Tag Archives: eggs

2020 Arrived

So I’m finally siting outside after 6 weeks (?) of not being able to even open a window or a door without a P2 mask or respirator on.

The air quality still isn’t brilliant, but it is better. It’s going to take a while before we have excellent air quality again. The bush fires are still burning and until we get significant rainfall, they are going to continue to do so. But today the wind is blowing from a different direction and for once the air purifier for inside the house isn’t going mad whenever a door is opened. NO2 has been the problem of recent PM2.5 and PM10 haven’t been as bad but they have been far from ideal. NO2 is associated with vehicle exhausts normally and innercity pollution but bushfires, forest fires etc are the original source of fossil fuels and thus also produce it. Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) is a brown gas so it’s visible and also has been leaving both of us dizzy and generally out of breath. It is still around now, we’re just ignoring it, it is all we can do!

As you may have gathered, the drought hasn’t broken. In fact, its worse. Here we simply haven’t been getting the rain at all. Last month, December, we got less than 5mm in total for the month. To date, this month, we’ve had exactly 1mm of rain. Putting that into perspective, if the shearing shed was 30m by 15m, that 1mm of rain will have added only 450 liters of water to our water tank. So, given that thinktanks in NSW says that the average daily water consumption per person is 340 liters at have and another 150 liters at work, for Canberra residents, (https://www.rwcc.nsw.gov.au/save-water/average-water-use/), that’s not a lot of rain collected over the course of a mouth. It’s a good thing that we are masters at recycling water nowadays!

But all that said, I’ve had to let most things in the veg plot die sadly. Some things have hung on by the skin of their teeth, like the sweetcorn. But I doubt it will produce anything because it is very stunted and only just flowering. The sweet potatoes are in pots anyway, so get the occasional bit of help. The potatoes are struggling and also get help. The courgettes just gave up completely and died so after the 3rd attempt and failure, I also gave up on them but I do have one or two squash that are still fighting so they get watered from time to time and obviously we are doing what we can to keep the rhubarb alive. There are a couple of tomatoes that are alive and producing tomatoes though nothing like Grandad’s tomatoes! But I don’t have a greenhouse to start the plants off early in and protect them from the late frosts we get here. And no matter what I do, I always end up with long leggy plants with leaf curl! The grapevine is covered in grapes mind you and the new olive tree I bought to act as a pollinator for the other olive tree I have happens to have been pollinated when it was at the nursery and has a handful of immature olives on it! The poor lemon tree is really struggling though and any spare water is going its way. it has dropped so many leaves and lemons that it is mostly bare branches. And there is no apricot, apple or pear harvest at all this year. The fig trees also are hanging on, just. We may yet get a fig harvest from them because they fruit continually rather than like apples and pears that flower once and fruit once a year.

Right now the place is the same colour as the sky has been for weeks on end, brown.


After many attempts at sitting on eggs (maybe 5 attempts) since the start of the season, we finally let our bantam (Stacey) sit on a clutch of eggs. But it was on the proviso that we were hand rearing the chicks because any chicks she raises are feral and you can’t even hand feed them let alone handle them. And I just don’t do feral chickens or bantams! In the end, she ended up on 2 clutches of eggs 1 week apart because I couldn’t bring myself to remove the growing 1 week old embryo’s that were crossbreeds (and not just between varieties of chicken but also between sizes). We were not expecting the eggs she sat on initially to be fertile, let alone develop but 3 of them did so we have some really odd combinations to come! One is an Old English Game bantam crossed with a standard sized Gold Lace Wyandotte. And 2 are a pencil laced Wyandotte bantam, crossed with a Standard Gold Laced Wyandotte. The 2nd clutch she was sitting on were purchased pure breed eggs and are bantam Silver Laced Wyandottes who are gorgeous little things!

When you can’t go outside because of the bushfire smoke pollution, the only way of hand raising bantam chicks is for them to be inside. So for a while we had the bantam chicks running around like a herdof dinosaurs indoors whilst I hand raised them. Every now and again, you’d turn around to walk across the kitchen and not wanting to stand on this minature beasts, you’d shuffle your feet rather than lift them up off the ground, and you’d accidentally score a have goal with a chick as you superbly kicked it across the length of both the kitchen and dining room only for it to skid to a halt, right itself and came running right back at you! They still haven’t learnt but this weekend gone their cage was moved outside for a number of reasons not least of all the fact that I need to teach them that they are chickens albeit very small chickens, and not puppies or kittens…

2 other chickens were also allowed to sit on eggs. One of our Lavendar Sussexes had her 3rd or 4th attempt by which time we gave up and gave her eggs to sit on. She hatched 4 chicks, sadly we lost another 3 at hatching due to the weather conditions, and then we ended up with another 2 (free) chicks off the lady who I purchased the eggs from. Pebbles, did a really good job on raising the chicks for 3 weeks then decided motherhood wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and quit. The chicks were by then pretty independant and as a pack/gang of 6 are fine by themselves. Finally, Speckles, our Speckled Sussex, hatch just 3 chicks last weekend and so far is doing great with them.

The only other excitement has been the arrival of our new sofas. Yes plural. We decided we didn’t like the three seater sofa we had and when Stuart was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, we started looking at recliners because he has to keep his feet raised when he’s sitting down, now. Plus I wasn’t finding the fit or softness of the existing sofa suited my back and had taken to avoiding sitting on the sofa at all. So we now have 2×2 seater sofas and a single chair. with them being a custom order, I needed to think about what we might need as well as what we currently need. They were ordered back in October and arrived just this week. Unfortunatly, they didn’t do any bright cheerful colours in the fabric covers (only in the leather covers which I won’t have), so we went light and are now adding colour with cushions which is almost as challenging because we like the rectangular cushions but currently their covers are all boring. So I now have 5 bright red square cushions that add colour and probably won’t get used as anything except decoration.

We’ve gone hi tech!

And we’ve gone Australian.The old 3 seater which is still in excellent condition along with its foot stool and single seated chair are now on the veranda. We may donate some or all to the bushfire charities to help those who have lost their hermes, but for the moment, they are on the veranda covered with many sheets and throws so we can sit out in the evening or first thing in the morning if the air quality permits.

We’ve been ‘playing’ with trying out cold soups because it has been too hot to eat anything hot (thermally or spicy) or anything “filling”.

Borscht and Sweetcorn Soup
Mango Soup with rice noodles
Avocado and Coconut Soup with rice and chilli fava beans
Beetroot Soup with tomato

One or two other nice but cool dishes have included

Yoghurt, Pomegranate Rice on Oatcakes
Yoghurt, Pomegranate Rice served with Khandvi (spicy chickpea pancake made with yoghurt)

And finally a treat for breakfast over the weekend, which should need no introduction. Pikelets.

I’ve also managed to obtain for free a brand new, unused Pasta maker which has been used with varying degrees of success, several times now.

And finally a Christmas present has been completed for it to join last year’s.

Updates Mid June

In a day or to we will have the shortest day of the year.  It is odd saying that and knowing it is June, but then sitting here with freezing tootsies and looking at the fire, knowing that we had yet another frost overnight, I do feel like we are in winter! But it is still strange saying it.

(picture of fire)

The chicks are growing up amazingly fast.  They are 6 weeks old now, but it is still too cold for them to be out with the flock overnight.  I am trying hard to make sure they spend longer and longer outside during the day, but they do like to make sure that I know about it when they want to come in.  The other day when the main flock had gone to roost, I was still busy on the laptop trying to finish something before I took them in.  One of the bigger ones decided I wasn’t paying them enough attention and jumped up onto my knee which happened to have the laptop on it… needless to say typing with a chick on the laptop is not possible and hence they got their way.  They were ready to be rounded up and taken in and didn’t offer any resistance to being caught and put into the pet carrier to be carried inside.  Luckily they are getting the hang of that concept quite quickly so don’t offer much resistance any more!

Chicks playing dead!

I posted this picture on a Facebook poultry group with the caption “Have you ever wondered how many 6 week old chicks can fit into 1 small hole left by a post being removed?” and the number of people who asked me how they had all died was unbelievable.  It had never occurred to me people would consider they were dead, or that someone who bury them in such as shallow hole!

On the subject of chooks, Kayley, one of our pullets has started laying in the last week as well.  We are getting a really nice blue egg from her which is a good size given that she is such a small chicken and they are steadily getting bigger each day.

Kayley’s First Egg (in the middle).  The one of the left is a blue bantam egg and the one on the right is a blue hen’s egg.
Box of blue eggs!  4 bantam eggs, 1 of Kayley’s and 6 Araucana eggs.

Showering is definitely back to the middle of the day routine now, preferably a sunny day when the laundry room has warmed up and you don’t feel like you are going to freeze the moment you step out of the shower.  Clothes washing is also a sunny day only job now we are back in winter, but usually we don’t have any issues getting the washing dry provided it is hung out before midday.

We have had to make some changes with the chooks.  They are now fenced in most of the day – they have a large run and I try to let them free range for an hour or so in the late afternoon which they really enjoy.  It’s nearly 3 week since I last saw a fox during daylight hours which is great news because it could mean that it has moved on to easier targets elsewhere, but I don’t want to push our luck just yet.

Stuart had some time off last week, so we took the opportunity to visit somewhere else for a change.  It was in between 2 medical appointments (physio and pain management) so there was limited time after we had been to our favourite restaurant, but we managed to get to Canberra’s National Exhibition Centre, aka the new Tourist Information Office.

(Some of) Lunch at Sweet Bones
Still Distracted
Now it’s my turn. A cashew nut milk hot chocolate and a Raspberry Cheesecake Chocolate Brownie. All vegan.

Then it is time for somewhere new and some new information boards to look at.  These ones relate to why and how Canberra was chosen to be the capital of Australia.  What went on and how was responsible etc.

TIO Display board on all of the nominated locations for the new Capital of Australia.
TIO.  The idea is that you take the city shapes off the noticeboard above and put them ono this floor and it will highlight the positive sides of each of the locations.
TIO:  Another of the noticeboards here.

And then you can have a look at the view.  It wasn’t the best of days being quite hazy, and these are taken through a glass window but they give you an idea.

TIO:  The view looking out over Lake Burley Griffin
TIO:  The view looking out over Lake Burley Griffin
TIO:  The view looking out over Lake Burley Griffin

Well I must apologise for the break, but when I took the chicks out this morning and was trying to get some nice photos of the rest of the flock (they’ll happen in another post), I spotted that some of the girls (the two contenders for top chook) were sporting blood and blooded combs.  Stuart already had gone shopping by then, and luckily a hair dryer was on the list for him to buy because some of the chicks are, well they are a little smelly after they decided to dust bath in sawdust and chook shit yesterday and it’s not warm enough to be washing them and letting them dry out naturally… and one of the chooks was also sporting rather a lot of chook shit on her feathers and it was very smelly and very sticky and wouldn’t come off.  And so this afternoon has been spent washing and drying her.  1½hrs to blow dry a chicken!  Can you believe it?  OH Victor Meldrew mode!

Yes – it really did take that long to get her dry enough to let her out in the chick wardrobe to dry completely.  She is sporting her winter plumage and is very feathery to say the least.  Once in the warm water and over her initial panic, she settled down and started to fall asleep on me!  It did take 2 of us to wash her and clean her.  Stuart opted to clean up her comb, so we used quite a few q-tips up in doing so, but it did at least confirm that it was blood and blood clots on her comb so we can at least say it was a fight and not anything contagious as I first feared!  I got to deal with the shitty feathers.  And it smelt awful.

JJ2 and the fight

She then sat on my knee for the next 2 hours whilst I used first a towel and then the new purchased hairdryer to blow dry a chicken.  She is an exceptionally cooperative chicken to say the least.  Now that she has had a few days to sort all her feathering out she looks amazing.  But this is her immediately after being blown dry and me having extracted myself from the chair.  I can confirm that a chicken sitting on your knee whilst you are trying to blow dry it, is not the easiest method but it does allow you to comfort her during her initial moments of panic having never encountered a hairdryer before – funny that really isn’t it.  Evolution has not involved hairdryers in the centuries of chicken breeding!

JJ2 1 and a half hours later…

Sorry, I keep getting side tracked.  It’s Tuesday now, tomorrow is the shortest day.  And we are due another cold night.  In fact it is still too cold for us to have the chicks outside at night.  Which is a pain because although I love listening to their twitterings, their smell is getting overpowering in the morning no matter how often I clean out their wardrobe/cage.  Today has been a very cold start to the day, or should I say more of a miserable I am not going to get warm start to the day.  It has been dense fog for most of the morning.  It still hasn’t burnt off and it hasn’t made it out of single figures yet.

One of the problems of running a forum is having to deal with the member squabbles and arguments and this that and the other.  It can be stressful at times and dealing with irate members who are in a completely different time zone to you is interesting to say the least.  For the moment, at least, things have now quietened down again and only the 1 member walked.  She will probably be back, but I won’t lose sleep if she isn’t.  She was a pain in the ass at the best of times and argumentative deliberately at the worst.  Exactly how you can have such an argument over lemons is beyond me, but there we go.

So a few random pictures that have been added to the files here, but not used for some reason.

Stuart’s idea of a Bunch of Flowers!

Breakfast at the weekend.  It was meant to have been porridge, but after a reading about a discussion on the cooking forum I run, I decided I fancied some and went and made a batch of pikelets whilst waiting for Stuart to get up.


And the Father’s Day cards which we had to have made up especially for the occasion because it isn’t father’s day here in Australia so the cards are not on sale and well, getting them from an online store in the UK with a printed message and name just isn’t the same somehow!

Father’s Day Card 2
Father’s Day Card 1

Right, I shall spend the rest of the afternoon variously chasing chickens, chasing magpie larks who keep getting stuck in the old building which is being used as a quarantine for the 6 pullets we came home with from a friend at the weekend (we gave her 1 rooster and came home with 6 pullets we were not expecting!) and then doing a log run (aka getting the night’s wood in) and cooking tea.  When I am done, I will try to get some yarn spun and some photos edited so I can post them up here in the next few days.

And finally, one of the sunsets we have had recently.  These are in time order.  They rarely last long and the clouds that day were flying passed at a speed of knots yet it was totally calm on the ground.