Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Down and Dirty with Chickens

Scruffy magpies. That's our nine week old chickens. Scruffy magpies peep peeping around the chicken house, or scratching around the chicken yard. Now the chicken house is finally finished, I can imagine the chickens would be pleased to be exploring outdoors, but missing the heat of the bathroom lights.

"So once I get the wire in place, you've got yourself a chicken house - simple!"
For some reason it seemed apt to make everything for the chickens from recycled or reused materials. So the chicken house is made from a pallet shelving unit, placed on its side. And as a feature, I tried to make the unit easy to clean. Overall, this first week has been a rewarding experience of frigid overnight temperatures and getting used to the routine of chicken husbandry.

The birds are Black Australorps, which is an Australian variety derived from the Orpington. From my research the birds are great layers, with one reported to have laid 350 odd eggs in 365 days, although some sources dispute this. Others note that Australorps have a great tolerance for cold weather, which has certainly been tested this first week outside.

"And if you hold them nice and tight, they go very, very quiet..."
At nine weeks the pullets are smart enough to scratch twice and then peck, and they mimic each other doing this. They move in a flock group and react to a foreign sound (like a galah or cockatoo) by hunching their necks, then darting back into the chicken house. When one strays from the flock, and realises it is alone, it makes a shrill 'shew shew shew shew' call until it locates the rest of the flock.

For food, we are relying on fine chicken pellets and have added bread rolls and some scraps form our kitchen. It is amazing how the birds peck at the tiny grass seeds the girls harvest from all around the reserve at the back of the yard. Pretzels from a party we had left over, some baked pumpkin left over and some rice from sushi rolls too.

"That damn earring has to be here somewhere!"

The birds are making their fledgling attempts at flight and can extend their wings for about four or five flaps, going about three metres or so. I'm not sure about clipping their wings yet, so will be doing some more reading and asking a few chicken people how it's done. Something about not cutting the feathers down to the blood vessel.

Making the chicken house was as simple as assembling the shelving unit and placing it on its side. Since the shelving unit was 1800mm long, it was convenient to just use steel fence panels pre cut to this length and wrap them around the unit. Once screwed in place, I left the rear wall panel loose at the base so that it can be lifted and the floor hosed out. The trick is having this easy - wash flap secure so that predators can't use it for access too.

Now, the next thing is to have some drainage so the waste can be directed out of the chicken yard. The plan is to lay drain pipe with gravel and direct the flow to a natural depression where it can be harvested for fertilising the garden.

So there is plenty going on and everything is evolving at a steady pace. More soon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Another Simple Birthday at The Park

Nine children, morning sun and two freshly smoked trout - what more could you want for a lovely fourth birthday celebration?

"And the HR chick said ultimately it was up to us if we were going to make this team work"

After sharing the obligatory pass the parcel, there was plenty of room to run about and use the swings. Then a pinata without anyone getting hit in the face with a baseball bat made the morning a thorough success.

"And if you look closely you can see an image of Jesus near the middle white flower..."
The birthday cake was a success and of course enjoyed by all the little guests.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blogging about Blogging Part 23

So you're going about your life and suddenly you're hit with this great idea for a blog post, and you smile contentedly and nod, "That'll go right over there in my short term memory, so after I have finished work and get home, then go through all the daily de-briefing with wife, children and associates; once I finally sit in the study with a half hour spare I will be able to commit to words the exact mental picture and accompanying funny aside so as to make a memorable, meaningful and with a little luck, oft-quoted blog post."

Never happens - right? And all this guff about writing a blog post from a blackberry whilst commuting - are you serious? - I mean who commutes in what is basically a regional city with no public transport system?

Sometimes it just feels like most of those little gem moments and reflections are either shared with the person you are with at that instant in time - or that they are lost to civilization for eternity.

So if you happen to be a disability case worker, out on the job, your little gem is most likely shared with someone with an intellectual disability who will completely not get it. Or even more disturbed - your little gem will be shared with a fellow disability worker and she will look back at you, blinking, in total confusion - "Was he trying to be funny or was he sexually harassing me?"

So yeah, back to the blogging about blogging,- I have been considering buying a dictaphone or whatever they are called now(?), so I can walk along the beach or be driving the service vehicle and discreetly press play and record my thoughts as they percolate through my brain and out through my mouth.

Then it is a win-win for everyone, (least of all civilization!) and those shelves and shelves of unrecorded quips, observations and comments I can more easily access, collate and massage into blog posts.

So if you see a guy pushing a wheelchair, talking into a dictaphone (or whatever they're called), with a disability client lolling in front oblivious to the monologue - yeah, it's probably me. Just don't interrupt, I'll take it all down and be up late at night trying to make it into something for Merewether-Life.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Isla Turns Two

So it's a happy birthday to Isla May, who turned Two a couple of days ago.


She has been a big fan of the Iggle Piggle Crew and it was fitting her mother made the characters a feature of her birthday cake.


It was her first time blowing out candles so she was a little unsure of positioning and the correct way to do it.


But once the smoke had cleared, she liked the green yoghurt flavoured icing on the banana cake.


It's good to share birthday cake with your sisters too, they also enjoy some!


After a few bites, Isla lost interest and was ready to get up and dance.


A quick cuddle photo opportunity and it was time to start dancing!


Although I'm two, I still have to wear nappies, but I'm going Okay with my toilet training - will update you as developments come to hand.




Pumpkin Soup For the Soul

As we have finished with the summer pumpkin crop and all the tendrils are fading and going brown, we picked all the pumpkins and sorted through all the weeds that had grown through the vines. There were 8 pumpkins in all (not bad for the first try), most scattered all over the place - it is surprising how far the tendrils will run of they are not cut at all. So we brought all the pumpkins in and let them fully mature on the top shelf of the kitchen.


We also picked what watermelons we could, but they were far less productive, with the smaller variety producing a few cannonball sized fruit (when was the last time you saw a cannonball? - but you get the picture) and just two large traditional shaped watermelons.

Anyway, I was at the Markets buying up heaps of fresh fruit for our Mother's Day Promotion and I couldn't resist buying some more pumpkins - they were so cheap and looked so tempting - I also grabbed a bag of large brown onions - you can't have too many onions in a any recipe I always say.


So we got straight to work and made some pumpkin soup.


These are using the pumpkins we grew in the back yard, so you can see the tiny seeds still in the flesh. I have saved the seeds ad will replant these next year so we can start cultivating out own strain of pumpkins. Anyway, that's the plan.


Here's the pumpkins with some potato, and we add a good teaspoon of Thai curry paste so there is a bit of buzz flavour too.


Tastes great and is a hearty warming meal for a day or two with crusty bread rolls - or is an easy work meal in a mug just re heat in the microwave. More coming soon.

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