Year Of Buying Nothing Update #10

No Spend Days

16 out of 31 days in the month were spend days. For the most part these were preparing for November & December expenses. In the lead up to Christmas we will both likely be working 5 days a week – and I might even have to do 6-7. The good thing is the shifts are relatively short – 5-6 hours – but the bad news is I will be working every single weekend while The Other Half will be working all the weekdays.

I took some surprise opportunities both to save money buying in bulk (Petbarn, Nowra Fresh, one of the Aldi trips was 9 punnets of large mushrooms) and to save future time by food prepping and freezing. I also did some Christmas shopping while I had the chance. More about these things later in the post.

My spending saboteur has now returned to Adelaide and I will be busy working, but I do have a couple more Christmas shopping things to do yet.

No Spend Goals For November

I would like to get back to 2 grocery shops maximum each month, and 2 other spend days. As we are already halfway through November, spoiler alert, I have failed the November goal before I even set it. :)

But now, for the great news –

Grocery Spending

Coles – 13.50
Aldi – 477.53
Woolworths – $3
Total grocery spend – $494.03
Grocery cost of $15.93/day.
Bulk food spend – $72.04

The grocery budget for October was $620 and we came in well below that – $125.97 below. I counted the mushroom bulk buy in with the normal Aldi shopping because that is where I got them from. Part of this was using two $10 off my shops at Coles, part of this was eating out of the freezer more, part of this was a couple of meals out which we did not pay for ourselves, and I was at a conference overnight where all my food was included.

Why did I spend $3 at Woolworths? We needed pizza bases, and neither Coles or Aldi had them.

Grocery Spending Goals For November

November has 30 days = $600
Bulk food budget $100

October Thoughts

The big field mushrooms were on special for $2.99 at Aldi when I dropped in there with my Aunt to get something she needed – I had not intended to do any shopping but when I saw that, I thought maybe I could stock up, cook up, freeze up, and be set for a while. That is $1 off per punnet, so I went a bit crazy and bought 9 of them. We had a couple of hours to kill before our nails appointment that day, we went home, rinsed, chopped, cooked and drained all 9 punnets in the space of an hour.

I put them into a very large bowl and into the fridge till I could return. Later that day, The Other Half and I measured out equal amounts and put them into foodsaver bags. I now have 12 vacuum sealed bags of mushrooms which will give me mushroomy Pizza Fridays until mid-January.

We’d bought two bags of kitty litter as we were about to run out on the 20th and a few days later I got this email –

This is a super great deal for us. We’re never going to NOT need kitty litter, we have room to store it in the shed, and $70 off is nearly three of the very large bags for free. I believe we got a deal like this late last year or early this year and this is why running out came to us as a surprise because we are so used to a new bag just being there when we need it. We bought every single bag they had in stock, which was 9 if I recall correctly, and we also got a bag of chicken food to take us over $250 and get the $70 off.

We bought chicken breast in bulk and made up some more kievs, and also chicken pieces as we were running out. I may have to do pieces again this month but if so I will like to buy enough so we don’t have to do it again in 2018.

Realising that Christmas is nearly here when I saw a gift for Mother that would work, I grabbed it. I know what I am going to get for Dad, and I will also pick up some spare things in case we have some extra folks arrive on Christmas Day. I had to buy Christmas themed things for myself for work, as Christmas is a bit of a deal where I am now.

I finally ran out of hair conditioner, so I had to get some more from “The Warehouse” and they had a special deal where if I bought shampoo I got the conditioner for free.

But in good news, I got reimbursed over $150 for some former work clothes purchasing, and I won a $50 visa gift voucher at the work conference.

I had to fill up the car again. This time I had to get the more expensive fuel because the other option was not available, and I was low enough on the gauge that I didn’t want to drive anywhere else. Still, I think filling up twice in a year is pretty awesome – if I need to do it a third time that is ok, and I may need to depending on how much I can carpool to work on the upcoming days.

2018yobn

Whipper.. what?

Something is not quite right there.. :) That is not the photo I was expecting for whippersnapper! That is a photo of what is commonly known in Australia as a “whippersnipper”

A whippersnapper = a young and inexperienced person considered to be presumptuous or overconfident.

It has been busy here this week, I have been trying to write the #yobn end of month post from October but still have not managed to finish it. So here is your Friday post on a Wednesday, and I should have a chance to finish it before Friday.

Fail Whale

The Return

Keeping a chicken in isolation is not quite as easy as one might think. We’ve done this twice before now, with the help of our sick tent and setting up a large cardboard box in the nirvana. When Kitty returned home from the vet on Sunday afternoon, we tried setting her up out in the nirvana but all she tried to do was fly out of the box. Rest was what she needed, flying was not on the rest menu, so the small chicken tent was set up for her. She can’t fly out of that.

The photo you see above was sent to me by Sephyroth, all the way over in America. We have the technology, we will use it. This camera allows us to check in remotely and make sure everything is ok, without going into the room and disturbing her.

However unlike the previous chickens, Kitty was mainly bruised and just needed some painkillers, antibiotics to be on the safe side as there were a couple of tiny breaks in the skin, and time to heal. We soon discovered any noise that we made in the house disturbed from her rest. That was ok during the day, but we really wanted her to sleep at night, so efforts were made to be as quiet as possible.

In the day time, if you would walk past the door you could hear her making her little chicken noises in there – enter the room and she would chicken talk up a storm. For the most part we left her to rest with medication sessions in the morning and afternoon, and a couple of other checkins to remove any mess she’d made, and to collect her daily eggs. Yes, she kept on laying! However those eggs cannot be eaten by us or the other girls due to the medications. I can feed them back to her, though.

How do you medicate a chicken? Depends on the chicken. With our previous sick tent chickens, syringes were the order of the day. But with Kitty that meant a little too much handling her and we wanted to avoid that as much as possible – not because she would mind being handled, but because due to her bruising handling would be painful for her. We had to get creative.

We would measure out her painkiller, which is almost like a gel, and add it to tuna. Chickens love tuna, Kitty is a huge fan of it, and there would never be anything left on the plate. So that worked quite well.

At first I tried adding her antibiotic tablet to cucumber and I was surprised to find she went right for the little pieces of tablet I’d put into small knife holes in the cucumber. She did that for three or four doses and then suddenly decided she did not like the tablets, so would pick them up and drop them, then go back to eating the cucumber. Not so optimal.

But give Kitty a blueberry, regardless of the size, she is going to make very short work of it. Chickens do not have teeth, they usually pierce a blueberry with their beak and then swallow it whole. Kitty does not even bother with the piercing, I can’t quite explain what happens but one minute the blueberry is there, whole, and the next minute it is GONE. A small knife cut, pop the piece of tablet inside, and she is none the wiser about the tablet being there. The white thing you see in the middle of the blueberry is the tablet.

She seemed to be doing quite well, and by Thursday when she decided to leave the sick tent for a stroll around the spare room, we both felt like the weekend would be a good time to reintroduce her to the flock. Friday morning was her last dose of painkiller, so we would only have to worry about giving her the antibiotic – which is difficult when there are other chickens nearby who loooooove the blueberries too.

When we got home from work on Friday I gave her the afternoon antibiotics, and then we carried the sick tent out into the yard. I will not lie, we were both a bit unsure what would happen. Sometimes girls are not accepted back into the flock, or they have to put up a fight to regain their position. We let Kitty out into the free ranging yard first and the other girls were so excited to see her.. there was a lot of noisy chicken talk..

Then we let the girls out to join Kitty, and it was like she’d never been away. She took up her normal place in the flock, second on the pecking order right underneath her sister Lizzy. They all went into the garden bed to madly dustbathe, and we humans had a nice hug to celebrate this moment. There may have been salt water in our eyes, too.

She has been out living the chicken life all weekend, we have not been very far away so they’ve been allowed to free range and have had a great time eating all the bugs they can find. We did 4 doses of antibiotic hidden in the blueberries, and I distract the other girls with a different treat while The Other Half gives her the blueberries.

Lizzy is asking what kind of treats do you have for us, human? I think the better question would be.. what treats haven’t they had? They have been terribly spoiled this past week. Tomatoes, fresh corn on the cob, cucumber, cabbage, blueberries, watermelon rinds, mango, tuna, egg..

Chickens

Bohemian Rhapsody

I have been looking forward to this movie ever since I first heard Rami Malek would be playing the role of Freddie Mercury. We had tickets to see this with my parents and my aunt on Sunday night but as you are likely aware, Sunday was a very bad day for us. We ended up cancelling – they still went because they thought the tickets were non-refundable, but it turns out I could have swapped them for a different session, and when they got there that is what they did for our two tickets.

Today we really needed a break from everything that has been going on here, so after giving Kitty her afternoon dose of antibiotics, locking up the chickens a little bit early – with a third of a cabbage, some cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and blueberries to keep them entertained until dark time – and re-baiting our fox trap as two very hot days had rendered the bait somewhat stinky and quite.. Not Great.. we set off.

I was not sure on the way there. In fact I was a little worried. Rami does not really look very much like Freddie, but then again nobody looks like Freddie, he was incredibly unique. I should have known that Rami would not let us down, he was fantastic. The reviews have been somewhat unanimous in that one respect – Rami does an amazing job in this role. In fact I thought all the actors playing Queen were rather wonderful.

The reviews have been interesting, talking a lot about the director controversy and mainly focusing on what was not shown in the film. Well lets be real, how can you condense several years of someones life into two hours? There have also been comments about how much the film gets completely wrong. There have even been discussions about how audiences are ignoring the reviews!

If you like Queen at all, you will likely love this movie. If you are – like The Other Half and I – Rami Malek fans, you will definitely love this movie. As we were walking out, I said I want to just go back in and see it again.

Fox Lights

For anyone keeping chickens who does read this blog, particularly anyone in Australia, you might be interested in this. Had we known foxes would venture to our yard, we would have already bought one of these. It seems for every possible problem, some intelligent inventor has created a solution.

On the way home from the movies I actually spotted one of these out in the fields. Perhaps we should be using a lot more of them.

movies

Vale Foo

No matter who you are or what your feelings on chickens may be, spending 10 minutes with Foo (and Finn) would easily convince you that chickens are the best creatures on the planet. No matter who visited, Foo was not shy. Foo would run right up and see if you had any treats, making happy chicken noises.

These two chickens Foo and Finn were almost impossible to tell apart. Foo had a comb that stood up straight, Finn has a little floppy part at the back. Here Foo is the chicken standing up, Finn is looking for a treat on the ground.

These two were partners in crime, often taking Dark Comb along for the ride. Will I ever be able to see Finn without thinking of Foo? Probably not. I still see Red Comb and Purple Comb when I look at Dark Comb. In some ways that will be a great thing because I loved Foo, and in some ways that will be a constant sad moment.

Foo loved all treats equally for the most part however greatly and very noisily enjoyed lactose free yoghurt time, splashing yoghurt all over the other chickens if at all possible.

Foo was such a happy and joyful chicken who should have lived a long treat filled lifetime in my yard, which makes this loss all the harder to accept.

Kitty has so far survived the night, they did x-rays and nothing is broken that they can see, but the expert chicken vet will be looking at them today and may call us if she sees anything of concern. We gave her medication to her this morning which was way more difficult than it sounds, we have some hope but given past experiences with unwell chickens I do not want to get my hopes up. She is another chicken with a lovely personality, so calm and chill and very friendly to humans.

Our trap was baited last night, nothing was caught. We did not sleep especially well.

I won’t say what I normally say when we lose a chicken in this post, because at this moment there are only three chickens in the yard – Kitty is in the sick tent in the spare bedroom. Please keep a good thought for her, that she might be able to return to the flock.

Vale Pets

Vale Diana

Of all the experiences we have had so far keeping chickens, the past few hours have been some of the worst for us. About 5:30 this morning I woke up and had to go to the bathroom. I heard some chicken panic noises, so I ran to the back door, opened the curtains, turned the lights on, and ran out. That particular act saved our Grey Pekin, Kitty, who had already been grabbed by an extremely large fox that had managed to get into the chook pen – she has two teeth bruises but luckily it did not break the skin.

At first we could not see, well, anything. It was still dark out. The other half went to find torches, and I checked on the girls but really was so disorientated by what was going on, I wasn’t sure of anything. I could see feathers on the ground so I knew someone was badly hurt, I just did not know who, or where they were. I could see four of our girls who were very freaked out and had all woken up and were now running around the chook pen. But this meant two were missing.

I soon found one of the white girls who was broody in the laying box. By now the other half had returned with torches, and we found Diana laying towards the back of the pen. There was nothing we could do for her.

We couldn’t see what was responsible for this, and our main focus was to get the other girls safely into the enclosed chook coop and lock them in. That was a lot harder than it should be – of course they were very freaked out, and we were quite freaked out ourselves.

Once we’d put them inside and locked them in – there is no way anything can get inside there once the doors are closed and latched, no access points, we went back inside to look on the cameras at the time of the attack, and we saw a massive, medium dog sized fox roaming our yard. I did not keep watching, but the other half did, in order to identify how and where it got in. It was incredibly quick – on the cameras it was still roaming our yard at 5:27am not yet having made it inside, and we got out there just a few minutes after that.

We went back out to check on the girls and find the hole – it was still dark at this point. It wasn’t until the other half sent me inside to research fox traps and I turned around to see Diana lying in the garden bed that the full magnitude of what had happened struck me, and I’ve been a bit of a mess since then.

Obviously we will be reviewing our enclosure – by 6:50am Diana had been buried, the hole in the outer chook pen had been resolved via The Other Half, some extra mouse mesh and wire ties. He’ll spend some time today checking for other possible weak spots, we will add in sensor lights and look to hire a trap though all the places are shut locally today. The girls will be locked in at night and we may add in extra slide locks, all of them will be padlocked each night.

Once you have a fox visit and attack, they will return, guaranteed. It is what they do. Our only option is to up our game security wise, set some traps, and catch it. But this thing was HUGE, so it might be more difficult to get a trap that will fit.

We are keeping a very close eye on Kitty, she may have internal injuries that we cannot see. She may not survive, though it has now been two hours and she has made it this far, this kind of shock can always take a bird as a surprise. Once we fixed the hole we let the girls out of the coop, though the others were slow to exit they have all gone out into the yard. Kitty has not ventured out as yet.

In a slightly concerning note, one of the other girls – I think Foo – though not attacked by the fox and not injured as far as we can see, appears to be somewhat unwell. She had a thin shelled egg this week, she has now made a little nest for herself in one of the spare laying boxes I posted about on Friday and is resting in there. We will be keeping a close eye on her as well, and if required she will be off to the vet today.

Diana was probably our most challenging chicken to keep in recent times. Her sister Queen was very flighty, and Diana was similar. She did not love humans too much and kept her distance but since Queen passed she had begun to thaw towards me slightly, especially as I am the bringer of treats.

I had begun to think there might be a day when she took a treat directly from my hand – that is what I was working towards. Not sure what her thoughts were on that. ;) We had to trim her feathers a few weeks ago after she got up onto the top of the chicken enclosure.

Just last night, when it was time to shut the girls in, Diana took off in the opposite direction in a very determined manner, and The Other Half had to get very creative to convince her to go back inside. She loved all the chicken treats but was especially partial to cucumber and meal worms. We will miss her.

As I always post when this happens – there are (presently) 5 other chickens in the yard for whom life continues. They live minute by minute, sucking the most joy out of each and every moment, whether it is a dirt bath, finding a bug, eating a treat from the humans.. all we can do is love them while they’re here, protect them the best we can from predators, know when it is time to let them go, and remember them when they are gone.

Afternoon update – In my shock this morning I had accidentally scheduled this post for next week, somehow. But this is good as it gives me a chance to update. Kitty and Foo are now at the vets, being monitored. The vet was cautiously optimistic. Foo turned out to have a cut to her breast, we are not sure whether this was the fox, or whether she caught herself on something in the panic. We have picked up a very large dog trap from the local council, which we will be setting up. The girls will be locked in tonight.

We have kept chickens for a long time now and we are extremely lucky that this has been our first fox attack. That doesn’t make today any easier. It is never easy to lose a much loved pet, and when it might be 3 of them at once, that is three times as difficult. I will keep you updated on the other girls when I know more.

Vale Pets

An Hour Out

It is going to be the first of our super hot days here today. Luckily I am at home to deal with the kitties and chooks.

At 9:30 this morning I let the kitties out into the Nirvana – they LOVE the warm weather even when it is super hot. Happy found a lizard to chase right away, it found a safe hiding place pretty quickly.

It was already 31 in the Nirvana. It was 35 outside the Nirvana.

I set the chooks up with fresh cool water and added an icecube, then they got an entire punnet of just taken out of the fridge blueberries as I discovered one had burst – when that happens mould is not far off. They were extremely pleased by this turn of events.

As I was filling up the birdbath I realised there was a bit of a chicken kerfuffle going on. I put the hose on to mist to keep the girls cool, and went to investigate.

We’ve had a couple of eggs laid from the perches recently and today I found out why – the two Pekins are bullying the younger girls out of the laying boxes. We’ll need to work out a longer term solution – they will need more laying boxes in a different place – but for now I have put a couple of boxes with wood shavings out for the girls to use.

By the time I finished putting this together, changing the water for the chickens, filling up the birdbaths, watching my lovelies dustbathe and generally faffing around here, an hour had passed. It was now 34 in the Nirvana. The kitties had settled in. Happy is lying on the cooler concrete.

Grumpy is on her favourite Nirvana chair.

Today I would have posted the monthly Year Of Buying Nothing update post, but I ran out of time to put it all together. Hopefully you will see it on Monday. :)

It is heading into our busy time of year and in my new department at work I will be dealing with Christmas, which likely means working 5 days a week, so I might have to take a break from posting. We will see. I will get to wear Christmas stuff, which makes me super happy.

Home

Recently In SnoskredLand

Last week a work colleague and I went to a conference in Manly. We caught the train, meaning a very early wakeup at 5:30am, and a very early train at 6:43am, in order to get to Sydney in time to catch a ferry to Manly and then be at the hotel for a bus at 11:45am.

I’m sure reading that someone might say.. why didn’t you drive, Snoskred? All of our recent experiences with Sydney Traffic, the fact that it costs an arm and a leg to park the car, the sheer inconvenience of trying to get to Manly in a car are all reasons why driving was a big no.

My colleague was not feeling well and had only managed a few hours sleep the night before.. So on the way up we chose a quiet carriage so she could sleep and I could enjoy the views. The more I travel on the train the more I like it. I don’t use devices or headphones, I just enjoy the view.

On arrival at Manly wharf I suggested gelato and this was in fact a perfect start to my conference. They do not have Messina there, it was Gelatissimo and it was pretty good. We had no idea what the plan was for the day – unfortunately this was not a sign of a delightful surprise but a sign of a general lack of organisation overall.

Though they did thoughtfully schedule in dancing. Having been up since 5:30am, having walked quite a lot between different locations at Q Station plus up a very large hill to get back to the bus pickup point..

..having an ill colleague, having no scheduled “nap time” and having been fed mainly carbs since lunch time – the protein offered at lunch was Not Optimal and had also been sitting out on a balcony for who knew how long but I certainly was not going to risk food poisoning.. I was not exactly in the mood for dancing at 8:10pm.

What we really wanted was to get back to the hotel and get some sleep before yet another early wake up call the next morning. Unfortunately nobody had thought perhaps folks might be tired and wanting to get back, so there was no bus scheduled to take us back until 10:30pm. We did manage to talk the bus driver who dropped us off to come back a little bit earlier to collect us, and though he was running a little late we at least got back to the hotel before 10pm where we fell asleep very quickly.

The next day flew by and we were at Gelato Messina grabbing a quick gelato before we knew it. Then we were back on the train for the long journey home. I met a lot of very interesting people – our field is definitely one that attracts artistic and quirky people with a large range of skills – everything from photoshop to sales to copyright law to teaching people how to use technology they are not familiar with.

Back at home, nothing much had changed. My succulent wreath is growing up a storm –

Chooks were getting their treats..

Kitties were posing for photos..

But this one was happy that my lap returned, for her to sit on.

Sydney