Chookonia begins

Since we first moved here 14 months ago, I have wanted to have chickens.

It’s clear that there used to be some here, as evidenced by the totally dilapidated hen house near the end of the back yard. It’s only good for demolition now, but there’s a lot of back yard for a small flock to enjoy. Many things have prevented it happening, all perfectly understandable, but finally, finally, it seems as if it will go ahead.

Chookonia sketchDespite the heat and humidity, we have been doing some yard work towards this end; most notably, we’ve started digging the 8 post holes for Chookonia, the palatial hen house now taking shape in a shady corner of the back yard. It will be 3 metres square, 2 metres high, solid but airy, and will have a raised brick floor under straw to keep the Girls dry and cosy even if the yard gets very squishy and muddy when the Wet finally decides to start. It’s large because there will be times in storm season when they will be safer kept in than let out.

Chookonia planThe project is not a small one, which probably best explains why we’ve put it off for so long. The impetus came when we got permission to recycle all the dumped building material from the block next door. Not only do we have enough corrugated steel to make the chook house, we can also mend the shed roof, making it a bit more unlikely that the next cyclone will see it landing on the golf course half a kilometre away.

We’ll be getting some help putting up the frame, which needs to be embedded in concrete in holes sunk 40cm down, and mounded at the top so rain will run off. We’ll probably also get some help when we come to put on the roof, but the rest is down to us. I foresee some colourful language, hurling of tools, stomping around and going off in a sulk… We are both terribly clumsy. We have to make a sliding chicken door, a hinged person door and a nesting box access hatch. Endless possibilities for things to go wrong!

The Girls. Three Australorps and three Isa Browns.

Some of these will hopefully be arriving in the next couple of months…

The Girls will be getting a permanent run under the trees for shade and shelter, and protection from the quite large birds of prey round here. They will also be allowed into the back half of the yard once we have upgraded the fencing so they can’t sneak underneath it. You know how it is. If there’s one small hole in the whole 200m of fence, they’ll find it and be through in a flash.

I can’t quite decide how many Girls we need. I’ve always had six; three Australorps and three ISA Browns. I love the Lorps best, they are beautiful, friendly, stately and calm and lay large pale brown eggs. The Browns are slightly better layers of mid brown smaller eggs, and are a bit smarter, but they are also a bit more aggressive. The mix of 3 of each seems to work well, so I’ll probably end up going with the same again. I’ll be getting point-of-lay pullets rather than chicks, so they’ll be ready to start work a bit sooner and won’t be so vulnerable.

I’m looking forward to seeing one of my favourite sights again, the Girls hitching up their fluffy skirts and flat out racing for home because I’ve called them in for the evening grain. Closely followed, I might add, by two of them having a tug of war over a piece of bacon rind…

We’ve made a good start. Now we just have to keep the impetus going.

 

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A mixed bag

It has been a trying few days.

We discovered, after receiving an astronomical power bill, that our solar array wasn’t working, and hasn’t been for some time. As a result of paying to get it fixed and paying said astronomical bill, we’ve had to cancel a planned trip to Melbourne in June. Very disappointing; I’d hoped to catch up with friends and family, do a bit of shopping, show the Husband where I used to live, that sort of thing. It’s not really a substitute, but to make up to ourselves for missing out on Melbourne, we’re going up to Cairns on the bike for 4 days of zooming around the hills, eating good food and catching some amazing scenery. That’ll be at the end of May, and I’m looking forward to it a great deal, especially now that the weather’s a bit more moderate.

I’ve been a bit under the weather recently, and am waiting for blood test results, and my annual flu shot is making me feel a bit yuck too, a bit shivery and headachy.

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 8.24.00 pmScreen Shot 2015-04-23 at 8.23.18 pmOtherwise, life has been busy, with the result that I haven’t managed to make much progress with quilting Worldwide Friends. I’ve managed three rows of red hexie quilting in the last 3 days, which is pretty poor progress — I should be able to get three rows a day done at the very least. I’m hoping to feel better and have more time tomorrow. At this rate, I definitely won’t have time to quilt the filler hexies too. It’s always the way, isn’t it: lots to do in limited time, and events conspire to reduce your time even more!

We have a few more plans in the backyard, including three raised beds for vegetables, down the side of the house and near the water supply so irrigation won’t be a problem. The Husband is going to mark out and chip out the base for the chook house in the next day or so, so Chookonia is a few steps closer too.

Right, time to get tucked up in bed and try to sleep myself well again.

The Gardens of Chiconia 23: hidden treasures

Today I have been mooching around the garden again with my camera.

Yesterday it was birds and frogs. Today it’s the turn of the plants. Time for some pictures:

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An orchid, casually being fabulous on a palm tree….

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Mandarin blossom

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I have no idea what this is, with its weird lilac spidery flowers and orangey red globular fruits. Any ideas, anyone?

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White silk pompoms….

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Pink silk pompoms. That’s a bud on the left, which will shortly explode into something like the thing on the right!

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Mulberries ripening. I wonder if I’ll get to them before the birds…

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The mulberry tree, a little tottery but still willing

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The poinciana. It needs a lot of dead wood cut out of it.

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Chookonia. In need of a little renovation, but I don’t believe the Girls will be too fussed about how it looks.

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The free range area, left side

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The free range area, right side. It’s about a quarter acre.

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Froglet Heaven. There’s water in there somewhere…

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… and in case you thought I was exaggerating, those are green ant nests in just part of just one of the mango trees. Seriously, that one closest in the shot is the size of my head and the tree is swarming with the little buggers.

I haven’t managed to get a great deal done; there was a visit to the doctor, an x-ray and an ultrasound on my sore hip. Results tomorrow; it’s either the arthritis spreading, or bursitis. Both are painful, and I’m grateful for the tasty new drugs I’ve been prescribed. On the plus side of the balance sheet, I did laundry, put up a blind to keep the morning sun out of our eyes in bed, gave the huge gas oven a test run (full marks on the splendid roast chicken), and unpacked three boxes of baking equipment in readiness for my next GF order.

Time to go and deal with the vegetables, which won’t steam themselves – even in this climate!