Saturday, December 12, 2009

Peep show

A long time hobby at our house has been raising silkie bantams. WHen one of the hens turned out to be a rooster, and the eggs started to come fertilised, we decided to try and hatch some out.
The natural method resulted in the broody hen dying from heat exhaustion on a 43 degree day so we decided to try and incubate some. Yo uknow once you get this idea in your head it is hard to dissuade yourself from doing it. The kids wanted baby chicks, so I reeely wanted ot make it happen.

Incubator was bought and eggs installed - they need turning every few hours, its crazy stuff. And although you can see them moving in the egg if you candle them, you never know when they will hatch and most of the time you cant tell if they are alive or dead. So you turn them for ages and then kind of almost give up on them..


After a few false starts some of the chickys have FINALLY hatched out of their eggs.

At the moment we have 5 alive and 4 that died. Watching them struggle out of their shells, chests heaving and wet feathers sticking to their little bodies, feet splayed and head trembling with the effort, is a reminder of how hard it is to get born. Watching some of them suffer through inevitable hardships and misfortune, to die within their first few days of life is a stark lesson on how precious life is.

I am not sure that I expected them to all live, but there seem to be so many ways to not live that it is somehow a miracle any of them manage to live at all.

The first chick to go to god never even made it out of its shell. It peeped and peeped and pecked, but somehow never made it out of its concrete like egg tomb. RIP little black chick which did not make it. Everyone was sad :(

2 days later another struggled for over a day to be born only to simply die from what looked like exhaustion a few hours later. RIP black chicky number 2 :((

Number 3; made the mistake of leaving some eggs under the chook - since that is the way nature would have it ( The incubator was more of a back up plan). The one chick who did hatch out of the egg was swiftly attacked by its mother, and mercilessly pecked by the rest of the chooks too. So much for the farmyard image of big mama and her baby chicks trailing happily behind. As soon as the little thing was noticed it was rescued but too late. The pecking had shattered a wing and left a hole in its neck, so that one went to god too, with a little help from a shovel. More sads :(.

The one having trouble getting out before unfortunately was not alone. This seems to be a recurring theme with the little eggys turning into little chickys.

When number 4 was having trouble making its way out. Jack gave it a little bit of "help" . After some picking and tipping the little thing was messily liberated from the shell, but its neck was all wrong. Instead of holding up its head and looking around, this chick could not manage to do anything at all with its U shaped neck and was permanently upside down in the head department. This left the poor thing permanently disoriented, and it often would crash into things and tumble over backwards. at about day 4 we found it in the .5cm of water, drowned. This one had been named, so got buried rather than binned. I do hope the dog doesn't find it.

But all is not lost because we still have 5 little chickys peeping and getting stronger all the time. The newest one is black, and he is a few days younger than the other blonder ones. I am hoping being black doesn't mean he/she will die like the other black ones...

During this time googling revealed the folowing facts :

  • Silkies have no skull over a good part of their brains, leaving them vulnerable to head injury
  • Silkies have black bones which some cultures will grind up and eat for good luck ( not for me thanks)
  • You can apparently more easily sex a chicken by looking at its wing feathers than its undercarriage
  • Silkies sometimes are too big to get out of their eggs because they cant move around enough.
  • Baby chickens are called peeps
  • the peep of a peep sounds a lot like a favourite squeaky toy my dog had once had
I made a video the day the first chicks hatched - complete with kid comments

Monday, November 30, 2009


Kk gratuitous pics of my dog Saffie here. She is a saluki, and is about 4 and a half months old.
I adore her - she is the 6th saluki I have had, it is a breed I think I will always love. We tried to get by with a white fluffball, he is cute, but just did not cut it.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Is it me - or do schools seem to expect more of the parents today than when I went to school? Last week Jack needed a costume so he could be the man who threw Martin Luther out of the church. There was a parents info night which took 2 hours, and I had to fill out forms and sign 2 diaries. Today I made pizzas for Roman day, and whipped up another costume on the janome for Jack. Cait needs to have recounts of her birth ( please... I am still trying to forget that - and trying to fondly recall details best left forgotten is not my idea of fun) and there is a stall she will need to have some money for and another form....

Its out of control. Every trip ( even to the park) has a massive permissions form involved, including medical benefits, and an entire medical history. When I was a kid, we took home one small note which we filled out and begged for our parents signature. Mum paid 40c for me to go on the bus and have a sausage at the other end for lunch.

And am I the most involved parent ?? No way - I may sew costumes, take them to swimming and gym - even teach the year 2 kids to make pasta once ( what a mess) but I don't do canteen or listen at reading. And neither of my kids are on a sports team. I make most info nights but am absent for coffee mornings ( I work). At our school that rates me one level above delinquent.

This weekend, shamefully I will not make the year 3 coffee morning ( I will be interstate) . Can I cope with the guilt? Damn I hope so.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Market

Sunday is my favourite day of the week, and a big part of that is the growers market just up the road in the Wayville showgrounds.
I love it so much that rain hail or shine I will trot up with my roomy and practical shopping cart ( like the grannies used to have) to get my fix of life.

There is a real feeling of community - a village where the farmers bring in their wares, freshly picked, for you to buy from their stalls. Nods of recognition and smiles are exchanged with the fruit and veg, the real feeling of spending coins and notes ( no plastic thanks) on the freshest produce in town. You can take your time, there are tastings everywhere, and everything is hand made, regional and delicious. Week by week you learn to appreciate the wonderful abundance and sheer variety of fine foods. Venison sausages, hand crafted cheeses, free range eggs, country meat and fresh herbs. Tomatoes which are red all the way through, purple potatoes, apples fresh from the orchard and olives made to an old family recipe. And the cooks are there too - freshly baked portuguese custard tarts, expertly made aoli or veal jus, falafels, pigeon pies and delicate chocolate truffles, all served with warmth and pride.

I pile all the treats high into my cart, and often do not stop until I simply can't carry any more. Every week brings a new revelation, and each visit turns that weeek into a gourmet feast. The pleasure extends to cooking, I remember the purchase fondly and with satisfaction, and the admiration I have for the people who bring me this wonderful food.

It makes me feel just that little bit more connected to the world, and I coudn't be happier.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lemonade anyone?

OK its hot again. This morning went out to find the lemon tree has decided to give up and drop its fruit... all at once. On the right is the large black bin which was repurposed for emergency lemon storage and distribution.

Thats the way we roll now, you can't WASTE them you have to find some way of using them. So we took half of them to work today and left some with the neighbours, this pic is the ones we have yet to find a home for.

Everyone we know is now planning to do something with a dozen or so lemons tonight. Vern is going to make frozen margaritas, nanou is going to give limoncello a bash, Andrew will clean his barbie and use it for salad dressing etc etc.

Me? I am going to squeeze and freeze because we will probably not have as many lemons as we usually enjoy this summer. I feel adaptable...generous and resilient. Defying the silly weather and making the most of it. Nyah.
feeling good about the chooks - just insulated the coop.

and dragged it into the shade

checked the eggs int he incubator and at least 2 of them have got wriggly little peeps inside!

was in SL istening to the new DJ Hay - great to have another new DJ in the GAP and such a happy crowd in these strange days of our second lives.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I have a blog, all mine mine mine!

The thoughts of my alter egos Mahala / Workingmum / Amanda - can all live together here just like they do in real life.

Right now I am at home, there are birdies singing outside and the kids are playing on the trampoline. I picked some broccoli and snow peas from the garden, and chased the white butterflies off my cauliflowers. I smiled at birds bravely swooping cars and putting on showy displays of courtship in the garden, there is a nest outside my window again. We have the promise of baby chicks at home ( fresh from our NEW incubator) and the Jacarandas are out in flower. Spring is happening despite the crazy 43 degrees expected tomorrow, and the signs of life I notice make me feel good.

Trying not to dwell on the fact that we bought the incubator because the broody hen died of heat exhaustion last week, the grass has already started browning off. Despite the fact the eggs had not been covered for several days, when we "candled" them many looked promising, and we could see a little chick moving inside the egg. Yep, despite the heat and the fact he lost his mum before he even hatched, life is still going on for this little peep ( that is what chicks r called apparently). So I am gonna take a hint from that and get on with mine :)