Sunday, 30 September 2007

Mid-Spring Update

I write a monthly News post on my other blog. This post is cut and pasted from there.

Forest child.

The greenhouses are at the same stage as they were last month, I think! The plants are flourishing though, and I have the materials here to build more raised beds now. And mountains of mulch and manure too. Only a gardener knows the thrill of having an abundance of manure to play with! We are eating food from the garden - bok choy, salad greens and herbs mostly. It’s so lovely to rush out and pick them fresh at tea time!

There are two fruit on one baby nectarine tree. They’ve only been in the ground a few months, so I was rapt to see them blossom at the start of spring and fruit is just a bonus! I wasn’t expecting any fruit for a year or three…

Our hens we raised from chicks are now laying. The bantam hatched just one of her three eggs - the cutest little white chick! We bought her four more hybrid chicks which she happily adopted and is mothering beautifully. Bantams are such natural mothers. We also bought another four chicks on a whim at the feed store. They’re not even sexed and of unknown breed, so it’ll be interesting to see how they grow. They’re five weeks old now and doing well on their own with the flock. They don’t venture far and stick together, which is a good idea around here. We were just given three new hens by friends when we went to collect a spare rooster from them. We’re still waiting for the rooster whom no one could find. The reason we’re getting a new rooster is that early last month something (feral dogs, dingoes?) took our frizzy bantam rooster, our red rooster and one of our hybrid hens. We were so sad to lose three birds in one night. The next day we lost a frizzy bantam who was egg-bound. More sadness - farming isn’t easy on the heart! Our friends gave us a replacement rooster who settled in nicely. He was becoming quite tame and was wonderfully protective of the girls (hens). He didn’t sleep in the pen, though, preferring to roost in a nearby tree. We missed his crow one morning, and found a few tail feathers in the middle of the house paddock later that day. We presume he met the same fate as the three birds who disappeared a few weeks ago. Let’s hope our newest rooster (when we get him) will choose the safety of being locked up at night.

Mrs Blackie and her little white chick.

The horses are still skinny (especially the mare, Amber), even after unlimited grazing and supplementary feed and minerals every day. I hope that they pick up condition soon, though with such old horses it’s a common problem that they suffer during the cold and are slow to gain weight, are prone to scour etc. I’ll keep trying various remedies and keeping a close eye on them, though. They’re teaching me a lot about horses in the very least! I’m currently looking for a younger horse whom I can ride, whilst nurturing these two as best I can.

Amber our retired old horse

We have had two male peacocks walking about the horse feeding area, drinking from the trough and checking out the chook pen. They look beautiful but have an awful call and are renowned for making an awful mess of mulched areas. I’ve no idea where they came from, they just walked out of the forest and made themselves at home. They retreat to the forest each evening. Scrub turkeys are our other visiting big birds. They like to finish off the horse feed as well, and wander about looking for scraps to eat. I hope we don’t get too many, as they also make a mess of the gardens and eat eggs from chickens if they can.

We’ve had a lot of earthworks happening here, which is why the greenhouse-building has been on the back-burner again. A lot of cyclone debris has been cleared away now, as well as lantana, rampant mock ginger and other messes. Roads have been cleared and a pad has been cut into the hillside for a new shed. The big new water tank is in place and connected to the system which gravity feeds the house. It has made a difference to the water pressure and more than doubled our storage.

Some areas are looking very bare after the debris was scraped away. I’m waiting on some mulch delivery (more mulch!) and when the rain comes I’ll start planting some more trees - a mixture of natives, bushtucker and fruit trees. Carting water to trees is tiring work which I’d rather avoid.

The red tractor.

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