Headless Rooster Hunt

It was a mix between a scene out of a Monty Python skit with me awaiting the calls of “bring out your dead”… and a gruesome treasure hunt, and I’m glad I had a willing husband and two fascinated sons to carry out the clean up.  Keeping chooks isn’t all cuddles and fresh eggs on toast…. no, turns out things can get ugly.

I had been dreading this day all week… a day we’d planned with a friend to “modify”, as he put it, our four remaining roosters. It wasn’t the ‘modifying’ (read culling) I was dreading, or even the cooking of them to turn into home reared soup and stock… but the plucking. I was determined to do it though as I figured if I was prepared to eat chicken, I should be prepared to prepared them!!   However, in a sad and very strange way, I was spared from the dreaded task. As ‘they’ say… “Careful what you wish for”!  It was about 5am when I realised something was wrong…. the property was silent…. no roosters proudly announcing the break of day…hmmm… strange. Darryn went to investigate… turns out Mr /Mrs Fox / feral Cat had beaten us to the task. And here comes the gruesome treasure hunt bit…. headless roosters were deposited around the property… only one unaccounted for and presumably consumed that night. Out came the wheelbarrow and shovel. Such a waste. At least the garden will benefit from an extra mineral boost… but I really was looking forward to cramming the freezer full of fresh stock.

 

 

They grow up so fast!

And I thought kids grew up too fast… yet it was only a few months ago that we had these gorgeous little babies chirping the night away in our dining room… and now two of them are laying!!!!

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Possum Proofing

They come each night… I say ‘they’ because surely only one could not create such a raucous noise! As they crash their way across our tin roof I’m not alarmed, almost comforted, it’s a delight to be living with wildlife around us. And late night possum spotting with children swaddled in great volumes of fluffy blankets and weak torch light is equally delightful. What is not so enchanting is the reality of their eating habits in the morning! Turns out the beautiful old roses that ramble about Greenlaw are constantly on the menu, but apparently the dish most cherished is the climbing rose that we are trying to train into an arch over the steps to the verandah… ie. plumb at the entrance!  Then of course in summer when our ancient apple orchard was heavy with ripening produce… our furry little friends managed to munch through the netting bags and consequently through what fruit the parrots hadn’t already decimated! I was still forgiving though… that was until winter hit and obviously a possum has to get a feed… and how could they resist the juicy, plump, ripening strawberries nestled in their lush bed…. hmmmmm…. As you can see in the pic they didn’t stop at the fruit!! NOT HAPPY!

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So after giggling and reeling at various possum prevention techniques on-line I decided that a nightly offering of fruit was not going to be part of this gardener’s ritual… and that a possum proof patch was called for…. DARRYN!!!  Enter my wonderful and very talented husband who can now add ‘Possum Proof Strawberry Patch Builder’ to his CV.

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Not only is it constructed primarily out of timber we salvaged from around the property or from the local tip shop, but the chicken wire lid can either lift off completely for easy garden maintenance OR just be propped up for picking!! So, that’s strawberries saved…. any tips for the roses??!

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Communal Garlic

Isn’t it incredible the way food brings people together. It seems to be the glue of our social fabric…. food is always there. Sometimes it lurks in the wings and you hardly notice the doughy biscuit that slips down with the weak tea in a meeting, whilst it always hails as the main event at a family Christmas…. but sometimes, if you’re lucky, it brings new people into your life and cements a friendship. My family got lucky…. and we have garlic to thank!

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Our family met Antonio and his family last year as we were all wallowing at a local waterfall swimming hole one stunning afternoon. We’ve since become good friends, but it has been garlic that has cemented the deal. Antonio had been cultivating his own organic garlic seed for many years, and then found himself between homes at time of planting, so asked us and another local family if he could plant on our properties and then we can share the crop. I just love this idea, communal garlic… and by November it certainly will be Peak Garlic!

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Not only does Antonio get to continue the blood line of his beloved garlic, but we’ll get some free garlic and the beginnings of our own bloodline… and best of all, it’s brought our families closer together. Thank you garlic, and thank you Antonio. Stay tuned for Antonio’s tips on plaiting the garlic at the end of the year!

 

Gardening with Little People!

I’ve had a number of projects on the boil of late… who am I kidding, my life is a long list of projects that I conjure up! One very enjoyable project was helping a local childcare centre “Little Peoples Early Learning Centre”, where my boys attend, set up their veggie patch.

It was really lovely to have all the children so enthusiastic about gardening and wanting to help out. We donned hats and gloves and got to work adding lots of yummy goodness to the soil (compost and manure) and then the kids started burying the plants… literally. Luckily we had lots… not sure how many will survive the enthusiasm!

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As you can see the space we had to work with was rather long and narrow, but perfect for little arms to reach for planting, and picking when the time comes!  We put in a lovely winter crop of lettuce, peas, strawberries, chives, silverbeet, beetroot and carrots… with lots of marigolds for keeping the pests at bay and for lovely colour in the kids play ground.

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‘Little Peoples’ cook their own meals on site, so hopefully the children will be able to pick part of their own lunch very soon.  A most rewarding time, thank you Little Peoples!

(NB.The plant labels I used are the ones I made out of yoghurt containers a few blogs ago… and we’ve had a few not adhere very well to the paddle pop sticks. If you’re going to try it, go for a stronger glue!)