21 July 2008

The Duty

The Chicken population has got out of hand. Nine Eight Seven roosters and nine hens. No wonder the poor Ladies have taken to hiding inside the Chook House all day!

Terry Pratchett got it all wrong. The Death of Rats should be personifiedperratified not as a Rat, but as a Cat. (Or small, frantically yapping Dog.) I, in turn, should be dressed up as the Death of Chickens. Or a Death of Chickens, anyway, if Death is going to franchise out his operation, as seems increasingly popular. Clearly not a very active or diligent Death of Chickens, otherwise we would not have this Chicken Overpopulation Problem.

Every time I go out to give the Chooks their evening feed, I curse myself for not having got around to offing a few of the roosters. Most of the younger roosters have grown as big as they're ever going to get, and have reached that stage where they'll bonk anything and everything in sight. About 18 or 20, in other words. Finally I got determined and caught three of them last night. Evenings are really the only time we stand a chance of catching them -- once they're roosting for the night, safe (or so they think) in the Chook House1.

I thought I had the "right" three... A number of the younger roosters Must Go, along with the Rocky Rooster -- the Grandfather of the flock. He must be about 6 or 7 years old by now, and has been a fantastice Head Honcho, but he's definitely showing his age lately, and we have another youngster who is an exact clone and who we'll keep as his replacement. Needless to say the moon was not up yet when I went out to catch them, so I ended up catching the youngster instead of the Old Fart. So: 2 out of a desired 3 is not too bad.

Started getting the Terrible Two out this morning for Choppie Choppie... the smaller of them put up such a squawkin' and a flappin' and a kickin' and scratchin' that he managed to escape me. Bugger!

Oh well. The best laid plans... At least there's a (very large!) chicken in the freezer right now. With just J & I at home it should make at least three meals. We'll try again tonight.

[1] For readers of Afrikaans, it's really called Die Hoendervleis Paleis. But how the hell do I translate that to English and still make it rhyme?

13 July 2008

Blissful Winter's Day

What a beautiful day! Perfect warm sunshine after a couple of weeks of cold and dreary -- shorts 'n' T-shirt weather.

Just the right sort of day for starting to clear up the Wintering beds and begin preparing for Spring. Things have gotten pretty wild, what with me being otherwise occupied in Babylon earning Monkeys. Kikuyu grass has crept into several of the beds... weeds mulching all the empty spaces that now -- some of them at least -- needing to be cleared.

Planted another length of salad-mix -- direct sown, mixed, looseleaf Lettuces in three rows, interspersed with a row each of Rocket and Red Mustard. The combination works perfectly; once the plants are all up to a harvestable (but still baby) size, I can just snip a swathe across the bed for a supper's salad, and get the perfect mix of leaves that we love best.

A "length" of bed perhaps needs some explanation. All of my deep beds are 1m wide by 11m long. 1m of the length is taken by plantings of insect-attracting herbs at each end of the bed, leaving me with 10m2 to work with. (Close enough to 100sq.ft. for the metrically-challenged.) Very convenient if I ever get around to keeping yield records1. The "length" to which I refer -- the usual "unit of planting" for many things like salading, Beets, Swiss Chard, Carrots -- is the length of my rake handle -- about 1.5m. It is a pretty convenient length for successive sowings. I lay the rake down along the bed and draw a drill with the hoe. The width of the rake-head gives me a guide for spacing rows... works perfectly for me.

Next month starts the busy season -- seed plantings... I really must get around to checking the seed stocks, but I'm pretty sure that I've got everything we'll want. I do need to get some new strains of Jalapenos and Serrano peppers in, but apart from that, I should be able to plant entirely from my own seed-saving. A small but critical step in our goal of self-sufficiency.

All-in-all a great day! It was just so nice to be out in the garden instead of stuck behind a monitor.

[1] i.e. Bloody unlikely!

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