Friday, August 3, 2012

New life

Ta Da!! We have action in the duck department. At last, a little duckling has hatched. Isn't it cute? I wonder if those feathers stay black? Mother duck looks quite pleased with herself.

 Still a bunch of eggs under the mother.

And then.... another one! This little duck is really interesting with it's little black helmet.

This little duck hatched a couple of days ago. But sadly, I went into the chook house just an hour or so ago and it's drowned in the water bowl. Lesson... don't leave a water bowl beside new ducklings. They can't get out!
 So we're back to one duckling. We're not sure if we're going to get any more. Our neighbour Graham checked the eggs a few days ago and said we'd probably only get two. He listned to them. Don't ask me what he was listening for, but it seems he's right. We will have to remove the rest of the eggs from the mother in a few more days. The incubation period is now way past the deadline.

In the meantime, little duckling number 1 is keeping warm under mum.

I forgot to post a pic of our fabulous new rooster, Spike! We got him a few weeks ago. Social media is amazing tool. We had our friend Richard stay with us for the weekend. While he was here he was checking his Facebook page and a friend of his was looking for a home for his rooster. So lucky for us, Richard got in contact with his mate and the following weekend Sara and Stephen picked him up from his suburban home in Melbourne and brought him to the farm. Spike is now king of the roost.

Houston, we have a problem! Frans was not a happy chap. Can you tell? The bottom corner of one of our paddocks was really soggy. At first he put it down to the constant rain we've been getting over the past month or so. But on closer investigation, it appeared we had a leak in the pipe that feeds our dam water to our house garden. So he started digging. And digging! Gumboots are such a wonderful invention are they not?!

At last the pipe was fixed. This did involve a trip to town to buy the correct connection to do the job. Fortunately Frans is pretty handy with a spanner and could fix this problem himself. I wouldn't like to think what it would cost if we had to call out a plumber from town!

Around the vegetable garden
I'm itching to start sewing my spring seeds, but according to my trusty ground temperature doodad, the ground is 13 degrees. Just a little too cool for most veggies. In the meantime, I have planted peas (they don't mind the cold) and another run of broad beans. I've also scattered radiccio, organic salad mix, cos, radish and carrot seeds. According to the packets, these can all be planted throughout winter. Let's hope they're right!

Taking a walk around the veggie garden yesterday I did a little stock take of what I have growing or almost ready for picking. The raised garden bed on the far left has an abundance of spinach and silverbeet. I'm feeding these leaves to the chooks every few days. They just love it! It makes those egg yolks fluro yellow! The large garden bed in the centre of the photo below contains a very healthy bush of rhubarb. I don't mind it, but Frans is not a big fan. However, my friend Norma makes a rhubarb cake that is quite delicious and Frans will eat it. I think I'll get the recipe and try it myself. Most of the rhubarb gets given away. I've been picking stalks all last summer and autumn, and it's just getting bigger! Time to divide it soon.  Towards the front of the bed on the right are three healthy celery bushes. I've planted another lot to the left. You can just see the little seedlings. Yes, I bought seedlings. I find that sometimes it's more economical than seeds. The open patch of dirt with the lemon grass stalks on top of it is where I've just planted my new asparagus plants. I'm an impatient kind of person, so I'm not sure how I'm going to excersize enough patience for the next two years while they grow. Hopefully when the plants start producing spears, they will give us enough for our summer pastas and salads.

 In another garden bed I still have some rainbow chard and other leafy stuff (no idea what it is...) that I'm feeding to the chickens. We have leeks, carrots and beetroot that we're picking now.

The chooks enjoying their spinach and silverbeet.
The grassy looking things in the corner of this bed are spring onions. I bought a punnet of seedlings. Once they get going, they'll last a good season. I often substitute spring onions for onions as the taste of the home grown stuff is just so much tastier than store bought. Nala keeps me company wherever I go. She loves to be in a photo!

Broad beans. I love them. And I've got a whole lot growing. I've planted them in clumps in a few different spots around the garden. For some reason, this particular clump is showing signs of black leaf. I suspect that it's from the frost we had a week or so ago. Any other ideas? I guess I should Google it!  In another couple of weeks we'll be starting our broad bean harvest. My favourite meal is a really simple one. Fresh bread, proscuitto, broad beans popped from their shells at the table, dipped in olive oil and salt. Served with a crisp white wine. What can be more sublime!

Here's a shot of the bottom part of our farm. The cattle egrets are congregating around the very full dam. 

And here are a flock of Galahs. They love to eat insects and grubs in the grass.

Every now and then, we get treated to a spectacular sky. This was Tuesday afternoon's delight! The afternoon light and sun on the Otways was just beautiful.

Dark clouds on Wednesday afternoon. The sky looked heavy with rain, but it bypassed us.

Last week I took off with my friend Norma and we drove up to Bawley Point in NSW to spend a few days with a group of fellow quilters. We sewed, knitted and chatted in front of a roaring wood fire all weekend. It was most satisfying. I came home having learned how to knit a sock. Yes, only one. I'm onto the second one now. I'll show you when they're both done!
On our way home we stopped at Holbrook for a night. After breakfast we just had to explore this great second hand book shop. I came away with a couple of classic cook books for Sara to add to her kitchen library. Norma bought a couple book stacks for not much money at all. A worth while stop! 

I would have loved to have brought one of these home with me, but sadly it would not have fitted in my car! I may have to twist Frans' arm to build one when he has nothing to do.... 

This week I'm going to leave you with a couple of really cool photos that Frans has taken. 

Have a happy weekend!

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