So Saturday started with the normal chook-related activities, when we noticed Beefy (one of the Scot Grey hens) was seriously pecked on her neck. We immediately thought it was the too interested Flappy (aka Midnight) that had manhandled her too roughly too often. So we had to remove her from the flock before it got worse. At first we put her in the little portable coop – portable if you’re strong – while I prepared the tractor coop for her.
As part of the preparations I had to fill in the trench I had started digging to put in a root barrier between the school’s eucalyptus trees and our vegetable beds, but of course the trees are no longer there. I usually don’t like undoing any work, especially not hard labour, but I must tell you it was a pleasure to fill in that trench! Anyway, so Beefy is now in hospital. The hassle is, with the tractor now standing on the ground – as we don’t have an open vegetable bed to put it on – it is not fox-proof, so we have to transfer her out of there every night. The first night I put her in her normal coop to sleep and all seemed OK, but when I went to put her in there on Sunday night, the other hens attacked her and blatantly pecked her hard on the neck. So I quickly rescued her and now we put her in the carry coop on the patio every night, and back again in the tractor every morning. But the positive thing with that is that we spend some good quality time with her during this operation.
As I did the chooks and ducks over at Dreamland, I noticed the stream to the duck pond was flowing very slowly. Oh well, maintenance time. Checked the solar settings, cleared the waterway, cleaned the pump inlet and washed the solar panels – twice. The flow improved marginally but still wasn’t good. Then I realised, it must be because of the smoky haze that the solar panels probably didn’t generate enough power to drive the pump at full speed. We’ve almost got conditioned to live with the haze – mind you, I can’t do hard labour outside when it’s heavy smoke – you just get too tired so quickly. So I don’t want to know how the firies manage fighting fires non-stop in much, much heavier smoke for days on end. I take my hat off to them. Anyway, the ducks were going on as if nothing was different.
The afternoon Patricia and I had to do the bees. One of the kids even dressed up and joined us for a while. It was a bit of a process. We had to swop the full frames from the second bottom super (box, for normal people) to make space for the queen to lay, as it was all pretty full down there, but we had to be careful not to move any brood or nectar cells up. So a lot of inspecting and frame swopping, but we got it done all bare-handed without a sting. We wore veils though… Anyway despite the erratic weather of late, this hive is doing very well. It’s now got four supers on and they seem very busy. With a lot of the gum trees and all our lavender in flower now, we should get some more honey out of them a bit later on. Sadly we had to dismantle the hive we lost and get the frames in the freezer to kill off any beetles or grubs that have found their way in there. The lid was full of loaded honeycomb which we distributed fairly between ourselves and the chooks. Beefy got a sizeable piece too but she wasn’t all that interested.
Talking about the weird weather, it is bucketing down as I write this, for the second time within a week! They measured 45mm from the previous downpour at the local airport, while we recorded 25mm. Maybe it rained so hard sideways that it missed our gauge. Anyway, for our typically very dry summer that is almost unheard of. Most years we get no rain from January to March and if we do, it’s often just a brief drizzle which hardly makes any impact, so we usually really have to stretch the irrigation tanks and often have to resort to using town water towards the end of the season. This double rain is such a blessing – it makes that whole summer water concern go away. We will still need to irrigate, a lot, but we more than likely wouldn’t need to worry whether the tanks are going to last the summer. We’re so very thankful for that!