In Which Rain Arrives

It’s been a tiring week for me. While most people are probably busy with Christmas preparations and end-of-year things, I’ve been swamped with household and homestead chores and tasks in the aftermath of going through some hard things this year. I’ve been making a big push to get certain things done while The Husband is around to help with Miss Scarlet.

To my great joy, God watered the garden for me. A few days of abundant rain arrived just in time to give the crops what they needed. It also gave us some relief from the hot sunny weather. I found myself winding the tomatoes in the rain but it wasn’t so bad. The weeds, on the other hand, have been very bad. I’ve only made a small dent in them this week. But I haven’t been swallowed by them yet, so that’s always a bonus.

Asiatic lily – Lilium ‘Detroit’.

I got the bathroom cleaned, caught up on washing and vacuumed the car. The car was starting to look like a nativity scene since we picked up some barley straw for mulching the potatoes. We had the straw, the baby, the tired parents… No donkey though. I also got feed, wood shavings and oyster grit for the chickens and cat biscuits for the cat – things we needed to get before businesses closed for Christmas.

I got two more chickens butchered. I didn’t have enough time to make a well-assessed decision about a second cockerel to cull so Penny Black was the second chicken. That dealt with one broody hen anyway. Penny Black was Frodo’s last daughter and the last chicken of the Frodo line. It is sad but at the same time I actually feel relieved that I don’t have to be careful about any more chickens with red feathers in their genetics. It was a challenge I wanted to work on breeding out but I realised I didn’t have the space or time to work on that and the rest of the purebred flock. Just because something seems like a good thing to do doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. We now have all purebred Australorps with no whoopsies in their lineage, to my knowledge. I’m having to grow most of the youngies on a bit more as it’s too hard to decide which ones are the best at this stage. Last season I had masses of Frodo’s grandchildren that had to go straight to the freezer because of colour issues or other features that weren’t good enough. I can see progress and clear direction, and that is satisfying.

Another big task I did was getting the main coop, Featherburn Lodge, fully cleaned. One of the broody hens, Trillium, finally gave up after being ousted from the nestbox two or three times a day but Morpheus is a staunch broody so she is in the broody breaker cage now. The Little Fulla has been scoffing down scrambled eggs for breakfast almost every morning since The Husband has been able to help him make them, so I need to keep on top of the broody hens now.

The chickens are always happy on pen moving day.
Some of Ninja and Sage’s young daughters.

Also a big task, one I hadn’t written down but that was on my mental list, was re-fencing the upper section of the fence between the Veggie Garden and the Citrus Pen. It was on my goals list for the year and I had the wire mesh for it. I needed to replace the upper layer of chicken netting with the wire mesh with much larger openings to help the veggies grow up and through it. I didn’t want another season of tying plants all the way up to the top and getting tomato plants with squished heads from getting stuck in the small netting. The tomatoes and cucumbers along the fence were badly in need of tying to the upper part so if I didn’t get it done soon plants would get broken or the task would have to wait until the crops came out in autumn next year. I did it by myself, which I can’t recommend, as it is tricky wrangling a roll of mesh and hammering it on at this height. I am very happy to have it done though. I can weave the plants in and out of the 10x10cm (4x4in) squares and chicks can’t escape out of the pen at that height.

I replaced the upper section of chicken wire with this wire mesh, which is much better for vegetable plants to grow through.
Now the cucumbers can really get going.
The far end of the fence with cherry tomatoes growing up it. In front of them are orach and red bok choy plants.

Here are some more views of the main Veggie Garden.

The bean wall is coming along nicely.
Yes, so many beans!

I picked probably the biggest cauliflower I’ve ever grown. This variety is Ruapehu. The plants grew very large and more slowly than the All The Year Round cauliflower, which I’ve been growing for several years, but the resulting heads are far better so I am inclined to choose this heritage variety next time.

Cauliflower Ruapehu.

This week I shall be working on:

  • Mowing the lawn.
  • Weeding both vegetable gardens.
  • Sowing more corn.
  • Planting lettuces.
  • Spreading the barley straw on the potato plants.
  • Cleaning the Henley Hut.
  • Cleaning the chicken equipment.
  • Making more baby food.
  • Replacing the ventilation system filter.
  • Making food for Christmas Day.
  • Bringing in and decorating the Christmas tree.
  • Wrapping the presents.
  • Probably other things I’ve temporarily forgotten about.

Writing lists really does help me to get the things done. I did have a nice, well-deserved nap this afternoon though and a break from big tasks today. I hope you have a great week whatever you’re doing and don’t forget to take a break when you need to. Rest is important too. Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas little two-spined spider.


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