Over the barbed wire fence

Just over five weeks ago, I made my move back to the wheatbelt, back to country life, back over the barbed wire fence. I quit my corporate job in Perth, gave up my three bed two bath townhouse rental, got myself a bigger car, donated a heap of my belongings to the good sammies, stocked up on homewares and herbs and hit the road.

Since then, my day to day life is nothing of what I imagined it would be. From painting walls, to planting a herb garden, going to a poultry action, and delivering lunch boxes. It’s everything and more. Which is why I want to share it with you.

I want to share with you what makes me happy, my partner happy and our 3.5 year old Kelpie happy each and every day, out here, in the heart of the wheatbelt, over our very own barbed wire fence.

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Call me the crazy chook lady…Part 1.

In just six weeks I have developed a reputation around town. I am officially, the crazy chook lady.

It all started in week one at netball training when I started talking about my frustration with trying to get hold of just three laying hens. Everyone was very understanding of my frustration and started handing over their ‘chook seller’ contacts but everyone that I called seemed to have recently done a chook delivery (yes that’s a thing) to our area and weren’t planning on coming back anytime soon. So that is what lead me to a chook auction at 9.30am on a Saturday morning.

One of the girls from netball (we will call her Christine) had told me about the chook auction back in week one and I had kept it at the back of my mind. After a month of no luck getting hold of my three laying hens I decided I would give the auction a go. Christine had told me going to the auction is worth it as you come away with much nicer looking (lots of feathers) and more friendly chooks than usual. Have you ever heard someone call a chook pretty? Or friendly? But Christine wasn’t wrong, the auction did have the goods! There were lots of different breads and not an Isa Brown in sight. There were black ones, white ones, some with feathers on their feet and even a few guinea fowls. I wasn’t in the market for guinea fowls but after waiting so long for chooks, I did have a good look at them and could have easily been convinced to place a bid.

Being an auction you cant just buy these pretty, feathery chooks, you have to auction for them. I had in my mind that this would be a traditional auction with an auctioneer standing on a podium with a hammer taking bids but when we got there, much to my surprise it was nothing like that. It was a pencil auction with the basic idea being you walk around the shed, inspect the poultry displayed in individual cages, work out which one(s) you want to bid on and then write your bid, in pencil, on the white card attached to the favourable chook(s) cage. At 11am on the dot when the buzzer goes off if your bid is the last bid on the white card, you win! Easy as that… so I thought.

Christine picked me up from the farm at 8.30 and we got the the auction at 9.30, inspected the poultry and placed our first bids. We then had an hour to kill so we walked around ‘monitoring’ our bids. This involved walking around the shed, past the chooks we had placed bids on and if anyone else had placed a bid to outbid ours, we’d have to write our new bid to beat theirs. It was very exhausting as being a chook auction (not exactly high value) the bids were going up a dollar at a time which meant lots of trips around the shed. At 11am on the dot Christine manned one side of the shed and I the other, making sure we got our last bids in right before the buzzer went off at 11am. We were easily outbid on nearly half. One reason being we couldnt watch all of our bids as the chooks were spread across the shed. The other reason being there was no way in hell we were going to pay upwards of $30 for one chook. And believe me, there were many chooks that went for more than $30. There was only one hicup where I nearly lost two chooks to an older lady who tried to outbid me after the buzzer had gone. Needless to say she didn’t know how much I wanted chooks so wasnt going to stand for cheeky.

We came away with six chooks each, averaging $14.60 per chook ($4.60 above the standard price of an Isa Brown) but our chooks were what a chook lover would call pretty. They have feathers, and are friendly.

My advice to anyone that has chooks and likes chooks, if you get the chance go to a chook auction, go. For one, it will be something you wouldn’t have experienced before, and two, you will get pretty chooks, of different breeds and may even open up the possibility of coming home with a guinea fowl (if that’s your thing).

Pics below.

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Chalk paint

I seem to have developed an obsession with chalk paint. At the moment it’s with Annie Sloan’s ‘Old White’ however I’ve just ordered a tin of Something Painted Perth’s ‘Oxblood’ so will see what furniture that leads me to..

My most recent ‘up-cycle’/furniture redo/project, whatever you want to call it, were my dining room chairs. The most tedious of all. It took many attempts, however approximately 12 hours later (I’m a perfectionist) I had a completely new look in my living room, for a lot less than the $129 per chair I would have paid if I got my way when we got our dining table.

My tips for redoing chairs with chalk paint.

  1. Don’t bother sanding. Half of my chairs were weather damaged as had been left on the verandah by the previous owner, half were just chipped and battered (basic wear and tear) but it all adds to their character. I did the bare minimum (removed the flakey varnish) and gave them a wipe over and they turned out just fine. Trust me, the painting part takes long enough so skip the prep if you can.
  2. Set up in one room if you don’t think you can do them all in one hit. I definitely couldn’t. I don’t have the patience (working on it) but I also chose to do two coats per chair, two chairs at a time so there were times where I had to stop and wait for the paint to dry (sigh). I found it a lot easier having a room that was already set up so all I had to do after each session was wash a brush.
  3. Don’t be too fussy with your painting. The beauty of chalk paint is that it looks good slapped on. I found the more I went over it, the worse it looked (you could see brush strokes). Two coats (allowing for drying in between coats) is plenty, and the imperfections (only noticeable to you) add to the character.

    See pics of final product (s) below.IMG_3489IMG_3490IMG_3487IMG_3491