The last couple of weeks in Melbourne have finally seen the sun come out again after a very cold, very long & very wet winter.
This year for the first time the weather really affected me. As some of you know our family suffered an enormous tragedy and the winterness hit my heart hard.
I didn't blog, I didn't facebook, I didn't tend my vegie patch and I didn't really have my doors open....well they are always open but there wasn't too much traffic except one very dedicated friend who warmed my heart when I needed it most. Bless you- you know who you are.
For the first time I really got to understand the term hibernation. My mum has referred to me as "B" since I was little - a referral to my childhood nickname of Bunzi & also to being her little Bear. I certainly lived up the Bear bit this winter. I'm still a bit growly sometimes.........but on the whole on the mend.
As you may have read in earlier posts, I am the proud owner of 7 lovely chooks- I refer to them as my "girls" or the "ladies".
I love having chooks. I grew up in a suburban house with chooks. We also had pheasants, ducks, quails and for a while some Guinea Fowl too.
I wanted my 5 boys to be able to grow up having chooks too. Chooks are also the most wonderful pets for young children.
I wanted Bantams. For those of you who are unfamiliar- full size chickens are actually VERY big. And for some kids a bit daunting. They also inflict a bit more substantial damage on the garden than the delicate little feet of Bantams. Their eggs are also smaller. We have a mix of Japanese, Silky and Pekin Bantams (the fluff balls in the pics). I dare you not to love them.
As my kids are quite little I thought they would get more joy from the bantams and that we could get more of them. The children adore them and are often in the coop sitting with them on their lap.
When friends come over it is such a treat for most of them as few kids of that age get the opportunity to come close- and when they find an egg- the joy is wonderful to watch.
I looked into getting miniature pigs last year too- but decided that I really needed to be living on a farm to give them a good life........one day! At the moment I just a have a "pretend" farm in suburbia.
Our girls- like me- are also very happy to see the sun come out again after winter. Chooks also go into a sort of winter hibernation....well they stop laying anyway.
They have started laying again and are the most productive they have ever been- which is lucky as my boys are eating more and more eggs!
Here is a pic of Henny (my favourite- a Japanese Bantam) laying in unison with Fluffy (a Silky Bantam).
My last post referred to the wonders of Weet-Bix for dinner when us busy parents get a case of "I can't be stuffed-itis". But I am also a BIG advocate of the 'eggy dinner'. Both of these options are FABULOUS! Both very nutrititous and quick.
My now 7yo has been making his own scrambled eggs since he was nearly 4 and my 12yo makes a killer omolette.
Interestingly he went off eating eggs for years but wanted to cook an omelette for my mum. And after cooking it he had a try and voila he loved it and cooks them regulalry now. He also cooks PERFECT poached eggs. YUM!
We can easily go through a dozen eggs at breakfast between the 7 of us. Yes, sometimes we need to buy some to keep up but nothing beats the ones from our own girls!
I also try to grow as much produce as I can. I am realistic abut this. I am a ridiculously busy mother of five young boys (who somehow manages to make time to write).
I am very aware of how much work it takes to achieve living sustainably. What I feel strongly about though is giving my children an awareness and a sensitivity to their world. An awareness that fruit trees don't produce the peaches we enjoy for a small period in Summer all year long just as the chooks stop laying.
The fruit & veg have seasons too. Who knew! It's a lesson that can be taught in your backyard. It is certainly not a lesson you can teach at the supermarket where you can buy red tomatoes all year round- ok so they don't have any flavour and apparently they have been bred to have an outer skin of leather- but they are there nonetheless ALL YEAR ROUND! And we buy them .......hmmmm.
This winter I just wasn't up to it and so I let the vegie patch go. It made me sad to see it in decay but I just couldn't do it.
The spring has arrived and I am feeling renewed. We are lucky to live on a fairly large block. We moved here 3 years ago and it was previously owned by the same family since the house was built nearly 100 yrs ago and was largely in original condition. What that means is that it has lots of outdoor shed type buildings and large areas of lawn. I was happy with that as I am not into the kind of soul-less order of most renovated homes- suits some doesn't suit me.
We have worked slowly at getting rid the lawn (totally unsustainable- our British ancestry is obviously taking a while to shake off in this regard!) and replacing it with natives, herbs a plenty, vegetables & fruit producing trees.
Down the driveway we have planted a peach, a plum and a nectarine.
We have blood orange, olives, a lemon & kaffir lime trees in large pots and I have bought some dwarf varieties of peach and nectarine- I have put them in half wine barrels.
Gardening is such a great family activity. Is there any more joy than feeling mud in your fingers and feeling worms writhe in your palm?
It has helped the kids expand their palate too- they WANT to try the produce they have helped grow. Some of the kids new faves are beetroot, eggplant (such a pretty plant) & silverbeet.
We try to buy heirloom seed variteies from the Digger's Club. If you live in Melbourne you should visit their property at Dromana. Such a wonderful experience and a great example of how beautiful a vegie patch can be.
I'm going to go all Molly Meldrum on you and tell you to "Do yourself a favour"- go buy a Chook and set up a vegie patch- it will give you and your family untold joy.
Click on these links to read about keeping chooks and buying some fruit & veg:
Join me on my journey.
here's what we are listening to today: