Monday, 16 July 2018


The chicken coop has landed @ T1's where I am sure it is being an absolute nuisance, parked as it is in his driveway. It should be here either Monday or Tuesday, which is very exciting in its own way.  Meanwhile the feeder, hemp bedding & bin have all arrived safely some time after the tracking assured me they had been delivered.  The joys of living on a small island!  People seem to think once an item has left the mainland it has somehow arrived here automatically despite the fact we have roads & mailboxes just like anyone else that still have to be located & accessed.

And somewhere in the hoo~ha Chile Girl arrived ~ & departed & came back & departed as she tries to catch up on a life un~lived in Australia.  We haven't seen much of her yet but she is cheerful & the healthiest we've seen her in a while.

Meanwhile the wedding that CG has arrived for inches imperceptibly closer.  I can't wait for the whole nightmare to be over.  The MOTH & I did ours so quietly no~one except our 2 witnesses even knew about it & I find all the drama prone to surrounding these events terribly wearing. Chatting to OT last night he mentioned his fiance's mother has bought 3 new dresses & is yet to decide which one she will wear on the day.  I, on the other hand, have pointed out I will NOT be wearing a dress of any description!  I don't own one.  I will not be buying one specially when I will never wear it again.  I am not dressing up like a twopenny guy for anyone.  I will be modest, seemly & comfortable sans makeup, hairspray & high heels.  And  will be very, very glad to depart @ the first possible moment. Sadly,  really am not the life of anyone's party, not even for something as important & life~changing as a wedding.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Henny~Penny & Lucky~Ducky

I can be a little obsessive when I get involved in things so having decided we would keep chooks again, & having ordered our chook pen, I turned my attention to the object of this exercise: the chooks themselves.

Last time, over quite a number of years, we had 2 bantams [who never once laid], an Australorp & 1/2 a dozen ISA Brown rescues. I loved my Australorp. The bantams were pretty but anti~social.  The rescues were prone to dropping dead for no reason @ all & they are not a colour I am fussed on. Not their fault I know but there you have it.

Now the ISA Browns I can get easily.  The island nursery stocks them @ POL but having kept them once I don't want them again.   I wanted birds that were friendly ~ yet large enough to not be put off by small children; I wanted excellent layers, hardy & long lived; I wanted chooks that could cope well in a pen with limited free ranging [in case our neighbours object] ~ and I didn't want fliers!  They go up trees to roost & can be the devil to get down again for the night!

So I began researching & it didn't take me too long to decide on the 2 best breeds that met most of my requirements: the Australorps & Plymouth Rocks.  Rocks are lovely speckly chooks, large, placid & good layers who are happy in a pen. And they are pretty.  Pretty is good.  Big enough the cats will think twice before tangling with them.

So I began making enquiries you know & before long it was obvious I shouldn't have set my heart on any particular breed because what I wanted was not going to be so easily come by.  Part of the difficulty of course is I am not yet *in the loop* so to speak so don't know the closest breeders who might have extra birds they want to off~load.  Part of the problem is that not everyone has what you want when you want it. Part of the problem is cost.  Heritage breeds are more expensive.  POLs are more expensive than chicks but chicks are dodgy & I'm not that brave!

I shot off a series of emails.  Only one breeder replied &, you guessed it, she is on the north side of Brisbane, but she expects to have what I want when I want it & is prepared to chat to me.  So nice when experts will take the time & trouble to chat with us plebs. So I think I have my chook supply sorted.  I have said 3 Rocks & 2 Australorps even though my coop will hold 7 chooks comfortably.  I figure I can add to the flock @ a later date & it will allow for some staggering as birds age & stop laying. The MOTH thinks I am quite demented. Having looked @ the map I am prepared to look @ it as a wonderful day trip through pretty countryside.

Meanwhile my long coveted coop has run into difficulties. The company won't deliver to the island so it is going to the boys & I will have to arrange for the courier to get it from there. Nothing deterred I ordered my treadmill feeder, a large feed bin & some hemp bedding for the nesting boxes.  The hardest part is practising patience as I wait on all the various bibs & bobs coming together but eventually it all WILL happen.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

What's coming my way.

When our kiddies were little we kept chooks ~ mostly rescues who were semi naked on arrival & ever so grateful to be allowed to free roam.  They roosted in an upended trampoline frame covered in chicken wire & for the years we had them they provided us with lots of deep golden yolked eggs. 

What's more they kept our surrounds absolutely tick free.  Loved them for that alone ~ but lugging chooks from the mainland is a dodgy business.  Buying locally, Russian Roulette unless you are very, very sure of your sexing.  Our first batch all turned out to be young cockerels who went to a far, far better place & no doubt landed in the pot but 6 young cockerels we could not keep. They were great *guard dogs* & terribly aggressive. All the kids friends were terrified of them.  And they crowed ~ sort of.  All of them.  All the time.  No.  Just no.

We did better as we learnt & our ODD loved her chookies,  though they were far less enamoured of her, scuttling for safety as she swooped on one for cuddles before tucking it neatly under one arm to go adventuring.  What I  loved was the compost, the scrap binners, the eggs ~ & I have been hankering for chooks again: Australorps; Rhodesian Reds; Plymouth Rocks . 

I made noises about getting a *proper* chook run.  After all, we now have neighbours on all sides so it is better if we look semi respectable. Dearest hemmed.  Dearest hawed.  Dearest promised to build me one.  I sighed but one does not look a gift horse in the mouth.  I had my spot all picked out ~ the gap between our house & what used to be the MOTH's parent's place.  Perfect spot!  The right size.  Easy to get to but not in the way of anything else. 

And nothing happened.  Zero. Zilch. Nado.

Then today, out of the blue, we were on eBay & I made my chook noises & now one of these lovely delux chook houses is on its way here to me! Oh, me. Oh my! However, having kept chooks before, I am far more cautious this time. I have to wait for spring & point~of~lay which gives me time to buy the extras, things I never thought about first time round: a proper feeder because we have snakes & I know how many males it takes to remove a snake from a chook pen: every male you can find & then some!!!  A water drip because otherwise the stupid birds will sit & poop in the water, which is just disgusting.  Hemp bedding for the nests because that's cleaner & drier than anything else.  Cane mulch for the run. Shell grit so your eggs have nice hard shells.  Food, because kitchen scraps are never enough.  Worse than the cats ~ & they are spoiled rotten as it is.

But seriously, there is nothing quite like the soft chucking of happy hens  scratching in the garden or putting your hand into a nest & finding an egg, still warm. Little things make me so happy.

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

All the Way From Scotland.

So it has arrived ~ faster than I was expecting & in excellent condition! With ~ sigh ~ a lovely plastic cover!    It looks & feels like new except for that new book smell.

Now I babbled like a mad woman about it coming all the way from the Isle of Arran, but Scotland, like everywhere else, has lots of immigrants & very ordinary English names but God has a serious sense of humour for when I checked my shipping order it had been signed by * Heather*!  Oh. My.


So now you know what I'm doing for the next day or so...oh, & I've found a complete version of TM&TT online so I may start @ the very beginning & have a full on read~a~thon.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Hardly Peaceful.

Sunday mornings can leave me really tired.  Really drained.  If it's a nice day & the tide is out I like to walk through the mangroves to the point.  I will sit out on the rocks for a while just being quiet.  Maybe praying.  Letting whatever the morning has held just drain away.  Restoring my soul.

I have a problem.  Sometimes two.

Unless I can sneak away undetected my cats like to accompany me.

Kirby has a really well defined idea of where my place is.  He gets terribly upset if I step outside that territory.  And he's a yowler. He yowls until he finds me.  He yowls every time he looses sight of me.  He yowls to let me know he's had enough & thinks it's time to go home.

Marlow squeaks.  He's easier to ignore.  He's also usually right underfoot.

I proceeded to the point accompanied by yowls & squeaks.  It was hardly peaceful.  Rather than repeat the outward journey wherein I was forced to wait while Kirby yowled & protested & insisted I had completely lost him, I decided to climb the hill & walk across the 10 or so acres of the point & slide through the fence  because it is invariably quicker.

It was certainly quicker today! We no sooner stepped out from under the trees onto the sunlit dappled grass than I became aware of the circling shadow.  A whistling kite was on the hunt overhead!  Both cats bolted ~ in different directions.  I shot after them calling madly. *sigh* I'd lock them in the house only then they yowl @ the MOTH.

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Strange Connections.

Amazon, having lost my custom, has forfeited to Abe books & Abe, because they are smart, source their books from all over the place & simply link you to whoever stocks what you want.

So there I was looking to see if anyone had either of the last two Marlow books I wanted @ a price I could afford ~ which is becoming more & more unlikely each passing year.  Anyway 55 pounds was a steal so I hastily added Runaway Home to my basket & only later looked to see where the book was coming from.

I am so utterly stoked.  I know.  I know.  Small things give me great joy!  This is the storefront of Johnston's Marine Stores on the Isle of Arran!  Scotland!  An Island! The thought of my book travelling from an island in Scotland to an Island in Australia just tickles my funny bone, don'tcha know.  It has added untold value to the book for me ~ for nebulous & quite surrealistic reasons ~ though I have yet to work out why a marine store is selling good quality used books!

My Grandfather, who spoke with a thick Scots burr until the day he died, was incredibly reticent about the land of his birth.  Having travelled there I sort of see why because there is no doubt he had a much, much better life in Australia than he would have had in Scotland but his silence also cut his family off from their heritage & their roots.  There are things he let slip that one day I might have the time to investigate fully because, comparatively speaking, he didn't come from complete poverty like so many of our Scots migrants did.  His father was a gamekeeper so there was always food on the table but my great~grandfather died early from a ferret bite ~ which just seems astounding now. My great~grandmother was a tiny little woman [by all accounts] with a flame of red hair, who raised their 8 children alone. She came from the Isle of Skye [further north than Arran] & was the last Gaelic speaker in our family.

So when this book arrives [a book I never much liked] it will carry something of Scotland with it.  So odd because it is a story about a very English family.  But each time I hold it in my hands I will remember where it came from & my grandfather, & my great~grandmother on Skye speaking the Gaelic & a vast stretch of  history encompassing Skara Brae & the Lewis Chessmen & all the Standing Stones that ever were & the ancient henges, the Cruthi who held the East & the Scots who invaded from Ireland...which just goes to show how very, very odd my mind really is.

What's more, Johnston's holds other titles I want.  Because it is where it is I may be able to afford those titles before someone else nabs them ~ but isn't life odd?

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

A Little Forest.

As I have said previously, I have been collecting Antonia Forest.  I had, because Puffin published them in paperback while I was still @ school & inclined to read that sort of thing, all the school stories though they are now in a sad state of disrepair having been reread so thoroughly & so often.

I have now managed to fill all my gaps except for the 2 rarest [& most expensive] of the non school stories.  I would like Falconer's Lure better if  there wasn't quite so much bloodshed & after the first time refuse to read of Peter shooting Jael & have always found it a little odd that the animal loving Nicola so readily participates in blood sports.  Just the same it is full of lovely details about the keeping of hawks & I find it fascinating for that reason alone.

Peter's Room is the one book I never could get my hands on as a child but always wanted to read though as an adult the imaginary world of the Brontes [paralleled by the Marlows during their dreary Christmas break] is wildly disconcerting because in one sense both the writer & the reader are also *Gondaling*, replacing the hum~drum everyday with a far more interesting experience.

I have always wished that Antonia Forest had had a go @ writing fantasy.  She has a knack for sitting on the precipice then bumping you back into reality but that combination of the realistic with the fantastical makes for riveting reading.

Anyway, Amazon having had a spac attack about our GST,  I ordered Peter's Room through the Book Depository ~ whom I always really like because they not only give you free postage but a lovely bookmark @ no cost as well & Girls Gone By has been republishing quite a lot of old but popular children's authors  @ a reasonable cost~ Antonia Forest being one of them.

It is almost impossible to express the delight these books ensure in a reader.  Yes, the characterization is brilliant ~ but lots of authors can do that. Yes, there is plenty of action but~ ditto. Yes, the writing is both succinct & beautiful ~ but...Oddly, for  a children's author of the time, Forest employs both irony & sarcasm ~ wildly delightful to any child mature enough to grasp it & hilarious when you do! The Marlow's formidable grandmother is a joy to behold & Nicola's form teacher, the terrifying *Crommie*, interrogating Nicola over a late library book, is still likely to have me erupting into suppressed giggles.

The other thing that I really, really enjoy [& if your family has never done this I feel sorry for you] is the natural way deep, academic, ethical discussions occur naturally: in the bathroom, on the library floor, while making beds...complex dilemmas with multiple viewpoints: the traditional Catholic Patrick discussing with CofE athiestic Nicola why heresy matters; Lawrie explaining to her cynical grandmother why making people feel *religious* is more important than what she herself believes; academic Karen poring coals of scorn on Ginty's romantic notions of the Brontes [hilarious!].

I have yet to purchase The Marlows & The Traitor or Runaway Home ~ the 2nd & the very last books, both seemingly out of print & otherwise unavailable & neither one of my very favourites.  TM&TT explores betrayal & loyality & how someone can be a likeable person yet quite treacherous @ the same time.  It is a theme she touches on in other books as well: Attic Term; Peter's Room; End of Term; The Thuggery Affair... but RAH I have always found a deeply dissatisfying book with no~one behaving quite like themselves & for Giles [a supposedly responsible naval officer] to behave as he does, just doesn't ring true for me though happily for Peter it is the one book where he begins to understand that courage is not about not being afraid.  Eventually I will purchase them [& replace my tattered school copies] because they form a complete & satisfying whole.