Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Valuable lessons

I've got some bad news unfortunately.

Yesterday morning I found our Rooster, "Mr Sheen" dead at the bottom of their tractor. He hadn't been quite right for the past week really. Rather than go through every symptom and detail, I'll just get to the valuable lesson we learned.

If you're going to keep chickens in a tractor, move it to NEW ground every week or two. We had been using the same strip to move our tractor on since May, so the ground only rested about a month in between. These patches were at various stages of decomposition, which is why our rooster developed a very subtle respiratory infection through close contact with mould spores.

This weakened his immune system and as a result, died of something more fatal, coccidiosis.

I returned Mr Sheen back to the earth, right where are future veg patch will be. So every time we eat our vegetables, we'll think about our beloved rooster. It seems silly to be so sentimental, but he'd really grown quite close to our hearts.

Our duty now is to look after his family, and learn from the valuable lessons it's taught us.

R.I.P Mr Sheen.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


You can always tell when the chooks go back on the lay, because I become obsessed with eggs! Lately I've had a pullet lay her first egg, plus 3 eggs in one day! That's a new record.

Someone laid their first egg out of 3 Pekin pullets! The two older girls have been working overtime.

I was surprised to find 3 eggs in the one afternoon collection! Needless to say, we're starting to run out of room in the fridge.

Size comparison. I haven't opened it up yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if the little egg didn't have a yolk!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Reflections, August 2008

I seem to be doing these "Reflection" posts quite frequently this year. It's nearly the end of August, so roughly over a month since my last Bushland Project reflection. So why do it?

I have such an enquiring mind and one that seeks more answers. What am I doing here? Why this path? What could I be doing better? It's almost like I'm not content with the here and now. This is almost true, if I wasn't so focused on improving the way we live.

It just occured to me today, that there's more contentment to be found in the here and now but idealism about the right path to take, can sometimes shroud the way. A lot of media coverage - and certainly a lot of blog discussions on the www, seems to be focused on the end. The end of Industrialisation. The end of Oil dependency, and the very end of family financial security. I don't doubt these are all important issues and as such, should be explored by every individual. But the idealism of "the end" seems to define the choices we make.

Every gardener knows there is a season for every plant. We prepare the soil, we germinate the seeds and tend to their every need for a harvest to be gleaned. But then the plant withers and dies at the right time. Dought, pests, flood and bushfires always threaten the progress of the little seedling - but we still hope as we tend the garden that we will get something from it.

Which brings me back to my Bushland Project reflection this month. I've been so worried about "the end" of financial security, or "the end" of a job - or indeed the end of the Bushland Project, that I forget to enjoy the process of where I am right now. If the end comes, so it must and the season will be right for it. I accept this in my garden - why am I so hesitant to accept this in my own human fragility?

I thought the answers were in contemplating selling, getting out of debt, downsizing, growing more vegetables, building another chicken coop and the list goes on. But the answer is in absorbing the process that now is a good time to be here - come what may - I have dreams to harvest and I cannot keep running to the next "idealised" safe haven.

What being here has taught me - what the stuggle of being here has taught me, is that I'm just as fragile as the land around me. I will grow here and I will be tested here. The process is that I'm already part of it, and being afraid only stunts the ability to adapt.

I really feel liberated that I can be part of what I'm doing now. Come what may, I'm prepared to adapt. The end is the beginning, as the beginning is to the end. Celebrate the season of life, wherever you are.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Recycled project still in progress

Albeit, a little slowly, I've made some more progress on my new chicken coop.

Box made with 2x4 hardwood treated timber.

Cot on, and sizing up the posts for the other side.

Fence palings on, and the means by which the cot is anchored to the hardwood box. These palings were given to me by a relative doing a yard clean-up. Because these were already on site, I could place the support bar on the cot at exactly the right height. Saved myself a lot of sawing otherwise.

Now an above view.

And finally, the side view looking into the nesting box. I'm pleased with the progress we've made but there's still more to do before the chooks can move-in permanently. I have to source some metal sheeting for the roof yet, but don't know what I'm dealing with until I get the roof battens on.

Looking more like a chicken coop now, but my husband said it bears a striking resemblance to a double bed at the moment too.

Speaking of Dave, I couldn't have gotten most of this phase completed without his help. Those 2x4 hardwood, timber sleepers were incredibly heavy - and tough to drill into as well. Needless to say, without my beloved offsider, I wouldn't have these progress photos to report.

Thanks my sweet!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

What colour are my scrambled eggs?

This was the most incredible breakfast we've had in a long time. We try to have bacon and eggs every Sunday, but this one just put all the rest to shame.

The difference is 95% is homemade!

The glorious yellow eggs came from our own bantams, with homegrown herbs (Coriander, Italian Parsley & garlic chives) added. All placed on top of homemade (sunflower and honey)bread.

The bacon was the only food on the plate that was 100% processed. We could tell too. While it tasted like yummy bacon, it had a kind of plastic texture - much like the scrambled eggs we had with store bought eggs previously. We can only tell the difference now we've tasted it.

I've heard people rave about growing your own before, but honestly, this meal was meant for kings!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pekin perch

Just a quick project for today! I've been meaning to get around to this very simple task, because the perch I had originally was only a fence paling on top of 2 bricks. Whenever it came to moving the tractor however, I'd have to reach in and remove all three items individually. A real pain in the back!

So here it is - a one piece perch! I told you it was quick. I made it out of some leftover 3x1's I had from making the A-frame tractor. They're attached via 100mm screws, put through both pieces from the top. This is my favourite part though:

Recognise the baby-blue colour of the brackets? Yep, I scavenged these from the cot to stabilise the join better. The chooks seem to love it too! Not too high for a Pekin - about 150mm.

Pity all my projects weren't so easily constructed.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Slope stability & beautification

I've got a bit of a throat infection at the moment, so work on the cot/coop project has stopped for now. Hopefully I'll be back onto it soon.

We've spent the past few days doing something the land dictated to us however. We have various slopes on our block of land and this particular patch was beckoning for a meandering footpath. The rocks were free and the established plants were bursting from their pots. Here are a few before photos.

Rocks collected,

Looking down the footpath, filling started.

Side profile of filled footpath.

Rocks in, looking down the footpath again.

Plants added: Bird nest fern and Day lily. Also an old basket of bulbs that like shady positions. I've planted some of the bulbs in the rock wall as well. Hope it works.

Different perspective, looking up the footpath this time.

Side profile and easily becoming my favourite part of the garden! The footpath is only half finished, so we have a bit to go. I love that I got to use my established plants that didn't cost me an arm and a leg to buy. This is the beauty of always having a few favourite plants that you keep in pots. These have already lived in two different houses, only to find their final resting place here. I hope they enjoy their new position in the garden as much as I love seeing them there!

My Day Lily flowered the next day too.

I may have an infected throat, but the joy our garden brings can make me feel so much better.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Recycled project 2

I did some more reconstruction today. It's all those fiddly little bits that require patience.

Here you can see the nesting shelf better. Not sure if I'll build a ladder or just let them fly up.

And with a fresh lick of paint! Of course it won't all be painted, but I had to cover over the hideous baby-blue the cot was previously. My daughter informed me she wanted a rainbow coloured chicken house, but as much as I'd like to make her happy - I've only got one colour can of paint!

Another days work I think, and it'll be ready to get some new wood attached to make the run.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Recycled project

My new project! Can you guess what it is?

We're not having another baby if that's what you're thinking. Although it could possibly nurture some babies in the future.

This is what I've done to the inside. Any guesses? Doesn't look much like a crib now does it, but hopefully my feathered friends will bed down in this section to lay some eggs.

I've taken the back off and intend removing the rest off this side too - hence the corner bracing. If you've guessed it's another poultry house, you'd be right! But it won't look anything like a cot once it's finished.

My mum got this cot for $5 at the tip, with my chickens in mind. Now I must admit, when she first brought it around I had no intention of using it. Too much fiddling around I thought. Well it's been sitting on my verandah for months now and I figured, why not?

I spent a whole day looking at it - taking measurements, etc, then I had to design where I'd fit the new wood for the run. It's been a wonderful exercise in recycling however. At first I was worried I wouldn't have enough screws, but as I began removing bits and pieces, I recovered 4 brackets and a heap of wood screws!! A lot of the retrofitting I've done has utilised what was already on the cot.

I've only had to add the plywood braces and another piece of wood you can't see in these photos.

What I love about this cot however, is the side folds down - so I have my egg collecting door already installed above the nesting shelf.

If you're still confused - wait and see - all will be revealed as it develops.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A day in the garden

Today was awesome! Dave was working for the past week, so we only recently had a chance to tackle some of our garden jobs before spring arrives. Above is one of those jobs we started but meant to finish. It involves pebble as mulch.

From the closest plant, we have Italian lavender - smells gorgeous! Then in the middle I planted some wormwood for my chookies, and lastly the Kumquat I planted about a week ago.

Same bed, different view - mostly to see the citrus we planted up the hill. There is three in this shot but hard to see in the distance. I still have to get around to finishing the stairs one day!

The other big project we had to finish was planting out our nature strip. As you can see it's on a slope, so did our bum muscles a world of good! Once these grow up, they'll attract birds and feed bees, as well as stabilise the slope more. It will also shield our house from the main street and serve as a wind break. Some of the winds we've been getting lately we'll need it too!

This is one of our natives up close. It's called, "Golden Diosma", and while the foliage is a lovely yellow-green, it also has a contrasting pink flower in spring! We planted a classic Honey-Gem Grevillea, a red Grevillea, some Lomandra grasses, Wattle and Mock Oranges as well - which aren't natives, but still have a lovely natural shape.

I hope they all do well. It was fun planting, digging, mulching and basically having a ball in the garden! It's what hubby and I enjoy doing the most. I can fall back into bed tonight, content that every aching muscle was worth it!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Online seeds arrived!

Bottle gourd, African marigold, Sunfola sunflower, Early Gem sweet-corn, Crystal Apple cucumber, Brandywine tomato and Black zucchini.Also in the front are moonflower seeds given to me by a lovely member from the Earth Garden Path. I am looking forward to planting these when the frosts ease.I can smell spring around the corner and there is so much yet to do! Happy gardening in your neck of the woods.

First ever...

E - G - G - !

I know I'm making a big fuss over something so small, but hey, WE GOT AN EGG!

Now we've had our 5 Pekin hens and 1 rooster for 3 months, it was such a thrill to finally find an egg in the nest! It's so white and cute. I put it in the fridge with the other large variety, I bought from the supermarket. It's probably about three-quarters the size of the store bought eggs, but not bad for a bantam hey!

Way to go girls - you've made me so proud!!! I'll have to go find you some more beetle larvae to eat.

Herb barrow

I had fun in my garden the other day. I tried to grow pumpkins and tomatoes in this wheelbarrow last season, but nothing did well. I dug it up recently to find beetle larvae eating the roots. Well they all came out and I gave the chooks a feast.

There was beautiful soil which I planted (front: left to right) Coriander, onion chives and parsley. In the middle, back, is mint and on either side are a few dwarf white agapanthus for something different.

They appear to be doing well at this stage, and I must say the beetle larvae feast had an effect all of it's own. But that's for another post!