Flock Update

Time for a flock update 🙂

Up until last week nothing had changed with the big flock, everyone was healthy and most were laying well. Then Della, my older Ancona girl, had a prolapsed vent which I couldn’t fix and had to be put down. All in all it was not the most pleasant experience, but I learnt an awful lot and at least this time it didn’t cost me several hundred dollars in unnecessary vet bills.

At the same time Arabella TopKnot, the broody hen who raised our four outside chickadees, had decided she was over being a mother and deserted her brood – they were 12 weeks old, definitely old enough to be left alone. So Arabella went in with the big chooks and replaced Della. She may have even started laying already!

Two of the three roosters are destined for the table and will be done sometime in the next two weeks. I’m keeping Barney, my only Barnevelder, while the Gold Laced Wyandotte and Rhode Island Red will soon grace our table. Looking forward to eating chooks we’ve raised ourselves. We know that they’ve had a really good life – no overcrowding (our coop and run could house twice as many chooks as it does), lots of sunshine, natural foods and free ranging – the kind of life all chickens should have.

Unfortunately they’ve been free ranging into the neighbours too, so three nights ago the entire flock had their wings clipped. I’m hoping that will curb the more adventurous birds! I’ll find out tomorrow when I let them out into the paddock again.

Of the seven little chickadees we hatched late autumn, I know for sure that I have two cockerals – the golden mixed breed, who thinks he’s a big boy at 13 weeks, and the little blue/red Araucana – I saw him crowing this morning, so now I know for sure. Golden boy I’ve named Christmas because that’s when we’ll eat him 🙂 As we’re keeping the Araucana I’m calling him Arioso from Vivian French’s ‘Five Kingdoms’ series.

I’m still not sure with the two outside Light Sussex. I think I have a boy and a girl. If so, I’ve decided to call them Tom & Barbara, named after the main characters from the show ‘The Good Life’ a show that helped us in our journey of rediscovering what it was we really wanted to do with our lives. However, if Barbara turns out to be a he, he’ll become Dinner instead!

Fluffball (wheaten Araucana), Puffball (Light Sussex) and Skid (mixed breed) from the hand raised trio are still all looking to be girls. I’d really prefer it if they all were as it would fit in with my plans much better. These three will be the founding members of our home flock – the flock that will be working the garden beds around the house, so I don’t have to.

At this stage I’m thinking that the rest of the home flock will be made up of Arioso, Arabella TopKnot (who has some Araucana in her breeding) and Cana who’s a lavender Araucana. I’m considering adding my two Spanish girls to this flock as they haven’t yet proven themselves to be great layers. I’m thinking some Spanish Araucanas could be quite interesting, we shall see…Mostly I just want lots of blue eggs 🙂

Dreams

For as long as I can remember it has been my dream to live on acreage and have our own sustainable farm. Finally we are doing it, and although our acreage is only the grand total of two, we are surrounded by farms in North East Victoria, and it is as good a place as any to start living those dreams.

Although greatly inspired by Matthew Evans in the first series of ‘Gourmet Farmer’ we won’t be moving anywhere near as fast! Us Gardners live life at a much slower pace – with two kids on the Autism Spectrum and a chronically ill husband, we don’t move fast, quite simply, we can’t. And although like Matthew Evans we love eating good food and enjoy cooking, we’re not trained chefs, nor do we have a European background, so unfortunately, we won’t be making our own prosciutto or chorizo sausages and other exotic food products for a while.

We bought the ‘Gourmet Farmer’ DVD series recently – we finally managed to sit down and watch the last episode of the last series and Xav said after watching it, “I want to do that.” I’m not sure I quite want to do what Matthew Evans is doing to that degree, but there were certainly a great many aspects of it that appealed. So now we are working our way slowly through the ‘Gourmet Farmer’ DVDs and being greatly inspired. Matthew is doing what we are setting out to do, although on a significantly larger scale. He has 17 acres, we have 2!

One of the reasons we moved to the country was to grow our own food and to live a more sustainable lifestyle. True, we could have just as easily done this in the suburbs, as others have done and are doing already, except for us there were other reasons, including mental and physical health. ‘The Good Life’ is another television series that inspired us, especially the very first episode when Tom realised how dissatisfied he was with his current life. We so know that feeling. We knew that living int he suburbs was slowly sucking the life from us, suffocating us and strangling us and we knew that we were not living the life we so much wanted to be living.

There are some major differences between us, Matthew Evans and Tom and Barbara. They have no kids, more money, lotsa contacts and the chef skill for a start! While we have three boys aged 7, 10 and 12 and needed a loan from Tim’s mum to be able to buy our own place. Then there’s the definite lack of chef skill, knowledge of all things preserving or the equipment to do it with – thank goodness for recipe books and the internet! And we’ve moved to a place where we know no-one, so we have no contacts, no mates or friends. Guess we’re just gonna have to get off our butts and make some new ones. Then there’s the boys on the Autism Spectrum and the chronically ill husband. Hmmmm. As if life wasn’t interesting enough!

So as much as both ‘Gourmet Farmer’ and ‘The Good Life’ have inspired, and even helped, we aren’t them. Our journey will be different, just as everybody’s is. I just hope that in some way, we’ll be able to inspire others as we muddle our way through to achieving our dreams on a limited budget, with limited time and energy and a whole lot of new skills to learn. What an amazing life we have!