Friday, September 23, 2011

Finding More Growing Space

I've been inspired after reading a gardening book I bought.

Problem is I read the entire thing in one sitting and it left me wanting more. And it was one of those books where I should have had a pen and paper on hand to jot down ideas that occurred to me as I read through it.

I got some ideas about how to utilise the space in my garden more. The book is geared towards balcony gardeners and those with little spaces. I'm lucky 'cos we've got a whopper of a backyard compared to others in our area. But I still long for more space at times. I really would like to grow asparagus but I don't think I have a spot I could dedicate to them. Until the kids get too old for the trampoline that is. I've already got plans for the trampoline spot.

So, some of the things that occurred to me...
•  Plant some beans in two pots at the base of this arbor. Can you see the arbor? It's actually just two big branches from a tree that died out the front. It's been stuck into the ground for a couple of years now looking bare and not really living up to the visions I initially had, I've tried in vain to grow clematis up the trunks but they've died. Now I'm thinking if I put some pots at the base I could grow something edible like beans. Worth a try.

 •  Make better use of the chook run. They have a prime spot along the back fence which is in full sun. But they've scratched it bare and if I planted anything there I know they'd gobble it up in a second. So I decided to make a little shady tunnel for them under this old table and pop a bunch of growing things in pots on top. I'm thinking I can train pumpkins or cucumbers all over the place and make an even bigger, shadier tunnel for them come summer. And I'll fill the table top with pots of herbs and tiny tumbling tomatoes and other edible things. Luckily, silkies can't fly or jump very high so the potted garden should be safe from them. It doesn't look like much at the moment, but you wait til summer.

 • Find more things to use as pots. This wastepaper basket was destined for the op shop but I think it'll be good in the garden. I was reading this morning that Liz from Suburban Tomato is also looking into using different things for pots at the moment.

• Make use of the space under the slide. Wasted space behind the broad bean patch that was completely overgrown with weeds (still a few to go) and seemed to house enormous numbers of snails. Tricky thing is, over summer this spot is shaded by the Japanese maple. I don't think it gets much sun at all and I'm not sure what I'll be able to grow there. Any suggestions? For the time being I decided to clear it out a bit and make this little seat to sit on and have a cup of tea while contemplating.

I got lots of other ideas that I wrote down after a second flick through the book and they're waiting for another day.

Meanwhile for a rooster update... as I was re-jigging bits at the back fence my neighbour popped his head over. Not Mr.P but the one with the yappy dog on the other side. In a lowered voice he asked if the sound of those bloody roosters was driving me mad. I assured him that it was, but confessed that I was guilty of giving Mr. P those roosters. Anyway, upshot is that Monkey Man has decided to have a quiet word with Mr. P and suggest that something needs to be done. Monkey Man has known Mr P for many years and gets along well with him. And he's not a big wuss like me.

I'm not sure if "wuss" is in the venacular in countries other than Australia. Translation = gutless, coward, chicken, scaredy cat.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Cock-a-doodle-ooing All Day Long

Before I embarked on the crazy journey of hatching our chooks from fertile eggs last year, I did think about the roosters we were bound to get.  And I had a chat with Mr. P our neighbour. Mr P. has a couple of goats and lots of veggies and he is the font of all garden wisdom being an old timer from Italy. Anyway, he was keen to take any roosters we hatched. He has family with a farm. He also had a rooster wandering about his place. Which is against the rules but I wasn't about to get all rule-obsessed when my dreams for egg-hatching were being realised.

Anyway, lucky for us we only managed two roosters amongst the whole lot and when I was pretty sure they were roosters, I handed them over and tried not to look back. I wasn't entirely sure that Mr. P wouldn't cook them up in a silkie stew. But he didn't. And he didn't send them to his family on the farm either. He has kept them wandering about on his block. And I know this because they crow all bloody day long. This morning at 5.56am I heard their morning call. Which was kinda nice. That's the sort of noise we ought to wake up to in the mornings I reckon. And it makes a pleasant intermission from the sounds of trucks that start thundering past our window at 6am every morning.

Trouble is those roosters don't stop crowing. I hear them over breakfast and over lunch. Whenever I step foot in the backyard I hear them. It's not that the noise is annoying. No. Annoying is a yapping little dog that's been locked out of the house on the other side of the fence. That's a sound that sets my teeth grinding. No, it's not annoyance, it's shamefaced guilt.

I am responsible for those roosters and I suspect they're unhappy. There are too many of them. Surely you should keep only one rooster? I wonder whether he has kept true to his word and found wives for those roosters or if they're all just frustratedly crowing out for some hanky panky with the chooks a few chook hop, step, squawks away at my place. Their crowing brings back uncomfortable memories of my schoolgirlhood. I had the misfortune of attending a Catholic girls' school. There were Catholic boys too but they were fenced off in their own part of the school. And every now and again we would be subjected to the long walk from our school to their school past their classroom windows on the way to chapel. And did those gangs of boys act like a bunch of frustrated roosters. They'd crow and hang out the window and shout obscenities as we tripped past all red-faced and giggly.

Oh I know it's not right to coop boys up together.

But being the gutless veggiegobber I am, I haven't broached the subject with Mr.P. I feel guilty enough as it is. What if his farm-family didn't want the roosters and the constant crowing is starting to grate on his nerves. What if he decides that the best option is to cook them up?

No, I have reverted back to my schoolgirl ways, putting my head down and pretending not to hear them.  Certainly I won't be asking any questions when I bump into Mr P. tending his spring crops in the front yard in the near future.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Flu & a Spring Garden Wander

All the monkeys in my house are dropping like flies with a particularly bad strain of the flu this week.  It's roaring fevers and sniffing and lolling about on the couch watching endless ABC TV for everyone. Except me. I'm running about being Martyr Mum - do you want tissues with that? More water? Fluff your pillow? Panadol? A dry biscuit? One of those re-hydrating icy poles? In between running about after all the Monkeys I'm furiously washing my hands with those disinfectant hand washes and averting my face from sneeze sprays directed my way. I refuse to drop with the flu - I've got too much work that can't be cancelled. Parents have been invited to all of my drama classes to participate with their kids this week. And I've only just managed to clean up from the plastering chaos of last week. No painting has been started as yet of course. We are just too bloody busy. I think it is always this way at this time of year for me. Bring on the holidays.

But because of my duty to you dear blog readers, I forced myself to slow down, take a deep breath and wander through the garden. And I'm feeling the better for it. This morning we got a bit of rain which was good because everything was super dry. I really must hook up a drip irrigation system to the tanks this year. I do enjoy standing about giving the garden a water but our tank doesn't have a pump so it is slow. And this summer I'll have three extra veggie patches to water. So, I'll take you with me on my little spring garden tour.

Lots of flowers and colour.

Lovely tall broad bean stalks.
Broccoli still producing and some other brassicas with big leaves and nothing yet edible ... and I can't  remember what they are.
 Celery safe for now from those cheeky chooks.
  Potatoes popping up the top of their bin.
 Leeks and garlic going strong.
Silverbeet - the ever faithful and used daily along with perpetual spinach. And a sick-looking passionfruit vine in the background.
And lastly lots of herbs have all sprung back to life.

Happy sigh.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Taste of Plaster Dust and the Weeny Egg... Again

Well I had to write apologetic emails to four journalists! Backyard chooks, the beginning of spring and cute pictures of weeny eggs are apparently just want the local media want to write stories about. But as you all now know I'm the shy, retiring type. And I'm content to keep my fame limited to my own blog. I'm rather embarrassed about it all actually.

So I decided to crack open that weeny egg and move on. It was a major disappointment. Nothing but white stuff. I was hoping for a perfectly formed weeny egg yolk that I could fry up and artfully place on a giant slice of toast before photographing and blogging it. But nope. Looked a lot like someone had snotted into the pan actually. So I decided to do without a photo. There have been too many mucusy hankies about our place lately so I couldn't bring myself to eat it either.

Golden Girl has continued in her broody way and remains cosy in her nesting box. She's so far missing out on the spring sunshine. My other chooks however are having a grand ole time escaping from their run to eat my veggies. Despite having free reign of the entire back end of the garden including under the trampoline they've managed to eat every skerrick of grass and understandably the veggie patches look much more interesting than their side of the fence. So I really should put some time into outdoor security but I've been completely preoccupied with indoor matters.

The plasterer finished on Friday and left a layer of plaster dust over every single surface of the house. There's dust in the sugar and in the pillows and on the plates and the taste of dust will not leave my tongue. I've been working myself ragged trying to clean everything and have turned into the crankiest mother around. But I'm almost done. Which is a relief because I organised a dinner party at my place tomorrow night and have nine women hoping to consume a dust free meal.

I've given up on plans to paint everything straight away. Choosing paint colours was doing my head in.

In fact this week everything was doing my head in. I had a bit of a melt down with the stress of it all. Things that normally don't bother me did. It felt like I was screaming and sooking every couple of hours or so. And because I was exhausted and there was dust everywhere and our pantry contents were emptied onto the lounge room floor and the pantry itself was plonked in the middle of the kitchen surrounded by plastic and big globs of errant plaster, we ate more take-away food than I remember ever eating. Which probably wasn't helping my mood.

But it's over now. So I'll move on.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Think Before you Write

Well I was so excited about my weeny egg that I wrote my blog post and then fired off an email to the local paper straight away. Still high on my discovery and laughing at how funny it all was. And then I unexpectedly got a message back from the local paper saying that they were interested in the story. So of course I started to get anxious.

I don't actually want to be in my local paper holding up a little egg and proclaiming it to be very, very small. I've read the letters-to-the-editor in the local papers and I know the crackpots that are out there.  Some of them are nasty. And not too bright. And I may too appear to local paper readers as being not too bright with my fuzzy, ornamental chooks and bragging about my teeny, tiny egg.  Now I'm not averse to appearing in the local news - I've done it many times before actually. 'Cos I've been involved in a few campaigns including one at the moment to re-open our local high school. I've even written cranky letters-to-the-editor. But who knows what a fool I would appear with my little egg. It's all very well to look a bit scatty in a blog but I don't want to walk to my local shops and be pointed out as the scatty, self-promoting, weeny egg lady.

So I wrote an apologetic email back to the journalist.

And am contemplating attempting to cook up the egg for the kids' amusement.

The Teeniest Chook Egg Ever Laid in the Southern Hemisphere

This morning I went to collect my eggs as usual and look what I found! The teeniest tiniest egg ever. It is 2.5cm long and weighs 6g.

Now people warned me when I was considering getting silkies that they laid small eggs and I was a bit concerned that their eggs would be too small for my needs but they're not. They're generally cute sized 4cm long and 36g in weight. Their size depends on who is doing the laying. Either Puff or Fluff (can't tell them apart) lays whoppers - for a silkie. Indie is the smallest of the chooks and she lays smaller eggs. 

Now the egg is brown so I know it wasn't Puff or Fluff the white silkies. Golden Girl has been broody - again. So maybe it was her. She was down in the run squawking about with the others this morning which is a good sign. Perhaps she was boasting about her pebble egg. She's always prided herself on being a bit different from the others. Being Golden and bearded and all.

I immediately googled about for information on teeny chook eggs and apparently the smallest egg listed in the Guiness Book of Records is 2.7cm long. There is however some other fella from the US who just made the news last month with a 2.1cm egg from a normal sized chook. But I'm still pretty excited about this egg. I'm thinking that I might email my local papers who always seem to be interested in fluff news items. I could get famous with this egg and do some promoting for backyard chooks and sustainable gardening in the process. 

Hmm. Do I want to get famous for producing the teeniest chook egg in the southern hemisphere? I was once hoping my singing career would bring me fame. But I've given up on that one. Yep, I'm willing to lower my ambitions. 
Golden Girl are you responsible?

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