Monday, 7 August 2017

Crossbeak and the big reveal

Another busy weekend outside.  Our Sunday night legs begin to wane as the forever walking, bending and lifting jobs get priority.  Weed pulling has never been the name of a fitness class, but definitely should be, 'now dig, dig, and puuullll...those weeds'.  We do take time out for coffee with Minnie and our sheep (all bar one, oops) are all in lamb with Boris now the shepherd.  The three girls are heavy and happy to find anything green.  We've now started our two rows of espaliered apple trees so looking forward to some wonderful blossom (and hopefully fruit) in the coming years.   And my Friday drama was resolved by Friday evening.  Well actually, it wasn't mine, it was Crossbeak's.  He was ready in his cardboard box at 9am for his appointment with his vet for major plastic surgery on his beak.  He was excited and kept popping his little curvy beak outside the round hole carved in the side of the box for air.  We arrived at the vet and the nurse took him into surgery.  I waited nervously.  A little snip, surely that's all, I thought.  The vet came out and I asked "how'd he go?"  He replied, "Not so good I'm afraid".  My God, I panicked for a brief moment imagining the vet to have slipped with the clippers...but the vet advised his beak was a serious deformity that really couldn't be corrected.  He said he was surprised that he'd even lasted this long.  The vet was able to clip back some of his beak but it bled and he was concerned that if he knocks it, the beak may bleed again and this would need to be stopped.  So with some dabbed cotton tips for repair work, I took poor little Crossbeak home.  I guess it's like any plastic surgery, there is the swelling and bleeding before the healing but I wasn't ready for what I saw in the box when I opened it.  He was in shock.  He couldn't walk out of the box and his beak was not a pretty sight.  Why did I do this?  I thought.  Next time when mother nature throws me an abnormality I will but out.  I said to husband farmer, if our baby lambs are born with three heads, so be it.  Fortunately, we soon realised that little Crossbeak is more resilient than we thought.  He managed to recover from his ordeal, clean up his beak and was back eating out of the seed bin as he usually does by the end of the day, with a somewhat shorter and less curvy beak.  Phew.  It was a lot of stress for a mere $20 vet bill.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Waiting for the big reveal

I've sent this photo off to our local vet with a query.  Can something be done to fix our little friend's beak?  He's favourably referred to as Cross Beak but Cross beak or CB as he prefers, struggles to eat grain off the ground and needs hand feeding.  We're hoping just a minor snip or tuck might allow this top beak to regrow a bit more on the straight and narrow, than the major banana bender it is now.  It's a struggle for him at meal times as we have to hold the grain container for him to eat out of.  Unfortunately everyone else thinks he shouldn't be getting special treatment and about three hens try to get their head in the container at the same time.  They peck him as he's a rooster and roosters aren't supposed to eat until the hens have.  Whilst they're all crying foul (sorry) bad manners, this little feller just wants a meal.  Because he's been singled out for special treatment he follows me around and races up to me whenever he sees me.  He puts his little head to the side, looks up and chats away as if I understand every word.  He's still quite young but he may be struggling to put on weight.  So hopefully our vet can come back with a surgical intervention or something minor.  We don't need a complete makeover or want to send him off to some pacific location for a few weeks 'recuperation' and come back with his head wrapped in bandages and wearing dark sunglasses.  He just wants to be like everyone else.  Fingers crossed.  Whoops.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

This little feller is a resident of the Sorell Farm School.  We recently were happy to find that the Farm School were willing to take our unwanted chickens regardless of sex or breed.  We had an oversupply of chicks born on our property over the summer and not being the sort of people to knock them on the head which was sadly suggested by some, we were happy to find them a farm that not only takes them and gives them to new homes, but also shows them as well.  This little guy was being trained to interact with new comers and sat perfectly still while I shoved my iPhone in his face.  I wanted a selfie but didn't want to push my luck, I could see he was getting a little tired of the attention. This farm school is a fantastic facility housing prized giant rabbits, rare breed chickens, and various livestock all to develop agricultural skills in kids.  It's so great to see that skills are learnt in all different forms nowadays.  Having grown up in the inner city suburbs of Melbourne, this was unheard of, and the only interaction you had with farm animals were the plastic ones you played with as a kid.  What ever did happen to Dobbin?  Moving now when I drive past the school I feel like waving in their direction, knowing that our little feathered friends are doing well in their new home where they are checked and groomed by some really enthusiastic kids.  If they win any show prizes I'll take full credit, of course.

Friday, 14 July 2017

No doubting the Magnificant Max

Very proud of himself he was.  He's been watching the dishwasher for weeks.  He swears that something moved there.  He sat for hours at a time, waiting. And no one believed him.  Bennie would come in, sniff and walk away muttering that Max is delusional and the only thing that lives beside the stove is grease.  Thanks Bennie, cheers!!  So not wanting to dampen Max's enthusiasm, I placed a little piece of leftover cake on the floor to entice his alleged mouse out of hiding.  Bennie, in full support of the strategy, came over, ate the cake and walked off.  Tail wagging.  Max was annoyed.  Bennie just didn't understand the game plan.  So days, and then weeks passed.  Max dedicated lengthy afternoons to the watch.  He held his post amongst dinner preparations with the chopping of vegetables and the banging of pots, he still held his ground.  Somehow I knew that if anything was there, it surely wasn't going to poke its head out with someone in the kitchen wielding a cooks' knife, a dog diligently waiting for something yummy to fall from the bench and a cat, poised to pounce on anything that doesn't resemble diced onion.  We don't give Max much credit.  His experience of cat and mouse usually involves a toy stuffed mouse on the end of the string being dragged along the floor (like I've got time for this!!).  The sad part is he gets more excited by the string than the mouse.  So revenge was his at around 5am this morning when he ran across us in our bed with a somewhat live mouse in his mouth just to show us, to prove us wrong.  I heard thump, thump, and again, he bolts across the bed.  I knew what it was, just wasn't prepared to open my eyes to witness it.  Fortunately the Mr. of the house was responsible for ending the torturous activity and removing the evidence.  He's now asleep.  We'll not doubt him again.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Over here love, give us a smile darl...

Yes, I will admit it.  I went and saw the movie Chicken People on Saturday night.  Very funny.  It does help if you have a few of your own. It's a documentary style film about people who own or breed chickens and show them.  As with most 'show' people, they are highly competitive.  Who would have thought such power could be had as a poultry judge in determining the grand champion of all breeds.  I don't think my, less than perfect specimens could handle the stress somehow.  They certainly wouldn't be keen on being washed under the kitchen tap and then fluffed to perfection with a hair drier.  It's not that they are fussy, or wouldn't get out of bed for anything less than ten thousand bucks...I'm just not sure they'd give up the good life for the limelight.  Doris (pictured below) has a small following of course but not quite the standard for poultry papparazzi.  Most of ours prefer the country comforts to the more luxurious items like a wheelbarrow full of dead plants as the laying spot of choice in preference to the Bordeaux Grand Cru wine boxes in the hen house.  What, French Oak's not good enough?  The wheelbarrows of dried plants are plentiful at the moment with the severe lack of rain for this time of year.  I spent Sunday afternoon pruning some pretty dried looking lavenders that I'm hoping will hang in there through this odd winter.  The weeds barely put up a fight as they're on their last legs anyway and it's hard to tell what's just dormant for the winter or plain dead.  The rain clouds seem to bypasses our town on their way through to the south of the island or out to sea where the more dramatic of weather evens occur.  Though it's only Monday and the weather forecast is always positive - the radar only shows a few minor blemishes of cloud so I'm not very hopeful.  Although it's good news for Doris.  She hates getting her hair wet.

Monday, 3 July 2017


This is Crossbeak.  He's my new little friend.  He was born this way and I'm not sure what happened to send his top beak in the wrong direction but he's a friendly little feller.  He struggles to eat off the ground so I hand feed him or let him eat out of a plastic container I use to throw seed around.  The other chooks don't seem to have much time for him (so judgemental) as he seems to be on his own for most of the time.  He follows me around a bit when I'm in the garden and he'll just pop up every now and again.  I was unpacking the groceries from the boot of the car the other day and I looked down and he was at my feet.  It's nice to be able to help out this little guy and we won't include him in any redeployments.  Minnie doesn't bother much with the chickens, or anything at all really, and will come out for a casual look for any mice under the hen house.  She'll tip toe around the chickens as she's a bit wary of some of some of the bigger ones.  Although she's got her work cut out for her right now with the current mouse plague.  The cold weather has brought them all out of their frozen apartments.  Don't they have heating?  Bennie and Minnie are doing their best to keep the numbers down but I'll consider a bird of prey if it gets much worse.  We've got a local neighbourhood hawk who conducts a low fly over every now and again but he's only a one bird operation and can only eat so much.  We might just have to cut back on the cat food for a little while, just to get Minnie a little more motivated.  Could take some doing!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Shanks, sheets, snow and fur

The front lawn is a crisp white with winter well and truly here.  You feel sorry for the plants as the harsh frost must slap them in the face pretty hard.
Last weekend we came back from an overnight trip to Strahan and came via Lapland (pictured).  Or so it seemed. It was thick white snow on pine trees that just says Christmas, or not!  No carols to be had we took our photos in the sludge and took off, slowly.  The days are bright but the sun just can't muster enough warmth to go around.  It's a short day and the warmth only stays around for a short time as our family of chickens make the most of it.  The wood fire goes on, and on and it's a bit like the eternal flame as each cold night rolls into a freezing morning.  The slow cooker kicks into slow gear for a good eight hours with some browned off shanks that look more like they came from something prehistoric rather than something lamb like.  But come dinner time we'll be grateful for the dark red, Chianti soaked meat that could be 'cut with sigh' to quote Matthew Evans. Now we're past the winter solstice we can look to the warmer weather.  Just not any time today.  Our outdoor cat Minnie launches out of her bed in the shed for meals only and indoor Max has his behind permanently embedded, in ours.  We're at the point now where all of our sheets now appear to be flannelet, with a fur coating on them that doesn't come off in the wash.  The hardest part is going out to feed the chickens.  Their water bowl has a layer of ice on it and if you get it on your hands it stings, particular for someone like me with hands like raw filo pastry.  And it's really just the beginning.