Starting Magrathea

casting on magrathea

I’ve been pondering a lace project for the last year or so. Something special, just for me. I’ve just cast on Strickmich’s Magrathea in Madeline Tosh Light. I’ve never knitted with anything so swish, so I’m hoping the yarn lives up to my (high) expectations! So far, so good.

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Posted in knitting | 2 Comments

Chickens, chickens, chickens.

I’ve been on a big chicken-mamma adventure this last month or so, courtesy of two incredibly broody hens. Oh my gosh. Eileen was the first to drink the broody kool-aid, and Alice joined in as soon as she could. The quickest solution to our broody problem would have been to pop some fertile eggs under each girl and wait three weeks. That would have been too simple! The girls went broody right before we were due to go to Norfolk, but of course there was no way I felt comfortable leaving them sitting over the height of summer.

We purchased six day-old chicks and popped three under each pullet. They didn’t take. So now we’re raising six chicks (in a brooder overnight and outside during the day)! Family and friends looked after them while we were away, thank goodness. They are six week-old tweens now, and I’m thinking they need to move outside permanently just as soon as this awful weather is over…

kindergarten

The girls were still broody. I spent a week or so turfing them off their nests and locking them out of the coop, to no avail. I was very unpopular. I took the coop apart, removing the floor and spraying the whole thing for mites, just in case. The girls hopped up on their roost, so I thought we were clear. A day or two later, broody again! Agh. Then we left for holidays.

We came back to still broody chickens, getting on for 6 weeks of broodiness – not a good thing. They can die from exhaustion, heat stress and are vulnerable to mites (which is why I sprayed before we left). They have lost a fair bit of condition.

broody

In the end, the lovely lady who sold me Alice and Eileen, and the chicks, gave us four eggs due to hatch. We rushed them home in a carton wrapped up in a towel with a hot water bottle and snuck them under the broodies on Friday night.

eileen

And yesterday, we heard the sweetest little chirps coming from their respective nests!

Initially, my heart sank as I looked in on Alice to see a broken egg in the nesting box. I thought she’d squashed it. Duh. Baby chicks don’t magic themselves out of their eggs, Nanny Plum-style!

alice on chick

Each mum has hatched a chick each, with each having one egg remaining. If they don’t hatch in the next 24 hours or so, I think they won’t.

I’m hoping this is the end of broodiness for this year.

And now, of course, we have ten chickens. Sigh. A good few will be roosters and will go back to the breeder.

We have space for four to five hens in our existing set-up. I asked for hardware store gift vouchers for Christmas, and we’ve just started construction of a little growing pen to house a few more. I’ve been told this is how it all begins…

chicken coop number 2

Chickens aside, we’ve been doing a lot of this.

brio

By Friday afternoon Elena’s backslab cast had cracked in a few places, so we were back to the hospital for a new fibreglass cast. I thought it was going to take hours as we had to go via the Emergency Department, but we were out about an hour after we were triaged. I was so thankful. The triage nurse gave Elena an ice block, so the hospital’s about her favourite place ever at the moment.

In other news, well, the garden has gone feral. Between the children, the chickens and the rain, I haven’t mustered the energy to tame it. I’ll have to get my act together, so our little chicken city isn’t completely over grown.

garden overload raspberries

Hope you’ve all had good weekends – with fewer broody chickens and under-the-weather children!

Posted in chickens, garden | 3 Comments

Oopsie….or, how to break a leg in one easy step: #parentingfail

So, when we were on Norfolk we visited some friends. Who have a trampoline. Elena had a go and collapsed in a heap on her first jump. We iced it immediately and took her home to keep it elevated.

She seemed okay, but couldn’t put any weight on her leg. Didn’t cry when Hugo rough-housed with her. Was mostly perfectly happy crawling around. Whinged when she felt she was missing out on the fun.

Medical facilities on Norfolk aren’t as good as those at home, so we decided to wait it out and see if it got better.

A week later, with Elena due to go back to child care, she still wasn’t able to walk. We took her to our family GP who suspected a sprain but gave us an x-ray referral in case it was still bad in a few days and we wanted to check it out.

Thankfully we decided to get the x-ray that day because it turns out…Elena has a broken leg! To say we feel terrible is an understatement.

All of the hospital doctors are confused that there was no pain and she has been so happy.

I see a lot of this in our future. Oh my.

cast

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Norfolk break

Not many words today, just far too many photos from our time away. I couldn’t pick which ones to post, so you’re getting the (long) short-list!

We fed the iconic feral chooks. Often. All was good until one of the ducks mistook Hugo’s finger for a snack. We’re still getting lectures about that one.

feeding the chickens Norfolk roosters

Went swimming, but not as often as we would have liked. Norfolk received 269.6mm of rain in December – above the 95th percentile in the climate data. In data collected since 1890, the island has averaged 87.2mm of rain in December.

emily bay

Had fun at the Christmas pageant. Elena and I rode in the Austin (Alice) with my father, and then joined in the festivities at the end.

fun at the parade

Went looking for treasures – blissfully, I got to sleep in during this excursion!

looking for treasure tern

Caught up on sleep.

sleeping

Played with Christmas presents.

ribbons

Went horse riding for the first time and lived to tell the tale.

riding2

Fell in love with horses. Uh oh.

delta

Watched my father pick bananas the easy way.

bananas

Cooed over the cute calves wandering the roads.

calf

Went looking for tropic birds in Alice. The birds nest on the ground underneath Norfolk pine trees – and we keep our distance.

in the austin tropic bird music valley

‘Helped’ Granddad grease and oil the Harley.

greasing the harley

Ate too much.

passionfruit curd cake

Climbed into the hollow tree for our ritual photographs.

Hugo in tree Elena in tree

Got a snap of four generations, all together.

family

And watched some beautiful sunsets.

sunset

It feels like we didn’t get up to much, but the photographs tell a different story. We’re home now and all holiday-ed out, for this year at least.

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29°03’30″S 167°57’05″E

While I’ve written about Norfolk Island before, I’ve never shared any photos of the island’s extensive collection of convict-era buildings and ruins. The buildings here were all built during the second convict settlement (1825-1853) and subsequently used by the Pitcairn settlers when they arrived in 1856. The ruins form a part of daily life on Norfolk – you drive through them to get to the main swimming beaches. The cattle graze outside the New Gaol complex walls. It’s quiet and peaceful – and feels like time has stood still, just for a second.

kingston lighter in profile kingston2 new gaol flags flag house kingston pier cattle cottage engineers lighter at kingston new gaol and cattle survey

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Looking forward

I’m looking forward to 2015. This last year has been a complete slog, personally and professionally. I couldn’t count the number of times we’ve been sick (although none of the illnesses have been serious – we’re lucky for that). I broke my toe and it still hurts.

strapped toe

Most of the time it seemed like it all was happening at once, with illness and stressful events popping up, seemingly back-to-back. I returned to work in January, which changed the way our family ticked. A lot. The children are much bigger and brighter. We love them to bits.

munchkins gone

I am desperately hoping 2015 will be kinder to our family. I don’t think I could do 2014 again. I held it together, but only just.

pink tulip

I had some goals last new year. I’m happy to say that I achieved a good few of them. I was easier on myself – I stopped stressing about the house and got a cleaner. I am slowly sorting through stuff and decluttering.

We got our chicken coop and chickens,  although we lost our first three girls to illness and predator attack. I’ve learned a lot about keeping chooks.

brave ada

eggs

The garden has ticked along, and there’s less vinca in our yard than there was at the beginning of the year. I’ll call that a win. We had a heavy berry crop coming on when we left for our holidays. I hope there are some left when we return.

berries

I did a lot of sewing and a bit less knitting. I knitted myself a cowl but didn’t end up blogging it. I’m still not sure if I like it. A year later and I still haven’t finished sewing our curtains.

I failed dismally on the exercise front. I was accurate in my assessment that returning to work part time would result in less craft and more juggling. Elena dropping her day sleep didn’t help (and now Hugo’s followed in her footsteps)!

grapefruit love collage 2

Blogging definitely suffered, and so did my yarn dyeing. There was much, much less baking.

fruit and nut bliss balls

And what for 2015? Well, I’m hoping there’ll be more sleep, sewing, knitting, dyeing and blogging. I’d like to get a little more serious about my etsy store. I’m going to start keeping track of works in progress and finished objects. I need to finish more of the craft projects I start.

hexagons

Hopefully we’ll have more holidays. We have our chicks in the brooder growing bigger by the day (kindly cared for by family and friends over our break – thank you!), and I’m looking forward to finding out how many girls are in the group.

chicks

I’m hoping to take some sewing lessons and get serious about sewing for myself with the help of a talented friend. I’d like the garden to stop looking so messy, and get out of it’s teenager-like transition from overgrown mess to what I want it to become. I’m planning to enrol in a Masters degree program. I’m considering joining a gym with a creche….maybe. Shock. Horror. No really, that’s a massive step for me.

So there we have it.

We survived 2014 and are looking forward to sinking our teeth into 2105.

Happy New Year!

great twirl

The WordPress.com stats folk put together a year in review for each WordPress blog. It’s an interesting snapshot of my very slow blogging year. I’m going to challenge myself to hop back on here more often this year.

Thank you for reading along! You lot are the people I chat to when I can’t get out of the house…which is often.  I can talk to you about sewing and knitting and baking and my garden ad nauseam without boring you to tears. It’s nice to know someone’s reading.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Hugo turns two

Our little one has turned two and I can’t quite believe it!

What a year it has been. Hugo has turned from a wobbly baby into determined toddler. He loves anything with wheels – and his chickens, of course.

blockHugo and his bear looking for the chickens dribble bib for Hugo Hugo and Alex Hugo reading chicken love chick Hugo at stables Hugo with ducks and chickens

The baby years are well and truly leaving us and while it is a sad feeling, I’m also rather glad. We are looking forward to what the next few years will bring as the children grow older and we are free to do more together.

car cake

We had a little birthday celebration with island friends yesterday, complete with cake. We will have another get together with our Canberra friends when we get back.

car blowing candles

So, happy birthday, Hugo! We love you to the moon and back, and wish you a happy and healthy third year.

Posted in raising children | 4 Comments