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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The Opening Ceremony

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Welcome to the grand opening ceremony! What an exciting event we have here today! You may not know what all the fanfare is about but you will in a minute. Alright, everyone get ready – here come the VIPs!

That’s right, folks, today you have the privilege of witnessing the official opening of the second chicken pen, henceforth to be known as The Cedar Pen. (Unless the cedar tree gets the chop. But it won’t for now.) This event is the culmination of months of tree pruning, ivy clearing, stump removing, fencing, old fort sawing and nailing, raking and rubbish removing. Countless hours have been spent preparing this place for the chickens. A proper job has been done of it. No temporary pens over here anymore. Not only do the chickens now have an alternate pen to give the other one time to recover, a decent chunk of the garden has been ‘dealt with’. It has gone from one of the bushy, overgrown corners that I was hoping to avoid for a while, to a useful area. I would like to plant some more chicken-friendly, non-escape-promoting plants in there at some point, but that is more of a fun job for later.

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The Cedar Pen is on the left of the garage and carport.

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There was a lot of wire netting in this project.

And now for a little history of the chicken pen area to see how far it’s come in two years:

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When we acquired the property, there was a mish-mash fort and a lot of bushy stuff over there in the corner.

For the record, rubbish findings in this area, aside from the usual and numerous pieces of plastic and twine, included a ball, a frisbie, a hunk of black plastic sheeting, a pair of half-degraded undies, a plastic container, a dinosaur figurine, a collection of shiny, flat blue marbles and a stainless steel set of two cups and one plate.

The chickens are absolutely loving having new ground to dig around in and a new place to explore. Mary and Georgiana were late to the proceedings. Contrary Mary got scared and that scared Georgiana, so they scuttled to and from the coop to the orchard until I closed off The Orchard Pen. Those two make each other bonkers sometimes. It is just lovely to be able to watch the feather children out the window, all happy. Except for the rainy part. The next lot of rain has hit us, bringing more surface flooding. Yikes! Thank goodness I finished the pen when I did. At least I won’t be worrying so much about their feet now that they’re away from the old, decimated, poopy, wet ground of The Orchard Pen. Jane is so excited about the new pen that she was still foraging in the steady rain yesterday.

 

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Frodo and chicks discover the new pen.

 

The other day, The Husband was asking what all my chickens names are. He got a bit lost somewhere along the way after the Bennet girls started to appear. I rattled off my Pride and Prejudice crew: Mr Bingley, Jane, Lizzie, Mary, Kitty, Lydia and Georgiana. “Now, I just need a Mr Darcy”, I said, with a smile. He knew that I might already have a Mr Darcy in a little chick that I like to call PB.

“What about Mr Collins?” He said.

“I don’t want a Mr Collins!” I replied.

“Haven’t you already got a Mr Collins?”

Pause.

“Yes! No! Oh, no…”

The other chick, Lydia’s ‘Junior’, is almost certainly a boy, and is totally a Mr Collins. He’s a nutcase! The temporary name ‘Junior’ has all but disappeared because I can’t stop thinking of him as Mr Collins now. I have been mostly handling the chicks during the day but have moved to evening handling because chickens are more calm in the evening. A couple of nights ago I got Mr Collins out of the coop for some handling and he screamed blue murder, disturbing all the other chickens and quite possibly the neighbours. I got a bit of a shock after having just handled PB, who was nice and calm. I took Mr Collins away and even took him in the house for a little while to give him some decent handling. Most of the time he cheeped loudly, “Cheeeeeep, cheeeeeep!” He is almost 6 weeks old and is not sensible at all.

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Mr Collins has his mouth open because he’s cheeping, of course. Settle down, dude!

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PB is lovely AND pretty.

Now that I have completed The Cedar Pen, I’m not quite sure what to do next. As in, there are so many things that need to be done I barely know where to start. I have trimmed the hedge along the front fence, started weeding, harvested more walnuts and figs and made hot cross buns. And now I must get going, for the weeds are mocking me, the fruit trees need more discipline, there’s an barren plum tree to fell and the vege garden needs some love. Oh wait, there’s an ex-tropical cyclone coming. This morning I awoke to the news that yesterday’s surface flooding was just from a rain band and the actual storm was hitting this afternoon/evening and was purported to be a 50-year storm. It now sounds like it might not be as bad where we are but I’m still praying! There are poor people on the east coast still suffering from the damage of last week’s flooding who are in the line of the storm. Ok, I’ve battened down the hatches. Time to tackle some indoor tasks and projects. Opening Ceremony over!

More Hacking and Slashing

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With life back to business as usual at Twiglet Homestead, well aside from those chickens, there has been more garden progress going on. Another stump was removed, the tall one along the paddock side of the house, this time thanks to the efforts of myself and The Husband. A quick investigation to confirm my suspicions that the stump was rather dead and starting to rot turned into probably an hour of digging and ramming around the stump. I could have done it all myself, but The Husband turned up and spent about 10 minutes whacking the stump, pushing it over and chainsawing the bottom off so he could move both heavy bits away. That’s why I like it when he helps with the manly things. He’s stronger than me. Then again, it helps when you have a good woman to do the groundwork. Now the hefty stump is out of the way of the fence strainer post, so we can figure out how to install the big gate and various bits of fence across that side of the house.

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The Husband finishes off the hefty stump.

Speaking of help, The Father came around one day and helped me to remove the entire pruning mountain. He brought a caged trailer and, with a little help from The Little Fulla, we chopped, loaded and flattened two trailer loads of branches, plus some ivy, which is the cherry on top. He made two trips to the organic centre to dispose of it all, where it will be made into compost. It’s amazing what you can do in one day when you have help. It sounds like a small thing, but that pruning mountain was a mountain, which kept growing thanks to all my hacking and slashing, and it would have taken me forever to get rid of it by some low-cost method or another. Now we have a much nicer view and no pruning mountains to speak of on the property. Woohoo! The Husband does still have a small chopping-up-for-the-fire mountain though. The alcove where the pruning mountain was is going to be my plant-growing area. There’s a little more clearing of things to do yet and the tall, narrow conifer still needs to be felled before I move my plants over there, but I’m on another mission right now.

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The big brown patch is where the pruning mountain was. Farewell, pruning mountain. Also, guess who’s been mowing the lawn?

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Yup, it was a big pruning mountain. The alcove is a good spot for my future plant-growing area.

Before The Father came out I pruned some of the big fig tree branches that were low down, too long or otherwise awkward. I also hacked out an awkwardly self-seeded, small fig tree next to the main one, as it is not needed and was on a bad lean. There is another small one in there that I will try to dig out and give to someone. More hacking and slashing was done in the mess under there, most notably caused by ivy. I am slowly starting to win against the ivy in this area as its line recedes further towards the fence line. There is a great mass of it climbing up and cascading down a camellia tree next to the fig tree though. The question is whether to try and remove the ivy from the camellia or cut both down.

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The taming of the fig tree has begun, but with its long, lanky branches I’m going to have to keep at it.

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The fig tree is next to a camellia, then some sort of currant-like bush, then a totara in the foreground. The brown line on the ground is where the ivy, weeds and shrubs used to come out to. I’ve been slowly chipping away at it.

With a clean slate and with the chickens needing their second chicken pen to get done, I have commenced more hacking and slashing in the back corner. I cut down the camellia bush on the edge of the raised bed because it could have bouyed the chickens over the fence or into the trees, and also, it was in a stupid place right at the edge of the bed. Of course, the dense camellia ‘bush’ was a re-sprouted stump and sprouting roots. I’ve cut the branches down for the mean time but don’t want to put woody weedkiller on them since the chickens will need to be in there soon. The removal of this bush actually gives a much nicer outloook from the house, as it was blocking the eyeline to the trees at the back, making the eye focus on the brown wooden edging. For now, you just need to pretend that you can’t see the weeds and ivy. I am also trimming back the multi-legged shrub that I think is some kind of small quince and the bay tree is re-sprouting again so I will have another crack at that when I’ve cleared the ivy. I have been clearing the ivy in there. I don’t want to, but I have to get it done very soon so I can chicken-wire the holey wooden perimeter fence, so I have been donning pants and long sleeves and carefully but mercilessly pulling out every bit of ivy in my path. Well, on the non-stinkin’ hot days. I won’t attack the ivy on the trees though, however tempting, as the possibility of rash-inducing ivy bits falling on me from above is too great.

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The brown space behind the ex-camellia bush is where I’ve been trimming the leggy, quince-like shrub and clearing ivy.

The Husband has just commenced hacking some of the ivy and intermingled branches off the tall, narrow, yellow conifer using the telescopic pruning saw. This is the tree that needs to come down. This is very good. Except that he started a new pruning mountain. Ah well, by the time we get that corner sorted out we’ll probably have enough green waste to necessitate a trailer disposal trip anyway. I think I was in denial: we’re doomed to have a pruning mountain until I’ve gotten around to all the garden areas with my hacking, slashing and pruning. Now we are pondering whether we can use the ladder and telescopic pruning saw to carefully fell the tree by taking off small bits  at a time. I have wound up the old, broken washing line, leaving the concreted metal post that needs to be dug out at some point.

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My clearing work doesn’t look as great with the pruning mountain that The Husband has started looming in front of it. But now that it’s there, we might as well make it bigger, right? I don’t think any more is going to fit in the wheelbarrow.

 

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We’ve had some little spectators watching the hacking and slashing and wondering why the small human keeps stuffing dandelion flowers into their pen. They are the bachelor boys, Leggyleft and Leggyright. Leggyleft is the insatiably curious one. 

The Plum Tree Garden is decidedly weedy at the moment and I haven’t finished digging up the lawn bit yet, but I’ve halted work on it while I get the second chicken pen area sorted. We’re harvesting Billington plums now. They were a bit slower this season, probably because spring wasn’t particularly sunny, but I am glad to have a decent crop despite my hard pruning earlier in the year. My potted Billington, which I’ve moved off the deck and into that area, only has one plum left on it after the many strong winds we’ve had blew off the other flowers and fruit. The yellow-fleshed plum tree isn’t showing many signs of fruit yet, as in, I can see one. I know it had plenty of flowers so I am once again suspecting a pollination issue. But is it lack of a compatible pollinator tree or lack of bee pollination? After a second season of bombing out, I’m still leaning towards lack of a simultaneously-flowering plum tree to cross-pollinate it. The Billington is self-fertile. Hmm.

Now I have to decide if we should get another pollinator plum tree to plant somewhere, which would require some guesswork and possible failure since I don’t know what cultivar this one is, or just chop the yellow-fleshed plum tree down. Although we don’t really need three plum trees, that might be the better option. But wait, option three is that we chop it down and plant the potted Billington, which I would otherwise sell, in that area instead. That would cost nothing and allow us to have two well-fruiting plum trees, but the downside is that they would be two Billingtons fruiting at the same time. Do we want to have a massive preserving session in January or should I do option four and buy something else to replace the yellow-fleshed plum that fruits at a different time? Oh, the possibilities. The Husband and I have consulted and decided on option four. That plum has had two seasons to prove itself and it has failed. There is no room for sub-par fruit trees around here. So, what to plant instead? The front runners at the moment are another apple tree, which I need to do more research on, or another almond tree. Currently we have an apple tree in the chicken run that fruits from March/April to May and a young Granny Smith behind the garage for cooking apples. Since apples are one of the fruits we eat year-round it would be good to have one fruiting at a different time. We also have a dwarf almond, Garden Prince, and it would be good to have another variety, which could be bigger, so that I can have a better supply to make almond milk. I think I want both of these options. Maybe an apple could go out the front or in the second chicken pen area…

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The Plum Tree Garden. The fruitful Billington is on the left and the doomed yellow-fleshed plum is on the right. It’s fairly tall (off screen) but we can cut the taller branches down in bits with the telescopic pruning saw.

I have been mowing the lawns more than The Husband lately, as the garden looks so much better when the lawns are kept under control. Also, I can be particular about the lawn-mowing pattern when I do it. You have to think about the lines you’re making: what suits each piece of lawn and where the lines will lead the eye. Yes, my lawn is full of weeds and various grass varieties and brown patches, but at least I can get one aspect of it right! As I mow the lawn I tend to get an annoying small child-related song stuck in my head. Have you heard of Farmer in the Dell? Well, I don’t know who wrote it or if they were of sound mind, but mowing round and round a large lawn whilst repeating “the cheese stands alone, the cheese stands alone, heigh-ho the merry-o, the cheese stands alone…” is almost insanity-inducing. Never mind. I can always remove the song from my head with another annoying song…

 

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The Herb Garden looks especially good when the lawn has been mowed with the curves.

In Which Insane Outdoor Tasks are Completed

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Completing insane outdoor tasks rates pretty highly on the pleased-ometer scale. A couple of nights ago I completed one: The Sticks. And I’m feeling pretty chuffed. What started out as The Sticks; removing the long mountain of sticks and wood that somehow accumulated along the back fence by the woodshed, turned into The Place of Eternal Toil. Just when I thought the end was in sight it became more toilsome. Under the last lot of sticks right beside the woodshed was concrete. That sounds good, yes, but the concrete was covered with a layer of dirt and decomposing pine needles and cones (oops, those may have been swept off the shed roof), interspersed by layers of sticks, rotting timber, lumps of concrete and bits of rubbish, and these layers went all the way behind the woodshed too. It was about 30cm high behind the woodshed, with sticks and stumps on top. And so, I had to shovel, pick through and wheelbarrow out many loads to uncover the concrete beneath and get the paddock fence fully chicken-wired.

This was a task of high importance, as I needed to get the chicken pen properly secured for the chicks and I also just really wanted to get it completed. And so, I slowly plodded away at it, being careful not to aggravate my foot again. I also removed the pallet used as a fence bit in the chicken run and re-stapled the chicken wire to the woodshed so it’s better closed-off and looks nicer. And then, I finished! The Husband came hobbling out to see if I was ok (he injured his foot after I did mine, so we are, as The Mother called us, hoblets), as it was dark. Ok, it was 9pm, but I was just removing the last bits of rotting timber. I had even tidied up the black plastic dangling from the roof and swept the concrete. I don’t imagine the chickens will hang out behind the woodshed too much since it’s concrete, but that should keep them from getting up to too much trouble behind the shed. Lydia was consistently trying to cause trouble as I worked, with the intense curiosity that she has developed. She is quite funny, but I had to keep fencing myself off to keep her out of harm’s way. Earlier in the clean-up I thought about storing some timber or something behind the woodshed but I really don’t want to store anything behind there at this stage. Aside from the mess that is bound to accumulate, everything around the woodshed was probably providing a great hiding place for rodents and things that I don’t want near the chickens. Best to keep things as tidy as possible. Today, I was in the run with Frodo and the chicks and I laughed as I looked up to see all the other chickens watching us through their new peep window behind the woodshed. I haven’t got any photos of just how bad the pile got, but here are some before and after photos, the ‘before’ being when I thought I was almost finished.

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Now, we get to look at a beautiful pear tree instead of a pile of crap!

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The tidiness makes me so happy. This is the peep window where the oldies can see what Frodo and the chicks are up to since Frodo hasn’t let the chicks come past the woodshed yet. The rocks around the strainer post are because there are awkward pieces of concrete jutting out either side of the post, presumably from when a new post was put in, which has made the fencing around that point difficult. I will fix it up a bit more nicely.

The second insane outdoor task occurred when The Mother and Father were around and The Father instigated an impromptu stump removal working bee in The Herb Garden. He and The Husband wielded various tools to dig and hack three of the remaining stumps out of the garden, including the big kahuna, a re-sprouting camellia stump of epic proportions. I wasn’t even expecting them to be able to get that one out but they did and I am totally stoked! One dead stump remains but I have now been able to move forward with my Herb Garden planting and positioning of stepping stones, which is a nice reward for my hard work on the previous task of insanity. I am waiting for the grapevine to fruit so I can do a taste test (I cut it back hard last year so it didn’t fruit). If the grapes are good I will attempt to transplant the grapevine somewhere else and train it, but if, as I suspect, it does not make very good eating it will go and I will source a tastier one. The grapevine out the front is not a good taster so that will be going.

So, what’s the next task of insanity? Well, the unfortunate product of The Husband’s clearing out of the woodshed plus some of my clearing in The Place of Eternal Toil, is the mess that is now in front of the Cedar Garden, all over the future second chicken pen. Just when I was getting it tidy! It all needs to be sorted and cleared. And the ivy needs to be cleared out of the garden so I can chicken-wire around the rest of the fence there. This is not going to be an exciting task, but at least it’s not quite so urgent, so I can intersperse it with fun stuff, like planting things.

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Where did that mess come from? I was actually trying to let the grass regrow for the chickens…

What’s that? You wanted to know how the chicks are doing? Oh, ok, just one photo. They are doing well and are out and about a lot now. More on the chicks next time.

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We’re Stumped!

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Today was an interesting Saturday. This morning we had a sudden mad visitation from three spotty pink pigs! I saw them flash past the window and into my recently planted Maple Bed. Nooo!!! I yelled at The Husband, “Pigs! Quick! Get the pigs out!” I would have rushed out there myself but I didn’t want the neighbours to see me running around in my choice of night ware. As The Husband ran towards the pigs they raced into the vege garden. “NOT THE VEGE GARDEN!” Scenes of the vege garden’s death flashed before my eyes. The Husband gets top points for effort but his herding skills need a little work. Fortunately the pigs got the message that they weren’t wanted and took off down the side of the house towards the gate, which was promptly shut behind them. And that was our introduction to our opposite neighbours’ new set of pigs.

The Father and The Mother came around a bit later for a visit and to help out with some things. As we sat at the table eating lunch and recounting the tale of the the pigs, The Father just about gave me a heart attack when he suddenly yelled, “AHHH! Pigs!” The spotty pink pigs were back, running down the side of the house. This time I was clothed and ready. Thou shalt not eat of my garden, pigs! The Husband and I chased them back out the gate, which they were small enough to slip through. Alright, we really need to chicken wire that gate now. Thankfully, we had no further piggy visitations. Apart from that bacon we had for dinner…

It rained most of the day, which was just what I wanted for the garden after so many hot, dry days. The Father was determined to put himself to work despite the rain and, after the wind had settled down, began hacking one of the unwanted stumps in the ‘Herb Garden’ with his axe. The Husband joined him with an array of tools including a sledgehammer, a wrecking bar and a spade. The Father was not appropriately attired for the wet weather but he didn’t care and he soldiered on in the rain with The Husband, who at least had a jacket on.

The tools of home stump removal and one of their targets

The Husband and The Father at work. Photo courtesy of The Mother.

I needed to plant some grasses that The Parents had dug up and rubbish-bagged for me so I put on my waterproof pants and jacket like a sane gardener (no big red emergency switch needed outside) and headed round the front to plant them while The Mother did a great job dusting and vacuuming inside. The two Festuca novae-zelandiae grasses were originally given to The Parents by me but outgrew their garden spot and thus were returned to me as giants. They are tough natives of the dry plains and ranges of Canterbury and Otago but can obviously thrive in the lush Waikato! The biggest grass I divided into six decent-sized plants, which required the use of a saw. The second one I just plonked in temporarily and will divide and plant it out later. There’s the small matter of a camellia stump being in the way in that garden bed too…

The Festuca novae-zelandiae grasses that I divided and planted, plus the ‘plonked’ one at the front. I had started planting a Dodonaea viscosa ‘Purpurea’ (Purple Akeake) hedge around the fence and thought the buff colour of the festucas would contrast with them nicely.

I want to plant some more festucas along this part of the fence, but, alas, there is another stump!

When I returned, The Father and The Husband had dug out the two biggest stumps from the Herb Garden. Success! They were saturated and dirty and I am most grateful for their grand effort. There is still one biggish stump and a smaller one in there to get rid of but I think the worst is past and hopefully it won’t be long before I can plant my fruit trees and herbs in there. And just look at the beautiful, dark soil! All in all, it has been a rather successful rainy day in the Twiglet Homestead.

Big stump…

Big hole. And look, my grapevine is flourishing after its severe pruning. I just need to get in there and sort it out. After someone else removes the scary bit of ivy…