Before my stepmother and my father moved to their new home, they kept chickens in the backyard. The chooks as we call them in Australia, had a pretty wooden house but also ranged free in the garden, eating pesky bugs and providing lovely organic eggs. One day, one of the chooks flew over the fence and into the next door neighbours garden. I stood in our garden ready to be passed the escapee over the fence. Sitting happily in my stepmother’s arms, the chook was passed over, it began flapping in my face, I squeaked, it squawked, and jumped out of my arms safely to the ground, no thanks to me. I learnt that chickens scare me(just a little).
Our neighbours have gone on holiday, so I have been chicken sitting. I’ve been feeding and watering the chickens and collecting their eggs. One of the chooks is broody so I was instructed to just slide my hand under her and remove the egg. Sounded easy. My younger son came with me to watch. I suggested he might like to get the egg, but no, he thought not. Instead he rolled around laughing whilst poor Miss Broody Hen pecked repeatedly at my hand every time I tried to remove her egg. It felt mean, taking away her precious egg. How tempting it was to leave her sitting happily on her egg, but then the neighbours would have come back to a large pile of stale eggs I suppose.
We have really been enjoying eating the fresh organic eggs, the yolks are amazingly orange. I love eating things that I know haven’t been covered in horrible sprays. I’ve grown up with my parents and grandparents growing lots of lovely things in their gardens. My mother’s father in particular grew edible plants. Papa’s little garden was full of pots of tomatoes, lemon and orange trees, rhubarb, parsley, tamarillos and silverbeet just to name a few. He was a fitter and turner and made most of the things in the garden himself. He came from an age where you didn’t go and buy new pots to plant in, you made your own by repurposing old containers. You didn’t throw broken items away, you fixed them, or turned them into new things.
Recently, I found an empty olive oil container left out on the nature strip. I remembered my Papa and his tomato pots and thought that it would make a wonderful container to plant in. Once at home though, it occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to get the sealed top off with out making the top lip very sharp. Luckily for me, my stepfather is very handy with an angle grinder and took the top off for me, leaving the rim intact. The container already had a drainage hole built-in to let the oil out, so I didn’t need to drill holes in the base. I have to admit that I really love the look of this container too, with its pale blue colour and red map of Australia.
It’s all planted up with a tomato, now I just have to hope the possums don’t eat the tomatoes. Can see my garden owl behind the pot? It has solar-powered eyes that light up at to scare away the night-time raiders. Will it work? I hope so, last summer I ended up with a single tomato………….