Chicken induced tourettes

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Hi All,

I was just hanging out over the deck rail muttering expletives at one of our chickens. Her name is Minnie, not after the mouse of American fame but after the Minx of U.K. comic fame. Minnie the Minx was a horror of a child who spent most of her time terrorising the neighbourhood. Our version of Minnie arrived on Serendipity Farm in a clutch of eggs that was hatched out by a particularly vigilant hen who protected her offspring with zeal. We have the ultimate hen munching pest control in the form of an overstuffed spotted quoll that arrives every few days to extract another one from a shrub where it is dozing at night. Minnie’s mum was clever and took her enormous brood into the chicken coop to avoid natural selection thus we have a large population of what we called “tumblebugs” because they used to tumble down over the foliage whenever we called the chooks and were always first in line for any treats.

Minnie the Minx UK style
Earl preventing me from wasting time on the internet.
Earl repeating the process, this time with added pillows for protective comfort.
Earl enjoying the lounge room fire to the max. It is certainly keeping us warm being a 2 fire household this winter πŸ™‚
Earl listening to me talking to Steve on the mobile phone on one of our morning walks last week
Earl looking for Bezial as he heard him barking on the phone πŸ˜‰

Minnie was one of the smallest tumblebugs but one of the most tenacious. She learned early on that human’s come bearing gifts and now hangs around us whenever we go out into the back yard. I put cheese chunks out onto the deck in the morning every day for the butcher birds and currawongs to take back to their babies and I drop the occasional chunk down to the thronging chicken masses below sort of like the pope or the queen bestowing blessings and well wishes on the crowds. I am nothing if not a benevolent monarch. Minnie has the ability to snarf cheese from the jaws of doom and steals EVERYTHING that you throw out to the hens. She even stole a chunk of cheese from out of Pawley, one of our feral cats, mouth. I may, or may not, have been swearing quite loudly at Minnie as she guzzled her way through a series of treats meant for other beaks/mouths and suddenly realised that it is Sunday and that church was just out for the day…sigh…

The best shot I can get of the full moon over the water. Its spectacular when its clear and crisp but camera’s just can’t capture that vision.
Earl and I sitting on the deck back in 2013 when we took these photos in winter (around about this time 5 years ago) we were taking photos using colour schemes and mine was “blue” thus I was wearing Steve’s blue hoodie
The “Steve” version of the same photo πŸ˜‰ can you guess which colour Steve chose? πŸ˜‰
Olive trees dug up from a vineyard not too far away from Serendipity Farm, growing on the road verge. They are currently planted out in one of the unused wicking beds to overwinter till we can work out where to put them. Olive grove, here we come!
An accidental photo of my kitchen cupboard. This used to be my dad’s pantry but I got Steve to remove most of the shelving as it wasn’t efficient and now I keep my 10kg bags of flour, potatoes, onions etc. in here along with the microwave and my recycling, compost and actual bin bins. I am all for honest journalism and this photo was taken accidentally and I figure it deserves to be included in this post.

It’s been raining on the odd occasion so far this winter which is great because we don’t have to water anything aside from the potted plants on the deck. Seven of the persimmon seeds that I rescued from the road and told you about in my last blog post have germinated and I potted them up into pots and have them on the kitchen table to keep them warm till spring comes. This morning, on our way over to Beaconsfield to pick up a couple of sacks of grain to keep Minnie and her bunch happy, I noticed that “the man” who lives on the corner and who has a glorious selection of espalier fruit trees had been at it again and was throwing his persimmons out into the road. Another screeching halt later and I was collecting them up to bring home, feeling like I had won the lottery. The dogs didn’t get a walk today as it’s raining steadily but I did get some persimmons so all is not lost.

The first batch of persimmon seeds in damp kitchen towel in a ziploc bag on the kitchen table near Brunhilda’s warmth have germinated!
I potted seven of them up and the pots are on a tray on the kitchen table where they will hopefully stay warm and keep growing till spring when they can be hardened off and moved outside
This mornings persimmon hoard gleaned from the roadside near the espalier garden just up the road from here.
Persimmon futures!

I am a creature that likes to plan. I enjoy the process of planning and the act of planning and the research of the planning phase and although I tend to baulk at the actualities of “doing” after the planning phase, the planning phase is always incredibly well executed indeed. Steve is not a creature who likes to plan. He likes to just jump in with both feet and “DO!” at the top of his lungs with extra determination. We would make a formidable team if we were able to unite our talents and passions but we tend to be bolshie about having our own way and what could be a most promising union of sorts ends up with someone getting the irrits. Steve has been cooking a bit more lately. He decided that he wanted to recreate a U.K. style curry using curry powder. I tend to mix spices etc. to make my own and sniffed audibly at his “curry” but when I tasted it I soon backed down and got off my high horse as it was magnificent. He then decided to cook himself a (faux) meat pie with sliced potatoes on top. In Australia a potato pie has minced meat on the bottom and mashed potato on the top. In the U.K. it apparently has a beefy stew on the bottom and sliced potato on top covered by puff pastry. I guess that’s why we Aussies fled Auld blighty and moved over to the other side of the world to get away from their strange concoctions and especially their H.P. sauce (BLURG!) Steve’s pie looked suspiciously edible and the stew that he made to put into the pie with homemade seitan looked delicious.

Steve’s awesome U.K. style curry
Seitan (wheat gluten faux meat), mushroom, pea and onion stew for Steve’s faux meat and sliced potato pie
Note there are too many sliced potatoes in this pie. That is the result of a communication breakdown between Stevieboy and myself whereby I told him that I was putting extra potatoes on so that I could have some spare for the next day and he ignored me πŸ˜‰ He said it tasted wonderful anyway.

Earl isn’t a fan of missing out on walks because it is raining. Bezial could care less if it rained for days as he spends his days lounging around next to Brunhilda in a state of suspended bliss with one ear pricked up lest Earl sneak up on him while he is slumbering. Earl is like Steve and gets very bored if he doesn’t have his walk. Steve doesn’t need a walk but does need something interesting to do as he doesn’t deal with boredom well. Earl tends to find something nefarious to do if he is bored and that usually involves removing the blanket cover from “my” couch in the lounge room and scraping my bolster pillows onto the floor. I am sure a psychiatrist would have something to say about Earl’s actions but I just sigh and pick everything up and put it back for the next scraping event. We have a week of rain coming up according to the weather department. The have been on strike for a while now so I hope they aren’t just having a lend of us in order to get a pay rise a bit quicker but it is, indeed, raining at the present moment and I am, indeed, most happy that Steve and I decided to get 3 extra wheelbarrows of wood this morning up on the deck so that we wouldn’t have to get wet.

Herman (my sourdough starter) has a new home. He outgrew his jar and Steve found this container that I had in storage somewhere that is a perfect luxury home for Herman.
Here you can see Herman bubbling away happily enjoying the warmth in my kitchen and getting read for me to plunder his starting ability in the near future to make some more bread.
Loaves of sourdough potato bread
An experiment using the sourdough potato bread recipe and adding fruit to it. Success!
Sourdough cinnamon raspberry scrolls
Note to self, when making cinnamon raspberry scrolls, makes sure the filling is nice and thick rather than loose and watery or your kitchen table will end up looking like you have dissected a corpse!

I am not usually impulsive and tend to take my time making up my mind about things but the other day Steve and I were trawling Gumtree (to my overseas readers, Gumtree is a bit like Craig’s list or any other free online market place where you can advertise goods for sale but this one is local) and I noticed an excellent second hand sewing machine being offered for sale for $60. I have been tinkering around the outside of getting a sewing machine for years now. The last time I used one was when I was 15 and my long suffering sewing teacher spent most of the year rolling her eyes at my crooked hems and saying “Frances, what IS that?!” She was also the same poor long suffering teacher that had to teach me typing and the eye rolling and exclamations kept coming from one class to the next. If I don’t see the value of something I tend not to put my precious energy into it. Sewing? “Meh!” Typing? “Meh!”, Cooking? “YES PLEASE!” I was good at cooking. Can you see where this is going?

More experiments with the sourdough potato bread recipe, this time half made into a garlic and herb butter pull apart loaf to go with homemade soup.
And the other half being made into boozy (Korean raspberry wine soaked fruit) dried fruit cinnamon scrolls. I hadn’t yet iced the scrolls and had just taken them out of the oven in this image. The smell was incredible.
Delicious homemade soup and (sad pathetic) commercial garlic bread
A tasty veg and tofu intensive stir fry with peanut topping

I have a truly excellent friend who has been my friend since I was in high school, just after the sewing and typing fiasco. She is an amazing seamstress and makes glorious quilts. I can’t sew a straight hem. She has a sewing machine that costs more than a small car, I use a needle and thread and mutter with my tongue poked out as I try to thread the needle (getting harder as I get older and refuse to get glasses…) but no more I tell you! I looked at the sewing machine and Steve looked at the sewing machine and we both decided to go for it and buy it! Impulsive, thy new name is narf7. In order to purchase said sewing machine we needed to connect with the seller, a Yorkshire man living in Longford Tasmania who told us that he had someone else coming to look at the machine and that he thought he had broken something off it! Oh well, Steve and I are both of the same thought processes and believe that if you are meant to get something you will. It will be “there” for you and you will get it. Not too long after the phone call we got a call back from the Yorkshire man saying that the person didn’t turn up and were we still interested? After quizzing him and finding out that what he thought was something broken was actually the spare bobbin holder falling off (a case of the blind leading the blind for us all) and Steve was in the car with Earl the wonder dog for a 120km round trip to buy me a sewing machine πŸ™‚

The new, second hand sewing machine full of crafty promise. I have already started saving patterns that I have found on the internet to make with this glorious beast πŸ™‚ ❀
Wild fennel seeds that I collected recently and am going to plant out as I love wild fennel and I hope it grows like Topsy in the jungle garden area.
Another accidental image showing the true smudgy state of my kitchen window. I have been meaning to get out the white vinegar and some newsprint for a while now but haven’t so again, in the spirit of honest journalism I am sharing my kitchen windowsill and dirty window with the world. I figure the more of us that are honest about our day to day lives, the more honest other people can be about theirs and we can all meet somewhere in the middle and stop stressing so much about our lives not measuring up to anyone elses and can actually start to enjoy our lives no matter how or where we are living them πŸ™‚
Waste not, want not. Sourdough bread cubes being turned into breadcrumbs. I now use the sourdough breadcrumbs when I make sourdough starter and veggie fritters as it makes them delightfully crunchy where flour makes them soggy. Double sourdough goodness! Sourdough starter also acts remarkably like eggs and binds things together which is hardly surprising as it is really just “off” glue!
Homemade sourdough bread with perhaps a tad too much homemade vegan butter on it but whatchagonnadoeh? πŸ˜‰

When Steve got back I was surprised to see that it was in incredibly good nick. It works well, it can sew a straight hem (where I have difficulty) and it is going to be my new adventure in the near future when I finish off the last of the crafts that I need to finish. I made another good friend a scarf for her sister in law’s birthday. I have just finished another large project, this time knitted as I want to get myself back into the knitting ring and I have run out of things to procrastinate about with making clothes for that doll that I shared with you in my last blog post and will be making her clothes soon.

A representation of me in winter storing adipose tissue for a rainy day…sigh…
It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how cold it gets, no matter if Steve and I are rugged up like Michelin men and Earl is shivering on his lead, Bezial will dive into any reasonable sized puddle of water and wade around like it is the middle of summer!
Eggs! I found a nest that wasn’t being carefully sat on and guarded by hens! I have lots of eggs in the house now and no idea what to do with them. I might give them away to the Scottish lady up the road who was asking me if I knew anyone who sold eggs. The dogs will get some first though πŸ™‚
2 BIG bags of glorious alpaca fluff that I picked up for $20 a fleece
A handful of one of the alpaca fleeces
My carder that a friend of a friend was giving away and my friend asked me if I would like it. Yes PLEASE! ❀

Steve and I have been attempting to knock out some gardening tasks in between the rain. We tried to burn some debris butΒ it wouldn’t even light it is that damp and cold around here. It was sad watching one lonely fire lighter burning its little heart out trying to ignite a pile of debris that point blank refused to ignite. We have decided to give up on burning the debris till it dries out more, likely in Spring and will move on to other things to do around here like makeΒ  garden beds for my strawberries, blueberries, kiwifruit etc. and try to come up with ways to stop rats from eating EVERYTHING…sigh…

I have realised why my images don’t look so clear and crisp lately. The original images are in RAW format and I open them with Photoshop and edit them and we set up a macro in Photoshop to resize them at a click of a button to a specific size and I think that the macro is doing something to the images that is reducing the quality of the final image so I am going to start manually resizing them from now on. These next few images were resized with the macro and aren’t as good as they should be. This image is of King Earl standing next to the water tank. He has to keep an eye on me whenever I go out into the garden as I might be chasing chickens without him…sigh…
Crisp, cold winter sunrise on Serendipity Farm.
If a plant is going to survive on Serendipity Farm in the unprotected areas of the garden it has to be prickly, poisonous or a combination of the two. This one is prickly…
This one is poisonous
This one is unpalatable
This one is full to the back gills with tannins. It’s a walnut tree and you can see our neighbour Glad’s house behind it. Glad’s house used to be the church manse and has been standing there for almost 200 years now. A tad longer than our walnut tree…
Down in the jungle part of Serendipity Farm where the wild hens roam, looking back towards the house.

I have come to the conclusion that I am a much nicer human being in winter. It suits me. I gravitate naturally to hibernation. I put on weight easily for the colder months. I spend hours basking in front of the warm fire and I am completely content to potter around inside cooking things and doing random crafts. I have been watching the heat waves in the northern continents out of the corner of my eye while I have been basking. I realise that as we are living in Australia, one of the most ancient and arid regions in the world, that we are likely to be suffering a similar fate to the northern states in a few months time when summer arrives with a loud fanfare and a blast of hot air but I am seriously loath to give up the cold. I might have to be dragged kicking and screaming into this summer to be honest and I am going to cling to winter as long as I can. Bezial is with me on this one.

The remnants of a large black wattle tree that fell down over our rear driveway (that we don’t use) that we finally got around to tackling the other day. We are going to have to wait to finish the job till it stops raining but at least Earl and I can get through the tangled mess now to avoid the chooks at the back gate in the morning when we go on our walks.
My father planted this olive tree about 10 years ago. It wasn’t doing very well till we installed Sanctuary just behind the shed that the olive tree is growing next to and it gets all of the summer runoff from Sanctuary and is as happy as a clam now.
“Excuse me ma’am. It would appear that you have forgotten to release me from the confines of this gate. Do you think that you could please rectify your mistake forthwith and I won’t be forced to scrape the blanket from your chair and strew your bolster pillows around the lounge room in retaliation…no? It’s ON!”

I haven’t got much more to say today and It is getting dangerously close to “feed me Seymour” time where we have to feed the dogs, cats and fend off Minnie and her cohorts in the process then start making our own evening meal so I had best head off and get the afternoon processes going before they arrive on my doorstep in a tangled mass. We don’t want the chickens hopping the fence and dropping by for a visit as Earl has a problem with chicken invaders. One foolish chook decided to set up shop in one of the trees inside the house compound last night and Earl found her on one of his nocturnal excursions and killed her 😦 The excitement of the hunt obviously got to him as he no sooner got back inside (after waking me up) and snuggled up on the bed after Steve ceremoniously removed the chicken from his beak and hurled it over the fence and I finally went back to sleep and he barfed on the floor…sigh…its like having children all over again except I don’t actually remember any of my children heading out under the cover of darkness to murder chickens. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen, it only means I don’t remember it! Have an awesome time till we meet again and seriously misquoting Stephen Stills classic song…”If you can’t be in the life you love, love the life you live!” πŸ˜‰

I did warn you…
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14 Comments Add yours

  1. Jo says:

    Potato bread recipe…. pleeeeease xx PS when are you starting that sourdough bakery?? Let me know when you open up and I will be your first customer πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. paulaayn says:

      Yes, please post the potato bread recipe.

      Like

      1. narf7 says:

        No problems Paulaayn, It’s from Genius recipes and is a lovely bread to bake either classic sourdough style in boules or freeform etc. but my husband likes softer bread so I bake mine in bread tins and it comes out as a lovely soft sandwich bread that way. It’s very adaptable and is my go-to recipe now for bread in all of its delicious forms. It also makes spectacular bread crumbs and toasts for soup. I don’t add rosemary as a rule but you could add anything you like to this recipe. Here’s where I got it from… http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/sourdough-rosemary-potato-bread-140032

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I wouldn’t be without my sewing machine, hope ypu enjoy using it. PS. I LOVE HP sauce!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. narf7 says:

      My loathing of H.P. sauce comes from a childhood memory whereby my nana, who couldn’t cook to save her life, used to “feed” a large extended family by boiling a pot of expensive rump steak along with 4 entire heads of celery (I am not fond of celery either πŸ˜‰ ) and carrots for 3 straight days until it turned into something that couldn’t be recognisable and was only edible by pouring on large quantities of H.P. sauce (the only condiment my English nan had in the house). I can’t, to this day, face the smell of H.P. sauce without recoiling.

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      1. I feel your pain!!

        Like

  3. Kim says:

    What’s wrong with HP sauce!?! And might I just say that potato pie with an extra crust of pastry is a new one on me. Rant over.
    Thanks for all the photos, particularly those of Earl. In response to the chicken murdering incident, and in deference to the local cats and wildlife, I think I must withdraw the offer of an alternative home for him though!

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    1. narf7 says:

      Are you from tne north? Or Essex? They are the predominate places where Steve lived in the U.K. so I am guessing that’s where this lust for sliced potatoes on top of meat pies came from. H.P. sauce is an abomination to mankind the loathing of which came from a childhood experience with needing to use said condiment to smother something entirely inedible every Wednesday night at my nana’s. I now associate the condiment with this noxious memory and can no longer even face the smell of it. If Steve puts it into anything I can’t eat it.

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      1. Kim says:

        Northumberland. But the only meal I can think of that had sliced potatoes on top was Lancashire hotpot. Not a great favourite.
        I entirely sympathise with the experience you describe with HP sauce – enough to turn anyone off it.

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      2. narf7 says:

        Lancashire hotpot was my gran’s thing too. She was from Oldham and the best bit of it was the potato top I never liked lamb even back then.

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    2. narf7 says:

      By the way, Earl isn’t a fan of flying. That’s how he arrived on our fair and verdant shores from arid South Australia (coincidentally the serial killer capital of Australia πŸ˜‰ ) and the first glimpse of him was in his dog cage with his nose pointing down which is his classic stance whenever he is “not amused”. He was born to hunt as his father was a hunting dog (for kangaroos and wallabies) and he will chase anything that gets too close to the house block and if it gets in, unless its a dog or a human, it’s fair game. Bezial on the other hand can wander through flocks of anything without breaking a sweat although he does get interested in things and try to sniff them which occasionally breaks them out in conniptions, especially the chickens πŸ˜‰

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      1. Kim says:

        Poor Earl – although it sounds as though the chickens have troubles enough to bear πŸ˜‚

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      2. narf7 says:

        The chickens are living on borrowed time as far as I am concerned. The particular bunch of chickens that Earl has been “predating” come into the confines of the back yard fence, scratch ALL of the mulch off the ancient fruit trees that need all of the nutrients that they can get as the possums eat most of their leaves every year…sigh… and decimate my compost heap. They are the fly in, fly out equivalent of miners working overseas and Earl is the big bad wolf! I can’t keep mulch on anything unless I weight it down with rocks so Earl is actually doing us a favour as most of them are roosters…

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      3. Kim says:

        Oh dear, and if you are both vegan then you won’t even want the eggs. I can’t think of anything particularly advantageous that chickens provide in a garden so maybe Earl is doing you a good service.
        I was never part I find of Lancashire hotpot either. The lamb used always seemed to be yucky fatty. I can cope with fat when it’s crispy but not just soaked in gravy so it’s flabby.

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