That’s it – We are in Charge! Vineyard and Chicken Farmers

At some ungodly hour this morning Paul drove the vineyard owners to the airport to catch their flight to Germany and now it is up to us to keep the vines alive as well as look after their brood of hens.   How hard can it be….?

Who knew chickens thrive on routine?   Every day it is the same, each morning feed them half a scoop of grain, keep them locked in the coop until about midday, then let them out to scratch around for grubs and other chicken delicacies.  At about dusk (around 4.30pm -5pm), they will come to the back door to demand we bring them our food scraps, we bring out the scraps and they happily follow us back to the safety of their coop for  a delicious dinner, ready  to be locked in for the night.  If it is cold and wet, they usually start congregating from about 3pm ready for an early mark, who can blame them I hate being out and about on a cold wet night as well.

S putting the chickens away

On our first night in the farm house we were late with the scraps, as we had to pick up our cat Thomas from the airport after he had caught an afternoon flight down to Hobart from Sydney.  The chickens had given up on getting our scraps that night and gone back to the coop on their own.   I went over to the coop to count them, it was pitch black inside I only had my mobile phone torch.  The chickens made it especially difficult for me by crowding into one small corner at the end of the coop.  After counting them several times and coming up one short I went hunting for the missing chicken.  I finally found her  huddled at the end other end of the coop on her own in a dark corner.  I thought nothing of it because chicken behaviour is all new to me.  I locked up and went inside.

The next day we let them out at midday as usual, but one stayed behind, the one the kids had named Curly.  She was near the grain tray with her head down and tail up.   The owners had told us before they left there was one hen walking around awkwardly and she may die soon she as she was old.   We picked her up her abdomen was tight; we did some research and thought that she may be egg bound.  We found a wonderful site called Backyard Chickens we followed their instructions and gave her a warm bath.

Curly struggled when we first put her in the bath but then she relaxed and seemed to enjoy it a bit (and who doesn’t feel relaxed in a warm bath?).   She seemed rather perky after her bath and, wandered off for a little snack.  We left her to see if she would lay, she didn’t.    That night she followed the usual routine.

Bathing curly

The next morning when we let the chickens out Curly was head down tail up again.  We gave her another soak and she seemed ok, however when we checked on her later the poor thing had collapsed, this time her tail wasn’t in the air, it looked like her legs had buckled awkwardly underneath her.  We gave her another bath and fed her crushed calcium and magnesium tablets which are supposed to encourage contractions, we also considered trying to lubricate the egg so it could slip out easily.   However the backyard chicken site stated if she is egg bound we should be able to see the top of the egg, which we couldn’t so perhaps we were wrong in our egg bound diagnosis.

Feeding Curly calcium and magnesium

We brought Curly inside and kept her in a cage where she would be safe and warm for the night to see if she would recover, she didn’t.  Curly died peacefully in her sleep that night and was cremated the following morning.  RIP Curly.

Hello Tasmania

A cold frosty Devonport morning greeted us as we drove off the Spirit of Tasmania at 6.45am.  We grabbed an overpriced but hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs at a nearby motel before hitting the road Richmond bound.

There were whinges of how cold it felt from our poor Sydney born children but once we were on the road and the car had warmed up, the whinging soon gave way to exclamations of amazement as they stared out the window at field upon field of frosted grass.

frosted grass

The long stretches of straight motorway soon gave way to long, winding sealed roads that lead us into the hills that surround Richmond.  The frost soon burned off, the fields of white giving way to the sight of the tough brown grass that covered the hills.   I am sure as winter fades and the vines spring back to life this area will look amazing.

We arrived at Charles Reuben our new home for the next  six months around 11.30am, after introductions and a brief lunch we moved into the accommodation on the property.  Now the adventure is about to begin.

Chrales Reuben Estate Tasmania

The Spirit of Adventure

The Spirit of Tasmania only does overnight sailings during the winter months, but you still get a spectacular view of Melbourne’s city lights as you depart.

Boarding Spirit of Tasmania was smooth and painless; we drove aboard, parked in the non-descript car park and were in our tiny cabin within 15 minutes.   The cabins were small; neutrally coloured, comprised four bunk beds, and a tiny bathroom which contained a toilet and a miniscule shower.  We were told we were only able to bring a small carry-on bag each into our cabin and it is clear as to why.

2017-07-10 17.26.45


After dropping our bags in our room we headed up to Bar 7 for a glass of Shiraz (the kids had fruit juice).    We found a table that was perfectly poised to watch the sunset and the bright lights of Melbourne drift away over the horizon as we left the port.   Once it was pitch black outside it was time for a bistro style dinner at TMK (The Market Kitchen), the ferry’s on board restaurant.  We retired to our cabin after that as we had a long day ahead of us the next day starting at 5.45am and we wanted to get the kids into bed.

The captain warned us that once we passed the Melbourne heads at about 9pm we would have some rough sailing conditions due to strong winds.   Little did I know how rough as I lay on the top bunk I was trying not to vomit as the bed tilted roughly backwards and forwards length ways.   Going to the bathroom was a mission in itself as I stumbled toward the tiny en-suite like a drunk, crashing into the bunks as I went.  Unable to sleep I lay there listening to the creaking sounds as the life rafts outside swayed heavily on their ropes.    The good news was that the rough weather soon gave way to a gentler rocking helping me drift off into a peaceful slumber.

At 5.45am we were woken by a firm but friendly voice telling us that it was time to get up and prepare for disembarking at 6.30am.   We were called back to our cars by deck number, once we reached our car it was only a few minutes before the doors opened and we were able to drive off the ferry into the cold Devonport fog.

The Spirit of Tasmania is a great way to travel, the on boarding and disembarking process was easy and efficient,   I would highly recommend it.

Our Journey from Sydney

We left Sydney 7th July around 5.30pm, already 2 hours behind schedule.   Our plan to lead a simpler less cluttered life but in reality we are still fairly shallow when it comes to hanging on to stuff.  Hence the needed to make a number of unplanned trips to our storage unit to store items we cannot bring ourselves to get rid of.

Just when we believed we had finished ferrying our belongings back and forth to the unit and we were down to a few essentials, we realised that we could still not fit all the remaining items into our Mitsubishi Outlander and had to make yet another trip to the storage unit.

The aim for that evening  was to make it out of the city, on our long car journey to Melbourne and that we did, we got to Goulburn had MacDonalds for dinner  and checked into the very lovely Best Western.

We planned to do no more than four hours driving a day as anyone with young kids knows that to do much more would mean arguments fights and constant whining from the backseat.  On the second day we drove from Goulburn to Wangaretta, with just a short stop at the Criterion Hotel in Gundagai for lunch – I would not recommend – ‘nuff said.

On Sunday we continued to Melbourne.   Just was we were nearing the city we got a call from the Adina Hotels and Apartments in St Kilda asking us why we did not show up last night.  Er we were supposed to be booked for tonight, said Paul.  I checked the paper work and indeed Paul had booked us for Saturday night rather than Sunday.    We asked if they could book us another room they said yes but because we booked through Expedia they can’t refund the previous night.   Fair enough it was our stupid mistake, at least they had a room for us that night.

The staff at the Adina were brilliant, they not only booked us another room at a heavy discount they were so apologetic about not being able to refund us; they upgraded us from a suite to a two bedroom apartment.   Now that’s what I call service Adina and we will be back and we will recommend you to others.

That evening we had a relaxing meal at chez Reid always good to catch up with friends.