We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
[Marianne Williamson]

Friday, May 18, 2007


The chooks have all been very nervous since losing Rufous, but yesterday I think they finally started to settle down. I hope Stevie grows up quickly, because they really feel lost without a mature rooster in the group.

I thought the eggs had been abandoned, but no... we may have chicks after all!

From my reading, it is possible to collect the eggs, store them somewhere cool, and then when you have enough, pop them all under a broody hen, and as soon as they warm up, gestation starts. It then takes about 18 days until hatching.

Well, Rosie stopped sitting on the nest, but Ruby took over! She is missing Rufous the most, having been his second-in-command. She can't fill that function with Stevie (having bossed him around for so long that she finds it hard to take him seriously as leader!) His second-in-command is turning out to be the youngest hen, HennyPenny - so called because she always looked scared, like the sky was falling! The youngest rooster has been named Chicken Little for the same reason. However, HennyPenny has suddenly become brave and bossy now that Stevie is in charge (at least, a little bit more than before). This left Ruby without a job... I guess she saw the eggs sitting there and decided to take over the role of hatching Rufous' last babies ;)

Rosie wasn't too sure about this!!!
Once she realised Ruby was sitting on her eggs, she decided she wanted to sit on them again. Ruby wasn't budging, so Rosie tried to sit ON Ruby!

Eventually, Rosie managed to burrow her way underneath Ruby and take her place.

Rosie just doesn't seem to have Ruby's stubborness though. They both leave the nest to feed, and some nights neither of them have sat on it, and when I check in the morning the eggs feel quite cold, so I don't think they have actually started 'incubating' them yet. (We are having a really cold autumn so far.) After today, neither of them should be fertile any more from their matings with Rufous, so I might give them a few more days to make sure, and then start collecting any new eggs that are laid - there are eight in the nest now...

Today it is POURING with rain. I went out to check on them and found Ruby sitting happily on the nest, and Rosie on the perch supervising (this photo was taken the other day, before Rosie tried climbing in on top of Ruby, but it is exactly their position today.) Ruby is sitting on the eggs, and Rosie is supervising!

It is not the kind of day when either of them would be likely to want to leave a nice warm nest, so I am going to guess that today is the start of incubating, and keep track, just so I have a rough idea of when chickens might be due to hatch.

As for what happened to Rufous, Yeti checked him over and reported that he was strong and showed no signs of illness. His opinion, based on his years in the commercial chicken industry, is that Rufous had a heart attack while engaged in a strenuous activity (apparently that's quite common with roosters). This means his heart probably burst while making new chickens ;P no wonder the hens are upset! He ended up being quietly cremated, as Yeti was burning off a pile of fallen trees and had a nice hot fire going. I'm still going to buy him a rosebush though!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A Happy Mother's Day

You know you're the mother of a toddler when...

you tie your hair up so you can hop in the bath with him

and the next day at bathtime you go to tie your hair up

only to realise

it's still tied in the knot from yesterday.

But I got Mother's Day kisses ;D

and that smile makes everything worthwhile!

Here are some more autumn leaves for Scribbit ;D

How far we have come in just one year!!!

I must remember to at least take time to brush my hair occasionally though ;P It is especially funny when I think that yesterday he kept handing his brush to me so I could brush HIS hair... maybe he was trying to tell me something?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

R.I.P. Rufous

Yes, that's right. Our lovely rooster, Rufous, is no more.

He passed away this morning of unknown causes.

Wombat and I went out to feed the chickens before breakfast this morning as we always do. I knew something was wrong immediately, because they weren't all waiting at the door, clucking for their food. When they heard us coming, they came out one by one and stood by the door - but Rufous was missing. Wombat seemed to know something was wrong, because he stood quietly waiting instead of chasing them around as usual. I found Rufous lying near their perch, very cold and obviously unwell. I wrapped him in my jumper and carried him (and Wombat) back inside to Yeti. While I organised a box for him by the heater, he quietly died.

It was bitterly cold last night - the first frost we have had. I think Rufous was reasonably old for a rooster (the lady I bought the chooks from did tell me that some of the hens were quite old, and I think Rufous was the same). He was also incredibly gentlemanly, and as a result, never got as much to eat as the others - I would try to throw tidbits his way to make sure he got some, but almost always he would let one of the hens or one of the three young ones, his children, snatch the food from his beak.

I'm going to miss him. He was my favourite! I loved his beautiful tail, with its sheen of green and purple, and I loved the way he bravely took care of his family in every new situation.

(that's him on the right, with Ruby on the left.) He had been molting a bit lately - I had found several wing feathers that seemed to belong to him, and I had been waiting to collect a tail feather, but it seemed he was never going to drop one. This morning when I went back to make sure all the others were ok, and to look for any sign of struggle, the only unusual thing I found was one single tail feather - perhaps it was his gift for me. I know I couldn't bear to pull one from him now. I am consoling myself by thinking that he knew he had brought his family to a safe place where they would be well looked after, and he just gave up the fight and succumbed to the cold. (I am desperately hoping he wasn't sick, because then I would have to worry about Wombat getting sick as well - especially as he has been sneezing this morning - but I hope that has more to do with him kicking off his blankets all night - I must have covered him up 10 times or more.)

The story of Rufous is not over, however. There is his son, Stevie, growing into a fine rooster who will take his father's place.

Stevie has all the makings of a wonderful pet rooster. He has a mercenary attitude to food & is very intelligent, which means he quickly worked out that letting Wombat occasionally touch his feathers means he gets a lot more to eat! I had been telling him off for being a greedy young rooster, but now I will make sure he gets as much as he wants, as he has a big job to do. The other two young ones have been named Henny Penny (for the girl) and Chicken Little (for the boy) as they both have a "the sky is falling" kind of nervousness to them - nothing at all like Stevie's brash confidence. We had been concerned that we would soon need to move Stevie and one of the hens to a new pen to give him a territory of his own, so he wouldn't fight with Rufous. Now I guess Rufous has taken that worry from us. (I certainly don't think Stevie played any part in Rufous' demise... he's not at all mature yet.)

Not only did Rufous leave Stevie to carry on, but there is (fingers crossed) another generation on the way. A week ago, Rosie started to become possessive about her eggs. She is the only hen who is laying, and when I collected her eggs, she would go scratching around looking for them. Then she started laying in the nestbox Yeti built for them, and making it obvious that she wanted to sit on them, so I have left them for her. She has laid an egg a day, and is now sitting on a clutch of four. I do hope she won't be upset by the loss of Rufous and stop nesting, as it will be lovely to have some fluffy little chicks for Wombat to watch.

Wombat does seem to be aware that Rufous isn't around any more. I told him Rufous wasn't feeling well and we were taking him in to Daddy, who would look after him. I have made sure he didn't see Rufous' body, and while we were out giving a special breakfast treat to the other chooks, I started quietly telling him that Jesus needed a really good rooster, so Rufous has gone to live with him. You can laugh at me, but Wombat is quite keen on the idea of Jesus. He often brings his bible and prayer story books for me to read, and we say our prayers together every night before bed. A while ago, when he was teething and upset, I grabbed a holy card from my teaching supplies and handed it to him (a picture of Jesus with a lamb). Wombat loved it and insisted on putting it in the toy-pocket I have sewn on his bed bumper. The other morning, when I went in to get him up, I found him lying quietly singing and talking to this picture ;) He particularly likes the prayer: "Jesus, tender shepherd, hear me. Bless thy little lamb tonight. Through the darkness, be thou near me. Watch my sleep till morning light." As a result, I felt quite justified in telling him Rufous had gone to heaven. (As a teenager, I spent several weeks researching and preparing a paper designed to prove to one of my teachers that animals DID go to heaven. I never convinced her... but she never managed to convince me that they didn't!)

Anyway, that is all a sidetrack and I have to get back to studying. I will get Yeti to bury Rufous later while I keep Wombat occupied, and then we will plant a nice rosebush for him.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Schoenstatt Shrine

When I was 5 months pregnant, I was lucky enough to have Yeti send me on a little retreat - I spent a lovely week staying with the nuns at the local Schoenstatt Shrine.

(This is just the tiny shrine, not the building where I stayed!!!)

On Sunday, we took Wombat there for a little outing. (The above is a picture I found on the net - I have archived all my photos from my first visit and didn't take any this time as there were too many visitors around the shrine). We took Wombat for a walk around the grounds. The views were as spectacular as I remembered...

Unfortunately, it also showed how quickly Sydney's smog layer is creeping up on us! Time for us to move!!!

The highlight, of course, were the family of kangaroos who live wild in Schoenstatt's paddocks. When I was staying there, I would go for several walks every day, talking to Wombat and the kangaroos (observors may have said talking to myself...)

The lighting wasn't right for taking pictures, and I didn't want to go too close and scare them away - the whole idea was for Wombat to get to see them...

which he did...

and he loved it! He wanted to get out of his pram and chase them for a cuddle ;D

(Note the gumleaf - no matter where we go, he has to have a leaf or flower in his hand... we walk past a tree and he points and makes his desire known, so I pick him a nice leaf, and he carries it the whole time, in the pram and out - only releasing it when we get back in the car (or to swap for a new one that he finds along the way)

While we were there, I got the chance to duck into the gift shop and buy myself the mother's day present I REALLY wanted. I saw this picture while staying there and instantly loved it - Our Lady as Mother of Good Counsel.

I have an old holy card from my Grandma with this picture on it, and the following hymn (just wish I knew the tune, but I use it often as a prayer...)

Oh Holy Mary, Mother of Good Counsel,
Sweetest patron mortal ever knew.
In all my doubts I turn to thee for guidance.
Oh Mother, tell me, what am I to do?

By thy face to Jesus' face incling,
sheltered safely in thy mantle blue,
by his little arms around thee twining,
Oh Mother, tell me, what am I to do?

It is just the most peaceful and lovely picture and helps me to be much more patient with my Wombat (especially lately, when his teething means he isn't napping or sleeping well, so I am getting further and further behind in my studies. Even when I go without sleep myself to try and catch up, I'm constantly going back in to soothe him off to sleep again...) I love the trusting way that Jesus is looking at Mary, and I also love the detail that his hand resting on her neckline supposedly represents the intimacy of nursing... since I'm still doing quite a lot of that too ;D

Anyway, speaking of studying, that's what I'm supposed to be doing now, so I will leave you with the history of this picture. I was really curious to know who painted it - and this is all I could find out - the painting from which my print is taken is much older and has a much more interesting story than I ever imagined!

The little city of Gennazano, situated on the mountains of the former Sabina province, about ten leagues from Rome, for a thousand years already had honored the Blessed Virgin as Our Lady of Good Counsel. In the 15th century, the church of that city was dilapidated and about to collapse. A pious woman of advanced age named Petruccia desired to provide for its reconstruction, but the gift of her entire fortune, which she made for this purpose, proved insufficient. Petruccia foretold that the Blessed Virgin would Herself finish the work.

Then on April 25, 1467, at the hour of Vespers, a celestial harmony was heard in the air, and the crowd saw a brilliant cloud coming down through the air, which came to rest over the altar in the Chapel of Saint Blaise in the Gennazano Church, where the restoration had begun. At the same time, all the church bells began to ring joyously. The cloud disappeared, and the marveling crowd saw a picture of Mary holding the Child Jesus, painted on a prepared surface, suspended in the air over the altar near the wall, without any natural support. It was duly verified that this picture had been miraculously transported from a church of Scutari, a city of Albania. Providence, wishing to preserve it from profanation by the Turks who were controlling that land, sent it as a reward for the faith of Petruccia and her fellow citizens of Gennazano.

A history of the marvels of all kinds which have been wrought since that time near this miraculous picture, suspended in the air, would require volumes. Often the picture has been seen to change its expression, the eyes of the Blessed Virgin taking on an appearance of joy or sorrow. How many illnesses and infirmities have been cured! How many spiritual graces have been obtained! Gennazano in Italy is still a venerated pilgrimage site, much frequented by the people of that land, and many pious pilgrims from other nations, when time permits it for them, arrange to visit this blessed sanctuary. The Sovereign Pontiffs have granted many indulgences to devotion to Our Lady of Good Counsel, and the title Mother of Good Counsel was included in the Litany of the Blessed Virgin by Pope Leo XIII.

If I ever get to Italy, this place will be on my MUST SEE list!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Where am I?

Hi all,

I do hope no-one is feeling snobbed by me at the moment - I would dearly love to be spending more time reading blogs and working on my other projects... it's just that I have time for nothing but Wombat & study. This final course is the most intensive I have ever done - in 15 years of uni! Perhaps you will think better of me if I tell you I am reading & summarising around 400 pages a day - and they have to be good summaries, because I will need them in open-book exams come November... and that I also have at least one assignment every week, often more. ARRRGH!

I am writing this now at 5am while waiting for the kettle to boil for my tea - I have bought myself a vibrating alarm clock so I can wake myself without disturbing Wombat...

I was planning to start work at 4am, which will give me 2 1/2 to 3 hours before he wakes up... but he of course woke for his 4am comfort feed & it took nearly an hour to get him back to sleep - I can feel activity in his gums where the molars are starting to erupt, so it's only going to get more difficult over the next year. Good thing I like a challenge ;)

In case you were wondering about how we were getting along, I did manage to improve his mood. I decided he had outgrown several of our routines, so I moved the change table and his baby bath out of our bedroom & into storage, and transformed the bedroom floor for him, with a proper space for his potty and a lot of play room... I change him on our bed, and he now showers with me in the mornings, which is perhaps not the most efficient method of getting clean, as he refuses to be put down, but is otherwise an idea he is perfectly happy with. He has also moved to eating more 'adult' food - and has decided he absolutely loves corn-on-the-cob, and has to have it for every dinner along with his other veggies (he mainly eats the carrot) and a little bit of meat. I used to chop his veggies into little bite-sized squares, but now he likes to have them the same way we do, and pick them up to bite bits off. If there is no corn, though, he acts like he isn't hungry, and we go to the opposite extreme - I mash everything up together and feed it to him with a spoon ;P I'm not complaining, because he eats well at other meals, and at least he is happy to eat his vegetables one way or the other! Mashed, I usually manage to sneak some greens in as well - he really prefers orange or yellow vegetables, and only has little tastes of the others if he is feeding himself.

Ah well, the kettle is well and truly boiled now... time to get my cuppa and get to work. If I don't get the time to comment on your entries for a while - or write my own, I do hope you will think of me & smile, studying half the night, feeding chickens half the day...

they have settled in really well - and I finally got a good shot of Rufous's gorgeous tail to show the colour I love...

We have even had a few lovely little eggs...

Taking our lunch scraps out to them is a highlight of Wombat's day...

along with being dragged around on his cornpopper the rest of the time! (It seems Cornpoppers weren't meant for rural driving - the front numberplate gets bogged down every time the grass gets even a little bit bumpy - the cord helps by lifting the front over the grass tufts, and Wombat loves being towed around the garden to pick flowers...

He's walking very well on his own now, but does still need to have his hand held most of the time - especially when he's tired...