Gold Coast Day 1

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On Tuesday morning (25th October) we were surprised to wake up just before 5am. We really had no choice in the matter, as the moment the sun rose, there was too much light to sleep. Our today plan looked like this –

Tuesday
If weather forecast for Wed/Fri=bad –
q1 – walk from our hotel – sort Dreamworld passes.
Dreamworld
Aldi on way home – Southport Park
DINNER – In @ Peninsula

If weather forecast for Wed/Fri=good
q1 – walk from our hotel – sort Dreamworld passes.
Harbour Town
Aldi – Southport Park.

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Once we got up and went out to the lounge area to sit and wake up, the weather was absolutely gorgeous BUT we discovered that our American friend had not had a very good nights sleep. Which made the today plan very clear. You cannot go to the theme parks sleep deprived, it just will not work out well for anyone. So Harbourtown it was.

I had a quick shower then I went down to the local convenience store to get some milk for breakfast while the boys had their showers. As I approached the store I saw someone in black behaving very strangely and when I got to the store, it turned out this guy had abused the shop owner and then broken the doors to the store.

I could not get inside until the owner figured out a fix. He told me what happened and that he does not understand why people have to act this way, this is not the first time he has had some trouble. I bought some more expensive milk than I had intended, just because the guy was having a not great day. It was the Paul’s farmhouse gold which they add cream to, so it kind of looks like real cream on the milk.

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We decided to go to Q1 to sort out our 7 day passes then Aldi, then see how we were doing. Just a note for those who are wanting to do 7 day passes etc, you can get these sorted out at Q1 rather than having to wait until you get to Dreamworld. They give you basically a ticket, which is valid for 7 days.

At Q1 I discovered that my previously known about vertigo has become a lot worse. While I loved the views from up there, I had a lot of trouble when I got too close to the windows and held onto the poles in order to feel safer and less like I was going to fall. The views were fantastic and we spent quite a bit of time up here taking photos and working out where things were and what we could see from up here.

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A quick trip to Aldi – we had to detour around Paradise Island due to a poor lane choice. We just drove around it. This was not the only time we had to do this during our visit. I have to say the accommodation here looked quite interesting and I understand one of the resorts there is especially great for kids.

Managing to sort out our route, we went via Chevron Island to Aldi at Southport. Traffic was surprisingly heavy until we realised it was essentially peak hour – it was only 8:30am or so. It felt like we’d been up for hours. And we actually had. Thanks Queensland!

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The apartment is self catering, so we knew ahead of time there is only a small amount of things like toilet paper supplied. On this occasion, unlike previous stays, we had no dishwashing powder or tablets supplied and no washing powder. I had brought our own from home. We went to Aldi in Southport and got paper towel, toilet paper, all the extra stuff one needs in a self catering apartment. We had our own car so this was easy for us to do.

For our dinners, the plan was to bbq each night with one exception, providing the BBQs seemed ok. Our second option was to use frypans in the room we were staying in, and that is the one we ended up going with. The BBQs were not especially clean at the Peninsula. I do recommend if you want to BBQ, bring along a BBQ mat..

We decided to use the large frypans in our apartment to cook our “BBQ” each night. I got two bulk packs of chicken which we cut up and I placed into a ziploc bag with lemon and lime juice and garlic infused olive oil to marinate.

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I had brought Masterfoods pepper steak to shake onto the chicken, it is our favourite. Each night we would just take out the amount of chicken we needed. We also got some steak and sausages. I would parboil some potatoes and sweet potatoes and then put them in the oven either as roast potatoes with some spices I blended myself and/or with butter and cheese. I would cut up an avocado which we would have as the salad. Super simple but very tasty.

We went back to Peninsula and dropped off our groceries, had a quick lunch (sandwiches for some, protein shakes for others) then headed out to Harbourtown. WE LOVED THIS PLACE. It truly had something for everyone. The facilities are great, we went to the visitors lounge and got the discount card, I left the boys there to have coffee while I went to find the bathrooms which were beautifully clean.

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From airplane models in the window of one of the lesser known worlds in Australia “Cuban Cigar World” to half price Swarovski bracelets to discount sporting team apparel at stores like BLK and ASICS to very reasonably priced books to Lindt chocolate where you can also get a coffee or shake, there really is a great variety of stores and items to be found here.

We could have easily spent a whole day here exploring the various stores. As it was, we spent a couple of hours happily browsing and found some great bargains. I did get a half price Swarovski bracelet.

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My American friend who happens to be into Australian cricket found a bargain official Australian cricket t-shirt and a book of Formule One circuits. I found an Adelaide Crows training t-shirt for my Dad. We needed to pick up a good chopping board as our apartment did not have one, and we found a huge one for $15 at a kitchen place. It returned home with us and I wish I had picked up a couple more, it is great.

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When we returned to our unit, we did some food prep for dinner, cutting up the two bulk packs of chicken, peeling potatoes and putting them on to boil. We decided a swim was in order. It had been a very hot day. We all got into our swim gear and headed down to the pool about 4:30pm, leaving our electronic devices safely locked in the unit safe.

As we walked into the indoor pool area, I heard a woman say to their child “Something happened at Dreamworld”. I mentally filed that away as something to check out later, and we enjoyed our swim, starting in the outdoor pool and then going into the indoor pool for a while. We were there for well over an hour. When we returned to the room, there were several somewhat panicked messages from my Mother on both my phone and my other half’s phone, asking were we all right and had we gone to Dreamworld.

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We turned on the TV to find out what was going on and heard the very terrible news, that 4 people had been killed on one of the rides. My poor mother had been thinking it could have been us for a good couple of hours there, because she could not get in touch with us and our original plan had been to go to Dreamworld that day.

If we had gone to Dreamworld, that ride is definitely one we would have gone on. Though we would have chosen to ride it earlier in the day, we may not have been able to because there was a problem with it. They were saying the park would be closed Wednesday, and to be honest I do not think we would have wanted to go if it was open.

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We were kind of in shock, that this could happen, and that it had happened on a ride two of us there had been on many times before, and that we could have been in the park queuing for – or even *on* the ride – when this happened. There was a small element of “this could have happened to us”, which was certainly something to think about.

We spent the rest of the evening cooking dinner, watching the news coverage, and trying to make a new plan for Wednesday. We decided to get Go Cards in the morning and then take the tram all the way to both ends of the track, then visit Pacific Fair and have lunch there.

I will tell you about Wednesday NEXT Wednesday! ;)

Gold Coast, Snoskred Travels 2016

I Want To Believe

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I gave up watching The Walking Dead about halfway through season 5. While I loved some of the characters, I could not continue to stomach the constant overtone of “99% of people in this world are bad people” that seemed to run through nearly every storyline.

I think it was the cannibals that sent me over the edge. Though it was lovely seeing Carol be all kick ass against the cannibals in the season five premiere, the concept that people would be terrible enough to eat other people – especially when it was not an emergency situation like a plane crash but a situation where so many people have died and there should be more than enough food at Costcos across America to keep these people eating for many, many years..

Now we are watching Westworld, a show where there are robots in a theme park specifically for the humans to go on holiday and do.. whatever they like.. to the robots. The themes in both these shows are somewhat similar – that given the opportunity, humans will be evil. That deep in the heart of all of us is a desire to rape, pillage, maim and murder. To watch the world burn, and actively participate in the burning. Whether it be people, or robots.

I want to believe that these TV examples are not how things would actually go. I want to believe that deep in the heart of all of us there is actually a desire to be good. To help each other, build things, build a community, celebrate each others successes and push each other to do better.

After recent events, I am fearing that the TV examples are the closest to reality and truth, and the things that I want to believe about my fellow humans are simply silly naive daydreams.

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I feel like there will be an awful lot of award nominations for Westworld. The cast includes some all time greats including Sir Anthony Hopkins and Thandie Newton is just blowing my mind every single week with her huge talent. The acting is incredible. The show is utterly gorgeous to look at – Utah helps, but it is filmed beautifully. I cannot stop looking at the costumes – in particular the jewellery on the house of ill repute girls.

I can watch shows where I do not like or agree with the underlying themes, especially when everything is so beautifully done, as it is on this show. If you feel the same, you probably should be watching Westworld.

television shows

Peninsula Apartments, Gold Coast

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A note about the accommodation – We had considered many different properties for this Gold Coast stay, but our family have long been loyal customers – since the 80’s – at the Peninsula Apartments for several reasons – we love the views from this building, we love the location, we like the fact that you get 2 bathrooms in a 2 bedroom apartment, and we love the pools here.

Oh, we have occasionally strayed for shorter stays – we tried out the Marriot because of the snorkelling lagoon, a couple of times we have been placed elsewhere for a work conference which was not our choice. But if we are here for a week or so, the Peninsula is our preferred option.

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The Peninsula next to Q1

However I had been reading the reviews across the web and they were quite mixed. I was well aware that this is partly because the building is made up of apartments owned by different owners, so the decor, furniture and facilities vary greatly from apartment to apartment. They also have two levels of apartment – the deluxe and the basic. So that can cause the review variation as well.

As we arrived late we had to retrieve our keys from the night box, which was easily done. The keys came with directions to our carpark including a map. Even so we struggled to find it because we did not understand there are two levels and we were looking on the wrong level. It had been a long day, and everyone was getting tired. We did eventually figure out where we needed to go, found the carpark, unpacked the car, and headed up to our room, 13F.

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We had hoped we would get a great apartment, but what makes up a great apartment? The one we did get had amazing views even on the 13th floor. As I sit here typing this on the lounge, I can see ocean and beach from every window. Does that make up for the fact that the furniture is probably as old as the building, which was built in 1982?

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Does that make up for the fact that the cleanliness is not exactly optimal? The floor needs a good steam mopping as a matter of urgency. Someone needs to walk on the tiles with bare feet, otherwise staff will not realise how sticky and awfully dirty they are.The carpets desperately needed to be replaced in our room. The bathrooms are functional and perfectly fine, though they are getting on in years too.

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The kitchen was functional but very old. The appliances were also very old, except for the fridge and cooktop which was younger than the other appliances. The laundry had a new washer but a very old dryer that only dries half the amount of the washing – 7kg front load, 3.5kg dryer.

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There were no blackout curtains. Every morning we woke with the sun. On the one hand that is fantastic because we are on holiday and would like to be up super early. On the other hand, Queensland does not have daylight saving. When we stayed we woke up 5am on the dot every morning. It has taken us 2 weeks to get back to waking up at a more normal time.

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The beds and pillows were comfortable. The bedroom set was very old. There were two large leather couches in the lounge room, when in the room this is where we spent much of our time as the view from them was spectacular.

The dishwasher is definitely from 1982 – it is an old dial dishlex which is so old even the dishlex logo has vanished. On our second day we put the dishwasher on when we went out – as our one experience with it thus far taught us this thing was incredibly noisy! – and returned home to find the floors were covered in water. It seemed to us like the dishwasher seals had failed.

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Now I want to make it very clear and make sure they receive the praise they deserve – the staff here are fantastic and trying to do their best with the property they have. Every interaction with staff was a positive experience. Well done team, you are awesome. Every day when we went through reception they were burning some gorgeous scented candles there, it smelled amazing.

When we discovered the dishwasher was malfunctioning, I went to the front desk and saw Sharon, who immediately followed me upstairs to check out what was going on, and she called out the appliance guy to attend the next day. She brought along some towels which we placed in front of the unit so we could still use it without water going everywhere.

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That night we found someone had removed the arm from the middle shelf of the dishwasher which was sending a large stream of water directly to the bottom of the dishwasher. They had put the arm in the under sink cupboard. Once we replaced it, the amount of water leaking out reduced significantly.

The appliance guy felt that someone had used dishwashing detergent in the unit which was causing a lot of sudsing to occur. Well I hate to be the one to tell you this, appliance guy, but my personal suspicion is, all that stuff is what the seals are meant to keep inside the dishwasher. If they were functioning. It was not all sudsy water coming out, we were getting a lot of plain water too. Which given the unit is 34 years old, it has done extremely well to last this long, but there comes a time when the owners need to just buy a new one.

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We kept the towels in front of the unit for the remainder of our stay. The dishwasher was still leaking but it never was as bad as the first day.

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The BBQs were a bit dirty, so if you were going to cook on them I would recommend using a BBQ mat.

There is an IGA a couple of streets over towards Cavill Ave, and there is a Woolworths in the Paradise Center along Cavill Ave, for people who need to pick up extra items.

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With all that said, no amount of old appliances and unclean floors can take away from the great location and the amazing view. You can just put some socks on and enjoy the view. We did see whales from the balcony.

Even so, it is probably time for us to try out a new Gold Coast Home Away From Home. We will be sad to move on, because we have loved staying at the Peninsula for so many years.

Gold Coast, Snoskred Travels 2016

Building A Chook Fence

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The previous fence arrangement was Not Great. It worked for the most part AKA it kept the chooks on the lawn where they were meant to be and NOT on the concrete pooping up a storm. However as time went on, it began to biodegrade and holes began to appear.

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It was originally meant to be temporary until we built our Queensland room onto the back of the house. Realistically that is a HUGE job and may even require getting council approval depending on what we want to build and how we want to build it.

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Normally the chooks ignore the holes but sometimes one would find their way into the promised land. That was no big deal. But when all 5 of them scratched up my seedling bed – seen above with Grumpy before I planted the seedlings in it, it was time to get to work on something a bit more permanent.

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I never question the how, what, why, where or when. The Other Half just creates a plan and implements it. I am purely there to assist and sometimes this causes problems when I do not understand his vision. But I must say I am usually very fashionably attired to assist. These are my Aldi $15 wellies which originally were gorgeously shiny, several months of doing chook jobs has dulled them a little. They are due for a good clean.

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So his plan involved stardroppers, chicken wire, and wire to tie the chook wire to the stardroppers. That was the time consuming fiddly part of the job.

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It did turn out very well indeed.

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Here are the girls back out free ranging once it was finished. This photo was taken on the Sunday before Purple Comb became so unwell. You can see she seems perfectly fine, free ranging happily with her besties. However it is more likely she was starting to feel unwell and just very good at hiding it.

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I had become very sick of our hose arrangements, and it was time to find a better solution. You know when you change something and it works so well, and you are left wondering why did I not change this thing before? That applies to this hose purchase. It is incredibly useful and has me out watering the plants way more often than ever before. Which can only be great for the plants in the long run.

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Life goes on, for the girls. They do seem to be sticking together in their flock more, just recently. They are still being spoiled rotten with blueberries, baby spinach, corn on the cooler days, tuna, strawberries, and occasionally scrambled eggs as well.

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If we make it through the summer with 4 chooks remaining, we will be very lucky. Rosie and Dark Comb are over 6 years old now. Lizzy and Kitty are expected by our vets to have shorter than expected lives due to the early vitamin deficiencies their previous owner inflicted upon them by feeding the wrong food. We will make their remaining days as great as they can be.

Chickens, country life, Home

Sydney to Gold Coast

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Monday 23rd October was another absolutely gorgeous day for travelling.

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Officially on the road just after 8am, we wanted to go via the Sydney Harbour Bridge which none of us had ever driven over. Of course we picked the worst possible time of day to do this, but it did not add too much to the trip time when we checked it vs the other possible route.

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Once we got over the bridge, we set the next waypoint for Heatherbrae Pies near Newcastle, and we were there by 10:30am. All the way to Newcastle, there was this white Hyundai i30 which would slow down so we would overtake it, then they would speed up and overtake us, then they would slow down and we would overtake them again..

It is actually pretty rare for any one vehicle to be near our car for longer than 10-15 minutes. We were sure they would stop at Heatherbrae too, but they did not and drove off never to be seen again by us. Overall the Hyundai i30 was the most overtaken vehicle during our trip. There are a lot of these out on the roads.

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The boys chose the Ned Kelly pie and I had the bacon quiche which was very yummy. There was a slice of tomato hidden in the bottom, FYI those who do not like tomato. The boys had ordered milkshakes which seemed to take forever to arrive and when they did arrive, they were not in takeaway cups, so this extended our stop slightly.

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Back on the road we set the next waypoint of The Big Banana at Coffs Harbour. I wanted me that chocolate covered frozen banana! We did also have to stop for fuel on the way. The banana was everything I hoped it would be. One fellow traveller chose the frozen banana as well, the other chose the banana bread. The kitchen was closed as it was about 3:30pm by the time we arrived.

On the way we saw some of the motorsport trucks heading back down the coast after the Gold Coast 600. Sephyroth always has the camera ready, and he got a shot of the Erebus convoy.

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I had packed plenty of car snacks so we were all set for snacks and the pie/quiche was an early lunch. The boys got hungry again near Grafton and we stopped at the Transit Centre which I am not sure we would return to. I had heard great things but the reality did not live up and at the time we were there the restaurant was not open.

If we were planning this trip a second time, I would plan an overnight stop on this drive. We’ve done it before as a day drive, but it is a long day and my other half loves driving and truly enjoys it, plus we have a Ford Focus X-R5 turbo which makes it awesome. I would not suggest doing this trip in one day to anyone else. Especially not overseas tourists. :)

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As the sun was setting we saw a lot of kangaroos in fields near the roads and I began to worry somewhat about that. Where we live, I know where the roos hang out and where to avoid, I did not know that for where we were at dusk and I think that is somewhat vital info.

Luckily no wildlife jumped in front of us, and we made it safely to the Gold Coast around 8:30pm – having lost an hour at the border. So 9:30pm AEDT. I think our American friend did pretty well this day, he did not fall asleep very much along the way. Around 7pm he took a nap for about an hour.

Next week – I will tell you about our apartment at Peninsula Apartments. The view was pretty awesome. The other stuff, not quite so great.

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(Apologies this is late, I meant to finish this yesterday afternoon but obviously plans did not go as planned)

Gold Coast, Snoskred Travels 2016, Sydney

Vale Purple Comb

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The first very hot day here always poses a bit of a danger for the older chooks we have and Purple Comb one of our much loved girls had to be euthanized today.

Yesterday the girls were perfectly fine though it was a hot day – I let them out around 10am and all 5 of them spent the day happily roaming the new grassy areas they had access to. Like the princesses they are, they received their blueberry treats gracefully. When a thunderstorm blew in The Other Half herded them all back into their enclosure.

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First thing this morning when I took the girls their ice water she was hiding in their special nest spot – which apparently we have not managed to stop them getting into. I figured she was broody and there was probably eggs there, so I left her be. Broodies know when they need to get off the nest to eat, drink and poop.

Around 3pm I noticed Purple Comb standing at the back of the enclosure, near the special nest spot. I’ll take her some blueberries, the other girls had already had theirs. As I got closer I could see she did not look like a well chook, and when I gave her the blueberry she could not manage to eat it, though she did try. Then she pooped and I will not tell you more about that, but I knew from what I saw, this was not going to be a good outcome even if we did try the spa treatment.

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The 3 English Game Hens together when we first got them.Purple Comb is on the right

Owning chooks is a big responsibility sometimes, and days where you have to make that big end of life decision are the worst days. When I know for sure it is time I get the chook to the vet as quick as possible.

The girls will usually hide their illness as long as they can, then they will tell you very clearly in various ways, how they are standing, the fact that they do not move away when you approach, not wanting their favourite treats and finally that they do not even try to run off when you go to pick them up. You can rarely pick up a healthy chook, they’ll be gone before you can blink. If we want to dose them with medicine or dust them with poultry dust we have to take them off the roost at night.

So into the house I went, collected a pet carrier, collected her and put her in it, then I took her inside to sit in the cool airconditioning while I called the vet and told them I was on my way.

The Other Half is usually the person who holds the chook but he was at work, so I had to do it today. Oh, I could have easily just handed the carrier to the vets and let them do the needful, but I want my girls to have someone in the room they know. She is now buried in the garden just under one of her favourite dust baths, near Red Comb.

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The two remaining English Game Hens together after Red Comb went to Rainbow Bridge. Purple Comb is on the left. How can I tell, you ask? I just can. Dark Comb is on the right. Her comb used to be darker but over time it has become more purple and you really could have got confused if you did not know them like I do. :) It is more about the feathers on their breast plate and how they sit.

On Sunday after we completed the chicken fence, I let the girls out to free range. Purple Comb found a HUGE spider by the fence, she killed it quickly and then was trying to eat it while all the other girls tried to steal it. She clucked joyously as she did it and it took her a good 5 minutes to eat. Once she finished eating it, she trumpeted the story of how delicious it was to the other girls, who were not at all impressed by her story. That will be my strongest memory of her, though there are so many other great memories.

As I always post when this happens – there are 4 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.

May there be as many blueberries as you can eat at the Rainbow Bridge where you now rejoin your beloved sister Red Comb – she has been waiting for you! Plus White Sussex, Ancona, Mary, Twiggy and Big Kitty. You will be greatly missed here.

Vale Pets

Chooks Are Bad

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Thursday last week, I let the chooks out to free range. When they are out ranging, I tend to stand at the back door and watch them from time to time during the day. I checked on them about 3:30pm.

When I checked again at 5pm, they had somehow managed to knock the orange fence down that separates them from the potplant and concrete area, and one or several of them had got into my large plant pot.

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I had planted some silverbeet and kale before we went on holidays, just to see how it did. We have not had a lot of luck recently with seedlings at all. Well now two of the new plants had been pulled out completely and dirt thrown everywhere by some very naughty girls. All of them were involved, we watched it on the CCTV cameras. I took some screenshots for you!

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You can see Grumpy lying in the sun inside the door there, casually watching the carnage. It is not entirely their fault, as the orange fence had seemingly begun to biodegrade. They’d managed to put some holes in it and sneak through before, but usually we have spotted them before they had a chance to do anything bad, and they would quickly leave when we went out there.

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Look at Rosie there, overseeing the goings on, like the grande dame she is.

I went out into the pen pretending like I had a treat to give them, they all followed me into the pen, and I locked them up for the day. Bad girls, I said! You should have seen their sad chook faces as they all stood by the door, hoping I would forgive *and* forget. I counted them, as I always do when I put them away. 12345, I thought. Yep, all in.

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Game Hen 1

But worse news was to come for the girls – when I told The Other Half what they had done, we agreed that the orange netting which was serving as a fence had to come down and we had to come up with another solution. He went out and took down the fence, and swept the concrete as we have had a lot of leaves blow down recently.

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Game Hen 2

The next morning, when the other half went to feed them, he only saw 4 chooks. He knocked on the back door and told me one of the game hens was missing. Impossible, I said. I remember counting them when I put them away. I went to get dressed, by the time I got back he had found the missing girl, who had made herself a lovely nest in an invisible spot, behind a gum tree in among some aloe vera at the very back of their enclosure.

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When I went back out there around 10am to check on them, they did not get let out to free range, again. They could not quite believe it. I had gone out to get one of their water containers and bring it inside. It was a 38 degree day and they needed some ice water. When I went back out with the water, they did not get let out, again! They did not realise they now had no fence at all stopping them from pooping on the concrete or getting into the plant pots.

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How did she even manage to squeeze in there?

The next day, perhaps in protest at not being let out, perhaps just out of spite or because it is fun, the game hens laid their eggs in the special hiding nest. We used some wire to bring the wire fence closer to the tree, so this spot is no longer accessible to the girls. Yesterday we built them a new fence, which is a story for another blog post, and I will tell you that story next Monday.

Chickens