Friday, 29 August 2014

In the winter garden

There is so much colour in the garden right now. Kangaroo paws in deepest pink and red, clambering pink roses always threatening to engulf the house and wandering native wisteria, leaving a purple trail behind it. The skies have been blue, blue, blue, and I have resorted to hand watering my vegetable garden and a few fledgling fruit trees. It feels wrong, in what is supposed to be deepest winter, but I keep hoping that spring will be a wet one.

The broad beans are pushing their way to the sunlight, and are now covered in flowers. There are white carrots to pull and pink skinned potatoes to dig; broccoli and kale and silverbeet to work into whatever meal I can. We have been eating small handfuls of blueberries and mulberries, and dreaming of the day when we might pick them by the basketful.

The almond blossom has come and gone; a brief burst of dazzling white from out our bedroom balcony.  The heady scent of jonquils follows me whenever I wander down to feed the chooks and water the ducks. We have been bringing armfuls of both back into the house to adorn our dining and nature tables.

We are still waiting for the oranges to ripen and a touch of sweetness to edge out the sour. I am hoping that a load of pig mulch to be delivered in early spring might help their flavour. I have plans to spread it across the vege patch, through the orchard and over the beds of herbs which usually dry out over summer. I am going to scatter handfuls of seed below the compost and pray that the chooks don't scratch them straight back up. They may have to tolerate a few days of captivity.

We are eating eggs for breakfast and dinner again after nurturing seven pullets and two ducklings to the point of lay. The ducks started to lay early in winter, so we had been saving their two eggs each day until we had enough for a meal. As they like to lay their eggs while paddling in their bath tub (I have no idea why), this involves fishing around in the muck until my hand closes around each egg, pulling it to the surface like a trophy. They are at least safe from the crows down there in cold water storage.

Our first chook egg for the winter had me rejoicing when I looked closely at its layer and recognised one of my Leghorns I had though eaten by a fox long ago. She found her way home eight months after the rest of her flock had been slaughtered and started laying eggs in the nesting box straight away. I wish that she could speak and tell me where she has been. We renamed her Come-Back and she settled in with the new flock, roosting beside them in the nesting box until one day the gate blew shut and she remembered that she used to roost in the carob tree. So up she flew, and there she has stayed. She is back on the ground scratching around, waiting for the rest of the birds to be let out each morning. I like to think her survival instincts are strong enough to outwit any fox by now, with the hungry season fast approaching.


  1. It sounds as though it is going to be a wonderful spring in the garden for you this year! xx

  2. Your garden is wonderful, thank you for those beautiful pictures...

  3. Ha! Who ever said chooks were bird brains? What a lovely tale she makes.Thanks for sharing


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