Hunters and gatherers

Posted January 26th, 2007 by Penny Wise

I'm not usually up writing a blog at 5am on a Saturday morning but Noel and Liam went game fishing at some unearthly hour, consequently the whole house is awake and bleary eyed! Yes, the big fish are biting and as Noel reliably informed me 'you won't see me for dust on weekends now!' Not that it bothers me, he's much nicer to live with when the fishing's good! Plus there's the added bonus of having mountains of fish to eat! Last weekend he brought home two huge yellowfin tuna, which were promptly taken to be smoked at a friend's seafood factory. Our freezer is now full to the brim with dozens of shrink-wrapped portions and like a good Simple Saver I took home the frames to make fish stock. Noel also caught a blue marlin last week but it broke the line and took off with his favourite lure so this week he has taken Liam for extra good fortune. Liam has the luck of the Irish when it comes to fishing. He's accompanied his dad out on the water since he was three and has the knack of catching the most fish AND the biggest fish every time, without even trying, much to Noel's consternation. I wonder what they'll bring home today?

With all the fresh seafood and produce we're hauling in at the moment, we should technically be able to live off the smell of an oily rag. Noel thinks I'm funny but I've started keeping what I call a 'Harvest Diary' to record whatever home grown food we collect each day. For example, the first day I picked two heads of broccoli, one cauliflower, one head of celery, one lettuce, some red onions, a good feed of beans and two eggs. Yesterday I picked a zucchini, some peas, two more eggs and an apple cucumber. If that's just two days' worth, imagine what my diary would look like after a year! I reckon it's a great way to demonstrate exactly how much you can save by growing your own food. I've been eagerly following a thread in the Forum announcing a member's Grocery Challenge, beginning on February 1st. Not to be confused with the $21 Challenge, this one encourages members to see how low they can maintain their grocery expenditure right through the year. I looked at how much the other members were planning to spend and picked an average figure for our family of $100 a week. After learning to survive on $21 a week, $100 seemed positively luxurious. Then I thought of my household account, where I currently allow myself $200 a week for groceries and small expenses and I had a lightbulb moment. Jings - if I could aim to feed us on $100 a week throughout the year, in 12 months time I would have a whopping $5,200 saved in my grocery account without even trying! If that's not an incentive, I don't know what is; and the thing is, it SHOULD be easy if we keep growing our own food. Noel's garden looks more like Sherwood Forest at the moment; all freshly mulched using wood shavings and manure from the calf pen. The tomatoes are almost as tall as he is! Mind you, it's not surprising after he left the sprinkler on all night earlier in the week. I couldn't berate him too much for that, as the only reason he forgot was because he had given up smoking - normally he would have been going outside for a ciggy throughout the evening and would have remembered to turn it off, but as he resolutely kept smoke-free inside, it completely slipped his mind. He's now on Day 10 and getting somewhat more pleasant to be around. The staff at the local doctor's are all aware of the deal Liam made with his dad and can't believe he's actually done it this time. The nurse even gave Noel a free supply of patches as she knew how much he had spent on quitting aids in the past, so quitting has cost him nothing - and of course saved us heaps! Liam is very proud of himself for successfully getting his dad to kick the habit and in the light of how much money he will have helped us save, thinks it's only fair that he be rewarded with a $300 Sony PSP. If I were him I would wait until Noel is in a MUCH better mood!

In all fairness though, Liam did keep his end of the bargain too - eventually. He tried everything to get out of his blood test but there was no going back this time and he was dragged kicking and screaming to the doctor's on Thursday. And I MEAN kicking and screaming! The poor chap had worked himself up into such a state at the thought of having a needle in his arm that he was completely irrational. The sweat poured off us all in the tiny practice room as I, the nurse, the Medlab lady and even the receptionist did our best to get him to co-operate as he wailed and thrashed about. All attempts proved fruitless and as the four of us all but admitted defeat, I finally came up with something that did the trick. Well, it was kind of accidental really - I burst into tears. I was so frustrated with him I couldn't help it. 'Look now, you've upset your mum!' the nurse barked at him accusingly. Meek as a lamb, Liam lay down as he was asked and steeled himself for the needle. It wasn't until the nurse had already filled the first tube and was filling up the second that he realised the needle was actually in - he had still been waiting for it! Of course after that he was full of bravado - 'is that it? Is THAT what I was so worried about? Pah - nothing to it!' 'Tut, couldn't you have turned on the waterworks a bit sooner?' said the nurse with a wry smile, 'you'll have to remember that trick!' So Liam's blood test is done and now we wait for the results of his Coeliac's test, which being a long weekend in NZ will be a few days away. The good news is that his iron results are back already and the levels are up on the last from over a year ago, so the reason for his tiredness is not due to anaemia, which was a concern. Now if we can just find out what the problem actually is...

I should have known when I wondered aloud in my last blog how long it would take for Tui to christen the carpet, that I would of course be tempting fate. Everything was going so well too! Earlier in the week, I had been very proud of my veterinary skills. After a normal bouncy day, Tui suddenly became obviously unwell. Being a rather vocal type, she shrieked at every movement so it took some time to decipher what was actually wrong with her, but we finally found a small amount of matted hair under her armpit. 'Tut, she's got knots, what a drama queen!' I laughed and set about freeing her tangles with the scissors. I thought the job was finished, but then noticed that the area looked a bit wet. Further investigation showed blood and pus oozing from a rather deep hole. As Noel held the torch, we could see the end of something protruding from the hole, so I gingerly got hold of it and pulled out a thorn, about an inch long. No wonder she was feeling so rotten! I cleaned up the wound with Dettol and we congratulated ourselves on our home veterinary surgery. The next day she was back to her old self, the hole had closed nicely and I made a mental note to write about our wonderful vet savings in my blog. Just as well I didn't - as the day after that the problems started all over again! The symptoms were just the same as before, but the site of the original problem looked fine. She was limping so badly it was hard to tell where the painful part was and it didn't matter where we looked, she screamed the place down. So, we cleared away under the other arm this time - and found another hole, even more yukky looking than the first. I did my best to clean it up but unfortunately we weren't lucky enough to find any foreign objects sticking out this time and we were convinced something was in there, so we had no choice but to go to the vet. I thought it was going to be a pretty straightforward visit but Tui was making such a fuss that the vet ended up having to knock her out to see what was going on. Hours later I picked up my poor wee girl, who was unable to walk due to having her front leg cut open up to the shoulder. The vet had removed two barley grass seeds, which had broken through the skin and travelled all the way up Tui's leg, as apparently they have a nasty habit of doing. The vet estimated they had been there for about eight weeks and lay quietly festering. She also removed another one from Tui's opposite foot, which was just waving goodbye as it set forth on a mission up the other leg. Nasty blighters. On a positive note, the vet did congratulate me on doing a wonderful job with the other injury - unfortunately it was still going to cost around $250 for her to fix the rest.

So what does this have to do with my new carpet? Lots unfortunately. The vet told us she needed to be kept warm and quiet but there was no way Tui wanted to be away from the family - she wanted to be where her mum - me - was, all the time. This wouldn't have been a problem, apart from the rather large drain protruding from her leg, dripping blood and ooze all over the place at regular intervals. To be fair to Tui, she did do her best to stay on all the towels and blankets I had sacrificed in order to save my carpet, but it all went a bit pear-shaped at 2.30 in the morning when Liam woke up in utter disgust to find Tui had somehow climbed on his bed and leaked a large pool of yuk all over his brand new white pillow and duvet. We bought the boys new duvets for Christmas, thinking we were oh-so-clever getting a white one for Liam, whose white dog sleeps on his bed each night and a black one for Ali, upon whose bed Tui sleeps every night. Typical that she would choose this particular night to change her mind. Aside from the leaking drain, the main problem is Tui has also developed a leaking bladder. Her mobility is so limited at the moment that every time she tries to jump or climb a step, she leaves a small reminder of where she's been. I could bloomin' well cry at my lovely carpet being broken in so unceremoniously - and so soon! I mean, I was still enjoying its lovely smell of 'newness' - now all I can smell is No Vac!

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