Monday, February 28, 2011

S and M bats

Well what do you know? Life couldn't get more exciting. Sitting in the garden last Friday, with a cool drink in hand and delicious snacks on plates in front of us, we looked at the swarms of bats, mm wrong word I think, streaming in from the direction of the sea towards the fig trees. Yes, I looked up the collective and it can be a colony of bats, most possibly said when they are asleep, or a cloud of bats. I like the cloud description; they scattered and screeched and fell into the trees in a noisy cacophony. Like so many feathered, raggedy clouds torn into pieces by the trees. Just be glad you don't live on Bellingen Island.

So there we were swapping bat stories when Ms Mova reported such close encounters from her deck that she could have leant out and touched them. "They are amazing," she said," I could see their little pink tongues and they were all dressed in black leather with little stilettos as they primped up the branches in search of the fruit."

Imagination was exchanged by hard labour on Saturday for the working bee. More piles of 'stuff' were moved around the garden. The fruit trees were surrounded by more soil and covered in the newly arrived mulch.
Barrow loaders spread out the mulch along the ends of the beds and of course Ms Teapenny was intrigued by all the movement and jumped onto the barrow to have a look. The others were not so impressed and kept quiet in the shade afforded by the door on such a muggy day.

And look what else we found! The most wonderful sweet potatoes from our plants which came from the sacking of Villiers. Thank you fellow community garden.

Ms Designer was checking out the radicchio helped by Lucy Legless and we started talking spinach recipes. "Just cook it with rice and lemon," she said. Sounds delicious. Ms Tagalong seemed to remember a wonderful recipe written out on a scruffy pink piece of paper which had travelled half the way across the world. Ms Tagalong's filing system never ceases to amaze, the recipe was located, so here it is and enjoy!

Spinach pie
450g spinach, washed and chopped
250g brown rice
500ml hot water
1 onion finely chopped
1 Tsp oil
1 tsp butter
2 Tsp chopped parsley
125g strong grated Cheddar cheese
2 large eggs (free range of course)

2 Tbs wholemeal breadcrumbs
1 Tbs melted butter
Cayenne pepper, nutmeg and salt to taste

1. Place butter and oil in a saucepan
2. When hot, saute the onion until tender
3. Stir in rice to coat then add the hot water
4. Simmer gently for 40mins
5. Turn into a large bowl to cool
6. Combine with cheese, eggs (lightly beaten) parsley and chopped spinach
7. Season well with masses of grated nutmeg
8. Place into a well-oiled pie dish
9. Mix breadcrumbs with melted butter and cayenne pepper and place in a medium oven for 35mins.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Roosters rock the rafters

Well here we go with more chicken stories.
Cycling home from work last week by herself, Ms Tagalong cycled quickly past the garden fence and screeched to a halt outside Ms Mova's house. Knock, knock, Ms Mova what are those other chickens doing in there?
What chickens? she said from the depths of her comfy chair. We raced together into the garden and viewed the new imports. One extremely glossy blue black proud looking beast and a small multi-coloured cheeky one with feathery feet. Oh they are beautiful, I whispered, who could have brought them?

Ms Mova sighed and Ms Mova thinks she might have said something rude. Beautiful! They're bl**** cockerels!

Oh no. What now? Yes, now Ms Tagalong could see; strutting around the pen, fighting with the hens and each other, spurs on their legs and of course the frightful crowing noise gaining in volume.

There was actually no prevarication, no hesitation, we had to catch them and dispose of them, as magnificent as they were. Ms Tagalong wasn't putting her hand up for neck wringing though and Ms Mova felt as squeamish. Coq au vin anyone? The solution was so secret we really can't tell you but be sure no chickens/roosters were killed in the making of this solution. The hens were very happy to be a feminist enclave again.

More chicken news when Ms Chicken Whisperer brought back the two sickly ones. Teapenny and Lucy legless, as they are now called, somehow became unwanted when a wandering spouse returned home. Ms Tagalong has suspicions that the naughty girls messed up the house hoping that he would stay away, to no avail! Ms Chicken Whisperer once more becomes Ms Designer and has grand plans or is it grand designs for some mosaic in the garden? Watch out for an interesting workshop.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Chickens forever

Ok Ms Tagalong promised you chickens! So what have they been doing now the weather is cooler?

Well not much really, the ground is still dust dry and they are scooping up as much moisture as they can. Ms Tagalong noticed with chagrin that the few scoops of water she threw at the Davidson plum last week have not sufficed. She thinks it might be a has-been but stranger things have happened, so not to be put off, Ms Tagalong crept under the bottlebrushes (getting trickier and trickier) to pour a compost bucket of water over the roots. The chickens of course were sure it was for their benefit and soon were beaks down, tails up around the poor expired plant.

Perusing the latest Organic Gardener I noticed that we have it confirmed that the little darlings are in great danger when faced with any day over 36degrees. Luckily they have a good shady run during the day, run being an operative word, as they weren't doing much running. In fact they were all smooshed up together huddling behind the Community Garden sign which is written on a door so thanks to our friends who have provided shade from the westerly sun.

Ms Tagalong was all for running out to the pen to check if their perch is far enough away from the roof. She didn't want to find that they had fallen off the perch literally due to stuffy nights when they are not 600mm away, but her common sense said that the perches were away from this death zone. Ms Tagalong spied the jostling that goes with the nightly going to bed. Our little laced neck chook is a bit of a bully actually. She flew straight up at one settled comfortably on the outer perch and they both fell off in a fluster of feathers and squawking. She then hopped up as quick as lightning and took prime position. When the former resident again took her place there was a bit of beak exchange and pecking until they topped and tailed with yet another and finally settled down.

Ms Chicken Whisperer and Ms Chicken Expert start planting the garlic please. Forget ratatouille and houmous it is the number one home-grown feed-crop for fowls, so continues the article. He grows more than a thousand garlic plants for the chicks! How many chickens does he feed? Ms Tagalong thinks our community garden members might miss the garlic heads.

And one more thing - nothing to do with chickens. Members of the book club spent a very pleasant evening sitting around the table, watching the bats fly in for the figs and idly discussing The Kite Runner. What a community spot!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Drought and flood

While Ms Tagalong is sitting sticking to her seat with sweat it's hard to think of productive community gardens, water (we now have none in the tanks)and plans for the autumn.

I did want to talk about yarrow. Well, I think that's what it is. It has pink flowers, fluffy leaves and is about the only thing growing in the garden besides the basil and the pumpkins which were also looking very wilted on my last foray into the garden. Talking about forays, I don't think people want to in this weather. They want to go to the beach, sit in a pool and drink long, cool drinks. Ms Tagalong is sure that most of our illustrious members don't actually need the excuse of the hot weather for a long, cool drink!

So, back to yarrow. What is it good for?

Having confirmed that Ms Tagalong's memory is correct, this drought hardy plant, (explains why it is growing in our community garden) is used as a blood stauncher. So those with nosebleeds, go no further, this is all you need.

But be careful; if you read further, It was one of the herbs dedicated to the Evil One, in earlier days, being sometimes known as Devil's Nettle, Devil's Plaything, Bad Man's Plaything, and was used for divination in spells.

If I catch Mr Ideasman or Mario out in the rain, dancing and singing swishing switches of yarrow I shall have to move in with Ms Mova - who knows what might happen being the plaything of a bad man!

Ms Tagalong has just walked into a very thankful garden after last night's deluge.
Unfortunately the taps had been left on so the first torrential downpour watered the concrete!! Thanks Ms Mova for spotting that and now hoping for more rain to replenish some very hollow receptacles.

For those of you who tune in to read only about chickens, you will not be week!