Chickens and an afternoon at the movies

22 February 2010
Well, some of you realised what I'd done even if  I didn't. I'd spent a rather harrowing day with my friend Bernadette in the emergency room of a hospital yesterday, came home at 4pm, checked the comments, made a couple of notes for today's post, pressed "publish" instead of "save" then shut down the computer. Oops.

So let's go through that list.  After a very busy week, I took time out on Saturday to reconnect with the chooks.  They are always a delight, but occasionally they do something really crazy and I love them even more because of it.  On Saturday I went out to feed them and let them out to free range and found the scene below.  I had to go back inside to get the camera, because it had to be recorded, not only for me, but for you too.  These three girls have been broody for quite some time, although I think Heather is only playing at it because she's often out of the nest too.  She's decided she wants to fly and when I open the gate of the chook pen, she flies out over the others.  So here in the nest, Germaine and Mary sit, sometimes with Heather. They are all in THE nest.  It's everyone's favourite.  Usually they each sit in a separate nest, but not on Saturday!  
Heather, Germaine (sitting on Heather's head) and Mary.

While I had the camera in my hand I wandered around the backyard to see what Hanno had been doing while I worked last week.  He's been concerned that the wires he laid over the roots of the grapefruit and mandarin tree weren't protecting the roots enough, so he made these nifty cages.  We still have room to place the mulch around the roots, but the chooks can't scratch the roots.  Citrus have their roots close to the surface and if chickens scratch them enough, it can kill the tree.  But not now.  : - )

We don't have much in the way of vegetables growing now but the fruit still comes.  Lemons are growing well, oranges are coming on for winter, red paw paw (papaya) have grown but haven't ripened yet and a few passionfruit are almost ripe.  We've had so much rain lately, everything in the yard is green green green!  The grass is thick and lush, the crunchy brown grass of early January is a fading memory now.
Lots of lemons for harvesting in Winter.

Yesterday, while I was out with Bernadette, Hanno planted up some seedlings.  I'm not sure what he put in, so that will have to wait for another day.  I do know the time for a main planting for the year is almost here.  We are opposite to most others here in the sub-tropics, here we start our main crops in March (the beginning of Autumn) and plant through until about November (the end of Spring).  That last planting generally keeps us in vegetables until March rolls around again.  Hanno has developed a great system but we're quite unorthodox and we're not burdened by too many gardening rules.  I'll write more about that when I write about the new seedlings.
Juicy passionfruit.
Another thing I'll write about later, because this post is getting quite long now, is the book I'm reading A Well Kept Home - Household traditions and simple secrets from a French grandmother.      I think I became aware of the book on Ronelle's blog, or maybe it was another, but whereever I found it, it's a real gem of a book.

On Saturday, Hanno and I decided to treat ourselves to a late release movie from the DVD store.  The choice - Julie and Julia, of course.  I'd been wanting to see it for so long.  I like Meryl Streep and Julia Child, but apart from those two people being part of the movie, I knew nothing about it.  It turned out to be about a woman, Julie, who writes a blog!  She worked for a company designing the 9/11 memorial park, and while she was at work, she received calls from really sad people who lost loved ones in the tragedy, she listened to complains and she generally came home each night worn out and depressed.  She decided she had to do something and decided to make every recipe in Julia Child's French cookbook, and then write about it.  The movie follows the life of Julie while she starts cooking and writing her blog until she becomes popular, is featured in the New York Times and they start talking about her writing a book.  Interwoven in the Julie story is the delightful tale of Julia Child in France in the 1950s with all the superb fashions, hats and gloves.  And the butter!  Of course it's in most French recipes and at the end of the film, Julie leaves a packet of butter under a photo of Julia at the Julia Child museum.  It's really touching and sweet and that one scene would have made me love the film forever.  
 That is a self seeded passionfruit vine growing along the fence.

It also made me think about my own book - the one I've been writing on and off for ages, and whether it will ever be finished.  Julia's book took eigth years!  That gives me some hope.  I haven't talked about it for a long time but I am still writing, I still have my New York agent, and I still hope to have the book published one day.  Watching Julie and Julia made me realise that the self doubt that comes with writing a book seems to be universal.  I do wonder if it will ever be finished, I wonder too if anyone will be still here when, and if, it is.

I have work again today and it's my very long day - 8am till 8pm.  It's the normal work day with a couple of meetings at the end of it.  Tomorrow I'll take Bernadette to have her chemo.  Work again on Wednesday and hopefully, after that, I'll write a few lines for the book.  I am full of enthusiasm for it, it's just time I lack at the moment.  But even though these days are full, the work load is getting lighter and as we settle into our new work building, many new possibilities open up.  These are exciting times for me, even though I'm worn out by them.  I do know that I'm indeed fortunate to have so many opportunities at this stage of my life, and like most things I hope to make the most of them.

I hope this week is a good one for all of us.  ♥


  1. Everything is VERY GREEN here in the western suburbs of Brisbane, too. It is amazing what a difference the lush greenery makes to my mood. I find it really lifts my mood. The brown, crackly grass was quite disheartening, and fortunately, there have been quite a few showers to hopefully maintain this newfound lushness.
    Re the book - A Well Kept Home - I own this book - you're right, it is a gem. I love it.
    I am glad you enjoyed your movie. I saw that movie with a group of women as a tribute to a dear friend who lost her battle with leukaemia last year. Ros, being a keen cook, had wanted to see it, so we all trotted along in her memory instead. It was bittersweet.
    Enjoy your day,
    Tracy (Brisbane)

  2. I just want you to know how much I love reading your blog. Funny you should mention Julie and Julia. Because of that movie, I wanted to know more about blogs. I had no idea all these great blogs were out here. Yours was mentioned by a good friend and after reading a few, I started my own and I love it! My daughter has also started one and we have a blast reading and commenting on each others. Keep up the great work!

  3. It is always amazing to see the green summer you have there, while we sit in the middle of winter, frozen ground and feet of snow everywhere. I can hardly believe there is actually somewhere in the world that is not covered with snow. Its beautiful and you have a great place! Love the banana tree and the chooks!

  4. I have the book Julie & Julia and have also seen the movie. It is quite good and gets you in the mood to cook! Meryl Streep is great as Childs and so is Stanely Tucci who plays her husband.
    Your garden looks so lush, I wish Melbourne could look like that, instead it is all brown and crunchy. :-(
    There is a lovely lady at my work who is undergoing 6 weeks of chemo and radiotherapy, it is just dreadful. It affects us all here at the office. My heart goes out to you and your friend Bernadette. She is in my thoughts alongside my friend Bev.
    I hope your week is full of happiness Rhonda. :-)

  5. Ah I didn't realise what you had done I though you had accidentally uncharacteristically tweeted on your blog! LOL I followed the tweet to your blog how do you have those linked? Interesting.

    If you google 'Julie Powell' you can actually find the blog that she created all those years ago its still there. : ) Au revoir!

  6. Rhonda I have that book, it's lovely isn't it.

  7. I have been thinking about your book and wondering how you were getting along with it.
    Thanks for the movie review. I will try and get to see it - it sounds good!
    I came across an old audio book at the library recently, and have so enjoyed it and thought about you while I was listening to it. It's called, The Diary of a Farmer's Wife 1768-69, by Anne Hughes. It's such a very enjoyable booki about life at that time in an English village, their simple ways, their style of cooking, the duties of being a farmer's wife, and all the mending and keeping of 'plate and silver'. I loved hearing about how they gave wedding presents from their own store of household articles and made over good linen for the bride etc, etc. If you can find a copy of it (it's hard to find now), I'm sure you would enjoy it!
    Thinking of you and your friend tomorrow. I have a young friend in her 20's and my husband's cousin going through chemo at the moment too.
    Enjoy your day.
    Love Rachel

  8. I wish your friend all of the best in her treatments. It is wonderful that she has a friend like you to lean on.

    I want to see that movie as well. I have heard nothing but good things about it. And being a Julia Childs fan, I MUST see it!

    Good luck with the continued writing and inspiration for your book!

  9. That's very sad to hear about Bernadette, Rhonda.

    I do hope she has a better week and that you get some rest too.

    Our grass is soo crunchy that I can't walk barefoot on it!


  10. Your yard and garden are so lovely and green!!! I don't think spring will ever come to Nebraska! I, too, loved Julie and Julia and I have a copy of A Well Kept Home. Love it! Take care of yourself and I do hope your friend is feeling better.


  11. Hi Rhonda, great movie isn't it? I went with my friend Naomi to see it, something we rarely do. I actually used to read Julie's blog and it is still available oline.

  12. I hope your friend feels better, and my thoughts are with her.

    I am living vicariously through all your gardening. Thank you for sharing! I can't wait for spring to arrive here (Virginia, USA)!!

    I started reading Julia Child's book "A Life in France" after watching "Julie and Julia". It's a wonderful peek not only at Julia's culinary beginnings, but also at life in post-WWII France. I highly recommend it!

    Also - LOVE the photo of Germaine sitting on Heather's head. It's always so amusing how animals have no sense of personal space.

  13. @ Rachel L:

    Thanks for the book recommendation - I'm ordering it off Amazon!!

  14. how funny you mention that movie becuz i just saw it today too! i loved it!!!
    you have a beautiful yard!! and i'm so jealous of your chickens!

  15. dear rhonda, you are the only person i know with chooks that are totally demented!! the garden is so green, unlike when i was there in January. (Thanks for making me a really delicious fruit cake for my birthday - is there anymore ironing? This comment is really to encourage you to take time out for yourself and write more on your book. it will be good - there is no doubt about that and lots and lots of people are waiting for it and will benefit from your work---plus remember sweden. much love patricia margaret.

  16. would you please spend a few minutes reading my blog about all things chicken. I have been raising more than 50 breeds of chickens 40 years.

  17. hi rhonda, love your chooks! I also keep a few chooks too.(only 14) and 1 rescued rooster. I have 1 chicken. My chooks do that silly thing of sitting all in the same nest box too! I had 4 big fat black orpingtons all pilled in on top each other for weeks !! so stubbon aren't they, i love watching them. love your blog too! I have tried the ginger beer , very nice, must do some more soon. We are very green and lush where i am. (nz)in the waitakeres, auckland. i have a blog, if you want a peek. sue

  18. We'll all still be here, book or not.

    I once read that book writing has to be hard. It's a process of giving birth to something that will live for eternity.

    You'll get there, bit by bit.

  19. Hi Rhonda, I found you and your blog a few weeks ago HOW I existed without you I'll never know!! I'm a writer, a stay at home mum with two kids both just started school, I blog, I grow vegies, I bake bread and make soap - but somehow it wasn't all coming together, until I came across your blog.

    Your post where you talked about drawing a line in the sand and giving up your beloved magazine subscription really resonated with me. I think I needed something like that too, to say This is where it all starts, this is how I want to live.

    So I've given up take-away food. Much beloved by me and hubby and an unjustifiable waste of money.

    I have a question: I want to put a post on my blog about my take-away 'line in the sand' and would naturally give your blog full credit for giving me this idea and inspiring me so much - is that okay with you?? I would be mortified if it was seen as plagiarising your awesome blog or stealing your ideas.

    Anyway, thanks again for your great blog. You've made a big difference to this little family :)

    Best wishes

  20. Your yard looks so lovely-I am waiting for the next snowstorm to hit our area starting tomorrow. However, the birds are starting to come back, the ground is starting to soften around the edges and it smells faintly of dirt in the air. Spring is around the corner! I was happy to hear you are still working on your book, looking forward to it as I know many others are! Have a great week.
    Karen from CT

  21. I have to say, I am a bit jealous of your long growing season. We are lucky if we have June to September. But I am determined to make the most of it this year.

    Hope things settle down for you soon, and good luck on the book.

  22. Rhonda how do you keep the cockatoos off your passionfruit & other fruit trees. I've had to give up on mine as the cockys have a field day eating my almost ripe fruit till it's all gone, with nothing left for us :(

    I hope Bernadette's treatment goes well!!

    Best wishes

  23. blog is a place where people discuss about different topics and share there views. I am also a part of this and I found your blog pretty useful keep update your blog..

  24. I'm so excited to find out that you are writing a book! I learn so much from you on this blog. I refer to you all the time when telling my husband about all the things I am learning. I loved the movie Julie and Julia, too. I also appreciate you sharing books that are helpful. I have a journal that I write all the book recommendations in so I won't forget. Then I just check them off as I check them out. :0) Thank you for such wonderful content that you continually bring us.


  25. Lois, cockatoos don't visit us much. We have other parrots - kings, rainbow lorakeets and blue rosellas. We always have extra so I don't mind them eating here. I feel sad that their habitat is disappearing.

  26. Cait, welcome! It's fine to link to any of my posts.

  27. Looking forward to hearing about your planting schedule in the subtropics of Australia because the area I have just moved to should have a similar planting pattern - I need to learn tons from you - the rest of our country plant mainly in summer except for our small region and not many folk can give advice

  28. Thanks for your reply Rhonda. We live in the Blue Mountains with absolutely vast areas of untouched bushland,so habitat is not a problem for our cockies.

    If they just ate some of our crop & left us a bit for us, it would be OK. But they decimate everything. We've tried netting but those clever, crafty cockies get around that LOL

    If I had the money I would cage a section of the yard, but that isn't an option for us.

    X Lois

  29. Rhonda, For a long time, I felt like something in my life was amiss. As I started reading your blog, I realized what I am looking for is how to live a more simple life. More than permission to do so, I need directions how to. Reading about your day, reminds me of going through the day with my Grandma when I was a little girl. I miss her so! Many times I find myself wishing I could call her to ask a question. I find the answers and the encouragement here, on your blog. The experiences you share from what you have learned from your mother what you have learned in your reading have given me the freedom to try. My sons enjoy helping make laundry soap and cook from scratch. I am venturing into sewing and gardening and budgeting. I want to encourage you on your book. I thought about you when I saw the Julie and Julia movie and wondered how your book was coming. It would be one that I would like to have plus one I would like to pass on to my future duaghters-in-law and my granddaughters. I will add here you still have time, my sons are 13 and 12. I pray you and Hanno are getting the rest you need and Bernadette continues to have pain free days. You are such an inspiration to so many and a blessing too. Quin

  30. Thanks for the nod Rhonda Juea...I am hesitant to take credit for this though, because I'm not sure you saw this particular book with me? I have many of these books with tips and advice and secrets form french mothers and grandmothers, all written and titled in french, so it could be that I don't know the translation? But in the end, it doesn't matter, what is important, is that our grandmothers knew about touh with reality, the real world...using the resources the earth offered them. ao many of my beliefs and littel traditions and way of living had changed over the years exactly because of these books filled with gems of advice for everyday living!
    At the same time, I wish your friend all my best with her chemotherapy. I wnet through the same with my best friend about 3 years ago. It is definitely a testing time (for her and those that love her) but there is always a sparkle of hope, because my friend had a clean report a few months ago...! So...all my best!
    And lastly to you...thanks for an honest and inspiring blog!


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