Diary of a Cackleberry Farmer (November 2015)
It's Almost Christmas
Well November is almost over and while my friends in the US of A have been enjoying their Thanksgiving celebrations, we here in Queensland, Australia having been sweltering in the heat (38 degrees Celsius yesterday) and beginning to realise that Christmas is just around the corner.
It is a Hansen tradition to erect our Christmas tree and hang the decorations on the 1st December each year and that is only a couple of days away. Thankfully we completed most of our shopping for presents early this year so the next few weeks won't be so stressful trying to think of last minute gifts.
A Couple Reunited
The good news is that my wife Kathy has finally returned home after her six week sojourn in Darwin. Even though I like my animal companions, it's wonderful to once again have human company (especially my wife).
When she arrived back in Queensland the weather was still pleasantly cool, especially at night, so Kathy was treated to a couple of weeks relief from Darwin's oppressive tropical heat. For the last week however we here in South East Queensland are enduring a record breaking heatwave, so her reprieve was short lived.
Now for a little geography lesson For non-Australian readers. Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory and 3492 kilometres north-west from Brisbane, Queensland's capital and closest airport to where we live at Ballogie. So in order to get from Darwin to Ballogie, Kathy had to endure a 3 1/2 hour flight followed by a 3 1/2 hour drive.
Life Away from the Farm
About a week before Kathy was to fly home we were informed by our eldest granddaughter, Chloe, that her high school graduation ceremony was on 13th November, and she asked if we would be able to attend. Kathy was due to arrive back in Brisbane airport at 5.30am on the morning of 12th and had to be home to teach a weaving class on 14th. It was pushing it and meant we would have to stay in Brisbane for an extra day and then travel home late at night immediately after the graduation, but we decided to do it.
Other major November events included grandsons, Ash and Dylan (same family) both having birthdays as well. In fact it was Dylan's first, and we went to his birthday party in Kingaroy. Their father, Jared (our middle son) competed in his first Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) fight in over ten years and emerged victorious after three gruelling two minute rounds. He now has the enviable record of three fights for three wins.
Meanwhile our youngest son, Trent (also a Muay Thai fighter under temporary retirement due to an injury earlier in the year) has started up his own gymnasium, with two friends, in Darwin.
None of this has anything to do with the Cackleberry Farm other than to explain why I haven't been home a lot this month and for the lack of small acreage news. Besides, as you see, I get easily side-tracked once I begin to write and often go off in weird tangents.
Timber! A Tree Across the Driveway
As I mentioned earlier, the day after we arrived home from Brisbane, Kathy had to travel to Murgon to teach a weaving class for the CWA (Country Women's Association) for which she is a craft convenor. Five minutes after she left home I heard the car horn "beep." After a wild storm the previous night (which thankfully didn't hit while we were still on the road) A large tree had been uprooted and blown over across our only driveway.
Kathy asked me to grab the chainsaw and come with her so I could clear the roadway. Being the good husband I am :) I responded willingly, fuelling up the chainsaw before going with her to chop up the tree. I didn't want her to be late for her class, especially as she was the teacher, so I agreed to let her be on her way and I'd walk home. If you have read my hub "Take a Walk With Me" you'll be familiar with the length of my driveway. Anyway the fallen tree was located about 1 1/2 kilometres from the house..on foot, carrying a heavy chainsaw..piece of piss. I am an Aussie after all.
The good news is that we have a good supply of firewood already cut and ready for next winter.
Home on the Farm
Back on the farm one new chicken has hatched. Remember the the poor clucky hen who had been siting on the macadamia nuts? Well, the second egg I placed under her finally hatched. Hallelujah! She is now the proud mother of a healthy bouncing baby chick.
The previous three chickens to hatch are now almost full grown and very unique in appearance. Our poultry are such a mixed breed that no one can say they all look the same. Out of a total of thirteen, only three of the hen's are similar in appearance. They are a mix of White Leghorn, Ilsa Red, Pekin Bantam, and Silky..a very diverse looking flock.
The extreme heat effects the chickens as much, if not more, than the humans (at least we can escape inside to the air conditioning). They are really only active in the early morning hours and late afternoon. The rest of the time they are just sitting quietly wherever they can find some shade.
Having two roosters we have no need for an alarm clock on the Cackleberry Farm. They treat us to a wonderful rendition of "duelling cock-a-doodle-do" at sunrise each morning.
Some Pros and Cons of Rural Living
Because I haven't been home on the Cackleberry farm for any extended period this month, and due to some welcome rainfall followed by sunshine, I decided to mow as much of our two acre house block as I could while I had the chance.
Well, just my luck, the ride-on mower wouldn't start! It is a temperamental bugger and only kicks over when it's in the mood. Because of long periods without use over the winter months, due to the grass remaining dormant, I do have the battery connected to a solar panel that continuously trickle charges it (supposedly). So much for that. This time I had to resort to mowing as much as I could with the manual push mower. Yeah, more exercise for me!
Living on a rural property is great and some of the pros are:
- surrounded by nature
- peace and quite
- no arguing with neighbours
- fresh air
- starlit nights
- grow your own fruit and vegetables
- virtually all the animals you want
- Country people help each other out, bartering one service or item for another etc.
However, wherever there are pros unfortunately, there also has to be cons.
- If you have an accident or health issue such as a heart attack you are not close to medical assistance and it can take an ambulance almost an hour to reach you (based on my location)
- Excess of creepy crawlies: bugs, snakes, goannas, spiders, scorpions, centipedes etc. If you have any phobias you will be forced to face them
- Poor Internet and mobile/cell phone coverage
- Because we do not have a town water supply we need water tanks and a pump to supply water to the house. If there is a power outage the pump can't work so there is no supply of water to the house and you can't flush toilets either.
- No corner stores or take-away/take-out stores within miles so you have to make sure you buy all your groceries etc for the week or fortnight when you go to town
- You also have to learn to be a jack of all trades because if a piece of equipment breaks down, or is just downright ornery, you have to deal with it yourself. No mechanic, electrician, or plumber will drive 50 kilometres on the spur of the moment to fix it for you. You have to actually book them a month in advance so they can combine jobs in your area, and you still have to pay $100 call out fee before they even do any work.
Anyway, I'll try to start the ride-on again later today when the weather cools down. Maybe it will be in a better mood. Knowing my luck we will get a late afternoon storm and it will prevent me mowing anyway.
Another Recent Outing
Getting away from the farm once again, last Saturday we drove to Toowoomba so that Kathy could pick up another spinning wheel (I think she has seven now). We couldn't pass this up as it was a "give away" and almost never used.
As usual however, our timing wasn't the best and we became stuck in the middle of nowhere for over an hour due to a car in front of us flipping over and blocking the single lane road. That was fun, or at least a talking point, and fortunately it appears that no one was killed or seriously hurt.
The spinning wheel has provided Kathy with a new project and it will keep her busy restoring it. She disassembled it yesterday, cleaned it, reglued the wheel, and painted it with primer/undercoat. She is still to decide how she will finish it off, but has mentioned trying to give it a "steam punk" theme. I can't wait to see the finished product. I have a very talented wife.
I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes
Sorry to disappoint the nature lovers among you (snake and arachnid fans at least) as I am not including pics of either in this hub. There hasn't been a snake in sight so far this month (touch wood as the weather is warming up) and although there have been spiders I haven't seen any big enough or scary enough to make my hair stand on end.
There have been a couple of geckos hiding behind wall prints and ready to ambush any unwary moths or bugs (I love geckos), and a small brown frog who appears around the kitchen sink at night and appears to have made his home in a flower vase during the day. Unfortunately I haven't managed to capture these on the camera yet. Maybe next hub in the series.
Th..th..that's All Folks
Wow! For a hub I envisaged having trouble filling this certainly surprised me. I really got carried away didn't I? In person it is hard to get a word out of me (unless discussing a subject I feel deeply passionate about) but as soon as I have a pen in my hand it's a totally different story. As a kid, and young adult working in an office I used to doodle all the time. If I picked up a pen or pencil and there was an exercise book, notebook, or desk blotter within reach it would soon be full of drawings. I have finally grown out of that (somewhat) and now I write words instead.
Well, th..th..that's all for now folks. Until next time, stay safe, and thank you for reading this all the Way to the end.
Chicken Products and Behaviours: Permaculture
More by this Author
A new and long-awaited installment of the Cackleberry Farmer Series about the life on a small scale, backyard chicken farm and the trials and benefits involved in living that rural lifestyle.
We all love pets but some are more expensive and difficult to keep successfully than others. Chickens are an economical and easy alternative to the traditional pets like cats and dogs.
A simple guide to teaching yourself to draw, or at least improving your drawing ability by utilising/training the right (artistic) side of your brain.