Pumpkin Pumpkin and more Pumpkin

I have mentioned before that I grew a lot of pumpkin this year. I have finally finished it all!!!!!!!!!!! This is quite momentous. So. Much. Pumpkin. Has. Been. Eaten. I have a pot of soup on the stove now and it represents the last of the pumpkin.

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The freezer is looking a little less packed after taking these jars out.

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Onion from the farmers market, garlic from the back yard, cumin and red lentils package free, water from the tap, pumpkin from the backyard. The only culprit is

IMG_4171I didn’t have stock in the freezer like I thought I did. So I threw in a stock cube. I guess I need a better system in the freezer so it is immediately obvious what is in there.

I cannot express the satisfaction I feel at finally getting through all the pumpkin. I did plant 2 vines again but they are both good storing varieties and I think probably less prolific.  I may have planted the corn too early though as they are massive and blocking the light to the baby pumpkin vines. Trial and error, I can’t say I would be devastated if the pumpkins don’t thrive….

The path that led me to chickens

We had chickens growing up. Then there was a decade or so of no chickens. Then my dad got 4 chickens. Life happened, stuff changed and I inherited them. The coop and the ladies were transplanted to my backyard. I had not intended to get chickens. Now I had 4. Speckles. Boss. Runt. Vanilla.

Speckles and Runt after a flooding rain.
Speckles and Runt after a flooding rain.
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Boss
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Vanilla, Runt in the background
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Of course Speckles isn’t inside…. That would be unhygienic….

Sadly Vanilla died of natural causes after about a year here. Runt mysteriously vanished into thin air. I felt the backyard could take a few more ladies. So I went to get 2 more chickens (apparently you shouldn’t introduce just one as it will be picked on). I came home with 3. Bobby. Hugo. Priscilla. I learnt that it is hard to tell brown chickens apart.

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Bobby and Hugo
Priscilla with Herbs in the background
Priscilla with Herbs in the background

I loved having chickens!! I did little to keep them. I didn’t lock them up (I live in the city). They gave me eggs and so much entertainment.

One morning, about 2 and a half years after they arrived, I went into their area to find them all dead. Decapitated. Foxes had moved to the city. I was beside myself. Rage, Guilt, sadness, emptiness. I couldn’t believe the hole they left in the backyard. It was too quiet. I had no one to give the manky kale leaves too. What in the world was I supposed to do with the caterpillars now??

I have a friend who can fix or make anything. He offered to fix their home. So an extension was put on and it was fox proofed. I got 5 new ladies. The backyard is better again. 5 different chickens, unique in appearance and personality. I can’t imagine not having chickens. I still think about my old ladies frequently. I still accidentally call Bella Speckles. I love my new ladies (now almost 2 years I have had them) but I miss the old too.  I am somewhat paranoid about foxes (there are pictures of them everywhere, cute cartoon pictures on every childs backpack, sweater, coffee mug, everywhere! They Are Not Cute, apparently I hold quite the grudge..) . Even if I wake up super early I won’t let the ladies out til well after dawn. They are locked up by dusk, with out fail. Luckily for me my brother lives next door so if I am running late or plans change he is happy to lock the ladies up for me. Payment for thanks is in eggs.

Next I want baby chicks… I have started the research for this.

Cake

This is absolutely not a zero waste cake! The cake itself is pretty close, the decoration not even close. My sisters friend just had a birthday and she is in charge of the cake for the celebration. We made this yesterday. It kills me that the M isn’t centered. I swear it looked centered in real life, the camera, I blame the camera.

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His name is Minh. Hence the M. It is a vanilla cake with chocolate butter cream. There was enough batter and icing to make a second small cake. We ate that yesterday, delicious!!!

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Preparing all the colours of the rainbow (or the mm’s). We thought about doing the decoration in this way, all the colours separate, but it turns out I have a little OCD in me. I wanted to measure out the wedges so that they would all be equal in size and look perfectly symmetrical. Glorious in my mind. My sister wanted to put them on as they are on the table (despite there being way less yellow than green!) but take one of the green ones out and put it in the blue. I could not have this!! No way. Crazy idea…

Hopefully Minh likes his cake 🙂

Low waste update

I haven’t bothered to collect my rubbish in a mason jar, I don’t think I will ever want to keep and store my trash, maybe that’s too confronting.

I am going with a self reporting sort of measure. I feel like I haven’t put anything in the bin for a few weeks now. I stopped being so lazy and put the vacuum cleaner canister contents in the compost. I bought a heap of butter and froze it. It wasn’t a success zero waste wise. The lady was happy to put the butter in my large tin but she used a disposable glove and a piece of plastic to get it in there. Butter was one of the last things that I bought frequently but hadn’t found a solution for. I still haven’t.

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A glass pineapple soap dispenser that my grandmother gave me from the ?70’s. I love it!

I made my own pasta. I used the last of the pesto that I froze from last Summer, delicious. Bought my dry goods with no packaging. Fruit from the farmers market, no packaging. My sister is coming to stay the weekend and she Loves milk. So today I will go to the health food store and buy some milk in a glass bottle, although they are not returnable they recycle better than their plastic counterparts. I have called a few companies that were sending me advertising and asked them to stop. Lots of small steps.

There was a period of a couple of months where I felt like I hadn’t reduced the amount that I was putting in the recycling bin. I feel that has changed. The last few weeks I have seen a real improvement. I have put only a couple of things in the recycling bin.

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I am close to where I want to be, waste wise. If I find any peppermint essential oil at the health food store I will be diving into home made toothpaste. Wish me luck!

Another gift from the ladies

I try not to waste anything. I aim for a closed (ish) loop food garden. The chickens (my ladies) help me with this quite a bit. They also provide me with a few challenges too.

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Their manure is the obvious gift that they give to the garden, plus they provide me with nutrient dense, protein rich glorious eggs. But the gifts don’t stop there. The eggs that they so generously give to me play a role in the garden too.

I use them to add calcium to the soil when I transplant plants, especially tomatoes but my most favourite way to use them is protection for the tender transplants from snail and slug attacks.

It hurts their ?stomachs (whatever is is that slides along the ground) so they turn around and go a different way. It does not kill them, it simply redirects them. If they are super hungry they can and will cross the shells. It isn’t a perfect system but it has worked quite well for me for a few years now.

Once I have washed all my dishes I use the water to wash the egg shells. They sit on the draining area to dry. Once they are dry they all get chucked into a bag that lives in the gardening cupboard til I need it. They can sit there for months. Once the plant has grown big enough that a few nibbles won’t hurt them the egg shells slowly break down into the soil and add calcium and other nutrients into the soil.

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This feeds the plants that I then feed to the ladies and myself and the cycle continues.
It does however mean that my sink often looks like this…

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Garden tour!

Spring has been a lot hotter than I remember Spring being, but I love the heat and so does the garden. So it is great! I hope this does not mean Summer will be ridiculously hot, the poor chickens would not like that.

I ate my first tomato a couple of days ago, this is absolutely unheard of in my family. If you got a tomato by Christmas day you were doing really really well. Admittedly I did plant them in my mini green house in the middle of Winter. But I did that last year too and got my first tomato the day after Christmas (it may have been there Christmas day but I didn’t look). That is what days of 35 degrees will do for tomatoes in Spring.

This unseasonably warm weather has led to my sweet peas going to seed a lot earlier than last year.

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I thought I had dealt with the earwig problem but evidently not well enough. This poor little cucumber may still make it.

IMG_4141This year I was trialing not using netting in the garden. It is an eye sore. Plus I always misjudge when to remove it and either have it stuck in there with plants growing all through it or I take it off too soon and the birds pull all my plants out.

It has not been a successful trial. I am going to go out now and put some netting up. Unfortunately with chickens comes a lot of stray birds. They dig with wild abandon and no thought to my plants welfare. Last night I replanted 3 tomato plants, 2 cucumbers and a basil. They look pretty sad this morning.

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Bee food. Love in a mist and Borage.

IMG_4138IMG_4139And the beans are just making their way up towards their trellising. Exciting times in the garden!

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Happy gardening to all 🙂

Lucy-fur

Lucy. Sometimes known as Lucifer. I mean Lucy the cat who has fur. Lucy-fur…

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My sister got her from the animal shelter almost a year ago. She is 11 or 12 years old. She is a really beautiful cat. Unfortunately she is one of those cats who just do not photograph well. You can not possible know how lovely she is unless you see her in the fur/flesh. No photograph does her justice, trust me I have tried. Approximately 7000 times. All to no avail. She glares at the camera. Quite the judgey face on her…

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She also has an unusual personality. 90% of the time she is glorious, friendly, happy, a delight to be around. But that 10%, wow, she scares the shit out of me. She is bat shit crazy. She gives no visible warning when her emotions have changed. You only know when she is wrapped around your arm sinking her fangs in that she is done.

I am usually quite an expert at reading cat body language, Franklin has taught me well, the devil is in the detail. I can discern no change in her, she is still purring, still sitting on your lap, still appears relaxed and comfortable. Then she is not. The switch has flicked.

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An example. My sister was reading in bed, Lucy was asleep next to her. She finished reading her book and turned the light out. About a minute later, in the dark, Lucy latched on to her arm and bit her repeatedly in a frenzy, kicking, scratching, biting. Luckily my sister was wearing thick clothing. I don’t know how she continues to sleep at night…

Lucy does not like her paws to be touched. Ever. Respect this. Don’t even look at them for too long.

Lucy2I have a very healthy level of respect for this cat and her possible craziness.

She does not like to be ignored during reading time.
She does not like to be ignored during reading time.

When she is in the 90% she is the best cat. She plays soccer, you roll a ball to her she swats it back, the game can go on for quite a while. She would make a great goal keeper. She has the quietest sweetest meow. She loves to sit on your lap. She has the softest fur of any cat I’ve known. She loves to be patted. She likes to sniff peoples faces. She is adorable.

90% of the time.

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