Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Chook Cottage and It's New Residents

The chook cage is finally finished, the chooks in residence...they have been for several weeks but between being sick, tired, finishing study, and starting a new job, I realised tonight that I have yet to introduce you to my 'girls' or their new abode. 

So let's start at the beginning:

Two days before we were due to collect our chickens, I finished their cage.  My amazing Dad came and picked it up with his truck.  Boyo helped.  Munchkin and I supervised.  It was all very exciting!  Carried down our drive, hoisted onto the truck, it's pristine white glimmering in the sun, it looked fit for a queen!  Or three!

Transporting the finished cage to it's new home!

On the garden bed, ready for the chickens!

On Saturday, November 5th, we went and picked up our chooks.  A few folks were rather surprised that we went all the way to Ngatea to get them.  That's an hour and a half from Tauranga.  But the thing is, while we have breeders locally, I couldn't find someone with the birds I wanted, and the level of knowledge that would inspire me to the belief that the birds I got would indeed exhibit characteristics of their breed.  Plus we just decided to turn it into a fun outing (we being Mum and I). 

So many chicks!

Precious Poultry is the place we went to.  They have such a lot of different breeds and it was fascinating talking with the breeder there about chooks, genetics, and egg laying.  I now know that the biggest issue with backyard chooks not laying well is overfeeding, particularly when they are just coming into lay!  Fat chookies equal lazy layers!  Not that you'd know they are fat, as chooks are amazing at only eating what they need, but none the less we are meant to go a bit lean on the food early in their laying lives if we want good eggs.  Which we do.  Also, if you want good gene characteristics, such as egg laying, then the male line is as important as the female.  So you might hatch from a good layer, but not get good laying pullets because their dad's mum (so their paternal grandma!) was not a good layer.  Dad needs an egg-o-matic mother too!  All really fascinating stuff.
Bantam Sussex - aren't they gorgeous!?

I found another breed I want to get.  They are Bantam Sussex.  All the markings from a Sussex but tiny in comparison.  I loved my Sussex but they sure ate a lot and didn't produce many eggs.  These little girls apparently produce around 180 eggs a year.  Not a lot, but not too bad.  I'm hoping for 200-250 a year from mine.  But the trick here is that these little ladies only eat about 50g of feed per day and produce a size 6 egg.  Most egg laying chooks will eat 100-130g per day.  And a size 6 egg is really quite reasonable, not a piddling little bantam egg by any means.  I have had to admit to my husband that I am obsessed with chooks.  Not that he didn't already realise.

Here are my girls when we finally got them settled into their new house (after realising that at 6weeks old they weren't quite up to perching on the roosts and finding a few available boxes to shelter them!).  We were worried about the little brown one, she didn't travel so well, but picked up the following afternoon and has been perky ever since.

Barnevelder on left, black Australorp on right, meant-to-be-New-Hampshire-Red but probably isn't in the front!

Here are my parent's three, though not a good photo sorry (they are a little bit skitish, especially when a small boy keeps banging on their cage!).

Three New Hampshire Reds looking very tiny in their new home - see how rusty red their feathers are?  My one is more tan than rusty red, and is much bigger than they are too!

The chickens have all settled in well.  So far, the New Hampshires seem a bit more skitish than my lot, and also eat less.  My Barnevelder is the friendliest of the lot, especially if you happen to be carrying green things for her to eat!  They all had a lovely meal of worm-farm worms the other day.  It was rather amusing watching the antics of baby chickens trying to work out how to get wriggling worms in small, unskilled beaks!  All the chookies are now roosting on their own.  The New Hampshires had to be 'put to bed' every night for a couple of weeks as they originally insisted in sleeping in the dirt in the corner of their cage.  Outside.  The rungs on my cage's ladder are already falling off everywhere so I will need to fix that.  Grr.  Just when I thought all the work was over. 

At eight weeks old - two weeks after we got them!

They are growing so fast, some days I could swear they grew overnight!  Loving having chooks again, I do miss having them at my house (they are on the Big Garden at my parents) but I feel really blessed to have them.  Munchkin already knows how to feed them.  Although he does insist on holding one small piece of grain at a time, and dropping it through the wire on the side of the cage.  Adorable.

So, any ideas for names?  My last chooks were named for flowers: Mayberry, Rose, Pollyanthus, and Primula.  Haven't thought of any for these ones yet.


That's a Bit Slack (Free Rice October)

"That's a bit slack."

This is what I said when I read how many grains of rice I did in October. 

Only 1,000.

I guess that's still better than none, but seriously?  I thought I'd done more than that.

As for November.  Well.  I thought about not telling you and going mad on it tonight.  After all, it is still November for one more day, and who was to know if I happened to do all my Free Rice in one night, right?!  But honesty plagues me and I find myself compelled to tell you that as of right now, 7:35pm on Tuesday, 29th November, I have done ZERO Free Rice.  Ugh.  Very, very slack.


Friday, November 25, 2011

The Things Tiredness Makes You Do

I can attribute a great many things in my recent life to extreme tiredness.

Such as jamming my finger in the car door.  I am still not quite sure how it ended up in the way.  I do admit that I was reading a text as I got out of the car.  But then, I often do and I haven't jammed my finger during the rest of my adult life.  The freezer door at work a few years back does not count.  It was a nasty door.  My workmates were duly sympathetic and sent me home.  But I digress.  This little finger still feels a bit odd.

After several weeks, here is what it looks like:

I do still have a nail, so that is promising.  And it is now unbandaged.

How about drilling a hole in the washing machine?
Yup.  I did.  Seriously.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  In the end, I did neither.  It was all just too much.

For those of you with a deep and burning desire to know, the top of a Samsung washing machine is plywood.  This is fact.  I suppose I should be very grateful it isn't made of sterner stuff.  It gave my parents a good laugh (when I told them on going up to their place yet again to borrow yet another drill bit as of course I'd also managed to buy screws that had a head too small for the drill bit I'd already borrowed!).  My darling husband went and had a look, then simply asked that I try not to do it again.  Grin. 

I have managed (not to drill another hole where it shouldn't be).  Just.  Had a few tricky moments trying to work out what size screw I need for what I am screwing together.  This is especially hard to work out when Munchkin is inside the nearly finished chook cage with me, happily emptying an entire tin of screws all over the floor and trying to eat several, and Boyo is outside, gamely hanging onto my bit of wood for me for minutes, and minutes, and minutes, while I fiddle round inside trying to work out where to drill the hole, what size screw will be neither too long nor too short, and what drill bit I need to achieve the right size hole.  We managed.  Just.  Two grumpy adults with sore arms, one grizzly, hungry baby boy with sawdust everywhere.  I guess at least then he didn't know how to lock the cage.  I'm not so sure I'd want to be inside it now with Munchy about - he is far too perceptive and good at copying our actions! 

Extreme tiredness led to many hours spent in bed at the beginning of November.  Or so my doctor and I conjecture.  The bloodtests showed a bacterial infection.  My body was swearing at me, whatever it was.  I had muscle aches and temperatures to the point of writhing.  Boyo had to take most of the week off study and look after Munchkin.  I believe they were actually in shock.  Mummy does not usually lie around.  But I do seem to have done it a bit in the past few months.  Grr. 

Being sick led to sitting an exam I never studied for.  And when I say never, I really mean that.  I was going to do an hour's swat right before the exam, seeing as I know I can hold things reasonably well in my short-term memory. But I did not.  I went to bed.  Yup, after over a week of being sick I was still unwell enough that I chose bed over study.  Not my usual choice.  It did help that I had already passed the paper so I managed to get the rest I needed rather than spending a week stressing over an exam!  I think it went quite well, all things considered (marks still coming).

So there you go.  Just a few things from my life that have come about largely from the incredible tiredness plaguing me.  I suppose I shouldn't really be surprised.  I have done 2.5years of hard study, the vast majority of it either nauseated/not sleeping/beached-whale pregnant or too much study/need to work part time/getting up to baby in the night more times than I can count/must do the washing before lying down Mummy deal.  Hard slog.  And I'm exhausted.  My doctor (bless his soul) said that I will probably get to the middle of next year and suddenly start to feel better.  8 months away!!!  THAT LONG?  Ugh.

To be completely honest with you, the past few weeks have all been a bit much.  I feel annoyed that my body couldn't have held out for just ONE more week so I could finish off the semester properly, you.  I get home and just want to sit.  Or better still, lie (feet tucked up against a hot water bottle, chin snuggled into blankets).  Instead, I put away washing.  Or dishes.  Or both.  Or stop Munchkin trying to pull off the wallpaper!  We don't have enough income for summer.  We've had to cull our budget to its bare minimum for the next four months.  Suddenly, four months seems like a really long time.  And we're still short.  Boyo has picked up one extra shift a week at work.  That's it.  There's just so little summer work.  This is the third summer we've not found decent work!  My new cleaning job starts early in the morning, right at a time when I'd love to be sleeping in (Munchkin is finally sleeping properly again!!!!). 

So I've been feeling a bit sorry for myself.  Tired.  Grotty.  Blah.  But I'm trying to remind myself that we are doing okay.  I am doing okay.  It's okay to feel tired, to be sick.  My body needs a rest.  There's nothing much I can do about that, other than try to give it one as best I can.  And be grateful that all it needs is rest.  I am here, I am alive.  We are all well (we won't count my lingering cough!).  And while the finances are not great, we paid all the bills this month, and will next month.  We aren't starving.  We aren't destitute.  And so many of the things I think I need, I really don't.  Other than sleep, of course!  That I really DO need.  Grin.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


After reading a recent post by Elizabeth which included her very helpful girl, I was reminded of all the ways Munchkin has been helping us around the house lately.  While not including putting away the dishes, as Button does, the list is still extensive...

Taking the tripod inside after family photos.

Helping feed the chickens!

Baking! Note for Mummy: next time put a plastic mat down before bringing out the flour!

Helping build the chook cage. Seen here holding the hinge, Munchkin also tried putting screws in before tipping them all over the floor. Twice. Or was it more than that??!

Helping Daddy (and Mummy) move some boxes from the conservatory to the garage, using the dolls pram Mummy had as a little girl.

Then there are the times when he is more interested in what we are doing than actually helping out...
"I wonder if I lean forward far enough if I can reach the water in the bottom?"

"I'm brushing my hair while Mummy tries to give me a haircut. The brush feels nice! Who cares about cutting my hair?!"

And finally, there are the times when we are helped whether we want help or not (usually NOT)!
"Munchkin, we don't need a hat, darling. Let go, please."

"Oh, thank you dear. I don't really need any potatoes at the moment, but that is very helpful of you."

Hmmm. For some reason he decided that all the groceries needed to be OFF the shelf and IN the half-made chook cage!

Onions. What more can I say? The whole house stank. After Munchkin's peeling, all that remained can be seen on the left.

We decided we don't want any more help with the onions. We do actually like onions in our dinner, after all.

And one last story for you:
One day last week we returned home from a late afternoon walk.  Munchkin walked straight into the kitchen, reached over our new barrier seen above, and grabbed the sultana tin.  He then walked over to his daddy in the dining area, handed him the tin and promptly sat on his bottom.  Expectantly.  He knows the drill.  He often gets sultanas, frozen peas or corn in his special wobbly bowl while dinner is cooking.  The sultana tin is now living further back in the cupboard, away from small, determined fingers.  At least until Munchy works out another way to get hold of it!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Thirteen and more!

More squares completed.  I am wondering if I am keeping up.  I know I need to knit about a square per week in order to complete a blanket in a year (it's actually just over that, but who's being picky!).

I enjoyed working with the bright colours in this batch.  Boyo and I both like the black square in the bottom photo best.  But I was annoyed that I ran out of black with just 2 rows left to do and had to make the last colour strip wider!  Not that anyone else will probably ever notice (Did you notice?  Please tell me you did not!).



With food prices continuing to rise and rise (and our income not following suit!) we are trying to grow as much of our own food as possible.

I've always been interested in growing food.  Even as a child, I recall being enthralled with a friend's garden - they managed to grow tomatoes and corn in southern Wellington, tucked into a sunny hillside.  Our garden, on the other hand, was an exposed clay hillside, complete with pine trees and wandering jew.  And wetas.  I vividly remember the wetas!  But I remember helping Dad with a tiny little terrace garden with a small lemon tree, and a wooden compost bin.  Our bee hives gave us more produce.

Nowadays, my interest has deepened.  I wish I could say that it is because I love the taste of home grown.  I do, but that's not it.  Nor is it that I know what has gone on (or rather, not gone on) my food.  I love that too, but that's not why we are growing more.  It is a pure and simple equation.  Cost.  We can produce food for very little cost.  So we are.  As much as we can realistically manage.  My theory is that if we end up with too much, we will barter it for something we can't grow (like flour, or sugar perhaps from a friend in exchange for some beans or tomatoes - I think that's a good bargain!). 

With all this in mind, we recently expanded our garden.  With our landlords permission.  Although they didn't really specify just how BIG we could make it.  We did use some discretion and not take up the whole lawn.  Boyo ended up deciding on the expanded size.  We had a garden 1 x 2.5m.  We've added another piece to that to form an L shape, which is about 2.5 by 1.8 I think...but it is bigger at any rate!  And I've quite happily filled it all up.  7 tomato plants, a zucchini, some beans, spring onions, beetroot, and an assortment of brassicas and it is pretty well full!  The 'old' garden has lettuces, potatoes, and celery.  It doesn't look all that pretty, seeing as we don't have money to edge it properly.  It's got an odd assortment of wooden planks and concrete blocks - basically whatever we could find and make use of around the place.  But it works.  The plants are growing well, and it only cost us a few hours of digging, a bit of hay, and some basic fertiliser.

Here it is:

Old garden is the bit with green stuff at the back, new garden the bit with straw in the front!

Ah, doesn't it look good!?  And this was weeks ago - it looks even better now!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Roach

I meant to share this with you ages ago, but somehow life got the better of me and it ended up in the 'can't manage that just now' heap.  So here we are.  A while back, Munchkin and I did a bit of gardening.  Read: I tried to garden, and he wandered here and there around the yard seeing what interesting things he could find.  He loves holding things in his hands.  We invariably have to ask him to drop the stones, stick, or seedpod when we get home.  He is generally very accommodating of such requests (thankfully) and (mostly) past the age of putting every single thing he picks up into his mouth.

This gardening episode was enlivened.  Literally.  He found a roach.  It rued the day it ever met Munchkin.  I did try, again and again, (repeatedly, over and over and over!) to tell him to be gentle.  I removed the roach from his fingers and popped in into a seed raising pottle.  Nope, not good enough.  It had to be in his hand, squished between two small fingers, while one very happy boy inspected it's wiggling body.  Poor cockroach.  Happy Munchkin.  And to be completely honest with you, it was a sacrifice I was willing to make.  I got some veges planted uninterrupted (between rescuing the roach several times and finally hiding it out of reach of prying little fingers!). 

Now some of you might be feeling a bit grossed out about letting a young child handle a roach.  But the advertisements you see selling fly spray or disinfectant on TV are blatantly misleading.  Roaches are not dirty animals at all.  They are (apparently) quite clean.  They do a really good job tidying up after us.  They just look a bit, I don't know, dirty.  But one really should admire their resilience (I think it was roaches that they reckon are the only living animal which can survive a nuclear blast - they were used for promos leading up to Y2K at any rate!).  Anyway, I figured it probably wouldn't hurt the Munchy Baby, and it is a real life (literally!) experience for him and one which he absolutely loved.  He has since chased several roaches around the house.  Along with flies, spiders, and just this afternoon a small wasp (which Daddy discretely dispatched while Mummy distracted Munchy elsewhere!).

So there you go.  Bet you never knew that cockroaches were such good value, did you?!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Party Time?

I have finished the year of study, at last.

I'm now half way through my degree!

It feels a little like an anticlimax.  I was sick for the last week you see, and sat my final exam without any study.  I felt rather ticked.  Ticked that my body couldn't have held out for just one week longer, but anyway, I am exhausted, but getting better.  The exam was okay.  I had passed the paper through my assignment work so at least I wasn't lying in bed, stressing over it all week.  Nope, not me.  I was asleep.  A lot.  At least when I wasn't writhing from aching muscles and fever, or coughing.  Boyo had to come to my rescue and look after Munchkin for most of the week, but we made it through, I sat the exam and now have some time off to recover.  Yay for time off!

So.  I am halfway through my degree. Two and a half years of hard, hard slog.  Studying every day of the week some weeks, late at night some, early morning others.  All while either pregnant or looking after Munchkin.  No wonder I feel like it has been a marathon effort.  The thing is I'm still only half way.  Still three more years to go.  Four even.  I'm taking next year off.  I can take next year, and next year only to recuperate before continuing.  Education degrees have time limits.  So do scholarships.  And in all honesty, it is really good they do, otherwise it might just land itself in the 'too hard' basket and remain an unfinished business, which would be a shameful waste of so much hard work!

I feel like I should be celebrating.  Putting on some make up perhaps (that tells you how big a celebration it is - I didn't even put make up on for our family photos this year, I wear it so infrequently!).  Dressing up nice.  Going out for a nice meal, getting a bunch of flowers and a card.  But instead, I just feel relieved. 

Kind of like winning the Rugby World Cup a few weeks back.  No yells of exstacy and delight.  No high fives.  We sat there, gulping deep breaths, trying to still our pulpitating hearts.  Wishing for sedatives so we could go to sleep after such a nailbiting game.  Black is the colour of relief.  Or so our local newspaper said.

So that's what I feel like now.  I want to celebrate.  Really, I do.  But it is so much effort.  I'm tired.  I think I might just make do with a deep sigh and an early night snuggled in my bed.  I can't even pamper myself with a sleep in.  I'm still getting up at 5:30 half the week and 6:30am the other half...got a new cleaning job to help with summer expenses which has to be done before the business opens in the mornings.  But then, even if I didn't, there would still be the Munchkin waiting for his breakfast!

Bit of an anticlimax all round really.  But at least I made it here.


ps - you might not hear from me regularly for the rest of the month.  I'm trying to sleep every afternoon at the moment, and go to bed nice and early to try and get over the nasty bug I've had.  Plus the brain space is a bit fuzzy all round, to be honest.  But I will be back.  I have to show you my finished chook cage and little ladies so I'll definitely be back!!!  They are gorgeous, by the way.  And I'm already redesigning the chook cage in my head...fuzzily, but I just can't help myself.  Grin.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The sprog (aka Munchkin) is asleep but due to wake anytime soon...

In case you are wondering if I am still here on planet earth, well I am.  Just a bit snowed under.

Chook cage is still not finished.  We pick up chooks Saturday!!!!!  Very excited, but also stressed out of my tree trying to finish the cage.  Dad's been hard at work on their cage so at least our little girls will have somewhere to live if I don't make it, but I am so sick of building and fixing mistakes like the wire I cut too short when the tape measure retracted and I didn't realise yesterday so have had to scrounge for another bit of wire that I really just want to be done! Oh, and finding more materials I forgot I needed like the screws I had to buy today for the door hinges. 

Feeling frustrated a lot due to the messyness of the cage...or rather my lack of understanding of the timber, materials, processes to put things together, etc...this bit has extra ply tacked on the bottom - the ply was a bit too short and I couldn't work out how to fix that in the design process.  The next bit is the ladder - with two different types of nails 'cos the first ones managed to pop right out again (too short) so I got 2 more lots (one too long, and the other okay!).

Had glitch in my planning on Friday morning when I jammed my finger in car door.  OUCH!  Very ouch.  Spent 1.5hrs on couch with frozen peas and then frozen corn before being able to make it vertical again.  Little left pinky, it is.  Currently bandaged and doing well, but typing is tricky and I've hurt right wrist doing cleaning jobs without help of left hand.  Boyo and Munchkin even came and vacuumed for me on Saturday for the job I couldn't do Friday.  They did amazingly with Munchy on Daddy's back, not bumping into or grabbing anything!  Haven't been up to doing much hammering, drilling, or otherwise the past few days.

Finished assignment (final one) on Friday afternoon typing four fingered.  Very relieved.  One exam to do next Saturday (12th). 

Vege garden growing great guns!  Will have to show you sometime soonish.

Started some part-time work to help our summer budget (no student allowance over summer)...up at 5:15am 5 days a week, with Boyo getting up with Munchkin while I'm out and doing the dressed/breakfasted routine (I only do 1-1.5hrs work).  Did groceries today, me and the 'boys'.  So good to have stocked cupboards and it all put away!

So that's me.  Hope you are doing well.  I will be back!