Archives for the month of: June, 2014

chicken and nosy neighbour

Last weekend the Dedes were a bit upset with me for favouring the chickens. The birds showed up and I went all gooey. The Dedes have made such an effort over the last few months waiting patiently and quietly in the art cupboard for me to find my feet again. I do appreciate this but I don’t know how to express it. Nosy Neighbour, who always wants to know what’s going on, had a little peek today from the upstairs window to check out the new competition. I am pleased that he decided he wouldn’t swap places with them for anything in the world. And I hope he will tell all the others there is a clear benefit to being a Dede. You are allowed to stay inside when rain is pouring down outside.  On this rainy day I too found a new appreciation for the Dede folk. They don’t make a mess! I am not really looking forward to braving the elements and cleaning out the chicken mansion today. The girls are pretty messy!

chicken and cat

The neighbours have four or five cats and come dinner time a few strays find their way to their property for a free feed as well. The moving in of our boarders must have been the talk in the cat community yesterday. Last night, they behaved themselves and only observed from the far distance. Today a few brave ones came closer. The chickens are huge and I hope the cats think it’s TV not dinner. We have been assured the chooks will be able to defend themselves, in fact they can be very vicious. The last thing I want is some casualties on either side. At this stage, the neighbours are as excited about our ladies as we are. Should one of the cats come to harm it might be a different story.

The first night in the hen house was eventless. At nightfall, they all found their way into the chook mansion, we didn’t even have to round them up. When I closed the flap it was immediately lights out and they stopped talking.  I was surprised, as they came from different pens. I would have expected a bit of fighting over the best places on the roosts. Obviously there is a comfortable space for all of them. At half past seven this morning I heard them getting restless and I let them out again, hoping there would be some eggs. Though I was told they might take a break for three or four days while they were settling in. Sure enough the laying boxes were empty. Then after breakfast three of the brown hens were hanging suspiciously around the chook house. When I looked again later one of the boxes contained three eggs. How exciting! Good girls. The two black ones we have are too young to lay. The rest are heritage breeds that don’t lay as much as the brown ones, so no surprises there.


Today the chickens arrived. Their job is to dig over and fertilise our backyard. I am sure they will have a good life here. As you can see in the pic, our garden is rather overgrown. I am in love with them already. They are gorgeous animals and I am looking forward to keeping a chick diary. I might even start a new blog with chick pics only. Of course, the Dedes would be very unhappy if I started something new and neglected them in favour of some chickens. I can’t do that and I won’t do that. Over the last few months I have been working hard to get some gigs lined up for the Dedes. The week after next I am running two stop motion holiday workshops and I am currently consulting with the Dedes about who will be joining me for those. One of the workshops will be just one afternoon in the Orewa Library with kids between 10 and 12. The other one is at the Toi Ora Space and runs for four mornings. Toi Ora is an organisation that provides art workshops for people in support of their mental health and wellbeing. I am really looking forward to this one and I will write more about it in due course.

I also started my new job this week. I was mainly busy with preparations for the classes that will commence next week. Naughty Boy, one of the Lil’Dedes was keen to check out my new workplace and pestered me all week to take him with me. I assume he is sick of sitting in the art cupboard of my studio, which is  – needless to say – a very messy place. I was a bit worried that all the others might want to come as well, should I give in to his request. But he was so persistent that I finally caved in on Friday. He was whistling all the way to work, but then when we arrived, he took just one look at the desk and decided immediatly it wasn’t worth it. At home he told the others my new place was terribly sterile, not even a single leaf of paper on the desk. Certainly not a place where the Dedes would flourish. Phew!

naughty boy

mr vague

I have started a new teaching job this week and had to fly to Christchurch for induction. The Dedes and I have a deal that when ever I go places I pick one of them to accompany me should there be space in my backpack. I believe they view this as an assurance I will return to them. This time I chose Mr Vague, a placid old fellow who goes with the flow. I certainly couldn’t have coped with one who wanted to paint the town red at night. I knew there would be a lot of information to take in during the day.

Right! He was so placid that he stayed in my backpack pretty much all the time. I was traveling with my new colleague Bonnie, who I met for the first time when I took my seat in the airplane. Mr Vague is very shy. That is why I took him. I thought he might come out of his shell when he is away from the other Dedes. But no, he stayed where he was because he heard us chatting away and did not want to impose. I wanted to show him the town centre that was struck by a horrific earthquake in 2011 and still looks like a battle field. As it is winter, it was dark by the time we left the art school. The town is also closer to the south pole than Auckland and therefore colder. I thought he might be interested in the Cardboard Cathedral, designed by disaster architect Shigeru Ban to temporarily replace the original cathedral that was damanged in the quake. After all, Mr Vague is made from the same material. He took a quick glance and said it is too cold to come out of the warm backpack.

We were there for two days and like all the Dedes he loves breakfast. So a cup of coffee finally lured him out for a quick chat in the morning. The warm ambience of the art noveau cafe suited him well and the coffee was excellent. That is all he needed to be content for another day and have a snooze while I was off to more induction.

The next time I saw him was when I arrived at the airport and heard that our plane would be delayed by 4 hours, which meant we wouldn’t be home before 2am. He shrugged the news off.  “Nothing you can do about it” he said and shouted me a beer. Neither of us got flustered – Mr Vague because he had slept for two days, and I because I was too tired.

Mr Vague at airport


chook house

I did this puppet show last week. My first ever public one  (I had done one before, at the launch of my Hermit’s Web book, but I believe I must have known pretty much every single person of the hundred people who were attending the launch and I can’t really call this public.) I am not a performer. My intention with puppets is for people to participate in the play and tapping into their own creativity, rather than just producing a show for others to watch. Coming up with a storyline for puppets is an invaluable cathartic process.

Anyway, when my friend asked me to do a puppet show at her book launch I happily agreed. The subject of the book is something I strongly believe in. Now my friend has come up with another scheme I can’t say no to either. It is an arrangement that suits the Dedes to a T. You might know that we have just renovated our house and our backyard is a total shambles with heaps of rubble and mountains of dirt dug out from under the house. We will have to redesign our garden and now that I am working from home I am extremely keen to turn it into a producing vege patch.  My friend offered me her chickens for a few months to clear up and fertilise my backyard, so we can start planting in spring. Over Queen’s Birthday weekend we scavenged around our property to find material to build a chook house with. The old fence we took down did just fine. We even salvaged the nails that held it together and reused them. As it is with such things, what should have taken a day, took us three (two of them mainly scratching our heads), but we are now proud owners of a ramshackle chook mansion and are looking forward to receiving the lodgers.