Sunday, 24 February 2013

Hippy Chick and Happy Chicks

  I Love this picture!!  It screams:  "A Hippy Chick Lives Here!".  It was completely and totally unintentional - having washed my tie-dyed table cloth from India, and $1 pants I picked up at a garage sale, at the same time.  I loved the colours side by side and had to run for the camera.  

Recently weeded under the wash line and barked  for easy-care.
What a World!  Russian meteorites, India protests violence against women and now South Africa in the lime-light!  Violence against women - the stats are shocking!!  Estimated that although there are 154 rapes reported EVERY DAY, figures are thought to be closer to 3600!  PER DAY!  Not per year!  How can that ever be??  We have got to stand united against this violence against women!  Vote online and add your voice.  I suspect it is a world-wide phenomena.   Politicians need to address this urgently.  Avaaz is an online support network - the Voice of the People.  This kind of violence is unsustainable!  Time flies by at a rate of knots, it has taken me more than a week to get back to this piece of writing and so much has happened since I started!  

On a much more peaceful note, we have helpers staying, Brittany and Michael, from the States.  What bliss to return home to work done that would have taken 4-5 hours, and yet you didn't have to do it yourself!  I figure out that by hosting travellers, you simply do more of what you would normally do - I have to feed my family every night, so I just add a few more ingredients to feed a couple of hungry travellers too.  In return, I have had wood chopped and stacked (rotting sleepers and slabs which we had always meant to do something with but never got around to), areas weeded and mulched, compost turned, pathways landscaped and produce harvested and preserved.  They are happy to stay another week and so are we!  They are great company and have learned to both play ukulele in the shortest time ever!  They bought themselves a little yellow uke, a travel companion to entertain themselves and others who would care to listen!

Lavender is harvested.  This time I have had help - it is quite a time consuming job to remove all the little flower florets but is quite a heady-scented experience.  Calming.  Meditative, but hard on the fingers too!  As a sachet, lavender makes great drawer scenters, filling the contents with the sweet scent of the Mediterannean and keeping moths and roaches at bay.  They can also be tucked under a pillow at night, the aroma wafting into the olfactories as you turn throughout the night.  Sweet dreams!

Lavender cut and heads shredded for smelling bags.

Harvests in the garden are beginning to get larger and larger as we reach our mid-summer surplus!  Luckily for us, there are extra mouths to feed, so not much needing to be preserved, though I did make 3 more bottles of Dill pickles this weekend, as well as freezing 3 small bags of green beans.  Some bags of frozen plums and nectarines were combined into a mixed fruit jam - 9 bottles to tide us over the winter months - a taste reminiscent of summer.

Crinkle-top heritage tomatoes, radishes, beans, cucumbers and zucchini

Cucumbers, prunes, pears and zucchs.

Blue Lake runner beans and Yard Long Beans

More of the same produce...

And then some... night after night...
What to do with all these long veggies???  Made a sort of mousaka, without eggplant but with layered slices of zucchs, fresh basil, tomato sauce, sea salt and pine nuts. Slow- Baked on a low heat (150degC).  Very delish!  In fact, I have made it a couple of times as it used up so much of the zucchini.

And to top up  the nutrients in the compost bin, we managed to harvest lots and lots of sea-weed and sea-grass from our low-tide harbour last weekend.  Some went experimentally around certain cucurbits - so far, no sign of burn or salt overload, so maybe that was an experiment to repeat.  The rest went straight into the compost bin.
Sea-grass and sea-weed 
I have 2 rogue tomatoes that sprung up in my root bed, and I thought about pulling them out but left them and they thrived.  They are so full of tomatoes that their stakes could no longer hold them upright and so I have used our two ornamental garden forks as extra support.  Seems to be working.

The prune tree with bird netting protection - onion and produce bags re-used to good effect.

On the Chicken Front:

Sometimes we need to make less pleasant decisions and we had to come to the conclusion that as endearing as our little bantams were, they were too noisey for an urban backyard.  The solution came from a kindergarten mum - upon hearing my dilemma, she came up with the solution - she had a mother chook, with 8 babies, whom she had to separate from the rest of her flock, since they were prone to pecking the little ones.  Fearing for their safety, she suggested we swap chickens - ours for hers.  That way, Miss Molly (as the mum is named) will be safely away from the peckers, and her babes will be safe in our little chook tractor.  Once they get bigger and one can safely tell what sex they are, we get to keep two of the offspring girls and she will take Miss Molly and the remaining 6 back.  Liz and Spenny would get to be free-rangers on the farm! 

There was not much time to say good-bye to Liz and Spenny (Spence) since the swap took place that very afternoon!  All sadness was quickly shelved when we saw how cute Miss Molly and her chicks were, much oohin and aaahing ensued.   

On the first night I had gone outside with my headlamp, to check on our clutch, only to discover that they had not travelled up the make-shift ladder we hastily assembled for them that afternoon, to reach the sleeping quarters.  Spying dew on the grass, I was concerned the little ones may get sick, so in the dark, I groped around the shed and found a shallow box which I filled with shredded paper.  Miss Molly could not be persuaded to hop into the box, so I called my daughter and she helped me do a mid-night rescue mission - grabbing one chick at a time and popping them into the sleeping quarters, with Miss Molly shrieking with outrage, till we managed to capture her and re-unite her with her little bundles of fluff.  With hearts racing, we stood for a moment and listened to her little contented cluckings as she settled down inside the sleeping quarters.  Phewf!  Mission Accomplished!  Happy Chicks.
Miss Molly

Little Chicks
The story doesn't quite end there.  The past week has been a bit of a drama, with Shayni and I having to catch the poor traumatised hen and chicks each night for 3 nights, and just as I said, "I don't think I can be bothered to do this every night!", mother and chicks learned how to get themselves up to the sleeping mezzanine!  My Kindergarten mum sadly informed me that poor Liz had been ostracized by the others and pecked on!  So we decided to bring her back to put with Miss Molly but no sooner had poor little Liz been put into the chook tractor, when Miss Molly flew at her in a rage and attacked her.  So it was decided that she would be taken back and reunited with her sister Spenny who had happily been accepted by the others, and they would be isolated till Liz was okay to re-introduce to another flock of chooks further down the road.  So holding thumbs, the new flock will accept both character-filled Liz and screechy Spenny this time round.  Said kindy mum did say in parting - "Gee, they really are very noisey little chooks!"  And she lives on a few acres!!  I hope all ends well ......

Gorgeous Sunflower
With the extra help in the garden, I was able to take a deep breath and look around our little piece of paradise and marvel at Nature in all her glory!  The flowers, the fruits and veggies, the creatures: bees, bumblebees, praying mantises, butterflies..... A little piece of Paradise!

New shade hibuscus:  Flame

Pink Hibiscus

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