Home sweet home

It has felt quite good to be retired (note the qualification). Being at home has always been something to look forward to, such as at the end of each working day and during holidays. Now that we have to stay home, home remains a sanctuary for me.

There was a southerly blast last night and I’m pleased I photographed the roses before they were blown about. There’s a nice autumn second – or third – blooming happening.

The abundance of Japanese anemones or wind flowers brightens the whole garden (once you’ve got ’em, you’ve got ’em). At night, the flowers close up forming lovely nodding heads.

Loads of cranberries, framed by Japanese anemones – and parsley, chives, swan plants, Cecile Brunner, pittosporum, kowhai, and lilac which is turning to autumn colours.

There are white anemones too, with one of three rhubarb plants behind.

Herbs, fruit and vegetables are doing pretty well despite, in some cases, the ravages of chooks and caterpillars.

It’s rather nice to have hens to keep me company when I’m out in the garden. Yesterday, I picked the seventh bowl of raspberries, and a few blueberries. The chooks don’t like raspberries, but love to jump up and pick low-hanging grapes. Mostly, they prefer to scratch about for bugs.

I felt sorry for the hens when it rained the other day. They didn’t go into their little house for shelter. Instead they huddled under trees or scratched about in the rain getting quite wet and bedraggled. So I found an old umbrella and tied it up over their perch. There it sits quite fetchingly under the banksia rose and behind the abutilon and fairy rose. Even Popcorn, the white hen, matches the colour scheme as she turns pink under the umbrella!

Making a “home sweet home” for the hens is calming somehow in these days of uncertainty and anxiety. My WEA course on Sustainable Living has been cancelled (with two sessions to go) but now I can practise what I have learned at home.

I’m the urban farmer, baby

As I clump about the place in my red band gumboots, smelling the farmyard smells chickens bring with them, I’m reminded of when I lived on a farm and a colleague commented that I was “playing at being a farmer”. I had numerous chooks and a goat and a large vegetable garden. A stray cat called by regularly. There were possums in the walnut tree at night. The furry beasts, with ghoulish red eyes, would screech and run along the verandah with hob-nail boots on, and I could hear rats behind the scrim walls of the old villa I rented.

Now, in my small city garden, as I toil in the service of the chooks, mixing up their mash at 6am, cleaning out the nesting box in the early afternoon, picking up their poop and burying it under the rhubarb or in the compost, fetching them greens and treats to vary their diet and marvelling at their quiet clucky chicken-ness, I feel a certain farmer-ish satisfaction.

Having solved their incursions into the garden by judicious use of the sprinkler, I am harvesting the fruits of my vegetable labours.

Home-grown tomatoes
Freshly-picked runner beans – no strings attached
Firm and squeaky courgettes. Just enough for a Carrot and Courgette Kugel.

And – drum roll, please – half a dozen eggs for a bacon and egg pie.

Bright yolks and firm shells