Saturday, 19 January 2008

Sexing Chooks

When my parents stayed here over Christmas, my mother, who has a alektophobia (fear of chickens) became quite attached to watching (not touching) the five young chicks. She wanted to know what sex they were, and of course, we still don't know.

She mentioned that you can use the pendulum to find out, and that that's how they do it in NZ. Dad, who is ferociously sceptical in all ways, so much so that he doesn't not only believe in God, Father Christmas or the Easter Bunny he doesn't believe that daughters should have opinions of their own, though admittedly I beat that one out of him years ago. Anyway he was keen to document the process of someone holding onto a chick and mum swinging her wedding ring suspended by a cotton thread over a chook and watching which way the pendulum swung. Dad recorded the details and we're now awaiting the outcome. This experiment was held on Christmas Day and the chicks were half the size they are now.

We think that she's definately right about the orange chook, he's growing tail feathers and tends to go into attack mode when confronted with a pair of human feet.

Consider yourselves part of the documentary evidence... we'll confirm or deny Mums predictions as the results come to light.

If you'd like to you can add your own predictions to the list...

White bird with flecks of ginger. Mum's prediction: Female

Nearly totally white bird with just a few flecks of grey. Mum's prediction: Male

Grey chook, he looks like a hawk - mum's predictions: Female

Grey orange chook - mum's predictions: Female

Orange chook - mum says he's male, we think she's probably right.

Electric Snake

Nuju is a friendly dog. He plays with bees, and flies and angry dogs, all with a complete disregard for his safety or their bared stingers or teeth. We know that the first snake he sees he'll play with it. Something needed to be done, every time we see him disappear into long grass we freak out. Snakes around here are nothing if not prolific. So when our next door neighbour spotted one by his chook pen (he almost stood on it), he knocked it on the head. The family feel bad about this, but as they had 3 young children and the kids play there all the time it is an understandable response.

As we've been asking the neighbourhood to supply us with a dead 'un for a while now, it was good to see Neil turn up with bag in hand. Trev promptly laid it on a wooden plank, attached one end to a battery terminal and asked Nuju over for a look. Nuju was his usual inquisitive self, which resulted in a sharp yelp and a fall over backwards to get away, upon which he was still interested but stayed a good metre or two's distance. Another neighbour is set to use the snake in the same way, he provides a 'refresher course' whenever he finds a dead snake. At least 5 dogs died from snake bite in our area over Christmas. Hopefully this will keep Nuju from ever being counted as one of their number.

Friday, 18 January 2008

Feeling Cherry!

Who wouldn't with half a ton of cherries in an apple bin on the back of Trev's ute. Trev's been cherry sorting and 'lifting boxes' (without my approval, *she says making a gutteral noise of disapproval*). He also scored the 500 kilos of 3rd grade cherries at no cost. They're for feeding to the animals, but also for every cherry related recipe we can come up with plus sharing the bounty with neighbours.

I wish I'd had the camera out yesterday when there was a 2, 4, 8, 9 year old clustered round the bin with wonderful arrays of red and purple stains from chin to shin. We need to get rid of as many as we can by Monday, because we can't take the bin off while it's full. Ahhh, Tasmania the home of the brave and the land of the free!

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Raspberry Beret

Hmmmmmmmm, hm! Raspberry season, finding lots of things to do with them besides giving them away. Everyones favourite has been Raspberry Sorbet. So easy to make.

2 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
bring to the boil together and let them cool.

Add 2 cups of pureed raspberries, stir well and throw the lot in the freezer, stir two or three times before it freezes to make a really creamy dessert without any cream. Low fat, but high sugar. But then, I'm not afraid of sugar ;-)

We've also made apricot sorbet the same way - I told Caleb you can replace the 2 cups of fruit with anything, including onions, the idea of which did not appeal to him a great deal.

Extracting Honey

I strained my arm carrying a super of honey (around 15 kilos) abour 100 metres at arms length. (it was supposed to be bee free but wasn't quite). It was gloriously chocker with honey, each frame extended beyond the frame edges each cell bulging with honey. This time we were lucky and a local man with an extractor extracted it for us. We ended up with a metal bucket with around 8 litres or 12 kilos of honey (honey is 40% heavier than water). It was fabulous, Caleb got a real kick out of using the hand spinner and exclaiming at the river of honey. We strained it at home and bottled it up, five bottles had vanilla beans inserted not sure yet whether it infuses the honey, or whether the honey over powers the subtler flavour. We gave the bottles away for Christmas, along with jars of home made strawberry jam and cubes of fetta in garlic and rosemary oil, and a box of Lings handmade turkish delight. Really got a kick out of giving homemade gifts from the garden.


Not sure if I have mentioned Ehren often - Ehren is my gorgeous stepson, and Trev's son (of course). He's 24 years old and a tree climber on the Sunshine Coast, though he laughingly calls himself a tree butcher as his job is to clear trees from around power lines. He came down for Christmas and as usual slotted straight into our life and we ended up feeling as though he had to be prised away from us again at the end of his stay. I, in my perpetual and self appointed role as interfering Step mum, convinced him to upload his details onto an online dating site as he's sick of being single. The result of 'not really looking'. He coyly agreed to let me work on it with him one afternoon, and we came up with this rave about him. So if you're single...

Ehren @ RSVP

What goes bonk, bonk, bonk in the dark?

My parents flew from NZ to spend Christmas with us and to explore our wonderful island. I picked them up about half an hour before seeing Trev off to Melbourne, it was all a bit whirlwind. The weather was recalcitrant for the first week with constant showers followed by a reluctantly emerging sun, only to be subsumed only minutes later by yet another 'mizzle'. The first night they stayed my mother (who was staying with dad in a campervan) went for a late night pee on the grass and managed to frighten both herself and a wallaby. The wallaby thumped away and my mother scrambled back into the campervan to ask my bemused father,
'What goes bonk, bonk, bonk?'
His very quick response, 'A randicoot'.

Mum quickly took over the role as chief fire poker, delighting in making scones in the wood fired oven, feeding chooks, picking raspberries and eating all the peas in the garden.

Dad got busy on the house site and could perhaps be termed, chief Trev poker, delighting in making progress on the house, with an additional 4 posts up (including the 2 big ones, and the first 10" X 3" X 3.6m beam up.) This was a marvel of engineering nous. I'll attach a photo depicting the event. Neighbours and Trev's son Ehren all on hand to help with the haul.

Mum and Dad left on the 30th of December and when speaking to mum yesterday (the 3rd of Jan) she asked how much more building had occurred. I treated her to one of those embarrassed silences. We've all been gearing up for Trev's 50th and now getting over it and back to work. It has also been very hot. I was caught swimming (clothes and all) at Roaring Beach during one of the hottest days. I admit this is the first time in 'the drink' at Tassie. And it was good.

Turbulent Times

Lots of things have happened in the last month. I've often thought of updating the blog but there has barely been breathing space. (the shed has been full of people, not enough oxygen).

Trev received a call from his mother three weeks ago to say his dad had only days to live. His father was 82 and suffering from Parkinsons, severe hip and back pain and was in a nursing home where he had been fighting a chest infection for some time, and had seemed to have pulled through, but he had a relapse and was very weak. Trev went over for 8 days, however Fred was made of stronger stuff than anyone had thought and managed to shake the infection, however he was seriously weakened. Trev came home knowing he would be going back soon after.

Trev was celebrating his 50th birthday on New Years Day when the call came to say his dad had passed away. Usually passed away is a euphemism, but it does seem as though he had slowly slipped between worlds. Trev is off to Melbourne on Sunday for the funeral.

Fred had an eventful life as an apprentice printer, in the Airforce at Townsville, he cleared bushland for the Upper Yarra dam (with an axe), and eventually ended up in Melbourne as station officer in the Metropolitan Fire Brigade.