Lies People Tell About Chickens, and the Joy of Good Friends

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Hello Bloggy friends!

 

I hope you are well and hearty 😀

 

Today something delicious happened to me. Yes, delicious.  I have to tell you!

 

But first, do you recall back in January, the very dear Heidi ( alias: Super Secret Agent Chicken Little), surprised the BB household with four chickens?

Chickens generate an enormous amount of fun.  Chickens make great pets (here’s Bloss having a ball with them..)

 

 

They are relaxing to watch, they keep down weeds in the lawn, they eat your left over veggie scraps and if all that weren’t enough for you, they also lay eggs.

But friends, there is a dark side to chicken ownership.  At least, there is if you believe every thing you read  about the purported benefits of chickens.  I have read times without number that chickens will keep down pests in your garden. That they will help fulfil your permaculture dreams. (Yes, I can hear everyone who has ever owned chickens, snickering.) And I am going to expose that claim for what it is: chicken propaganda.

Let me tell you the truth.

 

Chickens, those dear, sweet, relaxing-to-watch creatures, will wait until you are out, and they will EAT your garden.  They will DIG in your garden. They will DESTROY your garden.

Yessssirrreee.

Those sneaky girls will betray you.  If they survive that, they will openly defy you, and right under  your very nose,  will waltz up to your lettuce and eat it clean up.  Just. like. that.

And if that isn’t insult enough, they will abscond to your neighbour’s yard, the neighbours who haven’t given you a moments grief in all the years you’ve been neighbours, and decimate their pride and joy flower garden.  It will happen.  You can take it to the bank.

So, what’s a chicken owner to do?  WELL.  Cue the joy of having The Best Friends in the Whole World.  And I do.  And two of them came over today, and, in an act of something between mercy and insanity, they undertook to fence my chickens in.

 

 

With the help of five members of the BB household, I’m sure you can imagine what a task it was to achieve.  As a bit of a hint… we are so accustomed to doing useful jobs such as fencing, that three of our number were wearing ankle length skirts. (Yes. We have never put up fences before. You live and learn!)

 

Not only did my very dear friends fence in my chickens and in many other ways improve my yard, but they came bearing gifts.. There were little butterfly cupcakes baked fresh this morning, and enough cut jasmine that every room in my house is perfumed.

 

I may have mentioned once or twice before, but it bears saying again…

 

I have the best friends in the world! ♥

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Bounty!

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Hello, Bloggy friends!

My garden grew. 😀

Here is December 5th, 2011.

Here is January 1st, 2012.

This week, we have been eating our corn.  We couldn’t help all feeling a little surprised that we planted corn, and … well, that it worked. 😀

Some of the other things, (see those lush looking Chinese cabbages?) didn’t work so well.  They grew, of course, but (shhh… it was very un-homeschooler-ish of me not to research properly!) it was the wrong time of year for them.  Being far too wet and hot, they looked scrumptious on the outside, but were rotting on the inside.  Completely unlovely of them. I’ve gone right off Chinese cabbages.

I was mildly concerned about my gardening.  Once, I thought I wanted to be a farmer.  Then I spent quite a bit of time on a farm.  😉

Would the idea of growing my produce be more appealing than the reality?  I have been known to get a lot more excited about the planning of something than the eventuality.

The garden has, despite my inexperience resulting in a few disasters, been a deeply satisfying, somewhat addictive project.  Today the Chicklette and I have discussed what to pull up and discard (capsicums are very prone to pests.  Currently we are growing them only to feed the bugs!) and what we should plant instead.

We’re thinking a LOT of snow peas: everyone adores to eat them straight from the bush. And sliverbeet. And pumpkin.  Have you tried homegrown pumpkin?  It is not only enormously flavoursome, but easy to cut.

But of course this time we will check that those things are in season to grow, and not assume that just because the nursery is selling seedlings, it must the right time for them.

Bloggy friends, if you don’t have a veggie garden, you should experiment.  There are many things you can grow in pots if you want to start small. It’s fun. Honest!  You should try. 😀

No Dig Garden

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Hello Sweetest Bloggy friends in the world!

I hope everyone is surviving end of year activities?

Yesterday I received notice that a certain visitor has found, and I quote, ” just the same tired looking Scotsmen…” each time she checks in.  (When did my blogging audience get so saucy?!?)

So here it is, the post I threatened you with .. oh.. ages ago, on my gardening experiments, with an update on other happenings.

As we are built on rock with just a lick of topsoil, we opted to try a no-dig garden.  It is a lasagne of hay and manure, with topsoil or compost as the final layer.  And because I like to do things just so, (the “so” part being exactly how the instructions read!) what actually happened in my yard caused me just a little concern.

Mr BB did the blokey construction part, so I can’t tell you too much about that.  It’s railway sleepers stuck together man style – lots of bolts and pieces of metal and such. Very sturdy.  Cyclone proof, I don’t doubt. Because while I like to do things just so, Mr BB likes to do things thoroughly.  😛

A thick layer of newspaper goes down first to suppress the weeds.  We didn’t have nearly enough newspapers, so cardboard was the next option.  It needs to overlap so there are no gaps for pesky weeds to sneak though.

Each layer must to be watered before the next is applied.  Of course, if you have very young helpers, you need to make it abundantly clear that they have to wait for their siblings to complete the layer and exit the garden before the watering starts.  I forgot to make that clear to Blossy.

Here is where my garden deviates from the recipe.  Instead of having layers of hay and manure, mine was a jumbled mixture.  The farmer offered to bring in loads of old hay and manure mixed together.  Old is good.  And I have to tell myself that it would eventually have mixed anyway. I guess. .. .. (It would, wouldn’t it?)

There are no pics of that stage – it was all shovelling from the ute by flood lights, in the dark and rain, and it was no time for photos!

Mrs Fivepeas generously shared some of her heritage seeds with us, the farmers shared seed with us, and we browsed the local nursery.  If you are thinking of gardening, check out the  heritage seed site  – too, too much to choose from!

Hopefully in a few months I will be sharing fresh produce and homemade pesto with my sweet friends who have so generously shared their bounty with me this year!

On other happenings..

Remember the Chicklette’s list?

We’ve been canoeing with friends. We’ve baked pecan pie.  We’ve been to a ball, and there is another coming up just after Christmas.

I’m ticking off the veggie garden, and the next few weeks will see the BB household hit the tents for a camping escape.
Um.. yay?
There’s nothing like camping in the wet season.  Not that it will be a shock, considering, because just about every camping adventure has been wet, wet, wet!  (Still grateful to my dear friend for giving us a meal and a dry reprieve during our 10 day-camp-through-a-cyclone holiday at the rock pools…)
Think of me friends, when you are dry, air-conditioned, and ..dry. 😛
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Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas!
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Farming, for the Faint Hearted

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Have I mentioned we live in the city?  Our house is surrounded by established gardens, and by midday is completely shaded.  It’s delightful, but not helpful for budding gardeners who aspire to vegetable patch ownership.

For some time now, we have enjoyed fresh produce from our farming friends.  There’s something exciting about selecting your dinner from the garden, and checking for lady beetles before eating!  What’s even more fun, is when the farmers can be induced to let us play in their dirt. 😀

We’ve long been fascinated with the variety, the sheer weirdness, of seed selection from heritage seed companies.  It’s worth browsing even if  you have no room for a vegetable patch.  We bought several varieties of obscure-sounding goodies, and showed our un-farmer-ish-ness by purchasing something that it is already too hot to plant.  (Ah! We are novices. 🙂 )

Right along with our new experiences of creating a row, and spacing and planting seeds, and watering, we were able to share a new experience with the farmer. Every parent will know what I’m speaking of: that phenomenon of having a lot of little helpers, which somehow makes a job longer and more complex than when you work alone!

We’ve also been watching the progress of several of the farmer’s vegetables.  We didn’t recognise the lettuce when it went to seed, and none of us could guess the identity of a sweet potato plant when we were first introduced to one.

Each week we check on the corn…

This week, we thrilled to see the first little radishes peep through!  Hooray!

Why are we extra excited about the radishes, you ask?  Well!  😀

Have you tried radish chips?  Even the little souls at our house who endure radishes gobbled these up.  They are that good.  So extra delishy scrumptious!

Radish Chips

 

Slice those little balls of fire into thin chips.

Toss around in olive oil.

 

Spread on a baking paper covered tray, and grind a little salt over. Or not.  (But I like to live dangerously 😛 )

 

I used the fan grill function of my oven, and left them for 15 mins.  In a normal hot oven they may take a little longer.

 

And that’s it.  They actually taste nothing like radishes, and it’s hard to say exactly what they do taste like, but friends, if you have radishes available to you, this is a must try.  Seriously.

Stay tuned…  I’m sure I won’t be able to resist showing you the chocolate capsicums, or the rainbow silverbeet, or the purple carrots, or …. (you really should browse the seed site.  It’s fun 😛 )

Thanks for visiting, bloggy friends!