Apologies for my bloggy absence. Things have been a bit chaotic around here of late…
I bought another fruit tree. And it’s the last fruit tree that people would have expected. It’s a feijoa tree. Oh, we love feijoas for sure, but have you seen our giant feijoa tree and its carpeting capabilities?
And have you seen the feijoa stumps that The Husband still hasn’t got the last of out from under the fence?
The Husband thinks I’m insane. But, here’s why I bought a feijoa tree. Now that the old woodshed has been demolished, there’s a little too much space between the apple tree and pear tree and I decided we could do with some evergreen screening from the wind and to give more shelter in the winter when the apple and pear go bare. I wanted something edible and I was deciding between olives and feijoas. I already have three olive trees to plant along the Vege Garden fence, so, noting that our big feijoa tree is quite an early variety, commencing fruit fall in mid March, I decided that we could have a late variety. I bought a Golden Goose, which fruits in May-June and is supposed to have large, tasty fruit. Hopefully we’re not dead sick of feijoas by then. I plan to keep it small. Small-ish. Maybe I am insane. Or maybe I’m helping fill a fruit time slot that currently only has citrus in it.
Then I bought something else. A grapevine. I have been wanting a decent grape variety for ages but had to find the right spot for one. Grapes are a long-term plant that need proper support and training to be fully productive. There were a few grapevines around here, growing in awkward places, but they’ve all been seedy and just not very tasty. I bought a Candice, which is a red seedless grape. It is going to go along the west fence between the washing line and the currently-imaginary-but-will-one-day-be-real woodrack #3. First I need The Husband to finish chainsawing out as much as he can of the rest of the feijoa stumps under the fence. There’s a reason he’s got a strained relationship with feijoas right now. He just needs to have some positive experiences with them. What’s something super tasty that I can make with feijoas?
I seem to be having a second wind of fruit tree acquisition. When we moved in here we were in awe of the 12+ fruit trees, as you don’t get anything like that on a small town section. After three years, as we’ve hacked, slashed, demolished and moved things around, spaces have become available and I am keen to fill them with more fruit trees or bushes, because you really do need a lot of fruit trees if you want to have more than one kind of fruit throughout the year and have plenty to preserve. Next on my radar is blueberry bushes. And getting all the landscaping and tidying done so that these things can actually be planted.
In the last few weeks, things have been chaos around here. Work on the Demo Project slowed to a crawl as much of my days started being taken up with harvesting and preserving fruit and veges. Here’s what I’ve done:
- Froze capsicums (yellow, purple and green)
- Froze beans (purple and green)
- Dehydrated more paprika capsicums
- Dehydrated more cayenne chillies
- Ground the capsicums and chillies into paprika and chili powder
- Dehydrated more figs
- Dehydrated more bananas
- Kept up a steady supply of kombucha (plain, lemon & ginger and fig)
- Made more fig chutney
- Froze whole figs
- Shelled more dried beans
- Harvested and hung more herbs for drying
- Harvested lots of other produce
On top of that, we’ve had sickness and many nights of interrupted sleep to deal with, and, of course, trouble in chicken paradise. Trouble with the two young roosters. Mr Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam were getting a long so well, until, without warning, they weren’t. It is no longer mates before dates. I found them fighting one day, with bloodied combs and wattles, panting with tiredness and chasing each other in slow motion because neither of them would back down. Lorelai was even trying to break them up. Either Mr Darcy had decided that he did not want to be second fiddle or Colonel Fitzwilliam decided that he did not want a threat around. They both wanted the crown.
They both went into cages and had their wounds treated. I tried having each of them in a small enclosure within the pen at different times, but they still fought through the fence. It was like watching synchronised swimmers bobbing up and down. Except there was no water. And they’re chickens. I tried having them both out and poking them with a long stick if they moved towards each other or breaking them up. They respected my dominance but they still went off and fought away from me and got bloody faces again. The problem is, they’re too evenly matched. If one of them was obviously more submissive they could probably sort it out. But no. One of them is now in the big cage in the garage. And I have to make a choice. I don’t want to end up with a seriously injured or dead rooster. In this mindset, they are capable of killing each other.
I knew I wouldn’t be keeping them both in the long term, being from the same genetic source. Colonel Fitzwilliam was my back-up roo. But they are both very nice-natured so far (just not to each other). They are both looking good too. Mr Darcy was always my favourite, because he had the best personality and a handsome face. But Fitzie is just as nice now. Mr Darcy has a few tiny feather stubs coming through on one leg. Those jolly feathers are a serious defect in a non-feather-footed breed. I was at the point of coming to terms with getting rid of Mr Darcy, who was in the big cage. And I was not happy about it. Then I decided to let him have a turn out with the hens while Colonel Fitzwilliam was caged so I could better look at his confirmation and his interactions with the hens.
Now my mind has swung the other way. I think Mr Darcy has better overall type (body shape), which is the most important consideration in a breeding/showing bird. He has a beautiful green sheen too, that I just can’t get over. Choosing Mr Darcy means 50% of his offspring might have some amount of leg feathering. In this case, that is a sacrifice I’m willing to deal with in order to get better confirmation overall. It is also about personality. While they are both nice, Colonel Fitzwilliam was persistent in initiating attacks on Mr Darcy while Mr Darcy was in the enclosure within the pen. When I switched them around so Mr Darcy had all the space, the same was not the case. Colonel Fitzwilliam was the main aggressor. Mr Darcy is also more calm around the hens and seems to be able to control them in a nicer way. And so, I think I’ve made my decision. This is the first time I’ve really had to make a decision based on breed confirmation, so It’s all a learning experience.
Meanwhile, the new coop is actually up and mostly painted and the chickens have moved in! More on the Demo Project to come soon. In the meantime, enjoy a few photos of hot air balloons from our local annual hot air balloon festival.