There are no pictures for this post, as I think it would upset a few people. That being said, I will one day post the process here on my blog. The chook was “processed” Wednesday night last week and left to age in the fridge until yesterday. We had a roast and served it up with mash potatoes and Hayley’s tempeh. I was going to do a full comparison and roast up a commercial chicken, but I did not have the time or energy to do so. Not to worry as I can safely say that the chicken had an extremely rich flavour, a real “chicken” flavour, was amazingly rich and was just as tender as any chicken I have had. The ageing process seemed to have really intensified the flavours and I can’t wait to see what an extra 2 weeks will make to the flavour profile. This one was 12 weeks old and the next one will be 14 weeks old. If we can keep the fox at bay, then there may be a chance that these chicken enterprises may just work yet.
It’s been a very hectic weekend this weekend. Heaps done, and still heaps to go. We had a fairly significant set back with my seedling raising, first with the corn and then with capsicum and tomatoes. The climate here is a bit cooler than I am used to and although knowing this, my greenhouse attempt to get things started early failed dismally. The greenhouse itself worked well during the day, getting the interior to 28-30deg celcius without a problem and the rear vent allowing excess heat to escape. However at night the temps still dipped down below zero on some instances and this constant day/night fluctuation really shocked my seedlings.
Suffice to say they are still growing, but their growth stunted significantly and so they will be used in the kitchen garden area only. My second batch of corn germinated fine using a different variety but a total of 200+ corn seeds gone to waste (although I may have got a bad batch…) To replace my stock, I went to the great “B” and purchased a variety of tomatoes and capsicums all of which went in this weekend. 110 tomatoes and 30 capsicum seedlings went in and are all looking fine. A lot more expensive than raising from seed, but I will have to make do this season. With everything in, the market garden is really starting to actually look like a market garden!
I also planted out some sunflowers for the boys and have put up an arch for their gate/doorway. Once the sunflowers are fully grown and the beans twine their way up the arch and the sunflowers, it will look great and the boys will love playing in their mud area! Both the boys loved helping and really enjoy the idea of playing in an area surrounded by sunflowers and beans!
Rufus and I have an understanding, he looks after the girls and in return, I give him food, scratches and pats. Simple. Really I think he has the best end of the deal, so it would be fair to say that I’m a little bit annoyed that I scored a ram by the ram in the butt!
I was with the boys planting sunflowers in their little patch of earth and noticed the weather was closing, so I sent them inside and I quickly finished off and cleaned up and ran around to do the daily animal check. I was turning off the cow water and heard a little ‘baaaaa’. Sure enough ‘”Bent back”, one of our ewes, finally lambed!
Talk about drawing out the lambing! Mum and baby are doing well, with the little tailwagging like crazy when it is feeding. The lamb does not have a name yet, it will all depend on if it is a boy or a girl. If it is a girl then it will join the flock, if it is a boy, then in 10-12 months time…. So while I was down checking out the lamb, taking photos and a short clip, Rufus came up for his usual pat and scratch, however I was preoccupied with the lamb and the camera. Rufus thought that he would get my attention by ramming me, the checky beggar. Yes it hurt, however after a little rough headlock, Rufus and I are friends again.
On a chicken note, the 3 remaining have survived another fox visit. He did try to get into the cage once, but seems like he has given up. They are weighing between 1.56 and 1.7kgs, with 1 more week of growing to go before a taste test with a commercial free range chook, but that is for another post.
For now, it is welcome news that Rufus can still do what he needs to do and the girls seem to be all pregnant and due sooninsh (but I am not holding my breath). Hopefully Mr Fox leaves it alone. Better yet, Bill and Ted, earn their keep and we find a dead fox in the paddock (harsh I know, but that is the reality of living on a farm).
So Mr Fox decoded to pay us another visit tonight. Although he did not get in the chook tractor this time, he did try by digging at a few spots. The alpacas were with the sheep (hopefully protecting them) so Mr Fox went to work trying to get in. He saw me coming and watched what I was doing from afar, so to be safe I moved the chicks into the shed again and tomorrow after work, will set about lining the bottom of the tractor with weld mesh, big enough to allow the chooks to scratch but small enough to stop Mr Fox from getting in if he keeps digging. I will also look at making weld mesh skirting for the tractor to stop him from digging in.
Message to Mr Fox “If you come again Mr Fox, don’t expect to leave without a few holes!”
It’s war! Last night as light was fading, I went out to do the final animal inspection and out of the corner of my eye I saw him! Running away into the paddock, and then stopping to see what I would do. I kept my eye on him and crept back to let Lightning out, she followed me slowly to the fence and then we both bolted at the fox and chased it away. Lightning got its scent and was going crazy trying the chase it to the fence. The fox jumped right over and left us barking and cursing.
I re-checked the animals and they seemed fine, our chicken tractor had flashing Christmas lights going and we were hoping it would keep Mr Fox away as we had read… but alas…midnight came and I had a feeling I needed to check on the chickens so out I went only to find that Mr Fox had already come and gone. He had bitten through the wire, that’s right BITTEN through, and dragged one of the 9 week old chickens out and bitten a smaller 6 week old chick. I then moved the rest into the shed to keep them locked up for the night while I thought of what to do. As I came back to get their feed and water, out in the grass, not 30 meters away was Mr Fox, watching what I was doing! The checky bugger had taken the first one away to eat and was coming back to finish the rest of them of! Lightning caught wind of him and gave chase, but Mr Fox is fast and easily got away. The marks and blood stains were fresh, so I figure I was no more than 5-10mins late. Dang it! The smaller chick although seemed to be ok, on closer inspection, she was not going to make it so I took care of her and buried her deep in the paddock.
So today I reinforced the wire mesh with thicker heavy gauge wire, reinforced the sides were Mr Fox may be able to get in and moved the tractor down with the Bill, Ted, Ruffus and the girls. The Christmas lights were useless so they will be used for decorations in the coming season, all they are really good for. I just came back from checking on the chickens and Bill and Ted were laying about 7-8 meters away. Hopefully that’s were they will stay for the night and if Mr Fox comes back, I sincerely hope he gets a few kicks to the head for his troubles.
Next on the list of things to purchase: Scatter gun!