New life

We’ve had some nicer weather, and things are looking up.

Our wwoofers Fiona, Katy and Laura are all good fun and easy to have around.  They are helping to get the farm back under control.

We have had the incubator on since the fox visited, and now we have eight chickens.  The wwoofers got hours of entertainment from them as they hatched.

Three of the chickens are silkies; luckily we got some eggs in the false spring just before the weather turned really nasty.  So these are the last remnant of our silkie bloodlines.  They will be well looked after.

The other chickens are Light Sussex and one is half Isa Brown, the modern egg-laying breed.  (We got given some hens from Ally’s sister’s neighbours, and despite being thoroughly unmedieval, they are actually rather sweet chooks having been family pets.)

The Light Sussex are great for meat, but I’ve been underwhelmed at their egg production in cooler weather.  I’m inclined to get some fertilised eggs of some other breed, and grow some of them.  But the chooks are Allison’s domain so it’s up to her.

Speaking of whom, Allison is back from her US trip, amazed at the sheer size of things in Las Vegas.  And now she’s gone again for a few days — her daughter Jess has a new baby son.

It’s been cold

After our early spring, winter has returned with a vengeance.

We’ve now had a couple of weeks of really miserable weather. Strong and very cold winds.

We have branches down all over the farm. A tree fell over Barker’s Lane, and we were rescued late one freezing night by Sam, our neighbour’s son, who got the tractor out to clear the way.

The roof of one of the shops in Goulburn blew off. The emergency services people were extremely busy.

Last week we got a couple of German wwoofers, our first for a long time. They stayed for just a day. One I think would have kept going, but the other was adamant that she had come to Australia for sun and this just wasn’t it.

We then got a Canadian wwoofer, Fiona, who said that she knew all about cold. And two more Germans, Laura and Katy, who knew about the others and decided they’d stick it out.

Last weekend was the coldest I remember in this part of the world, minus 5 degrees in a howling wind. We had the wood heaters on in both houses, and electric heaters, and the wind just sucked the warmth away.

I told the wwoofers to do the absolute minimum outside, and they mostly just stayed in bed. And at last the windy weather has passed.

We’re now back to what I consider a normal winter: crisp mornings with a bit of sunshine during the day. Six weeks till spring.

Allison has avoided much of this, being this week in Las Vegas for a work trip. Sunny Las Vegas. No further comment necessary.

A visitor

We have serious chickens, of the Light Sussex breed, for meat and eggs. And we have some Silkie Bantams for amusement and for brooding eggs.
Silkies look like toys, all fluff. Over several years, we bred them to have a range of lovely colours. Last summer, they hid some nests of eggs and we ended up with a lot of them.
With the recent warm weather, they thought it was spring. We had far too many roosters, and they were loving the hens to exhaustion.
So on Saturday we ‘harvested’ six of the roosters. This left our favourite roosters: Rufio, with gorgeous black feathers; Silvan, russet and gold; and a really beautiful silver-grey one without a name as yet. And a few spares, as we could only manage to do six of them in a plucking session.
We did keep the meat, though it’s hardly worth the effort. They have tiny bodies under all the fluff, and their meat is black. Great in Chinese medicine apparently.
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On Saturday night, we were babysitting Xavier, who belongs to our friends Tony and Claire. Tony came by about 10pm to pick him up, and mentioned that he had just seen a fox in our house paddock. And we realised that we’d forgotten to lock up the chickens.
I raced up to the serious chickens; they were fine. Allison ran to the silkies, and found about 20 corpses, no survivors.
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We are trying to work out what to do about the fox. We had a rabbit plague earlier this year, and the neighbours poisoned them, so the fox may well have been hungry. No need to kill 20 chickens though.
We don’t have a gun, and there are rules limiting shooting so close to the highway. We do have a bow, and Allison’s a good shot — but shooting accurately at night is very difficult.
We’re hoping he shows up on the lane while we’re driving home…
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We visited the Canberra medieval club on Sunday night, for their monthly pot luck night. I made some chicken pies, with silkie meat and vegetables from our garden — and they were generally agreed to be delicious.