30 March 2008

The oldest blogger

Our little silver Hamburg chook, Stella Gladys, is dead. Hanno found her in a nest yesterday morning, she was wet over the top half of her body, dry below and sitting in a dry nest. It had been raining overnight but the roof doesn't leak. Hanno thinks a snake tried to swallow her but gave up, I think it was the stress of relocation.

RIP Stella Gladys.

It might sound cruel but Hanno and I have come to accept death as part of what happens in our backyard. We aren't what you would call farmers or graziers, but I do see our one acre block as a little farm which supports life and sometimes experiences death. We know this is likely to happen when we get new critters, because, for some creatures, the stress of being caught at their original home, being put into a container and transported by car to our place, is enough to kill them. We are gentle folk, we do care for our animals and chooks, but sometimes kindness isn't enough.

I made myself sit at the sewing machine until I finished two projects yesterday. One was a tote bag for my swap partner, Chas, the other, a tea cosy. I made the cosy from a small part of a recycled cotton jumper that was not able to be mended. I added some wadding for warmth, cotton strips for aesthetic appeal and Bob's your uncle, we have ourselves a tea cosy. I might cut the rest of the jumper in squares, hem each one and use them as cleaning clothes.

Earlier in the day I set up a small enclosure for the baby chicks. You can see them here on the grass, which they pecked at and scratched on most of the day. They are, in order from left, golden Hamburg - Jewels, Faverolles - Heather, golden Campine - Beatrice and buff Orphington - Martha. I gave them a little perch to practise on so when they progress up to the chicken coop, they'll know how to roost at night. I wish I had a broody hen to mother these little chicks. All creatures benefit enormously from a zealous and caring mother to show them the what, where, why and how of life. These babies have to get by on instinct, food and water on tap and a safe environment; the rest is up to them.

The last of the red Welsh onions where picked yesterday. We have problems growing regular onions here - our growing season is just a little bit too short for them, but we get by fine on spring onions. I have just replanted some of JudiB's green onions, which I consider to be the finest spring onion - for abundance and taste - that I've grown. Judi lives a couple of hundred kilometres from me, going west, and she has a bumper crop of them every year. I think she's given away hundreds of these onions over the years. Mine have been growing well and faithfully for two years now, and even in driving rain, the hottest summer and long spells of dry, they thrive. Some of these onions will be a added to silverbeet that was frozen earlier in the year, some backyard eggs, local cream and ricotta and a few sheets of philo pastry to make a pie for our dinner tonight and tomorrow.

It's only 12 C (53F) this morning, the first cold morning of the year. Sometimes I fantasise about living in a cold climate again with hot open fires, mittens and duffel coats, but then the first cold morning hits and I decide I'm best here where the winters are mild. Now that I'm older I feel the cold more than I once did. I think Hanno's the same because often in the winter he makes himself a hot chocolate before he goes to bed. Our dogs, Rosie and Alice, are growing old along with us and now that Rosie is 12 she struggles to stand up early in the morning and she has to be lifted in and out of the car. And that's no easy matter. I wish there could be life without death but that impossibility leads me to believe that while we are all here, we make the most of what we have, we show respect and kindness to all and we leave our home and family better for us having been here.

I'm sounding kind of maudlin and I don't feel sad at all. I just have a full and true awareness this morning of the fragile nature of life and the beauty to be found in just living. I will be 60 soon so I still have at least another 30 years in me. I wonder how old the oldest blogger is. ; - )



  1. I understand what you mean about having to accept death when living on a farm. We don't live on a "farm" per se, but we have 3 hens and lost one recently. I had to keep reminding myself that it was a chicken and NOT a child. :(

    The world's oldest blogger? Apparently it's a 107-yr old woman and, guess what?! She's an Aussie! :)

    Check out her story: http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/node/3784

  2. Sorry about Stella Gladys, but as you said that is all part of things. Still sad though ...

    You just have no idea how much I enjoy your blog, I look so forward to each new post.


  3. So sorry to hear about your chook. They are prone to stress, but the life she had was good.

  4. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    So sorry to hear about S.G. - Poor little thing! If it was a snake, that's one spitty snake to have soaked her entire top half.

    I have a chook question. I read somewhere that they can live to be 12 years old or so, but they only lay eggs for maybe two of those years. Seeing I could never start slaughtering them for meat, what would I do with them for all those years? In other words, if you want to have, say, two dozen eggs per week, then mathematically speaking... if all the hens live their whole expected lifespans, how many chooks would you need to add and at what rate, and how many would you have all at once when they started getting to the ten year mark?
    Goodness, I hope this made sense. I'm just trying to decide if it is worth having the eggs if I have to have 40+ non-egg laying chickens at one time~!
    Sorry for the Brain Strain question.

  5. Not me, I am 45 (although can feel like 107 years old sometimes).

    Sorry to hear about your chook (I am starting to speak Australian)but you are right, its the circle of life and will come to us all but ofcourse always better than the alterntive, that we never had our 'turn' in the first place.
    Love from Lizzie

  6. I love your onions. I keep myself in spring onions by planting out the bottom inch with roots attached from any that I buy. Usually the roots are still viable and soon begin to shoot.

    I am sorry about your chook's death.


  7. I'm so sorry to hear about poor little Stella Glady but alas as you said it is part of the circle of life just like the rest. It's like you said, what matters most is what you do with the time you have here and appreciating the beauty of life. When you slow down I think you start to notice the simple beauty in smaller things.The little chooks do look so cute though and I love the tea cosy. The pie sounds Soooo yummy. :-) I don't do cold well either and luckily where I am it's not to bad. We had flurries only once but it didn't stick and the rest was only rain. Nothing to speak of and I don't mind it because you don't have to shovel rain. ;-)

  8. Sad news about Stella Gladys Rhonda. Consensus of opinion here is you have a not so friendly, overly ambitious carpet snake in the area. They are so hard to keep out too, as they can squeeze themselves through the tiniest holes. Hope it was only passing through and not taking up residence in the area. There's always something waiting to bring a harsh reality check isn't there?


  9. Well, Rhonda, I am older than you and just started my blog recently! I am now learning to quilt and I thought the other day, hmmmm, wonder what took me so long, and how long will I be able to do it? My Mom lived to be 97, so if i can do that well, then I have a lot of living left yet! Sorry about Stella.
    I enjoy your blog so much. I feel a sense of peace reading about you and your life. I think you are a very content person and it comes across in your writings.

  10. Hi Rhonda

    A good website to check out and prehaps join (I have been a member for about 3 years now) is www.simplesavings.com.au, a great money saving tips site and have also got a big focus on the planet this year through their calendar and free weekly tips and monthly newsletter.

    Thanks Joanne aka Froghollow I am having trouble signing into my account.

  11. I have lived in the North East of Victoria all my life except for one year still above the dividing range but near Melbourne. The last four years I live still in the North East but nearer the Snowys. Last year I picked up the girls from school one day and it was nearly too cold to sit in the car. I had my jacket pulled down as far as I could over my legs. It was only 8oC that day. There are a couple of shops around here, that are very cold to shop in. I have also learnt why some of the old people had cooked lunches, it really helps to warm you up on very cold days. So I prefer not to wear a jacket in winter like where I used to live. You need a jacket near Melbourne too.

  12. Isn't it funny how perspective is all relative? I just turned 28, and I already feel old ... just because I'm not married yet with kids. Yikes! Did you ever feel kind of panicky when you were about to hit 30?

    btw why do you say "chook"? is that australian lingo for "chick?" i think it's cute ...

    I also look forward to your blog. If only I could get the hang of this "subscribing to a feed" thing ...


  13. Hi Rhonda,
    Sorry to hear about the chook :(
    I have probably given away thousands of my onions by now and probably thrown away just as many.They have to be the toughest thing I have ever grown as they freeze in winter and summer is just the opposite so hot.
    Judi B

  14. HI everyone, these comments gave me a lot of smiles today, thank you.

    Amy, I checked her out but couldn't get the blog to open for me, I'll try again tomorrow. Apparently she calls it her blob.

    Thanks Tracy, I enjoy your comments too.

    DND, I just wish it could have been a little longer.

    Heather, up until now we've usually only kept 8 or 9 chooks at a time. Many of them have lived till old age - 8 years and a bit older. They sometimes still laid the occasional egg. It seems to me that when they start dying all those the same age go. I don't know if that's just a coincidence but it's how it's happened here. You'll find they won't all live to old age. You might have a dog attack, some die of fright in a thunder storm etc. Many people keep chooks two years then kill them. I prefer to let them live out their lives. They will still keep laying until they're around 5, each year a few less eggs.

    Yay Lizzie! another woman speaking Strine (Australian). Here's to long turns for us both.

    That's a great tip, Kate. I remember my mum doing the same thing.

    Rabbit, I loved this: "When you slow down I think you start to notice the simple beauty in smaller things." How true that is.
    :- )

    Marg, the place is full of carpet pythons. Generally they don't bother the chooks. Maybe it's because we've been keeping the dogs in the house. Must remember to let them roam in the yard during the day to leave their scent there.

    Thank you Alice Grace. I hope you continue to enjoy the reading here. I want to live to a really ripe old age. There is so much to do!

    Hi Joanne, I used to be a member of Simple Savings, it was a few years ago now. ; - )

    Brrrr Linda, stay warm, love.

    Karen, yep, chook is Australian lingo. The year I turned 28 was my best year. I met Hanno on my 28th birthday and we had a wonderfully mad year after that. I didn't marry until I was 31, had Shane when I was 32 and Kerry when I was 33. No need to panic, love, it's all in front of you.

    Hi Judi! long time so see. Thanks for commenting. As you know I love those onions of yours.

  15. I think that is so sad! But you are right it is part of life on a farm of any size. Good luck on the others!

  16. Hi Rhonda Jean!
    Oh your tea cozy turned out great! I have never made a tea cozy before, I might have to give it a shot. We lost our last two hens a few months ago. It was terribly sad because we had those two for a really long time.
    Do you mind to let me know if you have received your tote... I am so terribly worried that it may have not made it.
    I have to tell you that this blog is one of my very favorites. I sit and enjoy reading each entry!
    Have a beautiful day. I am not able to be at church today, I still have two sick little ones.
    Take care.


  17. Well, Rhonda Jean, I just dropped by for a quick visit to see what's up and thought I knew something to share, but turns out I learned something new from Amy up there! I had earlier found the blog of a guy in his 90s who said the world's oldest blogger was another guy in his 90s he linked to -- so I checked out his blog and -- get this -- he writes about his tomatoes! Another garden blogger! But 107 beats all that.

    Sorry about your hen passing on. As a former farm girl and someone who has also lost quite a lot of people too, I know death is simply part of life, but still, find it not so easy to fully accept sometimes...

    Best to you.

  18. Time passes so quickly and life is so delicate yet hardy too. So sorry for the loss of your bird though. Love does come in and line a harty nest.

  19. Rhonda, so sorry to hear about Stella but as said, its all a part of life.

    I'm going to check out the 107 year old blogger too!

    Have a great day! :)

  20. Chas dear, I did receive the tote, thank you, and I've written two emails since. I must have the wrong address. Please send me an email so I can get in touch with you to thank you personally.

  21. So sorry to hear about Stella Gladys. You are probably right though; the move was probably stressful for her. All part of the circle of life I suppose.

    I LOVE your tea cozy! It is a very pretty shad of taupe and the bottom skirting is perfect!


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