Catching up, Christmas & a Daft Chicken

In the week before Christmas there were numerous things to do. The chicken tasks had to take a backseat while I caught up on some gardening and The Husband did some food things. But first, a word on that chicken.

When we had the nice rainy patch I thought that had dealt with Little Teriyaki trying to sleep by himself outside on the auto-feeder. When I cleaned the coop and switched the chickens over to the other pen I thought he had gone in with everyone else the first night. Then I suddenly saw him perched on top of one of the little rods that hold up the window sliders when they’re up. I don’t even know how he managed to get up there. The second night he was about to try and get up there again when I arrived. So, it isn’t just that he liked being on the auto-feeder. He seems to be at the bottom of the pecking order but he also seems to just be a bit daft.

Since this young cockerel is from my least well-coloured hen I’ll be culling him, but even if he wasn’t I wouldn’t want to keep him. He doesn’t have good instincts for protecting himself. To me, that’s a failure for a future head of the flock who’s job it is to protect everyone. Also, he could pass on his lack of intelligence or good instincts to his offspring. It doesn’t seem as big of a deal where we are right now with little predator pressure but when we move somewhere else and also when we sell chickens to other people, I want them to be good at surviving and thriving. This is another step in the direction of selective breeding rather than making decisions based on emotions or appearance alone.

Little Teriyaki is just at the top edge of the photo. His mum, Ninja, is the light hen in the centre. Judith is on the right and her blue son, Little Teriyaki’s half-brother, is on the left. Now, this son of Judith’s is one of my frontrunners.

Right, back to the things. While I mowed the lawn The Husband and The Little Fulla made gingerbread Christmas cookies. Some of them turned out a bit crumbly because The Husband forgot my brown sugar substitute of glucose and molasses and didn’t add the extra molasses needed. I’m just happy he made cookies!

“This man’s a bit broken,” he said, as he picked up the pieces of one gingerbread man and put them on the cooling rack. I replied, “That’s ok, Jesus can fix him – in my tummy!” That definitely fixed him. Later, when the cookies had cooled, I decided I better be the one to put the cookies away because I knew how to deal with the broken pieces.

The Husband made a bunch of peanut butter balls coated in dark chocolate last week, which are one of the most dangerously nice things one could have in one’s house. He did a big batch of roast vegetables that went into bags in the freezer for taking to both family Christmas meals.

I made some chicken puree and froze it into cubes for Miss Scarlet. It did not look appealing at all, not helped by the descriptions The Husband and I were throwing at it – pâté and cat meat – but she seemed to like it. The next new baby food we gave her was mashed banana, because that was an easy option at this time.

I spent a lot of time weeding the vegetable gardens during the week. The main Veggie Garden was mostly plagued with amaranth weeds. Like, little forests of them. The Front Plot was mostly plagued by long grasses of a few different species. I got most of both veggie gardens weeded before Christmas, at least rescuing the crops that were almost getting swallowed by weeds.

I had to get the Front Plot weeded to save the tomato and potato plants from disease and competition and so I could lay the barley straw mulch on. Oh, those grasses were bad. I got a bit of help from The Husband and The Little Fulla. I also got a nasty rash on my legs from one of the grasses or other. Note to self: wear pants while dealing with long grasses.

After I had weeded the three worst rows I could sow more corn (better late than never), sow some watermelon seeds in the corn row (may the snails not get them) and lay barley straw onto the potato row and the tomato row. The Front Plot looks infinitely better now. I had some barley straw left so I put some in the main Veggie Garden since the corn isn’t all up yet. Then I felt like I wanted more. Maybe I should get another bale. What with the weeds and the unusually hot temperatures, the soil needs mulch. I also got some lettuce seedlings planted and watered some of the veggies before I ran out of time.

The derelict potted Christmas tree finally got brought inside and we all decorated it. The Little Fulla put most of the decorations on the tree and took great delight in making little family groups with the ornamental birds. Some bird families got nests (knitted baskets) but each family had special things. One had a shiny decoration, one had some berries and one had three baby Jesus’s in their nest. Score!

My eye caught the little Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Barry’s Silver’ in the garden and thought, “That could make a nice Christmas tree one day”. But I’m not about to subject it to a pot with my track record…

Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Barry’s Silver’.

I got the Christmas presents wrapped and we wrote nice notes to each other to put in our Christmas stockings, topped off by an orange in the stockings of those of us who can eat oranges. I didn’t want to buy more ‘stuff’ this year and reading the nice notes on Christmas morning was actually rather better. I have to knit a Christmas stocking for Miss Scarlet next year because I kind of forgot about her lack of stocking until not-enough-time-to-knit-it. She got one of The Husband’s old socks for this Christmas. I don’t think she noticed.

Everyone got clean sheets in time for Christmas and the chickens got a sunflower seed scramble.

The chickens got thrown plenty of weed goodies the week of Christmas.

Christmas Day was intense, fitting in two family meals at different houses with a baby who has three naps on a stinkin’ hot 29-degree day (84F), but it was nice to see everyone again and we had great food. I would have been happy to eat only potatoes if it meant I could spend time with my family. The Little Fulla came up with a cough last week so we did the responsible thing and got him tested for covid before the Christmas gatherings. He didn’t have covid and wasn’t much affected by the sickness thanks to God, healthy food and elderberry syrup. I’m thankful we were all well to be at our Christmas gatherings. It is not something I take for granted these days.

We were all tired on Boxing Day but we did manage to get the first batch of gherkins pickled for the season. The cucumbers are rocketing at the moment. I got the wire mesh done just in time.

This week is a mixture of catching up with family and fitting in summer gardening, harvesting and chicken jobs. Post-Christmas I’ve cleaned the Henley Hut and a bunch of chicken equipment and butchered a couple of chickens. The plums are just ripening and we’re harvesting Henry’s Climbing Butter beans, cucumbers, salad greens, red pak choy and more. There are a bunch of huge cabbages out there so I really need to make some sauerkraut. The Husband is going to make more tomato soup as we still have heaps of bagged tomatoes in the freezer. And to think I wasn’t eating much as soup in winter because I was worried we might not have enough for meal bases and pizzas. I think that maybe, possibly, I should grow a few less tomato plants next season…

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