Saturday, 28 January 2012

A big fat hen!

Here's a nifty piece of re-purposing.  My mum, knowing my love of all things chooky, sent me this large gingham girl already 3/4 made up as a tea cosy - I just needed to hem her.  However, circumstances conspired that we had to get a new teapot (DD or DS broke it, can't remember who or how!), and we now have the the IKEA Anrik 'coffee pot/tea maker'.

First world problem: tea cosy to teapot disproportion.

Solution: turn tea cosy into doorstop.

Method: stuff her with wadding (old cushion inner), put a nice half brick inside (wrapped in some old towelling to protect toes from stubbing), sew her up and away you go.

Sometimes even I am surprised by my genius *modest blushes*

Monday, 23 January 2012

Martha and Mabel (part 2 - not for the faint hearted!)

Martha and Mabel, of course, both turned out to be roosters.  Mabel developed first and was very very noisy, so he went to a lady nearby who had a larger property and didn't mind the roostering.  At that point we still weren't sure if Martha was Arthur or not.  Once Mabel was gone, Martha/Arthur started attacking the hens and also attacking us!  He was the most aggressive chicken I have ever had in 7 years, and it got to the point that the kids were scared to go into the garden with him.  So, M/Arthur had to have an appointment with an axe.

My lovely friend did the deed, at the end of our garden.  I was shooed into the house to look after the kids, and not allowed to watch - she grew up in the country and had done it before, I'm a lily-livered city girl, ex-vegetarian and all-round softie!  Apparently they really do run around with no head for a while.

After it was done, together we gutted him, plucked him, stuffed a lemon up his jacksie and roasted him.   I decided it would be wrong to waste him, having just 'wasted him' execution style, so hubby and I tried tried tried to have him for dinner.  Hubby ate a few slices, I could only choke down one.|

 Why the difficulty eating the meat?  I'm not sure.  I've cooked and eaten plenty of chooks in my time, and some of my reluctance was because he just didn't taste very good.  As a layer breed hatchling, Martha's body was just the wrong shape for cooking, the legs seemed too long and the whole carcass *shudder* just didn't look like your regular roaster.  He was also a lot older than the chickens you get at the butcher, he was over 8 months old - roaster chickens are typically killed at around 14 weeks, so are a lot more tender.

Was it moral repugnance?  Cowardice?  Anthropomorphism?  I wasn't sad to see him go, he'd pecked me and terrorised my children!  I suppose it was because it just wasn't something I was used to.  If I lived in the country and chopped a chicken every week or two, I'm sure I'd get used to it, and see it just as another task.  I guess as a city-dwelling Western person I'm divorced from the realities of food production.  We've talked in our house about raising chickens for meat, but I'm just not ready for that yet, if ever at all.

I think I'll just take the supply of free eggs and let my butcher do the dirty work.  Call me a chicken!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Focus on - Martha and Mabel (part 1)

Martha and Mabel were our first chicks - seen here at about 10 days old.  They came from kindergarten, where the eggs are hatched as a science experiment.   As you can see, I got pooped on a lot!  We had hoped to hand raise them but the cats made that difficult by being a little too interested in the babies, so we were lucky enough to be able to sneak them under our oldest hen, Betty, an almost permanently broody girl.  They adapted to the outside world very well, but see part 2 to read about What Happened Next (cue sinister music)

Friday, 20 January 2012

My little курица (hen)

 This little gem of my chicken collection came to me last year all the way from Moscow, when a friend travelled there.  I think she may be an egg cup, as she's only a couple of inches tall.  I love how she's lacquered inside and out, and the beautiful fruity design.

Isn't she a beauty?  I love my little курица !

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Mummy FAIL (then win)

Seriously, you couldn't make this up - here's what happened to me today....
The lovely Adelaide City Council guys and little ol' me, dredging Torrens Lake.  As you do...

As per usual, Wednesday is walking group day.  But as it's school holidays here in Australia, I had DS (age 7) with me as well as DD (4).  We're 3/4 of the way around our 4.5kms circuit of Torrens Lake in the centre of Adelaide, I'm carrying a friend's dog (don't ask), DD is running ahead and DS is helpfully pushing the empty stroller (buggy, pushchair, pram, whatever you call it) for me.  All is fine and dandy in the summer sun, it's a beautiful day, 30C, lovely jubbly.

Next thing I know there's a splash and I see my (empty) stroller sinking like a stone into the lake...  with my bag hooked onto it.  My lovely Belgian tapestry chicken bag that's got my car keys, phone, wallet/purse, drivers license, DD's beloved Blankie, etc in it!  Note to self - don't let 7 yr old push stroller vigorously right next to the lake where there's no fence - this is a mummy Fail.

Cue hysteria from the kids, with DD carrying on in an Oscar-worthy way, hands raised to heaven, tears and snot streaming from her, yelling 'Blankie, Blankie, this is a disaster!', and DS crying because his new Swiss Army Knife was also sitting on the stroller seat.  Shouldn't have let it fall in the lake then, mate :-(

What to do in this pickle?  I wasn't going to jump in the lake, it's filthy (and quite deep there), not to mention I had  the kids going bananas with me.  Thankfully, my gorgeous friend B kept a cool head, phoned my hubby, and phoned the City Council, who dispatched a (not very) Rapid Response Team to help.

Hubby took the crying kids away for lunch and B stayed while the guys got a long pole (a remarkably difficult process, they had to go away and come back again twice) and started dredging for the stroller.

But wait, there's more!

Half and hour later, no sign of pram, City guys go away, B drives me to my car and I use hubby's keys to get us all home.  Commiserations, etc with the kids.  Me and B joke about getting dive tanks, as my hubs is a PADI scuba diver.  A couple of hours later, we discuss with B's hubby, who promptly goes down to the lake with a big hook on a rope and within 10 minutes RESCUES MY SHIT!

This is a great chicken bag! 

The only unrecovered item was the Swiss army knife, easily replaced.  Blankie has now been washed and returned to very happy little girl, my car keys are drying out, and we'll see if my phone recovers - at least I've now got the SIM. Thankyou thankyou to M, B, and all concerned!

See, I told you you couldn't make this stuff up - it's never a dull moment here!

Monday, 16 January 2012

S & P Chicken are here

Oh hello little chickies, how nice to welcome you to my home!  Do come into the kitchen, I'll find you a special place to sit in no time at all. 

Gorgeous, huh?  I walked into 'Littlest Vintage' in Prospect last night (the whole street was going bonkers for the 'Tourrific Prospect' Tour Downunder Street Party, which was AWESOME) and there were these darling chooks, just waiting for me to take them home.  I really like how the pepper is a Wyandotte type (one of my favourite breeds) and the salt looks just like my Hetty - awwwwwww.

Check out Littlest Vintage here for cool vintage and retro if you are in Adelaide.  They've got clothes, homewares, furniture and an old-fashioned RIDE ON ELEPHANT in the kids' section - how many stores can you say that about?

(Also admire my cunning use of a Tupperware lunchbox and my toaster as an impromptu photo backdrop - not bad, huh?!  Yes, in addition to my other skills, I'm also a Tupper-tragic)

#travellingreddress - the phenomenon

We all need to feel fabulous now and then, and the #travellingred dress idea (where red ball gowns get passed from woman to woman, friend to stranger, to provide a brief shebang of glamour) gives wearers a healthy dose of fab, as well as giving donors good karma.

Here's an article about how one woman in Texas inspired other women to spread happiness around for all of us.  Bloggess, we love you!

I know, I know, this has only a little to do with chickens (Google Bloggess and Beyonce and see what comes up!), but a lot to do with women empowering each other using social media.  It also shares a lot with the 'pay it forward' idea, which I know can seem a bit hackneyed these days, but I'm a great believer in, particularly in a 'mothering other mothers' context.

Sounds like a recipe for success to me.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Bury me in a giant chicken coffin, go on

Oh, this is fabulous!  According to the UK Daily Mail, a West African carpenter is doing a roaring trade in the UK crafting shaped 'fantasy' coffins, including this superb chicken:

Read all about it here. Paa Joe, I salute you.

And heavens, I LOVE the interwebs!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Focus on - Randy the Rooster (MIA 2010, possibly abducted by aliens)

Alas, poor Randy, I knew him, Horatio....

Randy was a Silkie boy and came from a friend, he was harrassing her hens, and so we gave him a home in 2009.  In 2010 we received an anonymous note in our letterbox saying 'How much longer are we going to have to put up with your rooster?  Show some consideration for you're [sic] neighbours'. 

I saw a little red at that unsigned note, and mentally said 'f*** that, if you can't sign the note, I don't have to deal with you'.

A week later we went away overnight, and when I went to feed the chooks the next day, Randy was gone.    Just gone.   None of the other chickens were missing, and there was no sign of a struggle, no feathers, no disturbance.  Our 1/4 acre garden has 6 foot fences and is enclosed by other gardens on all sides.

Was he abducted by aliens?  Did this 12 inch tall chicken leap over the fence as if by magic?  Did he fly away?  Or was it Murder Most Fowl (da da duuuummm)?

Well, I reported it to the police, as I was quite disturbed if someone had come into our garden with the express purpose of disposing of my pet.  Trying to explain to the officer on the phone that I was reporting a chicken as a missing person / stolen item was one of the funniest things of my life.  Description of person?  Well, he's 1 foot tall, white, fluffy and his name is Randy...  Let's just say the desk clerk probably got a lot of mileage from my call that night.  I could barely talk, I was laughing that much. 

And to this day, 18 months later, we never did find out what happened.  It's sinister in the 'burbs sometimes...

Monday, 9 January 2012

Welcome to my coop. Come and say hello to my current flock of hens

When people ask me how many (live) chickens I've got, these days I answer '5 and a half', or 'almost 6' - five chickens and an identity-challenged duck. I've had as few as 2 chooks, and as many as 10, depending on the season.   Today I've been trying to get a pic of all of them together, but they are NOT co-operating!  The backdrop pic for this blog is a little old and so a couple are different now.

The undisputed leader is Betty, a Buff Orpington bantam X who is the last of our original pair of hens, acquired back in 2005.   She's the orange head in the bottom right corner of the backdrop.

The most popular with the kids is Justine, as she's the only one who'll let people pick her up.  My DD (age 4) is often to be seen carrying Justine around the garden, which is funny because Justine is a large hen and DD is only a couple of feet tall herself!. 

My naughty girl Justine - too smart for her own good!

Little Grey I (or maybe II)
Hetty is the big white hen on my bac, and we also have two grey Aracaunas (both imaginatively called Little Grey), who are bantam types that look a bit like vultures!  Ugly chooks, but they lay the cutest tiny blue-shelled eggs.

And of course, there is Rosie the Indian Runner duck, who was raised by bantams and thinks she's a chicken.    A friend keeps ducks and chooks and there was an egg mix-up, so Rosie hatched under a hen - oops.  All was fine until she grew taller than the flock rooster, who kept pecking her.  My friend tried putting Rosie in with the ducks, but she just stood at the gate quacking to go back into the bantams, so I was asked to re-home her.  My hens really do treat her just like any other chook, and she follows them around all the time, quacking loudly.  When I open the back door in the morning, she knows the sound and quacks 'hello' in her distinctive ducky voice!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Saturday, 7 January 2012

My cat is seeing someone else on the side

*sob* What do you do when someone you have lived with and loved for eight years suddenly stops coming home at night? Stops sleeping with you? Treats the house like a hotel, disappears for days on end, and then sneaks in for food at 2am?

This is what is going on between me and my middle cat, Lister! (yes, he's named after a character from Red Dwarf. Google it if you need to)

*wail* The only thing I can think of that set him off on this behaviour is that we went away overnight on Christmas Day. We were only gone for 24 hours, but I think he may still have not forgiven us for going to Europe for 11 weeks earlier this year. Apparently he was veeeeeeeerrrryyy cool towards the cat sitter while we were gone.

*cry* He also may be cross because the hubby has been painting last week too.

*boo hoo*

Who can tell how a puss thinks? He is often a miserable little sod who sprays on things, bites the hand that feeds and gives us the cold shoulder BUT I STILL LOVE HIM ANYWAY!

A new hen for my brood

Today I bought a chicken for 20 cents (Australian), my cheapest (cheepest?) one ever. She's a vintage, red wire hen egg-basket, with gorgeous flapping wings. She came from a local op shop (charity shop if you're in the UK, thrift store if you're in the States), and I saw an identical one on Etsy this evening for $15 US. I reckon I got a bargain!