Wonderings, wet and winter preparation

Its been some time since I have updated. Mostly because nothing BIG has happened. Things are ticking a long slowly, but there is no longer that big wow! Look how much we did/achieved this week and I keep thinking, I really have nothing to share. That’s not to say I am sitting around doing nothing, in fact we seem to have found a very busy groove and it often feels, at the end of a day, like I haven’t stopped since I got out of bed. I was going to do a post on a typical day for me here, but there are no typical days. There are those jobs that get done each day, but our days change with the weather, the time, the light and everything in between. I have come to realise that its all well and good to have a plan for the next day, but in all likelihood it won’t happen. The rain will fall if I need fine weather, the sun will be hot if I need an overcast day, the brushcutter won’t cooperate if I want to brushcut or I’ll get distracted by the garden, a discovery, the oven. Going with the flow has been the lesson here, that and patience, sometimes you just have to wait for things to happen.
In fact it seems as if it has done nothing but rain since I last wrote,

Rain on the mountains


this isn’t true of course, we have had some hot sunny days in between,

Morning sun


but today after a solid week of heavy rain it seems that way.

The last week of school before the holidays was indeed wet, the driveway was slick and muddy and my car with its “who knows how old” tires just was not up to driving it. So, after running off the tracks and in to a star picket (much to the delight of my two year old) which in turn took out part of our water pipe system,

Slip sliding away


we decided to walk in and out of the property for the last few days before school holidays.

Walking to School

I managed to fix the pipe (yay me!), although my two year old learnt some new colourful words in the whole process of the adventure. We then turned to work for the day and went to let out the chickens only to find one dead on the floor of the roost. As far as we can tell she was either bitten by a snake or ate too much red lantana, being new chickens I had noticed some of them nipping at the lantana but hadn’t thought they would ingest enough to hurt themselves. So, my morning of work for the day as gardener and housekeeper became work as a plumber, funeral director and grave digger. Ebb and flow.

The rest of the chickens have settled in well now. They know the routines of the day and will line up at the door of the run when we walk up at lunchtime.

Let us out!


We keep them in for the morning to get their eggs, or else they lay them in the bush encouraging the snakes and goannas to hang around. Then they follow me down to the fruit trees, where I put the days scraps for the house for them to scratch through

Free range chickens, under the plum tree


Watching the rooster in particular brings such delight. He really is a very proud, strutting young fellow and last week we heard him crow for the first time. It was a rather adolescent crow with that crackling type voice which caused us all to giggle just a little.

Proud man of the flock

The garden is growing, although not as fast or prolific as I would like.

How does your garden grow?

After visiting friends and family over the holidays and seeing so many neat and ordered gardens I have come to realise how higgle-dee-piggly our garden is. But I have to say I do enjoy it the way it is. Everytime I find something ready to eat it is a discovery. The beans hidden among the gourd vine, the beetroot that I thought had died hiding in the snake beans and the celery growing in the shade of the potato cage.
It’s hard to know what will grow or won’t and being our first autumn/winter we really are in wait and see mode. I am trying to get us to the point of eating seasonally, which is hard when you have melon addicts for children. We have successfully grown both rock and honeydew this year, which the local wildlife loved

Munched melon

as did the children.

Bite of a approval


The fragrance and sweetness of the rockmelon were amazing and we will definitely grow them again. But for now, the vines have died off with the cold, making way for winter foods.
At the moment in the garden we have lovely nobbly cucumbers,

Hidden cucumbers


sweetpeas and sugar snaps which never seem to make it to the kitchen,

sweet pea


sweet potatoes and potatoes which seem to be growing well

Potato cage


although I am worried about the extended wet and them rotting in the ground.
Then there are the yellow beans, green beans and snake beans of which we have had lots, some and none. The green beans were attacked by mites on their first flowering, but a good dose of soapy spray seems to have knocked them and they are now flowering again.
The first lot of broccoli has been attacked by caterpillars,

Broccoli


so every morning I wander through the garden and try to pick the little munchers off and feed them to the birds or chooks. I have been toying with letting the chooks in to the garden at the end of the day to have a forage. Jackie French talks about how, if they have had the opportunity to free range most of the day chickens will do very little damage and eat mostly pests, although I’m not sure I’m ready to chance it just yet.
The orchard is a work in progress. I sometimes wonder if it would have been easier to have no orchard and grow what we want as we learn. Its a bit like being thrown in the deep end with a partially established orchard that has been neglected for some time. There is a lot of citrus, which until we moved here we have only eaten sporadically. There are many varieties I doubt I would plant, but it is making me learn a lot about different fruits and we are all expanding our tastes. The mandarins are just starting to colour and we have had a few off the tree which were sweet and delicious

Mandarins slowly ripening

although we are also sharing with the local birds too.

One for the birds, one for us


Over the easter weekend I made just over $20 from selling limes and grapefruit in our roadside stall. Next year I plan to have marmalades and perhaps cakes up and running too. However, it was a nice amount for very little work and the proceeds are being put towards mulch and fertiliser for the fruit trees. I am slowly going to mulch each tree properly out to the drip line and fertilise them. Also, thanks to help from my parents the peach and pear trees have been pruned ready for winter, so progress is being made slowly.

There is lots else we have done, little jobs that aren’t terribly photographic or interesting like clearing of trails, pushing back weeds that have taken over areas of reforested vegetation metre by metre

A place to sit - before


A place to sit - after


or weeding garden beds that are infested with nasturtium seeds.
There are discoveries such as Pigeon Pea plants,

Pigeon pea in bloom

gorgeous gumnut flowers just opened,

Gorgeous gumnuts

and sighting a new species of frog

Peron's Tree Frog 'Litoria peronii'

.
Then there are the everyday activities, like spying majestic elks and stags in the trees

A treeful

a trip to the creek to dip in our toes with family

Too cold even for pirates - arr!

or to survey the rising waters

Our full to overflowing creek

.

Did I mention its been wet?

Puddles

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2 thoughts on “Wonderings, wet and winter preparation

  1. Hi Jo, as always it’s a delight to read about what you’re doing. Keep up the great work, you are definitely living the dream. Love, Aunty Anne

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