Saturday, 28 January 2012

Chickens, Eggs, Cows and Milk

Staying here at Quigley and Jean's has provided me with my ultimate luxury - food straight from free range, local animals. Q+J have about 25 hens, most of them look like Australorps, and their main hobbies are shouting and laying big eggs with lovely yellow yolks.

It's just nice having chickens around.
Quigley's friend Mel has a couple of Jersey cows, and milks them herself. This is a Jersey from over the garden fence. Aren't they beauutiful?

I've heard they're much moodier and difficult than our usual black and white Holstein Friesians. But they're so pretty! And smaller. And they produce milk with the highest cream content. I like. Mel gave the family a huge bottle of the fresh raw (unpasturised) milk, and they went on holiday the next day, hence us housesitting, so guess who got to drink it?!

I've been having a bad time digestiony-wise for months now, and at the time I wasn't eating dairy to try and help it - but when we discovered we had possession of this milk, that had to go of the window! It's SO tasty! Especially with a drop of vanilla essence stirred in. And you know what? My stomach seems to have calmed down completely. I've been reading up on it and there is such a lot of good stuff in raw milk. All the enzymes destroyed by pasteurisation are still there, making it more digestable and absorbable, as are all the vitamins, which are zapped by up to 80% normally. Yum yum yum. Looks like slightly watered-down fresh cream is my new health food! Apparently you can buy it in health food shops, but because it's illegal to sell it to humans, they call it 'Pet Milk.' I'm going to go and reserve me a crate.

I think I'd like to have my own Jersey cows when I'm a big girl. And chickens.

Oo look a Guernsey- (my favourite breed) Jersey cross! On the left. Maybe I'll have one of those too.

Best breakfast ever (check out the layer of cream!!) - oh no wait we have a contender:

Best pancakes in world:
1/3 cup gluten free plain flour
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
tbsp melted butter.

Add ripe juicy peaches and cream and some brown sugar:

No words needed really.

Oh wow as I've been sitting here on the verandah, typing, the paralysis chicken has just tried to stand up! It failed but now it's sitting symmetrically for the first time!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Zappa's Flooded Birthday!

The other day the anticipated exciting event happened - the river flooded!

Where I was standing to take the above photo (unflooded Bellingen photo):

The view from Suzy's verandah is usually green fields:

Very exciting! Luckily we'd just bought tons of food so we were set. Suzy lives on the same side of the river to us (the non-'town' side) and so we went over to her house to do a jigsaw puzzle with her, Iona and Taylor, her daughters (well, Taylor more spectated. Now and again).

At first we couldn't get to town or the highway but we could get to Quigley's house, so it was all good. But then the river kept rising, and yesterday the back road flooded too - we were due to housesit for Quigley and Jean today! Suzy reckoned we should go at whenever low tide was, which would give us the biggest chance of getting through. So we woke up on Zappa's birthday, had birthday pancakes, and set off through the driving rain. The road/off-road had big ridges in it from all the water flow, and the water under the bridges was really close, but we made it! To find that the bridge to the driveway had been half-washed away and was now part of a raging river.

Not so cool. No matter! There was another bridge we could walk across... Quigley rang and said if we couldn't get there it was fine, the neighbours could look after the animals. We decided to walk up and see  how easy it would be to get all our stuff over the bridge and up to the house (the driveway is really really long, it's more like a track). We mostly wanted to see how our invalid chicken was doing.

Bit dodge...

Alright, very. It was so slippery too!! It was exciting (it's ok Mum, I'm still alive). We walked up, Possum the horse seemed very pleased to see us, and the garage door was open, as was the chicken pen gate, and someone's car was there, so we assumed someone was in, which was confusing, as Sally, the person housesitting until today, was supposed to have left yesterday. It turned out noone was there, and when we went to see the little paralysed chicken, it was soaking and lying in a pile of its own faeces - it obviously hadn't been moved since we'd left. It STANK and had almost no food, which was nowhere near it and sodden. That sold it. We were definitely staying, if only to look after it! I dried the chook off and put it in a new bed inside:

Poor little thing! We reckon it can move its feet a little better. Surprising it's managed to find the energy to heal anything considering. The other chickens didn't have any food at all so they were happy to see us too. There were piles of eggs everywhere in their favourite laying spots!

Apparently Sally isn't an animal person. I find myself believing this. I'm sorry if this has been a little bitchy but it makes me quite cross finding animals in a state.

Anyway yes it's Zappa's birthday and his chocolate cake is in the oven! Tonight we're going out for a curry in Coffs Harbour. He seems very happy. He is currently telling the chicken about the girl in Kill Bill who rehabilitated herself from not being about to move, as a motivational talk. Cake's ready!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Quiggly and Jean's House

Zap's been doing some work for some LOVELY people called Quiggly and Jean (as in the French John). They and their kids are just fantastic people. They said I could come along and hang about when Zap was working, so I did, and it is such a beautiful place they have. They have a horse, a dog, and loads of chickens that lay loads of delicious eggs everyday, a pool - Emma heaven!

 Zappa, Dolphin the dog and Baxter (the cutest kid I have ever met, ever ever)

 The other day they said they were going away for a week and a bit, and could we house sit on the weekends?! So here we are.

The view

Possum the horse and Zappa

Blossom meets a chicken...

...that's just laid an egg.

Are we just the luckiest people alive or what?!

Oo look and we found a funky little frog:

Veterinary Clinical Case:
I was called over the other day to give a private veterinary consultation regarding a young chicken who could not move her legs very well. On physical examination the feet were the worst affected, being completely paralysed, the legs were paraplegic, the wings could move almost normally and the head and neck were normal. The bird was afebrile and showed no other obvious abnormalities. Upon taking a history I learnt that it had been born normal and developed this condition after the death of its mother.

I pondered and consulted my notes, and my memory which told me basically if a chicken is ill you will know because it and a percentage of the other 40,000 birds in the same barn will have died suddenly. If this is not the case and they haven't died yet, you cull the affected ones and observe strict biosecurity measures. Not a lot of remedial medicine for poultry is taught to vet students, apart from if something is wrong you stick a load of antibiotics in the flock's water.

I was flicking through a dog and cat toxicology lecture by a very Italian Italian guy who spent the first 15 minutes of the lecture telling us how to make proper pasta sauce and why good pasta and sex is so important to have a good life; when I realised that tick paralysis, endemic in small amimals in Australia, fitted the clinical signs. According to google birds can get it too (the Italian didn't tell us that), so I presented that as my most likely diagnosis, and the kids found 3 ticks on the bird which we removed.

Prognosis is guarded as the chicken's paralysis has been progressing for a few days already, but hopefully it will reverse and be miraculously cured. Wouldn't THAT be a boost. I've always wanted to cure something.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Ooglie Booglie Part II and Possible Flood

Who after reading the last post thought I was a bit special booglying everything? Well guess what? Later, after posting that, Zappa got right into it and went more nuts than me!

The next day Zappa was working doing some garden work for some friends, but it started throwing it down with rain, so I went to pick him up after an hour or so. He’d had an idea the night before about painting a massive map of Australia on the wall, which I liked but didn’t take seriously as he’d had a few drinks and had also decided he was going to become a kung fu pro. However, there we were stuck in the house in a deluge with Zappa’s newfound free time, and he suggested we actually do it.
We went into town to get supplies – multiple big sheets of card we stuck together, paint and a map. We decided to stick to New South Wales as that’s realistically where we’ll probably stick to. And it was really fun! Apart from the geography exercise at the start, drawing gridlines and scaling things up and down. I made myself fired from that job. Painting with a big brush with big strokes is fun. I did the land and Zappa did the sea, and you can tell because the sea is immaculately blue and the land is like blerrgghhh.

We’re going to stick things on where we want to go and things we want to do, like stick surfboards on good-sounding beaches, and tents on possible campsites, and colour them in once we’ve done them. All the maps with that sort of information on them have been area map type things, and it gets really frustrating not being able to see the bigger picture of where everything is in relation to each other, so that you can plan a whole route.
Onto the Possible Flood! It has been deluging down for the last few days, and the river has got all fat and big, and is rather close to the underside of the bridge today. This is the river normally:
And this is it currently:
Well that really doesn't do it justice as it was taken in the car, but it's pretty full.
It’s not uncommon for the river to flood in the rainy season, and one half of Bellingen is completely cut off from the other. It’s not like Somerset floods, where there’s suddenly a soggy lake where a field used to be and you can go and take arty photos of reflections, here there’s a raging monster that flings big trees and dead cows down its torrent self, and you’re not allowed anywhere near it.

So in preparation for the Possibility, we have developed what my mum calls Siege Mentality (she usually uses it in a Christmas context), and today I went and bought up loads of food, including a tin of butter beans, which weren’t on the list but seemed like the sort of thing when you’re marooned you might end up eating. Damn, now I’ve remembered Winnie the Pooh’s tactics when he was flooded in. I should have got lots of jars of honey. I’m such an amateur.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Ooglie Booglie

I think I have possibly worked out what the best thing in the world actually is. Now I’m not saying it’s the reason for existence but it makes existence a whole lot more excellent.

Booglie eyes!!!

We went into the variety store (kind of like a pound shop but not with a set price, just cheapness) to find egg cups (currently I am using bog roll tubes:)

and we found instead a caulking gun, a kilner jar, some cup measurer things and I found a packet of booglie eyes, of many many sizes, loads of them! I got very excited and Zappa said I could have them, and that he’d very nearly bought them for me last time he went into the shop.

So when we came home, Zappa started piping silicone everywhere (we’re waging a war against cockroaches but Zappa seems to be taking it especially personally) and I started putting eyes on things. My first lucky recipient was the Esky, so I put a little blob of super glue on each eye and stuck them on, easy peasy, job done in about 10 seconds.

Then I realised I’d stuck two of my fingers together! And they were totally stuck!


‘Pull them apart.’

‘Argh no really!! What do I do? They’re totally stuck together!’

‘Really, that’s what you do. I suppose that anti-bonding agent we nearly bought might have worked too.’

I still don’t see how the stuff even got there. I put two tiny blobs on the eyes, then realised my 3rd and 4th fingers were totally glued together right down the sides. So I ripped them apart. Hurt a bit.

‘Is this your first time using superglue then?’

‘No… can’t be…’

‘But this is the first time you’ve stuck yourself together?’


‘Then it’s your first time using superglue.’

On with more eyeing-up.

 I don’t think I have laughed so hard for ages, well maybe 24 hours, as JohnBoy told a rude joke last night about a musical octopus.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Bonjour from Bellingen Library, the coldest part of Australia I've been to so far.

Zappa started the New Year with a boom by contracting some nasty tummy bug and spending 2 days cooped up in the house. Then he thought he'd round it off by going to a remedial massage guy to sort out his shoulder which has been bothering him for a while - look what the man did to him!!!

He looks like he's been abducted by aliens! He said it felt nice but it looks horrific. The circles are these suction cups the guy put on, and the lines are from this ceramic roller thing. Eek. He said his shoulder feels a lot better though.

Yesterday we took a picnic to Never Never Creek with some of the other housefull that we've been spending Christmas and New Year with.

It was a gorgeous day and the water was beautiful:

Sunny the dog came too. He's as mad as Poppy, my family Jack Russell, but without the nastiness. And he applies constant anti-logic to every situation. 'What would be the logical thing to do in reaction to this? Right, I'll do something completely different.'

Zappa, by Me

Me, by Zappa

Oh and you know I was raving about Jenny and Ray's ficus tree, Baby Ben? Well I found another of Jungle's relations:

P.S. Mum, check your junk mail box in your hotmail for an email from me, I used my uni account as hotmail doesn't like me today. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx