Odds and Hens

Rescued Hens

The four rescued hens, scratching around in the leaf litter.
The four rescued hens, scratching around in the leaf litter.

Our four new girls have settled in well.  They picked up the business of being free range surprisingly quickly and are now integrated into the main flock.  We have 11 hens altogether; our 3 original Red Shavers (Lottie, Lulu and Leila), our 4 Black and White Orpingtons (Francesca, Pearl, Fatima and Hannah) and our 4 new rescued hens (Perky, Pompom, Crinkle and Honey).

Poor little Perky of the Bare Crop.
Poor little Perky of the Bare Crop.

Pompom, Crinkle and Honey have almost all their feathers now, but Perky is still being picked on.  And pecked on.  When she arrived she had hardly any feathers around her crop and even though new quills start to form, they get pulled out by (we think) Crinkle.  I guess she’s at the bottom of the pecking order.

To solve this problem, I’m knitting a little outfit for her to wear. I should have it finished this evening and we can dress her in it tonight when she’s half asleep.

All the new hens are becoming quite tame, but I haven’t yet felt like trying to pick any of them up, for fear of scaring them.  It’s been a lot for them to take in over the past few weeks. Going from being squashed into a small cage with their days governed by artificial lighting, to being free to come and go, feeling dirt and grass under their feet, able to flap their wings, build hollows in the dirt to bathe in, etc., etc.  I think they are doing remarkably well, considering.

They still haven’t mastered perching for sleep, however.  At the moment they are still in their own little house at night so it doesn’t matter if they hunker down on the floor, but at some point we’ll have to try to teach them how to use the perches.

Fruit and Funghi

Juicy strawberries growing at the end of Autumn
Juicy strawberries growing at the end of Autumn

It seems an odd time of the year to be picking strawberries, nevertheless, that’s exactly what I was doing earlier today. I’d noticed the odd berry amongst the leaves over the past week or so, and had been eating them when I spotted them, but today I’ve picked enough for dessert this evening. Yummy.

Exquisitely-delicate tasting Feijoa.
Exquisitely-delicate tasting Feijoa.

Our feijoas have been phenomenal. If there ever was an amazing feijoa season, this has been it. Numerous fruit are still falling on a daily basis and whether they are tiny or large, they taste exquisite.  I know some people can’t abide the flavour, but ours are so JUICY and not at all dry. We have two trees and the fruit from each tastes different.

Hypholoma acutum and Coprinus comatus.
Left to Right: Hypholoma acutum, Coprinus comatus.

It’s also the right time of year for funghi. Today I found a spectacular crop of Hypholoma acutum on an old tree stump in the native area, and in the weekend we found a couple of Shaggy Ink Caps when we were pulling out some Kikuyu grass from by the fence line.

Sadly I think the season for Shaggy Ink Caps is mostly over, as I’ve seen dissolving black patches of black goop around the edges of the property.  Now that I know what they are and that these funghi are edible (they taste really good) I’ll be on the lookout for them a year from now.

Tropical Plants

A couple of interesting plants we put in recently are thriving: –

Papaya
Mountain Pawpaw (Carica Pubescens)

Our Mountain Pawpaw has flower buds and has put on a heap of growth.  We planted it in our ‘native’ area where it’s sheltered and the soil is very good.  Also, I gather they are happy in partial shade so it should suit the plant perfectly as it grows.

Grenadilla
Sweet Grenadilla (Passiflora ligularis)

We also planted the passion fruit variety, Sweet Grenadilla, to make up for the fact that we took out our old regular passion fruit vine. I’m very hopeful that this won’t succumb to the same disease as the other did.  It certainly looks completely different, leaf-wise and it’s eagerly sending off tendrils this way and that.  We’ve chosen a very sheltered corner for it.

So… watch this space.  I’ll take some photos of Perky wearing the little outfit and post some in the next day or so.

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