With all things being equal

The day and the night that is. Happy Equinox hippies. πŸ™‚ We are on the lighter side of it now and heading fast into Summer. πŸ˜€

True to form we spent the weekend in the garden, trying to get done all we need to do. Our fences are finished and had a test run with 5 kids under 7 on Saturday afternoon when my nephews came to visit us. Jasper, clever little fellow, showed us where the greatest weaknesses in our perimeters are within 5 minutes. The gates. They are easy to climbΒ and we then had the chance to recite the poem “swinging on a gate, swinging on a gate. 7 little sisters and a brother makes eight” although ours was more like 4 boy cousins and Allegra makes 5 but oh well. πŸ˜‰ We can easily put some chicken wire over the gates to stop the climbing but with them opening it we need to think about what steps we take.

Sitting on the deck eating hot chips for lunch. This is what we can see.

Sitting on the deck eating hot chips for lunch. This is what we can see. A LOT of mess!

And lowering clouds that threatened and pulled faces but didn't follow through on their threats.

A large woodpile to be moved and glowering clouds that threatened and pulled faces but didn’t follow through on their threats.

The fences have also opened a lot more of the garden up to us which the kids have been exploring and loving. πŸ™‚ We have some cleaning up to do there with a huge expanse of roofing tiles that need to be cleared (some will be broken up and used to create a base for the 3000L water tank we’re putting up to catch shed run off) but they’re pretty brittle sadly and not much use other than to add to cement to stabilise it or as a rock base underneath something else as the edges are too sharp to leave exposed. Another shameful waste. 😦 If anyone can think of any other uses…

Over the fence and down near the creek.

Over the fence and down near the creek.

Saturday also saw me out in the front garden digging up the area where I plan to plant my asparagus. There is old lino underneath small white stones and copious weeds that need to come up. I’ve discovered though that despite some widely variable weed-mats (plastic, lino, carpet underlay etc) and other interesting gardening choices we have one thing really going for us. The garden has worms. Yeah, I was going to write that we had worms but figured a little bit of class wouldn’t go astray this once. πŸ˜‰ The pebbles above the thick clay and lino layers are absolutely seething with worms. I feel like a murderer every time I dig as I can’t but help hurt some of them. So, I tried paying Jasper to collect them and move them to the hugelkultur and blueberry beds but even at 10c a worm he piked out after 40 worms.

So when I found out that my 6-year-old nephew is learning the value of money and saving up and was keen to earn his money I offered him the same deal. He collected just over 100 worms in a space probably 1×2 metres! :O We capped his earnings at $10 (as I was fast running out of money) which he was stoked with and he had a blast diving on worms like a hungry chicken whilst his dad (my brother) sat and watched (he’d hurt his back again sadly) and I dug. It was a really lovely time to be honest.

We talked gardening and worms although he prefers his worms hanging on a hook suspended in the water. I sent them home with various seeds and instructions on how to best plant them too as they are burgeoning gardeners, more for the curiosity than the intent of truly growing things I think, but I am stoked. πŸ˜€ I hope the green thumb bug sticks and Jayke continues to grow and then eat all the wonderful foods he grows. I hope for his sake the Summer is kind with warmth and rain in perfect balance (but this is Australia in a time of climate change so I’m not holding my breath) to give his garden the best possible start. I’ve also offered to buy some worm wee and castings from him when his brand new worm farm gets up and running. I spoke to my sister-in-law this morning too and after a few more jobs and a bit more pocket money Jayke had enough to buy what he had been saving for. πŸ˜€

He earned $4 and my garden is much happier.

Jasper earned $4 and my garden is much happier.

Sunday morning saw me finishing off the last few metres of chicken wiring under the edge of the shed to prevent escaping chooks and then for the first time in months the funny buggers were let out to free-range. They’ve been kept in to prevent garden damage as they have been marching straight under the house and out the front and have even headed towards the neighbours which, considering he trains greyhounds for racing is not in the best interest of the birds. They are now, with the fences in place and barrier wiring finished, safe and welcome in the garden. πŸ™‚ We need to build another small free-range access door for them so they don’t need to traipse into Anna’s run and then out to the garden, and so they can wander in and out as they please (to lay and such) too but on the whole it was lovely to see them out in the garden eating bugs and grass. πŸ˜€ And destroying my gardens of course. 😦

A messy back deck and free-ranging Dorkings.

A messy back deck and free-ranging Dorkings.

We also spent some time moving wood from out the front around to the wood lean-to, finishing off setting the trampoline up and moving it back to open up the garden a bit more and just general clean up. I have 1/2 of the asparagus bed area cleared and am now thinking I will build 2 beds instead of 1 but we shall see. I hope to finish digging up the rest of the stones and weeds today but if there is no lino or other weed-mat I shall just pull weeds and build on top. MUCH easier. πŸ™‚ I also simply MUST plant out my seeds today or I will have no tomato plants to plant out come November. So much to do and still so little time. At least I have a garden safe for the kids to run and play in. πŸ™‚

The Hawthorn is putting out leaves. Spring must truly be here.

The Hawthorn is putting out leaves. Spring must truly be here.

One lone daffy (past its prettiest). I shall plant out other bulbs down there later in the year.

One lone daffy (past its prettiest). I shall plant out other bulbs down there later in the year and hopefully pull out some of the sticky weed.

We also spent some great time with the kids. They were stripped down for Vitamin D again for most of the day and in the later afternoon on Sunday we had 3 nudiesΒ running around the garden having a blast. We also built a pirate ship with them using a few fence palings, a bike tyre, 2 chairs and 2 kids camp chairs. They weighed anchor, had a flag pole and even caught a whale. What fun and what imaginations. πŸ™‚

Our creek really does have some pretty little spots. Not bad for a storm-water drain with a glorified name.

Our creek really does have some pretty little spots. Not bad for a storm-water drain with a glorified name.

Last night saw me fall into serious unconsciousness around 10pm. Exhaustion and bed are a great combination and I love the feeling of being so tired that I’m melting into the sheets. Sheer bliss! πŸ˜€

Not much of our garden can be seen through the trees. I love our privacy.

Not much of our garden can be seen through the trees. I love our privacy.

What did you get up to on your weekend? Did you get stuck into Spring planting or Fall/Autumn clean up perhaps or just enjoy the sunshine perhaps?

What a fowl day

I’ve had a completely fowl kind of day. πŸ˜‰ It’s been foul at times too but generally it’s been wonderful. The days started with my, big bum up in the air, chasing 9 silver-grey doring chicks around the garden to catch them and put them in our “dog” carry box to take them up to Ballan. THEN I spent the next few minutes in exactly the same pose boxing up our 3 Pekin Bantams. Following that I repeated the process fed, dressed and loaded 3 children into the car. We arrived at Ballan a little after 9, a minor miracle there! Jasper was as sweet as pie when we introduced the chooks to their new home. “Welcome to Balland little chickens. This is your new home, the Balland house. It’s very nice here”. Very sweet! He then let them out and promptly chased them around the pen. *sigh*

After unloading the chooks we loaded back into the car to go pick up our new ducklings. We were undecided between 3 girls, 1 older and 2 younger or a drake and 2 younger girls.Β I’ve learned several things today too. Here’s the list of things I’ve learned.

1. Ducks are cuter than chickens. Ok, you may not all agree but I think that 6 week old ducks vs 6 week old chicks the ducks will win hands down. Those ridiculous little wings and the fluff all over them! Too cute.

2. Duck poo STINKS! Ok so chicken poo isn’t exactly a fragrant rose one wants to sniff but duck poo stinks a LOT worse.

3. Ducks have surprisingly sharp claws. I’d never thought about it but they’re not just all soft webbing. They’ve got sharp claws, quite remniscent of those thorns one finds on new growth on rose bushes. Ouch.

4. Most important lesson of all… NEVER name something you are planning to eat! 😦 Yes, our ducks were purchased for the table, however, Martin being unsure if he could actually kill a duck or not, we purchased 3 girls just in case. However, it was me that committed the unforgivable (as far as animals raised for meat at least) crime- I named the 2 younger ducklings. So, let me introduce you to Milly and Molly who will no longer be on the menu.

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Milly is taking a bath in her drinking water and Molly is stretching her wings.

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They’ve been named after the childrens TV show characters Milly, aΒ 7-year-old girl of dark skin and hair and Molly, aΒ 7-year-old girl of light skin and bright blonde-orange hair (taken from here).

Here are some other photos from the day.

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Milly and Molly’s older sister, as yet unnamed.

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A temporary set up of a pond for the ducks. So far the ducks are swimming in their drinking water and the chooks are drinking from the swimming water. Go figure. The tyres will be filled with oil and stacked to provide access to the water as well as somewhere to get down and dusty.

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Nesting boxes, still a little incomplete, with a perch on top. i need to add a lip to the front of the boxes to prevent egg spillage and a ramp up to the perching area for the pekins. Nearly there.

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They avoided the scattered food, much preferring to scratch around for bugs.

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Still need to attach the roofing iron and guttering to get the water tank running but in the meantime they are in and happy.

Tomorrow I am off to Hoppers Crossing to pick up 10 more silver-grey Dorking chicks, all only a few days old. I had to buy an incandescent globe to use for heating their brooder box tonight and I was joyfully disappointed. Looks like the light bulb really has gone on of eco savings and there was a selection of maybe 9 different incandescents available – 5 different colours and 4 different flame shaped bulbs (2 screw in, 2 bayonette, each in different wattages). They’ve been replaced with halogen globes. They are still using a relatively high amount of power, at least in comparison to LED or CFL’s but I bought a 53w halogen bulb which is the equivalent of a 70w incandescent bulb. Stuck in my craw to buy it but I need the heat output for the baby chicks. Seems there is at least one more negative against LED’s. Well, if you raise chicks it is. Can’t wait to get them home. Pics most definitely to come.

Can’t wait

It’s days like this that I really can’t wait until we’ve moved. The kids are going stir crazy today and driving me nuts! I can’t wait until we move and I know they will play happily outside on the swings, trampoline and in the cubby house as opposed to now when they let out the Dorking chicks, play with the tap and get wet (it’s too cold for that today) and generally get into everything we’ve made clear they are not to touch.Β One we’ve moved I know it won’t cure these sort of days but I do know that there is the necessary space for them to burn off their canned up energy and in the nice clean and healthy air of the country.

In other news, I pick up our Muscovy ducks tomorrow and our new Dorking chicks on Friday. This time we will be taking day old (or a few days old) chicks and building a brooder box for them, raising them inside until 6 weeks old before sending them out to join the troops. Now I just need to find a place for the brooder that keeps them away from the cats. 😦 I don’t take on too much at once do I? 😎

Now, time to get back to packing.