Tomorrow the tractor gets a drive down the road to perform some paid work. When it was purchased we had it registered for public road travel in the hope of getting some outside work and thus defraying some of the costs of acquisition such as Goods and Services Tax (GST) and even some depreciation against income. Having put flyers in the letterboxes of nearby properties we only had one taker a few months ago and now a second. Every little bit counts.
Just too make sure all goes smoothly with the paid work a basic service was performed this morning on the slasher. Top up the gear box and grease the PTO. It was obvious this hadn't been done for while. So much for our "keep your gear in good order". The one hour turned to two but at least everything is now in tip top shape.
The bees needed their 7-10 day inspection. Brood looks good. Very little Small Hive Beetle. The foundation we inserted when the nuc was placed into the 10 frame hive is very very slowly being drawn out. Just to continue with the helping hand some more sugared water is added to the feeder.
The Tomato Bed is pretty much complete now and only some mounds require mulch hay biscuits. These are going on in unison with the planting out of various vines. Some Rockmelon and Watermelon are in and starting to grow their second leaves.
Some of the earliest fruit trees to flower have started to form fruit. We suffer badly from fruit fly and now is the time to protect the young fruit with exclusion bags. It sounds like an onerous task but fortunately only a couple of trees at a time need bagging and we limit ourselves to protecting only a small quantity of fruit to eat. A different matter with Pears and Apples where we will need bulk quantities for Coder and Perry.
|Tropical Nectarine with the Tropical Peach in the background|
The Coffee plant has started its fruit ripening. Some of the fruit looks like a decent size this year. This is one of those progressive tasks which will span months. Picking a few of the most ripe berries and squeezing out the pips for fermentation and drying before removing the outer paper and roasting.
On Friday we collected a couple of hundred kilograms of chicken feed. Separate quantities of Wheat, Corn, Black Sunflower and Sorghum. Pressed for time these were dumped on the verandah until today when we barrowed them down to the workshop. The small quantities of remaining grain were transferred to lidded buckets and the plastic 200 litre drums were cleaned out to make sure no weevils or their eggs were left behind for the fresh grain.
Jean gave away some surplus eggs the other week and received a rave review about taste and colour and a request to purchase on a regular basis any surplus. Our deduction as to the taste and colour is that it is the access to the natural environment. The girls are let out fairly early in the morning and not locked up until dark. Each pod of rooster and his girls travel to different parts of The Orchard. They don't return until the afternoon when we put out their evening feed of grain which is usually soaked in whey.
|The morning rush to find fresh green matter|
The Orchard is quite large and has a diverse vegetation profile and lots of insects and grubs. The amount of green material they eat is quite noticeable especially in dry weather when the regrowth is slower. The pasture looks as if it has been mown. We also observe that when let out in the morning the first action is to run around and pick at any freshly grown blades. Having chooks in this free range environment results in a lot of pot holes in The Orchard but I can't imagine ever restricting them to a pen where they couldn't get their fill of green salad.
|One of the many pot holes created by dirt bathing|
|The final product|