Monday, February 14, 2011

Is that Autumn I can feel?

The weather features heavily in my blog posts but it is a real influence here, it feels right to be influenced by the forces of nature rather than airconditioned, artificially ventilated and heated spaces with nothing natural.
We have wonderful weather at the moment and the zucchinis(courgettes- Jess- sounds so much nicer and easier for the baby to say) are growing well, I am letting them get bigger than usual so I can make some relish as last years is nearly done. The amazing sunflower is bowing it's head under the weight of the seeds and the corn will be ready any day now (if only I knew how to tell- I picked one which looked good but it was immature)
The sun is fierce but the Morning and afternoon light has a golden, muted feel to it which makes me think autumn is just about here- I shall collect many bags of leaves for mulching and layering in no dig gardens, hunt of mushrooms and savour the blackberries whilst the boys participate in the time honoured childish pursuit of "scuffling" the leaves in the their wellies. I love autumn!
I some plants are growing well and others I had given up on, like my eggplant (Aubergine Jess- parle Vous Francais, ummm un petit pous- errr non but it sounds good er bonne, oui? so maybe one day I will learn.) and I had a look at it today and BEHOLD! a beautiful tiny aubergine!

At the markets on Sunday we found a Fuchsia stall by following people carrying astonishing fuchsia plants and the lady gave Master Four a  Shasta daisy in a gift wrapped pot with a heart shaped decoration complete with wooden lady bird because "he looked like a gardener" he was absolutely delighted (and I promptly bought a gorgeous flamboyant fuchsia for $5) and we have planted his daisy in the front yard. Bless the boys, they really like gardening- I have found I even prefer gardening with them to gardening without them!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Chickens and corn and crazy weather...

Our weather has been mild, then hot, then muggy which makes for interesting gardening but of course nothing compared to the awful trials other folk are having, blizzards in the Northern hemisphere, floods and cyclones in ours...
Our blackberries are going well, I must plant some raspberries this year and we have been enjoying the locally grown cherries immensely, they are nearly too big and juicy to pop in your mouth- more like eating a small plum! Little Master Two is, well, fond of berries doesn't quite cut it- he is a sight to behold when he gets hold of any kind of berry, cherry or grape, they are shoved into his mouth so fast it is quite astonishing- I am trying to get him to slow down as I am worried about the choking hazard. He accompanies me when I pick the blackberries and says "Spiky" when I ask him what spiky means hes says "spiky hurts me" so he seems to understand that staying away from the brambles is a good idea.I asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up and he said "A Berry" what sort of berry? "A Cherry" to which his older brother says "Well he will need eyes and little feet- I am going to be a pirate when I grow up, when I am five".
He has developed a quirk of accusing innocent animals of doing nasty things to him, even if they are in a paddock and he is not- or they are on the telly. "doggy, doggy biting me" (or Porsey, or birdy or chicken, or elephant ) no-one is safe from the accusations, even an angelic baby girl of about nine months firmly strapped into her stroller who dared to say "Bah" at him was dropped in it "baby biting meeee".
I have put the boys to work and they seem to like raking and building gardens so we are slowly reclaiming the yard from the awful amateur concrete which is slowly cracking and sinking and instead replacing it with my amateurish garden where I simply take out the lump and build a no dig garden on top  with whatever I happen to have on hand. What I happen to have on hand at the moment is mountains of pea straw! I feel very rich having had five bales and a bag of pulverised cow manure delivered. This has allowed me to mulch the garden I had the chickens weeding for me (dull roar philosophy means no-one is safe from me putting them to work!) and that is ready for the next round of planting. Interestingly the hens went off the lay when they were in that garden and we are back to two eggs for the last three days that they have been back in their house which now has an extended run/yard. they were also suffering from being egg bound which was a bit scary as I thought one was going to die on me- I had a very eye opening experience feeling for broken shell up her vent (it behaves like a mouth- very sci-fi- I almost couldn't go ahead because I was rather alarmed by the sucking, kissing motion it made!) but I did gently extract the broken shell and then used a nasal irrigator ( small turkey baster thing-supposed to be for babies noses but is clearly an awful torture for them- glad I found another use for it!) to "douche" the vent with a sea salt and calendula solution and held her over the sink until there was no more yucky yellow/white stuff or congealed blood- then dosed her up with a strong garlic infusion to which I added some comfrey tincture and then added garlic and double strength raw apple cider vinegar to the drinking water. She went back with the others and laid an egg the next day.
It would seem that unless you are a commercial poultry farmer the Hyline brown egg sizes can cause you some problems- the methods for controlling egg sizes and shell; thickness are very complicated scientific amounts of Amino acids- not free ranging eating weeds and local layer pellets and scraps! What we have learned from this is don't believe it when people tell you your situation is hopeless- you have nothing to lose by trying to make it better (I found that all info about chickens who had had eggs break inside them was telling me they would die and there was nothing I could do) and that next lot of hens we will be getting some heritage breeds instead of weird MonSanto-esque commercially developed chickens....

Master Four is considering giving up being a pirate if he can be a farmer and have some heavy plant machinery as he tells me he is a really good farmer as he feed the chickens, builds gardens and wanders through the rambling pumpkins and upright corn which he tells me is "just like a field".
I have a massive amount I chives I have rescued from the neighbours garden- the landlord has given me free rein over anything living- he is going to concrete the lot so I am grabbing what I can before he does so... apparently it will be more rentable like that!