Sunday The Delivery Day

The plan for today was a photo every hour – big thanks to An Exacting Life inspiring me to do this. Some hours I forgot, sorry! ;)

8:30AM

We kick off the day with morning coffee in my well loved favourite mug. Sorry no photo I forgot – but above you see a photo of the mug taken when we bought it in 2006. It really does not look like this anymore, the pattern has worn off the side and it is kind of grey now instead of black. This was actually a mistake. I was meant to have a small coffee as we were travelling about 300kms today and I did not want to have to bathroom break. Epic Fail kids!

9:30AM

Soap delivery! How cute are these musk flavoured lifesaver soaps? Half are for me, half for Mother for Mothers Day, but we dropped them off on our way this morning.

10:30AM

Setting up to go and do our deliveries. These are all checked, packed, and ready to be put in the car. On one side there you can see my clipboard with the Square terminal on it which allows us to take card payments on the go.

11:30AM

I forgot to take a photo this hour because we were on the most terrifying bit of road I can recall having been on in some time. But I do have a jump back in time video for you. It turns out we were parked by the side of the same terrifying road when HARS flew the big 747 in to Albion Park. What an amazing day this was. But even better was that time I got to touch it with my own hands while standing underneath it.

12:30PM

Again I forgot this hour. Not sure exactly where we were, either. I think we lost a full hour of time! Somewhere in here we did a quick bathroom break at what used to be Westfield Warrawong. I do remember us trying to find a petrol station and failing somewhat epically on two occasions but we finally managed to refuel the car.

When I ran into the former Westfield I was a bit shocked at the levels of go back to normal folks have taken on board. Nobody was bothering with social distancing and I was one of only two people wearing a mask. I was in and out of there pretty quick but I will not be surprised if we get a major second wave in a couple of weeks.

1:30PM

And now I remembered to take a photo because I set me a timer, lol. :) On our way up Bulli Pass.

2:30PM

Having completed all the deliveries, 2:30 saw us on the Hume highway after departing Campbelltown. The speed limit here is 110km/hr FYI.

3:30PM

This was by far my favourite hour of the day, because it found us at Gelato Emporium getting gelato.

I had a cone. The Other Half had a shake, it took him exactly 7 minutes to consume it.

4:30PM

Nearly home. This photo was just past Berry.

5:30PM

Afternoon coffee time somewhat late. With a dark chocolate kit kat.

6:30PM

Wearing my comfy foot warmers in my new rug watching Helicopter ER in between answering customer queries. One of our items went viral and this has become A Thing. I am about ready to buy a pair of fresh slightly oversize gumboots so that I can wear these foot warmers everywhere I go, they won’t fit into any of my shoes sadly.

7:30PM

Having set up a Google Sheets for tracking the viral thing, the rest of the evening was mostly spent taking orders, chatting with customers and adding things into the spreadsheet..

8:30PM

Cuckoo warming herself in my lap space – she seems to love this rug. I swapped them over this week because it got very cold here.

9:30PM

Watching a little bit of teevee before bedtime. Actually watching it having put the laptop aside instead of multi-tasking watching it. :)

I challenge you all –

Will you take a photo an hour for one day this week? If yes, let me know in the comments! ;)

country life, COVID-19 2020

What To Say

Hey Zazzy I am posting this especially for you, please forgive the disjointed state of this post. It has been pretty full on here. I’ve been writing this post for a week – there is a before, and an after.

I want to say a big thank you to those who have reached out whether on their blog or privately by email – it is much appreciated. ;) I am feeling the love.

BEFORE – Tuesday February 4th 2020 –

My most prized possessions (pictured in the first three photos) are not presently in this house. They may return this week, if we get the predicted rain. I vowed they would not return to the house until we got 100mls of rain. We are at just under 65mm at the moment, so still some more work to do there weather.

There was a day in January that we evacuated. Do you know how much trouble I had picking out my most treasured possessions? And once I had done it, I was just emotionally unable to pack them up. The Other Half had to do it, and still I get emotional trying to even talk about it.

The day before we evacuted – a Friday from memory – we packed up the business and much of the shed stuff including our servers (which is why the site went offline the first time) and drove it up to a friends house near Shellharbour, about an hours drive north.

That night we went to get fuel in the van after dropping all the stuff off, and the fuel station was packed full of fire trucks. I don’t know why but the tears just started falling down my face and I couldn’t make it stop. Partly because I’d been listening to them on the scanner, partly because by this point three firefighters had been killed in the process of doing their volunteer job that they were not being paid for, partly because I was happy to see these folks had made it safely through their day that day..

I can’t explain it. This happened to me more than once. How do you even begin to say thank you? How do you even try to say how ashamed you are at how they have been treated by our own Prime Minister and politicians?

The following morning we took ourselves, the cats and chickens, my parents, a suitcase of clothes and the computers. I did not realise when we left that the predicted change would be coming through about 11pm that night – which meant we would not be returning home that day. I was unprepared for this event and ended up sleeping on a couch.

The Other Half had a camping mattress on the floor, my parents got the spare bed. The cats and chickens were accommodated for free at a vet up that way who had offered to take in displaced pets in their boarding facility. I do not think they expected chickens but they took them in and looked after them.

The chickens were entirely baffled by these events. First their coop door did not open that morning – deliberately programmed not to by us. They were placed into the Red Transport Carrier as a surprise, and loaded into the car. Most of them have been in the car before for a short trip but they were quite shocked by this hour long venture.

It reminded me of a video I have seen of pigs in a bathtub. The pigs make a bit of a fuss when placed into the water, then they relax and make some gentle oinking, then one of them moves and they all kind of freak out again. I can’t find the video or I’d post it.

The next day we returned home with cats and chickens to find the house still standing, though covered in ash and burnt leaves, even burnt twigs this time. We were physically and emotionally exhausted, but once the cats and chickens were re-installed to their correct places, we made the trek back up to pick up all our belongings we’d taken up on Friday. We unpacked the shed stuff and the business stuff, and tried to get back to normal.

But normal is a different thing now. Impossible to describe. Everyone is so much more friendly. There is a real sense of community which was mostly lacking before.

This is as far as I got writing the first part of this post before we got very busy with life and the business and also a new weather event, so now..

AFTER – Tuesday 11th February.

We’ve had rain. SO MUCH RAIN. Remember we were at 65mls?

That is 308mm in the space of a week. My belongings are back in the house. Would it surprise you to learn I’ve had just as much trouble unpacking them? The suitcase is still full. But this is more a lack of time thing than a lack of want to thing. The business has taken off this past few weeks and we have just been so flat out.

I went to the local show recently and met a couple of the firefighters I’d heard on the radio a lot in person. This time the sight of fire trucks did not make me cry, but I did have a chance to try and express my thank you in person. One of them I know for a fact much of their hard work prevented the fire getting any closer to where we live.

One of the reasons I do not post here so much anymore is something I am really struggling with – online anonymity. I can’t be anonymous with the business. It is at our house, where we live. I’ve had to put myself out there and it has been very scary for someone who carefully built their online alias.

When I’ve wanted to tell you about it, I know that anything I say could lead the intelligent folks who read this blog to my own doorstep – and some of them might not be friendly types. You know, those Nigerian scammers I got arrested, or those whose fake cheques I collected which cost them money. But I want to tell you what I am doing! So I will likely write a password protected post soon and you’ll have to email me for the password.

In the meantime, we are safe, the water has mostly drained away, while it is a bit soggy underfoot still and the chooks doing well but they are a muddy mess we’ve all survived this season of fire and water.

Our Cuckoo Kitten is now a Mini-Cat. This photo does not give you an accurate concept of her lankiness. She is delightful. She adores Happy. The feeling is not at all mutual. Happy is not a big fan, but she is tolerating her, and sometimes when we are not looking, she will play and actually enjoy it! But as soon as she sees us looking.. she is back to pretending not to like the Mini-cat.

There is so much more but it is getting late and I’m going to post this and head to bed.

country life, Home

We Are Ok.. For Now.

But who knows, it could all change on any upcoming day.

I do not remember the last time I took a breath and did not smell smoke.

For now, I do not remember the last time the sun was a normal colour. The light is a weird orange colour for much of the day. Those are not clouds in that photo – that is smoke.

I do not remember the last morning where I woke up and did not immediately turn on the scanner to find out what the fire people are up to. I am extremely grateful we are still allowed to hear them – the police went encrypted digital some time ago.

However today the local RFS scanner frequency has been offline for a lot of the day, and I have no idea what is happening out there. It is unsettling not to know. Facebook is full of incorrect information and we can’t be sure what is real and what is not real. We certainly can’t rely on the media. I’d rather hear it from the horses mouth.

For most of us we are living in some kind of suspended limbo – many of us feel that it is not necessarily a question of if but of when.

I know here that if we get ember attack we are likely going to lose everything. We’ve prepared our property as best we can, moving all the leaf litter to the chook pen yard – the chickens will be evacuated if required, along with the cats and ourselves. But we have neighbours who are elderly and who have an overgrown block – many of the plants on their block have died in the drought and it is just a tinderbox waiting to go up in flames. If that happens, I would expect we will lose our house.

So, we wait and hope.

Our cuckoo kitten is now a lanky teenager, so incredibly long. She is an oddity. Obsessed with the sink and water, a great jumper and very much an explorer cat. She is keeping Happy busy, they chase each other around the house, normally right after we head to bed. You haven’t lived until you’ve had two cats run over you at full pelt.

The chooks are doing well and greatly enjoying their leaf litter. They’ll mulch that down in pretty quick order, providing we water it regularly which attracts bugs which they then take great delight in digging for.

country life

This Makes No Sense

Kitty Litter is A Thing in our house. With two cats and a much larger than the usual litter tray – formerly an under bed storage container which seems to solve fighting over the litter tray issues we have experienced – we go through a decent amount of this stuff. So we would like to buy it as cheaply as possible.

In the past we have tried various different options. One that tends to work quite well for us is to buy in bulk when we get a special spend more to save offer from Petbarn. At least, that is what we thought, until we did the maths. We would have to buy 8 bags to get over $250.

8x 33.19 = 271.92 – 70 = 201.92 /8 = $25.24 per bag. And that also depends on them having 8 bags in stock, which is more of a problem than you would expect. Sometimes the kitty litter would be on special which made it more worthwhile.

This is what we’ve done for a few years now and the best part is having 8 bags on standby in the mancave, you can forget about it until you need to go and get a new bag.

Every so often we like to sit down and work out if we are doing things the most efficient way – and the cheapest way – possible. Having run out of kitty litter, and having received the spend more save more email, we did some maths on our end and looked at the “autoship” options.

Having worked in a warehouse for some time and knowing how much shipping costs are, I don’t think the pet companies have done any maths on this. I suspect it would be better $$$ wise to encourage people to go to their stores and purchase the bags at a reduced rate. But instead, they offer autoship. Which is basically they send the stuff to you every so often.

Sure, it is nice for companies to know that they have orders to fulfill regularly, but on the other hand folks can cancel at any time without a penalty, so there is no incentive to stick with the autoship option.

Sure, there are probably people who appreciate getting the kitty litter shipped to their door meaning they don’t have to lug it home from the store. But it costs money to ship things and a bag of kitty litter is *heavy*. 15kg to be precise.

One has to be at home to receive it, otherwise one has to go and pick it up from the post office, removing the handy factor.

We did the maths and it worked out to be slightly more expensive to do autoship – $26.09 per bag – *but* if we bought it from Petstock we earn points with them which kind of balances it out. And we don’t have to pay out $250 at a time. Shipping is free for the customer – but quite costly for the business. We thought we would give it a go.

When they shipped it, we discovered it gets shipped from MELBOURNE. We have a Petstock about 20kms away from us. Melbourne is over 800kms away from us, plus they likely send it via Sydney which adds on at least another 400kms.

But then let us add on $$ for cardboard and tape.. really this is not a good idea for any business $$ wise. It certainly isn’t good for the environment. The cats love it because they get more boxes. We ordered two bags and each had a box to itself. You couldn’t really put them together in a box, it would be far too heavy at 30kg.

Next time I am in the area I will ask our local Petstock if they are willing to match the autoship price so they get our $$ locally. That is the other aspect – when you buy online the money often does not go to your local store, it goes to head office.

Overall, autoship makes zero sense to me. Transport costs in Australia are enormous. When you think of the fuel, the wear and tear on the vehicles, paying the drivers, etc.. it is Up Money. I would think it would be far better to encourage customers to click and collect in store.

They could still make it a regular thing so the stores would know how much stock to have on hand for these orders. Allow the customer to pay a better price for the goods than the autoship price. That way the folks doing the buying are also doing the lugging, and rather than 1200kms of lugging our items to our home, it is just a short trip home in the car. But if you want to click and collect in store, you pay the highest price of $28.99!

At this point, I am not going to rule out the option of purchasing in bulk direct from China if I can find a supplier and the price is right. We have purchased plenty of stuff from AliExpress over the years. I’m thinking of ordering that kitty litter scoop – the plastic ones break way more often than I like.

country life, kitties

Quick Catch Up

Callala Bay on a 34 degree day, where my cousin’s wife and I chose to do a 7km walk because we could. It was actually lovely, a nice breeze blowing for much of the time. But this is one of just three times I have been anywhere near the beaches since School Holidays started. Too many tourists, too much traffic, way too much litter, and not enough patience within myself.

We’ve been offline for almost 7 days thanks to our internet service provider. It began the Thursday evening before the Australia Day long weekend. We’d gone out for dinner and when we returned home, no internet. Friday, no internet. Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, more of the same. Tuesday we put in an application to move to a new provider because we’d had enough. The internet returned finally on Wednesday.

I actually did not mind so much. I had some teevee to catch up on and my Sticky Prints arrived on Friday so I had two collage walls to build. Sticky Prints are amazing – they essentially work like octopus tentacles – you don’t need any adhesive, no hooks or nails or anything at all. The back of the print is like a mass of tiny suction cups.

You simply peel it off the protective sheet it arrives attached to, and place it onto a clean wall. You can peel it straight back off again, or leave it there long term and when you are ready to remove it, you simply peel it off. They will stick to most surfaces – fridges are another popular place to put them, but you really can put them anywhere you like.

One of the collage walls I can show you – the other one has a lot of photos of people including myself, The Other Half, Sephyroth and various family members, so that one will remain private, but I might take some photos of the non-people photos.

This is a memorial wall of our Big Cat and our chickens who are no longer with us. It is a happy-sad. Happy that they were with us and had wonderful treat filled lives, sad they are no longer here.

Speaking of treats, drumstick x messina is now available in supermarkets and is half price (AKA $5 for 4) at Coles this week. I’m about to go try one and then catch up on a LOT of reading your blogs.. ;)

OMG I had the mango and salted coconut.. amazing. Get thee to Coles!! :)

country life, Home

Sun Trap

If you are looking for some weekend reading, I am finding the North Korea trip of Dancing With Frogs incredibly fascinating so you might want to drop over and check it out. North Korea is not somewhere I would have considered travelling but after reading this I would, now.

I am also loving the trip of Kay from Musings, who is blogging about one of those river cruises through Europe which you always see advertised on teevee here for seemingly obscene amounts of money. :)

country life

An Aussie Visitor

On Easter Monday there was a kitty commotion. Grumpy is our door guard, and sometimes she behaves like there is a cat outside and there *is* and other times she behaves that way and I can see nothing at all. But this time, there was quite a sight to be seen! And she was freaking out. I looked out the window and dropped everything I was doing, ran out the back and told The Other Half to put down the hose and follow me.

I’d read on Facebook that a property nearby had a resident Echidna and it had dropped in to visit.

It climbed up on the windowsill to stare at Grumpy, and you can see Grumpy was Not Amused, or perhaps just not sure what the heck this was. But it did not just want to visit us in the front yard, and promptly went and dug under the fence. Seeing what was likely to happen, we had already locked the chooks up. The minute this thing climbed under the fence, the girls went crazy, side eye-ing, bagerking and clucking up a storm.

It was starting to get dark, so something had to be done. Lucky we have a country farm boy living here, and lucky he is a welder and had some serious gloves handy. You do not want to handle one of these creatures without major protection.

The first thing they do is try to dig themselves in. They are very determined creatures, but so is The Other Half.

This lovely creature was relocated back to the property it lives on. :)

Aussie Culture, country life

Currently In Snoskredland

READING: All of the Agatha Christie mysteries in the order of detective and when they were written. I’ve completed the 12 books of Miss Marple and am just a few books away from completing the 45 books of Hercule Poirot.

WATCHING: Every Sunday night 13th Street presently is airing one episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot with David Suchet. I am not sure whether I enjoy them or hate watch them. A few of the episodes take well known stories and changes them for unknown and seemingly zero reasons at all which makes me side eye this show so hard. Some of the episodes are true to the original story and some of them feature quite the cast – Murder on the Orient Express was one of the better ones with Jessica Chastain.

HATING: myself for getting sucked into Married at First Sight this year. This is truly trash television, it is so bad but I can’t look away. Thank the deities it finished last week and I can “reclaim my time“.

COOKING: I made a version of Chicken Cordon Bleu which was epic. I coat the chicken in Dijon mustard and pan fried, then towards the end I placed Beerenberg Cheeseboard Chutney spread underneath some very sharp cheddar that was left over from a cheese platter we had in February which needed to be used up. On the top I placed freshly cut smoked ham from Aldi.

LOVING: This Cordelia Street dress from TVSN, but #yobn2018 means I cannot buy it. There are some dresses which are the essence of me put into a dress and this is one of them. It is sold out in my size now. I feel like this is a great price and I probably would have bought it, if not for my current challenge.

CREATING: More choc-honeycomb no-bake cheesecakes.

WORKING: out very hard with the workout I have nicknamed “Yvette Hell” – I have chopped it into bits with Handbrake, so I can repeat the bits I most love until I master them. I just started on the Jenny Ford Hawaii workout last week and with any step workout it takes time for me to get the steps right.

MASTERING: There are some super challenging combination steps in my workout videos and every time I get one right I feel like I am winning at working out. Coordination has never been my strongest thing but I am getting better at it every day. I do enjoy these workouts.

MOURNING: The loss of my afternoon coffee mug. I was taking it out of the dishwasher and it hit another mug, and the game was over. I could go and buy another one from Few and Far for around $7, but we have plenty of other mugs I can use, and #yobn2018.

PLAYING: Diablo 2 with The Other Half. I am old school when it comes to games and this is one of my favourites. I am not a fan of the newer games. I prefer to play the older games that I know.

CLEANING: out the freezer in preparation for autumn and winter.

FREEZING: all the mushrooms. That has to be the best thing I ever learned to do.

country life, stuff

Spring Cleaning

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Our Grande Dame Rosie and Dark Comb were the best of friends. Dark Comb is the official Survivor, she is the last girl standing of our original 2011 flock.

The day after Rosie went to Rainbow Bridge, Snoskredland awoke to find the two Pekin girls had gone broody and poor Dark Comb was out there all by herself. I went and kicked the broodies out of their nest, and Lizzy stayed out instead of going back in, which made me feel slightly better.

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However I know those two will be in and out of broodiness all spring and summer and the sight of Dark Comb by herself was breaking my heart. Chickens cannot flock when they are all alone.

Our mixed flock originally had several different breeds of chicken – three Old English Game hens, Rosie Rosecomb, White Sussex and Ancona. Out of those breeds our favourite has been the Old English Game due to their large personalities and very happy natures.

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I did some digging and found an Old English Game breeder on the South Coast who was willing to part with some girls as his incubators are full and chicks are just hatching out now – it was a bit of a drive, down past Narooma. A bit of a drive is a bonus for us. We have that song project.

Let it be known, though. This was not our original plan. We were planning to re-do the chook pen in spring this year, then hatch out chicks once we had completely enclosed the pen, safe from rats, mice, snakes, etc, yada yada. Also, normally, one would quarantine girls before introducing as we did with our last lot of auction hens. In this case, we are far more knowledgeable in the health of these new girls than we would be in getting chooks from an auction.

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On Saturday I cleaned out the chook pen in preparation. Of course I picked the hottest day of spring thus far to do it. I raked up all the leaves and branches which have fallen in recent winds, and made a nice pile for the girls to dig through.

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On Sunday we left early, we had a great drive stopping for a quick breakfast at our favourite pie shop in Ulladulla – Hayden’s Pies – and back on the road for another couple of hours. On arrival there were literally gale force winds, making it difficult for us to hear the breeder describe his different girls to us, the colours and his Old English Game breeding projects.

We initially intended to get two girls, we ended up with five. At our first stop on the way home, the first chook was named – BeeGee because she is black and gold. That has inspired a musical theme. By the time we got home all of the girls had names, and we sat out in the chook pen for a couple of hours enjoying our new girls. Now the sun has gone down, the roost squabbling is over for the time being, and everyone has settled in for the night, including us.

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They will remain in the pen for the next week, and likely before we let them out to free range we will do some wing clipping because we have noticed these girls are enthusiastic and excellent flyers. You will get to meet them properly on Wednesday!

Chickens, country life

Greatest Songs Of All Time

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In the car we like to listen to the highest quality music files available – which these days is a file called .flac – and we have been trying to replace our entire music catalogue with songs in that format.

A few weeks ago we found a set of music files claiming to be “the greatest songs of all time”. There was over a thousand songs in this set. Before we even took the SD card out to the car, The Other Half had deleted just over 20 songs – the outright veto.

I wish I had been given outright veto options, because I would have deleted a bunch of stuff on sight. Shania Twain? Love her and her style, but I can’t stand her songs, unless I am at Lone Star cracking peanuts and throwing shells on the floor. That is the one occasion I will tolerate a Shania Twain song. I might even sing along in that rare instance. I hate the fact that I know all the words. :/ I suspect most of her more popular songs are secretly hidden throughout this list and they will all be crossed off and deleted.

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The Other Half printed out a list of all these greatest songs which resides in the glovebox along with a pen, and we set out to listen to all of this music and cross out the songs we downright hate. Ever since then, we have been making excuses to take long drives. We always go the longest way home now.

This past weekend we did an impromptu road trip to IKEA and Costco in Canberra. We started out late which meant we drove the last leg of the trip home in the dark. I think maybe we are odd people because we love driving around in the car. We don’t drive a lot at night anymore, and this screenshot from our dashcam shows why.

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A lot of tourists think of Australia as a big theme park with cute animals. They are not so cute when you hit them with your vehicle. When you make the trip from the South Coast to Canberra you tend to see a lot of roadkill. Wombats in particular seem to be murdered a lot by cars as people travel through Kangaroo Valley. We saw two live wombats on the way home, wombling along at the side of the road.

I think my list of greatest songs would be very different to this list. For starters, there are songs and artists we have never heard of. I’ve crossed off at least two Sugar songs. Given that is a US band, and given the high level of Shania Twain, I am guessing this list originated in the USA.

Here in Australia, we would have a lot more INXS, Crowded House, probably some Kylie Minogue and plenty of Abba on a list like this. We’ve just reached song 303, so there will be more roadtrips. :) And never fear, you will hear about the rest of this roadtrip in a future post.

country life