We crossed a line

There was a problem in the chook shed. Too many blokes. Only 1 could stay – but what to do with the rest?

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We asked around town. ‘Put a sign up in IGA’ said Dave, ‘just don’t use the headline “Free Cock” like I did. ( His sign mysteriously disappeared).

‘No-one will want them’ said others. ‘They’ll just end up in the pot or thrown to the foxes’.

We ummed and ahhed for weeks, enduring the blast of 3 roosters at dawn and winning no favours with our neighbours. Gary next door has gone a bit weird. I think this might be why.

‘They have to go,’ I finally said to Leo. He nodded and looked at the mountain for a moment before replying. ‘I’ll do it.’

Leo is a country boy at heart. He was born in a small town north of Rio de Janeiro where milk trucks are still drawn by horses. Almost every house has chickens who spend their days strutting around mangy dogs asleep in the sun. Leo’s lived in cities a long time though. But as I now know, dealing with roosters isn’t something you easily forget.

As luck (not for the chooks) would have it, Camila, his sister, was visiting for the weekend. Her eyes lit up when we told her. ‘I’m in’ she said. ‘We’ll cook up a feast’. It was decided.

It was time for Shroom-boom and Fatty to go

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The Brazilians swung into action. A fire was lit (for the plucking part), the biggest pot pulled from the pantry, and a knife sharpened. Our initial plan was to keep the kids away but they wouldn’t hear of it. The adults concurred: knowing where your food comes from is important. I felt uneasy but death is everywhere in the country. Driving to the next town involves veering around numerous carcasses. And the boys do love eating chicken…

Jem nabbed the front row

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The first rooster was calm

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The second one let out a horrible shriek that made us all flinch

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It was over pretty quickly though. Camila patted them and made soothing sounds as they left us. It took a few minutes.

Their feathers were the prettiest green

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Once dead (and trust me they were) they had to be dipped into the boiling pot to loosen the feathers for plucking which was a lot of hard work. Camila was totally in control.

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I dashed ahead home to prepare the vegetables. As the sun began to set, the stove warmed up.

Turns out my father-in-law is a whiz with a cleaver and a hammer

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The cooking part was a team effort. We poured cold beers and congratulated ourselves on getting this far.

Suddenly things began to feel familiar

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The aroma of simmering chicken with red wine, garlic and herbs filled our kitchen

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Finally, many hours later, dinner was served

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So there you go. We killed our own food. It was a strange experience and I still feel a little sad about having to dispose of our handsome feathered boys, but we all learned a lot and were lucky enough to climb into warm beds with full tummies.

I feel a little tougher and I guess, a little more connected to how many people around the world live.

Not having other people sanitise your food before you eat it made me appreciate this meal in a way I never have before. Which is saying something, considering how regularly I eat.

It felt important to do this. I’m not in a hurry to do it again but I’m pleased we saw it through and hey, this never happened in Bondi. And Gary just left me some chicken scraps on the fence. I guess he’s a little changed too.

The thorns amongst the rose

It’s official. We are now K-Town residents. 2848-ers. Country folk (well, kind of). The move was tough, as all moves are. But as our truck pulled in, wobbling with the weight of our life possessions, I felt a sense of great relief. The anticipation, the build-up, the unknown – well, we are now looking at it in the face. No more guessing.

Leo is passionately working on the house, day in, day out and loving it. Progress is slow, but satisfying.

We have rented close by to give ourselves a chance to get the house finished without choking on dust and depression, and this has proved a wise move.

This is the view from our temporary house. I spend a lot of time on the back-step.

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My job at the Kandos house is the garden. And boy is it a hard one.

To start with, it’s big. Much bigger than our Maroubra balcony and larger than any garden I’ve tried to tame before.

The garden has fruit trees, an old chook shed and plenty of space.

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I have transformed 3 gardens in my life. Somewhere between giving up late nights at the disco, and having babies, I found myself on my knees every Saturday and Sunday morning pulling at the suburban earth, hacking into mountains of weeds and coaxing stolen cuttings to grow. I had never gardened before and much to my surprise I discovered I have a green thumb. This is clearly a genetic fluke. My dad Don is a passionate gardener and I was raised in a thriving, lush backyard which was and still is, an oasis.

This 50 year old garden in Bondi, created by my Dad, is my inspiration. 

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My first garden challenge in my new home is the existing rose garden. If someone had of told me 1 year ago that I would be living in the Central West of New South Wales attending roses, I would have told them to get off the green stuff. But here I am.

Step 1 was to clear out the thick, choky, mean grass that was strangling the bushes

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Step 2 was to dig up a few bushes and relocate them. They fought hard, ruining my hot pink trainers along the way.

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I groaned and moaned as I struggled to pull up their root system which is probably as old as me. In between swear words, I admired their tenacity. They didn’t want to be uprooted. They didn’t want to face this unexpected disruption. They held on until they  were weakened and worn out by the battle. But change won out in the end. As it always does.

Step 3: I clumped them together against the front of the house to thicken the spindly row that was already there (I know it’s hard to see this improvement; you’re just going to have to trust me on that one).

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I also found a spot for my Bondi/Maroubra succulents that have been raised on sea-air and neglect. I have no idea how they will go in their new mountain setting, but they look pretty good for the moment.

My heavy river rock, that I have dragged between 4 apartments to use as a door stop, now has an outdoor spot too

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The move has left some of the roses looking a little yellowed and wilted, which Dr Google tells me is normal. I can relate to how they are feeling. Being uprooted comes with much bruising, and plenty of prickly thorns, as I’ve learnt this past few weeks. I suspect the roses and I simply need to find our new root system; tap into the surrounding nutrients; gets lots of sunshine and water; and settle. Watch this space.

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The butterfly starts to emerge

So while the rest of Australia was drinking beer at the beach last week to celebrate that strange period between Xmas and NY when everyone forgets to pay the bills, we donned masks and canvas gloves and got ourselves busy. With just 10 days until we pull up stumps in our beloved Maroubra, we had a serious deadline on our hands: to make the house (slightly) liveable so we can half move in. Our goal? To do the floors, clean 50 years of nicotine off the walls, and make the garden tidy again – all without killing each other.

But there’s nothing like knowing you’re about to be homeless to move things along and keep the peace. Step 1 was to remove the 400,000 staplers and nails that 4 layers of lino and old carpet had left behind. Nasty buggers but there was no way I was going to leave even 1 behind.

I pulled and pulled until my key-board preserved hands bled.

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We hired a big sander but Leo the pedant ended up doing most of the work by hand using this mini baby that my brother gave him last Christmas (thanks Kier, keep those Breville presents coming).

Leo treated the floor like he was creating an artwork

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And boy did the hard work pay off!

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While the floor sealer was drying we moved into the bedrooms to try and finish the painting. Our beachy blue has come up nicely. You’d never know we are 232 kilometres from the sea (not that I’m counting).

Finally, colour!

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My spirits began to lift (and not just because bum crack always makes me giggle)

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While Leo was tackling the window sills I decided to get moving on the lawn which was really bugging me as it had grown knee high. I gave it my best shot but I have a lot to learn.

If there are any whipper snipper instructors under 60 out there, please PM me.

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Afterwards I collapsed in a heap under our big apricot tree and had my first country wife disco nap.

It felt good.

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Next stop: KANDOS 2848.