Friday, January 30, 2009

Broody Rosie

Rosie, one of our lovely Rhode Island Reds has been acting a little strange for a few days now- spending lots of time on the nest, making the weirdest noise when I go near her and fluffing herself up like a puffball .... but she was still laying so initially I discounted broodiness.

Today however, she didn't lay, and has made it very clear that she is sitting ready for her chicks, thank you very much! Small problem though, in that we don't have rooster, and we don't want to raise chicks yet, so this is where Rosie and I are having a little disagreement!

I didn't think we would have this issue yet, she is a cross-breed (usually less broody) and only been laying for 2 months. I hope the other 3 don't get ideas ....

She has hardly been off the nest all day, in fact only when I remove her and I 'shoo' her to make her walk around the garden, (thats a sight to see!) Although even then she stands, feathers all puffed up and squawks at me in disgust! I don't mind losing an egg a day, we have plenty (27-28 a week) and are giving some away to friends. Problem is, it is not good for hens to allow them to be broody indefinitely (if you don't have fertile eggs to give her) as they do become entirely focused on sitting in the nest, and nothing else, often not eating or drinking, and not wanting to move around, scratch outside etc. like normal behaviour. She already looks thinner and its so hot I have to keep making her drink.

The other problem is my other 3 chooks can't get on the nest as she's hogging it! They are laying somewhere near it, although I did see a disturbing sight this morning- one of our Australorps, Lady, had managed to squeeze in, but then Rosie just sat on top of her like Mother Hen! So there was an elevated Rosie with Lady's head stuck out from under her wing!

I've read up today on ALS and BYP (Backyard Poultry) for info, and it looks like its either raising chicks or breaking her out of broodiness. The most successful method usually involves isolating her for a few days in a separate airy cage, with plenty food/water but no nesting materials. Apparently if she has access to a warm, cosy nest -she could stay broody for months :-(
An airy cage with no nest will cool her body temp down enough to break the broodiness. Sounds cruel, but worse would be to let her carry on and risk her health.

What a steep learning curve this is!

Anyway, here is our fluffball Rosie- with a mean look in her eye as I approached with the camera!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Australia Day 2009

As some of you know, I wasn't born in Australia, but in England. However, having spent a total of 16 years here now (5 years when I was a teenager, and 11 years so far this time) I really do call Australia home. And I do feel more than a little patriotic on Australia Day - I love it! It's a time to reflect on what it means to live here, to feel like you belong here. I truly appreciate the chance I was given to return to this beautiful country. Its the place I want to be for the rest of my life with my family.
Top 10 things I love about Australia .....
  1. The Blue Mountains - I never tire of seeing them
  2. The smell of gum trees on a hot day
  3. The summer storms and the smell of rain on the hot earth
  4. The weird and wonderful animals
  5. Manly Beach
  6. Sydney harbour
  7. Catching the ferry between them!
  8. Uluru - once visited, never, ever forgotten
  9. The persistently optimistic national attitude of "She'll be right mate"
  10. Our beautiful children were born here

To everyone out there, wherever you are .....

have a wonderful Australia Day :-)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

HUGE knitting! (no, not mine!)

I thought this website might be of interest to some of you out there......

My MIL sent me the link (I think in jest - I have a barely-started scarf from 2 years ago) !

The woman is based in the UK, but her ideas could be used anywhere by anyone who has knitting skills. She makes wonderful rugs, wall art and HUGE knitting projects using needles the size of BROOM HANDLES! Inspired by her wonderful global travels.

Its truly amazing. I LOVE the rugs! So warm and inviting, perfect for those cold afternoons (she says, currently in 32 degrees!)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Seed saving

A few of my plants have gone to seed recently in the heat- I half neglected them and half meant for this to happen so I can try a bit of seed saving.

I picked these seeds today - from an Italian flat-leaf parsley. There are a load of heads like this one but the others are still green so 'll leave them a while. I usually just buy seedlings but will give these a go and plant them later this week (nothing ventured nothing gained!) Apparently they can take up to 6 weeks to germinate, so I'll keep updating .... but it may be a while!

Also have some coriander (cilantro) going to seed - bit green though so I'm hoping they will dry on the plant too?

I also saved some seeds from our hot chilli and planted them out yesterday- I can't even imagine eating more than one plant produces as they are SO FIERY, but they just look so pretty!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Invade and destroy mission...

OK - not happy about 'the patch'. Actually, what I'm not happy about is our chooks destroying the patch.

On Monday they managed to find a way in through the netting we have around the outside (by ripping a great hole in it). They have not been interested EVER until now so I was shocked to see them in there. By the time I saw them they had obviously been in there a while, and as anyone who has kept hens will know, they just LOVE to scratch and dig.

They managed to uproot ALL the beetroots and capsicum plants, squashed and trampled the carrot tops flat and dug around a couple of tomato plants down to expose the roots. So after a firm chook removal from the patch, I tried to recover what I could and replant them.

This may have worked ......... had they not returned to do the same thing an hour later. AARRRGGGHHH !!!! Of course I thought I'd make it chook proof, but apparently not.

So in all, after managing to save only a couple, we have lost 12 beetroots, 3 capsicum plants, 1 tomato plant and not sure about the carrots. They ate a fair amount of silverbeet and some lettuce, but just the leaves, so they will grow back.

This comes after our purple king beans have been pretty much destroyed by ?? something last week. I had 5 healthy plants growing up a bamboo tepee, about 2 metres tall and just flowering, until something decided the leaves looked nice and juicy and munched them all away. I made a spray from molasses and pure soap, (supposed to stop caterpillars in their tracks) and set up a few vegemite/sugar slug traps. This seems to have stopped the destruction, but there's hardly anything left on the plants now so I'm not sure they will make it.

The toughest part is that I have grown all of these from seed this year, so it has taken a lot of time, effort and care to get them this far. I suppose this is another part of the lesson? I thought planting more than you need was so you could give some away to friends!

So, all in all, not good news on the gardening front. Oh, and for those non-locals, the last 3 days here have reached almost 40 degrees, so everything (including me!) is suffering from the heat too.

As for the chookies, I am back on speaking terms with them (!) the 4 of them are laying every day to ensure their place here remains! The patch now looks like Fort Knox, although I don't think Fort Knox was secured with holey bird net, old boxes and wheelbarrows .....

Weekend task - putting a proper post & chicken wire fence around the patch.