11 November 2010

We'll burn them out

I send my sincere thanks to everyone who wrote a comment over the past two days. There were some very helpful suggestions there and I'm sure many people would have been helped by them.

Lets take a leisurely stroll around our place. This all happened yesterday afternoon when I saw Hanno building a straw bonfire in the chook yard. We've had an infestation of lice in the chook house and he wanted to clean everything out and make sure the lice were gone for good. So he collected all the straw that was in the coop and set it on fire.

While I was out there with my camera in the late afternoon sun, I took a stroll around to see what the chooks were doing. The black girls always stay together and wander around like innocent young things, but I know they're cooking up something.

This is Lulubelle, our barred Plymouth Rock hen, she's quiet and shy and is generally by herself.

This is where we grow most of our fruit. That's our large water tank - it holds 10,000 litres. Just in front of it is a grape vine just starting to grow again in the warmer weather. In front of it are bananas, a loquat and an orange tree and just out of sight are pink grapefruit and mandarin. Over the fence I see mangoes growing.

If I look to the left I can see towards the front of the house. They're grape and passionfruit vines on the lattice in front of the house and another Washington navel orange along the fence line.

Hanno put our last three bales of straw out in the sun in case the lice are in there too. The chooks discovered them and had to check them out.

This is Mary, our little chook that is usually broody and sitting on the nest. It's good to see her out walking with her sisters.

And here is Lucy, Mary's mother. Lucy is an Old English Game hen, a strange blend of mentalness, cunning and motherly love. Lucy came to us with her brood of miss-matched chickens she'd hatched out on the farm where Shane and Sarndra live. All the chicks have grown now but she still gives them a bit of a hurry up when she feels like it. She always looks like she's doing something important.

Further over, under the palm trees, Anne Shirley, a New Hampshire hen, is resting in the afternoon sun.

And now, after my stroll around, I see the fire has turned to smoke and the attendant is still at his post.

He will start putting everything back into the coop soon so I'd best get back inside and continue with the preparations for our tea. Before I went outside I'd started soaking old bread in milk to make the most delicious and moist meatballs to be cooked in homemade tomato sauce and served with pasta.

I still haven't unpacked my harvest basket of cucumbers and capsicums/peppers that I collected this morning. There are a few overgrown Lebanese cucumbers in there, the golden ones are lemon cucumbers - a delicious, crisp one, easily grown and very prolific.

And last, we have the egg custard I made earlier. I used 4 eggs from our girls, local Jersey milk, some sugar and vanilla. Into the oven for a short time and it comes out still wobbly and utterly delicious. We had it warm last night and will finish it off tonight, cold, with pears.

After all these years, I still find it pleasing and a bit surprising that we can make so much from our backyard. There is nothing special out there, it's just an ordinary productive backyard, but with a bit of work and care, we eat like kings and live the life of Reilly. I enjoyed this stroll around, and showing you an afternoon at our home. I finished off a day of writing with that short stroll and cooking dinner. I feel satisfied with what I've achieved, so I'll let yesterday go and let tomorrow be what it may.


  1. Morning Rhonda.....I do a similar stroll late in the afternoon, take the old cat up the chookyard, and we sit in the late afternoon sun and have a cuddle while the chooks have a snack...if I don't keep an eye on them, all the ibis come from miles around to feast as well. I rake and tidy and move the bins, which the girls love, there's always something good under there, pick some produce to share with the girls....I agree, it's the time to let the day go, and just be in the moment, enjoying the colours and warmth as the sun sinks behind Mt Warning.

  2. Thank you for a delightful peek around your yard! Really is beautiful...Your chickens are charming. Anne Shirley! Ha! Because she's orphaned or because she's a ginger?

  3. Superb, Rhonda - the lice are out and the girls are happy and your egg custard looks delicious - what more could a person ask for?

  4. I am a new reader of your blog... and have already decided it is one of my favorites. You and Hanno are living my dream life. I would love to work and live where you live! Maybe someday I will. My husband Craig retires in less than 5 years, so you never know? I will close with a big thanks for all the pictures of the hens... they were terrific!

  5. Morning Rhonda, I saw a herbal remedy for lice today...It was a spray that you can spray onto couches and beds if you are treating lice in your family. I wonder if that could help you?
    4 ounce spray bottle filled with 4 ounces of rosewater, 15 drops lavender essential oil, and 5 drops mugwort essential oil. Leave to stand for 2 - 4 hours then spray. I am not sure if it is safe around chickens or if in fact it is at all helpful :-) but just thought I would share it.

    We are trying to deal with mites on our chickens legs using oilive oil. It seems to be working although they do not like the greast look :-)

  6. I LOVE Mary!! That photo of her is so funny, it really made me chuckle :D I think chickens are fab. We hope to have some one day. There is a lot of work being done in the UK to rescue ex-battery chickens so we'd love to do something like that when we have our own space xx

  7. Hello ladies! Thanks Wendy, if the problem continues, I'll try that.

  8. That is a beautiful yard you have there - productive, yielding produce, fruit and eggs for you!

    I am quite jealous of your Navel Orange tree! I grew up in California eating Navel oranges - they are the best. My climate where we live now is not conducive to growing citrus, though.

    We are going to get peaches this year and some apples. We want our land to work for us!

    Oh and we just got two Rhode Island Red hens from friends and now are trying to decide what other kinds we want!

  9. Mrs Rabe, we started with Rhode Island Reds too. I'd like to encourage you towards pure breeds. The old breeds are dying out and it is only us backyarders that will help save them. If you look on my side bar, right at the bottom, you see "choosing your chickens". That gives you a comprehensive list of chook types and what they're like.

  10. A delightful little journey through your day! Thank you for sharing, Rhonda. Your hens are absolutely fantastic - I love that you know all their characteristics and quirks.

  11. Hi Rhonda:
    You have the most relaxing blog. I love all your chooks. I'm quite envious of your yard greenery especially since I live in Canada and we are just getting into our infamous Great White North Winter. Ah well, it's a time for introspection and indoor activities.
    Thanks for sharing your life and wonderful lifestyle.

  12. Good morning Rhonda,

    There's always work to be done when we live this kind of life, but its always satifying. I've just had a wander around the garden to see what I will need for our lunch and dinner. Such a lovely feeling to know we can eat from our garden and only need to buy just a few staples from the shops. Our girls (chookies) are doing very well and we even got 7 eggs from 6 chooks the other day. One of our girls layed in the morning and then again just before we closed them in for the evening. Lovely day down here on the south coast of NSW after some good rain. Luckily we missed out on the hail storm that was closer to Sydney.

    Blessings Gail

  13. Your chickens are handsome birds. I remember staying on a smallholding when I was a child and I loved watching them for hours. When we eventually find our own place in the world, chickens or ducks are going to be the first things I invest in.

    Some friends of ours have chickens (and a garden big enough to keep them) and it honestly could get in the way of an otherwise beautiful friendship, I am that envious of them ;)

  14. I'm a newish follower and whenever I read your posts I always follower a link or two at the bottom as an interesting way of 'catching up' on years of previous related posts. Today I found the 'Homemade soap and luffahs' entry and thought of a post on another blog I'd just visited that would go well with it. http://daisyquilts.blogspot.com/2009/11/christmas-card-mini-gift-box-tutorial.html
    Depending how big your cake of soap is this may be a nice way to enclose it and it also recycles previous Christmas cards you may have received thereby giving the card 2 uses before being placed in the card recycling box :).

  15. Good morning Rhonda. I had to laugh when I saw that one of your chooks is called "Anne Shirley" -- Anne was my favourite childhood heroine.

    At about the time you were doing that stroll yesterday we were driving up the Illawarra northern coastline and I was wondering why more people weren't outdoors. The sun had just set behind the escarpment, the sky was indigo blue and a magnificent storm was brewing in the south, while the northern waters were like a millpond.

  16. You are indeed rich in what you and Hanno have, Rhonda.

    I felt refreshed after 'strolling around' your garden too. Thank you for sharing in your day,


  17. Hi Rhonda,
    I really enjoy reading your blog and other blogs that yours had led me to. Its great to have like minded people around you even if it is through the internet.
    We were living west of Brisbane about 1 year ago and had really bad problems with these tiny little mites on our chooks. I tried for weeks washing the coop, bathing my girls, burning their bedding etc and in the end went to my local produce and he said that lice and mites love the spring summer weather when it rains, then its hot then it rains again. This certainly describes our weather of late so you probably couldnt have avoided it. My local produce suggested some nasty chemical which wasnt an option and then a friend put me onto neem oil which is natural, safe for chooks , can be used for a dog wash and even on your garden. It really stinks but it worked. I just diluted it sorry cant remember ratios and washed down coop and bathed my girls in it and repeated this every 4 or 5 days for a couple of weeks and it all went. My mum also uses this on her fruit trees and swears by it.

  18. great post, inspiring simple home living xx

  19. I enjoyed your stroll, especially the chickens. We have four and all four have different personalities, they're so much fun to watch. Thanks for sharing!

  20. I really know what you mean by living like a king. We also have a simple tiny vegetable garden (not in the backyard), but still can eat out of it. Lots of items in the freezer, but still some kale (?), chicory and sprouts. When the first frost is over it, we will hopefully enjoy our own royal wintermeal.

    Thanks for introducing us to your lovely girls!

    Love from Monique

  21. Beautifully written and great pictures. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  22. SUch a meaningful, contented walk...thank you for sharing it.:-)

    I love the Old English game hen, she is just beautiful! My grandson raises OE bantams for show birds. He is in 4-H club which is an agricultural club for youngsters here in the states. My husband and I raise the hens who provide the eggs for the family, Jacob raises the "pretties"! :-)

  23. How refreshing to start the day with a stroll around your garden.

    We dug up our first new potatoes yesterday. Amazing! We really can't believe from 1 sprouting cupboard potato came so many new ones. My fiance described the process as like going on an easter egg hunt! Thanks for the inspiration.

  24. Good afternoon Rhonda~
    What a pleasure to come to visit! Such a relaxing little tour and glimpse into a typical afternoon. Thank you for the delightful read. I needed this with my cuppa.
    "Anne Shirley" is adorable, and I appreciate your wit ;o)
    Still looking forward to that wonderful book......

  25. Love chickens. I have 5 and they do have very distinct personalities. Three of them are due for the stew pot as they no longer lay eggs, but being tough ol' gals they will need to be pressure cooked to get the meat tender.
    I will get 3 more in the spring.

    Love your yard, garden, fruit grove - just all of it! How many chickens do you have in total? Not sure I could handle more than 5 or 6.

    Thanks for the morning walk.

  26. Yvette, we have nine chooks at the moment.

  27. It is so interesting seeing where you are now going into summer and us into winter. The chickens do love a big pile of anything including hay! Love looking at all of your chickens!

  28. Egg custard is one of those "comfort foods" that always reminds me of "home". It looked delicious and makes me want to put a pan of it in the oven. With the ten hens, there are eggs to share and spare. I'll sprinkle some nutmeg on the custard like my Mama used to do...



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