I plant chokos every few years here; not because they are biennial but because the geese and chooks eat them regularly and they never seem to get ahead of the predators.
Choko (or chayote) is a vine crop that is known to be very hardy and bears in HUGE quantities. I love the flavour, although not everyone does. In the past I have used them to make pickles, steamed with other vegetables and to bulk up sauces and pies (apple pie can be made with just one apple and lots of chokos. They take on the flavour of any fruit or vegetable they are cooked with so the possibilities are endless. They are so useful in the kitchen that we are trying to grow them again. They can also be used as animal food, and so can the leaves.
We planted them in a big pot this time, straight into a mix of compost from the chook pen (made up of cardboard, food scraps and chook poop) and sand. The chokos we planted are three chokos in a bag that were left to fend for themselves at the back of the cupboard. They developed long runners to push out of the bag and try to find water or soil, these runners may sprout leaves and grow, or we may have to wait until a bigger sprout pushes up from the base. The whole choko is buried in a shallow trench in the pot with minimal cover over the sprouting end.
It is easy to get discouraged by the amount of plants our animals eat, but we keep trying.
Last year we had swallows decide to build a nest in our bedroom; it was a very exciting time for us as we watched the new babies hatch and grow. This year they are back early (an effect of climate change?).
The pair flew in through an open door yesterday as if they had never been away. They bought in cob mix and feathers and arranged the nest over the day. This morning the female was waiting at the front door when we got up (there is a new wall since last year and they seem to be locked out unless we leave a door open), she flew straight to the nest and we think an egg was laid.
We hope to have new babies within 21 days. The swallows have arrived at Imbolc; the time of blessing seeds, when the Earth begins to warm up and seeds sprout. The hardenbergia flowers at Imbolc and so do the snow drops, I look forward to this time of year as there is so much joy and life in the bush it is impossible to be sad.
Having swallows nest in the house is messy, but we love to have a ringside seat to the raising of babies and we learn so much about the life of so many animals by living close to them. I can see the nest from my bed; when I wake up in the morning the first thing I see is the swallows nest. What a reminder of just how lucky I am.
Imbolc means ‘ewe’s milk’ or ‘in the belly’ (depending on which etymology you read), and is the time of year when chooks begin to lay again, snowflakes and hardenbergia flower, self sown seedlings begin to appear in the garden and lambs are born. I love Imbolc for the potential in the air; life is exciting and full of new possibilities. The goddess Brigid rules this time of the year, symbolising the return of warmth, creativity and home making activities. Some more hemisphere appropriate information about Imbolc.
And snow drops
This year we had the usual (these days) quiet little ritual to welcome Brigid back into our homes, and with her the warmth of the strengthening sun and the element of fire. We read poetry, lit candles and laid Brigid on her bed of fire. Then we had a wonderful feast and conversation.
Brigid is come, Brigid is welcome.
Imbolc is very apparent around the humpy too, with bush fires burning all around us as people light ill advised fires, chooks beginning to lay eggs again after the winter rest and lambs being born.
New flowers appearing in the yard
New seedlings in the garden
Way back in Early May when Stag (the ram) came to live with us, it seemed that lambing season was a long way off, but it’s finally here. We have our first baby lamb; a boy we have named Ramesses (even though he will be a wether) he is destined to become lambing season company for our ram Stag. We watched the entire birthing process (from a distance) and after all that effort we got to go and meet him, along with the rest of his new herd.
It’s that time of year again; the snow drops are flowering, so is the hardenbergia in the bush. The chooks are laying and looking for nest sites. All my seedlings are coming up and I have an urge to plant more than we could possibly eat; it must be spring. At the start of spring we hold the festival of Imbolc; it is held when the first snow drops flower and celebrates the return of life and heat to the land. We also have a bonfire, an outdoor meal and lots of mead.
snow drops…or snow flakes; I can never remember which is which and they flower at the same time.