The End is Nigh


No, it’s not the end of the world as we know it (though I am finding it hard to recognise anymore, what with all the crazy leaders around).

It’s the end of the ducky apocalypse.

Not that long ago we had an accidental flock of Muscovy ducks rampaging around the property.



Now there are but two ☹

two ducks (2)

What happened?

Somewhere out there is a very fat fox 😒

🎇Happy New Year 2017🎆


2016 was one of those mixed years of highs and lows! 😁😭

I began my PhD in psychology and finished my first study which was published in a peer reviewed journal. I have almost finished my second study. Two years to go, if all goes well #yikes

I did two short online statistics courses to help me analyse my data #ouch

Andy the Great had a heart attack which nearly killed him early in the year, but survived and as is now a non-smoker, a healthy eater, a cardio walker and a gym junkie. In fact, I have a brand new husband – better than ever – so the heart attack turned into a blessing. He has inspired us all with his cardiac rehabilitation, and is the star of his heart support group – they even recently got him to do a pep talk to the whole group 😎

There were untimely deaths for several people I knew. A suicide from a young relative with mental health issues; a car accident resulting in the death of a lovely girl I went to school with 😦 #tragic

There were illnesses for grandparents on both sides.

There was overseas travel for myself and my son – an ancient history study tour of Greece and Italy – much knowledge was acquired, much fun was had, and a great quantity of food was eaten 🙂🍕

A school year came and went quite successfully for all involved.

The duck apocalypse came under control – now we only have 9 girl Muscovy ducks (down from over 30).

The cows, goats, and alpacas are healthy and content.

Molly and Sheba, the labradoodle dandy dogs, are as spoiled as ever.

David Bowie died 😭

I could go on …

I’m happy it’s 2017 😀

Big hugs to you all in the blogosphere 😍

Bob Dylan – The Gabe Files

In honour of Bob being recently awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, I am reposting this blog post, written in 2009 😍

Did you know that Bob Dylan's last name was Zimmerman?

Did you know that Bob Dylan’s last name was Zimmerman?

I sometimes say that I am the opposite of autistic. I would describe myself as empathetic, intuitive, good communicator, sociable, flexible, and completely lacking in spatial awareness (I get lost all the time). But there is one characteristic I share with my ASD son – obsessions or special interests. My current obsession is Bob Dylan and I have been obsessed with the world’s greatest singer-songwriter for the past couple of years.

Don’t get me wrong. I have always liked the man, but I was not previously obsessed with him. In fact, I recall borrowing a tape (yes, you heard me right – a tape) of Bob Dylan songs from the local library when I was in my early teens. I shared a room with my older sister and let me tell you, she was none to impressed with me playing that tape. She is a bit sensitive to sound and there was something in the quality of his nasal breathing that disturbed her greatly. I can’t for the life of me understand the problem.

Anyway, my obsession began after inadvertently watching on TV the Martin Scorsese directed  ‘No Direction Home: Bob Dylan.” If you haven’t seen it – JUST DO IT! It is brilliant and has some of the best interviews with the man himself, that I’ve seen. As you will be aware he doesn’t like being interviewed. Maybe he really likes Martin Scorsese.

After watching the best documentary ever, I began collecting every Bob Dylan album ever made. Then I began to play every Bob Dylan album ever made; and I didn’t stop for a year. I had my 6 stacker CD player in the car full of Bob Dylan albums. I had, and still do have, Bob Dylan albums piled up and spilling all over the place in the living room. I drove my little 6 year old daughter crazy. Our son, on the other hand, just loves Bob Dylan (isn’t he a champion and great taste in music) and never complained. After a year of endlessly playing Bob Dylan albums, and reading biographies and anything else I could get my hands on, I started to calm down a bit. I regained composure and now play Bob intermittently, as is the way of a well-balanced person.

A collective sigh of relief was heard emanating from the Bryden clan (minus our son, bless his heart).

Earlier this year, however, on a long trip home from Brisbane to Woodgate after visiting my mother, I had the urge to put on ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’. I had put off playing Bob Dylan because I didn’t want to annoy the sound-sensitive little girl. All was quiet in the back seat and I thought our daughter might even be asleep; beaudy, at last I can play Bob Dylan. I started playing the album and after a couple of songs a little girl’s voice chirped from the rear “Mummy, I’ve got an earache.”

“Oh no, that’s no good. How long have you had it darling?” I asked in a concerned voice.

“Since you put Bob Dylan on!”

There’s no accounting for tastes, is there!




Young Writers Award


Message from the State Library of Queensland 😀

Know a young writer with a story to tell?

They could win up to $2,000 with SLQ’s Young Writers Award!

State Library of Queensland’s annual Young Writers Award competition is now open for entries from Queensland writers in two age categories:

18–25 years

  • Short stories up to 2,500 words
  • WIN $2,000 and Queensland Writers Centre Youth membership.

15–17 years

  • Short stories up to 1,500 words
  • WIN an Apple iPad Air 2, $100 iTunes voucher, Library Shop book pack, and Queensland Writers Centre Youth Membership.

Entries close Friday 30 September, 5pm.

Visit our website for entry details and more information, or download a printable poster for display in your school or office.

Help us spread the word with your students, children, friends and networks »

Supported by


cow paddies on election day

Today is election day throughout the land of Australia.

Molly is sniffing out the many cow paddies over yonder – and there are many 😉


Cow paddie

We have the misnamed Health Australia Party (the anti-vaccination, anti-fluoride, and chem-trail conspiracy belief tin-foil hat brigade) – have won the first column on the NSW senate ballot paper. This means a previously obscure group now have some hope of attracting votes – this might happen simply because of the order effect, also known as the sloth approach to voting. You can read what a real doctor says about them in the MJAInsight here.

Not a cow paddie

If you value the arts than have a looksee at the wonderful Brian Brown telling us why the Arts Party deserve to be considered for the Senate.


Happy voting 😀



Manuscript development masterclass (Hard Copy)


‘To stop me from having to work the streets at night, I spend a few hours each week coordinating HARDCOPY, an Australia Council-funded program for emerging Australian writers.

The program leads 30 writers through an intensive manuscript-development masterclass, 3 days of industry seminars, and an opportunity to hear feedback from high-level agents and publishers.

Please share the poster as appropriate, so the leather chaps can stay in the cupboard…for a few more months at least.’

This has been an announcement from the wonderful Nigel Featherstone  😊



See you next year 😍

christmas molly 049

Happy New Year

2015 was a good year 😊

Nobody close, of the human variety, has died #alwaysgood

(we won’t mention Amore or Edgar Allen Poe or the long gone mice)

I have re-entered the workforce after many years: worked as a parole officer for a few months and then got some part-time work as a researcher at Uni in a gambling laboratory.

I trained as a volunteer telephone crisis counsellor and have been doing that in my spare time – makes me appreciate my life.

I was awarded a scholarship to do my PhD in psychology; and begin that journey in January #eek

The children are growing up fast and are becoming independent people. My son is now taller than my husband and my daughter is not far behind.

My husband has built more fences and weeded more fields than you could imagine; and the beasties are doing well.

I have even written the occasional poem #woops

Wishing you all the best for 2016 and thanks for stopping by the bloggy blog blog 🎇🎆✴🎆🎇





Raising Chickens and Ducks With Old-Style Ingenuity and DIY Hacks (guest post by Laura Grace Weldon)

Raising Chickens and Ducks With Ingenuity and DIY Hacks

We’ve only recently become separated from our food sources. Until a few generations ago millions of people lived on farms. Millions more grew vegetables and raised an animal or two in city lots. Those who didn’t were still connected to what they consumed. They had to be: There were few choices other than milk, eggs, meat, and produce

Now we’re learning what our great-grandparents knew to be true: Growing food locally helps communities directly maintain autonomy, cultural integrity, and environmental stewardship.

An important step is bringing back neighborhood livestock. There are logistical and legal issues to solve such as zoning restrictions, nuisance laws, and noise ordinances. But it’s time to re-envision our neighborhoods as including more than our human neighbors. Here are a few helpful tips and convincing reasons to raise the least complicated livestock: chicken and ducks.

Chickens vs. Ducks: Which Is Best for You?

Raising backyard chickens and ducks is increasingly common. More and more urban areas are making it legal to raise backyard poultry, including Chicago, Ann Arbor, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Ft. Collins, and South Portland, Maine. It’s downright meditative to sit out back and watch chickens peck and cluck and amusing to watch the antics of ducks. These may be reason enough to add them to your life. But there’s nothing like harvesting fresh eggs. But before you take on a flock of your own, make sure to check city ordinances.

Chickens vs. Ducks: Which Is Better For You?

It's All In The Egg: Benefits of Backyard Eggs

Backyard Chicken and Duck Hacks

Coop Hacks

Use repurposed parts

There are two standard options for housing chickens. One is a stationary coop. The other is a moveable coop, commonly called a chicken tractor, which can be situated in different places around the yard. Both types have roosts (necessary for chickens, but not ducks) and nesting boxes, and most have a fenced-in pen attached. Stationary and moveable coops can be made from repurposed parts such as old sheds, cable spools, and doghouses.

Set up a temporary pen     

If your birds aren’t able to range freely in your yard you may want to set up a temporary pen as well. Such pens are great to move into garden areas before you plant and after you’ve harvested so your poultry can enjoy eating insects and plant waste while aerating the soil as they scratch. A temporary pen is also a good way to let them do the weeding for you in hard-to-weed areas. And giving them access to different parts of the yard keeps them from denuding your grass.

One approach to temporary pens is to make poultry tunnels. To create the tunnels, loop chicken wire or hardware cloth into tunnels temporarily staked into the ground.

There’s no limit to how cheaply you can make chicken and duck pens. You can use cable ties to surround an old plastic patio table with chicken wire for a lightweight, shaded, easily moveable grazing pen. An equally ingenious and much larger moveable pen can be made from a trampoline frame.

Use a plastic baby pool

Ducks can be raised without a pond but need a reasonably large container of water so they can dip their heads in to take a drink and rinse their eyes. They also need to splash water across their backs to activate an oil gland that waterproofs their feathers. They prefer a container with enough room to climb in and paddle around a bit. Fill a plastic baby pool or low washtub, and rinse regularly to keep it clean.

Feeding Hacks

Set up grazing frames

When you have limited space, another way to give chickens access to fresh forage is to set up grazing frames. (Ducks may enjoy them too.) These are basically boxed gardens for your poultry. You simply grow grass, lettuces, herbs, or other plants. Then cover the grazing frame with chicken wire, weighted or tied down at the sides so the chickens can eat the tops of the plants but can’t reach the soil to uproot them. (Read My Chicken Scratch shows how to build a simple covered frame.) Remember, you can use almost anything that can hold soil and be covered with wire or netting. You can even repurpose a child’s sandbox or wheel rims.

Make a DIY waterer

To cut down on starting costs, put together as much as you can without resorting to pricey accouterments. Instead of buying a waterer, consider making one. You can make a waterer from a glass canning jar and a glass dish, a nifty rail-mounted automatic waterer, or a mess free waterer from PVC pipe and a bucket that fills outside the fence.

Keep in mind that most chicken waterers cannot be used with ducks because duck bills don’t fit into the small spaces chicken beaks can. For ducks, you can modify a five-gallon poultry waterer or set up a reservoir with a float valve to help keep the water clean.

Create a DIY chicken feeder

Instead of buying a feeder, build a feeder out of PVC piping, wood, or a 5-gallon pail. Remember, ducks need a wider opening to reach their food.

Feed on the cheap

There are all sorts of ways to feed your chickens and ducks frugally. Consider allowing them to scratch in the compost pile and keep a vermicomposter in order to add more high-protein worms to their diets. You can also sprout grains, which will turn one pound of barley seeds into 4.3 pounds of fodder in one week. Fresh Eggs Daily offers all sorts of ideas for a more varied poultry diet, plus a list of safe and unsafe foods.

Ducks use their beaks as shovels to get at weeds and insects, but they don’t scratch at the ground as chickens do. That means they do less damage to grass and gardens. Ducks eagerly feast on slugs, snails, and other pests while leaving most garden plants alone (except for lettuces and berries), although their large feet can flatten plants. You can keep the cost of feed down by making sure your ducks have space to forage. They’ll happily dine on insects and weeds, thereby eating less of the commercially prepared duck layer or breeder feed you provide. To supply both chickens and ducks with extra bugs, whip up a DIY solar bug trap.

You can also offer all sorts of kitchen and garden scraps to your ducks, although it’s best to avoid bread, crackers, popcorn, and similar foods. Backyard Chickens offers an extensive list of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and proteins that are good for ducks as well as a list of foods to avoid. While chickens can peck at foods of all sizes, keep in mind that ducks swallow their foods whole, so whatever you share with them should be in small pieces to prevent choking or blocking their digestive tracts.


As we begin to grow more food locally, we are reclaiming the best of old traditions while at the same time incorporating the newest ideas. If you have the time to commit to a backyard coop and flock, consider adding some chickens or ducks for fresh eggs, companionship, and a closer connection to one of your food sources.


Written by Laura Grace Weldon

‘Laura Grace Weldon lives on Bit of Earth Farm (notable only for its lovestruck goose). She’s the author of a poetry collection titled Tending as well as Free Range Learning, a handbook of alternative education. She blogs about learning, creative living, and mindfulness. She’s also a senior content editor for GeekMom and regular contributor to such publications as,,, and She invites you to visit her author site, hang out with her on Twitter, and check out the Free Range Learning page on Facebook.’

Originally posted on Made by CustomMade