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Posts Tagged ‘Chickens’

 

Nessa, Kenso and Demelza - a happy chicken family.

 

Chicken Update

Our new chicks are now fully feathered and 6 weeks old.  Mum Demelza is still actively mothering the chicks who are becoming increasingly bold and independent day by day.

The biggest problem we have had has been the need to separate Tabbitha from the flock.  Tabbitha is a Leghorn bantam and sister to Demelza. Instead of becoming broody she has become increasingly agressive towards the chicks. After a week of Tabbitha waking us up every morning with her attempts to crow we needed to do something. A crowing hen will soon have all the neighbours offside.  Last night we swapped the chickens around placing Demelza and chicks in the new run and Tabbitha back in her old run – hazaar she has stopped crowing!

It seems that Tabbitha is turning broody but wants to brood her eggs in the coop she is familiar with.  Demelza and the chicks seem happy anywhere so long as they are together.  The plan is now to leave them separated until the chicks are three months old by which time I hope Tabbitha has passed in and out again of broodiness and should be ready to share space again.  Here’s hoping!

Tomatoes

The Roma tomatoes continue to develop with blossom end rot.  Other tomatoes are fruiting but not in spectacular bounty.  There is still a second bed to come on – but at this stage it is looking like another poor harvest with no surplus for bottling – fail!

Eating the Produce

Tonight I am making Potato, Onion and Cheese Pancakes with Sour-cream and Chive dressing.  There are enough tomatoes ready to pick to make a Butter Crunch Lettuce, Tomato and Cucumber Salad.

Butter Crunch Lettuce has again performed really well in our sandy soil.  My cucumbers have not yet produced fruit so I have swapped a promise of honey for cucumbers with a college at work.

Garden tasks for February

We have had extremely strong winds today so tomorrow will be spent tying up plants that have fallen over in the wind and assessing the state of the garden.  We have had rain in the last week but the garden is looking very dry.  I think it is too late to sow any more seeds but I would like to try another sowing of Purple King Beans.

I intend to visit the Market tomorrow to see if there are any Vegetable seedlings worth planting now. Otherwise the next task for February is to work out in which order the Chicken Coop will rotate around the vegetable beds and planning the planting for the winter crop.

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30 January 2010 - Harvest

 

We are enjoying a mild January in Melbourne, Australia.  Some rain and only a few days over 40 degrees.

This post is an update on progress in the vegetable garden. As usual there have been some spectacular failures and some minor successes.

This photo shows todays harvest:

One zucchini that hid long enough to become a marrow. I can’t account for it but the zucchini plants have hardly produced at all this year.  The plants look great and are flowering but not setting fruit?

Two Pumpkin Delicata.  For the first time ever this lovely little pumpkin plant has produced fruit.  It seems to like the spot in which it was grown this year in a bed that has sun in the morning but shade in the heat of the day.

PakchoiPakchoi is doing really well this year and is now ready to harvest.  The one that I picked today was full of white cabbage moth eggs so there will be a race between us and the grubs to eat them first.  Tomorrow is forecast to be a hot day if the predicted cool change hits in the afternoon I will spray the inside of the pakchoi with molasses diluted in water. Don’t know why but grubs hate this and it is an effective control so long as you remember to reapply after rain.

The bean trellis in this photo should be covered in Ceylon Spinach by now. Not a one has turned up.  Next year I will start the seeds in jiffy pots and plant them out as seedlings.

Tomatoes have put in a patchy performance this summer.  Cherry Bite, Beef Steak and Green Zebra have all fruited very well. Roma tomatoes planted in the same bed as the others have all come down with Blossom End Rot.  Blossom End Rot is usually caused by uneven watering or a lack of calcium.  I’ve added extra Blood and Bone to this bed so I’m hoping that subsequent Romas will be OK.  Very puzzling!

 

Nessa and Kenso

 

Our two little Buffy Pekin chicks are growing very quickly.  They are now five weeks old and covered in white feathers apart from their baby yellow fluffy heads.

They are now eating half crumble and half growing crumb as well as pecking over scraps with their mum. Melon skins and fruit is a early favorite.

Unfortunately we are not able to keep roosters in suburban Melbourne so when Kenso is three months old he will need to return to the farm (very sad he is such a feisty little chap).

Most of February will focus on keeping the garden watered and planning winter crops.  

Waiting for February heat.

 

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Mr Cornwall went out to the chickens yesterday to collected our daily egg and discovered that the chicks had already hatched.

Surprise!

All has gone very well – until this morning.

I was watering the garden in preparation for another scorcher when I heard alarmed chick peeps coming from the run.  Bad Aunty Chicken was standing on one chick in the middle of the run pecking at it – hence the peeps.

Needless to say we have separated Bad Aunty into her own temporary run.

Mum Chicken and both Chicks seem OK so far.

Happy New Year!

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Demelza settling in the new Potentials.

Demelza has taken on two more eggs to brood. A friend who is trying to raise two Guinea Fowl got home this evening to find that his broody had given up sitting – so he dashed the eggs over here to place under our faithful Demelza.

Tricky thing is that Buffys and Guinea Fowl have different incubation periods, GF a week longer than the Buffy so Demelza will only have to sit on four eggs until an alternative broody chicken can be found…

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Our chicken Demelza has gone very broody and as luck would have it a friends at work had some spare Buffy Bantam Eggs fertilised and waiting to go into her incubator.  We have never raised chicks before so this is a very exciting Christmas project for the Backyard Farm.

The 'Potentials' arrive home ready to go under Demelza - B1 & B2

We waited until dusk and then snuck the eggs under Demelza – who quickly resettled putting the eggs against the warm patch of bare skin she has plucked on her belly.  I know that this is athropomorphising but she seemed to be making little happy chicken noises, lol.

The Mother Hen - Demelza the Leghorn Bantam.

So now we wait three weeks.  I’ve been reading up on how to raise the chicks, so far it seems we need to:

  • Help Demelza keep the nest clean.
  • Make sure she leaves the eggs and eats once a day (books say some chicken can stare to death?)
  • Sprinkle the eggs with water in the two days before hatching (three weeks away) so that if the eggs have dried out at all the hatchlings don’t stick to the egg membrane.
  • Buy baby chicken food – crumble at the Produce Store.

We aren’t allowed to keep Rosters in this part of Urban Melbourne – so if the Potentials turn out to be Spike and Angel rather than Buffy and Faith – they will return to the farm on which they were conceived.  By the time we know if they are Rosters or Hens Demelza will not be too interested in them anymore.

So very exciting run up to Christmas here – it seems that spring brooded hens will be winter layers – this will help with keeping eggs available for the kitchen all year round.  Tabbitha is still laying and happy to be the boss of the chicken coop for a change.

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Hi again, for a number of reasons I stopped blogging at the end of last summer:

  • after my last post the temperatures here soared to the mid 40’s and the bush in my state exploded in to a fiery inferno
  • the vegetable garden was absolutely fried, desiccated, dead as a do do with in hours
  • the chicken only just made it through with lots of TLC and ice-blocks in their nest, paddling pool and drinking water.

I think in the end I felt that growing vegetables at home in this new climate was going to be impossibly impractical so I’ve not planted the garden this winter – glum, glum, hoe, hum.

So it’s imbolc this sunday – and as this blog has no readership  – it feels a little bit like casting thoughts out into the great beyond.  I thought I would work on sparking the garden up again for spring and tracking the garden progress as it goes.

They have said that this coming summer is likely to be ‘the worst fire storm ever’ – so I guess it’s time to figure out how to garden in the fire flume.

Merry Meet all and happy first stirrings of spring!  PS the bees are doing really fab – first honey is a month away.

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