Gathering the straws of life together

Recent Posts

The Human Life Cycle

The Human Life Cycle

When I was younger I did not think much about the human life cycle. I had so many years ahead of me that I thought life would just go on. As I age, though I feel young at heart, the years are adding up and […]

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 learner’s! They all lay their eggs in the nesting box and roost at night in their rest area upstairs. My “One&Only” (O&O) has moved the roosting bars three times to find the right height suitable to our Princess Chickens – the ones that get treated like royalty! Chickens get up very early in the morning, at daylight. That is why I am pleased they can take care of themselves. They get their own breakfast and then generally take the morning slow until they hear sounds from me and my O&O.

There are over 30 different chicken calls. They let one another know where the food is, when a treat turns up or when there is a predator around.  Our clothes line is not far from their coop and as soon as the back door opens their chicken talk is very demanding. Bawk, bawk, bawk, bawk – it goes on and on! This is their “pay me attention” talk, or “what treats do you have for me today” talk. What I like best is the announcement that they have laid an egg. This is more of a song than talking. Also, when they have had their fruit and veggie treat they wander around talking to one another with a faint clucking sound, very contented. They know my voice and when out free ranging and I appear they come running!

Unfortunately, last week we had a different type of running – runny poop from Sophia. The feathers on her backside should be nice and fluffy but they were not looking too good because of the runny poop. I immediately went to Dr Google and diagnosed her condition. First step was to get some warm water and clean up her feathers. This was a much more difficult task than we expected and my O&O ended up rolling around on the grass while Sophia flew off, out of his arms! We had to go to plan B – contacting the experts, a vet. We have two vets right near us, one across the road and one right next door. We were not after a free consultation, so we made an appointment with the vet that also has backyard chickens. Taking a chicken to the doctor is not something you do every day, in fact, I have never done it before. My diagnosis was not fully accurate therefore it was a good plan to take Sophia to the vet.

This is a video I took of her before we took her to the vet. I thought it would be helpful if the vet, Dr Peter, could see how she was behaving, eating and drinking. Don’t look to close but you will notice her feathers at the back are not as fluffy as they should be! Dr Peter cut off the feathers at the back to reveal lice! As she only moved to our place 2 months ago and everything is very clean in their coop I believe she came with them or should I say they came with her! After treatment, drops directly on her skin in several places, the adventure was over. The next day I treated the other three chickens, as a precaution. Dr Peter said she was a healthy hen. Although her white feathers are dirty from all her dust bathing trying to get rid of those annoying lice! If you know how to clean the feathers of a chicken without bathing them in water, let me know. I wonder how baby wipes would work?

Lulu is the one with the red band on her leg, the other one is Lucy. They are like identical twins! Without the band I could not tell them apart. They look very contented and love being together.
There is nothing like “home sweet home” after a big day of scratching in the garden. Note the wine bottle. It is a home-made gravity feeder for their shellgrit.
Once this was a healthy geranium plant in the garden. That is, until my chickens decided to have it for lunch. We have heaps more, so no worries. Although, I do have plans to restrict their access to this garden which will be in place next week!

The day after our trip to the vet I replaced all the bedding in their coop, roosting and nesting area. There is a little work involved if you want to have healthy chickens, but it is worth it. Chickens are very entertaining. We enjoy watching their antics and then the next morning sitting down to breakfast eating an egg, just a day old!

After further investigation I have a natural treatment plan in place to keep them healthy. Adding unpasteurised apple cider vinegar to their drinking water. It keeps their immune system at its peak. For the first week every month my plan is to give supplement their drinking water with 20mls of apple cider vinegar (with the “mother”) to 4 litres of water. I wondered whether they would notice the difference but no signs of this as they happily drink away. I think they may even like it! Certainly, it is good for them.

Nothing but the best! This apple cider vinegar is organic and made in Italy. I will need to find another brand, larger bottle and not too expensive! Otherwise, my O&O might raise his other eyebrow. These eggs are turning into gold!

This is what it is all about when you live with chickens. Caring for them and keeping them at their healthy best. In return, they gift us with an egg most days. Today, so far, we have three eggs.

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. […]

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 night I watched a program on SBS, titled “Filthy Rich & Homeless”. The program first went to air in June 2017. It followed five wealthy Australians who lived on the streets of Melbourne for 10 days and nights to share the experiences of homeless people. It was confronting and unsettling for the participants. I have not seen all the episodes however living as a homeless person and learning more about life on the streets was a brave step for those who took part in this social experiment. Watching the program stimulates thoughts about the subject. It creates awareness and talking about the homelessness issue is a good step forward. The conversation quickly turns to affordable housing. Is this the answer? Homelessness is a much more complex social matter than just providing housing. The reason people are homeless include drug and alcohol addition, job loss, relationship breakdown, domestic violence and health problems. Are these people living the good life?

In comparison to others who have a job and home it may not seem they are living the good life but “some” people are happy living on the streets or couch surfing. Most likely this is because the longer people live on the streets the more familiar it is – this is home. They know their way around and make friends along the way. The research shows that the longer people are homeless the less likely it is they will find a home. Therefore, early intervention is a key to giving those who have fallen on tough times, a “good life” into the future.

I have thought about what it means to me, to live a good life? For me a “good life” is explained in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? There are five levels beginning with our physiological needs, moving to our safety needs, love/belonging needs, esteem needs and finally self-actualisation – reaching our full potential. For people who are homeless their time is spent in meeting their physiological needs. Living a good life must begin with accepting where we are and then improving our life if we think it is not as good as we would like it. That includes planning and setting goals. Not easy if you do not have a roof over your head or food to eat each day.

As serious a social problem as homelessness is, my mind turns to our pets and what the type of home we provide for them?  There is an estimated 8 million pet owners in Australia, mostly cats and dogs. Most of them are living a good life but there are also occasions when we hear of animal cruelty. Any pet that comes into my life gets treated like royalty. If I had a dog or a cat and it was cold outside then they would have to come inside and sit in front of the fire. But then I am not a person who likes animals inside the house so my answer then is not to get a dog or a cat.

I have chickens x 4 (hens) to care for and make sure they have a good life. Backyard chickens make great pets. If you provide them with a comfortable and secure home they will reward you with an egg, most days. Yes, it is a good life for my hens. This morning for breakfast I had an egg laid by Sophia, my O&O had two eggs, one laid by Lucy and the other by Lulu. How do I know? The other day I was outside working and keeping an eye on which hen went into the nesting box. One by one they went and laid their egg and then I would go and retrieve it and write their name and date on the egg. Happy and contented hens living the good life. It’s a hen haven at our place!

Who said only dogs enjoyed a bone! My hens enjoying pecking a ham bone.
Plenty of room to roam when free ranging.
I tried to entice them back to the gate for a better photo to no avail! Too busy digging in the garden!
Some of our early eggs. There are different shades of colour in the egg shells. The Buff Sussex, Carmella, is laying the darker coloured eggs.
Breakfast tastes so much better these days! Thanks to our happy hens.
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 […]

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, is a world leading research centre which focuses on four areas: cancer; infectious disease; mental health and chronic disorders.

I have the sunscreen all I have to do is put it on each day!

The QSKIN research is the largest medical research study ever conducted in Queensland. In 2014 the research was expanded to the QSKIN Genetics Project and 42,690 participants were invited to provide a saliva sample. I provided mine in 2015. In total 20,925 responded positively and 18,627 saliva samples were returned. This is an overall response rate of 43.6% which is very good. DNA were extracted from the samples and currently these are being genotyped at the Human Genomics Facility (HuGe-F) at Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam.

Earlier this year I and my O&O had a Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) surgically removed. Queensland with our wonderful climate and sunshine has one downside, that is, we are at higher risk of getting a skin cancer than the southern states of Australia. Therefore, the slogan, Slip (on a top), Slop (on sunscreen) and Slap (on a hat) is a good one to follow. Slip, slop, slap is one of the most successful health campaigns in Australian history. It was first launched in 1981 and today is institutionalised as the core message of the Cancer Council Australia. If you want to learn more about their work go to the link – Cancer Council Australia.

In the latest QSKIN newsletter it reported that smoking increases the risk of Squamous Cell Carcinomas (SCC). Recent research has shown a link between current smokers as being significantly more likely to develop a SCC than non-smokers. On the other hand, there was no evidence that smoker had higher risk of BCC than non-smoker. The research was undertaken by PhD student Jean Claude Dusingize. More research of the area is required however the findings to date suggest that by quitting a smoker can lower their risk of SCC to the same level as someone who has never smoked.

Those of us with fair skin are more at risk of burning in the sun, rather than getting a tan. When I was a teenager I thought I could sun bake and get a fabulous tan. All I ended up with was fabulous sunburn and very painful it was. I remember one family holiday at Palm Beach, Gold Coast, getting very sun burnt after I fell asleep on the beach! I have had a few BCC’s removed and in the decades that followed I have covered up when in the sun. Now I am Vitamin D deficient and on supplements. Sun bathing is good for us, as long as we don’t over do it. The best times in Queensland are between 10am – 4pm in the summer. I have gotten wiser as I have gotten older, but still I have to remember to put on the sunscreen as well as a hat!

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. […]


%d bloggers like this: