7 June 2012

The whole world in the backyard

Maya, I didn't answer your question because I just found your post in the spam folder. It sounds like the chooks aren't getting anough high protein food. They should be laying well at 18 months of age, although very cold or very hot weather will put them off the lay as will them getting new feathers. Give them some porridge made with milk or bread soaked in milk, some meat scraps or cooked brown rice with milk. Give that every day for a week to boost their protein levels and that may make them lay again. With new chooks, it's best to keep them separate for a while until you know the new girls aren't bringing in any disease. But leave them now they've been introduced and they should get to know each other over the coming days. Expect the older chooks to peck at the younger ones, this is natural behaviour and you should only step in if there is blood, then separate them until the wound heals. Within a couple of weeks they'll become friends and it will be as if they've lived together all their lives.


I've had a lot of emails lately thanking me for various things so I want to remind you all that I am a normal woman and despite what some of you think, I am not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. I think that some of you think I'm better than I am.  I would like to do more than I do, I would like to be better than I am, but I'm just me and I have to settle for that. I think my saving grace is that I'm easy on myself now. I don't expect perfection in myself or anything else, or anything close to it.

I think I'm like an organic backyard orange. I look old and motley on the outside, if you had to pay for me you'd offer 5 cents at a stretch, but when you open me up, the inside is sweet, juicy and healthy. It's a surprise. I think most of us are like that. Very few of us are like supermarket oranges that look perfect, cost a lot, but rarely live up to their promise. Most of us do our best but we are all flawed. We all think we should do more and be more, but now that I've got a few more years on me, I know that being flawed is not a crime, it's just a part of life. If I had not made all the mistakes I have made in my life, I wouldn't be the person I am now. When I fail, I learn from it. Not much happens when life goes smoothly and you succeed all the time. I'd much rather push myself and fail than to sit back and never try because I was too scared. Life is made interesting by uncertainty and the need to improve. 

If you look closely at the photo above you'll see what looks like a little black V shape - it's right in the middle at the top. That is the little male willy wagtail bird that lives here in the trees. He always joins the chooks and wanders around with them pecking at the grass and the crumbs they leave behind. I've noticed he's in nearly every photo I take of the chooks now.

It has been a beautiful winter day here today (written yesterday afternoon). I've got three layers on (one cotton and two woollen), the sky is bright blue, the air is crisp and the wind blows right through you. I've done some weeding, I've researched recipes, written, read and knitted. I sat for a while on the back garden bench and took it all in. I could live my whole life right here and not feel I'd missed one thing. So much is happening now that autumn has turned into winter - the pecan tree is still full of leaves that will soon turn brown and drop, the wisteria is golden and almost bare but the orange tree is growing and putting on new leaves already.

The tomatoes are going gangbusters, there are plenty of crisp young peas for afternoon snacking in the garden, the lettuces are crisp and delicious, the potatoes are up and we have all sorts of cabbages, brocolli and kale growing slowly and delevoping their unique flavours. The lemon tree is full of ripe fruit and it makes me think of one of the CWA recipes I saw today for Lemon Delicious pudding. As I breathe in the cold air and watch the chooks and a willywag tail who thinks he's a chook, I know that this is close to as good as it gets. There is a small leg of pork and vegetables in the oven roasting for dinner, and I can smell that the red cabbage is almost ready. I should go inside but I'll linger here a little longer. I want to get colder. I want to see more.

We have some great outings coming up where I'm hoping to meet many of you. Toowoomba Library next Wednesday for two sessions: 10.30am and 5.30pm. We'll stay in Toowoomba overnight, thanks to the hospitality of the lovely staff and friends of the Toowoomba Library. The following week we have the big day out at Bell where the old hall will be chockers with all us girls and a few men; then in the last week of June, I'm speaking at the Landcare conference in Brisbane. But that last week is also the week Hanno goes into hospital to have cataracts removed, so, as usual, it's the good with the bad. The more things change, the more they stay the same. But I know that while I'm at home with interesting and productive work each day and with a few outings thrown in for interest, I'm happy and fulfilled. Life's good. I hope that when you weigh it all up, yours is too.

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