Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Bitches Of Torbay

You know I love my hens, my placid, amiable, pretty hens.  Here they are - Angie with the floppy comb on the left, Anne the biggest and lightest in the middle, and Leanne with the beautiful ring of bright ginger feathers around her neck.
You know we sadly lost Wilma a month ago.  Well, the opportunity arose to have two more hens, 15 months old, ex egg farm HiLines, the same breed as ours.  Why not, we could do with a few more eggs and I like the idea of giving hens a good life with plenty of space and good food.  I decided to no longer name the girls after friends, after the rather traumatic email I had to send to my friend Wilma about the demise of her feathered counterpart!  So, instead, starting at A with christian names, they shall be names after movie stars.  Please meet, looking rather bedraggled from moulting, on the right Angelina Jolie and on the left Bridget Bardot.  :-)
I did what I thought was the right thing, introduce them at the end of the day, make sure to introduce more than just one new bird so it doesn't get picked on, and feed everyone when the new girls were put in the yard for distraction.  It all started off smoothly, the new ladies bogged in at the food bowl straight away and my girls seemed perfectly happy about it.  Well! 

All was fine for about 20 minutes, then Angelina wandered over to Anne (big boss) and gave her a wee kiss peck on the side of her beak.  Anne turned to look, was like WTF, hang on, who the hell are you?, drew herself up to her tallest tippytoed self, then walked right up to Angelina, beak to beak, hairy eyeball to hairy eyeball and did the staring thing.  Ok I thought, this will stop in a minute.  Nooo, it was on, wings flapping, feet kicking like a flipping cock fight! I ended up standing between them to break it up.  Far out, I was a tad shocked, they were like little velociraptors!  And once that happened it was like everyone suddenly became aware of everyone else and the fact that there were intruders.  My girls did not play nicely in the school yard, they were mean, they were bitches.  They chased poor Angelina and Bridget around, jumping on them and pecking them.  Nasty nasty bitchy girls they were.  I stayed in the yard til dusk, trying to let the pecking order sort itself out but getting in the way of any blood being drawn!  Thank goodness it got dark and everyone went to bed and the night was quiet.

But I couldn't sleep, I felt really bad throwing two new girls into the bitchfest playground, so I pondered this during the night, did some googling and decided to make a yard in the yard as was suggested on a few websites, theory being that they can still see each other and sort of get used to each other, but having a fence between them should hopefully avoid bloodshed.

At the crack of dawn I was up and down at the chookyard before anyone could wake up and start bullying again.  I locked Angelina and Bridget in the chook house and let my girls out to range on a fenced grass area, then set to work.  I fenced off a corner of the chook yard and added a makeshift shelter.
I have a feeling these girls don't know how to roost so for the time being I've put a couple of logs on the floor of the shelter, with the idea that maybe they can start by roosting on those, just off the ground.  I've added a nesting box in the yard too, under the big bush.
Then I popped the new girls into their yard in a yard, then retrieved my girls and put them back in the yard, then sat down to watch the dynamics.  It was amazing the difference having a wee piece of chook wire between them, everyone was a lot calmer and quieter.  Anne in the foreground is walking the perimeter with Angelina checking her out.
There was a lot of  'I can stand up taller than you' at the fence and the odd attempt at a peck, but all in all I am happy with the calmer demeanour of them all.  They all settled down eventually to having dust baths in their separate corners of the chook yard which I took to be a good sign.  I think I'll keep the fence up for 4-5 days, depending on how it goes, then I figure I'll just remove the fence quietly one morning.  I know they will scrap a bit after that, apparently the pecking order just has to be sorted out and it takes about a week, but hopefully by doing this they will be a little more familiar with each other first and will luck the assimilation will be a bit more gentle.

Saturday, 26 July 2014


It's always hard visiting family members in Nursing Homes.  There is the ever present guilt of not visiting enough, but then there is the confronting fact of seeing a person who no longer knows who you are and is unable to communicate any more, and having to face the fact that that person's mind and body are winding down.  It would be less painful to try and remember that person as they were, full of life, rather than having the sadness of seeing someone who no longer looks like or acts like the person you love.  Dementia sucks, it is an awful, cruel disease. 

Needless to say, we spent the day in Perth recently chatting with the staff and visiting Steve's parents who are both stricken with dementia.  Although we were not looking forward to the visit, knowing each time we see them there is more decline, as it turns out it was a good visit, and our hearts felt lighter.  We are always so happy with the caring, personal attitude of all the staff, it is an older nursing home that has a stable staff body with no agency staff, so the residents get familiarity and routine which is very comforting to them.  Both Barbara and Eric who are now locked inside their own worlds and can do virtually nothing for themselves both seemed peaceful, calm and content, which made us feel calm and content too that they are being cared for in the best way possible.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Red Treasures

I mentioned that we don't really like swedes, and of course I have an abundant crop of them.  My friend Kerry sent me a recipe for Cornish Pasties and told me that we would love them, that swedes go brilliantly in the pasties.  Then my friend Angie emailed and also mentioned Cornish Pasties.  Well, who am I to argue.  Mince, onion, potato, carrot, swede and various flavourings later, here is the batch of filling.  Smells lovely!
And here is the finished product, 32 little Cornish Pasties, aren't they pretty!  And yes, they were very yummy so thank you friends for the suggestion! :-)
 Steve is feeling very pleased with himself, we snapped up an ancient cement mixer from a friend who was going to put it out for the verge collection.  It's a nice big one but the motor was stuffed.  Steve remembered his mate Laurie mentioning he had a large collection of old motors and if we ever needed one just to ask, so we did. 
Steve bought a $15 pulley and attached that and the motor and hey presto, one working cement mixer!  Then he bought a $10 can of spray paint and gave it a revamp.  Looks good hey and it will be so very very useful around here while things are still being built and fence posts need reinforcing.
Speaking of things red, Steve and Laurie went fishing in Laurie's new boat and came home with a nice mixed bag.  The red fish is called a Western Foxfish which is apparently good eating, we haven't tried it yet.  The little pinky red fish at the front is a Nanygai, my favourite fish, it tastes like scallops!
Steve was thrilled with his bucket list fish, a lovely Queen Snapper.  The four of us has that for dinner and it was delicious!
Neo even got his own fish for dinner, a parrot fish.  Normally Steve tosses those back but they now have a new use, Neo loves fresh fish!
 Yum yum yum said the cat!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Furry Grey Doppelganger

We grow good winter veggies here, particularly root crops for some reason, so we've been enjoying plenty of home produce for meals.  It always surprises me how things grow when freezing cold wind is whipping around, I suppose that might be why root veggies grow well, being insulated by the soil.  We have decided however that we are not growing turnips or swedes again, we've tried hard to like them but really we don't.  Carrots, potatoes and parsnips can be next winter's root crops.
Finally the creek has started running, it's at least a month later than normal this year, but to be expected with the lack of rain earlier in the year.  We are making up for it with our July rains being very prolific.  In saying that, it is a magnificent sunny day today, nice to have surprises like that hey.
Steve calculated, roped up for safety, then cut down the top of old dead jarrah in my garden.  It's been starting to crack and big chunks of bark were falling off at random so rather than me be squashed by it one day, down it came.  Another nice pile of firewood from it :-)
We've had the pleasure of the company of visiting friends and family over the last week.  Firstly Doug and Jenny came to stay while they popped into Denmark to visit Jenny's granny, the oldest living person in Denmark at 99 (hope I've got that right Jenny!), how about that!  It was great to catch up, even if you did beat us at Boules :-)
 A couple of days before Doug and Jenny arrived we had one ripper of a hailstorm, which was rather surprising as we don't get hail here much.  Photos never really do it justice do they, trust me that there were buckets-full of hail everywhere and the gutters all overflowed as the hail has jammed up all the downpipes when the rain came pouring down later.  It was all rather exciting!

Then we welcomed son Paul and his friends Chris and Eilisha for a few days.  First stop was Boston Brewery for beer tasting.  I think the boys declared the wheat beer to be pretty special, both rejecting the brown sludge called stout that Steve likes to drink.  Actually Steve now likes a beer called a Porter, a new one the Boston brewer has been playing around with.  Personally I think all beer is crap, give me wine!
We toodled around a bit, here we are at The Gap, which was a little uninspiring as the sea was very calm.  It's still a hell of a drop to fall down though, as I watched those people over the other side, the unprotected edge on the other side and wondered how they'd fare if a sudden puff of wind hit them.
One purpose of the visit was for Steve, with all his fandangled equipment, to help rebuild Paul's bar into something more practical and pretty.  Chris very kindly transported the bar from Perth on the back of his specky flat-top ute, and I nearly got smacked for daring to think it might be a Holden!  ha ha Chris, I was only screwin' with ya :-)
Much cutting, measuring, welding and screwing later, Paul is very pleased with his new bar, seen here in its raw state, it was oiled and varnished when Paul got home.
 Father and son.
Paul brought his cat Cassie with him.  OMG she and Neo are identical!  She too is a rescue cat, she was found as a pregnant stray by the rescue team, rehabilitated and Paul has owned her for a couple of months.  She is still very nervous, but she seemed pretty calm here when we sat each cat on their owner's lap.  What we forgot was that Cassie at that point was still under the effects of the sedation she had for the long car trip, the next day she made it absolutely plain that she hated me and Neo and I have the holes in my hand to prove it!  Luckily we kept them separate and no harm was done.
So, thank you everyone for your company, it was really nice.  Now it's back to work, I am busy outside flinging trailer loads of cow poo all over the grass runners outside the house.  I'm halfway through making our bedroom curtains, god I'll be glad when I've finished the house curtain making, 12 down, four to go!  Steve is very happy, we were given an ancient cement mixer but unfortunately the motor was dead.  Our friend Laurie gave Steve an old washing machine motor he had spare, and after buying a $15 pulley, Steve put it all back together and hey presto he has a working cement mixer, yeehar!  It will be so useful for all the retaining walls and fencing that Steve needs to start soon out the back.  Very very good.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Before And After

The following photos may well leave you rather uninspired but you will just have to believe me that major things have happened over the last two days.  Mark the earthmoving guy turned up for 11 hours with his bobcat, digger and tip-ute to complete the long awaited task of moving the dirt we didn't want in places, and put the dirt into places that we did want it.
This is the back of the house, before shot above and after shot below.  Since the house was built the soil behind has gradually crept downwards and was starting to cover the concrete paving.  The whole area was very lumpy bumpy and the slope from one side of the house to the other was more than we wanted.  Mark moved the excess soil from the front of the house to the back, including plenty of kikuyu runners mixed in, smoothed it all all and altered the levels so the end nearest us is now higher.  The majority of that area straight ahead will be grass, nice smooth grass.
Still at the back of the house but from the other side.  The sloped area there, shown firstly with the creep of soil towards the house, will become a double level of garden beds, sort of kitchen garden/cottage garden is my plan. 
The after shot showing how Mark has pulled the soil back a fair way, which gives Steve plenty of room to build retaining walls and a strip of gravel drainage between the walls and the concrete paving.  It will be much easier to push the soil down behind the retaining walls rather than dig it out and upwards - all hail the mechanical digger!  We are also going to fence the back garden although we are still undecided whether to just fence the terraced garden beds or go further back and fence the grassed area as well, watch this space.
The before shot of the corner of the front of the house.  It may not look like much but there is wayyyy too much sand here, it is too high and it has crept and spread all over the driveways.
Believe me, mega amounts of dirt have been shifted in this photo, heaps!!  As our septic tanks are under all that Mark had to use a small digger, rather than a heavy bobcat so it took a bit longer.  We are so happy it's all nice and level along there now, all we have to to now is wait for the grass to grow. 
Another before shot of the front of the house, from the other end.  Messy, too high, and spread going all over the driveway.
And afterwards, lovely and flat with loads of kikuyu runners dug in with Mark's equipment - he dug it out where it wasn't wanted, spread it along the top here, then patted soil down over it with his mechanical digger's bucket.
This is where the kangaroos have been jumping up near our car parking area for their breakfast.  As there was no grass there they are gradually destroying the hill and making a big mess.
Mark has made me three tiers of kikuyu steps, banged down firmly with his bobcat.  All hail the bobcat!  Providing we can get this grassed solidly it should be a strong wall (will put a temporary fence up for the rest of the year to persuade the roos to hop up somewhere different) and will avoid us having to buy more very expensive huge rocks.
This before shot gives an idea of the sand spreading down and across the driveway.  Messy and ugly and a pain.
Digging and bobcatting and scraping done, and lo and behold a driveway reappears!
With the leftover sand we got Mark to build a bank for a future pond.  As it goes with men and their big machines, the pond has got bigger than Ben Hur, having been dug out as well.  It's hard to see properly in the photo below, but that is one big hole!  Mark has sculpted the soil around it so the rain runoff from the driveway will be steered towards the pond, to top it up.  The Hole can sit there for quite some time, but eventually we will turn it into a big pond with a liner in it, and add rocks and plants around the edge.  We plan to put yabbies in it.
And here is Steve, deep in thought, no doubt contemplating all those new jobs bestowed on him! :-)
And here is sir, in demon mode.  A split second after the photo, those claws attacked my hands at the top of the chair, then we had a fisticuffs battle on either side of the chair with wiggling fingers and paws poking between the wood slats.  :-)
He looks the picture of innocence....  He has taken to awakening me in the early morning by diving his paws under the covers at the side of the bed, to attack my feet.  We end up sleeping with no part of our bodies near the edge of the bed!  I believe the quoted expression heard pre-dawn recently was "piss off you grey turd".  I confess, it was me.  :-)