Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Daffodils are Flowering

The extra 100 daffodils bulbs I planted for this spring are already blooming. They look so picturesque against the black fence, they are a flower I just adore. When purchasing the bulbs from a grower I didn't realise that one of the species had a gorgeous bright orange centre.

When I look back at the rate of growth of our plants in four years, in the most challenging environment, I never cease to be amazed. That is the benefit of going with natives, they are survivors and have mutated over centuries to adapt to the environment and the changing global weather patterns.

This is a pot of miniatures that I bought in a plastic pot at the Carterton Daffodil Festival last year and repotted into an old dutch oven with a missing handle.

I don't know the species of this daffodil but assume as it is a single bulb that it got into the pack in error. Love its frills. Fortunately it is one of the bulbs I potted up so I can keep trace of it.

Hubbie  just came in with a duck egg from under our akeake hedge, we have had a pair of ducks waddling around, and we have resident cottontail bunnies under the wooden deck. Try to keep telling myself they are Peter Rabbit, Flopsie, Mopsie and whoever - they ate the farmers garden - and I fear they are eating mine. The duck egg will no doubt end up in an omelette.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hens, Outdoor Concrete Table and Red Paint.

Our two lovely original hens are laying an egg every day. Only one turns out to be an Araucana as each day we only get one green egg, the other is an imposter. And the family I gave the other two Araucana hens too, are also getting green eggs, not daily but on occasion.

After we resolved the inadequate light problem, hubby got all keen and built a mobile hen tractor which, the hens have taken to like ducks to water.  If we don't get out and open the doors for them they start clucking and fussing. They walk through the trap doors into the tractor and then walk forward as we move it onto new grass. All but one that is, one black one has quickly worked out that it is easier to sit in the housing area and get pushed along rather than have to walk.

I have to give hubby credit for being ingenious. As you can see one end is a sack trolley attached to the house for mobility. It was cheaper to buy a sack trolley than it was to buy two wheels and with the tall handle you get some leverage. The makeshift handle on the other end was a piece of waste pipe and the two small wheels at the front obscured by the steel edging were swivel wheels recycled from an old commercial grinding machine.

I've read on a number of occasions that Araucanas originated from South America and are deemed a rare breed. I had no trouble buying my hens and at the same price as the more common Hylines. We have discovered that we are both taken with hens and would love a few more but the house is simply too small. Unless we build a bigger one!!!!

In March we got busy painting the white end of the house into something far more interesting. Not yet completed, we have to paint the steel black, it looks grounded into the landscape rather than a harsh white house sitting atop the land. The black board and batten end was always perfect but the modern living room end was so stark in white. It took me awhile to convince hubby that red was the right colour. I actually wanted a brighter orange/red but compromised to get him to agree. Of course, once it had the first coat he loved it and I am happy I compromised on the colour, as I think the slightly darker red is befitting the black.

The pukekos continue to attack my daffodil and tulip bulbs so I have tried covering the clumps of bulbs with wire but it is a little too late for most, chomped daffodil and tulip leaves lie chewed all around.

 I have been asking and asking for months if hubby would make me a concrete outdoor table. We brought a couple of smaller ones with us from Auckland but not one of the bigger ones. I have the chairs sitting on the deck looking forlorn without a table to put them around. Finally, last week it was ready. Middle of winter but I am not complaining, next summer it will get well used. 3 metres long and 1200mm wide, ground to expose the aggregate and sealed it is perfect.

Next summer we might get the block and glass wall, that is to continue around the edge of the deck to give some protection from the wind, built. Keep debating whether or not to include an outdoor fire in the wall. And that vege garden fence needs finishing, battens need nailing up and the bottom edge tidying up.

It is very satisfying when you can say it is unique and all ours, even if it seems the work never ends.  That's building a new house for you.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Chickens Are Like Bees

Well it is now seven months since we got our first hens and all has not gone to plan. The hen house looked amazing and the four Araucanas settled in very well to their new home. However, eggs never eventuated. 

So three weeks ago I said enough was enough and I purchased four new Hyline 12 week old pullets. The two older girls were rehoused with friends who let them free range and we introduced the new hens to the two Araucanas we had kept. A bit of scraping went on but they quickly settled in together.

Then after about three days I had one of those middle of the night moments when I realised why we never get eggs. There was insufficient sun getting into the hen house. In our desire to keep them from being exposed to the harsh cold winds we had failed to let enough sun into the run. Solution, get hubby to cut holes into the two exterior walls that also happened to be the fence, secure the holes with chicken wire and let in the sun. Within two days we got our first green eggs.

Now everyday we collect two eggs, but actually only one is green.  One of my Araucanas is a forgery as she lays brown eggs. Never mind it is so delightful to finally be getting fresh eggs every day. The four Hylines will soon be laying as they are now 17 weeks old and as large as the Araucanas. They are all so friendly and talk when you go out to visit them. Hubby being ever tolerant, has made a chook tractor. The hens willingly move from the large hen house into the tractor at every opportunity and get pushed onto fresh lawn whenever it is fine.

Today I planted red onions, purple broccoli, derby day cabbage, silver beet seedlings and sewed carrot seeds to keep new crops coming on. 

We continue to eat from our own garden excluding potatoes as our own supply has finished and white onions I never bother to grow. We have grown swede for the first time and unlike shop bought huge ones we are eating ours while they are small and sweet. Very nice.

The pukeko's have taken the tops out of  nearly all the tulips I planted for a mass display, 100 white ones. So disappointing, today we tried to put chicken mess over them to keep them protected but I fear for most of the bulbs it is too late. I also planted another 100 daffodils bulbs out into the large garden beds but again those tiresome pukeko's see them as young leaves to pluck. Funnily enough they do not touch the daffodils I planted last year along the boundary of the vegetable garden fence, they are coming up nicely. I will get a few tulips to enjoy as I put 40 in a large tub that I will place on the deck once they are ready to flower. I have daffodils flowering in the large tubs I planted out in April which is far too early. Just shows how mild the winter has been. Cannot imagine what Carterton will do for its annual October daffodil festival, the daffodils might all be over by then this year.

We are hoping to get the ensuite floor ground and sealed next week if hubby has a bit of spare time and then after four years we can finally apply for a code of compliance. That will be a reason to pop a cork of bubbly.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Chickens or a Dog

The age old question, shall we get a dog or have a family of chickens? Well that was my age old question having always been a dog lover and owner until the demise of our last dog two years ago. I have held off because of the logistics of looking after a puppy when we both work full-time. Reality has won me over so chickens get the vote. 

But chickens need a home.  What an eye opener pricing chicken coops has proven to be, cheap imports on Trademe are readily available but common sense tells me their life will be short lived and I am in for the long haul. Well made coops start at $1017 and then you have to make a run. So what are the solutions?  Talk nicely to the man of the house and buy marine ply, wire and framing, spend two days supervising most of the build, lend a hand when needed, make suitable suggestions and wallah you have the most perfect chook house. Hubby added some lovely touches like the handles that I love and the door that slides up and down with a chain and roller mechanism he designed from the many "bits and pieces" stored in his garage.  We have his and hers garages.

Now once I have applied the red paint, when the weather decides to reinstate summer, I would like to find some chicken decals to apply. Or maybe a metal chicken plaque or a rooster if all else fails.

And you are wondering where the chickens are coming from. Well as luck would have it, I had already decided I wanted Aruacana hens and one visit to Trademe and I found an auction from a Greytown seller. Sunday is the big day for going to collect my four ladies, the seller is away at a wedding this weekend so I have to be patient. And hubby has yet to put the iron on the roof, as I said the weather has been awful, gale force winds that would make trying to handle roofing iron a bit problematic.

While hubby has been building. and when not supervising, I have been gardening. The wind has given my plants hell. My Monty's Surprise apple tree has lost more than half its crop, last year each apple weighed in at 800gms, today five were knocked off by the wind. As I hate to waste them I am going to try and use them as the setting agent for my currants.
I have a wonderful crop of basil, best I have managed to grow here. Will make some pesto with walnuts and cashews - pine nuts are too expensive.
The winds are proving troublesome for my tomatoes, fruit fell off the little salad tomatoes. The beans are doing well, a solid crop will result as long as they get pollinated. The bumbles are out and about but the bees are elusive.

 I harvested my garlic today.  I was so pleased with the results, and the elephant garlic which are the purplish bulbs are a good size.  Can not wait to roast the elephant ones remembering to keep some for next years seeds.

And finally I bandicooted a few new potatoes for dinner tonight with a freshly cut broccoli. Gardening and establishing a new home is very rewarding.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Few New Photos

I was asked to take a few inside shots to share with a local interior designer, at first I thought no I don't want someone critiquing my house, but then decided the feedback would be welcome.

So here are a few pictures 

And we do have those LED lights for night

This is such a liveable house, we love it.