Chookie chooks …

I have been converted!! A year ago, if you’d asked me about backyard chooks I would have laughed and said that it was not for me. But, then we started the veggie garden and I’ve slowly started to come around to the idea of simple, sustainable living … growing and making food from scratch, being mindful of the creation of waste, rejecting rampant consumerism.  This is an exciting journey that I find I satisfying and fulfilling.

The chickens are part of that journey.  I started toying with the idea of backyard chickens about the middle of last year, but Paul wasn’t convinced.  Then we went on a trip to New Zealand and stayed at a wonderful cottage on an eco property.  The owner and Paul discussed veggie gardening (we’d just constructed the raised garden beds) and chickens. When we got back from NZ, Paul was more open to having chickens.

It took a bit of planning, but he put together a wonderful chook house and run.  It was finally complete and ready for chickens just after Christmas.

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They love their chook house and chook run.

We had to wait till the first weekend in January to get the chickens, but since then we have had so much pleasure watching them.  We got 3 Isa Browns, 2 black Australorps and 1 white Australorp.

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Getting along a little better now …

The Isa Browns are bullies. They really didn’t like the little white Australorp and pecked her mercilessly for the first few days.  The black Australorps, despite being younger than the white one, protected her from the bullies.  Things settled down after about 3 days, but the Isa Browns are definitely at the top of the pecking order.

We think that 2 of the Isa Browns have started laying eggs … we are getting at least one egg a day, but mostly two.  I can’t wait for the others to start laying.  The eggs are so flavoursome – much more so than store bought eggs. And they are a dream to poach because they are so fresh.

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Fresh eggs are the best!!

How do you feel about backyard chooks? Would you try it?

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Let’s start again …

I’m finding it difficult to write regularly and I’m so disappointed in myself for that.  I always resolve to make time for this blog, but life ends up getting in the way.  Well, here goes again … a new start … again ….

It has been wonderful to have the veggie garden up and running.  We’ve had a decent crop of silverbeet and dwarf beans ( the plants are small, not the beans).  We had some success with leaf lettuces, but lots and lots of rain has meant that they’ve bolted quickly and so the chooks (more about them in the next post) have benefited. We planted some Rainbow Swiss Chard after the silver beet, but they haven’t done well – too much rain perhaps. The leaves all developed some kind of disease so they’ve mostly been fed to the chooks as well. We’ll try growing those again.  I was disappointed with the slow growth of the capsicums – they’re only coming in now, but I’m looking forward to a decent crop.

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Can’t wait till it turns red!

The eggplant was also slow to fruit, but now there are lots on the bushes.  But they’ve got some sort of blossom blight so they have developed a hard grey green skin on the bottom.  I think they will still be okay to eat.

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Hope it will still be tasty!

The Lebanese cucumbers are struggling along – every time we think that it’s died, it produces another small cucumber so we’re leaving it for now.

We planted 3 tomato plants – a Grosse Lisse, a Roma and a cherry tomato called Sweet Bite.  The Roma (our favourite) produced one crop and then died. The Grosse Lisse has produced a  handful of tomatoes, but they have been attacked by birds or insects.  It still has some fruit, but not as much as I anticipated.  The Sweet Bite has completely taken over the garden bed!!  It is flourishing and growing beyond our expectations.  Being relative novices, we didn’t know about tomato vines – it took us by surprise – the vines just keep on growing and growing … We’ve had a steady supply of cherry tomatoes as a result.

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Delicious!

We’ve learnt such a lot and so next time (hopefully) we’ll be better about the staking and providing a trellis system for the vines to grow on.

Although things haven’t grown exactly according to plan (what plan is ever perfect), we’ve all been so pleased with the garden.  We all take a walk out there before breakfast or when we get home to see how things are growing and what we can harvest.  It’s so satisfying to eat something that was organically grown in our own garden.  I’ve already started plans to build more garden beds for next season.  We have a large back garden which is mostly lawn and I want to make it more productive as we don’t use the lawn at all.  We won’t dig up all the lawn, but eventually, I’d like to use about half the area for more productive use – maybe even put in some fruit trees.

Have you started a veggie garden? What have you had success with? Any tips for growing eggplants or swiss chard?

 

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A new beginning …

Quick blog post to get the ball rolling again …..

It’s been busy the last 2 years, started a new role at work, been helping my son prepare for all sorts of entrance, scholarship, music exams.  But now, all has settled down again and I’m hoping resolving to have more time for this blog.

Recently, we started a veggie garden.  I’m so excited about it.  I’ve always wanted to have one, but in our previous home the garden was too shady.  Now we have a wonderful sunny back yard.  We built 4 raised garden beds (more about this in later post …) and now we are waiting to harvest.  Already, there has been some lovely silver beet and I know we are going to have a good crop of beans and tomatoes.  But the corn is looking thin and frail and the capsicums and eggplant don’t seem to be making much progress.  Well, we’ll learn as we go along.  I don’t think we planted enough zucchini but I know that they take up a lot of space and are supposed to be abundant fruiters, but so far we’ve only had 2 zucchinis.

2 months ago

2 months ago

Now .. having had lots of rain

Now .. having had lots of rain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are also going to get chickens!  Yes, I’m so pleased.  We’ve been lucky enough to have been given an unused chicken coop by our neighbours.  Paul and a friend dismantled it and transported it over the fence.  It has now been cleaned with the Karcher (water jet) and is ready to be reassembled.

Cleaned and ready for assemby

Cleaned and ready for assembly

Nesting box

Nesting box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This will be a much bigger job.  After putting it all back together, Paul will have to build a chicken run before we can get the actual chickens.

It’s good to be back.

Do you have a veggie garden?  Are you a beginner like us?  Any gardening tips?  Have you got chickens?  Anything we should be aware of when building a chicken run?

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Bright and sunny …

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I’ve been in bed for a few days … just your usual winter cold and flu … nothing serious, but just plain annoying.

Anyway, today I feel much better … and I couldn’t have picked a better day to feel better … the sun is streaming in and I feel good … might see if I can muster enough energy to prune the roses.

Don’t you find that a bit of sunshine lifts your mood?

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Furry friends and growing up ….

DSC01009Mr L is a grown up big boy of 11 who knows EVERYTHING!

Last Saturday evening, he voluntarily went to bed early … unheard of!!!  He wasn’t feeling crash hot.  At 3:20am he woke up disoriented and with a raging fever.  He stumbled into our bedroom muttering something about ‘making footsteps to the the kitchen’.

After dosing him with Nurofen, I was tucking him back into bed when I noticed that only 2 of his favourite teddies were next to his pillow where he likes to put them when he gets into bed.  “Where is Mr Benedict(a toothy croc)?” I asked.

“I put him on the Lego box, because he’s never had a temperature before and he’s not vaccinated.  Checker and PJ are okay because they’ve had it before” was the reply.  Then he shut his eyes and went back to sleep.

I love an innocent childs’ mind, no matter how grown up he thinks he is.

Do you remember any wonderful things your child has said?

 

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Lemony wonderfulness

Lemons seem to be plentiful and cheap at the moment.  So I’ve been busy making one of my favourite cakes – Lemon Drizzle Cake.DSC00962

I love the tartness of lemons that really comes through in this cake.  Also, it’s super easy to make!

Ingredients

  • 2 large eggs
  • 150g sugar
  • 125g soft butter
  • Zest of 1 Lemon
  • 180g self raising flour
  • 125ml milk
  • a Pinch of salt

Lemon Syrup

  • 100g sugar
  • 50ml fresh lemon juice
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.
  2. Line a loaf tin with baking paper making sure that the paper overhangs the long sides of the baking tin.  This will help you to lift the cake out of the tin.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric beater until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs, lemon zest and salt and beat until combined.
  5. Add the milk and stir in with a wooden spoon else it may splatter.
  6. Add the flour and beat with wooden spoon till all combined.  The batter is quite stiff.
  7. Pour into baking tin and smooth the top.
  8. Bake for approx. 40 min until golden and a skewer comes out cleanly.
  9. While the cake is baking make the syrup by warming the lemon juice with the sugar until the sugar has dissolved into the lemon juice to form a syrup.
  10. After removing the cake from the oven, prick all over with a skewer and pour the syrup over the warm cake until it is all absorbed.
  11. Allow the cake to cool in the tin before taking it out using the overhanging pieces of baking paper.
  12. Sprinkle with icing sugar when you plate up to disguise the skewer holes.

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Enjoy with strawberries, a dollop of cream or just on it’s own!!

What is your favourite lemon dish?

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Frittata ta ta ta….

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Left over chips …… yuech! you say …. cold, limp, greasy …… well, normally I would agree with you, BUT, there is one exception.  Sometimes when the chips were fat and crispy on the outside, but soft and pillowy in the middle, then left overs are good.

Last night, we had take out fish ‘n chips for dinner.  Great Friday night fare.  The chips were wonderful … fat and fattening!!  But alas, we’d ordered a little too much for our little family so there were some left over.  I decided to hang on to them instead of tipping them in the bin.

Why?  Because I love fried potatoes with eggs!!  After all, who doesn’t love a hash brown? Often, I will cut up and fry some potato to have with a weekend breakfast … today I decided to use the left over chips – in a frittata.

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As usual, I just raided the fridge to see what I had – today, I used red capsicum, swiss brown mushrooms, bacon, chives, eggs (of course) and the left over chips.

Just chop up everything into bite size pieces.  Fry the bacon, then set aside and fry the mushrooms and capsicum with some salt and pepper.  Add the left over chips and the bacon back to the pan and cook till the chips are warmed a little.  Pour over  lightly beaten eggs and top with chives.  Turn heat down to medium and let the eggs set at the bottom – you don’t want them to burn so watch the heat.

When the eggs are set at the bottom, slide the pan under a pre-heated grill to cook from the top down.  Watch carefully – you don’t want to overcook or burn the frittata.  When done, slide out of the pan onto a plate and enjoy!!

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You can add cheese to the mix, grated cheddar or tasty cheese or perhaps some parmesan. I forgot today, but it was yummy anyway.  I used 6 eggs and this was enough for our little family of 4 for breakfast.

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A piece (or 2) of frittata and toast makes a lovely breakfast or enjoy with some salad for a light lunch.

Have you ever used left over chips in a recipe?  I’d love to hear about it …

 

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