creative 1975

June to August – The Chill of Winter

In Gardening, Poultry on July 16, 2014 at 10:18 am

WINTER IS UPON US here in New Zealand and reports say it’s been mild and it was the mildest June on record since 1909. It’s the time of year where frosts are imminent and the cold snap freezes the chicken’s and duck’s drinking water on a morning. Wood is being stacked at the front door and kindling chopped by Mr C for the wood burner. I can collect logs if required, but my chopping skills are pathetic to say the least. By the end of winter I am usual fed up with cleaning the constant mess on the fireplace. I am already looking forward to spring when the plants start to thrive and flowers appear once again. I miss seeing flowers in the winter and therefore I decided to sow calendula seeds in one of the raised beds. They are now vibrant, pretty and have a wonderful yellow sunshine colour. They are also a flower that can be infused in oil to make a good salve or used just as oil that’s very beneficial to people with skin problems. I already buy a natural goat soap containing calendula, yet I can’t bring myself to make the oil and sacrifice these lovely flowers, so perhaps I will grow more next time.

20140621_143903-1-1  Calendula just flowered


There’s not much going on in the garden at this time of year… well at least not in mine; still enough leeks to get through and the last of the celery has been pulled, but it’s really been in the ground too long, therefore what I don’t use the guinea pigs will eat. I have an abundance of parsley—which also, and surprisingly— the guinea pigs also like. I’m not a lover of eating celery; I tend to use it more as a cooking ingredient in my soups, stews and pasta dishes. I remember when I was a child how my granddad loved it with lashings of salt at tea time. Tea in my Grandparents’ house was more like a spread of ‘teatime’ foods such as: apple pie, cornbeef and potato pie, sandwiches—whatever was in the pantry. They ate their hot dinner at lunch time. I loved teatime with Nan and Granddad, eating a mixture of sweet and savoury delights, but the not the celery sticks!  IMG-20140601-WA0002

I’m currently growing the Chinese vegetable bok choy. We eat quite a lot of this, so I might as well grow it and what’s great is that you can grow it all year round. Also, it’s the time of year for planting garlic. My garlic seed is now in a well prepared bed and I hope to see some shoots in a few weeks’ time. This year’s seed is my own garlic from last year.


Pumpkin and chilli soup on the stove before blending: can’t beat home made soup in winter! Ingredients: potato, swede, carrot, pumpkin, red chilli, salt and pepper, chicken or vegetable stock (meat stock: preferably not shop bought) and of course celery! Sadly I’m the only one in the house who likes pumpkin soup. My daughter likes other soups as long as they’re vegetarian! Therefore vegetable stock only!

I lost a couple of old hens during autumn and sadly lost another wee chook who was only a year old to what appeared to be something neurological. Luckily I was able to save another hen who was suffering with bumblefoot—a condition caused by the pad on the foot being damaged and over time causes a bacterial infection and inflammation. Surprisingly my chook books were not much help with this, but Facebook pages, the Internet and my poultry friend were. With all that advice, I made a poultice for the hen’s foot and after bathing her foot to clean it and soften it I applied the poultice twice in a twenty-four hour period, wrapping up the foot with a bandage for the poultice to do its job of drawing the infection out.  Obviously she was separated from the rest of the flock and not limping around with a bandage on her foot! I managed to remove the scab that had healed over the wound and gentle squeezed out the infection. She spent a week on her own and I changed her dressing everyday keeping the wound clean as well as applying antiseptic cream. She’s much happier now!

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A Muscovy drake (named Blue) has joined the little duck family, so he’s been busy acquainting himself with the girls. I’m sure come spring and summer there will be ducklings in the flock! The Dorking chicks are now grown and laying. There were five girls that hatched, but sadly one was killed by a predator and another died a couple of months ago. The three left are thriving and laying love052ly little white eggs. Out of the four Dorking boys I kept one and he’s all grown up—crowing and trying to keep out of Ozzy’s way whom was the only rooster up until now. Ozzy gets first pick with the hens and the young roo is learning this. Ozzy is the boss of everyone… so he thinks! However, he’s not when it comes to the ducks and stays out of the drakes way.

I named the Dorking boy ‘Little Roo’ – so original and creative with names I am! It just seemed to fit! If you can catch him he doesn’t mind a cuddle. Ozzy’s offspring are also doing well and luckily were both girls!

Photo below: Little Roo (Dorking boy) in front, Ozzy in the background. Photo above: Blue the Muscovy drake.


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Photos above: Dorking boy (left), Dorking girls (middle), One of Ozzy’s offspring (right)




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