Sunday, June 9, 2013

New chicks

Amazing things are happening this early part of winter on the farm. 4 of our hens have been sitting on eggs and our first new chicks have hatched! Now, I am up to my elbows in little chicks.

Sadly, the daddy of these chicks is no longer with us. The most gentlemanly rooster I have met so far, had a tennis ball sized cancerous growth on his neck and so we had to say goodbye. After the previous week's attack and the loss of my most beautiful, fattest, double-yolk egg laying hen- Hope- to a hawk, the loss of Rocky was a severe blow.
2 of the chicks also did not make it. When a chick hatches, it has 3 days until it must eat and drink water and if not, death is very swift. The stores from the egg will last those 3 days. It seems, this new mother would not leave her nest of another 9 eggs (communal nesting is a problem!), to sort out these early hatchlings. She would essentially have had to abandon the other eggs to raise the 2 babies. She was not willing and in my inexperience, I did not help the 2 chicks, putting their beaks into the water bowl and showing them how to peck for food, while mom was still busy. I did better on the next one!
 Blanche and 3 of her chicks.

Wonderful news though, the hen who had had no eggs hatch yet ( a white hen appropriately named Blanche Devereaux), has 4 chicks! Actually, she stole 1 chick from another mom who was still on the nest. What a wonderful, first-hand education my child is getting. We had almost given up on the viability of the rest of the eggs but now there are a total of 8 chicks wandering around cheeping their heads off. Just like Max.
Chicken's salad. From left to right: L'il Momma, Blanche Devereaux, Jessica Simpson, chick number 1.

This picture at first glance looks lovely. Max certainly likes this spot. When you realise that this is erosion from the neighbour's farm now working its way into ours, it's most alarming. It will require some major- and very expensive -work to halt this fall away of precious topsoil. It would be much worse if there were no wattles and palmiet holding it in place for the time being. The farmhouse is in the distance above.
It seems we aren't the only ones trying to stay warm. This beautiful (and rather large) puff adder was under the sewing machine table where Granny & I sew almost every day. Granny found it after I told her there was a mouse or something in her fabric boxes. tee hee!
There have been many puff adders this autumn and we have been happy to see so many babies around. Wary but happy.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

more feeding of the hungry

The soup today was a hit. As was dinner with a salad of cos lettuce and cucumber, topped with chickpea salad amongst other stuff. The salad was made of chickpeas, cumin, sesame & sunflower seed and chickweed. This amazing weed is cursed by gardeners and thrown away when it should be eaten by the ton.
It is full of vitamins and minerals and has a clean, green taste. This was an example for the volunteers of foraged food as we had not planted the chickweed- it too is a volunteer!

So tomorrow we will all try blanched stinging nettles as a side veg to lentil curry. Sounds yum to me.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Feeding volunteers

Today we collected another volunteer from town to join the 3 already here. It is the most we have had at one time and will be a test for me to see if I can maintain my sanity.
These helpers (so far) work hard and need a good helping of food. It's the trade for work agreed upon when joining the various organisations who promote volunteering. It can put a serious dent in your wallet if you don't plan ahead and explain the way things work ahead of time. A bottle of jam or chutney can be polished off in 1 sitting if you aren't careful.

We make soup often and so always make extra and freeze it. This is our lunch every day with bread and sometimes some cheese or pickles. (For dinners, since we rarely eat meat, there are our usual fare of curries, stews, roasted veggies etc.)

My celery plants were almost completely eaten by birds so I bought celery today for a little different soup. And a bit of food recycling!
Granny cooked a gammon (ich!) given to us at christmas, for dinner and then sandwiches tomorrow. It gets boiled but the water wasn't wasted, it is in the soup!
And I made pickled onions with the last smalls from last years' crop. The salt used to draw the onion juice out, gets spread out on a plastic tray and dried into onion salt. Some of it also went in the soup.
Some broccoli stalks and leaves, some stinging nettles and a large bunch of herbs finish this into a delicious green soup packed with nutrients and bound to warm up the volunteers tomorrow.

May melt some parmesan crusts onto stale bread as croutons to float on top too.