I’m not in Kansas anymore….

When we bought this house I used to daydream on a daily basis about what I was gong to do once I got down here. I bought every “country style” magazine that is published in Australia AND the UK. I had pinterest boards coming out of my ears. I had organic gardening books and books on how to raise chickens. I went to the vintage markets every weekend for the past 12 months where I collected vintage teacups and saucers for afternoon tea on my new veranda and I went to the auctions and invested in some unusual pieces of furniture for the new dream house…..All of that was very worthwhile and amazingly everything fits into the new house beautifully, but the reality is somewhat different from my imaginings. I am yet to have anything other than a mug of tea or a glass of wine on that veranda (although a recent birthday prezzy from my sister and a gorgeous tray from Tina would make it VERY easy to enjoy a proper afternoon tea and the Davie girls gifts of the most beautiful cake platters also make me think I should be baking every weekend!!)
This week has seen a more practical version of life in the country….
Firstly we noticed one of the new chooks was limping and standing with one foot in the air all the time. It was also the one being left out the most – not part of the gang at all. When Wayne finally managed to catch it (it was MOST unimpressed) we could see that one of its toes or claws had snapped and was at a horrible angle making it impossible for it to walk and uncomfortable to roost. I raced inside to get our first aid kit and managed to use a band aid to straighten it and provide some stability for it while it healed. Wayne wanted me to pour disinfectant over it but this chicken had a cranky glint in it’s eye and I ‘chickened out’ and ended up using a fancy band aid that had a silver antibiotic lining instead! Nothing but the best for our chookies! I am pleased to report that she is walking much better every day and is starting to join in the action with the others. However…..WE STILL HAVE NO EGGS. These chickens are just taking their sweet time to start laying. So far just the one tiny ‘fear driven’ egg has arrived at number 80.

Our next reality check came in the form of a bat. I got up one night at 3am for a drink of water and when I put the light on in the bathroom a huge flapping shadow absolutely freaked me out. I thought it was a giant moth or similar and fell like a drunk against the bathroom door jamb whilst hysterically brushing the air to make sure it didn’t come near me. I have an amazing rainbow of bruises on my right side to show for it. Amazingly I completely forgot to tell Wayne about it the next day and it wasn’t until we were about to take our first mouthful of our delicious roast dinner that night and the ‘moth’ returned flying round and round our lounge room that I realised it was a bat. Luckily not one of the ginormous ones that are eating all my fruit trees but a smaller one that we think must be living in the eaves of the veranda. Goodness knows how it got in – hopefully it just snuck in when we had the door open one night and doesn’t have a direct entry visa into our house. We turned off all the lights and shut all the bedroom doors and it eventually accepted our open door invitation to leave the building, flying straight out the front door.

The final reality check that I am now in the ‘real’ country came yesterday when we were attempting to finish our huge mulching job in the garden. We place newspapers over the ground and then put the hay thickly on top to prevent any oxygen and sunlight getting through. It has to be watered in at all stages to prevent it all blowing away. The hose was spluttering and not performing and we thought it had a kink in it or something but the fact of the matter was that we had run out of water in our rain tank!!!!! Being city folk we just turned on the tap and presumed we had a limitless supply of water not realising that most of the outside taps were connected to the rainwater tank. We have had hardly any rain in the 2 months we’ve been her and of course with all the work we are doing in the garden we have been using copious quantities of it. Now we are reduced to fetching watering cans of water from the ‘town water tap’ about an acre away from the veggie patch which is arduous to say the least.
Seriously contemplating doing a rain dance tomorrow………

4 thoughts on “I’m not in Kansas anymore….

  1. Hi Susie!

    Chooks normally start laying at 4-6 months of age and stop after anywhere between 2-4 years of age with less laid as they get older. Some will never lay … How old are yours?

    It sounds like you have micro bats around you … Treasure them as they eat biting insects, including mozzies! Don’t get bitten by one though, as they often harbour some quite nasty disease.

    You can buy water in for your tank. It will probably cost you about $120-$150 to fill your tank (based on the last time we needed to do it, five years ago). Beware though, if you are drinking it, the water carrier will often add chlorine and/or bleach to it and it can taste pretty disgusting compared to rainwater (but not much worse than town water!) …


    P.S. When is Wayne getting an off-road motorbike? I’m sure Col would lave a spin round the block!


    • Thanks Michael – you can be my official “go to guy” when I’m not sure about country matters! Our chooks are about 24 weeks old? Someone told me I might have to lock them in the pen for a couple of days to remind them what they are supposed to be doing instead of them gallivanting all over the yard!

      Water wise – luckily we are on town water for the house so it’s really only for the garden that it’s a problem. Being the South Coast we supposedly get a fair bit of rain but it has been pretty dry ever since we moved down.

      I will tell Cammo about the micro bats as I think he was wanting to “get rid of them”. He hates mozzies more than bats so they might have a fighting chance……

      Thanks for all the advice xx (dont even THINK about a bike Cammo!)


  2. Happy to help! Whilst I may have been raised in the bush it has been a bit different being in the subtropics and also 30+ years of living in an urban environment plays havoc with the memory!

    The chooks could also be hiding their eggs if they are roaming. Look for them disappearing into bushes or long grass (lock them up until they lay if that’s the case till they get used to laying in the boxes). Food can sometimes be a problem as well if they aren’t getting enough protein (laying pellets will have an appropriate level of protein). They also reduce their rate of laying when they get less light but I suspect that isn’t the case … If they aren’t laying fairly soon you just may have duff chooks.

    I wouldn’t count on huge amounts rain at the moment down South … We have a weak El Nino at the moment and I suspect you’re going to have a drier than normal winter. Personally I’d be getting some water in if the garden is dry (no chance of that here: we’ve had 41 inches of rain so far this year, including 10 inches last Friday). To monitor your weather and for a better forecast in the bush go to http://www.eldersweather.com.au … They give more useful info in one place than the BOM.

    Micro bats are quite cute compared to flying foxes and a lot quieter … Just don’t get bitten!

    Wayne should remember a certain summer at Copabella and motorbikes … Certainly his Dad does!

    Take care!


    • Thanks Michael – some good advice there!
      Wayne has many good memories of that summer at Copabella – he often recounts stories of the fun he had there.
      We finally had a day of rain yesterday so fingers crossed it tops things up in the tank – wish we could share some of your downpours and even it up a bit!


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