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No More Assignments For Twiglet

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I have been working on my assignment. Obviously, that is why I’m on my blog right now. This was my final assignment for my final paper for this course. So, my last assignment ever, unless I nutheadedly decide to do more study some time in the future. This final paper has seen me procrastinating like nobody’s business. It just doesn’t seem as relevant as looking at plants, holding chickens or watching videos with The Little Fulla of himself being himself. I found myself doing almost anything to avoid doing my assignment. Folding washing. Tidying up random things. Rearranging a kitchen cupboard. Cleaning the chicken coop. ‘Accidentally’ going on Facebook. Doing the dishes. Dishes! Doing the dishes hovers around the bottom of my ‘Things I Ought to do’ list. I would much rather clean the chicken coop. Anyway, I finished my assignment last night so now I am freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!

Now, I am playing the game of What Shall I do First? My options range from catching up on housework to catching up on garden tasks to getting some of my 10 million projects started to sitting around like a blob watching presentations on this week’s 2017 Home Grown Food Summit. The results are inclining towards a crazed combination of all of the above.

We were at the Auckland Botanic Gardens last weekend: a happy place that always gives me inspiration, especially when it comes to native plants.

Auckland Botanic Gardens

I could spend so many hours loitering around Auckland Botanic Gardens, but a small child on foot means everything is now done in fast-forward.

The Chickens

I have whittled my flock down to what seems like a rather small number: 8. It probably still sounds like a lot to some people but I feel like I’ve offloaded a lot of chickens in a short space of time! I sold my second black Orpington pullet last week. Now I’m back to two breeds or part-breeds: Australorps and Wyandottes. And Mr Bingley is still hanging around.

Chickens

Hello, Mr Bingley! Yup, he’s still here. Behind him are Lizzie, Georgiana and Kitty. PB is hiding behind the tree.

I celebrated my selling efforts by letting the chickens back into The Orchard Pen, which has grown back some grass and had a nice rest from chickens. Kitty celebrated by going broody and my “Look, it’s a new pen to explore!” plan didn’t prove a good enough distraction to keep her from a stint in the broody breaker. Frodo celebrated by starting to go broody too and ended up in the broody breaker straight after Kitty. I got Frodo in there early before she got too far into the broodiness to stop laying. She hasn’t missed a day of laying yet in 22 days. Wow! This is a new record for her and I don’t know how she’s managing such production in winter! I’m wondering what happens if I manage to break her broodiness before it interrupts her egg-laying hormones. I legitimately asked The Husband, “Will she explode?” I’m happy for her to miss a day of egg laying, I just don’t know how that will fit into her current system of laying every day before having a big broody break. She’s currently in a weird, quiet, trance-like, half broody state but still laid early this evening.

Orchard Pen

The chickens are back in The Orchard Pen: Lizzie (front) and Georgiana. The parts that had hay spread around when the chickens were last in there have grown some nice grass. I think I shall spread some hay in the empty Cedar Pen.

I got a good, sunny day to do a full coop clean and spray this week, which always makes me feel satisfied. Then Georgiana gave me a nice assignment-finishing present today: her first little egg. Yay! On one hand, I wasn’t expecting her to start laying in winter but on the other hand it’s about time! She is 32 weeks old today. Words like ‘slacker’ were starting to come to mind, so I am very pleased that she has joined the layers club.

Georgiana's egg

Georgiana’s sweet little egg.

PB is getting a proper name. It has been so long that it’s hard to stop calling her PB, but I’m going with something not too much different: Jane B. She is still getting bigger and is currently being super-scared of me when I’m in the pen. Partly, I blame her nutty ‘brother’, Mr Collins, but I think it’s also because I keep taking her friends away, first, Mr Collins, and then the black Orpington. Georgiana was the same when I took some of her buddies away around the same age. Hopefully Jane B will settle down now that I’ll have a bit more time to just hang out with the chickens. She still sits in my arms nicely and eats from my hand when I get her out at night but she’s scared of me during the day.

Jane B

PB shall henceforth be known as Jane B. She is almost 15 weeks now.

I have been asking members of a Wyandotte group about my SLW pullet, Lorelai, aka Slow Feather Butt, and opinions are still divided as to whether she is a boy or girl, so I will have to wait some more…

The Garden

The garden has been getting scarce attention lately owing to sickness, winter weather and that assignment. It is due for so many things and I’m looking forward to getting some quality time in my garden. The Little Fulla and I did a little bit of weeding today and the other day we had a family leaf raking session out the front, as the walnut tree has suddenly decided to dump copious amounts of leaves on the drive and thereabouts. So far, some of the leaves have been put on the compost heap and some have been dumped on top of the weeds in front of the compost heap. More raking will be needed to keep the leaves clear of the gate. I am hoping to plant my garlic tomorrow and am finalising my Vege Plan, which is a lot less orange than I thought it might be. I have been eyeing up the space out the front in front of my corokia and flax hedge as a place to plant Atlantic Giant pumpkins as well as another variety or two. I just need to deal with the weeds.

I have so many plans for things I want to do outside. I have been giving a lot of thought to shelter plant options, as we are getting a lot of wind through the backyard since a) we cleared out some shrubs/trees that were giving shelter on the west side and b) the neighbours cut down some good shelter shrubs. I am also thinking about trellis ideas along the paddock fence on the east side of the vege garden. The Great Vege Garden Expansion Plan still has stages that need to be done and I have a lot of plants that need to be planted in various places. I need to hack away at stumpy in The Herb Garden.

The Husband keeps throwing a rope up into the doomed plum tree and I keep telling him that we need to cut more off the top before any felling attempts. It doesn’t look like there’s much of it left but it is actually quite tall. The Husband has also been working on tidying up the ‘firewood storage area’ at the side of the deck. In a bid to dry out the wood that keeps getting pounded by the rain, he knocked up a quick shelter with lengths of timber and some black plastic. I am trying to bite my tongue because I know that the wood needs to dry out, but a) the black plastic is cutting out some light from the lounge, b) it doesn’t look very good, c) it keeps falling apart and d) I have longer term plans of paving the area and putting clear or white corrugated roofing above it to turn it into a BBQ and tidy firewood shelf area. We have almost used all the firewood in one bay of the woodshed in the chicken pen, so we could just move all the wet firewood there…

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Stumpy needs to be evicted from The Herb Garden. He just keeps getting wet feet.

The doomed plum tree

The rest of the yellow-fleshed plum tree still needs to be removed. Just not in one foul, misaligned swoop.

Firewood area

The Husband’s firewood area at the side of the deck. In the high winds yesterday one of the wooden supports between the black fence and the deck roof fell down and the black plastic that was covering them blew off. It’s a work in progress. Of sorts.

Bits And Pieces

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Christmas is coming and, as usual, things have gotten busy. Well, more busy than usual. There are lots of things to go to, things I have to say, “No” to and heaps of things that need to be done around the house and outside. “Everything’s going to be just fine”, I hear myself telling myself. But I don’t think myself is listening. If only time grew on trees. Especially if they were Christmas trees. “I’ll take one Christmas time tree, please. No, make it three! Oh, all right. Ten then.”

I haven’t made much of a dent in the cleanup of the wood and rubbish dumped in the second chicken pen area yet., but I have started chipping away at it. The pruning mountain is still looming nearby like a great brown shadow. The Husband started to burn some of it in the metal drum we moved from behind the garage but the drum is in pretty poor condition, crumbling at the bottom, so we are in a stalemate. I’m keeping my eye out for a non-munted metal drum that we can burn stuff in. Hiring a mulcher to chop up the pruning mountain was not going to be very cost-effective.

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The Maple Garden is the beauty before the mess. The pruning mountain is still looming in the corner and the metal drum for burning is falling apart.

We have gotten some important bits and pieces done. The Husband replaced the two metal gates we had across the driveway with one of the big, heavy wooden ones. The latch on the metal ones had broken and the gates weren’t opening and closing well. The Husband attached a wheel to the wooden gate and, although heavy, it is easier to move than the metal gates, it’s more secure and it was already covered with chicken wire so as to stop all manner of creatures from getting in and out. Yes, things can currently get through the fence but one day my hedge will be thick enough to have thwarting properties. And one day I’ll get around to painting the gate (and the fence) and I’ll move the chicken wire to the inside of the gate so it looks nicer from the road.

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The new wooden gate is very sturdy. Some day I’ll paint it and the fence a more appealing colour.

The Husband has also removed the rusty rain barrel in the compost area that was collecting rainwater from the potting shed guttering. This was long overdue, as the jolly thing was literally falling apart. Never, EVER use metal drums for collecting rainwater! It was replaced by the black plastic drum we had standing by. Now we have to get rid of what is left of the horrible rusty rain barrel. It looks like there’s going to be another trip to the dump. There is plenty of useless wood from the woodshed cleanup and The Place of Eternal Toil that needs to be gotten rid of anyway.

While we’re talking about how useful The Husband is, he has also cleaned the gutters on one side of the house. This was another long overdue task. By the looks of things I don’t think it had been done for years. There was a great hydroponic grass- and moss-growing system going on up there. Fortunately, The Husband disconnected the downpipe first so the icky water and goop didn’t go into our water tank. There’s just one side of the house left to do. And the back porch. And the garage. And the potting shed. But not the rear carport, as that is going to come down one day…

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The Husband is not tending the hydroponic grass system, he is removing the gutter guard to clean out the gutters.

Amidst the busyness of family time, Christmas preparations, getting a small child immunised, handling the chicks most evenings and inducing a chicken to vomit for multiple days in a row, gardening time has been scarce. I dug the blueberry out of the vege garden area and transplanted it next to the plum trees, so now the next stage of The Great Vege Garden Expansion Plan can move forward. Well, after I move the weedpost pile to some as yet unknown place out of the way and encourage The Husband to dig out the last concreted fence post. I have done a bit more work on the Plum Tree Garden and have done what I can for now in The Herb Garden in terms of planting and inserting stepping stones. There is one stump left to remove in there. I have even finished planting The Herb Garden border with native sedges by dividing the bigger ones. The sedge I have used is Carex albula, or white sedge. It is a native sedge that isn’t particularly well-known but it is a great choice for a small, buff-coloured grass effect. I have been squishing in weeding time here and there, trying to get things looking tidy before Christmas and reminding the weeds that they’re not going to win the war.

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The blueberry bush has been moved from the vege garden area…

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… to the Plum Tree Garden. It is on the right beside the stump. I need to move the blackcurrant planter, but I kind of need to plant the blackcurrants, which means I kind of need to get the blackcurrant bed built by the garage. Which means I kind of need to move the weedpost pile and make that last fence post disappear.

 

 

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Things are growing in the vege garden. Imagine that! I need to add ‘mound potatoes’ to my to-do list.

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The Maple Garden is a swathe of interesting colours. Most of the grasses and sedges are flowering at the moment, giving a soft, frothy look.

I don’t like it when I don’t get much gardening time. It makes me feel like I’m missing an arm or something. But it is just the nature of this time of year. Things will get done eventually. I make sure I calm my thoughts every now and then and think about what I am grateful for: the peaceful evenings breathing in the country air, the sounds of mooing cows down the road, the invigorating smell of the lemon thyme I am trimming into balls, the feel of soft chicks in my hands, watching the fur child race around the garden like a nutcase and the taste of a trio of salad greens from the garden, even though I’m having a lettuce fail: rocket, watercress and sorrel. These moments are precious and I am so happy that we get to live in the country and raise our wee boy out here. And at least I don’t have a time-sensitive Christmas knitting project this year, right? Ha. Haha. Hahaha oops. Wasn’t I supposed to be knitting The Little Fulla a Christmas stocking? Erm, yes. That notion may have gotten lost until recently in the maze that is my mind, but lo, it has begun. I just need to stop going outside in the evening, sit still and knit. It’s just that ‘sit’ and ‘still’ are two words that don’t seem to want to go together…