Monday, March 24, 2014

Sour crop chook

Our restful Sunday afternoon suddenly went in to first aid mode when Ads noticed one of our chooks was acting weird. She was bustin' some pretty funky dance moves - something like a cross between a snake and a youthful Young Talent Time hopeful. But she didn't look happy. Her eyes were blinky and her tail was droopy. After an extensive 10 minute Google lit review I diagnosed sour crop. This is when the crop gets full of sour, fermenting, smelly, acidy liquid possibly caused by some kind of fungal infection. You can feel her crop and its enlarged and soft like a balloon - so the computer told me.

The cure was unnerving. We had to make her vomit. The idea of sticking my finger down my chooks throat to release the stinking mess in her crop did not appeal to me. But as luck has it, my sister walked through the door just at this moment. Adam and Sarah are the crisis A-team. While I go all flakey and start dry reaching at the thought of leaky animals, Adam and Sarah hold their nerve. 

The strategy was to maker the chook spew then give her yogurt. Sarah also suggested adding garlic to the yogurt, Tzatziki style. Quin wanted in on the action and made mix under his aunty's watchful eye. 

Now, the vomit bit was pretty gross but not difficult to achieve. In fact Ads just picked her up and she started dripping liquid from her beak. Then he just tipped her like a teapot and more came out. You have to only do it for a few seconds at a time so they can breath. Good to know. Sarah gently pressed her crop to get the last of the liquid out. It didn't seem to distress her at all - I imagine it would have been a relief. Poor spew girl. We let her have a little run then spoon fed her the yogurt/garlic mix. We probably only got about a a teaspoon down her.

I put her in the broody box overnight with a small amount of grain mixed in with her yogurt and clean water. Poor spew girl.

This morning she seems fine, so I've let her out and will keep a close eye on her. Fingers crossed she pulls through!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Olive time

It's olive time again in Perth, so I went out picking today. My favourite verge tree is loaded again after a year off and the owner said no worries to pick from it. I picked 20kg for pickling in just one hour!

This should last us a year (we like olives in our family). I went to the supermarket and checked out how much this would cost me out of interest. The cheapest olives were $4 for 500g. This means my hour's work, plus a couple more for processing, has saved me $160. And they're organic and local produce, unlike the supermarket stuff...

My pickling method is described here, it's pretty simple and easy. When they're ready I don't even jar them up, I just leave the bucket under the kitchen table and scoop some out with a slotted spoon.

Don't be put off by the scummy look, once you rinse the olives they're yummy.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Twilight on the Horizon

After helping out at such an awesome and busy event as Less is More, you'd think I'd be hanging up the gazebo for a bit...but no, between my work, my family and my love of community gardening, we lurch on to the next wonderful event. The next one is the Twilight Fair and its a biggie. Its our annual Hilton Harvest celebration and this will be the fourth one, and no doubt the best!

My sister coordinates it and I'm her right hand woman. Its a really fun thing to do together. Sarah gets all fired up about it around November and makes a crazy mindmap of everything we need to do on the back of her kids pre-primary drawings. This becomes our one, precious planning document for the next four months. Generally, the idea is to sort out funding from the City of Fremantle and LotteryWest (which is usually approved no more than three weeks before the event!) and then con a few friendly locals into coordinating stalls, making flyers, baking, singing and dancing on the day. A few hundred emails later and it all falls in to place. And this is what it looks like; community at its best. Fun, free, wholesome, home.

We are super excited to have Wadumbah Indigenous Dance performing this year. They are also doing workshops with the kids at Hilton Primary School beforehand so they can help in the performance on the night - Its going to be fun! 

We also have kids woodworking, craft activities, an awesome pirate, a whole evening of entertainment with various bands, choirs, dancers, and musicians - event a string quartet! There is a scarecrow competition, an 'ask a gardening expert' table and cargo bike rides plus heaps of lovely food. We love our little event and made a conscious decision to keep it small and local. We only allow local, not-for-profit groups to have stalls so you wont find any coke for sale or any corporate plastic give aways. We run our own washing up stand so there is no plastic disposable cutlery or plates. 

Its great for the community to get together to just have a chance and celebrate. We've decided that our aim is not to raise money (though it does add a few grand to the bank account) but its more about getting people into the garden and into the spirit of things. 

I have to be honest and say that its a whole lot of work and Ads and Quin do suffer for the cause - not to mention my housework or my own garden. But to me, its worth it. We want to raise our boy in a community where people know each other and were there is a place to be outside and be creative. Organizing the fair and being involved in the garden makes me talk to heaps of people I would not otherwise even ever meet. It opens doors and makes life richer. And THAT is worth celebrating! Come along if you're in town!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Book Review - Living the Good Life by Linda Cockburn

I've decided to do the odd book review on the blog which is funny because I read very slowly and I don't really like books. But that means the ones that make it to the blog will be well worth it. I promise to only review books I've read all the way through.

I do like some books. Its novels I don't like. I am too feeble of heart to handle all the emotions. Its hard enough in life to deal with real people (self included), let alone made up ones. I mean, I can handle Bridget Jones's Diary but Captain Corelli's Mandolin; no, Catch 22; forget it. I also think its a waste of my time reading novels where the end of the story is already written. With the non-fiction stuff I'll review here, its about learning what is going on in our world and then feeling empowered to do something about it. We, good people, are the ones who will be writing the end to this story of our troubled world.
So to the review. Living the Good Life by Linda Cockburn (2006) is one of the two books that changed our lives (the second book review is coming...). I read it quite a few years ago now, but still enjoy flicking through it. The book is about a family in Queensland who go for six months without spending any money in order to be kind to the plant, kind to their bodies and to experience all the other beneficial spin offs the 'experiment' might entail. Linda calls it an experiment in 'domestic sustainability' rather than self sufficiency because that ' implies 'going it alone' or turning away from the world'. They provide what the family needs by growing it, using animals, using solar panels and water tanks and bartering (apart from exemptions like the mortgage and medical bills) all on a large suburban block of 2180 square metres. The family had been planning the experiment for a good few years before hand and had established fruit trees and other infrastructure already in place, as well as many skills like bread making, gardening and so on. Linda's partner is a genius at making/fixing/inventing all sorts of things in his 'recycling centre'. 

From me it gets five and a half stars out of five:

  • One star because despite the fact this family is 100% amazing they are lovable, fallible and human: 'Caleb ate the last of the chocolate today...I feign disinterest as Caleb ate it while secretly hyperventilating.' I would do that but I was also inspired to think one day I could have a goat of my own too, damn it. 
  • The second star is because it is simply beautifully written. 
  • The third star is for geeky respect. The book is so well researched with facts about everything from the nutritional information of snails to the effects of volatile organic compounds (VOC's) to the specs on various types of hot water systems. 
  • The fourth star is for its humor
  • The fifth star is for all the doable tips and recopies
  • The half star is because it was a life changer. I love her final comments, 'Your actions will not save the world. Who cares, it was never the goal. It's about doing the things that are within your power to do. That's all you can do. Don't think of it as an obligation, think of it as an adventure.'
Linda also keeps a blog, Living the Good Life and has a facbook page, both well worth checking out.