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Studio Update: it is pegged out. Now we are waiting for the concreter. I’m not going to meet my target of having the raised beds in by Cup Day, but hopefully some time in December, so it won’t be too late for a summer crop of tomatoes and capsicums. Fingers crossed!

I’m a bit late planting potatoes, but our summers seem to be dragging on into April these days, so I’m sure there’ll be plenty of time to make some nice fat tubers. I’m growing in two potato grow bags, using a Diggers combo pack that I’m splitting with my mum.┬áSo seven different varieties – Nicola, Pink Fir, Pink Eye, Royal Blue, Low Carb, Dutch Cream and Malin.

I mixed sugarcane mulch, compost and manure, and added rockdust, coffee grinds and potash. Filled the bags about 1/2 way and planted my spuds between 10-20cm deep. Now we wait.

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Rescuing chickens

The studio construction is poised to start – just awaiting a builder’s permit which of course was delayed by some entirely unnecessary administrivia. In the meantime, I have been thinking a lot about chickens.

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My parents’s next door neighbour, Sabine, recently adopted three battery rescue chickens. She has a tiny little courtyard of a garden in Clifton Hill, but manages to cultivate the most amazing range of fruit and vegetables, mostly in pots. She also has a beehive. And now, three chickens.

Battery chickens are culled when they are 12 months old, as their laying productivity starts to drop afterwards (not by much, they still usually have four or five steady laying years left in them… or more). They are ground up and sold for pet food or fertiliser.

But $5 can get you one of these chickens yourself (the $5 goes mostly to the running costs for the rescue people, plus worming and vaccinations for the chickens). At first, the chickens look pretty sorry and naked. In the battery cages, the chickens pull out each other’s feathers (due to overcrowding and boredom). Their beaks are clipped. They don’t know how to walk around (their cages are all angled so the poo rolls away) or scratch, or eat food scraps. They have never been outside.

Within days, Sabine’s chickens were scratching around. They learned to go into their coop at night. They started laying the first week she got them. Their feathers are starting to grow back. They are the most docile, relaxed, happy chickens I’ve ever seen.

There is some debate about rehoming ex-battery chickens. Some say that by rehoming them, we’re just allowing the cycle of cruelty to continue. But battery farmers don’t make their money from selling 1 year old chickens. They make their money from selling battery farmed eggs. So the best way to combat that industry is to produce your own eggs, and give the excess to friends. And isn’t using their chickens to do it kind of awesomely ironic?photo 2

I want some.