"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Thursday 31 December 2015

All is revealed

Last Saturday, I asked anyone if they could guess what the item in the picture was, and what I used it for.
What is this, and what is it's use?
Well, a lot of you got the right answer to the first question - that it is a clay pot, and drip tray.  Upsdie down.  But, only one person correctly surmised the second one - "what do I use it for".  Clever Leigh :)

I have scoured this country for this item.  I almost considered importing one - if I could find one.  Although the cost of the transport would've been exorbitant!

I have contacted pottery studios - most of whom were unable, or unwilling, to assist in making a single item.

So, I had to adapt.  Whilst visiting the (smaller) retail branch of SSK in Swellendam town last week I finally found someone who stocks real clay flower pots, and drip saucers.  (By the way, I hate all the plastic plant pots which abound in most stores / garden outlets, don't you?  They perish in the sun and heat up with the ambient temperature.  Utterly useless in my opinion.)

I wish you could've heard my "Whoooop" when I spotted them neatly sitting on the shelf.  It seemed as though everyone within earshot turned to see why I had made the noise lol.  And scratched their heads when they saw the mundane item in question.

Ha!  That's because they didn't know what I wanted it for :)

Taking my precious items home, they were thoroughly washed in very hot water, given a light layer of clean beeswax on the inside only, and put straight to work.

As what, I hear you ask?
My "make a plan" butter dish :)
The cork is to prevent any nasty
insects from invading the cool
interior via the drainage hole.
As a butter dish, silly :)  A type of zeer pot (or pot-in-a-pot fridge) - for my butter :)

I have been searching for a clay butter dish that is glazed on the inside, but raw clay on the outside.

Being glazed internally would allow me to keep my butter in it without it making too much mess on the "serving" surface, whilst the outer unglazed surface of the "lid", when it is moistened under the tap every morning, will keep the butter chilled throughout the day via the evapouration of the moisture it has obtained from that quick wetting.
If you click on either of the pics above you'll be able to see the beads of perspiration as evapouration
 keeps the butter chilled.

The butter in the pics above has been in the "butter dish" for 4 hours - can you see the condensation on the sides of the butter?  That is how well this system works.  This will also mean that during the hot summer months I won't have to keep opening the fridge door every time I make a sandwich or slice of toast for RMan and I, which should certainly help prevent the fridge motor from switching on unnecessarily because the door has been opened and the cold air has escaped.

Not using the whole slab, but just placing enough butter which is required for a couple of days, is the key.  That will prevent wastage due to the possibility of the butter turning rancid.  After all, the homemade butter dish is not a 4oC fridge ;)

The butter is firm to the touch, but still soft enough to spread on bread or toast without breaking it.  Before, when I needed butter from the fridge, it was too hard, and broke the bread when I tried to spread it - even if I "skimmed" it from the top of the slab.  So, most times I used margarine for spreading, and kept butter for cooking only (mashed potatoes, frying eggs, adding to gravies / bechamel sauce, etc.)

During winter I won't need to moisten the sides because the ambient temperature will suffice.  But, during summer, this will work perfectly. 

I have now, finally, officially ditched margarine :D

What a way to start a New Year!  :D

Happy New Year everyone - I hope your 2016 is filled with love, laughter and contentment.

Wednesday 30 December 2015


For those who deny that climate change / global warming is a reality, I would like to share the following:

Real feel temp is going to be 43oC
 The above pic is in Celsius
43.0oC in Fahrenheit is 110oF
 And this one is for those who use fahrenheit
Definitely 38oC at
12.00 noon when I took
this pic 
although Accuweather
says it is 32oC
Even though  Accuweather says it is currently 32oC, my outside thermometer states that it already 38oC
Even Norway agrees - today's heat will be the hottest temperature that I have even seen for our area.  Bearing in mind that our hottest months are from mid-Jan to the end of March, I dread the months ahead.

We have had exactly 15.0mm of rain for the whole month of December - the lowest monthly rainfall total since I have started keeping records - with no rain forecast in the next 10 days.  Our rain water tanks are over half empty, the country's farmers are unable to plant their crops so South Africa is havig to import maize which is the staple food of the majority of the inhabitants, the Orange Free State (the bread basket of South Africa) apparently looks like Saudi Arabia, and our dams are apparently full of blue green algae.

Add to that the state of our political affairs, and things seem quite dire.

Those who pray, please, could I ask you to pray for rain in South Africa.  

We need it desperately.

Tornadoes in the US, thick snow in Texas, floods in Argentina with over 150 000 people affected, 12oC in Salzburg, Austria on the 24th December, and currently hectic rain / flooding in the UK.

Climate change / global warming is a reality...

Update:  Prayer works.  Yesterday afternoon a solitary cloud came overhead, and dropped 10.5mm of rain in half-an-hour.  Thank you for your prayers. 
I kid you not - a single cloud drifted overhead
Please continue to hold South Africa in your prayers - our farmers need your help desperately.
Rain falling over Swellendam

Sunday 27 December 2015

Can you guess?

Can you guess what this is, and, more importantly, what I use it for?

It is approximately 14cms high, and 13cms at it's widest point.
I have had to "make a plan" because I could not find the real thing...

(the answer will be revealed on the 31st December 2015)

Thursday 24 December 2015

Happy Christmas

Wishing everyone who reads this a peaceful, safe, calm, happy, grateful & contented Christmas.

In honour of RMan's upbringing, we have our main meal tonight, instead of tomorrow as most people do, so I'm off to cook...

By the way, if anyone wants to know where Santa is on his trip round the world, click this link : where is Santa? 

Merry Christmas :)

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Missing followers?

Has anyone else noticed that their "followers" numbers have decreased?

Want to know why?

Check it out here.

I follow Chuck Croll's (nitecruz) Real Blogger Status - he is one of the top contributors / responders on the Blogger forum and his blog is extremely helpful.

Saturday 19 December 2015

Eggs in one basket

When Tweedle Dum, the ornery rooster, was returned to his original owners, he was replaced with Cluck who was still a young hen.  So young that she hadn't started laying eggs yet.

I felt sorry for her - Tweedle Dee definitely did the hen pecking and constantly chased her away from any food that was scattered on the ground in the evenings before they were locked in their coop for the night.  (To ensure that she was getting enough, I used to inveigle Cluck away to one side and throw her her own handful away from Tweedle Dee.)
Cluck took the frame coop on the right - I think
 Tweedle Dee made her life a misery when she
  joined her and the chicks in the wooden one
 at night.
The poor thing also spent the first few nights in the wooden coop with Tweedle Dee, but from the second that the chicks started roosting with Tweedle Dee, Cluck wasn't so happy, and put herself to bed - alone - in the water container frame house. I'm sure it's because Tweedle Dee was making her life a misery when they were locked up together in the wooden coop...

A couple of weeks ago, when the chicks were exactly 4 weeks old, Tweedle Dee started ignoring them.  Walking off on a constant solitary mission, it seems as though it fell to Cluck to tend the chicks.  She took to it like a duck to water - even though she is a chicken.  Rooting round under the trees and bushes with them, settling down for a midday snooze with them tucked into her sides - she was a natural.

Tweedle Dee went back to her old habit
 of laying her egg in the lucerne container
Having studiously ignored her chicks for roughly 5 - 6 days, suddenly Tweedle Dee started laying again.  We discovered the egg one afternoon when we went to give the alpacas their rations - hidden in the corner of the container on a bed of lucerne scraps.

She didn't lay them in the quaddie tyre in which she had been laying before, and where she raised her brood, but back in the lucerne container where she had first laid her eggs when she arrived on our smallholding.

I tried padding up the new nesting boxes in the wooden coop with straw instead of the wood shavings to see if she preferred that.

Nope.  Nada.  Always in the blooming lucerne container.
Can you see it hiding in the straw in the far
nesting box?  Clever Cluck laid her first egg - and
 in the nesting boxes too!  :) 
One day, after I had retrieved Tweedle Dee's morning offering, I went to change the water in the wooden coop.  What did I spy - another egg!?   I deduced that Cluck had started laying too :)

It took Tweedle Dee another 6 - 8 days before she decided that "if the nesting boxes were good enough for Cluck, then they were good enough for her too".  And, she didn't choose to lay her egg in the vacant box next door either, she is laying her egg right next to Cluck's.

Almost as though she is trying to enforce her "superiority"?
Now both Tweedle Dee and Cluck lay their eggs
in the same nesting box - right next to each other
Chickens - they're strange creatures, aren't they...?
The potential rooster...?
I guess it won't be much longer before the chicks start laying too - if there are any hens amongst them?  I have no idea how to tell the difference, but I think the one does seem to be developing a roosters comb.  Time will tell.
... and together with two of it's siblings,
  for comparison.  "He" is the one at the back.
Whatever - we are certainly egg-sufficient now :)

Tuesday 15 December 2015


I do not normally share my political views, because, well, they're private.  But, I have to confess that this past weekend I have been abysmally dejected, despondent and disheartened with the human race, per se.  I feared the worst for this country - and it's future.

And, that was all because of the actions on one pathetic individual who seemed determined to have his way - putting that before the country, before his (political) party and before the people who elected him.

What our "President" attempted to do at the end of last week was nothing short of a dictators action.  Thank goodness for the people of this land, and his peers, as well as the financial markets, have all let him know in no uncertain terms that his actions were unconscionable.

(please, if you haven't already signed this petition, won't you do so.  We, the public, cannot remove him from office, only the Executive can do so.  But, the more that the public make their wishes known, the better the Executive can act in the best interests of South Africa.  After all the politicians are not better than us, they are elected by the people, for the benefit of the people and this country.

"Be the change you want to see" - Mahatma Ghandi

But, it was because of that despondency that I was completely shattered and unable to write my normal weekly post this past weekend.

But, everything is better now ;)  Sanity in South Africa has prevailed.


Onto a more positive topic:

Would you like some inspiration on producing no trash / garbage?

I came across these two short video's on YouTube.  Please - check them out.


RMan and I have reduced our landfill quantity from 3 large black bags a week in 2005, to less than a third of a single black bag per week.

The bulk of our refuse we take to the recycling centre in Swellendam when we go through for our weekly shopping.

All it takes is a little bit of effort and the willingness...

Now, if our grocery stores would only allow one to purchase goods using your own containers that would be wonderful.  One day... :)

Saturday 5 December 2015


Whilst waiting for the fruit to ripen I lost all my plums and apricots to the birds in the space of 5 days.  Not only the semi-ripe fruit, but even the "green" fruit that was hanging on the trees.
The fruit trees held promise of an abundant harvest
this Spring.
And, we had exactly 2 handfuls of youngberries from the overladen 10 youngberry bushes.

I went to the berry bushes yesterday to start harvesting - and they were all gone.  Most probably eaten by the mousebirds.

Disheartening.  For I can't harvest unripe fruit...

And, this has certainly shaken me out of my fruit self-sufficient complacency.
No strawberry infused gifts this year...

I won't be preserving strawberry and youngberry jam / cordial this year.  And, there will be no strawberry infused vodka either.  (Not that we drink vodka - more beer for him, and white wine for me.  But, making strawberry infused vodka last year from our abundant and excess harvest enabled me to hand out a bottle to various neighbours come Christmastime.)

It seems as though one year I can have an amazing harvest, and the next year I'm swiftly brought down to earth with a harvest failure.  Or, more correctly, a harvest theft!

I tried hanging old CD's in the fruit trees - hoping that the light flashes would scare the birds away.  All that happened was that the "silver" lining on the CD's quickly eroded off - probably due to the unusually early excessive heat we've been experiencing this summer.

So, that bird deterrent is a no-no.
Do I care if I have more aluminium pie shells
on my fruit trees than fruit.  Not one iota!
I'd rather be able to harvest fruit when it is
ripe than worry about aesthetics!
Then, we tried hanging 2.5cms (1") wide strips of aluminium foil from the branches - again hoping that the sun reflecting off the strips would act as a deterrent.  The wind just shredded those strips.

Finally, I found a couple of old aluminium foil pie trays lurking in the cupboard full of stuff in the garage which we brought from our town house, and which I haven't sorted out yet.
Precisely two apples resulted from all those
 blossoms in my blog's current header pic- and
  I am going to ensure that I am able to harvest

So, this morning, in an effort to save the pear / apple and nectarine fruit, I have hung those in the trees.  They certainly give off reflected sunlight, and make a ruddy great noise when the breeze bounces them against the branches of the respective trees.

If they work then I will need to get some more for the pomegranate trees and grape vines.

Noise, and light.  A good bird deterrent combination.

I'm hopeful that they will work some magic.
Grape vines - awaiting aluminium pie trays...? ;)

Otherwise, I'm going to have to visit those trees early every morning and late every afternoon and harvest whatever seems almost ripe.

I'm not mad about the aluminium pie shells, but I console myself with the knowledge that I can re-use the aluminium pie shells over and over and over again.  And, that using them is far better than resorting to spraying chemicals in order to deter the birds.

But, in the midst of my disappointment, I came across this this morning.

Reading all that makes me aware that I very little to complain about...

Wednesday 25 November 2015


RMan and I, in our much younger days, enjoyed making garlic buttered escargot together in the kitchen for our dinner (served with a fresh crunchy french loaf to sop up all that garlic butter).  In our younger days...  Well, that was back in the late 70's / early 80's and escargot were all the rage then.

Since then we've seen how the "escargot" are harvested, and prepared, before being canned - and we're not so keen on partaking of that culinary morsel lol

We didn't realise that when we moved from our town house in Hout Bay, Cape Town, to our smallholding that we were also moving some unwelcome guests with us.

They hid in all the dark corners.

They hid under the rims of pot plants.

Because we moved at the end of June 2012 (mid-winter) they hid in the folds of a "Tradewinds" garden umbrella that hadn't been opened for months.

And they have spent the last 3-odd years multiplying.

There are just so many that you can satisfyingly stand on - and hear them crunch - knowing that they have been dispatched to wherever they go in their afterlife.

They were too big for the chickens - I tried to hand feed the chooks.  They had one investigatory peck and turned away.  No help from that quarter.

So, a-crunching RMan and I went after every little shower of moisture from the heavens.

Until this morning.

A friend of mine posted this on her facebook page: 
Eco-friendly "round up"
We have an ongoing weed problem in our fodder fields, so I made a mental note in order to share it with RMan.

This morning whilst RMan and I were sitting having our morning cuppa on the veranda I mentioned it to him.  He wondered whether it would actually work.  So, grabbing my vinegar spray bottle and bottle of bicarb from next to the kitchen sink, and, after mixing some bicarb and adding a few drops of dish washing liquid to the vinegar bottle, I proceeded to spray some weeds growing in front of our entrance steps.  We'll see later today if they were affected.

Update:  I can confirm that the vinegar, bicarb and dishsoap mixture kills weeds even better than boiling water :)
Pests came along to the small holding with all
the pot plants we brought with us
But, it was whilst I was doing that that I noticed these unwelcome guests roaming around.

So, I gave them a spray as well ;)
Spraying the vinegar, bicard and dish soap
mixture certainly affected them...
 It certainly caused them to foam.
... but didn't kill them
And some of them briefly exuded a yellow-ish green slime.

But it didn't kill them.

I don't know what made me run back into the kitchen and grab the bicarb bottle...
A sprinkle of bicarb...
 ... but, boy, did that ever work!  If a snail could roll over and die then these did!
... immediately made them "roll over" and die!
As you can see the snails are well and truly finished.

Now, that is an eco-friendly pest control that really works, will not harm our soil, does the job, and is cheap to use.

What more could I ask for?

I think I am rather going to try epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) instead of bicarb (sodium hydrogen carbonate) because it will add magnesium (which is beneficial to plant growth as it aids the production of chlorophyll and allows the plant to soak up phosphorus and nitrogen from the soil and does not build up in the soil over time) to the soil.  I have managed to find an epsom salt wholesaler in South Africa - even in Cape Town - which is certainly more convenient than having to get it sent to me from Gauteng lol.  Well, 2 hA (5 acres) is quite a large area to try and use a retail priced pest / weed control.

I am going to try it against cut worm too - they have successfully demolished all the swiss chard seedlings I planted, as well as the tomato seedlings - my tomato harvest this year is going to be very late...

For those in South Africa who would like the wholesalers links :

and, whilst I'm at it:

Diatomaceous Earth : http://www.eco-earth.co.za/

Sunday 22 November 2015

Water security

With the higher than normal temperatures we have already experienced this summer, we purchased an additional two 5 000lt rainwater tanks and, against all logic, RMan threw an enormous slab so that we could position them by our fruit trees.  "Against all logic" because that position is far away from the gutters which collect the rain water.

But, we had a plan ;)

They will be filled by the rainwater that enters the tanks by the house and which will then be pumped up to them via our electric pump once our solar batteries are charged and are on "float" stage.
The two new tanks - over thereeeee in the distance
Digging that +/- 45mtrs of connecting pipe into the ground wasn't easy - the ground is rock hard already.

The solar panel has been concreted into the ground
to prevent it being blown away during the south
easter.  Ditto the placement of the panel on the
western side of the tanks.
We had an extra solar panel, and an old Phocos 40 Amp charge controller, so, after purchasing a 12 volt water pump (roughly ZAR800.00), RMan set about connecting it all up. 
A lidded black storage tub has become our "solar power" point by those two tanks.
All the solar paraphernalia housed within the
black box
The deep cycle battery, the small Phocos charge controller and the 12volt pump fit perfectly inside the tub.  Small holes were drilled in the upper wall of the tub for ventilation.  (The holes were purposely drilled too small to allow snakes or rodents to take up residence inside the tub.  You don't need that kind of surprise on opening the lid.) 
The outlet pipes leading to the 12 volt pump inside
the black tub / box
RMan joined the pipe connecting all 6 of the old rain water tanks to the top inlet valve on the new 2 tanks.

Then, the front bottom outlets on the 2 new tanks were joined and connected to the 12 volt pump.  
12mm pipe coming out of the pump and leading to...
But, the length of the pipe leading from the 12 volt pump to the (1) lemon trees) and (2) fruit trees / grape vines was just too long to properly water the trees - they got a mediocre sprinkling not a deep watering.

So,we have installed two valves on the 12 volt pump outlet pipe.  That way we can either water only the lemon trees, or only the fruit trees / grape vines.
...the two valves.  The valve on the left
leads to the lemon trees, the one on the right
to the fruit trees / grape vines
Now, at last, we will be able to give the trees / vines on the "orchard" line a proper good soaking once a week.
The pipe layout to the lemon and fruit
tree orchard
Using gravity to water the lemon trees only took 3 - 4 hours of hand holding / moving the pipe every week.  The new setup means that all the (lemons, fruit and grape vines) will literally all be deep watered within 1.5 hours max.

Now, we just have to figure out how to prevent the mousebirds from eating all the fruit... ;)

Sunday 15 November 2015

Arrival and departure

Long time followers of my blog (are there any left lol?) will remember back in 2010 I planted some lemon tree pips in soil.
Lemon pips harvested in 2010
They grew...
Early 2011

And grew...
January 2012 - the second lot of three rows
was planted

2014 - the lemon trees are definitely growing
Until they decided that the time was ripe to send forth some fruit.
October 2015 - bearing fruit at last
This week I harvested the first of my home grown lemons.

All 236gms of it.
Our first lemon produced on a tree
grown from a pip :)
('scuse the dirty scale, it's my garden produce scale :)  )

It was absolutely delicious squeezed over our butter and garlic fried hake last week.

Then - on to the departure...

Tweedle Dee decided that he didn't like being ostracized by Tweedle Dee whilst she raised her chicks.  And he turned downright mean and nasty.

To the point that neither Scallywag, our dog, nor I, could venture into the garden without being terrorized / attacked by him.

Damage inflicted by Tweedle Dee to the back
of my leg
The sod perfected creeping up very silently behind me and attacking the back of my legs.

So, I spoke to our neighours to see if they would like him back.  it was either that, or into the pot with him - not that RMan and I would do the deed.  We couldn't willingly kill an animal - we're just too soft.

Thankfully, they accepted his return with extremely good grace - and apparently he is ruling the roost together with a larger rooster.  With roughly 30 hens between them I'm sure his days are very occupied...

RMan and I can now happily roam the land again without fear of attack by a sodding rooster!!

As for Tweedle Dee - she's more than happy to care for her chicks without fear and intimidation / an over eager suitor.  Let's see in the months ahead if she has produced a rooster of her own...

Sunday 8 November 2015

Anniversary gift

Firstly, thanks to everyone for their good wishes on my last posting.  It was a wonderful relaxing day (in front of the Rosie) - with snow falling on the higher mountains in the Eastern Cape & Lesotho.  Sadly, not on our mountains though...

The 31st was Tweedle Dee's due date.

But, nary a peep was heard, not chick was spotted.

I feared that her three week semi-starvation was all in vain.  Was Tweedle Dum not up to the task?

I felt so bad for her...
An anniversary gift from Tweedle Dee - the
sight of a baby chick :)
However, the afternoon of our anniversary I went out to check on her progress, and what did I spy peeping out from next to her?

A baby chick :D

What excitement.  S'truth!  You'd have thought RMan and I had won the lottery lol

Such proud "parents" bwahaha.  T'was the easiest childbirith ever!

In anticipation of the arrival of a chick (or two) I had been voraciously reading up on all aspects of making Tweedle Dee's first experience of motherhood as "perfect" and as comfortable as possible.

Most sites advised keeping the hen and baby chicks apart from the rooster.
The chicken coop we made out of
the frame from the water container
That was a problem as we only had one coop - the one we made from the water container frame.  Knowing that trying to source another frame in a short space of time was not feasible I racked my brains as to what we could do.

I even resorted to googling buying a new chicken coop, or small garden shed...

Until I had a brainwave.

I sent the local tile shop an e-mail, asking them if they had any pallets for sale.  I knew that tiles were delivered to them on pallets, and wondered if they had to return them to the supplier, or whether they kept them?

Sure enough they e-mailed back giving me the name of someone to call / speak to the next time we were in the area.

RMan, in anticipation of woodworking chores ahead, is not always keen on "quickly stopping to see if they have anything suitable" but I managed to get him to drop in.

They had pallets which were very solid, and had to be returned to the suppliers.  But, then they also had these:
Scrap pallets - with our name on them :)
 Any idea's what we could do with all those
outdated bathroom fittings - they're due to be
smashed shortly - because the new loo seats
don't match / fit.  What a waste!
Less study pallets, but they would certainly do the job.

Five were loaded in our trailer.

George, the carpenter from "The Wood Shop" had offered us some old nesting boxes which he could no longer use because the otters in the nearby river, kept eating his chickens.

Those got loaded into the trailer at the same time.

Offloading everything at home we got to work.
The new pallet chicken coop in the making
The pallets got stripped and the wooden slats were moved closer together to make walls.
We added one of the two nesting boxes to the one
side of the coop.
 One of the two sets of nesting boxes was added to the one side.
Collecting eggs from here in future is going to
be a breeze :)
A door was added...

Apart from the roof, the entire structure was covered in chicken wire - even the floor - so that if any otters fancied digging underneath they would find their way blocked. 

We placed the new coop next to the old one, and covered both of the roofs with a piece of IBR sheeting (corrugated roofing), and a double layer of shadecloth - to prevent the coop from becoming an oven in the hottest time of the day / year.
"His" and "Hers" chicken coops lol
Tweedle Dums is on the  right,
and Tweedle Dee and the chicks pallet
coop is on the left.
Literally, as we finished that coop, Tweedle Dee became a mama.  Of 4 chicks (clever Tweedle Dee - and Tweedle Dum lol:D

And, watching them, the chicks started clambering all over the quaddie tyre nest.

They wouldn't stay in there long.

I was concerned that they would get out of the nest and fall 2 - 2.5 feet to the floor.  Would they survive?  I doubted it.

Plus, when Tweedle Dum came near Mama hen rose up menacingly with wings widely spread.

Definitely time to move them. 

But - how do we transfer her and the chicks to the new coop?
How to move this bulky nest to the new coop?

Three days after we had spotted the first chick, 4 chicks were toddling round the nest, I said to RMan that it was time - we couldn't wait for the other two eggs to hatch / not hatch.

He carefully picked up the tyre and base and tried to manoeuvre them out of the frame coop and into the new pallet one.

Naturally, the chicks leapt out of the nest - together with mama.  Now they were running round the frame coop.

Oh, how to catch a chick.  Not bloody easy, is it, but, bless RMan, he did it.

Transferring all of the chicks (and the two remaining eggs) to the new coop, all that was needed was for Mama to now locate them but their frantic chirps.

Finally, they were are securely ensconced within their new dwelling.
We have fenced off the area outside the coop
so that Mama and the chicks have access to outside
without fear of Tweedle Dum interferring
Mama wasn't interested in the last two eggs, so they ended up being sacrificed for the good of the 4 chicks.
Clever Tweedle Dee - teaching the chicks
to scratch for their food
The first couple of days the chicks couldn't make it out of the coop - the lip under the door was too high.  Strategically placed bricks soon sorted that out.
Tweedle Dee is forever going inside and out of the
pallet coop - I reckon she love it :)
Tweedle Dee has been amazing - I am blown away by her mothering instinct!!

Firstly, when she was sitting on the eggs, she only got off them for about 10 minutes every 3 days.  Every THREE days?!  I kid you not.  Her comb went almost colourless, and her feathers lost their lustre.

What dedication!

Now they are hatched, she does not let them out of her sight for a second.  When chick feed is sprinkled on the ground, she rushes up and "pretends" to peck at it.  Naturally, the chicks follow suit.

When she is happy that they are all eating, I then scatter her normal chicken feed down, and she then proceeds to fill her stomach.

And - whoa!  Have you ever given your baby chicks ( and Mama of course) some cottage cheese?  They absolutely love it - the baby chicks grab a mouthful and rush away to the corner to eat it - so that no-one can steal it from them.  They have even swiped Mama's mouthful straight out of her beak!

At bedtime, it used to be a chore to get Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum into the coop.  Food had to bribe them inside each and every time.
Bed time - everyone safely ensconced in
their bed 
With the new coop, in the late afternoon Mama toddles inside when she's ready, settles down in the nesting box, with the baby chicks rushing to join her as fast as they can.

All I have to do is close and lock the door behind them.

The new coop is a brilliant success - everyone is happy, and have accepted it as their new home.

What did it costs us?

A pair of hinges and a dead bolt for the door, a packet of screws, 10 mtrs of chicken wire - and some of our time.  The IBR roofing and the shadecloth we had already.

And the wood shavings - well, it's nice to have a friendly carpenter in town - he's only too happy to get rid of his waste :)

What about Tweedle Dum?  He has settled down into his coop on his own - well, the rest of his family is right next door, aren't they?!  He probably enjoys having the entire roost to himself, if the truth be told...

I have a sneaky suspicion that one of the chicks is a rooster - it has a dark "line" on it's head, and it's wings have dark markings which the others don't have.  So, for a period, Tweedle Dum may have company - until the "spare" rooster is ready for the pot.