Sunday, November 30, 2008

WOO HOO! We got an egg ...!


At long last .... Emily the australorp decided we had waited nice and patiently, so today was her day. I took the side off the chook house this afternoon to clean it out - no egg, but holy cow what a mess in there .....

I knew something was going on, one of the lovingly-prepared (!) laying boxes was a wreck, the wood shavings all over and the newspaper underneath shredded to bits and thrown all over .... the laying box was actually moved (how strong are these chookies?)

So while we were pottering around the garden doing lots of planting, Emily started acting oddly, kept jumping back in her house instead of free-ranging. When she started re-arranging the eggbox I knew what was coming. And crikey I think the whole street knew when she was laying- what a noise!

She emerged triumphant and we rushed like mad people to check out the box- there it was, our very first home-grown, perfect little light brown egg! Maybe only fellow chooky-people will get how excited we were, others maybe think we've gone a little loopy?

Anyway, we were very proud of her, and I was so impressed she even used the 'other/nice' laying box (they one they don't sleep and poo in!)

Hopefully the other 3 will catch on soon - one egg between 4 of us is a little meal !

Our clever Emily :-)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Photo Tag

I've been 'tagged' by Lucy at Blue Mountains Menagerie (a local lady who also loves her chooks and other animals!) to do a photo meme - so here it is.....

Instructions are -

Go to your sixth picture folder in your picture file on your computer

Pick your sixth picture

Try to remember the details

Post it on your blog

We bought ourselves a new you-beaut digi camera for Xmas 2003, (now ancient and outdated!)

This was taken Jan 2004, when I was trying some of the features and doing arty-farty pics.

Its B&W, on macro or maybe super-macro, and although I can't remember taking it, it looks like lichen growing on a tree trunk? The rest of that folder has pics of Lawson bushwalk, so that must be where it was.

Thanks Lucy for the tag :-) in turn I am tagging -

DL at dl's trials and tribulations in the garden
and Julie at towards sustainability

Monday, November 17, 2008

Weekend Update...

Bits and pieces this weekend ...

Gardening update - planted some seeds yesterday into containers, I'm getting a bit annoyed with disappearing seedlings just as they are coming up (although the beer trap has worked wonders with the slugs!) so put this lot into pots first .....

Climbing beans -Blue Lake
Zucchini -Black Beauty
Beetroot - Rainbow mix
Cape Gooseberry - chooks ate all my little seedlings last time :-(

Also put lots of Cos Lettuce & Meslun mix into a broccoli box, which will hopefully fill the box in a few weeks.

Really imressed with the beans I planted last weekend
(cherokee wax and purple king) - have come up great in 7 days!

Also re-potted some 'grosse lisse' tomatoes which actuallygerminated this time (too cold earlier?) Got 10 decent plants out - can't believe these were in 1 strawberry container 2 days ago!!!!

Moved all the potatoes from the side of the house, just as they are starting to grow, as I remembered that we has termite treatment in the soil underneath their patch (OH OH !!!) Definitely don't want to be eating that thanks. Luckily they hadn't sent roots down so should be fine....

Chook Update-
Lady (the II !) is doing really well, has really grown since we got her, fattened out a bit and is definitely the most daring of the bunch. She is the only one who will actually approach us and doesn't carry on too much if we want to hold her! She is always the first out of the chook house and always comes up to me when I say hello in the mornings (ok, probably just wants the food, but still she is cute!)
The others are getting used to us more, the reds still flapping around if go too near, but yesterday we managed to have all 4 of them eating grain out of our hands!! Hooray! ('course I didn't have the camera handy)
Still no eggs ...... only the plastic ones I put in the nest to give them a clue!
Kids Crafty time -
kids craft this weekend was actually more mine - I made this wall chart for them to learn days of the week, and hopefully so they will stop the constant "what we doing today?"
I had looked around for something similar to buy, but the only couple I found were a) very expensive, b) had pre-made labels that didn't suit us, and c) really small.
So I came up with this- big sheet of card from local post office ($1.20) and some scraps we had from other projects, made lots of labels that just stick on with blue-tack and can change each week. Kids stuck various stickers here and there, and it now lives on our pantry door!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Why did the chicken cross the road?

(Long .... but funny !!!)

SARAH PALIN: Before it got to the other side, I shot the chicken, cleaned and dressed it, and had chicken burgers for lunch.

BARACK OBAMA: The chicken crossed the road because it was time for a change! The chicken wanted change!

JOHN MC CAIN: My friends that chicken crossed the road because he recognized the need to engage in cooperation and dialogue with all the chickens on the other side of the road.

HILLARY CLINTON: When I was First Lady, I personally helped that little chicken to cross the road. This experience makes me uniquely qualified to ensure right from Day One that every chicken in this country gets the chance it deserves to cross the road. But then, this really isn't about me.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

DICK CHENEY: Where's my gun?

COLIN POWELL: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with that chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am not for it now and will remain against it.

AL SHARPTON: Why are all the chickens white? We need some black chickens.

DR PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken doesn't realize that he must first deal with the problem on this side of the road before it goes after the problem on the other side of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his current problems before adding new problems.

OPRAH: Well, I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed access to the other side of the road.

NANCY GRACE: That chicken crossed the road because he's guilty! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level. No little bird gave me any insider information.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain, alone.

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart-warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its lifelong dream of crossing the road.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together, in peace.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken 2008, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your checkbook. Internet Explorer is an integral part of eChicken 2008. This new platform is much more stable and will never crash or need to be rebooted.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

:-) :-) :-) :-)

Taken from Backyard Poultry forum here

Monday, November 10, 2008

Slug results !!

OK, so if you didn't read my last post about beer traps- go there first!

I was pretty pleased (though also nauseated) with the results this morning - 32 slimy slugs, drank their last VB last night .....

Quite disgusting, but it beats having them all over my lettuces.

Not wanting to spend $2.5o buying them drinks every night, so slugs went in the compost and the beer back out in the patch again. Did fleetingly consider asking for the leftover dregs at the local pub, but worried about getting reputation as alcoholic/deranged-slug-killer-woman (besides, probably not the first person to ask!)

Hmmm.... Monday morning - strained dead slugs out of beer traps. Must get more hobbies.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

This weekend in the garden ...

Gardening update- planted some more seeds into containers today. My original plan was to plant something every week to make sure there's always something on the go at various stages.

Planted -
Bush Beans -cherokee wax (black beans in cream pods)
Climbing Beans - purple king (purple pods)
Watermelon - Moon and stars
Peppermint, hopefully to make tea (smallest seeds I've ever seen!)

.... all in recycled containers until they germinate (yoghurt pots, strawberry cartons, snow pea cartons) as the slugs are feasting here on my veggie patch this week, so much rain, they have eaten ALL my Blue Lake beans just as they were getting big, they've also had go at all they leafy veg, zuchini, tomatoes .... aarrrgggghhh ! This way I'll grow them big and strong before planting out.

So we are trying an organic method of slug control- the BEER TRAP! Hubby bought a bottle of VB tonight (quite weird as we don't drink, so had to shell out $2.50 just for the slugs) and I filled some containers and have set my traps! The idea is they will be attracted to the beer, crawl in and then get stuck and drown.

Either that or they will invite all their mates round, order pizza and start playing AC/DC at 2am .......

Yesterday made another no-dig bed at the sunny side of the house, (couple of metres long x about 50cm wide) to plant the next lot of tomatoes into (have about 11 seedlings waiting squished in a strawberry carton).

Did it like this -

1. roughly clear weeds/ grass from area
2. cover ground thickly with newspapers for the base (at least 6-8 sheets thick, overlap the edges)
3. build up with lucerne mulch to about 15cm deep
4. next layer was a load of fine wood shavings/shredded newspaper/chicken manure (just cleaned chook house out!)
5. layer of straw about 10cm deep

Water each layer in between, esp paper or it will fly all over your garden!

When I'm ready to plant I will just put small piles of compost, soil, or potting mix to plant the seedlings into. Maybe some blood and bone too. By the time the plants are putting down roots, the manure will be composted and the whole pile will be settling.

Have got a few no-digs on the go and they seem to work really well. This is my biggest though. Its next to a small bed of potatoes that have FINALLY surfaced ... hooray!

Quite a productive weekend !

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Think Global, Act Local

I had the privilege of being present at a talk today given by Lis Bastian, a truly inspirational woman who lives here in the Blue Mountains. She was trained by Al Gore when he visited Australia and has been spreading the message ever since about the current global crisis, the urgency with which we need to act and what we need to do.

While some aspects of her talk left our group feeling somewhat dismayed about our planets future, she also gave us hope that positive changes could be made at 'grass roots' level. Some of the topics covered included 'big-picture' topics like de-forestation, peak oil and effects of climate change, as well as things WE can do to counteract negative effects - planting vegetation, soil improvement, returning carbon to the earth, recycling and waste reduction..... a real confirmation of 'think global, act local'

It was also heartening for me to realise that some of these things we are already doing here at home. Things that a lot us do - recycling, re-using, composting, planting, growing food, seed saving, supporting local businesses rather than multi-national companies- all contribute to a better environment for ourselves and future generations.

It is easy to become overwhelmed and powerless at the 'bigger picture' and disheartened at the doom and gloom of it all, but it is also easy to make ONE change to your lifestyle every now and then, and in doing that feel you are making a difference.

Wow, I think this morning was pretty big for me. I'll get off my soapbox now!

Check out Lis Bastians blog -

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lazy Days skirt

So now I'm really discovering my inner-domestic-goddess!

I've seen this skirt pattern in a few places- first on aussies living simply (my second home!) and then on a couple of blogs ... so I thought I'd dust off the sewing machine give it a go.

The pattern is online from Oliver + S - click here for the link and its so simple even I managed it. (I did have a couple of unpicking/re-sewing moments but I have trouble doing straight lines!!)

The fabric I have had for ages (see? hoarding bits of stuff really does come in handy!) I knew I would do something with it some day. Its a really pretty pink cotton with rosebuds, very girly! Bought some bright pink ribbon for the bottom edge, (just over 1 metre) and some new elastic - total cost would be around $2. Not bad eh?

My daughter (3) loves it - said "I'm really happy about that skirt mummy!" so got the ultimate seal of approval.

Now we just need some warm days again .....

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Meet the girls ....!

It's almost 2 weeks since we got our first chooks, and we are loving them! We bought 4, all around 16-18 weeks old, so nearly laying age. We have 2 Australorps, called Lady and Emily and 2 Rhode Island Reds, Rosie and Ruby-Lou. They are lovely!

We have never kept poultry before so its all a bit new, but there are plenty of books and websites with loads of info that has helped us a lot.
Both Australorps and RIR's are known to be friendly, sociable birds, not flighty or nervy (all important when you have kids wanting to handle them all the time!) and very good egg-layers.

I am hoping they will start laying soon, but in the meantime they are lovely pets and giving us plenty of manure for the compost!

Only problem is our dog who thinks we have bought him some new toys .... or lunch? Was hoping the chooks would free-range and he would ignore them, but no. So taking turns who has the back garden for now....

Choc-chip cookies

Mmmmm.... choc-chip cookies ....!

Made these yesterday with the kids, really simple and quick (my kind of recipe!)

Got the recipe from the side of the carnation milk tin-

180g butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup carnation milk
1 1/2 cups SR flour
250g dark choc chips
1/2 cup white choc chips

1. preheat oven to 180c. grease 3 oven trays.
2. beat butter & sugar til creamy, add carnation milk and flour, stir till combined.
3. add choc chips, mix well.
4. spoon mixture into small balls onto trays
5. bake for 15 mins until golden

I used about half the dark choc chips and didn't bother with the white ones (not a fan), seemed like enough. Used baking paper instead of greasing tins. After the butter/sugar bit, kids can 'help' with the rest of the mixing (we did have a bit of a flour incident :-) and they did have to 'test' quite a few choc chips first!

Supposed to make a whopping 48, ours did about 40 but they were big. I think hazelnuts added would make them even better....

Absolutely delish, I am so not a biscuit-baker but these were so easy I will definitely make them again. Probably very soon.