creative 1975

Archive for 2016|Yearly archive page

Family Heritage

In Non-Fiction on February 21, 2016 at 11:38 am

I find family history and ancestry discovery very interesting—where we’ve come from and from whom, the genes we carry and the different names that have evolved throughout our history. It will be interesting to read in another hundred years’ time how it transforms further, for example: the occupations people held during the 20th century compared to the 21st century and beyond. For instance, my own family tree shows ancestors who worked as steel turners or farm servants—imagine the roles stated on upcoming censuses nowadays: IT Specialist, Graphic Designer, Baristas, to name a few. Today we have the Internet, which is a great tool to research your family tree, although I doubt whether a thorough exploration can be achieved without any cost involved or investigating findings further to create a precise map of our forefathers. However, the Internet can be a foundation to build upon. Many results are found in the Country’s census report that is a primary source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy. A methodical practice, which acquires and records information such as: full name, date of birth, dwelling, occupation and age of every occupant inside the residence at the time of the census—a procedure in ‘olden’ days that would have been hand written and kept in huge ledgers. This can be a wealth of information to pinpoint correct documentation of birth certificates, marriage and death certificates to clarify or conclude your enquiries.

Our ancestral tree begins with our parents and it’s not surprising it was named a ‘tree’ as from your mother it branches off to one direction and from your father another to create huge offshoots that are grafted and sometimes interweaved with divorces and multiple marriages with subsequent kith and kin—growing-out to a never ending expansive sapling of generation after generation. I once heard that the memories of direct descendants can be passed on through our genetic make-up. How true this is, I do not know. It’s relevant to the times when we’ve heard people talk about an extraordinary occurrence that is referred to as reincarnation. Have you ever heard anyone say ‘he’s been here before’ or ‘I think I was reincarnated’ —when in fact it’s believed it is because of our descendant’s memories being evoked through our DNA. As I said, this hasn’t been proven. Nevertheless it’s interesting.

My mother investigated her family tree quite a few years ago and it took a copious amount of time and dedication to complete; four years in fact. Thankfully through her efforts we have a documented history that began with a copper miner named John Phillips, born in 1796, married to Martha and they had seven children of only one is found documented as married with children and another documented with one child but no marriage. Records say they were all living in Cornwall and later it states in the census they were either living with each other or next door to each other in to adulthood. That’s where the tree on my mother’s side begins.

My father’s side, where the tree branches to a different bough was researched by my father’s cousin and it’s thanks to him that I have some information as well as photographs—another element of my family’s history I enjoy and I’m so pleased I have these wonderful pieces of the past. Sadly I hardly have any photographs of my mother’s family—perhaps many held by displaced members of family and some I’ve been told were stuck to hospital walls during my grandmother’s confinement back in the 70’s and were ruined whilst removing them from that wall after she passed. Her name was Ruth and she was my mother’s mother and she’s my little piece of missing history as we never met, it is such a shame not to have known my grandmother, apparently we have similarities. She sadly passed away a few months after I was born from multiple myeloma. She gave me my name and although she no longer had her sight she was able to hold me. My older sister remembers her, but vaguely, as she would have only been six years old at the time she passed away. We have a few cherished pictures and one of her mother, my great-grandmother Violet, who also passed too young and who never even got the chance to see her children grow as she died when my grand-mother Ruth was only six weeks old. It was 1921 and with no mother, Ruth was placed in the workhouse along with her brother. At some time they were taken out and grew up in the care of her mother’s sister Florence and her husband Robert who they believed to be their parents until discovering this wasn’t the case when her aunt passed away suddenly when Ruth was 14 or 15 years old.

Returning to the ancestry exploration my mother did. As well as many hours spent she also had to obtain certificates to either determine findings or develop them, which in turn was charged a fee for each one ordered. The census played a huge part in the journey and the outcome was marvellous and documented well in writing and with a complete tree to keep and a tree that keeps growing. Let’s hope when none of us are here to cultivate it anymore, our descendants will nurture it so that it is always sprouting new shoots.

One Half of my Family Tree

One Half of my Family Tree




Second Season

In Non-Fiction, Poultry on January 24, 2016 at 10:20 am

It’s my second season of breeding Muscovy ducks. They truly are endearing creatures. I’ve mentioned before in my posts that I began breeding so ‘my girls’ can do what’s natural—have their clutches of eggs hatch out (instead of brooding all spring and summer), and let them raise their young. Usually they abandon them at around 8 weeks, sometimes later and that’s when I can move all the very-quickly-grown ducks into their own enclosure, where they’ll be safe. Also this means that when they do move to pastures new, I’m not running a marathon trying to catch them in a net. This is the usual practice! I expect it’s quite amusing to watch if you’re the observer (my husband), surveying as I run around in my pyjamas—big net in hand—on collection days. Becomes increasingly harder too when they begin to fly! With exception of the drakes who are too heavy to get off the ground and much easier to capture, but heavier to carry—by the time I sold my last few drakes last season they were bigger than their fathering drake!

They are not ducklings for very long. Therefore, fortunately I have more options this year as Mr C put his constructing skills (yet again) to good use and has extended my enclosures, adding a new one for this precise time of the year.  During the winter it can remain empty where I can either re-seed with grass or something productive to benefit the hens and ducks.

I don’t think I could tire of holding and watching newly hatched ducklings, although sometimes difficult to hold depending on the mother’s mood. I find the best time is when she’s still sitting waiting for others to hatch; once they’re all out you can forget it! And rightly so, it’s her job to protect them, you have to respect this. There are times when they don’t make it out of the shell or they make it out and die, for reasons that can’t be exactly determined. Not hard for them to get squashed under big clumsy mother duck or for the shell to crack and dry out.

I kept the first one to hatch last season and named her Bella. I purposely haven’t let her nest this year; she’s tried a few times. Three ducks nesting is plenty as they can nest up to three times in one season. All my three Muscovy hens nested twice last season, resulting in sixty offspring, which I was fortunate to sell on to new homes as well as the males for meat. By selling them I was then able to put the money towards their food bill for the ducks and chickens, which usually runs into debt throughout the winter, as they eat more and lay less, resulting in less eggs for me to sell to cover their food. Food for my poultry never comes out of our own income; the eggs always manage to pay for the weekly food bill along with selling the ducks, it allows me to sometimes buy new water feeders or laying chickens. I also grow some basics, which is more of a treat with extra nutrients. I’ve just planted some silverbeet (known as chard, Swiss chard and seakale beet, similar to spinach but has a stronger flavour), so they’ll enjoy that when it’s ready.  So far there are twenty ducklings of various ages, thirteen still with their mother duck. Some are ready for new homes. I get some wonderful colours—black, white and green, just white, as well as black and white, blue and white and a lovely smoky grey.  There is one girl that I will be keeping! Last year Mr C told me I wasn’t allowed to keep any. He said, “If you keep one, then another and then before you know you’ve got twenty ducks”. Well it’s true and I’m not naïve to this fact, but I wanted to keep one!

One day Mr C asked “who’s that one over there?”

“That’s Bella”, I replied.

“Bella” he said, thinking to himself how he’d never heard that name before. “Who’s she then?” he asked.

“She was the first one that hatched out, she’s Daphne’s— I’m keeping her”, I answered with a grin.

He rolled his eyes, “You weren’t supposed to be keeping any …hmm”.

When I told Mr C this season I was keeping ‘the black and white female from that wee group of Daphne’s because I don’t have that colour in my flock, he didn’t say anything, well …not aloud anyway!


20151105_185808-1 20151105_185705-1 1452928622884 20160116_164106 20160116_163948 20160113_210343-1


Muscovy duck (Cairina moschata) is a large duck native to Mexico, Central, and South America.