Monday, 18 February 2019

I didn't drop off the edge of the world.

2018 made me quite crotchety, what with having needles poked into me, bits cut out of me & teeth pulled.  It has taken me a while to restore my equilibrium which is always easier the less people contact I have.

Not that I never people.  Obviously I do but I'm one of those odd bods who don't get lonely in their own company & am perfectly happy pottering about all on my lonesome ownsome.  For people we had a friend arrive with her big city grandchildren to meet our chooks, who dutifully allowed the children to collect their eggs & cuddle them.  So funny watching everyone try to deal with live mealworms. The children weren't sure about the worms; the chickens weren't sure about the children.  The chickens wanted the worms & the children wanted rid of them so everyone had to compromise!

I spent a week with my mother in January.  She will be 85 this year & going strong.  Likely to outlive all of us.  While I was away the MOTH kindly looked after my animal collection but we have had a scorcher of a summer which sent all my barred rocks broody & he lost one who disappeared, went into a broody trance & expired.  I did find her body when I got home & duly buried her & of course my chicken child, who is never here, was rather upset. However we are going to build a bigger coop & I am adding variety to my flock. Eye candy: silver laced Wyandottes, Silver Campines, Speckled Sussex...maybe.

After waiting 12 months the soil for our raised garden beds has finally arrived.  I promptly planted out some veggies & my chooks just as promptly staged a mass break out & mowed down the lot.  A more secure run is in order.  Anyway I finally have soil I can plant freesias in & will be doing a mass sowing of bulbs as soon as they arrive so that Spring should be heavy with beautiful scents.

I also spent a lot of time with the grand~kids, which has made me wonder how I ever managed with 5.  So exhausting!  And we now have a 3rd on the way as OT & his Beloved are due Septemberish.

So our little world keeps turning, though this year is shaping up to be even more exhausting than last year.  At least I can't complain that life is dull.

Saturday, 29 December 2018


This morning I had an anonymous phone call.  This person has called 2 or 3 times now.  She never
gives her name but the story is always the same.

It is a poor me story & it goes like this:  Is this the church?  Which island are we on?  Long silence while she considers the fact we are not on her island.  Then she tells me how ill she is; how she has a doctor's appointment on the mainland that she can't get to unless the church takes her...

Lady, it goes like this:  I don't know who you are; you do not attend our church; I don't know where you live ~ or even which island you are on; you have no idea if I have mainland transport or not; you have never offered recompense for my time, my boat fare or petrol; you know you have the appointment so you have had plenty of time to save travel costs & arrange transport; there is the question of insurance ~ which we do not have to cart a sick person around town; there are legitimate companies like STAR who specialise in this, who have paid professionals & insurance.  This is not our job!  I know you, & lots of people like you, think it is but our job is to share the gospel, nothing more, nothing less.  Why are you ringing me?

Yes, I am mad.  This is not acceptable.  In our country we provide services for these sorts of contingencies & they do not cost the earth to access. These are the services who have the right insurance, the right sort of cars, trained carers ~ none of which we have.  Do not ring me. *sigh*

Thursday, 27 December 2018

Revisiting an Old Friend.

My mother is a clever woman.  She did very well in school, motivated by the lure of the coveted book prizes that were always awarded to the best scholar.  I inherited her prize books.  These are mostly either the Billabong series by Australian Author Mary Grant Bruce or the *Dimsie*  school stories by English author Dorita Fairlie Bruce.

I wasn't a discriminating reader.  The books were there; I read them. The Billabong books have worn pretty well & I have read them all though I don't yet own them all.  They have been reprinted several times & are on my list of things to be acquired but the Dimsie books are different.  For one thing they are now extremely dated.  For another they have been much more difficult to acquire, especially the first book & the 2  outside of the school setting when Dimsie is all grown up.

I have been waiting a while but these 3 arrived just before Christmas & I have Dimsie Carries On due next week.  What fascinates me about these books is not their storylines, mostly highly improbable & requiring a well exercised suspension of belief, but their historicity.

Books like these reflect with devastating accuracy the cultural mores of the times.  I am old enough, just, to remember all the pink bits on the map were *us* ~ the British Empire.  Us was important. In our family half the family was still in Scotland. The MOTH's family were 2 pound migrants out of Glasgow. For many Australians *going home* still meant visiting England.  Thankfully we're over the cultural cringe now but more than the history books that only tell you what happened, books like Dimsie tell you how people thought ~ & that is infinitely fascinating.

I had only ever read Dimsie Goes to School once, a long, long time ago.  Re~reading it as an adult I wondered that the main theme was considered suitable reading material for children ~ not the card cheating which, by today's standards is very small beans indeed ~ but the death of a child, mental illness, abandonment...And it is so strange now, seeing such a clear demarcation between the school child & the adult & how young the teenagers seem by today's standards.

However, one thing that really, really stood out to me, was the impact of WWI.  No, all the stories except the last are set between the wars but we see the beginnings of Armistice Day, so ingrained now, & the ongoing impact of men who had been through one war only to be spat out crippled, deformed, mentally scarred.  And let's not forget the hair when hair was still a woman's crowning glory & a *bob* the height of modernity!

Canada's *Anne* books actually pre~date Dimsie but have aged better, as have the Billabong books. This is due partly, I think, to a more unconventional central character & partly to more universal environments that haven't changed as much as the boarding school. In Dimsie's world the co~ed boarding school is unthinkable.

Dorita Fairlie Bruce was only one of many, many authors of school stories for girls & one of the more popular ones @ that.  In the way of these things I also owned a smattering of the other popular authors of the time: Brent~Dyer [the Chalet School books], Angela Brazil, & of course Elsie  J. Oxenham [The Abbey Girls] ~ all hugely popular in their day & time, now often hard to get your hands on unless you are a serious collector.  I'm not.  Collecting the Dimsie books fills out the series my mother owned, nothing more, nothing less.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Goodbye, Good Riddance, 2018

We don't do Christmas ~ & haven't for several years now.  There are lots of reasons for this.  Everything from it's the wrong date, it's not biblically mandated to the commercialism & increased family violence & loneliness @ this time of the year.

When it was just us it didn't matter what or how or if we celebrated.  However we now have extended family & both sets come from families who are big on celebrating.  Last year we went to T1's.  On the regular ferry.  In the heat.  With all the ingredients for our traditional pancakes.  With presents. *sigh*  It was a bit of an extravaganza.  Exhausting.  Uncomfortable. Lovely to spend time with the family but enjoyable?  

This year the twins decided they were coming to us.  The Musical child, as always, was working. Chile Girl is in Chile. I did a Koorong run before the MOTH finished school but I spent most of the week beforehand babysitting as T1 moved house: with a 2yr old; with a brand new baby.  It was chaotic.

And I scratched my head...

I'm not comfortable with what this holiday has become but the man insists we have to accommodate because of the children. *sigh* 

So I hung the stockings on our fireplace & put out the nativity but I didn't do a tree.  I didn't do tinsel & baubles & we didn't go overboard on anything.  After breakfast pancakes we don't need a big main meal so we put out pickings: nuts, cheeses, fruit, crackers.  Everyone arrived together on the high tide in the boys big crabbing boat ~ & left before the tide dropped.  I took the Little Man to collect the eggs & let the chickens out.  Later we fed them some corn but my chickens are leery of strangers.  I don't know who was more frightened of who.

 Round about 4pm the chooks scramble up onto our deck & march to the door clucking & bocking & generally making a racket because between 4 & 5 is when I start feeding everything & every animal in the place knows it!
This is Nugget, the Musical Child's chicken.

And the boys took Dilly 2 & the Little Man & checked some crab pots while Our Little Lady & Dilly 1 enjoyed the peace & quite here.  It was calm.  It was quiet.  We have survived.

Just the same I am glad to be leaving this year behind.  It has been rough, much rougher than anticipated.  Roll on 2019.  May she be a much calmer year!

Friday, 7 December 2018

What's been happening.

 I can't say I will be sorry to see the back of 2018. In many ways it has been a horrible, horrible year.  Yes we gained a wonderful new DIL & a very lovely grand~daughter but we also had an ugly family issue drag on & on & on.  It was only partially resolved when the MOTH's mother died.

The MOTH, who has been in bible college all year, was trying to deal with that as well as study when studying is not his strong suite [there is a reason I am the preacher in this family] & then his last week of school there was an accident on the boat that damaged an already damaged spine. I got a nasty virus on top of oral surgery which put me out of action so we have not been the happiest of households this past month. 

In the middle of feeling like death warmed up & turned over all my barred rocks decided to get baby brain & go broody on me one after another.  Honestly!  I was sooo cross. No eggs.   No rooster & I don't want one.  Nor do I want chicks.  We already have major panic stations because a big brown goanna has discovered the chook pen & every time he meanders past there is a terrible to~do. I don't think chicks would stand a chance & I can do without the trauma.

Strange as it may seem, I have never had to deal with a broody chook before.  Lacking a separate small cage & the stamina to constantly shoo her out of the nesting box I simply hoyed her out of the pen on her lonesome ownsome, much to her disgust.  The first day she sat on the nesting box roof & squawked crossly.  Then she sat @ the pen door & made pitiful noises. I went to bed & slept.  Finally she decided  to get over it & her sister went broody.  Same all over again.  By the 3rd chook I was so over it but I don't think she was all that fussed to start with because one day out of the pen & she  was over it!
This is our lovely Little Lady.
Isn't she just gorgeous?

Thursday, 27 September 2018

What you Tame...

In 1942 Antoine de Saint~Exupery wrote: You become responsible forever for what you’ve tamed. 

To tame anything you must earn its trust, harder with some things than others.  Cats can be difficult, wild animals almost impossible though it can be managed if you are patient.  Baby bats are easy & very trusting.  Most birds, even injured ones, are difficult, though they seem to know when one is trying to help them.  Chickens are difficult.  Easily frightened they flinch from even the kindest hand initially & quiver @ being handled.

I am not naturally & by inclination an inveterate animal lover.  I like those animals I know, the wild ones who visit regularly & the ones we own.  I grow attached.  I try to see the world through their eyes...

Which is why I have taken so much trouble with my chooks.  It always happens.  Until you get to know an animal, they are all alike.  Without personality.  Without differentiation. When you know an animal they are distinct. They are in the process of becoming.

So when I was considering breeds I looked @ the generalisations for each breed & I chose very specifically  breeds that tolerate being confined.  Breeds that bond & are people friendly.  Breeds that are easy to manage.  I chose bigger, heavier breeds because they have great difficulty flying & if you've ever had a chook stuck up a tee you know they're worse than cats! 
Now I could keep them strictly in their hutch where it is safe & they have everything they need: food, water, mulch to scratch in, roosts for sleeping & nesting boxes to nest in but it was always my intention to give them some free ranging time each day because just like people animals get bored with the same vista day after day.

Due to the oddities of our block fencing is impossible so I try to combine free range time with my outdoor chores so I can keep an eye on my birds because they like my neighbour's yards.  My neighbours have interesting things.  One lot is trying to grow grass.  The others have a verandah with space underneath.  Some days I spend a lot of time *herding chooks* with a broken fishing rod.  Other days, like yesterday, they behave.  

I seem to have the most trouble when they lay early & I let them out earlier than usual.  Full of beans they gallivant all over the place, refuse to respond to my chuck~chuck treat call & generally head into trouble. 

Yesterday we went to the mainland.  It was almost lunch time when I got home.  Four stone cold eggs lay forlorn in the nesting boxes & my girls were boking desperately to get out despite the drizzle of rain.  Reluctantly, because I was in no mind to paddle about outside in the wind & the wet, I opened the hutch door, more than a little surprised to see the girls herding  obediently towards our verandah.  They like the safety & space underneath & there is nothing on the hill they can really destroy so this is my preferred space for them ~ & there they stayed.  A little later the rain stopped & I called them out the front where I am using them to clear up a weed patch & they stayed there too.

 I sat in a green plastic garden chair in a little patch of sunshine & the girls gathered round sociably, cocking enquiring heads, scabbing in the leaf mulch, grabbing insects I couldn't even see & chucking away to me as if indeed we understood each other very well.  Perhaps we do.  I think this is what God had in mind when he gave Adam animals to care for. I find chooks strangely serene. Peaceful.  And now we are taming each other. 

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Boy's Own Classic.

Despite a lifetime of indulging in just about any book that came my way I missed a number of the *sea* classics: The Cruel Sea; Captain Blood; Moby Dick; Master & Commander; the Hunt for Red October; The Caine Mutiny; HMS Ulysses; Ramage; & Hornblower. I did read The Sand Pebbles & Shogun , one of the Chichester's, not sure now which one because I was 9 when he circumnavigated the globe & my family was a sailing one ~ but they were sort of an anomaly. I knew too much about boats & sailing to find the books either romantic or entertaining, which if you have ever been pitchpoled or capsized may make sense because the first word that comes to mind is terrifying. Some of the others I have eventually seen as a movie.

That I read & loved the Marlow books meant I acquired a nodding acquaintance with Ramage & Hornblower with absolutely no desire to read either series so it was mere curiosity that prompted me to have a quick watch when You Tube turned up the Brits rendition of Hornblower.

What a howler!  I have watched almost all the way through, not sure whether to laugh myself silly or declare it one of the best hoots ever.  Have you ever read a Classic Boys Own?  Because that is it exactly! All this noble daring do, courage under fire, Adventure with the capital A, Duty [capital D]...everything bigger than life with these gorgeous English accents, villainous villians & pretty, pretty boys.  Rather tongue in cheek really ~ though I'm not sure it was meant to be. I don't expect the books are really like that ~ or maybe they are...?  I have no real desire to find out.  Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.