Sunday, December 20, 2009

Chicks, chooks and cock-a-doodle-doo's!

Time for a well overdue chooky post ...... WARNING - this has turned out to be a LONG update!!!

Remember our little fluffy chickies last seen here and here - well they have grown unbelievably and are now 9 weeks old today! A couple of weeks ago I finally managed to post some photos and questions on Backyard Poultry, and had some great feedback on my flock of many colours.

The BEST NEWS is that 'Big Grey' (who Mick the breeder told us at day 1 was a cockeral because of his colour) is actually a female !!! Whoooo hooo! I have had a soft spot for Big Grey since day 1, and when we thought it was a 'he' it was tough as we had no silver girls to justify keeping 'him' for breeding. But Mick admitted he was wrong with that one - so now the chicky formerly known as Big Grey is ..... SILVIE ! (ok, maybe not that inventive for a Blue-laced Silver, but at least the name fits and it is girly!)
He also said she has incredible lacing for a young chick and will grow to be stunning! Well, we knew that already ;-)


Speaking of name changes, the chick formerly known as 'Goldie' (because she had such a golden head) grew up to be almost totally black! My daughter thought of the name B.G. (kids cartoon character), which we thought fits perfectly, since she is actually a Blue-laced Gold! Her lacing is not quite correct, very thick for a wyandotte, which is why she is very dark with gold highlights, but we love her so much that doesn't bother us at all.

She is the most incredible chook I've ever known (ok, thats not that many, but still...) I swear she is like a pet cat or dog!!! She will come up to us straight away looking for a pat and loves sitting on my lap being stroked. Yesterday she even JUMPED ON MY BACK when I was bending down- honestly!!! She hopped right up to my shoulder! I was freaking out a bit, but she thought it was great!

Meet~ B.G. !

Blondie is still called Blondie (at my son's insistance!) She is beautiful, a Blue-laced Gold 'Sport' which basically means she is unusually light. White, pale grey and gold and beautiful lacing already. She hasn't changed her flightiness since she was a chick, I am sure she hatched thinking she was a budgie! If she doesn't settle down soon (whick she might as she is getting much bigger and heavier) we will probably have to clip her wings to stop her flying over the fence!


So..... that's the hens.

Now, the 2 boys. Oh, yes, did I mention we have TWO roosters-in-training?!!

And here we hit a problem. We love them, really- they are gorgeous! When we didn't know what we would end up with, we were hoping to be able to keep one rooster so we can breed our own lines in the future (in our area the council allow roosters, but only if your neighbours don't complain). We even have someone wanting to buy a surplus rooster if we ended up with more than one (hi Xena!)

But how do we pick one to keep? They are very different, but both lovely, and its sooooo hard to let one go! I asked on BYP which would be the best for matching up with our girls, but apparently they are both winners!

We haven't renamed Big Red or Racey (even though Racey no longer has his racing stripes!) in a weak attempt to lessen the attachment..... yeah.

There is a glimpse of Big Red above with Blondie- a Blue-laced Silver with some mysterious red in there too. He has the most amazing colours and patterns -black, blue, white and deep reddish brown. Initially thought his colours made him no good for breeding, but it turns out he would be good for Gold-laced or Silver laced hens, (which we have both of) and he will produce an amazing array of coloured chicks. (This info from a breeder with a LOT of genetic knowledge!) Apart from that, he is the best natured cockeral I could imagine. He is very placid, happy to be stroked and I reckon really handsome too!

Big Red

The other cockeral is Racey, a Blue-laced Gold. He is the more obvious choice to keep because his colour and lacing are very good, much more typical wyandotte so may breed more true-to-type. The breeder I bought the eggs from reckons he will be excellent knowing his stock lines. He is a bit more flighty, way too heavy to fly anywhere but not so much into playing the pet and having strokes. Like Big Red, not aggressive, just a bit more nervous.


So, what to do......? Neither is crowing yet, so not sure which (if either) will be noisier. Neither is aggressive. Both fine for breeding.

We have thought (naively possibly) that we can keep them both..... but the problems with that may be -

1. We don't NEED 2 roosters (could be said we don't need one...)
2. The crowing may increase if they set each other off
3. Which may not go down well with neighbours! (or us)
4. Extra chook to feed who is not keeping themselves in egg production!
5. Aggression problems if they fight over position or over the hens (will be 2 roo's to 5 hens)
6 ..... Jacqui from lifeinthedome pointed out that the hens may well be exhausted from all the ...erm.... roosterly ..... attentions!!! Crikey I never even thought of that!

So for now, they are still together, with the occasional mild and gentlemanly hackle-raising and STARING contests (honestly, it is hilarious!) And while they are smaller, they are still being bossed around by the long-standing chooks Ruby and Lady ---


Who knew that we would end up here? Wondering how many we can keep? I didn't think I would even like roosters! Just over a year ago when we got our first chooks, I couldn't even hold them, I was terrified of them flapping! Seems hilarious now :-)

I can see why people end up with a crazy amount of chooks LOL! Especially raising them from chicks, they are so friendly and much more like pets, I love them! And I'm not the only one .... hubby wants to keep them all too, and of course our kids do too.....

Oh well, Christmas time is too busy  be making such decisions.......!


PS - Just as an afterthought ---- it turns out that apart from being thrown off the scent with Big Grey/Silvie, my first instincts were right about all the other chicks' genders! And they say you can't tell with wyandottes until they start laying or crowing.... ;-)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas crafting

Here are just a few of the many things now adorning our home......!

Our children made these beautiful snowflakes at preschool. They were laminated and given pretty Christmas ribbons, and then given to us at the preschool party last weekend to take home.

Our advent calender with a difference ~ instead of taking gifts out of pockets, the idea is to add a gift to the tree each day. All the decorations are numbered up to 24, and a little piece of velcro makes it easy for little ones to attach them. I really liked the idea of giving to the tree, rather than getting a cheap chocolate or plastic toy. They are happy to takes turns each day too, and good at keeping track of whose day it is!

I bought the panel from ebay, added padding, bit of quiliting with spare fabric on the back, and then the kids and I got to work adding lots of glitter to 'highlight' toys and candles etc. Actually by the end, almost everything has glitter on it! The joys of being 4 :-)

I made this cushion from a panel I bought on ebay too. The photo doesn't show it well but I padded the front and quilted a little around the borders. I backed it with red corduroy and a matching strip across the back.

And these ones for the grown-ups.... I bought a huge panel with 2 cushion fronts and 3 stockings on it from.... yep, you guessed it -ebay! The whole panel only cost me $2 and I think the cushions have come out great! I backed them with some lovely upholstery fabric from my stash, one gold and one cream. I have never done anything padded like this before, so it was a great experiment. I kept it simple and just sewed around the borders and star lines to make it appear quilted. There are beautiful gold angels and words to carols around the centre, I love them. 

Our home is becoming so colouful and Christmassy with kids decorations on the tree and on the walls and doors. Less than 2 weeks to go which is just as well, we are running out of room!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

From the mouths of babes.....

Whilst listening to 'Little Drummer Boy' on a Christmas CD ~ our daughter (4) singing along ....

"Come they told me

.... me and my MUM. "



Thursday, November 26, 2009

A serious health issue for our children

I have been wondering whether to do this as a request and finally decided to take the responsibility as it is such an important issue.

Mountain locals may have seen in yesterday's BM Gazette a story about a couple of children suffering health problems due to the unflued gas heaters in Blackheath Public School. While the article outlined their personal story, I thought it was a real shame that they didn't mention the campaign that has been running for a while trying to raise awareness and gather signatures on their petition.  (Campaign Opposing Unflued Gas Heating).

I am concerned personally because my children will be attending Blackheath school next year, however the reality is that many schools across the Blue Mts and NSW have unflued gas heaters which are posing a threat to our children's health. It is a particular problem to us as we have more cool days requiring heating than schools in many other areas.

There is a huge amount of evidence worldwide linking health problems with this type of heating- and it has been BANNED for many years in most other countries, and in every state of Australia except NSW. W.A recently ordered complete removal of all of these heaters from schools by Christmas this year - (ironically due to this NSW campaign) but yet our own schools still have them. (It is not a decision of each school, but of each State's Dept. Education and Training). There is a load of info on the COUGH website if you want to know more.

OK, I've stood on my soapbox long enough, thank you for reading this far!! Now some ACTION---

Whether this affects your children directly or you just care about other childrenPlease take 2 minutes to sign the online petiton here --

It is very easy - just your name and email and they send a confirmation email to make sure you are genuine. (And if you have more than one email address both parents can sign it) I'm not asking that you stand outside protesting with banners (!) just a quick online signature .... and if you know anyone else with young children- please feel free to pass this on.

We need to ensure all of our children are safe in their schools.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lost my mojo...

LOST - One Blogging Mojo. Energy to get stuff done.

LAST SEEN - Looking very flat and tired, wandering aimlessly. Doing half jobs.

If anyone knows how I can find my mojo, or how to tempt it back I would be most appreciative of some advice.

REWARD? Well maybe I can finally write again (if I manage to get anything done worth writing about). Maybe even stick a few nice pics in there too.

Friday, November 6, 2009

My new (old) sewing table

I've been meaning to blog this for over a week, but chicks seem to be dominating everything at the moment! I found this table by chance at an op shop last week, it was sitting outside, shouting out to me! Apparently it had just been donated, it certainly wasn't there the week before when I called in. At just $30 I bought it straight away, luckily hubby was with me to do the heavy lifting :-)

Its an old Janome table, same brand as my sewing machine, and its really sturdy! Lovely solid timber except for the veneer on the drawer fronts, with only a few marks on it, great condition for an old table I think.

The top has 2 hinged 'arms' which fold outward, really smoothly, 4 drawers and a little flip out bit at the front, maybe for pins etc? Strangely reminds me of the old school desks we used to use in England (minus the inkwells- yes, I really am that old!) I don't know how old it is, I'm thinking maybe 70's because of the veneer?
I emailed Janome asking for any info such as how I might be able to fit a new machine to it, but no replies :( 
I do know that they don't even make tables now though.

Of course, these impulse buys are not always thought through perfectly .... mmmm.... I assumed I would be able to fit my machine in the space but unfortunately not.....

I think it would have once had it's own machine fitted, and thanks to some knowledgable folk over at ALS I am told there would have been 2 hinges at the back holding the machine in, and it would have folded down into the table. No way that can happen with my machine, firstly its the wrong size for the hole and secondly modern machines are way heavier than the old ones.

I am thinking maybe just filling the top in with a board so my machine can just sit on the top, that way I can still open the top parts up to spread fabric out etc. Or even easier, just stick it on the top like this !!

But still, I am very happy with it. I think it's a great old table and just what I need. Now, I just need to actually DO some sewing to justify my investment!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

And then there were five .....

We said goodbye to tiger and boss chick last night, it was very sad and a very unpleasant job but they weren't getting better and their hock joints were looking very painful and swollen. It would be more cruel to make them suffer, and they weren't happy, they were just existing.

The five survivors .....

"No, I will NOT smile for the camera. This IS my best side!"

.... and Blondie's new trick - she jumps up so easily onto the top of the water bottle to get a better view! She is the smallest of the lot and the others look at her like "how the ? did you get up there?" LOL!

"Oh, I just KNOW I can fly out of here - if only she would leave the lid open...."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chicky Update

Well, our little chickies were 2 weeks old yesterday, and I've had a few requests for an update- so here it is!

(I had intended to do an update earlier, but our household has all been hit by coughs, colds and horrible croaky throat germs for nearly a week now, hubby having a week off work and trying to make the most of it, having a crisis about the non-building situation (long story) and the usual chaos that is our daily lives here. And I still don't have my own voice back!)

Bad news first - 2 of them have developed a 'slipped tendon' in the hock joint, which basically is a dislocation in the main leg joint. This is a fairly common event in young chicks (particularly wyandottes I recently found out) and although there is some disagreement amongst the experts about how it is caused the outcome is the same. It is not able to be fixed and the long term prospects are not good. Most breeders or experienced chook keepers will cull the chicks as soon as this happens.

Of course, we are having a hard time dealing with this. The two chicks I am sure are both hens which makes it worse as we would have kept them.

The first to have the leg problem was 'tiger' - our daughters favourite. She has the most beautiful feather patterning, all stripes and gorgeous colours, really stood out from the others. She has adapted a little bit by hopping around but often loses balance.

The second one was 'boss chick' the first born who helped all the others out of their shells and has a beautiful nature, and after the first few days I started to realise she was much more of a mother hen than a rooster.

We still have them, but probably not for long. As they grow it will be more difficult for them to have normal chooky behaviours such as scratching the dirt and foraging for food, perching to sleep and making themselves dust baths etc. Already they are last to get to the feed and sometimes get pushed out. I am trying to see that it is more cruel to keep them than to let them live but it is so hard!

So, of the 5 remaining I am convinced 3 are roosters now.

Big Grey has been confirmed by the breeder as a cockeral due to his colouring (they way his breeding program went he can tell this for this chick only) He is a gorgeous fluffy silver chick, very gentle for a cockeral.

Big Red  - I am sure is a cockeral too, he stands so tall, wide comb, very confident and bigger than the girls.

And Racer Boy- the most aggressive by far, likes to pick a fight with Big Red and let everyone know he is the top of the pecking order- literally.

BTW- they still don't have real names - I thought that would be be good so we wouldn't get really attached to them yet. That idea didn't work :)

Little Blondie (my sons fave) is so cute - the breeder thinks she is a pullet (young hen) and I am sure she is a female too. Silvery blonde and has tiny gold bits coming through on her wings, she will be a beauty. Apparently she is a Blue Laced Gold 'Sport'- a much lighter than usual colouring.

Goldie - hmm, not sure about this one. I'm thinking hen, I'm hoping hen, but not 100% sure. Comb is narrower than the boys. Size between hens and roos. Lovely chick all the same.

So we may end up with 2 good hens and hopefully keep 1 of the roosters too (I have a soft spot for Big Grey already!)

They are all showing off big wing feathers now and some are starting to show their shoulder feathers and spiky tail feathers coming through.

And they can fly. Did you know chickens fly? Oh yes, they can definitely fly. Blondie especially is a flightly little thing, leave the smallest gap in the brooder lid and she'll have a go. It's like having budgies! Ok they don't get very far, but they are quick. I'm hoping this will lessen when they get bigger and heavier....

They moved into their spacious new residence yesterday- Jacqui's rabbit hutch! Still indoors for a few weeks yet, and still with an infra-red heat lamp on at nights, and days when it is cool.

Hopefully will post another update when they are a month old. :-)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Mountain Wildlife!

It has snuck up on me! My Mountain Wildlife blog was officially 1 year old today :)

I can hardly believe it's true - this past year has flown since I made my very first entry HERE. I did remember sometime last month that this anniversary was coming up - and of course I planned to do something special.... but .... well, it kind of slipped away and now it's here and I have nothing special for you!   :-o

I am pleased that I have managed to keep it going though, as blogging this time last year seemed like a very mysterious kind of process, and I wasn't sure if anyone would even be interested in reading my ramblings! But here we are, and I have certainly had some readers.....

I have a stat-counter at the bottom of my blog which I can log into for lots of nerdy info- nothing personal of course but they do tell me for instance which countries my visitors have logged in from, and how many new and return visitors I have had.

At the time of writing- I have had 3,935 visitors in 12 months which truly amazes me! Over half of my visitors are 'return' visitors, which I guess means you have liked what you've seen and want to come again, and over half of those return visitors have been here more than 10 times.

And you have visited from Australia, UK, (not so surprising as my family are there) but also from Portugal, New Zealand, all over USA, Canada, Thailand and the most surprising - a handful of visitors from South Africa including Sudan! WHO ARE YOU?? !!! Pardon my ignorance, but I wasn't even aware there were many computers in the Sudan!

It is really interesting to know these stats, but I would truly love if more visitors would leave a comment when they visit my blog.
I do have 18 'followers' at the moment, (only 2 of whom I have met in real life!) who are more regular readers and some of whom do comment. I really appreciate your comments and input, it makes blogging a little less 'one-sided' as fellow bloggers will know!

I've found some great blogs through the year too, I really enjoy reading others efforts and experiences of gardening, chooky exploits, sewing, baking, thrift shopping, building, green living and generally trying to make their own part of the world a better place.

So here's to the first year, and apolgies for the lack of party-ness! Maybe I'll be more organised for the 2nd birthday..... :-)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mamma Mia! - It's some real Mountain Wildlife!

The past couple of days I have noticed a couple of areas in the back garden have been mysteriously overturned ... too small an area for our dog to be the culprit, and our 2 chooks haven't been out of their fenced off corner. So we thought maybe a possum....?

But today our cheeky visitor showed his face - and his HUGE body !!!

brush turkey

He was running around our garden like he owned the place, then after a quick chase from our dog (with some panic on my part!) it jumped up onto our fence. Initially we thought it was a lyrebird while it was racing around, but once it settled we could see it was very different. (BTW- I know its a 'he' from the colouring- yep, we are nerdy enough to own a field guide to birds!)

As far as I know, brush turkeys are not usually found around our area. They are more common further north right up the eastern coast of NSW and Qld in warmer coastal-bush areas. I've certainly never seen one in the 10 years we have been living in the mountains.

Anway, he was helpful enough to stay perched on the fence long enough for me to get a few photos, then he hopped off into next door's garden and away. He had obviously been here before and was not at all bothered by us. I also realised later that our dog obviously hasn't been too bothered about the turkey's presence either (until we got all excited -oops!)

Despite their tendancy towards destruction, it was really good to see a brush turkey in the garden! (I am sure those who have them all the time will definitely disagree!)

In other news ....... on Friday night I went to Star City with a couple of friends to see Mamma-Mia- the musical, on its opening night. What a fantastic show! I am still smiling :)
It was a great night out, with a quick dinner before the show and then almost 2 and a half hours of amazing performances.

The cast were brilliant, very, very funny! Lots of dancing and of course - loads of Abba songs woven into the story, which was done really well.

If you liked Abba even a little bit- you will love this show! And I defy anyone to not at least do a little jiggling in their seats, if not a full-on dance in the aisle!

My Abba Gold CD had a dusting off and been played today, and my kids were dancing their little legs away, arms waving and bums wiggling! (I don't know where they learnt to dance like THAT! lol!)

The show started on Friday and will be touring Australia for almost a year, and in Sydney until next Feb. Get some girlfriends together and go see it - release that inner-Dancing Queen !!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheeps!

OK, get ready for the cutest fluffballs you've ever seen!

lunchtime in the brooder box

Finally yesterday (on day 22- 1 day late!) we hatched 7 out of our 8 chicky eggs. It was so exciting! The first one was out by the time we got up (at 6am :-o ) lying in the incubator ... I was worried for a second but when I shone a torch in it jumped up so quick and ran around chirping madly .... and then hardly stopped for the next 12 hours !!

pair of fluffballs

The next 6 we all had the amazing privilege of watching them hatch - it was really fantastic. After waiting all day Saturday with nothing happening (very frustrating!) at last we had our little chicks.
The 8th egg is still in the incubator, however its unlikely to hatch now, it was the only one that didn't 'pip' (start knocking a hole in the shell) and no chirpy noises from inside. I'll leave it until tomorrow.

After fluffing up and drying out, we moved them to their new residence- the Brooder Box. Ours is a very low-tech cardboard box, although it is prettied up with coloured paper around the outside. Newspaper and 50mm wood shavings in the bottom, then some non-slip matting on the top, (for the first couple of days while they find their feet, avoids leg problems later).

Heating is provided by a heat lamp very kindly loaned to me by the wonderful Jacqui from Life in the Dome blog, who lives nearby and helped me out immensely with some chicky things (I think I may have found a kindred chicky spirit LOL!) While I am giving out honourable mentions (!) Big thanks and a virtual bouquet to Chris from Bushlandproject blog for giving me lots of info and tips and whose emails calmed me down! You are wonderful women! I also got heaps of help and info from Backyard poultry - how amazing technology is that we can share so much information at the press of a few buttons!

Now, here is the ID parade! I don't know at this stage whether they are male or female, though I have my suspicions so I will share them here and you can come back later and see how right or wrong I am!!

So here is the line-up.... they are all Wyandottes, a mix of gold, silvers, blue-golds and blue silvers!

First to hatch- The Boss. Not sure if its a rooster (I suspect so!) or a future mother-hen but this is one lively chicky. After hatching ran around constantly helping the others out of their shells, pecking anyone who dared lie down for a rest (although this is apparently good to keep them moving after hatching) and once in the brooder box -even taking food to the other chicks who hadn't found it yet. Amazing behaviour!

Second out is this blue/grey beauty (I'm suspecting roo as well!) The fluffiest thing on legs. Actually its legs were a little weak for a while, but it is good now. Helped by The Boss to get to its feet.

Boss look-alike. Strange how similar they look as one came out of a Silver-Laced egg, the other out of Blue-Laced-Gold egg! It decided to sit nicely for its photo :)

This little one has the most stunning stripes and dots on her head - so pretty she just has to be a girl !!
This is my one Gold Laced Wyandotte, the photo doesn't show it but she is gorgeously reddish brown with stripes through her back. Another girl I think - look at that beautiful face!

This cutie having a bad hair day has a racing stripe down its back (boy racer with hair gel?)

And lastly, little Blondie - she is so cute! Very light with almost yellow underneath and wings.

We are all so in love with them, I'd love to keep them all! (not likely unless there is only 1 rooster) It has been an amazing project to incubate them and fantastic for the kids to watch.

So cuddly :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day 14- 8 out of 12 going well

I had meant to blog earlier about candling our eggs ... however as often happens life seems to have got in the way (and loss of it, poor Emily.) Thanks to all for the lovely comments BTW on my last post.

It's not as if we weren't candling, in fact I was so impatient there was no way I could wait a week so we had a look on day 4! and day 6 .... and day 8 ... and day 12.... and tonight -day 14 ! Apparently it doesn't harm the eggs, they don't spend long enough out of the incubator to lose heat so lots of people (impatient ones like me!) candle them often as the development is pretty amazing.

There is a lot of info on the internet about candling, so I won't go into it too much here, but basically it involves shining a light through the egg to see whats going on inside. It needs to be done in a fairly dark room, with a torch or lamp that can concentrate the light through the egg -not around it. We used a normal torch and it worked fine.

Unfortunately I haven't got any photos as they wouldn't work well, but even at day 4 we could see a dark mass inside (on non-fertile eggs there is just light). We could even see the eye which is one of the first things to develop. At day 4, it seemed there was maybe 10 out of the 12 developing, though some were more obvious than others. From day 6 onwards, there has been 8 developing out of the 12, which is a pretty good rate. Wyandottes are rose-combed which lowers the fertility rate (strange but true) so I wasn't expecting all of them to work, but hopefully these 8 will make it to the end.

Tonight (day 14) there is not much left to see. The chick has grown into most of the egg, so its very dark, with just a small space left to grow into, and the bigger end of the egg has an air sac which lights up really well.

As I mentioned in my original post I have mix of silver-laced (3 left), gold-laced (1 left) and blue-laced-golds (4 left).  BLG parents have chicks of BLG's, gold laced, and splash (which is gold/white with blue) so I'm very interested in what is going to come out!

There is still another week to go, fingers crossed that the remaining 8 will all make their way out of those shells, and that they will all be hens!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

RIP Emily

Our beautiful Emily

Our lovely Australorp Emily, my most favourite chook, died today.

Our dog managed to dig out the bottom of the fence to their chook pen, and pushed open a gap for them to come out and play. Of course, his idea of play is not the same as theirs.

I came home and heard the unmistakable awful noise of a very scared chook, and missed her by a second. I actually saw her still alive and picked her up, but only for the last seconds, and then it was too late.

Our children didn't see it happen but there was no getting away from it- I had to explain. I really didn't want to have a talk about life and death to them at 4 years old. They are both very sad about Emily but seem to be accepting and understanding it.

She was the best of the 3 chooks we have left, a beautiful animal, gorgeous peacock green sheen to her black feathers, and lovely temperament. She was the best layer too, eggs almost every day (unlike the two remaining who give us 2 or 3 eggs a week). We would have had her a year next week.

Emily was always our favourite, we are all upset and will miss her. Gone but not forgotten.

Sleep peacefully little chooky.

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's waratah time

Todays rain on one of our waratahs

It was a public holiday here today, and we spent some of it up in Blackheath at our land - the land we bought over a year ago now to build our dream home on. I haven't blogged much about this at all, partly because I want to keep it as a private place for now, and partly because not a lot has happened on the building front.

We go up there a lot because it is such a lovely place, a big quiet bush block with hidden tracks and mountain views, full of beautiful native flowers and trees, and various wildlife including lyrebirds (although there were a lot more around last year compared to this year).

Today though, we were thrilled to find some of our many waratahs were flowering- they are my favourite flower, so spectacular in the bushland against the green gums and the huge blackened tree trunks (the big fires went through our land a few years back) There was also a light rain when we were there, not enough to spoil anything, but enough to add interest......

So of course, we took some photos.....

I love the way the bracts on this one seem to swirl around the centre -

And this one with it's dancing flames

And finally I'll leave you with this macro-shot (courtesy of my husband!)   Amazingly on our big photo, we can even see him INSIDE THE RAINDROP taking the photo- so cool !!! 


How beautiful are they with the raindrops on them? I'm always amazed to see them growing in the most rugged landscapes.

(PS- the waratah I have as my blog-photo was our one and only flowering one this time last year!)

Friday, October 2, 2009

September's sewing

Time for a sewing update I think... here are a few things I made last month.

A couple more aprons for 2 little boys (brothers so I made matching but different trim) ....

A new bag for myself - smaller than a tote bag but like a large handbag/shoulderbag. It's the first bag I've ever made and just made it up and figured it our as I went along. I put a little pocket inside for my phone, and that used up every scrap of this fabric- perfect!
The fabric is a lovely thick and strong woven cotten, from my little stash I received from freecycle a while back.
I am really happy with it, fits all my bits and pieces as well as snacks or drink bottles for the kids in it.
Total cost- nil (except time and brain-strain!)

Feeling so pleased about making my everyday bag, I made a shopper/tote bag the following week, which was very easy in comparison!
The fabric is actually a lovely old pillowcase I picked up in Vinnies (charity shop) for 50c. I have bought a few different ones for various projects, no-one seems to buy them (maybe don't like second hand bed linen?) but all you need is to think outside the square ...." now, what else could I make this into?" !!!

I cut open the flap and then sewed it to the open end, then folded it in on itself to become self-lining. This also makes it stronger as the cotton isn't very thick. I 'boxed' the corners so its wider at the bottom rather than 2 flat sides. No pocket in this one, and the handles are just unbleached calico from my stash.
I just love the fabric, I thought it was very Spring! Have used this one heaps already too.
Total cost - 50c.

I didn't get as many projects done as I would have liked this month, what with other less interesting things to do (general life stuff!), trying to get on top of building plans so we can get them into council (still working on them-groan), learning about incubating eggs, a boomerang-migraine that just kept coming back every few days, and then sick kids this week :(

Anyway, I'm happy with the few things I did make. And my pile of 'waiting to be mended/ altered/ created' pile sits happily waiting......


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Chocolate challenge- the end.

Well it has been a whole month since  this challenge started - to eat only fair trade /slave labour free chocolate. 

I have been a bit slack on reporting my progress, I did a week 1 update then seem to have lost the other weeks....! It wasn't because I had given up, only that lots of other things have been going here.

I have just read Dixiebelle's final report on her blog, and agree with her that some of the challenge was easy, but some a little tricky.

In my week 1 update I said that the things which caught me off-guard was the 'hidden' chocolate things like my morning milo drink, or having drinking chocolate shaken on top of my cappucino. I realised in that first week just how many products have chocolate in them that I might not otherwise think about. And the rest of the month continued pretty much the same ......

I had no problem sourcing fair trade chocolate bars (available in our local supermarket and also a fair trade stall at our local monthly market) although I have only tried one brand- cocolo. I am more than happy with that but will try some others when I find them.

Biscuits were never a problem as I've been making my own for a year now, since I decided to no longer buy commercial ones, so I know exactly what goes into them. I have made cakes (also only make my own) but only non-chocolate ones this month.

So that bit wasn't too difficult.

Now for the confessions......

I have still had a few milo drinks, and still giving it to my children when they want it (how do explain to 4 year olds they can't have milo in case it has slave-sourced cocoa in it?) I'm honestly not sure how we change this one.

I have used normal drinking chocolate on my coffees, because I had it anyway, but will buy some fair trade when it runs out rather than continue buying it. Same with cocoa- I have a box still in the cupboard as I rarely use it, only for cooking. I can buy fair trade cocoa in a nearby co-op so will replace it with that.

And when a friend came round for coffee and brought some fantastic choc-mud cake she had made .... well I have to say it was the best ever mud cake. Hands up, I weakened on that day.

So I'd love to say it was all perfect and easy and I didn't slip up, but I suppose that's what a challenge is.

It has made me more aware of where another product is coming from and the issues around it. It has made me (and my husband) more concious shoppers. And finally it has converted me to fair-trade chocolate bars, which is the major source of chocolate in our home, so we have changed our buying habits again and I'm happy about that.

A final thanks to everyone else who took the challenge, and to Dixiebelle for starting it!