Sunday, 18 May 2014


We had already had a couple of eggs from the girls this morning so I wasn't expecting anything when I went to put them to bed tonight.  Spying a tan coloured blob in the half dark I put my hand in to retrieve it.  I quickly retracted it when what I touched felt more like a fruit jube lolly than an egg.  Taking a closer inspection to confirm that the cold slightly moist and squishy feeling thing wasn't a different sort of product from the chicken vent, I saw that it was a soft shelled egg.

The yolk in the centre can just be made out with transillumination
If you haven't come across one before there are several reasons chickens can throw a soft shelled egg:
  • Lack of calcium or another dietary deficiency
  • Advancing age of the chicken (particularly as mine are ex-battery hens bred for a short period of high production)
  • Heading towards off-season or moult
  • Fast transit through the oviduct (can occur if the first egg was overcooked, then the next egg was laid the same day)
  • Unseasonal hot temperatures
Having said all that a one off isn't necessarily such a bad thing.  Besides, they look pretty all lit up.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Potager Progress Part 2

We've been busy about the garden trying to complete and plant up the potager  beds before winter sets in.  Autumn is one of the main growing seasons here but there has been disappointingly little rain this year; although that did buy us some more time to get going on the beds.

After digging the top main bed, we've noticed the feeder roots from the gumtrees have responded by coming up through the new topsoil and sucking away all the moisture.  Luckily we hadn't done the rest of the beds before finding this out, which means that we've gone with no dig beds layered with cardboard, sugarcane or soybean mulch and mushroom compost with composted cow poo for nutrients.  We had enough cardboard left from furniture packaging to complete three main beds and one of the side beds that will shortly be planted out with strawberry runners.

Here's the run down of the beds:

Bed 1: Legumes
- Peas "Greenfeast," Dwarf beans, Snowpeas, Broad beans, with succession Peas "Greenfeast," Climbing beans, Snowpeas
Bed 2: Brassicas
- Kale "Red Russian," Red Cabbage, Broccoli, Wombok
Bed 5: Cucurbits and Corn
- Yellow zucchini
Bed 6: Solanaceae
- Yellow Roma tomatoes, French Marigold, Eggplant, 2 transplanted volunteer tomatoes from around the rest of the garden

See here for more details on crop rotation.  Autumn seems the most appropriate time for rotation so far.
Over half way complete!
The seeds are starting to come up in all the beds and today marked the first succession sowing of peas and beans as the first lot of peas poke their heads above the soil.  Unfortunately some of the seeds haven't come up which is most likely due to a couple of reasons: 1st: they're old and 2nd: they've been stored in the shed which does get hot during the day (they've since been moved to the laundry).  Here's hoping they just need a bit more time.

We finally had some very decent rain last week with a couple of stormy days with heavy falls bringing back the Colliwat Cascades, filling the tanks and creating a few ruts in the driveway.  The cold snap has arrived this week with all the mornings since Sunday being 7 degrees.  Hopefully we're not too late getting things planted.

View from across the dam