I did something I wasn’t supposed to. I made another pile. Another pruning mountain. And we haven’t even finished dealing with the last Pruning Mountain, an ongoing feature of our backyard. Or the grapefruit pruning mountain… And if you’d like to know about our other piles too, there’s the demolition pile in the chicken pen, the pile of wood-to-be-cut-and-other-demolition-things in the back carport, the stone pile by the front carport, the paving pile by the front door, the dirt pile in the chicken pen that has become more of a mound as it gets walked on, and probably others I’ve ‘temporarily’ forgotten about.

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Yup, there’s a new pile on the block.
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It’s a bit of a big pile, even though I stacked it nicely; currently bigger than the infamous Pruning Mountain up the back.

But let me explain. I had to do it! If I learnt anything from last year it’s that you have to make pruning a priority when you get a few non-rainy days in a row. We had so much rain last autumn, winter and spring that some trees didn’t get pruned last year, or didn’t get pruned enough. Now, when the forecast says there are three non-rainy days in a row I have to try and get some pruning done on the first day. So that’s what I did. I pruned the fig tree.

If you know my pruning endeavours, you’ll know I’m not afraid to chop a lot off a tree. Kind of like my barbie’s hair when I was little, although for some reason that didn’t grow back. The fig tree produces most of its fruit on young growth at the ends of the branches. Because it is rather vigorous and flexible, not keeping the branches under control by shortening them results in huge floppy limbs with fruit getting further and further out each year. And up. I couldn’t reach some of the fruit this year, so I wanted to take some height off the tree too. And then there were a bunch of branches wildly lolloping over the neighbours’ paddock, so I really just cut off a lot to tame the tree. Like, half the tree. Or more. It will be fine! And we did move all the prunings around to the back. Hopefully they will get cut up soon.

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When I had finished it was hard to tell the fig tree from the prunings.
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The fig tree is more of a manageable size now. We just need to get rid of that ivy. Dargh.

There is still ivy growing around the trunk, the ground and far up into the camellia tree next to the fig, so we need to get that under control. Once I can see the fig tree’s trunk I will really be able to get the fig tree into a good shape and there are some suckers that need to be removed as well. But, for now, it is done. I have other things to prune in the next sunny/cloudy/non-rainy patch.

The feijoa tree. I have been procrastinating this. As usual. It needs a BIG haircut to reduce the overachieving fruit load and increase light to the other trees. It’s just so tall and wide and bushy… The apple tree. I am using the presence of Frodo and the chicks in the Corner Pen to procrastinate finishing the pruning of the apple tree. Although nowhere near as bushy, it also needs a massive cut in order to address its terrible lean. It is awkward because so many of the branches are leaning into the neighbours’ paddock and there is double-height chicken wire under these branches as well. And little chicks. We can’t have little chicks getting in the way. The walnut tree, the tangelo tree and the lemon tree also need some pruning, but they are supposed to be further down the list.

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The feijoa tree is like a massive cloud of bushiness that is going to be difficult to reign in. And look, there’s my grapefruit pile. I mean chicken play mound.

The three chicks are still alive at four weeks old and very frisky. Whenever I open the coop and can’t see one for a moment, my heart still catches and then I breathe a sigh of relief as it comes out from behind Frodo. I think I will always be a bit nervous about this lot after the early loss of their siblings. At the moment, they’re all looking more like girls to me, but we shall see. The blue ones are more friendly.

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The little Fulla is stoked when the chicks eat out of his hand.

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Meanwhile, Annie laid a soft-shelled egg on the coop floor, which I found broken in half with egg contents open to the world and no-one had eaten it! I don’t get soft-shelled eggs that often and they’re not normally something to be excited about, but I’m excited about having chickens who aren’t stuck in a deadly spiral of egg-eating. I still get really excited when I come home from being out and about and find three eggs in one nestbox, just left sitting there, like what normal hens will do. And then, Annie laid another giant egg this morning. Her body is obviously adjusting to the commencement of egg laying right around the shortest day time of year in an unusual way. And she’s so big, I’m starting to wonder if she can fit in a nestbox…

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