Getting Back to The Garden (And More Chicks)

We’ve had some warmer days here and it is oh, so nice. Or it was until it got stormy again. Despite being stuck in Level 3 again there is plenty to be grateful for. New life abounds as the trees grow their fresh green leaves, the cold frame fills with seedlings and from the brooder box comes the cheeping of little fluffballs once again.

I get no end of joy out of sunrises over the hills, even if they’re heralding rain.
The Father rescued some daffodils from the weeds before lockdown and this is the reward.

The pumpkin and squash seeds have all been germinated and potted up. This season we’ve got butternuts, Chuck’s Winter and, hopefully, Wee Bee Little pumpkins. I bought seeds of Pink Banana Jumbo squash earlier in the year as I wanted another crack at growing it after the failed attempt a few years ago. Unfortunately, the seeds I received looked old and they all seem to be going mouldy instead of germinating. There were seeds of another variety in the same paper towel that all germinated so it’s fair to say the Pink Banana Jumbo seeds were dud. I suspect old seeds were part of the reason for my failure with it last time. Doesn’t anyone have fresh, NZ-grown seeds of it?

My Quest to Save The Wee Bee Littles continues. This season I’ve only started seeds saved from the two pumpkins that grew on Plant #2 last season – the pumpkin that was most Wee Bee Little-like. The flowers weren’t isolated though, so they could have cross-pollinated with the plants beside them. No other Cucurbita pepo varieties are allowed in the garden until I have completed my quest to get them back as pure as possible. I will be watching the plants and fruits closely and anything not Wee Bee Little-like enough will be ripped out. I have enjoyed eating pumpkins with the Wee Bee Little flavour again.

I’m sowing beans in 6-cell trays now. That gives them a head start on the slugs and snails. There are a lot of beans to sow. A lot of beans. I’ve only sowed five varieties so far and there are nine more climbing varieties to go, plus a few bush beans. I’ve run out of space in the coldframe for now so they’re going to be encroaching on the dining room windowsill. The biggest of the tomatoes have been underneath the outdoor table but we’ve got a few cold nights in a row forecast so I’m not taking anything else out of the coldframe yet.

The broccoli is finally maturing and getting eaten by us. I’ve been harvesting it smaller from The Front Plot so the potatoes can get in soon. The purple sprouting broccoli in the Veggie Garden is also getting harvested. The slug and snail population has gone bonkers so we’re squashing them when we can.

I’m not sure why I planned to grow the corn in the Front Plot row where the garlic is right now because I need to sow the corn but the garlic obviously isn’t ready to harvest yet. All I can say is “pregnancy”. Yes, let’s go with that reason. Yes, it is more than three months since I was pregnant.

The garden is still largely a mess but I’m slowly chipping away at weeding and things when I can. I started working my way through the Walnut Tree Garden out the front, trying to rescue my plants in there from the weeds. It it mostly full of Stinking Roger. Stinking Roger! It could be worse though, at least it’s not full of long grass weeds like it is further down. It is a joy to be able to do normal garden tasks again. I have missed the garden so much. Most of the time I still have to be responsible and take care of the cooking, washing, cleaning and other needs of the family though. I spend a lot of time looking at the garden out the window while making up songs to calm Miss Scarlet down: “We alllllll have to burp sometimes…”

Dealing with Stinking Roger. Yes, this is what my garden has come to. At least some of my good plants are still alive so far…

The tall pear tree by the back fence is next in line for some major pruning. The neighbours up the back are going to plant blueberries along the fence so I’d like to get some of the major branches pruned beforehand so as not to damage their plants. I have marked branches for The Husband to chainsaw.

Pear tree blossoms.

The neighbours right beside us have literally ripped into their paddock to turn it into a garden. If I can’t rip into big outdoor projects right now, watching others do it is the next best thing. A digger dug out all the stumps of the trees that were in there and dug out a drain along the fence line with our place. Wood is being chopped and chipped like nobody’s business. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

The Batch #3 chicken eggs, the last batch for now, have hatched. We have 14 little fluffballs in the brooder box. There were 15 eggs at lockdown, a couple of which looked a bit behind or failed when I candled them. I left them in as I wasn’t sure about them. Thirteen eggs hatched just fine and then we got to the slow Ninja chick that eventually needed help pushing out of its shell on Day 23. The last egg had failed just before lockdown by the looks of it. I hope the slow chick is a boy so we can just eat it. That might sound odd, but it’s the worst chick out of 34 we’ve hatched so far this season. I will not be keeping it or selling it. I have a policy that chicks that hatch on Day 23 are no good as that has been my experience with our chickens and incubator. It’s a slightly vague policy. I’m feeling too maternal to cull the chick right now. It doesn’t have leg problems or anything so we might as well raise it for the freezer. All of Judith’s and Jemima’s eggs hatched.

Most of the chicks turned out to be blue. We got one splash chick, a Jemima baby, which is better than none, and maybe three black chicks. Several of the chicks are quite dark so I’m not entirely sure if they’re blue or black.

One thing that helped Miss Scarlet get used to sleeping in her bed was her mobile that was gifted to us. We didn’t have anything to hang it on at the time so The Husband used his ingenuity to erm, temporarily hang it as safely as possible above the cot to one side. The clamp method works if you’re desperate but I can’t really recommend it! I bought a bracket along with some other things I’d ordered, so I have safely installed the mobile now. Also, it spins better now. When I put Miss Scarlet down to sleep I spin it around a bunch of times and she loves to watch it spin back around as she’s settling in bed.

How you probably shouldn’t hang a mobile above your baby’s bed.
How to properly hang a mobile above your baby’s bed.

The Husband brought home another blessing: a pile of stainless steel chafer dishes, some large plastic bowls and a storage cube. Did somebody say, “Homesteading supplies”?! They were from an establishment that went out of business and they were throwing them away. We couldn’t understand it. The Husband knows the value of stainless steel equipment from his chef days and I know the value of them from looking at them online. I’ve been wanting some chafing dishes for cooking, prepping, butchering… I could find endless uses for them. God kindly provides us with the most unexpected things sometimes.

Shiny treasure.

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