Gathering the straws of life together

Author: kjblogstraws

Digital Detox

Digital Detox

Have you had anyone talk to you about a digital detox lately? Are we spending too much time on our smart devices? If we are, is this the smart thing to do? We were in Mulgowie last week. Where is Mulgowie I can hear you […]

Chicken talk

Chicken talk

There is a lot of chicken talk going on at our place. Firstly, from us about the chickens and secondly, from the chicken themselves. Our four chickens have made their coop home. They love their coop and training them has been very easy. Such fast […]

Possum or Quail for dinner?

Possum or Quail for dinner?

When you are planning your weekly meals do you have possum or quail for dinner? Those of you who are my “vintage” – a good age, like a good wine, will remember the TV Show The Beverley Hillbillies. Grandma Clampett’s favourite recipe was possum stew. At the time I could not imagine enjoying possum stew or pie for dinner! But times change and possums are on the menu, just like kangaroo and wallaby. Can you be a native animal lover and still eat wildlife? Can you enjoy a roast chicken dinner and yet still raise hens for eggs? What are the ethics of eating animals? Christine Korsgaard, the Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University argues that humans do not have a right to eat animals. She also concludes that this is a point “many  decent people would reject”. I thought writing about possum or quail for dinner would be straightforward, but this is not so! Eating native animals such as possum, wallaby or kangaroo is definitely off the menu for many people. Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Queensland, says NO to wildlife products. Anyone who promotes the killing of wildlife for food or skins for sustainable purposes is, according to Australia Zoo, telling a lie.

Marinated Herbed Quail before it went into the oven.
We did enjoy our quail dinner – delicious flavour from the coriander, ginger, garlic and other ingredients in the marinade.

Recently I watched the Gourmet Farmer, Matthew Evans from Tasmania, with the help of a neighbour, kill (with a shotgun) and then BBQ a wallaby. This came about due to the proliferation of wallaby’s on Matthew & Sadie’s property and the destruction of their grassed paddocks. It was not something Matthew took pleasure from but to survive on his land, with their conscious choice of eating meat, such action had to be taken. Then there are others who make a conscious choice not to eat meat or seafood or dairy. If all we ate was vegetables would we have enough protein to help our body repair itself? Protein helps our immune system and gives us energy. If we don’t consume meat than alternatives such as nuts, beans, legumes, eggs, yoghurt should be included in our daily diet. If we all became vegetarians would the obesity problem in Australia be solved? There are studies that have shown that plants have feelings. Such evidence begins to make the topic about what we should eat, even more complex!

This then leads me to raise the problem of feral cats in Australia. Every year they kill more native animals than humans do! Yes, feral cats kill more than 20 Billion Australian wildlife species every year? What should we be doing about the feral cats?

At our place, like many others across the world, we eat meat. We love our meat, our hens eggs and yes, we eat beef, pork, lamb, chicken and quail. When I was born my great-grand parents, my grand-father and uncle raised chickens and ducks for eggs and food. There were no supermarkets in those days.  Just a local shop with the basics, like sugar and flour. My great-grandparents had a cow. That is where their milk, cream and butter would be sourced. Human survival has a way of guiding and changing our eating habits! In the meantime, we can have the ethical debates and make personal choices about what we eat. Yet, we all must eat to live or we will die. It is as simple as that!

Life is like an onion

Life is like an onion

Life is like an onion and our life is also full of onions. Let me explain. Peeling an onion is often used as a metaphor to explain life. We can only find what is at the centre of the onion if we peel back the […]

Living the good life

Living the good life

If you asked someone you know I am sure they would like to think they are living the good life. But what is the “good life”? It is not a one size fits all. A good life is different things to different people. On Thursday […]

Pets and our health

Pets and our health

It may come as no surprise that there are benefits for our health in having a pet. This could be a pet dog, cat, bird, horse, pony or like us – chickens. If you are kind to an animal, feed them well and take care of their health, the spinoff is that it is good for our health. Many animals make good companions and reward us with acceptance and unconditional love.

This is what so many people are looking for today, in a world where acceptance is sometimes difficult to find. The western capitalist and consumer world is very individualistic. The focus is on self and what “I” can get out of it, not so much on what “I” can give! But then, if you care for the needs of your pet, usually they are not out to get more. That is, apart from my chickens who are always looking for that extra treat.

Take a dog, for example, they are not interested in whether you have the latest trendy shoes or handbag, bags of money or planning that next overseas trip. What is important is the basics: shelter, food, water, exercise and play. A little attention towards your pet dog goes a long way. They give back more than you give, but then who is counting – not the dog!

Why am I concentrating on this topic? My sister Christine this week reminded me that a dog’s love is unconditional (she has two dogs). Then I was at Kmart this week, the new one in Grand Central, Toowoomba. Everything is fresh, tidy, well organised and cheap. Of course, there is a cost to “cheap”. It is low-priced labour in China. Is it their pain – and our gain? These types of thoughts are generally dismissed as we reach up to the shelf for the cheap glossy new item for our home. Am I any different? Not really, I always like a bargain. But on another level, we like to repair items when we can, rather than dispose of them and replace with new.

I was in Kmart looking for a couple of laundry items. There was only one lane of these. As I peeked into the next lane I found there was an entire aisle of goods to buy for your pets. I considered the next aisle and there again, toys for pets, bedding, treats. It went on and on. Is this because that central to the consumers world today, is their pet? If so, that is not so bad. We all need a pet who will give us unconditional love in a world that is full of violence, vilification and international tension.

There are rows and rows of pet items at Kmart at Grand Central, Toowoomba

Why not then indulge our pets? If that’s you, take a walk into Kmart to shop for your pet. However, they don’t sell chicken pellets. Though, I have found a great pet store in Toowoomba, not far from us, that has the good quality pellets for my Princess Chickens (the ones that get treated like royalty). After moving into their new palace (aka coop), they are right at home. In a short while they have become accustomed to the “good life”.

After just over a month they know us and our voices. They have come to understand and expect they will be showered with kindness, plenty of fine dining pellets, water, shell grit and daily treats. When they are free ranging and I appear, they come running. Yes, I know it really is “cupboard love” – but it is their way of showing I am important to them and I am fine with that. Our chickens (hens) are very generous to us. The four of them are now laying an egg most days and this is just one benefit of growing your own eggs at home (i.e. caring for chickens). It is even possible in an urban garden, like ours!

It is scientifically proven that there are benefits of owning a pet; physical, emotional and psychological. Have a read from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) say about owning a pet. If you are thinking of getting an animal then you could also think about adopting one from the RSPCA.

A growing number of retirement villages encourage residents to bring their pets with them. Yet, not so with aged care homes. Although, aged care home providers are beginning to realise the benefits of pet therapy.

Pet therapy at our place includes watching the antics of our chickens!

Pets can: lift your mood; decrease your stress; bring a smile to your face; cause you to feel less depressed and result in fewer visits to the doctor. Sounds like it is worthwhile having a pet, even if there is a little work to keep them content.

A Walk in the Park

A Walk in the Park

Yesterday we went for a walk in the park. We live only a few steps away from Jubilee Park in Mount Lofty, Toowoomba. We have been busy doing other things and walking in other places but not in Jubilee Park. The park is 313 ha […]

Skin Cancer

Skin Cancer

Did you know that the cost of treating skin cancer is higher in Australia than any other cancer. For many years I have been part of the QSKIN Sun & Health Study at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute. The QIMR, based in Brisbane, Queensland, […]

The Reckless Driver

The Reckless Driver

It seems to me that the reckless driver is 75 years or older. At least that is what it must feel like once you turn 75 years old. Then comes the yearly medical review to find out whether you are fit to drive or not. In South Australia, it is 70 years and if that was the case I would only be a few years away from having my driving ability assessed. Living in Queensland means I have a few more years to enjoy driving around the countryside without telling myself I am an older and potentially reckless driver!

My “One&Only” (O&O) is at the stage of his life where he has the yearly medical review. It is quite stressful particularly when medical practitioners do not understand their role in the review. Many doctors think that the medical review is a medical condition! My O&O had the problem when we lived in Maleny and now in Toowoomba. He has even filled out the form for the doctor (in part) to help the process. His doctor last week was very uncomfortable with O&O telling him that the medical review is not a medical condition. When in Maleny due to the misunderstanding of what the licensing requirements were for drivers aged 75 years and over I ended up phoning the Department of Transport and Main Roads. We were correct in our interpretation. The yearly medical assessment is not a medical condition.

The information sheet available from the department is very clear. Currently, drivers aged 75 years and older have to carry a valid medical certificate every time they drive. A doctor assesses and determines whether a person is medically fit to drive. As the information states “Being certified as medically fit to drive is mandatory regardless of whether of not you have a medical condition”. The medical review, is not a medical condition – comprendes?

Older drivers are only one driving cohort. There is merit in monitoring driving ability across the age range of all drivers. The younger cohort 17-24 years are over-represented in road crash fatalities in Queensland compared to their proportion of the population. In the younger cohort (17-24 years) transport injuries account for 66% of all deaths. Looking at car crashes and fatalities in Queensland by age and gender. The age group that is most at risk are the 25-59 years.

In the past week, you may have heard about the potentially life threatening airbags. The ones in our cars that are meant to protect us. Many cars have the Takata airbags. These are found in a range of car brands, different models, trucks and motorcycles. Check here to see if your vehicle is subject to a recall.

Driving safely is our responsibility, but we rely on car manufacturers to do the right thing and sell us a vehicle that is 100% road worthy. If you have children or grandchild who is about to drive or wanting to buy an older car, make sure that the road worthy checks meet State Government transport guidelines.

Far gone are the days when I carried precious cargo, my baby, only weeks old, in the back seat of my VW in a wicker basket, unrestrained. We all know that many lives are saved because of stricter road and driving rules. But let’s not go overboard and over-regulate!

When I reach 75 or 85 years old I could join a sailing club. Are there any restrictions on age for sailing?
Sailing across the waters must be so relaxing. Even better than driving on the road.

Some older people are upset about government regulation that require a driving assessment. Is this age discrimination? Shirley from New South Wales (NSW) had to take a driving test when she turned 85 years old. It is mandatory in NSW to have the test at 85 years and every two years after that. NSW and Illinois in the USA are the only two jurisdictions that require older drivers to do a test. If you take a look at the statistics in the Sydney Morning Herald article it shows a higher percentage of older drivers involved in car crashes. The source is not well documented in the newspaper and I could not find the primary source from the information they provided. Therefore, I cannot rely on the statistics in this article, although the story about Shirley is worth a read!

Shirley believes that the bi-yearly driving test, once you reach 85 years, is age discrimination. The NSW Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association says the test is discriminating against older drivers. I believe it is age discrimination and I don’t look forward to the time when I will have to be medically assessed in order to hold a driver’s license. From being an independent driver to being dependent on others is a change though we must prepare for as we age. Maybe, in the years ahead governments can open off-road race tracks so that the older generation, all those baby boomers, can have a some fun, tearing around the race track with all the safety gear on and remembering the “good old days”! The reckless driver finally able to cut loose! Or maybe, I will just go sailing.

Eating in or eating out

Eating in or eating out

What is your favourite thing to do – eating in or eating out? When I eat out it is not only about the food but about the ambience. In the winter I enjoy sitting near a fireplace and eating a meal. There are not many […]


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