Who needs the gym…?

Hi All,
Sometimes things are NOT what they seem…Cryptic eh? Well you should never take things at face value and therein lies the lesson for today. Steve has been watching a show about how our brains assume an awful lot when it comes to processing the information that we receive from our various senses (that is if we HAVE senses, some people might be well advised to tune out now…). I am sure that all of you have seen that bit of prose circulating in your “Funnies” (spam) that you receive from friends and family where it looks like complete gibberish, but your brain can process it. The simple reason is that our brains are naturally a bit lazy. They don’t want to be thinking heavily about every single process that they are required to do throughout the day. We have a central nervous system and a peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system deals with getting things directly to our brain so that we can react quickly (like “I just stuck the iron on my hand rather than the ironing board, perhaps I should move my hand about now?”), and the peripheral nervous system deals with less important processes. We also have an autonomic nervous system as well and this is where our brain just ‘deals with it’. Things like breathing and all of our organs functioning etc. (my science teacher would be very proud of me. His name was Mr Ryan and we just called him “Rocky”. If you need to know why, you are not my age and never heard the song “I am Pegasus”…leave it at that!). I also had a science teacher in years 11 and 12 that my youngest daughter Bethany ALSO had in the same years. About time you retired Mr Lovett isn’t it? Anyway, back to the story at hand…our brains can recognise that gibberish email, because most of the smaller words our brain just skips over and it tends to recognise the larger words from their first and last letters.

Our brains are amazing. The show that Steve was watching was called “Test Your Brain”. It’s certainly kept him off the streets while it’s on and apparently it is a really good show. What it does is show you that your brain assumes a lot and that different circumstances can influence how we see, hear and feel things. Even taste can be skewed. Have any of you tasted anything after eating miracle fruit berries? The plant is called Synsepalum dulcificum and the following info has been nicked straight from Wikipedia…
“Synsepalum dulcificum produces berries that, when eaten, cause sour foods (such as lemons and limes) subsequently consumed to taste sweet. This effect is due to miraculin, which is used commercially as a sugar substitute. Common names for this species and its berry include miracle fruit and miracle berry. These common names are shared also by Gymnema sylvestre and Thaumatococcus daniellii, two other species that are used to alter the perceived sweetness of foods. The berry itself has a low sugar content and a mildly sweet tang. It contains a glycoprotein molecule, with some trailing carbohydrate chains, called miraculin. When the fleshy part of the fruit is eaten, this molecule binds to the tongue’s taste buds, causing sour foods to taste sweet. While the exact cause for this change is unknown, one theory is that miraculin works by distorting the shape of sweetness receptors so that they become responsive to acids, instead of sugar and other sweet things. This effect lasts until the protein is washed away by saliva (up to about 60 minutes).”

It looks a bit like a coffee plant and coffee berry but probably not quite as addictive

So it looks like nothing is as it seems sometimes. We all enjoy puzzles and brain teasers and looking at those 3D pictures cross eyed so that suddenly you can see ‘something’ in them. It just goes to show that we really don’t use a whole lot of our brains doesn’t it? It also goes to show why most of you are still reading my blog :o). Take a look at these lovely pictures that I found online of pretty landscapes and then take another, slower look. Great aren’t they? :o) oh, I just have to say that these photos are NOT mine, I accessed them from the internet and am completely unsure of their origin so if they are your photos, they are amazing and I bow down to your creative genius (please don’t sue me!)

I like this one, very clever…

and last, but by no means least…

Now to the reason for the title of this post. We most certainly DON’T need the gym. I know that you are all out there straining and huffing most days contorting yourselves into weird and wonderful shapes with various kinds of expensive equipment. You wake up and think about how sore you are from all of the pain that you inflicted on your muscles two days ago and don’t want to get up in the morning and hide under the sheets…I too hide under the sheets. I don’t want to get up in the morning. Firstly it’s because it’s just on 6am and still dark, secondly, it means it’s time to ‘walk the dogs’. I have a Pavlov’s shuddering response whenever I think of ‘walking the dogs’. It comes from the fact that we aerobically walk them (sometimes at incredible speeds if Earl wants to run down the hill or through the shrubs, or after a rabbit…) and we also get the benefits of anaerobic exercise at the same time. Steve gets a triceps workout every day. Bezial has taken to dragging behind as he wants to sniff EVERYTHING and so Steve has to heft him along at the end of his lead. I get a shoulder workout every day with Earl. He has learned that if you pull to the front, you are made to sit down for a bit till you’re ranting overwrought ‘anchor’ has had enough of ranting and then you are allowed to walk again. The ‘anchor’ isn’t so worried about the sideways pull, so he takes full advantage of this fact and sometimes careens off into the shrubbery sideways. He is now 31 kilograms and I can’t even bench press 20kg at my fittest let alone now, so shoulder workouts with 31kilos are starting to make my shoulders shriek.

We now have 16 tiny little gorgeous bundles of fluff. We have no idea what sort of chicks they are apart from the fact that the lady that sold them to me thought that they were a mix of golden laced Wyandotte’s (we already have 2 of those in adult form and they are lovely big birds), Plymouth Rock (lovely black and white spotty “Rosie’s”…that was for Madeline :o) and Brahma. I don’t think that we got any Brahma as they are born with feathery feet and none of ours seem to have that so perhaps we just got the Wyandottes and the Plymouth Rock. We have been researching and we know for sure that we got at least a couple of Plymouth Rocks. Now we just have to cross our fingers that they aren’t all roosters! Big Yin is circling the chook run that we have partitioned off for the broodies and is strutting around ‘giving out cigars’. What a clever lad he was…he can’t even remember doing the deed, but he must have done it well as he has 16 babies now! He is a really good protector of the flock and they all respect him now (except when they are completely ignoring him that is…) and listen when he calls them. We just went from 12 hens and a rooster to 28 ‘chooks’, 16 of undetermined sex. There are still 4 eggs that look like they may still have a chance so that might mean that we end up with 32 chooks! I think that we might just have to give some away and barter some with other people. This was a good exercise for us in how chooks go about reproducing exponentially….

Heres our broodies and some of their respective progeny

This first girl had been broody and sitting on her nest (stealing other chooks eggs) for 3 weeks before we got eggs under her, she deserves her babies!

This photo is of the only Wyandotte that went broody. We had only had her a week or so and she started to sit on the nest. Here she is with one of her lovely little babies…

These last two photos are of two of my girls that are mostly Barnvelder and that are not a year old yet but that went broody at the drop of a hat. One weird thing that I have noticed is that the chicks that hatched, seem to be the same colours as the hens that hatched them. They are no relation at all, I got the fertile eggs from Sheffield, but curiously, the lighter hens hatched out the lighter chickens (mainly) and the darker hens hatched out the darker chicks…

It’s an amazingly warm day here today. The river is sparkling. I sat on our large stump that we chop wood on with a nice apple from the 50kg stash and looked out over the river today. I had just watered our enormous collection of plants and filled up several buckets of water so that the many and varied collection of bird life that seem to be gravitating towards our block in multitudes, has enough water. We have 3 bird baths, a manky muddy pond (that should make the heron’s happy), and various buckets all over the place with water in. The buckets around the plants are to create a microclimate (see Nick, I DO pay attention sometimes…) and also to give the swift stealth bombers that have moved in in the last couple of days, something to catch insects over. Steve has to be careful when he goes into his shed now as they use it as a thoroughfare and he is likely to end up with a swift in his eye. I noticed a young pair of robins while I was basking in the view and eating my apple that were up in a large eucalypt near where I was sitting. The little male looked at me and it appeared that they were sizing me up and suddenly, he flew down and I thought that he was going to land on my head! I must have been sitting in front of a particularly juicy spider on the tree and he made short shift of it…thanks little robin, enjoy all of those 8 hairy legs won’t you?

I was walking back from the shed after watering the plants. We had to move a couple of potted blue bamboo plants that I had been given by an acquaintance a while ago. They had been going great guns but suddenly stopped looking happy and their leaves curled up. In plant language that is the equivalent of “HELP!” So I got Steve to move them around the side of the shed where the sun rarely ventures. Everything around there is moss covered, lush, green and spoiled rotten and these shade loving understory most lovely blue bamboo’s can live there now. It pays to get out and observe your plants if you love them. Sometimes just because WE like somewhere to plant something, doesn’t mean that the plant likes it and we need to watch for signs of distress and remedy it by moving the plant or sometimes, by giving it away and finding something more suitable for the space. I love learning about plants. I love learning about xeriscape plants. I love integrating the things that I have learned into our own situation and it makes me both proud and happy to use this information to be able to live a simpler and more sustainable life. Just a short aside here…has anyone else noticed that sometimes “Word” tries to change your perfectly normal and acceptable sentences to completely stupid gibberish? I once converted all of the words that Word ‘didn’t like’ in my document to the first choice that Word wanted on its list of changes, and it made NO SENSE AT ALL YOU STUPID PROGRAM! Scientists and boffins do NOT literary giants make! They can spell amazingly well (it’s that side of the brain that they are weighed down by), their grammar, syntax, rhyming couplets and haiku are amazingly complex and well structured, but the actual process of tuning in to your ‘muse’ completely bypasses that logic and leaves them stranded and thus we have to deal with stupid ‘Word’ telling us to make gibberish of perfectly good sentence’s. In the name of all things creative STOP TELLING ME HOW TO WRITE MY SENTANCES BOFFINS! There, it’s off my chest now

I don’t know whether to be very happy or somewhat insulted by our chickens. I was walking past them with the hose, something that closely resembles a snake and as such should be awarded a degree of fear, I am at LEAST 100 times bigger than a chicken (no…I am NOT going to tell you what I weigh, I try to face that fact as rarely as possible thank you) and you would think that I would be even scarier than a hose snake wouldn’t you? I walked closely past them carrying my hose snake and got the chicken equivalent of “Meh”…as they kept pecking the ground where I had wet it with the snake (sorry, hose…). I know that I am no way to be considered a ‘coiled spring’, but my ego and pride would at least like to be acknowledged as possibly dangerous if I fell on you chickens! At least give me that…I had to warn Bezial of a similar fate today. He was “backwards dragging” again and Steve was sick of his triceps workout. I decided that my triceps needed as much work as they could get before my nana wings start to drag along the floor so I took Bezial and Steve did a shoulder workout for the day. Bezial was dragging, sliding and generally being a total pain and I had to heft him along whilst walking forwards. It turned out he was looking for a good place to pee, but at the time he was just being a pain in the bum. It’s a lovely time of the morning to walk and depending on where we walk, it’s sometimes quite dangerous as people think that no-one in their right mind would be out walking on the sides of this crumbling hairpin bendy road. They are right, we are NOT in our right mind, but it’s the closest walk to home and we do it often. We are even to nodding and waving point with some of the locals around here. We have no idea who they are and visa-versa, but we are now at least aware of each other’s presence and know to expect each other on the road at specific times through the day. It’s so much different living out in the sticks than in town. There are no shops to go to and buy crisps at all hours. You can’t just take a 5 minute drive into town to get what you want. It’s a lot quieter out here (apart from the weep-weep bird that has apparently lost most of his voice and is now known as whispering Jack) and life has its own pace here. You can feel like you actually belong to the cosmos out here because you get a bit of distance between yourself and that racing, rushing, seething mass of humanity bent on consuming themselves into the ground. It’s lovely for 2 hermits who love their own space and company. I think on that note, I am going to leave this post. I have some Fridays email to do for my mother. You are spoiled mum…you get emails AND blog now! Your emails are just going to have to be a bit smaller now as I have told you just about everything that goes on in the week here in this blog. Steve and I have finished up studying for the day. We have amassed everything that we need ready for the long haul of compilation of information and data that we need to hand in to sensei Nick. Now all we need to do is get all of the levels that we need at our ‘client’s’ place, and we can draw up the plans in AutoCAD and finalise our specifications. Makes no sense unless you are Nat, Nick, James or Madeline. No worries, it’s just all hard work! See you tomorrow unless I don’t.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mum
    Oct 20, 2011 @ 18:55:28

    Hi Pen, you were talking about how the brain assimilates words,& it reminded me your dad once told me he read down the middle of pages, & didn’t bother with and & the & such mundane words as they automatically came in as he read, & he used to have three books going aty once! The chicks are lovely, but 16 & more to come ? Watch out with larger birds too, as crows & kookaburrahs will eat them. The mother hen usually gets them all under their wing if any danger is around though. I was transported back when I saw the view where you ate your apple! Lovely.


  2. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 00:08:47

    Even if we did chickens, I’m not sure how our dogs and cats would react to them. We know a couple in California who have chickens. They also don’t eat eggs. They have them to fertilize the soil. Now, Chris is thinking of bees.


    • narf77
      Apr 08, 2013 @ 04:35:43

      Earl only reacts to chickens if he can get near them. He has managed to pluck our rooster (grabbed the vain thing from behind by it’s tail when it was sitting on the gate crowing), and pluck the chicken that we saved from the jaws of death and raised before releasing with the other chickens 3 times! He hasn’t killed a chicken yet though so we think he is playing with them. Our chooks are now contained inside a large coop so even if Earl was to get out (I shudder to think about that!) he wouldn’t do them any damage… the feral cat population might just notice him though! I am thinking “bees” as well. There is an old man up the road who has at least 50 hives on his property and most of his bees predate Serendipity Farm. I had great success with all of my veggies this year thanks to his bees and the local yellow jacket wasps. We have a clean bee population here in Tassie and they are very strict about honey etc. to protect it. I am thinking about getting a hive just to let them pollinate our veggies 🙂


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