Christmas has disappeared in a whirlwind of family time. I awoke early on Christmas morning to discover a beautiful rainbow curving right across the sky over our backyard. I sang to myself, “For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!” It really was something. It was so big and close I couldn’t fit it into one photo. There’s a reason everyone in the household woke up early on Christmas morning, and it might have something to do with an excited Twiglet dragging them out of bed to come and look at the rainbow at 6:30am. They didn’t seem to be quite as excited as I was, as they stood on the deck blinking and wondering what levels of insanity to expect for the day. If that wasn’t enough, another rainbow appeared a little later!

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For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

This year we hosted a Christmas brunch at Twiglet Homestead with The Mother and The Father. Christmas dinner (night dinner) was at The Parents-in-law’s and numerous other gatherings followed as other family members appeared. I am officially a fan of Christmas brunch. It is infinitely easier to prepare and more chilled-out than a lunch dinner. And we had a long afternoon to relax.

So warm was December that the Billington plums ripened early, two days before Christmas. This meant that in the days after Christmas I had to make some plum chutney, as ripe plums don’t last for too long. Harvesting over the busy patch has been tricky and many plums have simply been washed and frozen whole. Or given away. My current endeavour is making plum butter, which is done in the slow cooker. We are also harvesting blackcurrants, boysenberries and a few blueberries and various veges are demanding to be harvested all over the place. We have dug up one row of Agria potatoes and need to do more.

While many celebrated the new year by posting inspirational or cheesy messages on social media, we had a spontaneous screen-free day. New Year’s day was marked by doing outdoor chores, spending time together and butchering a chicken.

I have been thinking about which hens to sell since there are a bunch of youngies coming on and Juliette was at the top of my hit list. She has not been a good layer and there’s no use wasting food on a poor layer when I have much better chickens to choose from. I can only keep a reasonably small flock here, so tough decisions are going to become more frequent as I focus on breeding well and more intently now that I can hatch eggs whenever it suits. When I thought about it, I could not even sell Juliette to someone, knowing that she was such a poor layer. So, I started the year afresh by butchering her. Now there’s a chicken in the freezer that will make some good soup or curry. Goodbye, Juliette. Thanks for giving me Darrington and Pickle.

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Goodbye, Juliette.

Pickle, Juliette’s daughter, is actually laying surprisingly well and I just hope her laying ability holds. She’s laid 54 eggs in her first 59 days. I am aiming for hens who are good layers, as they not only need to provide eggs for our family but also for people who we sell chickens to. They’re not just pretty faces.

The happiest New Year probably belongs to Rory, who hatched chicks on Friday. More about that later. But you can’t leave without one photo. I am currently reviewing the homestead goals of last year and setting the new ones for this year, so that’s coming up in the near future too.

Happy New Year!

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Welcome to the world, Rory chick #1.
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7 thoughts on “Happy New Year to All! Except Juliette…

    1. I’d love to have a white Christmas some time. Ours is usually a cloudy and hot Christmas. It gets a bit weird when we try and have hot roasts and things in hot weather! But a lot of people are still accustomed to the traditional English Christmas dinner. What do you guys do for Christmas?

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      1. For Christmas Eve, my sister and her family, and my adult niece and nephew, and their families, come for a small get together. We have party type foods, drink wine and exchange gifts. On Christmas Day we host my mother’s side of the family for a dinner with ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, and various sides. Its just a time to be with family and people we love.

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    1. She has started out very well. I consider 5-7 eggs a week to be good for a hen. I don’t expect them all to be super layers but poor layers are another thing. Juliette had a big break in winter while the others kept laying (except Betty who had a bit of a break) and then she muddled through spring with poor eggs until she starting moulting and stopped laying again. I feel a bit mean for offing her but I have to draw the line somewhere.

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      1. It is not as if she was merely ‘offed’. She will still be good for something in the end. If a hen must be used for that, it may as well be one who is not providing eggs as well as the others. Our neighbors below leave MANY hens just wandering about the neighborhood. Many do nothing. Many were collected from other neighbors because they do not lay enough. They are considered to be ‘pets’, but they are not cared for like pets are. They really should be thinned out. Coyotes tend to get the worst of them. I sort of think that it would have been more humane to use some of them for meat before they got too old.

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