Here come the sheep!

If you have followed this blog for any length of time you may know that the highlight of the Christmas period is the ‘decorating of the sheep’. I am of course referring to Matthew Harding’s sculptured metal sheep that are located at the Kambah Village shopping centre.

Here are this year’s decorations revealed! A new approach with interesting attention to detail.

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The sheep as diva

and

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Headgear good enough for the Melbourne Cup races

another approach …

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Sheep with a ‘Rudolf’ complex

and finally, the traditional ‘more tinsel than you can poke a stick at’ approach.

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Anyone for tinsel?

Thank you for swinging by through 2015.

Merry Christmas
and a Happy 2016

Chickens – a truce is declared!

I reported at the end of October of the arrival of our 5 new chicks. Since then they have grown quite rapidly and we have been working to introduce the new fowl to our two existing hens. I must say it hasn’t always been a pretty sight.

Our boss hen took her pecking order very seriously and made sure that all the chicks knew, exactly, who was in charge. The youngsters were so scared of her that they all huddled as far away as possible when she came anywhere near them. It seemed unlikely that the two groups would ever get together.

We also know that we have a young rooster somewhere in among the newbies. We have heard some very adolescent-sounding crowing early in the morning, but as soon as we get close to the pen he goes stum.

This week we finally took the step of bringing the two groups together in the same pen overnight. It didn’t go well. TB went to check them before we went to bed and discovered that all the chicks had somehow gotten out of the main pen and were forlornly sitting on the edge of a big flowerpot – well except for the littlest Frizzle who has such fine feathers that it has problems getting up off the ground.

Next morning revealed where they had pushed through the mesh in the corner of the pen. Duly re-nailed into place we tried again. It wasn’t much better the next night, except they didn’t escape, they just huddled underneath the hen house. Then on the third night they actually entered the pen without any herding and they went into the hen house. Now they are even roosting in the hen house. As you can see a strict hierachy is being maintained. And yes the littlest frizzle is still having trouble getting onto the perch.

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All quiet in the hen house – for now

Random harvests

There is never a ‘right time’ to leave your garden over summer. We had taken two weeks off early in December to catch up with family and returned home to a garden that appeared definitely the worse for wear.

Because of the valiant efforts of friends and neighbours we still had something to return to. But several short very hot days had blasted  any lingering traces of November’s rains away.

The first task I chose was to start tidying up the yard. Those chick peas that I planted way too late last summer needed picking. You know what, they actually produced a crop. A whopping 23 seeds, each of which was a quarter of the size of your average bought chick pea.

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A massive chick pea harvest – not

Then there were the raspberries.They were set to be the largest crop we had ever harvested. Of course they would reach perfect ripeness the week after we went away. By the time we came back they were totally dessicated on their canes. I did not want to lose all that crop and cursed that there was no way to have picked them earlier. Then I looked at them again and realised that they had just been naturally super-dried. I tasted one, and another, they still retained that intense raspberry flavour.

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One bowl of very dried raspberries

I  picked the berries over and removed them from their stems. Thankfully this is as easy as releasing the moist ripe berries from the canes. A quick toss in a metal mesh sieve removed the remaining dry bits and the few pieces of left-behind stem. We plan to pulse them in the spice grinder and use them as a base to make raspberry ice-cream.

Next task will be harvesting the broad beans (fava beans). Most have dried in their pods and I think I’ll hang the remaining stems up to dry as well. At least we managed to harvest several bags of young beans earlier in the season and they are tucked away in the freezer.

Sadly the snails and slaters (wood lice) have once again decimated my new beans. I think I’ve planted at least 6 well-grown seedlings and a further 9 seeds after all but one plant got ring-barked at its base. I think I’ll try more seeds, but this time inter-plant them with my Golden bantam corn. The corn is in a slightly drier part of the garden. I can only hope that the new plants will have a better chance there.

On a more positive note some of our garden visitors have been enjoying themselves as we try and give our garden some much needed water. Here young magpies are playing in the front garden. I’m pleased that I decided to leave the white paper daisies to spread across the newly planted garden while the tube stock plants are still small.

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Everyone enjoys playing under the spinkler on a hot day!