Things You Shouldn’t do With an Axe

Another heat wave is upon us as we hurtle towards summer. Thankfully, the mornings and evenings are still somewhat cool. Most of the crops are in the garden now. I still have spares of some things, which have come in useful to replace seedlings eaten by my dreaded enemy: the molluscs. Let’s just say I’m glad I sowed so much lettuce but we won’t have many parsley plants at this rate. I’m rather sore about my parsley losses.

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I found a snail stronghold behind the comfrey. There must have been around 30 of them. Not anymore!
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The beans are coming! Seeing little bean plants pop up from the depths of the ground in which I poked a bean here and there is exciting. The broccoli and cabbages behind them are doing well, aside from the ones that have been nibbled. The white butterflies haven’t appeared yet.

I have also been finding places to stuff extra vegetable seedlings. The Herb Garden suddenly has a small population of Cavolo Nero kale and red cabbages and The Little Fulla and I planted the spare giant pumpkin seedlings in one of the chicken pens. The Cedar Pen already had a burgeoning collection of pumpkins that had self-germinated so hopefully they can get going a bit more before the chickens return. Two summers ago we had giant pumpkins growing in there and it was fun watching the chickens bob up and down among the tall pumpkin leaves. Now, where can I fit some more tomatoes? Not in the chicken pen.

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The Herb Garden. I haven’t finished tidying it up yet, but it is looking better.

It’s as well that most of the planting has been done since I hit my hand with an axe. Not the sharp end, the blunt end. And not the big axe, the small axe. But still. It hurts. I was hammering a bamboo stake into the garden and wasn’t focusing properly since I was a bit tired, then wham! The good news is that no bones were fractured, but it has been very sore and I’ve had to do things with one hand. I’m thankful that I wasn’t hurt any worse. I try to get The Little Fulla to help me plant things but sometimes he’s more interested in his own ‘work sites’. He was very good at helping me dig dirt out of the chicken pen to finish filling up the new raised bed in the Processing Corner. Before the hand injury. Now it’s all planted up with veggies and my attention is turning towards how I can fill up the next smaller bed, the Extension Bed.

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‘The Processing Corner Bed’ isn’t such a catchy name, so I’m going to call this new raised bed the South Bed. It came with three bonus self-sown dill plants in the first fill layer. I don’t think they’ll survive being buried deeper in dirt so I’ve just planted things near them. We won’t talk about the weeds.

Chickens

I collected eggs for hatching while I did the chickens’ routine worm treatment so I wouldn’t have to throw many eggs out. The first lot went into the incubator, the sooner the better before Christmas I thought, then I decided to put the last few in two days later instead of throwing them away. Ribby was still broody so I thought I’d give those ones to her. But first I tried moving her into the big cage after I moved the five-week-old chicks out into The Henley Hut. Although I moved Ribby at night, she did not take to this new comfy nesting site and refused to sit on the fake eggs. Who knew this was a broody breaking method?! After a couple of days, I put her back with the flock and she’s back to running around. I don’t want hens sitting on eggs in the main coop as there’s too much danger of breakages, especially with certain frisky chickens…

But the broody saga continues with Paris starting up again, briefly, and then Tiggywinkle, not to mention STILL semi-broody Frodo. At this point, whoever commits to broodiness first (insert a mandatory change of location clause here) will get one lot of eggs. My bet’s on Frodo. Egg production is not going super well around here with all this silliness. I’ve candled both lots of eggs. It seems Chippee Hackee has been doing a good job.

Batch #1

Of the 14, one was infertile and one a very early death, giving us 12:

  • 4x Frodo eggs
  • 4x Tiggywinkle eggs
  • 3x Duchess eggs
  • 1x Jemima egg

Batch #2

Of the 7, one was a very early death, giving us 6:

  • 2x Frodo eggs
  • 2x Tiggywinkle eggs
  • 2x Jemima eggs

The dud eggs were all from Duchess. She’s still fairly young so I’m not sure if that’s the reason, or because broody hens have been sitting on her eggs too long since she’s one of the first to lay in the morning. I check for eggs multiple times a day but it is tricky with all this broodiness.

To help explain the colour possibilities, I made up a chart for Australorp colours. And yes, it gave me great enjoyment. It doesn’t include white, which is a rare colour for Australorps and a different ball game. This is for the three main colours: black, blue and splash (white with blue feathers smattered throughout). Since a blue rooster, Chippee Hackee, is the father, things are a bit different this time.

  • 50% of ALL the chicks ought to be blue. Yay!
  • Chicks from black hens (Tiggywinkle and Duchess) – 50% blue and 50% black.
  • Chicks from blue hens (Frodo and Jemima) – 50% blue, 25% black and 25% splash.

Australorp Colour Chart

The current chicks are adjusting well to life outside. The darker blue Frodo chick is a boy. I saw and heard him doing some funny little crow gurgles. I’m convinced that Mr Pecky, the Tiggywinkle chick, is a boy too. He’s the leader and still pecks at my hand whenever it comes near him. I am not impressed with him. I think the other Tiggywinkle chick is a boy too. Of the three black Frodo chicks, two look rather like girls and the other I’m unsure about. The light blue one looks like a girl.

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The chicks at five weeks. Mr Pecky is the black one in the middle with the green leg tag.

As for the frisky chickens, it’s the blue boys who have been causing problems. The blue Jemima-Andrew cockerel, whom I have named Mr Anderson, has become too big for his britches, crowing all over the place and chasing the ladies around. It’s the first time I’ve seen a cockerel pull hens out of a nestbox to try and mate with them on the sly. But it’s not so sly, because the hens scream for Chippee Hackee, head rooster, and he comes running to their rescue. He severely dislikes Mr Anderson. He spends a lot of time chasing Mr Anderson around because Mr Anderson doesn’t know how to keep quiet. And that leads to Mr Anderson being found over the fence. I’ve clipped his wings now. He will have to settle down soon or else. Chippee is a very attentive rooster, probably the best managerial rooster I’ve had since Mr Bingley. He’s become really good to handle too. Mr Anderson, however, is very shifty and squirmy and seems to be on a mission to disturb the world as we know it.

The other young cockerel, the black one, came up lame one day. I was scared it could be Mareks but after a stint in chicken hospital it did not worsen but started to get better. I guess he injured it. He knows how to mind his own business and keep out of trouble, so he was ok back with the others. Now he’s running around again and I’m so glad because he’s a sweet boy. And he’s looking good. I’ve decided to call him Neo. That’s dangerous, because I’m growing more inclined to keep him… Of the three black pullets, one girl’s tail is set a little high so I’ll probably sell her at some point but the other two I have named Trinity and Morpheus. See the new theme?

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The lovely black cockerel, Neo, is in the centre and his female sister, Morpheus, is at the front.
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Two of the pullets: Morpheus and Trinity. Morpheus is Jemima’s daughter and is more floofy, while Tiggywinkle’s daughter Trinity is more streamlined.

2 thoughts on “Things You Shouldn’t do With an Axe

  1. There are worse things to do with an ax. Dang, I could come up with a long list if I wanted to. I actually tried one of those things that would be near the top of the list.
    Anyway, those look like the same brown snails that are naturalized here. Were they imported originally for escargot? That is how ours got here. Natives are very rare now.

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