#Countrylife in Moonah

My suburban garden is being transformed.

My views are tiled rooftops, light industry and Mount Direction. The backyard is the enormous foliage of 60-year old walnut tree. The boundary is gaps and broken down palings. Regardless, on both sides, neighbours work in their gardens trying to produce a few bits and pieces.

The Lovely Deputy arrived less than a year ago, not to be deterred, he’s introducing the country to Moonah. The old lean-to became a hot house. In our first spring together, we sewed seed, pricked out and planted our first crop.

Worm farms and compost bins were established. The freestanding garden beds got a make over and he’s already cycling crops through them. At the moment, one bed is resting, planted with
green manure. In the other beds are radishes, leeks, onions, carrots, garlic and sugar snap peas I never see because he eats them while he’s working.

Guinea pigs produce cold compost. It doesn’t take months to break down like chicken manure. Their messy hay can go straight on the garden. The pigs are functional to the Lovely Deputy.
He throws food in each time he passes, makes sure they have water and cleans out their cages once a week. A number of pigs have come and gone already. Tim Tam for example, ended up being Tim Tom and was sent back to Animal Tuckerbox at Derwent Park.

Now we have Stripe and her daughter Dakota, Snow White and Bonita. I named them. Apart from a short stint with cats as a young child and a long illness with Toxoplasmosis, I’ve never had pets. These little farm animals are the pets I unwittingly terrorise most days. I’m trying to learn how to show my love with less exuberance. They’re scaredy-cats by nature. There’s a little Cos and some kale growing for them too.

A chicken coop emerged and Maxi-Jazz and Sooty, the black Bantams, came to live with us. The Lovely Deputy is happiest scrapping around amongst his garden beds whilst the girls scrap
around at his feet, pecking here and there. They just got old enough to lay before it got too cold to lay. For a few weeks though, we enjoyed little googy eggs from our own chickens.

There’s a constant rodent battle in our suburban country life. Rats finally forced their way in and took the two female quails from the coop. He was lost in thought until he produced expanding foam, chicken wire and steel wool. He told me if the male survives, we can get more quail and return to the plan of breeding them. He did!

We discovered a quail breeder and a thing or two about quail. Our first three were ‘King’ which has nothing to do with size as apparently quail also come in ‘Colossus’. The four latest additions to the coop are Japanese quail: Blanca, Dove, Wild and Cross-stitch. Like a little chick, the last surviving King has taken to hanging out under the protective wing of Maxi-Jazz.Gardens are for productivity, and he’s using every bit of space that isn’t shaded by the giant tree. Sixteen raspberry canes have just been planted along the side of the garage, some will fruit in autumn, some in summer and some in time for my birthday next year.

The rats gnaw off the tops of budding veggies sewn in the greenhouse. He’s foiled the blighters by hanging new plants from steel cans. He tells me he’s now looking forward to broccoli.
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