It’s been a rough few weeks here really. Not all bad and not all negative but still and all, I’m looking forward to February very much as it means January will be over.
We added some more chickens to our flock last Friday, 5 more Dorkings (that’s the last of them) and 2 Chinese Silkies who will be our incubators next year. These 2 are also pets for the children. What funny sweet little things they are too. Sadly this morning when I went to check on the flock I was unable to find Mrs Silverpants, the children’s favourite silky. I eventually found her, drowned in the ducks swimming water. I have an awful feeling I heard her fall in last night too as I heard a squawk last night but figured it was the usual of a chook pecking another and thought nothing of it. The guilt this morning… And yes, I know. But I still feel awful. 😦 Blackie, our other little silkie is doing well without her companion fortunately, although I am on the hunt this morning for a replacement Mrs Silverpants. We also lost 2 of our Dorking chicks to Coccidiosis, a common enough illness that young chicks are susceptible to. That’s how John the chicken died. So yet again poor Jasper is trying to get his head around death. I am profoundly glad we kept the death of the 2 other chicks from him. 2 chicks dying has been enough to thoroughly upset him.
Martin has been working hard to clean up the last bits of the old house and get it ready to rent out. The Real Estate agents are coming out tomorrow to take photos and get it listed which is very exciting. John our builder and Martin have both done an amazing job and I am once again reminded of what an amazing husband I have. I am looking forward to having that house rented out and no longer being a drain on our time. We need to spend that time here. BOY do we need to spend the time here.
We’ve also come face to face with the information that there are venomous snakes within 50 metres of our house, a though that is sending chills through every inch of my body. Our neighbours have had to deal with the snake bites in their livestock and although we don’t know which species it is we do know that its bite is fatal to a half-grown bull calf and is likely to be a Tiger snake or a Brown snake or possibly a Copperhead too as I believe all of these are indigenous to the area. I tried my hardest to mow the vegetable garden grass yesterday but the mower hasn’t been working and conked out on me again yesterday after I got maybe 20% mowed. I’ll have another go today as tomorrow is going to be hot and that grass is LONG!
I had a bandicoot in my potato beds the other day and came away empty-handed. 😦 There may be spuds down further than I dug (I dug in about 9 inches) but it looks like the 1 thing I thought we would definitely harvest has not done what it was expected to do. The mulch layers haven’t rotted down like expected which is disappointing although I think I know where I’ve gone wrong. Once we do harvest anything that may be in there I’ll treat the 3 spud beds like compost bins and fill them up with the necessary before planting them with broad beans or the like. Hopefully by springtime I will have some compost that I can spread over the other garden beds.
I do have some good news to report though. I contacted my uncle on Saturday as we had recently purchased some used corrugated iron from him and we knew he had more. I gave him a call and teed up to purchase the rest and for once lady luck was on our side as he was driving from Bendigo to Warrnambool for work on Monday and offered to deliver it for us! We now have 30 or so sheets of corrugated iron, some ridge capping and a large metal tool box that he threw in thinking we could use it too. 😀 And at a bargain price including delivery as well! So, Monday morning saw me in the garden with a hand saw, tin snips, an impact driver, some roofing bolts/screws, some iron and the old red gum garden posts from the old home. With Orik in bed asleep the kids and I set to and built a raised garden bed to go int he greenhouse. We then loaded the trailer up with compost and filled the bed (again my wonderful husband helped here, shoveling most of a cubic metre in for us) before planting my mandarin tree (a gift from a friend who attended the home birth of Orik), the banana tree I bought from Diggers Club at St Erth the other day and a Lisbon lemon I bought last year from CERES which was pot-bound and on its last legs. Tuesday morning after we’d topped up the bed with some more soil we relocated some of the plants in the veggie garden which weren’t yet flowering and so won’t make harvest, into the greenhouse. We replanted several Siberian tomato plants and 8 or so capsicums and then filled in the gaps with seeds. We then planted radishes, carrots, purple beans, leeks, chives, rocket and coriander so hopefully in a month the greenhouse with be a verdant paradise of fresh smelling garden and burgeoning harvest. It was exciting and calming and very healing to get my fingers into the soil again. I most definitely need to do some more today. In fact the plan is to build another bed today once I finally wake up enough and locate my motivation (MUST get to bed before midnight).
We also had a lovely visit from my parents on Sunday where we had a lovely and mostly local lunch in the garden. We had lamb riblets (the last of the non-organic lamb I had in the freezer) cooked in organic garlic, homegrown rosemary and home bottled tomatoes, served with fresh organic sourdough and salad. The salad was all organic or farmers market purchased (I’m not sure on the organic status of this stall) and it was all fresh and delicious. Dessert was sourdough cinnamon scrolls although calling them scrolls is more about their intended shape than the end result. Flopped scrolls still taste scrummy though. 🙂
Well, time to finish off the hot chocolate and get some shoes on and out in the garden or the day will be half gone. Not to mention the kids are driving me crazy to get out in the garden.
Do you use chick starter to prevent coccidiosis? We haven’t lost a single chick to it yet (touch wood!). Our chicks tend to die in spectacular ways like being squished by precariously placed bricks that they have tried to tunnel under :(. Jasper is rapidly becoming a farm boy. Life and death will never be the same again. Frogs/toads attract snakes…as does water. We haven’t had any this year aside from the poor little thin hibernating snake that Steve and I unearthed (without realising it) in October last year. It was still cold and we pinched his branches that he was sleeping under. He must have then slithered sleepily out to the driveway where he met a terrible death by feral cat. He was totally covered in bite and claw marks when we found him dead as a doornail. We keep the area around the house completely devoid of vegetation now as we had our own visit from Mr Snaky the year before last. He hasn’t been back yet but we always check the enclosure around the house if we have been out as we would hate for our boys to be killed by a snake. Remember they really don’t want to bite you and will only resort to it as a last ditch effort to escape. They would rather run away and if you make a lot of noise they won’t come near you.
Uncles rule :). I only have 1 of them left and he is well past delivering anything all the way from W.A. to Tasmania but Uncle Fred I love you! :). What a beautiful garden bed! So neatly made (never look closely at our garden beds 😉 ). You are the queen of sourdough and I bow to your achievements. I suck! Herman sucks! I have heaps of amazing ways to use sourdough starter (one of them is to activate your compost by the way…) and am too scared to reactivate Herman and let him take over my life again. He is a maniacal megalomaniac! “Rise up tiny Herman, feed tiny Herman, split tiny Herman, feed Herman and his progeny, keep feeding splitting and exponentially watching the clock…” and then bake vinegar bricks :(. Frogs are a sign that your property is healthy by the way. Frogs and lichen :).
Things do seem pretty healthy in the main although our “lawn” has several ultra deep and nasty cracks everywhere (yes we ave the bad clay soil) but it’s all good otherwise. We do have frogs in our creek although with the distinct lack of rain our part of the creek is dry. Our neighbour who is downstream has a puddle or 2. Cats are also good for keeping away the snakes and our 2 cats are excellent ratcatchers so we’re hopeful that their presence helps keep down our cold blooded slithering neighbours. The portion of land across the creek is a long grassed, overgrown with poplar and hawthorn oasis for them though. I’m planning to clear it and plant it out with pasture but that’s a job for later at this time. I just want to do it all now but time and money…
We have been feeding them chick starter and I’ve been treating the water with Sulfa3 and the others which were starting to look a little wing droopy have all perked up. I’d say Mrs Silverpants drowning was one of those spectacular deaths you mentioned. Bricks falling tough, urgh.
Bertha requires feeding every 3-4 days as she lives in the fridge. And the no knead bread recipe I use hasn’t failed yet! It is BRILLIANT!
[…] the front garden on Saturday and Sunday. We’ve come across this frog before (here, here, here and here) but I’ve not had much luck finding a name and indeed I’ve not really […]