Friday, May 25, 2012


Last week our neighbour went away for a few days and we tended to his animals. He has a number of large netted pens where he keeps chickens, doves, ducks and turkeys. Every morning Frans would let out the ducks and turkeys to wander around the farm. The ducks took straight to the dam. There they would stay till almost dark, swimming amongst the reeds. In the late afternoon, we would both go and put the birds to bed and feed them. Let me tell you, herding turkeys and ducks is not an easy task. Bobby the collie did his bit to help. He has  however got a gummy front right paw and from time to time he puts on a show of doing a three legged sheep chase! Oh yes, we had to put the lambing ewes into a pen as well. This was to protect them from the rotten fox that is still prowling the area. As an aside.. the week before Graham lost two new baby lambs to a fox. Rotten things they are! Anyway, the feeding took a while. Different grains/pellets for each lot of birds. We did learn that it was pointless trying to get the ducks out of the dam until they were ready to go into their enclosure.

I never knew... Turkeys roost in trees! They are big birds. And the noise they make when they fly up into the branches is quite amazing. I wondered if the branches would hold their weight!

And chooks like to roost in the trees too.

And then I had a nice surprise. Graham came home on Saturday. On Sunday evening there was a knock on the door. Graham handed me this tray covered with a tea towel.

What was it? A turkey, no less! I've got it resting in the fridge for a few days and then I'm going to give it the Heston Blumenthal treatment. Soak it in a brine overnight, then cook it VERY slowly. I'm thinking of stuffing it with breadcrumbs, proscuitto, onions, sage and prunes.

This is a huge bird! It's going to be Sunday lunch when Sara and Stephen come home

Last week I opened the door to the greenhouse to let the chooks and ducks do their bit by cleaning it up and fertilizing the beds at the same time. I have to admit that the greenhouse was my one big faliure of our first Summer here. I planted things that grew like monsters. Lessons were learnt. I won't plant cucumbers or zucchini here again! I'll stick with soft leavy vegetables like rocket, English spinach and herbs.

The chooks hussled around this new territory and scratched away and ate everything at their level. All I need to do now is pull down the dry climbing tomato tendrils that are growing up the wire frames. Frans created a new compost area for me just outside the greenhouse door. This is perfect. I don't have to wheel the burrow backwards and forwards to the big compost heap on the other side of the yard. I'm lazy. Ok? Actually, I'm trying not to waste time. That's my story anyway! As you can see from the pic below, there's not much left of the leafy stuff in the greenhouse. Good girls!

This week we also took down the netting from the fruit trees that we had netted individually. Some of the netting needed cutting away from the branches as the branches had grown through the net. We eventually got it all off. A ladder was called for and the delicate operation was concluded without too much fuss.

While we were wielding scissors and pulling away at the netting, a huge flock of cocatoos screeched overhead. These birds are magnificent. Looking up, all you see is a cloud of yellow under wing feathers!

The apple trees in the back yard orchard area also had the nets removed. The chooks are confined to the backyard. (Mostly...unless one or two escape and decide that the front yard looks more attractive). Where the nets had been held down by long poles, little insects had gathered. This where the chooks began their feast! Every day around midday we let the chickens and ducks out of their coop to wander around the back yard. Since removing the netting, as soon as the gate is opened, they all bolt straight to the apple trees and start their scratching dance!

Ever watchful... Nala keeps an eye on the chickens. Frans collected the last few apples from this tree. They are golden yellow, crunchy and sweet. I have no idea what the variety is, except that it is a superb eating apple!

Frans with one of his favourite chooks. She always comes to him for a pet.

One of my garden jobs this week was to pull out the corn. There were still a few ears on the stalks. I picked them all and pulled the stalks out of the ground. In between the stalks were potatoes too, so I got a double crop. My half a basket of corn when peeled made a huge pile of leaves! I wonder what happens to all this stuff commercially?? Does this waste get used somehow? I must Google it!
Anyway, I decided to cut the kernels from the cobs and freeze them. Aparently the nutritional value in the corn changes very quickly once you pick it. So it's best to eat it straight away or freeze it. From all the mess, I ended up with a bag of corn, about a kilogram.

And to end this week's post, I have to share this little treat with you. Our friends Martyn and Eugenia came to stay last weekend. Martyn helped Frans repair our dam wall. He's an engineering guru. Good thing the men did that little chore as it has started raining over the past few days. Our dam is FULL. And the dam wall has held! Ah, back to the treat.... Martyn brought a bottle of red to share with Frans. Well, I got to share it too. It was a Penfolds Grange Hermitage 1986. How decadant! And yes, it was devine. It was properly decanted and allowed to breath for a while. We sipped and savoured this drop ever so slowly. Thanks M&E for sharing your treasure with us!

Happy weekend everyone!

1 comment:

  1. The combination of chooks/vegies & fruit just seems so right. Old fruit and bits of vegies get eaten, bugs get got, the ground gets fertilised and you are rewarded with magnificent free range eggs and happy chooks. Can't wait to get our own buk buks! :-) How funny that turkeys roost in trees!