At the garden gate…

“One day things weren’t there and another they were. I had never watched things before and it made me feel very curious. Scientific people are always curious and I am going to be scientific. I keep saying to myself, `What is it? What is it?’ It’s something. It can’t be nothing! I don’t know its name so I call it Magic…Sometimes since I’ve been in the garden I’ve looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something were pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of Magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden–in all the places.”

from The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1888


Secret garden

gate to the secret garden
One of my long time dreams is to have a secret garden. Actually, my dream was to adopt one. An unkempt one that longed to be rediscovered – full of botanical gems and a history of memories – a keyed gate, an overgrown path etc…

Shortly after we moved in, I found it. Not an existing secret garden (my holy grail) but the gate that led nowhere. The gate that didn’t open. This is it. My chance to reopen a portal to my own secret garden from the edge of my backyard to the fields beyond. The site has been chosen, shady, secluded, a place to ponder in a neglected yet beautiful area.

There are many practical steps to creating a secret garden, so although my project is shrounded in whimsy and day dreaming, I have a plan regarding things to acquire:

  • reclaimed old clay bricks for a path to/from the garden
  • a garden arch (prefer old, but may buy new and give it an antiqued/rusty finish)
  • any old iron decorative border/edgings
  • non-invasive secret garden plants for pots – e.g. so far –>chamomile, wooly thyme
  • faery, goblin,elve,buddhas for the spirit populus
  • wind chimes

These are, as I see it at first imagined glance, the bare essentials for a secret garden. Only my research will uncover if there are more elements.

The project began with the a careful pruning of the plants surrounding the gate and an attempted opening. The gate yielded to opening after some years, but is very stiff as though trying hard to resist my will to open it. Hopefully it will settle into it’s new purpose with a bit of wishful thinking and a bit of magic spray (WD40).

Gandalf arrives

There was a new wil-o-wisp sized addition to the shire farm a few nights ago. Gandalf arrived from a neighbouring shire and joined the household as Merlin’s little brother, by adoption. He’s all big paws clumsiness.

gandalf the grey (kitten)

Before he arrived, we had no idea about his colouring, but a few days ago I said that if he was the grey cat I’d always wanted, (just like Merlin was the black cat I’d always wanted and was found with existing Arthurian name – bonus points on the destiny factor) we would have to call the little grey one, Gandalf (the Grey) from Lord of the Rings, which would sit nicely with the existing mature Merlin in the wizardly relationship context. Well, he’s definitely grey and I can’t bring myself to wave my hand at fate at pick another name, so it sticks, no matter how cheesey.

*update* – I found out that a friend of mine has a Dad (that’s not the cool bit) who’s cat just died recently (that’s not the cool bit either) –> an old cat called *Gandalf* was he. An old spirit takes to The Wild Roads…a new kitten spirit steps off the roads, fleetingly – to be part of our lives.

Expose some skin

I picked up Gaia the ever-broody, yesterday morning, to remove her from the eggs. I turned her over slightly to look underneath her (why not?) and gasped in shock to find a big bare patch in her underside. It looked like all her feathers had been plucked.

I immediately thought that she had been attacked by jealous females, or that my ignorance and lack of care had caused this. [I already have Babu’s death on my novice conscience]. Luckily, I only divulged this “wound” to my husband who also took a doctor like approach to this exposed skin calling for immediate isolation and care.

I turned to the Internet as always, to seek a chicken psychology for my obviously overly bitchy hens. Imagine my embarrassment to read that this is a normal part of a chicken. The exposed skin is the bit that keeps the eggs warm!. I’ve failed basic chicken anatomy 101 already. It would be a bit of an obvious design fault for a chicken to have insulating feathers right in the place they are trying to transfer heat from their bodies to an egg shell. People say that chickens are dumb. Look not at the chicken to which the finger points, but at the doofus who’s arm is at the origin of said pointing finger.

Getting to know you…

As I befriend each of my new feathered friends, I’m leaning their personalities and discovering their names which usually relate to their distinguishable features.

1. Kali – the *big* hen [Kali is Shiva’s consort, meaning ‘The Black Female’]
2. Gaia – very very broody earth mama white hen with black markings
3. Storm – The fluffy grey
4. ? – white hen
5. ? – white hen
6. ? – fluffy black
7. ? – black hen
8. ? – black hen
9.Rasputin – the mad, bad rooster who’s ladies follow him around as if hypnotised with his beauty

1. Cirrus – the duck with a cirrus-cloud like brown marking on her chest
2. Withywindle – the old white duck who just wanders around alone
3. Vicar – the duck with a white collar
4 ? – beautiful young looking white duck

Not enough time

I really really wanted to establish a permaculure veggie & herb garden this year but having just moved in I’m feeling like it’s a little ambitious. I think I might just plant my seedlings in boring and unefficient rows. I could still design my permaculture mandala in readiness for next year but the whole process just feels a little out of reach to me at the moment.

You can even make a chicken tractor (don’t like that mechancial terminology) to rotate your chickens around to auto-fertilise and weed your garden. The chicken tractor is a moveable chicken coop. See these examples:. You can also have a permaculture gardens without chickens though, yet this still seems to ambitious as you need to devote time for planning. Hmmmmmm…..need to find some realistic guidance about the length of time needed to establish a permaculture model.


We have moved in! Apart from the overwhelming chaos of living in boxes it’s cool. As we shipped our stuff from the UK we steam cleaned and wrapped *all* our stuff to be sure to get it through AUS quarantine but this now translates as a torture. Unwrapping things should be joyous, and yet your fingers can only take so much ripping of plastic and hacking at packaging tape. *sigh*…

On a more animal note, I’m bonding big time with the chickens, ducks and turkeys. Even though I had set myself a rigid unpacking timetable, I gave 3 hours of my time to the chicken coop on Saturday morning. I’m still learning the personalities of the chickens but have named the rooster, Rasputin. He’s a love machine, he’s mad, bad but enchanting. What other name?

I really know nothing about chickens – I don’t even know if they bite when you try to remove a broody hen from her eggs so I got some gloves. I felt a bit foolish when she just hopped off as soon as the big gloved hand came near — and I also felt very mean. I’m not used to “taking” from animals, and I must admit to feeling very guilty when she remarks about my intrusion on what would be her future little chicks. I’m too sentimental, I realise this! What will happen when we have cows and bits of them end up in our freezer????? You’ll soon find out if I can truly muti-task (type in a blog whilst weeping)

Ramblings about sustainability, nature and other lore

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