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April 2011 - farm update

Earlier this year we hatched two batches of chicks.  From the first batch we got one pullet and two cockerels, all White Leghorns.  From the the second batch we got five cockerels and three pullets, one each was Rhode Is Red and the rest White Leghorns.  They have been living outside for a while now, one batch in each cage.  Its nearly time now for the pullets to join the full grown hens in the big cages.  Its never a good idea to put one hen into a cage with other hens that she doesn't know, particularly when the majority are larger, as she'll get picked on, so we decided to rearrange the babies now so they can get to know each other early on and join the big girls as a group of four - safety in numbers!  So we now have a pen of pullets and a pen of cockerels.
Six little cockerels getting fat (and feisty) for the pot

Four shy hens getting to know each other before the join the main flock
We are only getting 3-4 eggs a day from all 12 of the big hens.  This is because the weather has got colder and the days have got shorter.  Most of them are now moulting (loosing feathers and regrowing some nice warm feathers for winter), so they aren't too interested in laying eggs.  We are hoping egg production will go back to normal in spring, so we can hatch some more babies and keep our flock going.

Meanwhile, in the garden, I trimmed back the Poor Man's Bean plants because they were shading the peas (one has a stalk about 2 cm diameter, these are serious bean plants).  The beans seem to have taken the hint and are now producing a ridiculous amount of beans, about a colander full a day!  I've been cutting them up and freezing them and giving them away to anyone I can think of!  So the lesson is, if something is not producing well, cut it back hard.  If it dies its no loss because it wasn't producing well anyway, but chances are it will perk up and bear more fruit that you can use.

I cut back the bean plants, not that you can tell!
The peas don't seem to be very happy.  I never have much success with peas, but I love them, so I battle on each season, trying to get a decent crop.  Any tips would be much appreciated.

The peas don't look happy (can you even see them?)
I do seem to be having success with my Winter Squash.  Actually I'm not sure what it is exactly, I think its Winter Squash.  And if it is Winter Squash I have no idea what that will actually look or taste like.  I am waiting for the stems to die off (like a pumpkin) and then we will harvest the fist one, if it doesn't take over the garden first!

A Winter Squash (maybe!)

The Winter Squash is taking over the garden from the outside.....
.......and from the inside (note, this is one plant!)
As I'm sick of planting things and then not even being sure exactly what they are, I decided to make an effort and start writing things down!  I can't believe how lazy I have been up until now, but it looks terrible when I write this blog and I don't even know what I planted!  Anyway, when I planted seeds the other day (actually on the 11/4, isn't it useful to write it down?), I actually recorded what varieties of seeds I planted, so I can record whether they germinated and get rid of the old ones that were no good.  So far I can see that the new Heritage silverbeet and broccoli seeds have sprouted, but the saved marigold and broccoli seeds might be getting a bit old.
I've decided to start keeping a record of what I planted and when.
Some of the broccoli seeds have germinated,
but no marigolds and not much silverbeet.
The dogs are getting on really well, they are currently lying in front of the fire together.  Cheryl has been "helping" with some painting though and managed to get white paint on her tail and her back.  Her massive bushy tail is out of control!
Cheryl has been helping with painting, she's covered in white splodges!


  1. Your garden is looking great, so much is happening.
    I am not sure about why your peas aren't producing. We have sparrows that like to eat the new shoots here, so it maybe birds?
    For your silverbeet (or even beetroots) try soaking the seeds overnight. Their casings are very tough, so the add moisture really helps with germination.
    I love your big white chickens. Ours too are moulting, it looks like something killed a few chooks up the back, feathers are everywhere! Will you be butchering the roosters yourselves? I am too much of a wimp to do the deed. If you do, I'd love to see a post about it, I honestly have no idea beyond chopping off their heads....

  2. Thanks Emily, the peas aren't growing at all, I'm thinking maybe a mineral deficiency, or too much nutrients or too much water.....or something else! I'll try the silverbeet tip, I did soak them for 2 hrs as suggested on the packet, but I'm sure longer would be better, I just got impatient. We will be killing the roosters when they get bigger (a few more months) and I'll definitely do a detailed post on the whole process. Its pretty gross, but worth the effort as you know its good meat. Cheers, Liz


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