Tuesday, July 26, 2016

July: rooster lunches, chicken palaces, fencing, transplants

In July we found ourselves with a rooster who would not work for our flock. He was a bit of a jerk, perhaps due to our own measures of jerkiness, but still. He was also very small, and could not be the genetic future of our flock. Someone had a very large rooster (Boschvolder X Potchefstroom koekoek) that they were getting rid of, but first we had to say goodbye to Bruce... the whole process took a while (killing-scalding-plucking-eviscerating), and I cannot imagine us doing it more than once in a while. Eating him was a new experience for me. This month I had to kill a rat, and an injured mole rat. I didn't feel like we had much choice in either case. The rat was not going to join my favourite NGO, and sending rats over to neighbours seems like a bad idea. I did feed it to the chickens, at least. So anyway, it was a big month in the world of taking animal lives. Not enjoyable, but somehow this-- eating stuff, killing stuff-- is the way the world works in some deep way, and it'll make total sense one day in heaven.

[Okay, so now you can skip over while I preach about stuff I know little about (and carefully avoid the fact that it was Eug, not I, who did the actual slaughter): After some years as a vegetarian, I've come to terms with eating some meat, as chickens and/or ducks seem to be integral to a/our farm. I want to eat meat that I have killed myself, for many reasons. One of which is that I think this is where our high wages should not mean that we get to hide what we are eating by paying someone (very little) to face things we cannot, or to do the hard work of raising food. I think of myself differently when I am spending time to figure out some of the many needs I tend to pay to have fulfilled (petrol, solar, food, water). ]

Bruce is the rooster on the right corner. RIP.
This the paint-bucket kill cone for Bruce. He was not super tasty, but it was a good learning experience, and look at Henry II, who replaced him!
Eug made this bigger chicken coop to allow for more chickens. We're still having some problems finding  their eggs, but hopefully we'll figure it out.

One of three avocados. We have three different varieties (Hass, Ryan, and Fuerte). 
Elderberry grown from cutting. It was in a really grassy patch, so I transplanted it and put it closer to the house, where the grass is not so bad.

Ducks loved the reservoir until it got fenced in. We should probably let them in now and again, but for now they just have a little kiddie pool. 
Macadamia tree -- can you the shoots popping up at the top of the picture. 
dressing up the guinea pig. She doesn't seem to mind. You should see them trying to dress Hana.

Now and then Noah makes a ducks and chickens restaurant, and goes around feeding them scraps.

The fence for the annual garden is up. Exciting times.

It was unseasonably warm for a few days in July, so Noah and Eli could actually body surf and swim a bit! I didn't have their bathing suits (it's mid-winter!) but they didn't care. This is Soetwater, our second-closest beach (closest beach is Kommetjie, but it is a bit busier with dogs and stuff, so we come here for the rock pools, even if it's too cold to touch the water). 
Hana, with Male the Muscovy for scale (or vice versa). Hana insists on being let down to crawl around. Thankfully our devil thorns are already a lot less prevalent than they were last year. Lots of mulch seems to have helped.

Here's Henry II, our new rooster. Isn't he handsome? Five of our hens are Boschvelders, and 3 are Lohmann Browns. We're hoping they'll have productive egg-laying babies. Boschvelders and Koekoeks are both good mixed-breed birds, whereas Lohmann Browns are egg-layers. They have great big eggs. While we're mainly interested in having a self-sufficient laying flock, we do also want to be able to eat our roosters. Though not Henry. He would eat us first.
fowl meet and greet. Trying to introduce Henry (after his 1 week quarantine) gently, over some yummy grain.
Letting Hana roam a bit with the boys, while I dig a hole or mulch or haul compost... feels like good work. The landscaping waste is starting to show real benefits-- and the chickens get a fair amount of food digging through it. We also still get a box of leftover produce from a farmstand nearby. It keeps us in vegetables for the week, and allows us to greatly reduce our feed costs. And we have had a lot of rain the last couple of weeks. Our reservoir is starting to be pretty full, though I don't really have a plan how to use the water over the summer...

Hana chilling out after climbing terrifyingly.

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