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Christmas time, mistletoe and wine, and slightly different this year

posted on: Friday, 24 December 2010 @ 12:14am in

[minor pseudonymising edits during Drupal to hugo migration for all the good that will do now]

The lovely Ursula (also known as SulaMoon) over at deviantART gave me and another friend of hers pearwood a dragon for Christmas.

Christmas dragon

I think it’s agonisingly cute. Ursula is an amazing artist.

Just on the subject of Christmas critters, I did a whole blog post on my Christmas present but that was wiped when my host got itself taken out.

Rar (staffy x rotti x kelpie x) checking out Tali (staffy x mastiff pup)

The Christmas present was obviously early. That photo was taken a bit over two weeks ago. These days it’s more like:

Rar (staffy x rotti x kelpie) and Tali (mastiff x staffy) happy playing

I also need to get photos of them playing tugowar with a rope bone, as that is both cute and amusing.

But back to the title. What is different about Christmas? Well firstly and most importantly, I am hoping I’ve finally convinced both parents and outlaws - they of the “but you NEED to have SOMETHING to open on the day!” mentality - that stuff is stuff and is mostly pointless and takes up space, and anything we want or could use would be too expensive to just go out and buy for someone for Christmas. Last year my mum donated money to Oxfam for us, and this year we’ve requested the same and we’re fine for undies, but thank you for the thought.

Secondly, I avoided Christmas crush. This was done by shopping for my parents in November when they were up for my cousin’s wedding, and it helped a lot that Sprat actually knew what they wanted this time as opposed to the educated guesswork of previous years. Pip organised everything on JJ’s side of the family (and I believe his mum told them what they wanted as well) so there was no needing to manage that. From my little family unit my parents and the outlaws are all getting cards from Oxfam Unwrapped I bought 5yo a huge Lego Harry Potter playset from Target, and got all of them stuff from Eco Toys. JJ’s mum also opted to avoid Christmas crush and associated stress by sending me a whack of cash and asking me to buy the kids presents from Eco Toys as well. I was quite happy to do so. She had the right idea, I was reminded today as I quickly wrapped them while JJ had taken them out shopping that I suck at wrapping, but am good at improvising, though I have a way to go before I can make a working helicopter out of a lawnmower engine, chewing gum and a paper clip.

Thirdly, we’re at home. It’s slightly bizarre, we’re never home for Christmas. We spend alternating years with each family, one year we’re up on Christmas Island for a month over Christmas with my family, the next we’re in Jurien Bay with JJ’s. This year we were supposed to be going out to “the farm” (which is an actual farm, and it’s referred to as the farm). JJ wanted to spend at least a couple of days there. After we worked out we were going to be hard pressed finding housesitters that would get up early enough to let the roosters out before they were slow roasted in their nightbox, we decided we would go up for the day. Then, this happened:

Chess the Pekin bantam sitting on 24 eggs

Chess went broody at the beginning of the month. I left her three standard and two bantam eggs to sit on. The other chickens continued laying on the other side of the nesting box and in a couple of spots around the garden. Or so I thought. Either Chess was stealing the eggs from the other nest and rolling them into her own, or the other chickens were quickly jumping on her nest and laying when she got out to eat, drink and dust bathe. Last time I happened to be out when she got off, there were 13-14 eggs in the nest. We calculated that the chicks should hatch around Christmas day. So no day trip for us.

JJ acquisitioned a small chicken coop from a guy down the road who makes them, just in case the other hens (eyeing off Rap in particular, nasty chicken) gave the chicks a hard time and we would have to relocate them to safer quarters.

Today when Chess got off the nest for a bit I ducked in to check on the eggs. I estimated there were close to 30, and was left speculating how the extra ones got there, as while I freely admit to having difficulty with numbers, I am not that bad at counting.

Tempest the Pekin bantam also being broody

Over the last three days or so, I noticed that Tempest was also trying very hard to go broody. We decided to candle the eggs Chess was sitting on, and give the less developed ones to Tempest to brood. By “candle” of course I mean we shone a whopping great big Maglite beam through each egg. The result was Chess got left with 10 eggs full of dark mass, of which at least 9 are expected to hatch, and Tempest was moved to the broody box with the 14 that appeared empty or had smaller masses in them. We’ll candle Tempest’s eggs in a week and remove any empties.

We moved Tempest partially as the broody box is going to be a lot easier to cool than the shed in the coop, and mostly so that the chickens have free use of the nesting box again, as we figure Chess and her brood will mostly just be sleeping there for a little while. Other than watching for hatchlings, Christmas is going to be pretty cruisy for a change. We’re thinking mostly cruisy day tomorrow, and hoping to wake up early in the morning on Christmas day to hit up the dog beach. No idea what we’re doing for lunch. Back home at some point to be lazy and let the kids loose on their presents.

I must not forget JJ’s camera.