Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Chook hospital!

You might remember Princess Fiona was subjected (hah!) to a bath last year.  It is a suggested treatment for an egg-bound chook. 

In organising the girls' new chicken feeder, Jo was observed to be not quite herself.  I watched her while I was doing the washing and called Erin to conduct an examination. 

Jo's much larger tummy was compared to Judge Judy's and a bath was suggested.

A warm bath was run in the laundry sink and Jo seemed quite happy to sit in the water. She was then dried off with a towel and settled in a box by the fire.

Our chook obviously felt a lot better post-bath. She tried to climb out of the box, so has been tucked up for bed- with a light washing basket cover (and towel) over her temporary bed!

PVC Chicken Feeder!

I had an afternoon nap today and was woken by construction noise.

When I roused myself to investigate, Nick had just finished mounting this set of PVC tubes to the old aviary inside the chook yard.

There is talk of using a deeper container at the bottom but the prototype seems to be working well.  As you can see, the girls were quick to investigate their new feed station.

The ice-cream container at the top should stop water entering the pipes but the bowl needed shelter. Nick found a sheet of corrugated iron and leaned it against the aviary. It's being held in place with a couple of "Lightning Ridge nails" (aka bricks)!

We visited Lightning Ridge in 2011 and were amused by some shacks that had rocks to hold down their roofing!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Tarp de - um - clothesline!

We thoroughly enjoyed a beautiful day of continued sunshine today. It was lovely!

The weather is definitely variable here. It doesn't just change once but can vary many times in the space of a day - and that's probably one of the trickiest things we've had to adjust to since relocating South. 

I'm still coming to terms with the cold - and the changeable climate. It's quite tricky. We've had some memorable outings this winter.  There was our misty Mount Macedon picnic and some geocaching in gale-force winds!  Those are extreme examples but we had a number of cold-weather picnics too, where we were very glad of our thermoses.  As I've said quite a few times lately, if we sat around waiting for perfect conditions, we mightn't go anywhere at all!

Of course, the constantly changing conditions play havoc with the more mundane missions also - particularly drying our washing.  When we first moved in to Hamby Home(in)stead we were hit with a horrendous electricity bill.  I was absolutely stunned when I read the figures.  We've since paid that off, double-checked all settings on the meter and changed electricity provider.  Even so, we are still not tempted to turn on the under-floor heating, stopped using the dishwasher soon after arrival (due to tank water restrictions) and limit our use of the clothes-dryer. 

Last winter we had clothes-airers set up permanently in the lounge-room.  Obviously that wasn't an ideal solution - and I scorched one of Vaughan's school jumpers when trying to fast-track it's drying!

There is very little outside covered area at Hamby Home(in)stead but I've found space for one airer in a lean-to area outside the laundry door.  I started pondering other possibilities and remembered that a previous neighbour (back in New South Wales) had a clothes-line cover.  It was something like this.  They cost about $200.00.  I suggested to Nick that a tarp might do the same job. Nick agreed and we bought a 12-foot square heavy duty version from the local camping shop. $40.00 total! 

Nick rigged the tarp over the line a few weeks back.  It's obviously not as neat as the commercial cover but works well.  Heavy rain pools in one area, so we need to tip that off from time to time but otherwise all is fine (hah)! 

Saturday swap!

We shifted the Fox-proof Fowl Fort to surround a tree last December.  Our two original girls used the area from then to the end of February.  While we were away, they enjoyed a holiday with our landlady.

Judge Judy and Jo arrived home in early May and had the fort to themselves till late July, when we recruited four new chookies.

As the yard has well and truly been scratched over, it was time for a new location.  Shifting the fort is a larger job.  (The move was on the agenda for last weekend but put back due to Oscar's funeral).

Nick and I chose the new location a few weeks back. By using the back wall of the house as part of the yard boundary, we were able to increase the overall area - so our six girls will have more space for scratching.

Our landlady has given permission for us to use the existing aviary as a chook-house. It would need some modification though, which we are pondering. For now the girls will continue to roost in their usual wooden house. They have to snuggle in quite cosily together but as it's still cold overnight, I expect they appreciate the extra insulation!

It took about two hours to shift all the fencing panels from one place to another.  As before, we kept them in two-panel sections.  Nick and worked together to drag the pieces across, then re-assemble the enclosure with new cable ties.  While we were doing that, the girls spent some time in Tea's old yard, slowly preparing it for use as another garden area. 

I'm still getting used to looking out from the kitchen window and not seeing our chooks.  However Erin has mentioned that each time she walked out to the clothesline today, she was closely supervised by all the girls! 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Oscar's obituary ...

At around the time of Sunny's death last year, Oscar was diagnosed with an over-active thyroid. He needed medication for that and took other tablets at the same time, to support his kidneys (which would be under greater strain once his thyroid started functioning).

He was prescribed a special renal diet, which presented the greatest shock to him - as the serving size was just a quarter cup of kibble per day! These heavily reduced quantities did not impress our food-focussed feline at all!

In those early days he would wake us during the night to protest the emptiness of his food bowl. He was also known to rummage for the tablets he did like and try to take extra!  (The disliked tablets were regularly spat out when he thought no-one was looking)!

Oscar was definitely a character.  When I met Nick, he and Oscar lived in a tiny fibro cottage by the river.  Oscar wore a belled collar, to try and afford the resident wildlife some warning of his presence.  Oscar would ring his bell at the front door to be let in, saunter the few metres to the back door and ring again to be let out!

Nick and I joined households in early December 2004.  Oscar arrived later in the month, on Christmas Eve (which caused a lot of merriment at the time).  He and Sunny initially had a few altercations but generally existed happily after that, though they preferred to pretend they didn't like each other (and would look guilty if sprung together)!

Oscar's had a few close-calls during his life.  We kept him confined following removal of a large tick, not really expecting him to survive the poison.  After a week of isolation, he staggered out of the upstairs bathroom and made his way onto the first-floor balcony, before jumping down to the ground!  So much for keeping him resting quietly!  (He later survived two dog attacks in 2008 - the second on Christmas Eve). 

No doubt his determined spirit helped him adjust to our many addresses, including relocation to Victoria in December 2012.  (On looking back in seems Oscar experienced quite a few significant events in December of various years).  During our first few months as Victorians, both cats stayed with family and were quite spoiled!  Our cats later moved with us to Hamby Home(in)stead in early March last year.  In his younger days Oscar was a very large cat and his spirit remained so - as he wasn't at all shy of taking on Tea when he felt she was being too forward!

Possibly Oscar's biggest adventure was coming with us to Yowah for our ten-week holiday earlier this year.  He was given some cat-harness revision in preparation, then travelled in a small cat-box, stacked under Keegan - with frequent rest breaks. Oscar really seemed to enjoy camping at Cobar and generally behaved as a much younger cat while away.  He chased bugs and grasshoppers and appreciated the warmer climate.  He must have really felt better because he even washed his face!

We've been home since early May.  Oscar has had several trips to the vet during those months.  His medication was increased but his condition continued to fail.  A few days ago he stopped taking his medication, even the tablets he liked.  I'm glad Nick and Vaughan were with him as he finally faded away. 

We buried Oscar this afternoon, next to Sunny (but not too close)!  In time we'll build a rock stack as their memorial.