Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Got my camera working

Spring! Glorious, beautiful spring. Wildflowers are everywhere, so many I've never seen before and I feel a bit taller, a bit stronger, going on long ambling walks through the nature reserves that seem to be in every conceivable direction down here.


The boys enjoying the dapply sunshine


 Tracey doing good pointing

I'm looking forward to seeing an explosion of lamb, calf and fawn springing up in all the paddocks around the place.

We have quite a bit of new life here as well. Four chickens have come into our lives after Trace's dad built them a stately home in our backyard. Steadman and Lamington are the bantams, and Margaret and Rosie O'Donnell the Isa Browns. I never knew I could fall so hard in love with poultry, but there's something about the way they live their lives that really melts my butter.

They each have distinct personalities. Rosie is the ringleader, very bossy and vocal and will do a big poo on your shoe whilst chattering away if she's not keen on what's happening. She'll follow you around the garden and if you stop and catch her she'll pretend she wants nothing to do with you. I love her spunk. Here she is mid purposeful march.

Margaret is quiet and reserved, and has a great love of smoked salmon and cake. here she is being camera shy, not wishing to come outside of the safety of the coop.

Steadman is the nightwatchlady, perching on top of their bedroom within the coop and keeping an eye on everything. She also has beautiful autumnal plumage and a jaunty mohawk that a recent visitor described as being perfect for Mardi Gras. Here she is perching on top of the compost and surveying her domain.

Lamington is a black bantam crossed with an Aufington, and will peck your hand gently if you try to take the eggs too soon. It clearly states "not yet please", the peck. She has a lovely plump bottom that's all bushy with gleaming black feathers and she waddles around, tilting her head and sussing everyone out.

We found them on gumtree, and drove to Pakenham to a veritable wonderland of pigs, chickens, dogs, alpacas and sheep to select them and brought them home, just like that. The girls started laying within the first day so by all accounts that means they're very happy here. They're free-ranging in the backyard at the moment, having a fantastic time finding all the worms after the rain. I love their contentedness with a simple existence. They are enough just as they are, more than that they are adored for it.

A few weeks ago the dogs escaped into the backyard while they were free ranging and attacked. Steadman flew over the fence (returned by helpful neighbours an hour later), Lamington hid, but the two Isa Browns copped it pretty badly. Everyone is still with us, but it was a harrowing and heartbreaking afternoon. Margaret has a bald patch up on her neck, and the feathers are starting to grow back now, just like on Rosie's bum. Margaret was quite traumatised and wouldn't come out of a dark corner of the coop for a few days - but Rosie literally went and gave her a talking to. I wouldn't believe it if I hadn't seen it, and the next day Margaret was out and about again, engaging in life.

The week before that the dogs attacked Gingko, our thirteen-year-old beautiful ginger cat. We've been teaching them to co-exist inside*, monitoring the situation carefully until everyone was quite calm about being in the same place at the same time. Nobody had looked hungry or pissed off or mental for quite some time, but then after returning home from Jordan's funeral Happy and Clem thought that a fine time to try and eat Gingko.

* Yet another dramatic animal tale! Nice elderly neighbour next door turned out not to be so nice after all, coming to pay me a visit off his chops on a Friday afternoon and told me to put down my cat or he'd catch it in a cat trap. Good times.

A great deal of my time is now spent juggling animals. When the chickens are free-ranging, the dogs are in the loungeroom and the rest of the house except for the study where Gingko luxuriates in a sunny window. When the chickens are safely in their coop, the dogs are outside and Gingko has the whole house. Damn dogs and their blood-thirsty instincts. It's just become part of life so it's all ok really.

The good thing to come from all of this was that after the chicken attack, we froze the dogs out for a few days and did not shower them with ridiculous amounts of love and attention just for sitting there or having faces, so they're a lot more obedient now. We'll never trust them again but it's a good start. Here's a picture of Happy Jesus feeling ashamed of himself and also confused.

The garden is going great guns, there's lots that we'd like to change so occasionally Tracey or I will rip out some uggo plant that we don't like and feel all mighty and powerful. On the flip side of that, we've been raising some plants from seed in the sunroom and I can't tell you what a thrill it is to see those seeds bursting into wee little seedlings. So far we've got rocket, lettuce, peach melba nasturtiums, tri-colour zucchini, five-coloured silverbeet, edible chrysanthemum, pink melaleuca, seed potatoes my sister gave us and a few other bits and pieces. I'm waiting for the weather to be a wee bit warmer before going into      the springtime seeds.

We found some great raised garden beds online, had them and a big tonka truck of dirt delivered and Trace is wheelbarrowing the dirt through in batches, and we have one full box o dirt so far for the seedlings. It's pretty exciting. Tracey planted a garden gnome, pictured left.

Life's good and precious and fleeting. It's been fun playing with the fancy camera, blowed if I know how to format this blog though. Got a lovely book in the mail - The Chicken Chronicles by Alice Walker (she wrote The Color Purple). I'll look forward to stealing a patch of sun and reading it in the backyard with our girls. Happy spring to you and thanks for reading xo

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