available. When I used regular unleaded 91 RON I got an extra 100 kilometers out of a tank!  Over the years I tested this oddity (I was led to believe that premium fuel would always give better mileage) and the regular unleaded consistently gave significantly better range from a tank. Obviously the non premium fuel gave nowhere near the power in the engine but 25% in fuel savings on volume PLUS the fuel savings on price (up to 20c/litre) was nothing to be scoffed at.
98RON Premium : Fuel light came on around 380-400kms  – Filled up at 450-470km with 42-44litres
91RON Regular : Fuel light came on around 480km – Filled up at 520-540km with 42-44 litres

I noticed no pinging in the engine or other side effects, just the reduction in power. I predominantly filled it with regular unleaded in the latter years when I wasn’t driving the car hard and it saved me a lot of money. I would still put in premium now and then as the additives were good for cleaning out injectors (if the fuel providers sales hype is to be believed), but each time I got less mileage.


On the day it was sold it had around 310,600 km’s on the odometer!  That sweet, sweet  redline was often visited. There was a power band at 4500 rpm  and another little boost at 6500.

As many of you may have seen when those rear seats are folded down you can fit a plethora of stuff in the back, all the way to the front.

This tiny (DC2  1.8L  DOHC Vtec) 125kW beast of an engine, while 10+ years older and nowhere in the calibre of M3’s, 911’s, R33’s and WRX’s would still have their drivers come up to me and say “Are you sure she’s stock? I kept looking in my rear mirror and you were still there! “

The factory tint has seen better days as well as evident on the driver’s side door. The 5 speed manual is still one of the best and tight shifting gearboxes I have ever used.

So this is the first time I’ve been without a vehicle in quite some time. I’m flying down to Melbourne tomorrow morning to hang with my cousin and hopefully pick up my next vehicle. Fingers crossed !



The Chicken Diaries #6 (Special: The Chickens of Indonesia-Ayam-Part 1 of 3)

Dear Diary,

Wednesday 15th July 2015

What an intense couple of weeks. Firstly success! After six weeks with our human tirelessly tucking us in every night and teaching us how to roost on the bar, we had our first night with every ladychicken getting up to the roosting bar and staying there. There was still mini chicken pyramid building but eventually we just stayed there all lined up on the roosting bar and went to sleep. The human was punching his wing in the air with happiness. The simpleton is so easily pleased.  He says it’s not a moment too soon as he’s about to go oversseas on a permaculture consult. I love holidays. I wonder where we’re going?


Thursday 16th July 2015

So diary, the human left without us. He filled our giant self feeding food bucket with pellets and topped up the automatic water station and just abandoned us! Just as we were making headway with our acclimatisation and relationship building. I think he lied to us too as he said he had to fly wherever he was going and I can tell you straight up that the big human lummox is going nowhere with those spindly wings of his. Plus he doesn’t have feathers. I mean we’re not the most flighty of chicken breeds but we’d certainly put him to shame.

While he’s away the human’s youngest brother comes and checks up on us and makes sure we’re looked after. He’s a bit light on the treats though. I bet our simpleton human didn’t tell him where the treat bucket was.


Wednesday 29th July 2015

Our human came back after two weeks and guess what? He’s been seeing other chickens while he’s away. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Seems he went and visited our distant cousins on the Island of Lombok in Indonesia. They call themselves Ayam which means chicken in our language.


This guy is wearing a fancy tasseled scarf.

I guess he’s not impressed about the paparazzi.

Chasing others off from his area. Men! Always trying to show off who has the biggest wattle.

He is a fine looking fellow though.

I call these two the Boyfriend and Girlfriend.  They were inseparable. Every day the human walked by them they were together.

Whenever he waddled over to the other side of the gutter, he’d wait like a true gentleman, until she finished what she was doing before joining him.

Look at his lovely blue feathers.

Wow, this guy is super tall with a lot going on with his coat of feathers. So serious and on a mission!

I love this photo. Birds of a feather flocking together and enjoying some peaceful communal foraging.

Some more pretty colourations. I wonder what they’re feasting on. I bet it’s delicious. Apparently they’re all free ranging whatever that means.

I really wish I was invited to this holiday but maybe the human thought it would be too much change in our lives. After all we had only just arrived here at our new home 41 days previously!
Part 2 now up!