Thursday, April 20, 2006

Vol 7 - My Trip to Canberra (21/04/2006)

Well it’s been a fair while between Chronicles. But I’ve been on a long and fabulous journey,… to Canberra. One thing that’s great about going back to a place you haven’t seen for a while is to look at all the changes that occurred and think wow it’s really different. I think Canberra is almost unique in that respect. It hasn’t changed a bit.

I went to Canberra for two reasons, to catch up with old friends, and to see Nikki again. The first week I spent with Nikki and her 2 sisters, her parents were in Singapore. Nikki lives in Tuggeranong. For those of you not familiar with Canberra, Tuggeranong is to Canberra as the Hutt Valley is to Wellington, Scunthorpe is to the UK and Romania is to Eastern Europe.

I found out a few things about the family. Her youngest sister, only 19, once appeared on a website. I don’t know the name but it’s something like She was filmed while having sex in the spa out the back of her parents house. It was uploaded to the web. She got annoyed and had the film taken down but she is happy to know that a photo of her breasts remain on the site.

Nikki's other sister, 21, had some of her drugo mates come around for a BBQ. One guy (let’s call him Steve) had to drive off drunk to go and protect his mum from being bashed by her boyfriend. Another guy (let’s call him Dave) thought he shouldn’t make such a scene, when Dave’s mum got bashed by her boyfriend he just went home and dealt with it and didn’t go on about it so much. During the night my car got egged. At first I was offended but I then realized that they weren’t aiming it at me, it was actually some ex-friends of the sister who were annoyed with her for sleeping with their boyfriends. Apparently I’m lucky it wasn’t a brick, because a brick has been thrown through a bedroom window before.

At some point Nikki and I realized we didn’t have much in common and since I planned to move to Cairns, adding even more distance to the trip, we decided to call it quits. So the next two weeks I spent with a friend called Andrew. It was lucky timing because he was spending some time off work to do projects around the house. For two weeks I shoveled woodchips, carried bricks, chainsawed, plastered and painted. We averaged 4 trips to Bunnings Warehouse (a mega hardware store) a day. It was a great way to take my mind of Nikki issues, and gave Andrew some mediocre slave labour for a couple of weeks.

I also caught up with some friends at the work bar of the ABS and the Labor Club. What sweet memories, and what even sweeter prices. The work bar had James Boag Premium at almost cost price.

I then went to Bethanga for Easter to meet up with Adam Dyde. The guy I met at Uni and who named me Chickenhouse. This looks to be an ongoing family tradition as his little 3 year old daughter Finley also calls me Chickenhouse. She and her friends woke me up every morning about 7am. But she came up with some tricks to help me sleep. She gave me her Elmo doll and a Mr Men book. I would have been more happy if she just kept quiet.

Bethanga is a great place to be during Easter. It’s not just famous for the chemical residue leaking into the creek from the old mining days, it also has a Gymkhana. For those not familiar with a Gymkhana it’s where the whole town gets together and drinks beer. They justify this by getting a bunch of horse people in who ride about on horses and do jumps etc. But not many people take notice of them.

What they do take notice of is the dog jumping. It’s like a highjump competition for dogs. Actually it IS a highjump competition for dogs. Unfortunately on the day the crowd favourite was outclassed by an Australian record holding fancy pants show off dog. I think they should be given their own category next year. There was also a guess the weight of the sheep competition. I rang dad to see if he could guess the weight. But I mustn’t have described it too well. He guessed 43kg and it was actually 63kg. But I have some handy skills now in case I’m ever required to guess the weight of livestock.

Adam now has a great little 50cc motorbike that was given to him by his mate Burnsy. It was one of the highlights of the Easter weekend. It was very popular with the kids who just couldn't wait to go for a ride. As you can see little Burnsy (29yo) just couldn't stop having a play.

Adam works for the local council and a part of remit is the local Fire Safety Officer. As Peter Parker knows with great power comes great responsibility, and no one is more responsible than Adam Dyde. For this very reason he decided to get a fire permit before burning a huge stack of wood and pine nettles in his front yard on a total fire ban day. As fire safety officer this permit was quite easy to come by, and allowed “Captain” Adam Dyde to burn everything, anywhere. But his gung-ho attitude soon turns to cowardice as the fire took hold. Realizing there was no going back he sent Chickenhouse off down the hill to make sure properties were not under "ember attack".

You’d think with all this extra activity I’d be looking trim and terrific, but no. I spent a lot of time at KFC and Red Rooster. I also had a lot of bacon, sausages, and meat in general. Not to mention all the beer. I am now the fattest I’ve ever been, cracking the 100kg mark. I realized at this rate I’ll be bigger than Adro on “the biggest loser” before the show ends, so I’m utilizing the expert advice of

Who knows by the time I get to Cairns I might be able to have a swim without sending shock waves.

Chickenhouse signing off

Vol 6 - Commonwealth Games Edition (15/03/2006)

Hi all,

Welcome to the very special Commonwealth Games edition of the Edenhope Chronicles. I call it the Commonwealth Games edition since I feel you've probably been waiting with similar excitment and anticipation of the two events.

A rumour was going around Edenhope that a strange lumpy inanimate object was coming all the way from Buckingham Palace to the main street. At first we thought Prince Charles coming to town. But we were all very excited to discover that it was actually the Queens baton.

Here's a photo that really catches the moment. If you look carefully you can see Edenhope's magnificent Lake Wallace in the background.
But the Commonwealth Games fun doesn't stop there! A few Sunday's back we had the Commonwealth Games sponsored lawn bowls event. Franco and I managed to put the bitter rivalry between our papers aside for him to include a photo of me in the West Wimmera Advocate. I promised to include a photo of him in the Edenhope Chronicles so you can look forward to that in the coming weeks. I was also awarded a medal for none other than "particpation". It's been a long time coming I haven't got one of those since primary school.

Other major events in that last month have been the day lots of mozzies landed on my front door and the day the pelicans landed.

But even better than that was the Edenhope Cup. Lisa Short came up just for the event. The local cop organised a marquee just for us and 34 other of his closest friends. It was an all you can drink affair so the camera was left behind. A highlight has the Wear the Fox Hat competition. It all stems from a very clever local word play. "Edenhope... wear the fox hat" when you say it in an aussie accent sounds a lot like "Edenhope?!? Where the f*cks that?" The competition involves people killing foxes the night before and wearing the skins, heads and or tails of the dead foxes on their heads. This is a council sanctioned event with the mayor (who according to Lisa shouldn't be wearing those stockings) handing out the prizes.

When we'd had our fill of booze, local customs and local dialogue we turned to the local copper who asked the guy on duty to give us a ride home. He was only too happy to help us out. We heard "mate" this and "mate" that the whole 10kms home where he dropped us to my front door. What a lovely bloke.

When Lisa first got here on the Friday it was already getting dark. But I wanted to get some nets in to catch some Yabbies. So I rowed her out into the middle of the lake. It was very romantic. Right up until Lisa said "Is there supposed to be all this water coming in?" I had forgotten to put a cork in the bottom of the boat. But rowing extra fast we managed to get the nets out and pick up a nice feed of yabbies in the morning.

On Sunday I took her out to round up some sheep. We also went for a wander around Mount Arapilles. Hopefully Lisa can send around some photos of that.

All in all it's been a fairly good month. I've got lots of work done and I'm up to date with Lost, Battlestar Galactica and Smallville all thanks to

On about the 25th of March I'll be heading to Canberra for about 2 weeks. So any of you still living in Canberra that would like to catch up let me know and give me your contact details. I'm sure a nice brew or two will be had in the Labor Club for old times sake.


Vol 5 - Shear those Alpacas (17/02/2006)

Hi all,

I've decided to get fit. I'm running around my lake. I'm running a better time each day. Not because I'm getting fitter or faster. It's just that the lake's drying up in the summer sun.

Although I'm not officially working on the farm I have been called in to help out on a few tasks. One such task has been to hold down an alpaca while it's being sheared. Yes they do spit at you. See photos for more info.

I've also met up with Nikki in Melbourne (the friend of my 2nd cousin). We played mini golf and saw the fairy penguins of Philip Island. But I'm still not sure if we're dating. I've attached a photo of her.

Now in a slight break from the traditional feel good pieces I include in the Edenhope Chronicles here's some hard hitting journalism.

Edenhope is overrun with gangs. There a 4 main gangs in the Edenhope township, the tennis club, the footy club, the cricket club and the lawn bowls club. It's difficult to tell the different gangs because unlike in LA they don't wear different colours. White being the choice of all Edenhope gangs. The best way to distinguish a gang members creed is by the weapons they carry.

I'd managed to steer clear of the whole gang scene until last Wednesday night when I went to the lawn bowls club initiation ceremony (they call "non-bowlers night"). Apparently I passed with flying colours since I've been told I have "a good action".

I was told there'd be a BBQ and I wasn't disappointed. Sausages soaked in fat with white bread. At a $1 a snag what more do you need.

They lent me some bowls and teamed me up with Frank and Doug. We took on Mavis, Mildred and Bill. It was ironic since Frank is my bitter rival. He's the editor of the other local newpaper the West Wimmera Advocate. I didn't tell him I was the editor of the Edenhope Chronicles. I didn't want him stealing ideas.

Even though he was on the opposing team Bill was very friendly and asked if I'd like to have dinner at the pub. At first I thought he was coming on to me. But when he mentioned he was a member of the local baptist church it all clicked.

However later on in the night when he saw my "good action" he touched me on the ass. Maybe I should have gone to the pub after all.

Bye for now,

Vol 4 - The 30th and Fires (28/01/2006)

Hi all,

Well I don't know if you've heard but two major catastophes occured during Jan 06. The first is that poor little Lisa Short turned 30 and we had to celebrate, see photo 1. Secondly almost the entire state of Victoria burnt down, See photos 3-4. Photo 2 is of James Greaney, yes I know he looks like Buzz Lightyear.

Dad has been here in Edenhope for what seems like a month but in actual fact is 8 days 3 hours and 34 minutes. He's here to finish the harvest.

A few days ago he called his mate to see what was up and he said his farm was on fire. So we chucked a dozen beers in the car and headed off down the road to check it out. Turned out it was just his neighbour and about 100 sheep that was on fire. Lucky because if it was worse we would have run out of beer.

I then went to Lisa's 30th in Melbourne and on the way back noticed that the entire Grampians (a large nature reserve about 100km from Edenhope) were on fire. See photo 3 for the impressive smoke. Not to gloss over Lisa's 30th which was a lot of fun but if she knows you she can talk about that herself.

We got home and noticed that another fire was not far from our joint, turns out it was only 6km away. But we've got people to look after these things. They're called volunteer fire fighters, otherwise known as frustrated fire bugs. The next day was even more grim with smoke everywhere. It even covered the sun making it look the sun in Hong Kong, New York, London or some other smog invested sh!thole.

Then it was Australia day. So I took a day off from my arduous website redesign work to celebrate with my Dad. We bonded over a few VBs, a Boony doll and some hard hitting strokes from Baghdatis (the Greek Cypriot wonderboy cleaning up at the Aussie open).

Tonight being Friday I suggested to Dad that we head into the local pub. I hadn't been yet and I figured I needed some company to try and bond with the locals. First song that went on the jukebox, Summer of 69 Bryan Adams. That's right rather than wait for the last song at a nightclub someone actually paid some of their hard earned wages to hear it. Be that as it may we decided to stay a bit longer.

We were not there more than an hour when a young fella called Paul decided to take us under his wing. He told me to watch out for that big fat c*nt (BFC) standing at the bar. Apparently the BFC was "eyeballing" me. But it's OK, Steve said, because he eyeballed him back for me. Apparently I can't eyeball anyone yet, you need to live here for 3 years before you can eyeball someone, otherwise you'll get gang bashed. Paul then introduced me to Steve. I said "Hi Steve". Paul took me aside and said you wanna watch Steve he's a bit of a Schizo (short for Schizophrenic). But you want him on your side. If someone has a go at you just tell them you know Steve and they'll leave you alone. Steve is Paul's Stepdad.

I didn't immediately realise the situation I had gotten myself into. I then realised it was the same scenario Bal (my old house mate and terminal contract worker who had been employed by many many companies) had warned me about. The first person that comes up to you seems like the ticket into the click. You think great they can introduce me to all the others in the area. But it's like a mirage. They have already been osctracised and you too are now destined to be on the outer ranks of the local hip group. But I don't know I picture me, Paul and Schizo Steve will have many great nights at the Edenhope pub in the not too distant future. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Cheers now,

Vol 3 - The Wedding (16/01/2006)

Hi all,

Well Chickenhouse Incorporated didn't get up. Apparently (unbeknown to my accountant) Incorporated is some sort of technical term for a business so I can't use it in the name. I could have used Chickenhouse Corporation but that just sounds stupid. There was already a Chicken House in South Australia somewhere which is too close to Chickenhouse. So I had to settle on Poulet Maison Pty Ltd. For those of you still working at the bureau of stats in Canberra, please select me for your business surveys. I believe my ANZSIC (Australia and New Zealand Standard Industry Classification) code is "7869 - Business Services Not Elsewhere Classified". It's nice to keep in touch.

There's something I've been dying to mention about the farm here in Edenhope but I can't find an amusing anecdote to attach to it. This week I decided to put it in anyway. There are no water rates. The place is completely water self sufficient. The livestock uses water from the lake and from an underground bore. The house uses only rainwater collected from the guttering. Shower, sink, washing machine everything is run on rain water. If the temperature ever drops below 42 degrees C and it actually rains it would be even better.

Now the big news. Last weekend I went to my second cousins wedding. My family is a little complicated, but basically because my Dad is the youngest of his family so I have cousins who are nearly 50 and second cousins who are in their 20s. This particular second cousin (Tania) who decided to get married is 24. I remember having a 20c bet with her Dad that she would be a boy. I don't think I ever paid up and the guilt of not paying has stayed with me all these years, but that's another story.

All the extended family was at the wedding and it can be quite a show. I have 7 cousins in that one family, 2 men and 5 women all of whom I would estimate are over 400 pounds in weight. But that's another story.

Anyway one person who came to the wedding was Nikki a friend of the family and Tania's longtime friend, but someone who I'd never met. Diane (my cousin and Tania's mum) made sure Nikki and I sat next to each other at the reception. After all we have a lot in common (she's been overseas too). She worked on one of those kids camps in the US that so many Aussies are doing these days. At one point in the evening I had Diane come up to me and say, "what are you doing she's interested get in there and make some moves", I said I think Shane, (her only son) might be interested too. She told me to forget about him he's got no chance.

At the end of the night Diane informed us that she had a spare tent at her place with a double mattress. It appears she had been so optimistic she had set it up specially for us. It would have been impolite to turn her down.

Needless to say I got some funny looks at the next days family BBQ. It's not often you pick up a 24 year old 5ft friend of the family in front of her parents, my parents and 7 large cousins. At least they all no longer think that I'm gay.

Hope everyone is well,


ps. No I don't have any photos of her.

Vol 2 - Christmas (28/12/2005)

Hi all,

Last you heard from me I was heading to the old farm back in Werrimull. It hasnt changed much since I was there last.

I had a meeting with my accountant and it appears Chickenhouse Incorporated could be a registered company any day now.

Dad finished the harvest while I was up there. We needed to bring back 2 vehicles from our other farm (its a 30min drive from our main house). So Dad, Dick (the guy whos worked for dad his whole life) and myself headed to the farm in a car. Any road trip of this magnitude requires some refreshments, so I packed some beer (VB of course). Dad scolded me for only packing a dozen cans. One vehicle that needed to come back was an unregistered ute. I only have a UK drivers licence at the moment so I was the obvious choice to drive the ute.

We checked under the bonnet and there was a red back spider (second most deadliest spider in Australia). Dad squished it with his finger. The cabin was also full of spider webs, so I started off nervously down the road (having drunk 2 cans of VB). Now I know what youre thinking, but you're wrong, Dad isnt totally reckless, we decided to take the back roads. After my 4th can I was driving along quite happily when I missed the turn off and headed towards the highway. But I realised my mistake when I stopped choking on the dust Dads vehicle was kicking up.

The next day we headed back to Edenhope to celebrate Christmas with Linda (my sister), Alice (my niece) and Adam (that useless c*nt that f*cks up everything he touches). That day it was 42 degrees Celsius (Thats 107.6 Fahrenheit). I have attached pictures for people who dont know what that hot looks like. You can see the dust storm that was spread about by the strong winds that (according to Dad) would blow Christ off the cross.

Back at the farm in Edenhope we had to catch some yabbies for Christmas day. Christmas was boring as usual. On boxing day Dave (the Local cop) came around, as promised, to catch some yabbies. He brought two mates, one kept talking about how big his balls are since his vasectomy, (I believe the other guys testicles were fully functional but I cant be sure.) To get on their good side I was required to have some of their beers. Dave said I should come to the pub some other time and have a few beers with him. I asked how I would get back home. He said I shouldnt worry about that. Apparently theres a blue light taxi service. Hes a fat, loud mouthed, obnoxious man. But you cant fault his dedication to the job. He said hed have liked to travel to Sydney himself and personally sort out the race riot problem by bashing some Lebanese guys. What a guy!

Hope you all had a great Christmas and have something special lined up for New Years.


Vol 1 - Settling In - (16/12/2005)

Hi from Edenhope

OK so Ive been on the farm almost a week now. (see photos attached)

I take back everything I said about my niece, shes a beautiful baby and doesnt smell too much at all.

So much has happened in such a short time. Ive half unpacked my boxes, watched the first 16 episodes of the first series of 24 (which I picked up in China for a song) and Ive been to the supermarket twice. The checkout lady (shes to old to be called a checkout chick) asked me how are you? I could almost hear her brain thinking who are you? In the conversation I managed to drop in that I just come back from London. Each time I go in Im going to drop another hint so that she can work out exactly who I am and what Im doing here.

On the second day the local copper (policeman) showed up in full uniform and cop car to introduce himself. Turns out he just wanted to invite himself (and some of his mates) around on boxing day to poach some yabbies (a type of crayfish that are bigger than a prawn and smaller than a lobster but are really tasty) from my lake. Apparently Ive got heaps so if the internet business doesnt work out I can live off them, and a few of Dads cows.

Theres been a minor catastrophe today (everything with my Dad is a catastrophe its up to the rest of us to give them a rating). The dorpers (a brand of sheep) and the alpacas (funny looking camel type things) are in the bettergraze (type of crop thats fast growing which was set aside for the cows). I only have mums car (a Mazda metro 121) to drive, because Adam (the father of my niece) the useless c*nt who f*cks up everything he touches and cant fix anything (according to my Dad) has broken the motorbike. Adam (as mentioned previously) has also borrowed the ute (small pick up truck).

Im sure it will all work out fine.

The TV has been crap (thank God for the 4 series of 24 boxset) but today Ive got the cricket to keep me company as well.

On Monday Im driving to my parents old farm in Werrimull so I can go see the accountant and set up my internet business. For legal reasons its likely Ill be setting up a company. I think Ill call it chickenhouse inc.

Please keep in touch and youre all welcome to visit.