wings and things

My silent husband

Against all advice from friends and family, and against my own decision not to bring Anthony home anymore, I did so anyway today.

I couldn’t not. I couldn’t not.

During the drive home Anthony was utterly silent. It then took awhile to get him from the car onto the front veranda, even with the new walker the nursing lodge let me borrow.

It was sunny to begin with, so I brought Anthony a drink, sat with him for awhile, then went inside to heat up the chicken soup I’d made him. When it got cloudy outside, I had to bring Anthony into the kitchen which took ages because his meds hadn’t kicked in. I put the heater on because he gets so cold all the time. All of this was silent except for me saying, “1, 2. 3” to help him walk.

I served Anthony the soup but couldn’t eat any myself because I was feeling weirdly nauseous, and terrified I wouldn’t be able to get him back from inside the house to the car to take him back to the nursing lodge in time for his next meds, and in time to pick Ming up from his music school.

The day was filled to the brim with silence. I kept saying, “Why don’t you talk to me anymore?” and Anthony kept trying to, but couldn’t.

Little snatches of conversation happened, but I had to instigate them all because Anthony seems to have forgotten how to converse.

Anthony only uttered one beautiful sentence as I was getting him into the car to go back the nursing lodge, and that was about his guinnea fowl who seem to congregate close to him when he is home, even when he is silent; they seem to sense his presence. “Look at them, Jules,” he said, with his new quarter-smile.

They were our first birds and they are very noisy, just like Anthony used to be – loud and laughing and utterly lovable.

Otherwise, it was all pretty quiet today because Anthony’s silence was deafening.


Six new chooks!

In the interests of equalizing the male/female ratio here, I have now purchased six pullets (‘teenage’ hens about to lay eggs) and have confined them to the original chook pen where they are adjusting with a mixture of trepidation and delight. Surrounded by peafowl and guinnea fowl – who fly in and out of the pen whenever they feel like it – the six new chooks are experiencing a kind of culture shock I guess. All four roosters are not allowed into the pen yet so they cockadoodledoo outside the pen constantly but they don’t seem particularly amorous, more curious – maybe even alarmed.

One of my BFFs (being acronymically challenged, I didn’t even know what this meant until last week) helped me pick the new chooks up and gave me some chook advice, as she has had chooks for years.

Daffy wants to join the newbies since Dotty, his ‘wife’ seems to have disappeared. I suspect she is sitting on eggs somewhere but have not been able to find her and Daffy quacks all day for her – his loneliness is gutwrenching. I hope she hasn’t been taken by that fox.

So – another new poultry mini-chapter. Let’s hope it all works out because I want eggs again!


‘I thought this was a bird blog!’

Angelina: It’s a bird blog primarily, of course, but Julie keeps going off topic.

Queenie: I’ve noticed that. She keeps blogging about silly old men!

King: Like me?

Queenie: Darling, never – your tail feathers will grow back soon!

Baby Turkey: I have now held this pose for several hours but Julie still hasn’t noticed!

Diamond: Me too.

Guinneas: I’m sure she’ll get back on topic soon. We always do.

Phoenix 1: She hasn’t taken much notice of me lately either, which is a bit hurtful.

Godfrey: I suggest we all start biting her. Watch and learn.

Emery 2: Noooooooooooooo!

Tina Turner: Yes – Godfrey is right!


A better life?

Today has been eventful.

A lovely place has been found for Arthur (see previous post) and he will be leaving in a day or so. Ming (Son) has told him the hut is no longer safe and we have to have it inspected for wiring (which we do).

One of the guinnea fowl was cowering in the corner of the emus’ lean-to, so Ming helped her get out. I think she wants somewhere safe to lay eggs, so here we go again!

Ming and I went out for lunch despite suffering from gastro. We had to go because it was a promise we made yesterday when we had our long discussion. I had chilli prawns and now feel amazingly better!

Anthony got angry on the phone this morning (first time ever) and said he was hurt (first time ever) that he couldn’t come home for the night so I have arranged to pick him up for the day tomorrow. His uncharacteristic upsetness has cast a shadow on today, but tomorrow will be better.

I have nearly caught up with the washing and folding of clothes.

Ming is a happy chappy.

I am too but I seem to have this spare water balloon full of tears that keeps landing in front of me, making me afraid to smile, or take the next step.

Ming said he read the post about him on Facebook and hated it but then he grinned.

One of my two PhD students has finished and submitted his thesis.

Anthony just asked me on the phone (I ring him several times a day when I can’t get in to see him) if I still loved him and I said yes.

During lunch, Ming said we were not to talk about Anthony so we didn’t.

The ute is making a funny sound.

I had a dream last night that I was having an argument with someone and a hippopotamus squashed her.

The main car’s side mirrors are smashed and I still haven’t rung the insurance company.

Nearly all of the young peacocks now have long feathers.

Wild galahs and 28s are everywhere.

There is a rat in the washhouse which only Ming has seen, so I need his company to do the washing.

I have a mother who is a best friend.

The electricity has not gone off now for a couple of days.

I have resigned from my job at the university.

I will never, ever wish for a different life.

I will never, ever wish for a better life.

This is a better life – this is the best life.


Cheer up!

Emery 1: Is Julie okay?

Emery 2: Shut up, Emery 1, and eat your dinner – I’ve saved you the crusts

Emery 3: Those funny little chicks out there yesterday were rather cute weren’t they!

Emery 2: (munching) Well they’re gone now aren’t they?

Emery 1: Oh, poor Julie

Emery 2: They were just guinnea fowl – get over it!

Emery 3: You really are callous aren’t you and you’re the female of this group!

Emery 2: I am not a female!

Emery 1: Actually, I think Emery 3 might be right, Emery 2 – you could be a female

Emery 2: Hell, I hope not!

Angelina: Where’s Julie?

Bubble: I’m not sure. I think she’s out there somewhere looking for those chicks.

Angelina: I hope she finds them! I’ve been looking for them too, you know, just out of curiosity.

Brad: I hate to say this, Angie, but I think a fox might have taken them.

Angelina: If so, I think we better gather around the back door and make sure Julie is okay.

Brad: Good idea – let’s go – let’s cheer her up!



Well, the baby guinnea fowl (they’re called ‘keets’) are all gone. There is no sign that they ever existed in the first place – no little feathers or corpses, nothing – and our 12 adult guinneas are roaming around as if nothing ever happened. If Son and I had been away for a couple of days, we would never have known and would probably have assumed the broken eggs had been eaten by something. So we let nature take its course and nature swallowed them up into animal heaven I guess. I am more shocked than upset and wish I had at least rescued a few but most of the advice given to me suggested to let them be with the mother(s).

I only held one little lost one in my hands for a few moments before Son discovered the rest with the adults, so we put it back with them. I still have a tiny thread of hope we might find one or two but it’s a very thin thread. So, another lesson learned the hard way. I will be much more careful when Tapper’s eggs hatch (if they ever do!) although I think ducks are better mothers than guinneas.

I wanted to take a photo of them yesterday but I didn’t because I was afraid of this – afraid of taking a picture of something we might lose. But I trusted that mother guinnea, and the fox lights, and nature, and I knew it was just as much a risk to take the babies away and put them in a brooder in the house because they might be too shocked.

The image of them cheeping and running around with the adults in the back paddock is a good memory and I have decided to refuse to feel regret and remorse because there isn’t any point. They are gone.


A strange day

Today was a bit of a strange collection of moments so I have decided to write this post in point form:

  • Son and I arrive at nursing lodge at 11.30am to have lunch with Husband (we had arranged meals for us too – amazing and only just found out we could do this any time!)
  • Husband has difficulty getting out of the armchair in his room but the three of us slowly make our way to the dining room (Son getting grumpy, me getting hungry)
  • We get to the dining room to find staff have set up a special table just for us out in the garden area (I am amazed and impressed by this thoughtfulness)
  • Our meals are served to us as if we are in a restaurant and we all sit down (although by the time I get Husband into his chair and sitting comfortably, our roast dinner is getting a little cool and Son is beginning to grimace ferociously)
  • We all begin to eat and Son and I take turns trying to open the special beer for Husband which requires a bottle opener which is not something nursing lodges have on hand
  • Husband starts eating his meal as if it is his last meal ever (he has always eaten enthusiastically), so Son and I do the same until we are full then Husband asks for our leftovers – Son’s cauliflower and my potatoes)
  • I try again with the stupid beer bottle and then Husband takes it from me and gets a fork and opens it easily (Son and I crack up laughing at our bleeding fingers and our ineptitude)
  • Husband gives us both a twinkly-eyed look before telling us fondly that we are both hopeless and has a couple of sips of beer
  • We exchange short, unfinished, weird conversations between mouthfuls
  • Dessert arrives – some sort of creamy thing that Husband wolfs down in a state of pure bliss (I begin to feel a bit guilty that I haven’t made more desserts for him over the years!)
  • Husband begins to say strange things and all of a sudden it happens; his eyes go dead, his head drops towards his chest and he is almost unconscious
  • Son and I exchange looks, wondering if he is pretending (yes, Husband has a wicked sense of humour); we watch and wait and then realize it’s for real
  • I go and get a nurse to come and see. I say, “This is what happened at home on Easter Monday when I got the ambulance. I just thought I should show you.”
  • Several nurses come and get a bit of a shock because Husband’s eyes have rolled back, he has gone pale and he is unresponsive
  • A doctor is rung, a senior nurse is contacted, a hoist is brought outside to get Husband into a wheelchair back into his room and to bed
  • Son and I stay with him for another hour or so during which a nurse comes and takes his blood pressure etc. Gradually, Husband comes out of whatever it is and focusses on us but not quite – his eyes are still sharky and vague
  • Son and I leave after tucking him in on his side, the way he likes to lie down and we put the ANZAC Day channel on the television for him
  • Husband murmurs why are we leaving (by this time we have been there nearly 3 hours – okay, not long, but long enough)
  • Son and I get home and have a bit of a tiff (neither of us are particularly upset, just frustrated I guess)
  • We get out of our ute and I hear cheeping from the bush where the guinnea fowl’s eggs are and Son finds one little chick all alone, so I take him into the house with me, thinking the rest haven’t survived
  • Son then discovers a dozen of them out in the back paddock with all their mummies, so we take the little one back to the group and now we are hoping they will survive tonight (I did a lot of quick research and made some phonecalls to people who know about guinnea fowl and the majority think letting nature do its best is a good call
  • As dusk approaches Son and I discover that all but one guinnea mum have flown into the trees and this one dedicated mother has all the chicks under her in the paddock so we put both of our fox lights on either side of her and we are now hoping for the best until tomorrow morning
  • I then ring Husband and finally get through and he says, groggily, “Where are you? I’m at home,” and I say “No, I’m at home and you’re at the nursing lodge because you had one of those turns again.” I then tell him about the guinnea fowl chicks and he is delighted in a subdued way, then asks, “But what about me?”
  • “I don’t know,” I say, “Try to get some sleep, please!”(He agrees this is a good idea and I tell him I will be in tomorrow).
  • I rang the nursing lodge a moment ago and spoke to a nurse who said Husband was calling out for me, over and over again and I told her I couldn’t get through to him on his phone so would she check him out and say goodnight for us and she said of course and reassured me
  • And outside, between those fox lights, one mother guinnea fowl nestles her chicks underneath her and I hope for the best….


Another mother hen!

Okay, I knew the eggs were there but I thought they’d been abandoned. I didn’t know whose eggs they were until today! Guinneafowl eggs – I so hope it works and chicks are going to be a result of all this mother’s hard work….

This is exciting because, as you know, Tapper the duck, is also doing the nesting thing.

I watch and wait!


Even more determination

Husband is coming home for Easter and I am determined to make this work which could be a bit of a challenge. You see it isn’t only the dogs and birds who are presenting me with a compatibility problem, it’s also the fact that Son’s relationship with Husband is fraught with tension. With both of my ‘boys’ incapacitated, Husband permanently with Parkinson’s, and Son temporarily with the post-surgical back brace, my attention is divided and the 3-way dynamics sometimes resemble a comic strip with me as the punchline.

Yes, indeed, sometimes three is literally a crowd, so, even though he doesn’t know this yet, Son is going to Grandma’s for a couple of days so that I can give Husband my undivided attention. Well, not quite as I am not really into doing the doting wife thing so Husband would find that a bit alarming, but I will try!

I’ve been training the guinnea fowl into a welcoming party and they are doing very well.


Hints of harmony

I hesitate to speak too soon, but it looks like my patience has paid off and familiarity has bred harmony rather than contempt when it comes to interactions between our dogs and our birds.

This morning we let the dogs out of their yard and kept the gang in theirs (we usually do the opposite). I sat outside and kept watch because even though the geese, ducks and emus were safely in their own yards, all of the other birds were out and about because they can fly. So the peafowl, guinnea fowl, turkeys, chooks and pheasant, were all roaming around freely and seemingly unafraid of the dogs who they usually only see through a fence. I was particularly worried about the chooks but so far so good and I’ve been able to come inside.

Here is Jack, the Irish Terrier, with the Bubbles and Baby Turkey. Now Jack, who is less than a year old, has never exhibited any ferocious hunting tendencies anyway, but he does like to chase things. In this sense, he and Baby Turkey have a lot in common so you could say they have both met their match and the chasing has stopped.

Interestingly, Doc and Blaze (our father and son miniature dachschunds) are so busy fighting each other at the moment that neither has attempted to hunt down any of the birds. I’m not sure what is going on with those two but lately they never stop arguing and last night Doc gave Blaze a nasty bite on the ear when Son was feeding them. Doc is very jealous when it comes to our attention so poor Blaze has to constantly defer to his father and stand back.

Another harmony challenge has been the introduction of a new gander to the gang. He was delivered to us by a neighbour the other day because he had lost his mate and was very lonely. The poor guy is quite scared of Godfrey’s gang and yesterday, when Son and I got back from Perth, we found him all alone by the gate and had to ‘herd’ him back to the gang and put them all in the same pen. We are calling him Leroy and hoping that with enough time in the yard with the others, he will eventually make a friend and be okay. Son says it reminds him of being ‘the new kid’ at school. The following photo is not a good one but it does show this new kid’s challenge. Leroy is on the right, Seli is on the left and Godfrey is in the background (as always!) Sometimes redeye isn’t a bad effect!

In a couple of hours I pick Husband up for the weekend so I better go and hose down the area outside the back door which all our birds seem to think is the toilet – arghh!