New peacocks

What a pleasure it is to have Will and Tig here. They are great wwoofers, and they spot what needs to be done and tell us how they will sort things out. This is a really productive time at Cockatrice Farm.

On Sunday we went to the Poultry Auction. We got some quail, a pair of young golden pheasants, some guineafowl eggs (for the incubator) and some finches, all quite cheaply.

We did indulge ourselves a bit with two more peafowl, a pied (blue and white) girl of breeding age and a young white male. Between the two they came to $300.

White peacocks are wonderful things, and we have wanted one for a while. Unfortunately, they are the “in thing” in poultry circles, and prices are right up. I guess we might have got a cheaper one by waiting a couple of years, but we’d like one sooner thanks.

I love having peacocks roaming the grounds — they are so pretty and majestic. But Allison is cranky with them for munching on young vegetable seedlings, especially the sorrel. She wants to have them caged, especially during the breeding season when the females are vulnerable to foxes.

For my part, I blame the ducks for much of the garden damage — there is always a trail of destruction when they get out. We have now mostly duckproofed the duck yards, so maybe things will be better now. If we plant sorrel and similar perennials everywhere, maybe there will be enough for us and also some for the peacocks.

For next year, I want to set up our beds in rows covered by polypipe hoops, as described here. This would potentially keep out birds while making it easy to access the vegies. I have worked out a system of rotating guilds (groups of mutually beneficial plants) that could provide a valid permaculture approach to intensive vegie production. So we’ll pilot the system this spring.

I agree with Allison that we need to lock up at least the breeding pairs of peacocks, to safeguard the girls and also to let us collect some eggs for the incubator. We may be able to sell some of the offspring to recoup these costs, particularly if we get some white ones. That will probably need the white male to be operative, which will take a couple of years.

I would still like to do a medieval feast where we serve a tasty young peacock to every table. In real medieval times, it was fashionable to sew the cooked bird back into the raw skin, which presents some issues on health grounds. Maybe we could carry in both a blue and a white peacock, mounted over dummy bodies…

Rhys

PS – here’s a photo of Tasty the Calf, with mum.

Farm stuff

The big thing about Cockatrice Farm in the last couple of months is that it has been wet. We got 80mm of rain over Christmas, 35mm at new year, a few more dribs and drabs, then another 35mm last Saturday.

That last one was a storm, with hail, which flooded the paddocks and the front yard of the guest house.

Some of our dams are full, and the others are doing a lot better than they were during that hot and dry spring.

Tig and Will discovered that the water from the big shed wasn’t going into the shed tank. They have fixed this now, and the recent storm made an excellent addition to our water reserves. Unfortunately, the hail blocked the house gutters and some of the storm went over the sides rather than into the big tank.

Domino the brood mare continues to become gradually more friendly. Gawaine the foal is nearly 4 months old, and he’s a charming little (huge??) fellow.

Heather the cow is very big and round, and has a full udder of milk. I was convinced that she would calve during the Twelfth Night event, perhaps during the Laurels’ meeting. But still no action there.

Tig and Will have been interacting with the alpacas, such that the younger one (Viggo) will now eat out of their hands.

We have some more baby chickens from the incubator, both Light Sussex and Silkies. Plus (and this is a bit unusual) one of the Light Sussex hens has a clutch of eggs due to hatch shortly.

We still have an excess of ducks, and should probably eat some more soon.

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At Twelfth Night, we arranged to have the cathedral bells rung just after the coronation court. Which sounded great if you were outside the hall, which many were.

One of the bellringers, Jan, asked for some more information on the SCA and looks like getting involved. This is a big plus as she seems to be an expert with horses, and indeed with sewing.

She came out with a couple of her kids on the weekend, and we had a fun time. Her son Shane got into armour and had a bit of a bash with wwoofer Robin. Shane turned out to have a fine defence, and Robin had some really impressive sword manoeuvres. If we could splice the two of them, the combined unit would swiftly be King.

Rhys

POSTSCRIPT – after writing this, we got home to see a little brown smudge next to Heather the cow. The calf had just been born, and the afterbirth was still coming. A little wet and wobbly thing.

We went down later with a bucket of oats for the proud mum. The calf looks like its mum, in creamy highland cattle colours, though it’s half something else. Didn’t get a full look, but I think she’s a girl, and I’ve called her Tasty

Recovering from 12th Night

We are now mostly unpacked and recovered from the Twelfth Night national SCA event, which we ran here in Goulburn.

For a detailed description, see the Okewaite site at http://okewaite.wordpress.com/2010/01/17/twelfth-night/.

You’ll see a number of photos below, contributed by Maeve, Maud and Tig. Thanks guys.

We were pretty happy with the result. Allison and Maud (a wwoofer) did the bulk of the work here, plus our friends Jane and Catherine in Canberra did a big chunk of the cooking too. Our other wwoofers Andre and Robin did a great deal of lifting and lumping to get the various sites set up and packed up. And of course many of our projects we’ve been quietly working our way towards for months.

Various other locals and Canberra people put in a lot of work too, and Alfar from Sydney ran the tournament for us.

Allison has banned me from even suggesting another big event for a while. That said, she said that she was in better shape this time than for the Christmas in July event, where admittedly we had to go up and down those two flights of stairs all night.

Allison says that it’s all a matter of excellent prior organisation, whereas I think you’re best off to start at lunchtime the previous day and ride the adrenaline rush all the way!

Cheers to all, and normal service (stories about cute fluffy animals) will resume next week.

Rhys

Getting ready for 12th Night

Happy new year to all those who follow this blog.

We had a jolly Christmas lunch here at the farm, featuring Allison’s confit of duck, which had been enthusiastically butchered by wwoofers Liroy and Robin. Delicious. Then Ally and I headed off to visit her family for a couple of days, and the wwoofers looked after the farm.

We had New Year at the Goulburn Club again. Supposedly the same band as last year, but a somewhat different lineup, better as singers than as producers of danceable music. Some good conversation though.

Our focus at the moment is on our medieval event this coming weekend.

This is one of four national events for the SCA, and we’re doing it in Goulburn because none of the other groups put in a bid.

We will have 180 people there — all tickets have been sold.  We have an interesting menu, and some great decorations and entertainment.  I’ll write it all up next week, once we’ve recovered.

Our local SCA group is called the Hundred of Okewaite, and it’s a very small group.  Basically it’s Allison and me, along with Cherrie and Gretchen and Sarah, plus a very modest fringe of interested locals who wouldn’t yet consider themselves part of the SCA.  We supplement this with our wwoofers, our friends Tony and Clare from Canberra, and now we have Tig and Will from Sydney who are staying with us for a while.  A few other friends will help us out for the weekend.

We few, we happy few, are seeking to impersonate a barony (large city SCA group) and put on a memorable event.  Let’s see how we go.

Rhys