Sunday, 31 August 2014

Assistant Gardeners!

Tea's enclosure has remained empty since she became fully weaned last October.  Up until February, we stored straw near our front door (in the small amount of shelter there).

Given the proximity of various fires at the beginning of the year, we shifted the remainder of the bale inside Tea's small house. It's proved quite useful to have it close to the Fox-proof Fowl Fort when we need to change the chookies nesting material.

I've been eyeing off the enclosure for a while now, considering it's potential as a small fenced garden for corn or a spreading crop. 

The FpFF needs moving to new ground but we'll do that next weekend.  In the meantime the girls can enjoy supervised scratching sessions in Tea's former yard, preparing it for my next growing endeavour!
Shifting the girls back and forth between enclosures was a funny exercise.  Judge Judy and Jo are used to being handled, so were easy to catch.  The "new girls" weren't greatly keen to be rounded up and presented some challenges to the chook-wranglers! 

All our girls seemed to like their change of scene.  By early afternoon they had trampled down several paths through the greenery and done other good work too.  I put a small box in the enclosure with some straw this morning, hoping the chookies would see it as a temporary nesting box.  Instead, they scratched all the straw from it and by mid afternoon several girls were pacing up and down the fence-line.  I called Vaughan to catch them.  In the process, he startled a small rabbit hiding in the green patch and it bolted under the orange plastic and away across the front paddock!  The chookies were quite startled by our cackling! 

Obsidian, Judge Judy and Mrs Floosit were caught first and returned to their usual abode.  Jo, Pooh II and Shadow followed.  Three eggs were gifted in quick succession (from Obsidian, Judge Judy and Jo) soon after the girls returned home!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Broadening beans and rapid radishes!

It's a beautiful sunny day, though there was frost overnight - and I've been going outside every so often to soak up some sunshine!

I also checked on my garden a little while ago.

Surprisingly, my snap frozen vegies are doing well! At this stage, there is still no action from some seeds that were planted back in June but I discovered something very funny.  You see, not only do radishes have an easy (to grow!) reputation - they are also said to produce very quickly. I've kept a watchful eye on my patch of "radishes", thinking they haven't done much and muttering about their ill-deserved fame as fast growers.  Hah!  It seems what I assumed were "radishes" are not - cos it's the plants next-door that have sprouted red globes!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Scrambling the eggs!

We thoroughly enjoyed our lovely cooked breakfast on Sunday, particularly the vibrant yellow eggs from our girls. So beautiful!

Vaughan had more Hamby Home(in)stead eggs for breakfast yesterday.  You can see that they were just about the same colour as his gold school skivvy! 

The Young Master requested eggs for breakfast again this morning and I said he would need to have bought eggs. He wasn't greatly enthused by that news and I was asked to wait while he dashed outside to check for any gifts from the girls!

Poor kid was out of luck and you can see the result.  Not only are the bought eggs much paler, they obviously don't taste as good!

Our girls laid 10 eggs last week, great work for their off-season!

Feathering the nest(box)!

Erin called me out last night to see how the chookies had arranged themselves at bedtime.  The new girls have been with us just over a week now.  Judge Judy and Jo are the bosses but there is more integration between both factions and night-time roosting is now happening fairly smoothly.  Hooray!

On the first night, all the new girls were outside, perched on the nesting boxes cos the red chooks had banned entry to the coop!  We thought there had been similar shenanigans another night when the four new girls were again outside, in the rain, on top of the nesting boxes - though one red chook was underneath, a bit more sheltered from the weather.  However, the coop door had blown shut in the wind, so we gave the inside red chook the benefit of the doubt!

For the past few nights two chooks have cosied up together in one of the nest boxes.  It's not always the same two chooks and we have spotted a red chook with a black chook.  (It's harder to distinguish who is who by torchlight).  Our white girls are quite large, with Pooh II being the biggest of all.  We were therefore surprised to see both of them and a black chookie all squashed together in one nesting box - and have no idea why the other box was so unpopular!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Major Myna Problem!

Nick doesn't look much like Wile E Coyote but he's hatched a cunning plan and today crafted a trap that certainly looks as if it should have ACME stamped on it!

The myna birds descend on the chookie pen en masse, scoff the girls' food and generally make a huge nuisance of themselves. 

I wasn't surprised to read that in 2005 they were voted Australia's most unpopular feral animal (above cane toads and foxes, which is saying something)!  In 2010 they achieved further notoriety by making the top-100 list of the world's most invasive species.

I'm not expecting the trap to be successful.  So far the would-be quarry have completely avoided the area.  They aren't keen to sample Nick's bait, instead preferring to scoff chook pellets as usual!

Super scrambled eggs!

I reckon even Peter T Hooper (of Dr Seuss's "Scrambled Eggs Super") would be quite envious of our breakfast this morning. Just look at the colour of those eggs - wow!

The girls gifted us ten eggs through the week. (Vaughan ate two for breakfast one morning).  I used eight today.  They were so vibrant - a huge contrast to those that we've bought recently.

Snap frozen?!

We were very glad of all our wood-stacking efforts last night. The temperature was -1 at 9:00pm and obviously dropped further over-night as there was frost this morning.

At 7:30am, the reading was -4 degrees! I considered taking some photos but decided bed was the better option. When I did rouse myself an hour or so later, the world had "warmed" to -2 degrees.

I checked on my plants.  I've been very pleased with the growth of my broad beans.  I was even starting to look at recipes (cos I have no idea what to do with them when they are ready), so hope they survive their icy morning. The very clever Nammo (who is an accomplished gardener and even more greatly accomplished photographer) commented how awesome it is that I can grow snap-frozen veg, all ready for the freezer!  I guess that might work for the rainbow chard?!

We've had some frost this season, though perhaps not as much as last year. It's hard to keep track as I don't keep an ongoing record of temperatures/conditions. 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Team effort!

Nick's beautiful chainsaw developed a fault a few weeks ago. Luckily we were not out of pocket for the repair, as it was fixed under warranty. There were difficulties getting the part though and our wood stockpile was virtually non-existent by the time we collected the repaired saw.

Nick spent a couple of hours cutting wood yesterday (in the freezing cold) and another hour or so this morning, before calling for assistants to load his good work into Elmer.

We made three trips across the paddocks - stacking as much wood as we could in the small sheltered area near the house.  (The bottom pic shows the volume of wood after the first load was unpacked).

What we couldn't fit under the table was stacked further up the back yard.

Singing the girls praises!

I've watched a fair bit of Play School over the years and lately have "The Egg Song" running in my head when I admire our chookie's efforts.   Do you know "The Egg Song"?! 

"They're round all around and they're bigger on the bottom; Smaller round the top and we're glad we've got 'em!  And they're egg shaped, coz they're eggs. Every bird you ever heard - lays eggs!"

Singing aside, I do like all the colour variations of our recent eggs.  So far, we've accurately identified eggs from Obsidian, Pooh II and Mrs Floosit.  We think the very pale, small egg may be Shadow's but can't be certain!  Pooh II's eggs are large and brown.  (Judge Judy and Jo also lay brown eggs, though theirs don't seem as large as Pooh II's).