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

What Happens In SnoskredLand?

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There’s a chook lurking back there!

So much stuff, almost too much to type. Things are very busy and I am not sure when I will get back to regular blogging. In the meantime, here are a few tidbits that might eventually work their way into posts of their own.

– We got a new fridge, which is all fridge no freezer.

– The reason we most needed the new fridge – eating so much of our food prepared from scratch takes up a lot more space

– Buying things in bulk saves us money but things like potatoes keep better and longer in the fridge.

– I have been shopping for clothes at my new size and you can bet that is going to be a post by itself.

– I have discovered a new snack – peanut butter spread on apples. I like to eat this at 9:30pm while watching Tabatha’s Salon Takeover reruns on the Style channel on Foxtel. The Other Half believes this is a freakish snack, not eaten by “normal” people. He has never seen Tabatha’s Salon Takeover, but I am sure he would think that is freakish as well.

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– We have had so much rain, the chook pen is a flooded mess. This means we are in the process of planning a new chook pen.

– The chooks have been getting a lot of treats as a consequence. They had lactose free yoghurt today.

– The colonoscopy did not happen as scheduled. Unfortunately all the “low fibre” foods I was told I had to eat to prepare actually cause a lot of irritation and inflammation in my bowel. I would have been better off sticking with my protein shakes only but they were “not allowed” even though chicken and eggs were.

– We have been revisiting the 80’s and 90’s musically – our car stereo is like a Delorean, taking us back in time.

– My oldest nephew has decided to become a pilot. This is terrifying news for me but happy and great news for him.

– The chook pen rebuild may mean less time for blogging but I will try to keep you updated.

Reading – Persuasion by Jane Austen, previous to that I re-read Game Change which is such a great book about the 2008 election campaign. It is not just about McCain/Palin as it was in the movie – it covers the democrat side fairly comprehensively as well and says some very revealing things about the Clintons. Worth a read if you like US politics.

Watching – Season 2 of Billions – Season 6 of Homeland – Big Little Lies which is just amazing.. I loved the book but the show is even better.

Drinking – We did an overnight trip to Sydney recently for a wedding and I had a glass bottle of San Pellegrino sparkling water. It was perfectly chilled and in a glass bottle which made it feel very fancy and awesome. The next day we were at Costco and they had a 24 pack of San Pellegrino in 500ml plastic bottles on special so I bought it and once a week or so I treat myself with one.

Eating – just cooked the first Brussels Sprouts for 2017 tonight. So glad they are back on the shelves!

I’ll try to post at least once a week for the next month, we’ll see how it goes. This post might actually inspire a few more to be written. :)

Chickens, country life

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

Around Here

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It was Saturday morning, and I was sitting in my pyjamas drinking the morning coffee and doing a bit of reading. The Other Half was headed out to the Man Cave, and he said “Shall I let the chooks out?” I said, sure, not even thinking that there were strong wind warnings, because the caffeine had not kicked in yet.

Maybe 20 minutes later, while I was playing Cascade on my phone, I noticed an incoming call from The Other Half on his mobile. Before I could even think what the heck, I answered it. “I need your help out here” he said, out of breath. It sounded like he was fighting spiders, or snakes, or some kind of bad thing was happening, then he was babbling on about the padlock. What padlock, I was thinking? “I don’t understand what is going on” said I.

Rosie has escaped the yard, she flew over the fence and I am trying to catch her, and if you open the side gate I might be able to shoo her in there, but at the moment I am not even sure where she has gone”.

So I raced to the bedroom to throw clothes on, then ran to the backdoor and put on my new gumboots, then ran to the back gate and tried to open the padlock. No go. It had rusted over. I yelled over the fence that I would swap with the other half because I could not open it, and ran around the side of the house. By the time I got out the front I heard this tremendous squawking and then I saw The Other Half emerge from the bushes, Rosie firmly grasped between his two hands.

He was covered in blackberry thorn scratches. She appeared to be fine, other than being very upset about being caught! She is a small chook, and when she gets separated from the other girls she will run like a bat out of hell to catch up with them, and if that does not seem to be fast enough, she will fly. On this morning, being quite windy, she got a little more lift than she expected and sailed over the fence as a surprise to herself.

It will be a few days before we recover enough from this incident to let them out again. I might have to head out down the side lane with the clippers and remove some of those blackberry bushes for everyone’s safety. One night recently, we heard someone using a chainsaw in the dark, the next day I found someone had been cutting up trees for firewood down there. Not a smart move, methinks!

What else have we been up to here, besides chasing chooks?

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Watching – The X Files – we are up to season 8 finally! Plus, Mr Robot is back and it has been amazing thus far. I’m also enjoying season 3 of Murder In The First and The Deadliest Catch.

Freezing – bananas, strawberries, and pineapple for protein smoothies. Namely this Lava Flow recipe with protein added. I am going to try this carrot cake one next..

Ordering – protein in bulk from bulk nutrients, and k/d cat kibble from My Pet Warehouse.

Building – New IKEA furniture – a story for another post. :)

Cleaning – the house like a crazy person as our vet did a home visit for Grumpy. Guess who spent two hours cleaning the bathroom and toilet in case the vet needed to use them, which of course she did not? They are super spotless now though, which is awesome. And that two hours does not include the four or so hours I spent deep cleaning the kitchen/lounge the day before, or the hours we spent vacuuming and mopping the floors the day before that.

Considering – We’ve realised that Grumpy gets very stressed out having to go to the vet, and that was actually making her eye ulcers worse than better. Any progress we would make was wiped out the following visit because she got stressed about the previous visit. On this home visit, we were very glad to find no eye ulcers in the eye, however we are talking with the vet about corrective surgery for her eyelid as it keeps turning inwards.

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Planning – Our Gold Coast – Tamworth – Bathurst trip with Sephyroth, this coming October. In the above photo the pink arrows point to the Peninsula Apartments, where we will be staying, and the blue arrows point to the Q1 which they were building on our trip up there in 2003.

Listening – I made two MP3 CDs for my nephew recently, for his new car. The first two burned wrong for his car, something about folders and playlists, but they work ok in mine, and so I have been greatly enjoying them. It is all 80’s music, all kinds of stuff from I’m Too Sexy by Right Said Fred to Gold by Spandau Ballet. We burned them correctly on the second try and loaded them into his car as a surprise. He sent me an SMS after he drove home in the car to say how awesome the first CD was, and he was right!

Wondering – just who the heck this person is that I seem to have become. I went to Aqua Aerobics last week but the warm indoor pool was closed. My options were – go home or get in the outdoor pool and do some aqua jogging and swimming in there. It was 17C (62.6F) outside, and the pool is heated to 25.2C (77.36) and normally there would be NO WAY IN HELL I would get in an outdoor pool at these low for Australia temperatures, but I was determined to do my exercise, so I GOT IN.

Playing – Cascade and Tiny Tower Vegas on my phone. I do not play a lot of games these days but I LOVE Cascade, it is a bit more difficult than your average gem matching game

I have been playing Tiny Tower Vegas for probably 6 months now, just when I’m going to bed or waking up in the morning. I have 68 levels most at level 7 and 8 – I believe the game runs out of levels just over 100. I also have 1212 chips – and I did not cheat! I just ran out of time to play the poker games and the chips have been stacking up as a surprise to myself.

Chickens, country life, exercise

Chooky Chore Day

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The time of year is upon us where we do the regular chook pen clean out. This year we added the task of turning over the “soil” – by now most of the actual top soil has been washed away by the rain. What is left is pretty hard packed, and just underneath it is mostly clay. It has been in the shade for most of the day for a few weeks now, and moss was growing on top.

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You know your girls have plenty of better stuff to do and sunnier places to be when they allow two tomato plants to grow from seeds to over a foot high, right in the area where their seeds land every day. I took them from the middle of this area and planted them in a pot. Sorry, I did not get a pic of them! Too busy doing. We’ll see how they do.
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The coop and run were cleaned out, and allowed to air a little. Then fresh sand was placed inside. We used to use zeolite and rice hulls but both of these have become difficult to source locally recently. Sand is a good compromise, because it is easy to scoop the chook poop out of.

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For most of the time while we did this job, the chooks were in their leaf pile far away from us, chasing bugs, crickets, and HOPEFULLY centipedes if they find any, because there was an incident where one got inside and was found after midnight thanks to Happy the cat, chasing it around The Other Half’s office. Then a couple of days later, one was on the front porch.

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Then the two game hens arrived to check out our progress. Shortly after this photo was taken, I turned all that mossy area into turned over soil, and got myself a lovely blister on my palm as my reward. Then I was spraying some essential oils around the feet of the pen – to prevent ants and other pests climbing into the coop – and managed to get some of that inside the blister. The pain was very painful!

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Now it is over to the girls, to beat this dirt into submission. I’m not sure how enthusiastic they will be unless some bugs magically appear in this area, or the sun suddenly reroutes itself and shines here again. We’ll see how they do over the next week. :)

Chickens, country life

Life Goes On – The Chook Version

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It has been nearly a month since Red Comb went to the Rainbow Bridge. The day afterwards, I mentioned in the comments on that post that we had three miserable girls out in the chook pen – her two sisters and Rosie seemed like they were missing her. That is quite unusual chook wise, all our past losses they’ve just got on with life without skipping a beat. I think it tells the story of how special Red Comb was, not just to me but to her chook friends.

Anytime a chook leaves the flock, the dynamics change. Rosie had long been a great friend of Red Comb. They could usually be found within a couple of metres of each other. So to look out at the chook pen and see Rosie on her own the first day broke my heart.

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Lizzy is the current leader of the flock. She gets the best treats, she decides where everyone is going, if someone else finds a treat she will do her best to steal it, she pecks at the lower hens at feeding time. She is a bit of a mean girl.

On the second day, Lizzy was broody, the two game hens were just chillaxing in the new chicken hotspot – behind the BBQ – I noticed that Rosie and Kitty started hanging out. Here they are, dustbathing up a storm.

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In a fascinating development, when Lizzy is broody, Rosie is the new leader of the pack. Rosie does not lead with pecks and treat theft. Rosie is a generous, benevolent leader. I have never seen her so much as aim her beak in the direction of another chicken, not even at Blueberry Treat time. However, she does defend the chook territory ferociously from other birds and will chase them away from the bird baths and the chook pen.

Life goes on for the remaining chooks. Life goes on for me, as well. But I still miss her.

Chickens, country life

Collect Egg Cartons, She Said

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A few years ago a lady at work sent out an email asking for people to collect egg cartons. For what reason I cannot recall. It might have been for a kids arts and craft thing, or because she had chickens, to build a space craft, for soundproofing.. I have no recollection of the reason now. But the request stuck in my mind, and collect egg cartons I did. Visitors to the house have commented on the large amount of egg cartons residing here.

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I remember taking in a stack of them in to the requester a couple of times, then I forgot all about the taking and just kept on with the collecting. Standing there in the kitchen this morning, I realised.. it has been exactly one year and six months since I was last at my place of work. I’m not going back. These egg cartons are never being given to that person again. What the heck am I still collecting them for? Are they just collecting dust up there?

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Yes, they were collecting dust up there. I wiped the dust off before stacking them into a pile. I counted. There were 36 of them. 35 of them belong to Manning Valley Eggs. I am a loyal consumer. I have my reasons, they are extremely great eggs, nearly as good as our own girls.

Letting these collected egg cartons go was a brilliant feeling. :) Kthxbai!

country life, moving on, work