Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Sewing weekend success

We mostly stayed home this weekend. Greg continued his endless tinkering with the chook house door system and his beloved compost piles. The kids mostly just ran around after him, hiding tools and messin with stuff. I did lots of sewing and loved it.

I fear this blog may soon turn into more of a sewing / knitting blog than a family event record as crafting is all I really want to talk about. Oh that and the corny TV shows I like to watch ('New Girl' I'm looking at you), oh and my chickens, yeah ok the kids sometimes too...and atheism. Sometimes I like to ask people about religion and beliefs and rational thinking though usually (and this is often news to me) at 'unexpected' moments. 

I can't help it. I find it interesting to know what people think about the big stuff. I'm often surprised by how little people think about it at all.

 So whilst NOT thinking about the big stuff myself over the weekend, I did lots of sewing repairs and finished a couple of things I'm really happy with. One of the legacies of being new to sewing (and teaching yourself) is doing a bad job on seams. This is due mostly to rushing to finish the garment so you can wear it or see it on. Unfortunately then you must go back once your skills have improved (and more importantly you have learned to take your time) to patch up the holes and dodgy stitching. A very boring job. 

But I did get to do lots of fun sewing too. I made a tiny pocket tank for Belinda using a beautiful piece of vintage Liberty cotton a friend gave me (from her mum's old stash). 

It really was lovely to sew with and I wish I could afford to buy some (but at $45 a metre I may have to wait till...never) and finished the cutest little skirt for Piea. It was my first go at an Oliver + s pattern and it turned out beautifully. I had read loads about these patterns on other blogs and finally gave in to the extra expense. They really are all they are cracked up to be - easy to follow with lovely details. 

This was my first go at adding piping and I was really happy with the result. I have plenty of the corduroy left so I'm considering making another for Zoe and perhaps Milly as well. She really wanted one as soon as she saw the finished product. Actually so did Henry, especially after he tried it on and it fit him perfectly. Greg never handles that particularly well, he makes a noise a bit like Marge Simpson, frowns and quietly asks me to take it off. He's kind of kidding and kind of not.

I love that the kids get so excited by the things I make for them. They really do think they are special and want "one for me" as soon as I finish something for the other. I made the kids pjs this year, Milly actually got three pairs and they get stroppy if there are no Mummy jammies clean and ready to wear.

It even works as emotional blackmail. I knitted Henry a vest last winter that still fits beautifully but for some reason he doesn't usually like to put on...unless I say something like, "but I made this for you. I worked really hard on it and I knitted it just for you" and he almost always relents. I know this sort of sentiment won't work forever. There will be dark, dark teenage days but the memory of him caring once when he was little about the effort I put in, the knowledge that inside that pimply, angry, grunting, food disposal beast is the little boy that wore the vest his mum knitted him because he cared about her and to please her will hopefully be enough to get me through the worst. And maybe, hopefully, we'll get him back...when he's about 27.

Oh and lastly a little bit of Greg gold - 
(We were sitting having dinner and Greg said to me)

Greg - seen as though you had a 'day off' today because I had to put Milly down for her sleep, and they hung out outside with me while you did all your sewing stuff, it must mean that you have to do the bath and bedtime thing tonight.

Me  - 'day off?' Oh right, except that I went to the shops for food, made the beds, made morning tea, lunch and this dinner you are eating, did two loads of washing, vacuumed the house, mopped all the floors and did the dishes? And besides I think it's good for Milly to not always be put to bed by me.

Greg - oh yes, well that's true. That is good for her.

Me - Aha. Day off - my arse.  


Monday, 21 May 2012

Oliver's party

Henry and Milly went to a party on Sunday at a friend's house in Bywong. Bywong is just up the escarpment about 15mins from Bungendore. It's a mixture of large bush blocks, vineyards and hobby farms. So everyone has lots of land and can do stuff like have a bouncy castle AND a carousel for their kid's birthday!!

Pass the parcel


Sunday, 13 May 2012

Tiger for Tea

So tonight we are having Tiger for dinner. Not the stripey, four legged kind but a rooster called Tiger that until yesterday was scratching about in our yard with the rest of the flock. This is a big step for us. When we first decided to get a few hens we had no real intention to eat any of them. We're city folk after all. Our flock was only ever going to be small, they would be pets as much as egg producers and we were not planning on getting a rooster. Then things changed.

Little by little we became more farmer-y. First there was the family of gumboots at the back door - essential footwear when your chickens free-range and the whole backyard is their toilet. It just didn't occur to us city slickers that our romantic idea of free-ranging chickens happily clucking about in the yard would mean an awful lot of stinky, slippery poo. Then there was the dog attack and subsequent maggot removing from the wound using tweezers. Then various night-time treatments (you have to do it at night because they are sleepy in their coop and easy to catch) such as worming and de-lousing of their legs. The de-lousing is 'fun'; you grab the chook and dunk her legs in a container of cold vegetable oil every night for about a week. Not to mention the trudging outside every morning and every evening, rain, hail or freezing frost to let them out and shut them back in. 

Of course now that Greg has built our fancy solar-powered-automatic-chicken-house-door-opener-and-closer, that part at least is no longer necessary.

Then we bought three hens from a local chicken breeder and one day one of them crowed. So Patrick joined us and even though we hadn't planned on him, we love him. Roosters are pompous and flashy, arrogant and brave. But Patrick also does lovely things like steadfastly refuses to eat a tasty grub he finds and will call and call his hens with the sweetest, soft little clucks till they come and gobble it up at his feet. Sure it looks a lot like rape when he jumps on them multiple times throughout the day, grabs their necks and squashes them but we must not project too much.

And once you have a rooster, you just might get some chicks. So when Tina went broody, Greg built her a little house in a day and we let her sit, sit, sit.

Three beautiful fluffy babies later and we were delighted. Of course if you breed your own chooks you can't decide what you'll get and sure enough after a few weeks it soon became apparent that we had two roosters and only one hen in our little brood. Malcolm as it turned out, chose his own fate and flew over the back fence into the jaws of the dogs that lived there. Poor Malcolm ended up in our neighbor's rubbish bin. We never saw the body. But Tiger just kept getting bigger and flashier...and a problem that needed to be solved. The bigger and more rooster-y he got the more Patrick and even the other hens started to take notice of him. It seems chickens will not tolerate more than one rooster and life was getting hard for Tiger. It's rough out there in chicken-land. Tiger was a nice looking bloke and he tried hard to do the grub-sharing thing but nobody cared. 

So the decision was made. We asked around, and nobody needed a rooster. So what do you do? You do what farmers do and you eat the spare roosters. We have a friend who is an experienced 'chicken processor' and he offered to help. It was decided that Sunday would be the day.

We chose not to tell the kids the whole truth of Tiger's fate. They don't know he's not coming back from Craig's house and they won't know it's Tiger we are eating tonight. We will tell them eventually, just not right now.

Greg did the deed. His friend talked him through it and they assure me it was quick and efficient. I know some people do this sort of thing all the time but it's all very new for us. Greg was keen to learn and said he felt fine doing it. I'm ok too. I actually feel pretty good about the process. I didn't feel squeamish or sad as I carved up the carcass for tonight's soup, and I think I'll be fine eating it. The meat looked good and the fat was lovely and yellow from a healthy diet full of grass and grain. For the first time ever I will be eating something that I know, absolutely, had a good life, the best life a chicken could want, and that it's death was quick. 

So thanks Tiger, tonight we will toast you.

...well tonight we'll slurp you in soup. We may have you on toast the following day.


Saturday, 5 May 2012

beach holiday

We had a beautiful, relaxing week with Greg's mum and dad. We shared a little holiday house near Bateman's Bay and spent lots of sunny days hanging out and having fun.

We got a couple of comments about Greg's 'roof rack'.
We went to Mogo zoo. A great zoo, they have a heap of white lions, lots of gibbons and lemurs and a herd of fallow deer that you can feed. The kids really liked the two clever little otters that do tricks for their food (apparently they need the extra stimulation and 'enrichment' of training to keep them from getting bored). And I agree, brainy otters are cool.

We also all really liked the open enclosure that was home to a family of siamang gibbons. They live on a large grassy island and you could sit really quite close to them on the opposite bank as they sat around and did their thing. It was so peaceful and their baby was so very cute as it gambolled from one adult to the next for a cuddle or to share a bit of food.

These are not the gibbons.

These are...in the background!

There was a luxurious snow leopard padding about flaunting his fur. Were it not for the cage I would not have been able to stop myself from stroking him. He was mesmerizing and hypnotic and I definitely would have lost my hand.

Greg and his Dad did some fishing and hired a tinny for an afternoon's boating about. Milly refused to wear the lifejacket so we had to stay behind. No fish were caught but Henry was still pretty stoked by the fact that he now has his very own fishing rod.

And the beach. We spent a couple of great days digging and building, paddling and checking out rock pools. As is often the way, we spent a fortune on snacks and entry fees and the kids still got pretty whingy and tired toward the end of the zoo trip but all we had was bottles of water and sandy vegemite sandwiches at the beach and they could have stayed all day.

We spent one day at the beach near Mossy Point. Most of the time we hung out in the calm little bit where the creek meets the sea. 

Some serious dribble castle action

And one morning at North Brulee. A really beautiful spot. We didn't swim, it was a bit too cold, just played on the sand and fooled around. The kids rode their bikes along the path from Mossy Point. Milly is getting quite speedy on her balance bike and really getting a kick out of scooting along.

Greg took me to the movies one evening while the grandparents babysat the kids. A date! Out at night! NO KIDS! We saw the Avengers. Greg wasn't keen at first but the choice was limited and besides I love a blockbuster and thought it was great fun.

I was sick with a cold for most of the week and now the kids have it but we still all managed to soldier on and have plenty of fun.

We also came home with some seriously good booty. Well actually, mostly me. Greg's mum brought over all her old sewing patterns and there is some great retro stuff from the 50s in there. As well as some seriously questionable mens fitness wear and a nice 80s batwing sleeve or two. Greg's dad also bought a very nice bottle of whiskey whisky that we enjoyed all week, then let us take the rest home. Whoot.

Our lovely neighbours looked after our chooks and fed the Velcro whilst we were away. I worried all week about the old furry fella as we had set up an open window and short ladder for him (so he could let himself in and out) and I was concerned it might get tricky for him and his arthritic legs. I also thought he might be a little lonely. Usually he complains for a couple of hours at least whenever we return from a holiday - just follows me around loudly meowing - but not this time. He was pretty much quiet as a mouse. We suspect he enjoyed the peace and quiet and, as it turns out, had a nice holiday too.


update: I have been told to correct my spelling of whiskey to whisky....or I won't be getting any more. It's tough love but fair enough.