We’re all suffering from a bit of weather shock. The wintery spring with cold winds and grey skies suddenly turned into the heat of summer. We we’re getting hot weather normally reserved for high summer. It felt like one minute it was too windy and cold to plant out the young vege seedlings and the next it got too hot and dry for them. We needed rain again! And now we have it. Thank you for arriving, ‘normal’ spring weather.
Garden / Outdoors
Summer brassicas have been planted in the Veggie Garden – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages and kale. Some of the lettuces have gone in and some of the parsley, however, some of both have been mercilessly eaten by slugs or snails, despite the application of snail pellets (low toxicity) and squashing. The cucumbers for eating and pickling have gone in and I have sowed all the beans. What’s left to plant in the Veggie Garden is peppers, more lettuces, onions, leeks and honeydew melons plus what will go into the new raised bed in the Processing Corner, once it’s filled up properly: three tomatoes, two peppers, two butternuts and probably some kale and parsley. The spaghetti squash, which are not allowed to fraternise with the pumpkins, are going to have go in the most appropriate out-of-the-way place: along the western boundary fence near the washing line.
The Front Plot is really coming to life now since I’ve planted more crops in it. The first lot of corn has gone in down the back, near the fence. I’ve had some trouble with germination, some of which was due to overwatering the seed trays. Oops! But I sowed more seeds so hopefully we’ll have a bunch more seedlings to plant out. Alongside the nicely established giant pumpkins there are now a bunch of Chuck’s Winter squash and some Jack Be Little pumpkins top things off in the front corner. I will leave the black plastic on the ground until the plants start claiming more ground because it keeps the weeds down and helps to stop animals (cats and birds) digging in there.
The Little Fulla and I pulled the old crops out of his vege garden along with some of the pansies. I explained that he could keep lots of pansy flowers in there if he wanted to but he wouldn’t be able to sow any vege seeds if we kept them all. He started ripping them out. We left a bunch of them around the edge and added some compost to the soil. We planted a Brandywine Pink tomato in the middle and sowed seeds of a colour mix radish, Halloween Mix, between the tomato and the pansies. We’ll tie the tomato to the bamboo teepee as it grows.
I’ve started to pick up on some smaller projects again. I did the shelf for the outdoor sink, which was quick and easy. The Little Fulla helped me to attach the chicken door onto the coop by holding it as I screwed on the hinges. Featherburn Lodge has been without a door for the pophole since we’ve had it. Some of the time I’ve just left it open at night, which I know is risky, but is far less risky here than in many other places, and sometimes I closed off the hole with a piece of plywood, held shut by bricks, etc. Now we can open and shut the coop properly.
I had a friend come around and help me build the extension for the Long Bed so she could learn a little bit about tools and building stuff. I am still deciding what to put in there. At the moment, I am leaning towards the permanent crops of rhubarb and sorrel, as they do need to go somewhere. I temporarily have both in pots at the moment. It will need to be filled first, which probably isn’t going to happen for a while since I haven’t finished filling the last raised bed yet…
I planted another idea seed for The Husband and it grew into fruition. I like it when that happens. I had an old stainless steel sink sitting with my chicken equipment that I didn’t need and I thought that ‘we’ could make an outdoor sink for The Little Fulla, knowing that I had made a pact with myself not to start any new (not on the list) projects for the rest of the year. The Husband suddenly set to it and made one alongside The Little Fulla’s cabin, using timber that was lying around. The Little Fulla is very pleased with his outdoor kitchen and has been having great fun making things with mud. We were slightly less impressed when we found him sitting out there inside his sink, naked and smeared brown with mud when he was supposed to be putting his toys away. It is hard to wrangle a muddy, slippery child who’s capering around like a little monkey.
Guess who’s broody now? Well, yes, of course Frodo is again. But guess who else? Frodo’s daughter, Ribby. She literally only laid for a week before going broody. I’m swinging between being pleased and annoyed; pleased because she seems to be following in her mother’s footsteps and I could do with another good broody, but annoyed because she’s only just started laying and because they’re broody at the same time. And I only have one broody breaker cage. Frodo has been semi-broody since her last proper broodiness. She lays an egg, then will sit on her egg for ages if I don’t get her off, but when I do she runs off and spends the rest of the day outside and doesn’t sit again until laying time the next morning. She carried on like this for a while before commencing full-blown broodiness again. It is very hard to break her out of this pattern.
But wait, there’s more! All of a sudden, Paris went broody. Nooo! Thankfully, Frodo has come out of full broodiness and back to a semi-broody, outdoor state, so Paris is in the broody breaker. I’m collecting eggs for hatching and I need eggs, good eggs, from Frodo. As for Ribby, she will get some eggs to see how she goes at hatching, preferably timed with an incubator hatch just in case eggs need to be taken off her. I don’t want to give eggs to Paris. She’s a great sitter but a little nutty as a chick raiser. Plus we need enough eggs for eating. That heat has definitely contributed to all this broodiness.
We’re now down to five teenage chickens – three black pullets and two cockerels, one black, one blue. Jemima’s blue boy has started having a crack at the hens so I need to decide what to do about him. I am liking how he’s looking. I have left the black Tiggywinkle boy for now as he was the best of the black boys and has also been very quiet and well-behaved so far.
The chicks are nigh on four weeks old. In a week they should be all good to move into The Henley Hut without the heat plate. I’ve been turning it off during hot days. They are super ready to get out and run around more. The black Tiggywinkle chick with the green leg tag is the leader. I’m sure it’s going to be a boy. He was the early hatcher and has been in-your-face and pecky since he could walk.
And here is Simba, dedicated hunter, venturing into the smaller outer branches of the feijoa tree in search of bird nests.