Monday, March 1, 2010

No chooks for us!!!!!

Yesterday, Gary, Andre and Max drove out to Bacchus Marsh to attend a poultry auction with the hope of purchasing some lovely chooks. I was looking forward to seeing 4 or 6 interesting rare breed hens when I got home from work. Barnevelders, Orphingtons, White Sussex and Wyandottes were top of my wish list, and Andre was keen to get a couple of Frizzles.
However, it seems that you need to know a bit about the whole poultry auction scene to be successful in your bidding. Being auction newbies, my boys didn't really stand a chance, they were pipped at the post by a few dollars on all the chickens they were interested in. I think Gary was a bit intimidated by the person who outbid him and then just hovered over the form to discourage any more bids - it worked perfectly!
They had a great day anyway, and couldn't believe how many people are into chickens, the place was packed with chook fanatics and lots of serious chicken people who knew what they were doing when it came to buying at auction. I think next time we will be a lot better prepared, with a stratagy to bid and protect our bid, and we might even be successful!
Meanwhile I think I'll investigate a few local breeders and see if I can find some of the hens on our list, I'll just have to buy them the old fashion way!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Summer gardening - so much good stuff!

I went down to the Community Garden (The Crib) yesterday, and look what I came home with! I think membership definitely has it's priveledges! I have had enough tomatoes to preserve a big batch, and there are plenty more to come. The Crib Point Community Garden is run on a communal model, so there is plenty of produce to share with members who go and help with the garden, it is really great knowing all this food is super fresh, delicious, local and organically grown. It doesn't get much better than that!

I thought I would show you the view of my oldest vegie garden from our back window. This garden was started about 12 years ago, not long after we moved here. I still love this garden, it is quite a big area and can produce a lot of food when I'm organised, but generally there is always a bit that is doing nothing, just crying out for something to grow. I have expanded over the years and now have several other growing areas as well, and am in the process of converting most of my garden to productive plants , with beautiful edible borders and lush cutting gardens (mostly in my head, but slowly becoming reality).

These are some of our chooks, the tough survivors of The Great Christmas Night Massacre, it was not a pretty sight on Boxing Day finding the fox had been busy while we were away for the night. Eight of our girls were dead, including our 3 very cute frizzles and my favourite White Sussex, the ones that escaped (7 chooks) were very distressed. It was really horrible. I am planning to get a few more chooks soon, maybe some rare breeds, I'll have to look into it. Meanwhile we have a very strict locking up at night routine so Fox can't have a second go.

It has been a good summer for the apples. These are Snow Apples (they have a French name I can't remember right now), and they have been great this year. They are not a big apple, but the flesh is bright white and fairly crisp, and they shine up beautifully. We hardly had any codling moth damage this year, I think having the chooks foraging through the fruit trees has helped, and there was lots of nice cobwebby spider action that must have helped keep the populations down. The Granny Smiths are still ripening, but look a bit small, I think I should have given them more water.

These are a patch of "Banjo"bush beans, zucchinis and capsicums (hidden at the back) with the odd stray potato coming up as well. These grew really well until we got a week of super hot weather and the beans just shrivelled up. Luckily I had already picked over a kilo from them, but they were promising so much more to come. Sigh. They have ended up producing another flush of beans, but they are kind of soft and limp, not that fantastic.

These are some of our climbing beans a bit earlier in the year. They are Rattlesnake beans, which are a favourite of mine - good producers and really delicious! Also a bit battered by the heat, but still produced well.

Anyway, I hope all your gardens are growing well and giving you lots of tasty treats wherever you are in this world!

cheers Jules

Saturday, February 20, 2010

First post for 2010 - better late than never!

I have decided I'm going to give blogging another go, and try to be a lot more regular with my posts! I don't really know what happened to the rest of last year, I meant to do a lot more posting and we achieved a lot of things around the house during 2009 that I wanted to share, but I just never actually sat at the computer and did it. I resolve to do much better this time !

One thing we got finished in the second part of 2009 was our lovely little fence around our fruit trees that gives the chooks a nice big run and lots of extra scratching space. I have made a new garden bed along the outside of this fence that was really productive early in summer - we had early zucchinis and heaps of delicious corn that I thought was planted too early (early Sept) but grew and cropped beautifully. (note to self - do that again this Spring). I also planted some Australian Yellow Leaf lettuce along the edge, and beans and silverbeet that did ok too.
It is time to clear this bed and get it ready for a spectacular autumn crop of brassicas! Can't wait!

The rest of the garden is looking a bit tired and worn out with the hot weather we have been having, I have got a lot of work out there to get stuck into. I have been reading 'The Ivington Diaries' by Monty Don, the garden journals he kept while developing their lovely property. It is very inspiring and is reinvigorating me to get out in the garden even when life is so busy with other things. Also read 'Choosing Eden' by Adrienne Langman over the Christmas break and found it very inspiring as well.

Although I have been very neglectful of my blog, we are actually making a fair bit of head way with our local eating goals, I think we are regularly eating mainly local veg and quite a lot of our fruit is very local(our backyard) or from the Peninsula area (less than 50 km away).
I got on that site Local Food Map and discovered it would be pretty easy to eat the '100 mile' diet living where we do. I am going to explore this idea in more detail at a later date.

Anyway, I think I will take a heap of photos tomorrow and show you what the garden is looking like and what is growing well (and what has carked it!). Bye for now.