If you missed the milking, you got breakfast ready with Nan and then fed the chooks. Now when I say chooks….I mean about four pens of chooks. These chooks were a special blend of breeding that had been achieved over a generation of strategic management and usually involved some roosters with a strong game line for just an extra challenge for an unsuspecting young person who was helping collect the eggs.
We had many 12 hour drives with a selection of breeding stock in the back of the Landcruiser (the bruiser), strategically packed in their cage with an assortment of luggage packed around them.
Nan was short, as was my maternal grandmother. But they had extremely different figures. It is surprising that in all of their offspring, none of us are particularly challenged with height. Of course, as each child grew, being taller than your grandmother, was a particular achievement! One very visit there would be the obligatory back to back and measuring.
My Nan would always wear a skirt or dress….light in summer and heavy woolen in winter….even with her gum boots. I NEVER saw her in pants. I actually think that would have looked quite funny!
Now for those of you who have never had chooks or for some bizarre reason, don’t like chooks, you will find this extremely boring, look away now! There is chook feed (the mix that you get from the produce store) and there is chook feed……Nan would mix her own. It was all a carefully managed process of percentages,which was simply managed with tin cans and buckets.
The feed storage shed was originally the washroom on the house on the dairy side of the road where my dad and his siblings had grown up. Of course, back in the 70s and 80s, no phones for taking cutesy Instagram posts of my rustic surrounds. The storage area still had remnants of a life lived in the house, including a copper, all of which would make for fantastic posts!
After mixing and processing and adding just the right amount of water from the tank to make a fabulous ‘mash’, we were ready for distribution to a noisy, excited bunch of clucking, squabbling birds, who, after completing a night’s roost without the interruption of any ginger intruders with bad intentions, were ready for their brekkie.
With good management, you could slop that beautiful blend in the container that it was intended for or you could do the grab and scatter method,that was more fun when you are a kid, because the chooks would be flying around like crazed machines to grab a piece of that grainy goodness. The chooks were left to digest quietly and released later in the day.
Once it was established that the chooks were adequately equipped with grain to get them on the right start for a day of roaming the farmyard, capturing bugs and avoiding any brave fox that might brave the light of day, we headed home to finish getting breakfast.
Breakfast came in the form of two rounds, commencing with cereal (porridge in winter) and then a combination of hot, delicious, goodness with the base ingredients being fat sausages (manufactured with their own meat) and toast(a beautiful rye high top loaf) which had been toasted over the flames of the fire in the wood oven with a long handled fork that had to be strategically pronged into the bread to allow for even flame distribution and the assurance that you could bring that baby back out of the oven safely. The toast was then left to sit on top of the stove to stay warm along with the black tea that was poured early to allow it to cool to just the right temperature before ‘the men’came back from milking. For those of you who have never hand toasted anything over a fire I must explain that this has the potential to end very badly! This morning feast also included poached eggs and tomatoes….and butter that had to be strategically sliced and layered on your bread….and yes, we had milk….and lots of it!
Once everyone was fed and watered, the wash up began in earnest so that we could move on to the next task for the day…