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The chookpen got a new door frame today, one that should last for many years. I’m grateful for my wonderful Wwoofer Karl’s efforts. He also added a few more stepping stones to my vegetable garden path – which will now invite me in to browse even on a really soggy day.

But I wasn’t too lazy today either, I spend three hours brush cutting the back of the property while a few of the chickens and a grey heron kept me company, hoping for some tasty morsels to be unearthed in the process. The grey heron was wary, but too tempted to be too shy and came so close we made eye contact.

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The Life-Death-Life Cycle

The old lady passed away during the night. I knew as soon as I woke up because there was an unusual respectful quiet in the chookpen – not the usual calls of “Come and open the door…”

A natural respect and maybe an acknowledgement that this is the way of Life, that Death is part and parcel of every day and the old is renewed in the transformation.

I buried her next to the little oak tree which is unfolding its new leaves and thus affirming life. The rock that marks her resting place will hopefully deter any wild gravediggers.

A strange day which couldn’t make up its mind whether to be sunny or rainy or cloudy or warm or cool…

My Wwoofer and I went to buy some timber to replace the rotten door frame in the chookpen. He’ll be building me a new door frame and has also been busy moving some large rocks already. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t predictable enough to get started on the building, so the prep work will be all he can complete today.

My grand old Australorb lady is no better, but was sitting with a younger friend at lunchtime. I hope she is enjoying her possibly last days. As sad as it may be, death is a part of life, more noticeably so in my rural lifestyle than in a city life.

I do believe my domestic animals have a very nice life, although the odd one dies young from natural predators, others live out their years peacefully, scratching through the yard for scraps, even though they may not be as useful anymore as they once were.

Jaboticaba

I had a good walk around the garden today and was amazed at how much everything has grown in a few days.

The Jaboticaba, flowering for the first time, is already setting some fruit. This unusual South American fruit tree carries it’s fruit directly on its woody branches. The flavour of the berries reminds me of black currants, which do not grow in this area, and when they are ripe, I will use some of the fruit to prepare a fruit syrup, as well as some jelly.

On a sadder note, I think my oldest Australorb hen is not feeling well. She’s not eating and has given up the top rung of the perch. She’s about 9 years old, so it may soon be her time to leave this world for chook heaven, no coaxing seems to enthuse her to feel better…

This weekend I attended the Joining Gathering at Ewen Maddock Dam.

Camping in this beautiful bush setting and having all your meals prepared for you was a treat.

The whole weekend was a dialogue with nature – inner and outer, which I will not go into here.

Suffice to say, it was an enjoyable break, but it is good to be home again. I feel a need to recover from so much great company and here is the perfect place – peaceful and quiet.

An kid’s emergency dental visit took up much of my free time today.

It rained on and off, making me apprehensive about my weekend camping starting tomorrow… At least I won’t have to worry about watering the garden. Everything should be fine until my return.

A short walk through the garden brought a surprise: My Jaboticaba is flowering for the first time after about seven years since planting it. We will have fruit for the first time this year. I will take some pictures of this unusual fruit and growth habit on my return. For now, I will sign off for a few days and go back to a paper journal.

Updates to follow upon my return.

Before the teenagers invade my living room, I just want to share this beautiful find from my vegetable garden. I only missed a couple of days of looking closely there and found this most gorgeous white head peeping through the leaves.

I now have tonight’s dinner of a lovely mixed salad (the teenagers are having home made pizza) and tomorrow’s dinner of cauliflower in a yet-to-be-decided recipe all sorted.

Having a vegetable garden is such a blessing – it forgives a few days of neglect with health-giving gifts.

It’s been raining today… all day, getting heavier too. I felt sorry for the chickens and gave them extra rations. Glad they have a roof over their heads to keep them dry.

Huntsman Spider

Everything is sheltering from the wet. We came home from karate just now to find an impressive huntsman sitting on the roof of the carport. These are pretty harmless for humans, but will eat other spiders – still, they’re pretty big, not always easy to catch and relocate (they’re very fast runners!) if they get inside and you better not have a spider phobia when you come across one of these… I’m just glad it’s outside, not inside.

I have a houseful of boys this afternoon, four of them, all shouting and running.

The popcorn scattered on the decking lured a Magpie a little too close. It ended up inside the lounge room flapping against the window, until I could open the latch and let it back out.

I could tell it was a little unnerved by the presence of two adults and four kids in the room… I know how that feels.

It’s now out on the lawn, picking at bits of popcorn and keeping a wary eye out for those running and screaming boys – why do boys have to shout all the time?

Australorb Hen

The chickens are laying, but with all the snakes around, I or the kids have to keep going down several times a day to get the eggs so no-one comes to steal them in between.

Today I made a cake that uses six eggs, soon I’ll make my flourless hazelnut cake that uses a whole dozen! It’s hard to keep up with six or more eggs per day for the spring season – you soon have a couple of dozen in the fridge. We’ll miss them though once the weather gets hot and they go off the lay again.

Some of my chickens are now lovely old ladies, I will have to get a few more ‘spring chickens’ to add to the flock soon… and maybe a well-behaved rooster who doesn’t crow at every full moon all night long – my neighbours would not appreciate it.

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All artworks and photographs in this blog are original and all rights are reserved by the author, © S Gneist. Please ask before reproducing any of my work.
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