Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Oh, unhappy day

Yesterday afternoon, sometime between 3.30pm and 5.30pm we lost all our lovely Ladies to what we assume was an eagle or hawk.

It was pretty gruesome to come home and find bodies and feathers as well as the remains of some bodies around the yard spread over a couple of acres.  The Princess noticed the feathers and one of the bodies first, so both she and Little Man were extremely upset at the find.

It's unlikely to be the dogs as there was no sign of digging or damage to the fences surround the 11x15m chicken yard and the gate to the yard was still locked.  

All Ladies bar one have been accounted for; one was found near a termite mound already covered in meat ants.  There is no way The Groom or I can retrieve her, so it's back to the earth for her.  The rest were burnt, but we have not found a trace of Pamela except for her feathers.  Sadly, it could be possible the dogs ate her.  I'm hoping whatever bird of prey got them has taken her back to it's nest.  One of the Australorps was found out the front with her belly cut open.  

The Groom is pretty sure it would have been an eagle or hawk since they were scattered everywhere and there is no sign of the dogs having gotten into the yard.  And even if they did, they would have killed and eaten them in the yard.  Unless, a bird carried them out of the yard, dropped them and then the dogs finished them off?  That is a possibility but there was no real evidence on the dogs showing this.  One would expect them to be covered in a fair amount of blood and feathers, wouldn't they?

One thing puzzles us, though.  We found what appeared to be four Australorp bodies, yet we only had three.  I didn't look too closely at the bodies to see if one was torn in two, but The Groom was the one who had the job of collecting them and he didn't notice anything amiss.  I wonder if any of the people across the road with chickens are missing any black ones?  Then, it seems odd if they were why it would be carried over to our front paddock.

So, farewell to Coco, Pamela, Schnitzel, Parmy and Nugget.  We shall miss you.  And thank you to Coco (or was it Pamela?) for giving us your first egg on Sunday and your last egg yesterday.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A day at home

Oh, what a joy it is!

I got up early, having found a small, softly snoring boy sleeping beside me.  It's always the way when The Groom is away.  Little Man crept in during the night, complaining I didn't come and wake him up so he could sleep with me.  I had tried, he just sleeps too soundly to be woken up anyway.

I let the dogs out of their aviary just as the sun was beginning to peek over the tree tops, then made my way over to the chicken yard to let the Ladies out for the day.  They took their sweet time to leave their house, so it gave me a chance to observe them for a while.  Normally they race out madly, on the lookout for any little bugs flying around.

I made lunches and breakfast for The Princess and Little Man.  I walked them down to the gate so they could catch the bus to school.

By now it's not even 7.30am so on went a load of washing, I brought in another load that was on the line since yesterday, then two more loads went out to be washed over the course of the morning.

I washed the dishes from last night and breakfast and sat down to watch the rest of Sunrise with my decaffeinated coffee and two slices of toast with crunchy peanut butter.

Once I'd finished breakfast I realised I'd forgotten to put the container of prawn heads in the fridge in the rubbish that was going to be collected today, so there was another walk down the driveway to the road.  I'd read in a Jackie French book that she gives her chickens prawn heads and they loved them.  I tried it with mine and they fought over the three I'd thrown into their yard!  But the prawns have been defrosted for a couple of days now so it's out to the bin for them.

I've dusted the buffet and tv cabinet, emptied the crumbs out of the toaster, wiped down benches and put clean light blankets over the backs of the couches.  The floor has been vacuumed and soon I shall fold washing that has piled up (we had family come to stay last week so I let it build up - silly me!).

The Princess has ballet this afternoon then straight after she finishes we head off to football training for Little Man.  Tonight is a takeaway night.  We get home late and rather close to their bedtime, so it's easier than trying to cook and rush them into having showers, eat and get to bed.  

I love days at home.  

I love the quietness and stillness of my little world.  

I enjoy listening to the calls of the birds, the gentle gruffing of the dogs as they lay, sleeping, at the back door, the soft thunk of the twigs falling onto to the roof from the overhanging trees, and the gentle hum of life going on outside.  

I'm too lazy to get in the car and drive down the highway to the closest supermarket or petrol station to get the day's paper, so I read it online earlier.  I know I need petrol, but it can wait.

I love pottering around at home.  For me, it's still a bit too much like 'someone else's' home, but over time it will feel like mine.  

It's overcast and cool, but not cold.  Despite this, it's still a shorts and t-shirt day.  It always seems to be like that in a Tropical Queensland winter.

I love my days at home.

Monday, July 19, 2010

My fledgling garden

I love my garden right now.

I don't have a lot of vegies and fruit growing yet, but I'm enjoying what I do have.

I've been picking the first batch of tomatoes - grosse lisse - for over a week now.  That is, the ones I get to before the bugs/grubs/possums get to.  I don't use sprays so the children can help themselves as they please.  The yucky ones (tomatoes, not children) just get chucked over into the chook yard for them to enjoy.   Sometimes I have to pick them before they have ripened but that's okay.  I just sit them on the kitchen window sill and wait for them to go red.  This afternoon I had a lovely tomato roll, with the tomato still warm from the sun.  It was heaven! 

We've been eating eggplant for a few weeks now.  I think everyone's getting sick of it, quietly.  I've always been able to grow eggplant and tomatoes without a problem.  Once it's in spaghetti sauce nobody even knows it's there!  

The Crystal Apple cucumbers are coming along nicely.  The first one is about a week away from being picked.  I can't wait to try it.

I've been picking basil for ages, along with the shallots and garlic chives.  

I'm lucky if I get to have one star fruit before the birds get to it, but that's okay.  That tree was here when we bought the house, along with the lemons and mandarines.  All three are in the wrong spot so we plan to sacrifice them and plant new ones later in a much more suitable spot.

I think we have about 5 or 6 types of tomatoes.  Only the grosse lisse are big enough to flower and fruit yet.  The others were only planted a couple of weeks ago.  I love tomatoes!!!!

I'm considering giving up on growing corn and trying again next year.  That crop has been a dismal failure.

My potatoes are in big black plastic pots.  The leaves have yet to flower so I don't know how long I have to wait until they are ready to harvest, but that's okay.  I can wait.

I'm preparing a new bed for passionfruit.  I've put down a heap of dynamic lifter, newspaper and some of the hay/leaves/food scraps/chook poo from the chook yard and after a couple of weeks, I'll add some soil and plant into that, then keep adding layers over time.  I'm planning to site it next to the fence at the chook yard and then adding a couple of star pickets inside the yard and cover it with wire so the vine can grow over it, and providing additional shelter and shade for the chickens.

My poor little Australorps have worms.  Well, at least one of them does.  Garlic cloves in their water hasn't helped, so it's on to the chemical treatment to hopefully rid them of them quickly.  They are all healthy and happy looking, so I'm not overly worried - yet.  I just don't like the conotations worms have - they imply dirty and unclean.  Luckily, not a single chook is laying yet so I'm not worried about the use of a chemical wormer right now.

I love my garden and would love to post pictures to share with you, but can't for some reason.  It took me almost 4 minutes just to open my blog once I signed in!

I'm so grateful that I have a husband who is willing to tolerate my 'foibles' and build me my dreams.

Not happy, Jan!

I'm a bit cranky at the moment.

It is hard to fathom that in such a country as Australia, it is hard to get a decent, reliable, speedy internet connection.

Queensland's Premier, Anna Bligh, wants to turn Townsville, where I live, into the state's "Second Capital".  That's all fine and good, but how about they get the basics right first?  Then again, our part of the country has pretty poor infrastructure when it comes to roads etc anyway.  The government is more interested in spending money on sports stadiums, toll roads, foot bridges and the like in Brisbane than doing anything up here.  

Bowen has water that looks like weak coffee; Townsville has woefully indadequate roads and public transport and our 'new' Townsville hospital has less beds than the 'old' one and we cater for a population that is spread over a distance similar to the whole size of Victoria!  It's funny that politicians are declaring Queensland to be the state to 'make or break' our next Federal Government.  It has got nothing to do with the ousting of Kevin Rudd, and more to do with the fact that this part of the world continually gets shafted when it comes to spending that is real and beneficial.  

Many of our roads, suburban roads even, get flooded for days or weeks on end every wet season.  Yet I laugh whenever I see a Federal Government "Roads to Recovery" sign dotted along our highway or arterial roads.  I can't even recall when some of them were put up as it's been so long!  

As for Telstra, what a laugh!  We've been in our new house since March and a Telstra technician came out shortly after to the section near our front fence to do some work because people in the street complained about their phone and internet connection always dropping out.  Well, the wires/cables are still sticking up out of the ground, surrounded by the lovely bright yellow fence they surround everything in.  We have about 28 houses in our street and at least four of these have Telstra fences in front of them with the cables sticking out.  Every time it rains we seem to have phone or internet problems.

I've been at the library for over half an hour trying to upload a heap of photos because our connection at home is too slow to cope with it.  So far, I've not been able to upload anything because - I don't know why.  Pages are taking way too long to even load.  And these photos have been taken in 'email' sized format so it shouldn't take long at all.

Anyway, I had lots of pics to show you from around home but I can't.  

Maybe another time.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Additions

We have finished the chook house and yard.  Well done to The Groom!

We have two chickens at the moment.  Two Rhode Island Reds who are about point-of-lay (although their first morning here today resulted in no eggs).  They have some real character.

Coco, Little Man's chicken, is rather friendly and doesn't mind being picked up and patted.  The Princess named hers Pamela, and Pamela is the quieter and more timid of the two.  

At the moment they are hanging around the chook house and not venturing far from it.  I've got a large plastic pallet against a fence on an angle for them to hide under if they want, but they haven't gone that far over the other side of the yard yet.  

They both like grass but are not interested in the kitchen scraps yet.  Give them time and they will.

Hopefully today we will be getting some Australorps.  That's what we wanted from the start but bought the Reds just because they were the only ones available at the time.

I can't wait to post some pictures of the chickens!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Starting to think about Christmas presents...

It's not that far away when you really think about it.

It's closer than you think if you are planning to make things yourself to give as gifts.

It's all so scary.

The Princess and I were wading through multiple pages on the internet today (actually, it was originally the one site that we looked at but you know how these things happen), and came across many ideas we could use.  My Princess is very 'artistical' as she once described herself, and is always making something or drawing.  Her favourite things to draw are fairies and mermaids.  She is currently designing her own clothing range - including prices - that I think is rather lovely.  I wonder if this may one day lead to something...

Anyhoo, we came across a wonderful site called Executive Homemaker and there were so many brilliant ideas on it we soon discovered we'd spent almost 2 hours looking and clicking!  

There was also this lovely alphabet poster at Yellow Mums that I think would be lovely framed for my nieces.  Never mind the fact that I promised one of them a lavender stuffed sleep doll to one of them once we'd got settled in at the new house!  I can pick up some cheap raw timber photo frames from the discount shops and paint them in a matching color and they'd look wonderful.

I would like to try soap making so I might spend more time searching through this site for something easy and suitable for a beginner.  I think that almost everyone loves hand made soap, especially when it smells pretty.

Of course, fabric bunting is on my list of things to make, too.  I'm going to make some eventually to drape through the trees in the chicken yard once it's up and going.  Hopefully it'll help keep the eagles and hawks away, and give the chooks something pretty to look at (and maybe take their minds off trying to escape into the vegetable patch next to their yard!).

As a rule, we tend to only buy for the children in our family.  We have one niece who lives overseas and unless they are out here for a visit, we don't normally give her anything.  It is too expensive to post things to whichever country they are living in at the time.  My nephew is really boy-ish and likes trucks, but I always try to give him books if I can.  Failing that it's clothing.  Another niece is very girly and loves dolls, dress-ups, and the bunting I gave her last year went down really well.  

We don't give anything to our parents or siblings.  We rarely give each other gifts, we just buy ourselves something we want instead.  Christmas is about children we believe.

What are you doing for Christmas?