Tatong Tattler Post – July 2013 – Permaculture Adventures in Molyullah

This month’s been a busy one, especially with preparing for a Minecraft themed birthday party. Should have started making the props months ago! So between the usual running around and preparing for the party, not much else got done.  However, I’m happy to say, the party was a great success, running for two days over the Queen’s Birthday weekend. ‘It’s the best themed party we’ve ever done,’ said our eldest. He’s now planning his superhero and villain themed party. It’s a good six months away, so I guess we’d better start preparing now!

Despite being swamped with party preparations we still had Cary from ‘Smarter Green’ come and quote us on solar. He was great. Friendly and efficient. He checked out where the shadows were coming from, got up on the roof, checked in the roof, asked us what we were after, chatted about other ways we can reduce our energy consumption…

Turns out he’s a former* Benalla boy and after visiting us, is thinking about moving to Molyullah. Totally understand why. J He has fond memories of Molyullah having won his first blue ribbon at the Easter Sports on his pony Cinders! Thoroughly recommend him if you’re looking into solar. Jeff also put in a fence pole and gate between our place and our neighbours so we’ll be able to access their chook shed without me clambering over the fences, catching my foot in the wire and falling on my face, which is bound to happen at some point.

Capeweed is popping up everywhere! But as we’ll be doing everything organically here, I won’t be using poison. That said, I don’t plan on letting it run rampant either. One of the many things I have learnt over the last four years is that you can learn a lot from weeds; they can tell you a lot about the health of your soil.

The presence of capeweed tells me that my soil is not healthy and balanced. A quick scan through Pat Colby’s book ‘Natural Farming, A Practical Guide’ reveals that among other things, the presence of capeweed in my pasture is an indication of a soil low in magnesium and probably also low in calcium. Pat Colby says, ‘It is the norm in tired, exhausted soils, which usually have a low pH to match.’ Natural Farming, p.172. Dolomite should help, but to be sure, the next step is to take a whole lot of soil samples and send them off for testing.

And now, back to the chooks. Last Tattler I made it known that I was interested in rare/heritage breeds of chooks and that I thought I might start my flock off with Australorps and Wyandottes. I’ve since met with two passionate chook ladies and now have a stack of resources to work my way through. There are so many different wonderful breeds to choose from! So which chook to choose? So far I’ve come up with a list of about twenty different possibilities!!!

We’ve decided on a mixed flock which will give us the chance to experience a variety of chooks and discover which ones are best. We definitely want dual purpose birds so we get eggs and meat, with a few layers thrown in to up the egg production. On the list are the Barnevelder, Langshan, Australorp, Welsummer, Araucana, Minorca, Campine, Dorking, Wyandotte, Rhode Island Red, Light Sussex, New Hampshire, Leghorn, Ancona, Hamburgh, Andalusian, Faverolle, Legbar, Indian Game and Transylvanian Naked Neck. I can get day old chicks from a local breeder and through her I could get me ten of the different breeds I’m after. But what to choose?

According to the chicken coop and run size I could comfortably fit 12 birds and a rooster, giving them about 1m square per chook (not that we’ll be getting a rooster any time soon). Apparently I could squeeze more in, maybe even double it, but twelve girls should give us ample eggs,. We were going to raise them all from day old chicks, but as they won’t lay for 5 to 6 months, we’re now thinking of doing a combination of point of lay pullets and day old chicks. That way we’ll get some eggs sooner and have the joys of raising chicks. However we’ll have to get more chicks than we need as half of them will probably turn out to be cockerels. They’ll be good pure breeds though, so although a couple might end up in the pot, there’s a good chance we’d be able to sell off the boys to people looking for good purebred roosters. Dilemmas, dilemmas.

* Note: I changed this article slightly to the Tattler version with the addition of the word ‘former’ in an attempt to make what I was saying a little clearer 🙂

Tatong Tattler Post – April 2013 – The Molyullah Easter Sports Day Poem

Molyullah Easter Sports Day,
what a fabulous affair.
People came from far and wide
to see Molyullah’s wares.
At 8 o’clock the horn did sound
to welcome one and all
and give the Gardner family
their morning wake-up call!
Tractor engines throbbed and thrummed
and very soon, the smell of diesel engines
wafted through our door.

A leisurely stroll up to the gate
we wandered in, a little late
only three hours after the starters call.
We sauntered in, checked out the rides and food
– those most important things!
The jumping castle, that was the ride for our middle son
(‘twas the only reason that he’d come)
while our youngest one
tried his hand at Crash the Rat
and bounced that little ball.
We looked at the pole, the sheep
and the large hay bale
but to guess the height of one
and the weight of two,
we were sadly without a clue.

By now it was time to eat,
you can’t put hungry boys off for long,
so chips and meat it was,
with cans of soft drink too.
The meat was very yummy and scrummy,
but it was the chips that won our hearts –
whoever did cook those carvery chips,
the job they did it was superb
their chips a lovely golden brown
crisp and crunchy on the outside
but on the inside soft and fluffy –
the perfect chip to feed our family!

We watched the old tractors pull and pull
that heavy weight along the sandy track;
we saw the men chopping wood,
heard piggies squeal in the petting farm,
and children shout and scream
as we watched them ride that twisting, bucking bull.
The horse events went on all day
with showjumping and novelty events.
The bending, flag and barrel races
brought back memories
as I watched ‘Strike’ and ‘Invaders Girl’
battle it out head to head,
as they weaved their way through the poles
as fast as they could without knocking them down
then galloped down the straight so fast
it looked like they might miss.

And all the while
engines throbbed and thrummed –
spinning, churning,
clanking, whirring;
blue clouds of smoke and diesel fumes
strong upon the air.
The spinning wheel and jumble sale
were popular indeed,
and as I passed on through the crowd
I heard an older lady say
to an older gent,
‘I remember this when I was a girl,’
and his response,
‘And back then it was on the back of a truck.’

And now the day is over,
we’ve all gone home footsore and pleasantly tired;
the grounds are all empty and quiet
as everything’s packed up.
All that is left, the only evidence of
the Molyullah Easter Sports Day
are the 31 bins out the front!

Carla G.
April 2013