Friday, June 20, 2008

Good Luck

I seldom use mirrors. I don’t know but I really don’t bother much of how I look or how I appear to others. As long as I comb my hair (using my fingers), brush my teeth, clean my nostrils, and remove the dried tears off (the medial canthus of) my eyes I am fine!

Actually, since July 2001, I only have this 2 x 3 inches-wide mirror, which my Aunt had given me just before I left my hometown to explore the very challenging world of employment.

Mirror creates an image which is always reversed or opposite. Remember the story of Snow White where there’s a Queen who, upon beholding herself on her mirror on the wall, believed that she was the most beautiful woman in the world, but actually, she was one of the women who had the worst attitude in the fairy tales. Look at the words ‘ambulance’ and ‘fire’ on those emergency vehicles, they are always written in a reversed manner just to create a real word image if seen on the mirrors.

I remember when I was still in the uni, our Zoology professor asked us to examine the small letter E under the compound microscope. Alas! ‘e’ appeared to be inverted!

I am even afraid to hold mirrors. There is a superstitious belief of seven years bad luck to anyone who shatters a mirror! Remember the 2004 movie
Feng Shui by Chito S. Ronio? It’s all about the bagua—a Chinese decoration made of an octagonal mirror that had brought bad luck to the family after they’ve displayed it in front of their house.

At around 6000 BC mirrors, made of a volcanic glass, were first noted in Anatolia (now Turkey). Through the years, mirrors have proven its worth. It has various uses since the ancient times until the discovery of telescope, television, cameras, etc.

Mirrors are, indeed, very useful, from the aspects of grooming to the complex world of Science and Arts. Despite its importance, I’m still hesitant to use it (I am lucky; a chook-minder doesn’t need to use a mirror at work). Just like this afternoon when I took the South Australia practical driving exam, the examiner told me that I had never used my rear-view mirrors seven times when I am supposedly needed to use it.

But thanks God, I passed the
VORT, I now have my S.A. Driver’s Licence! I just don’t know... Yes, I have overlooked my rear-view mirror for seven times, but it might not be very critical to make my test unsuccessful; or it is just the sign of a real good omen for me today.

Okay, for my own safety will now use my mirrors.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Twist of Lemon

Roger, my Australian workmate, gave me four lemon fruits this evening.

It was just this morning when I was wondering where to get some lemon grass (tanglad) for my chicken recipe. I asked Roger if I can get it from the nearby fruit-veggie shop in Port Wakefield, and he said no. “Why not use lemon fruit instead, grate its rind and add it to your food?”

Perhaps he wanted me to try something new, the reason why he picked some lemon from his garden and gave it to me. So I did. But of course I didn’t grate the lemon rind; I just peeled it and stuffed the chicken with lemon zest, spring onions, garlic cloves, and green capsicum. With vinegar, soy sauce, salt and coarsely ground peppercorn, I cooked the stuffed chicken in a clear soda drink until the sauce became thick and almost dry.

We were very excited to taste our experimental dish. And it was very good, especially with rice. Roger told me that he hasn’t eaten rice for ages!

For seventeen months of living in Australia, I haven’t only learned how to use lemon juice instead of kalamansi juice for my favourite bagoong, but how to use lemon rind instead of lemon grass for my chicken, as well.
To try something new (as long as it is healthy, safe, virtuous and legal) is good! Just like me, and Roger (who tried eating rice instead of potatoes), have some twists in your life, for a change.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Jack of All Trades

Poultry raising, they say, is a combination of arts and science!

According to Collins Dictionary, arts is a non-scientific branch of knowledge. The way we install the brooding boards and fences, hang the brooding curtains, lay the feed-paper for the day old chicks, and screwing the broken
feed pans are just a few things which I think need arts. Mostly, activities such as adjusting the feed pan and water nipple level, observing chick behaviour (piling-up or scattered—to correct the temperature setting), checking the health, collecting the morts** are some of (but of course NOT limited to) the things when both science and arts is necessary.

How about if the bearing of the
feed line motor is not working? Or when the switch of the cross feed motor needs to be replaced? ...when the feed auger breaks off in the middle of the feed line, when the water tank is not filling-up, when the automatic mini vents’ string snaps or when the blower fan arm cracks?
It’s very difficult for a veterinary-trained poultry farm worker, like me, to fix those things. I don’t have any other choice but to face (and solve) these mechanical, electrical, and plumbing concerns in the chook farm. To the best of my knowledge and skills I’m now trying to learn how to use a spanner instead of a scalpel, secure a vice grip instead of a haemostatic forceps, and tie a thread seal tape instead of a bandage.

In our life, it is good to learn a little bit of everything. This life is full of complexities that make specialization, sometimes, inappropriate.

Just like when attempting to jump-start a tractor (having a flat battery). I need to set aside the fact that
gram-negative bacteria are coloured RED or pink in Gram’s Staining. Or else... -------------------------------------------------------------------
morts**- noun [Informal] Aust slang mortality; dead animals.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


It’s my second day off this winter. Whew! At last, after 6 consecutive, tiresome working days, it’s now time to unwind. One day out of the chook shed is, admittedly, not enough but I always make sure it’s a very special day.

Since I reside in Port Wakefield, visiting the St. Vincent de Paul Church, washing the laundry and seeing the S.A. cellar doors or jetties are the few things that have been included on my list every Sunday.

Today, I have set a different plan. I already did my laundry yesterday so I can have extra time to prepare for my trip to the
Haigh’s Chocolate Factory/Visitor’s Centre and Hahndorf.

It’s so sad, however, because as I woke up this morning, it was so dark. When I looked through my window, the clouds were heavy, and instantly it drizzled. It may be because of excitement that I missed to check the weather forecast from the internet last night, or it might be the physical fatigue as a chook-minder that made me forget about the Queen’s Birthday tomorrow. Tourist’s attractions and coach’s operations are being modified during Sundays preceding Public Holiday Monday (sorry, but that’s how the locals say it here, again, Public Holiday Monday).

The two factors mentioned above were enough reasons to cancel my trip, so I decided to spend the day inside my caravan (which I’ll feature soon). The usual day-to-day routine after work like cooking Filipino dishes (I did inihaw na liempo today, courtesy of
Wyatt’s Kitchen), browsing the internet, reading the S.A. driving handbook and strumming my guitar followed then.

The sky had signalled a heavy downpour at around 3pm which eventually reminded me of my wet laundries that were still hanging on the line. [Since I haven’t taken a photo of an Australian laundry line, please check
this.] My working clothes for the week are still wet!

I immediately ran and took off my clothes from the laundry line. At last, the laundry airer I bought from
Big W 3 weeks ago could finally prove its worth! When I finished laying all my working clothes on the rack, I was so surprised to see the beautiful blending of colours in front of me!

What I have seen may NOT be as colourful and attractive as to what anybody else can see. But for me it is! I thought my day off will be as gloomy and rainy as our weather today, but He is always good. He, really, has His own special way of making every single day a very ‘colourful day' (for everyone of us)!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Selection and Culling

I have no other choice. Even if it hurts, I really need to do it. The procedure is practically easy, but emotionally difficult. Simply catch the poor performing bird and twist its neck to dislocate the atlanto-occipital joint. Krrrk! Dead! Sorry, but this is the most practical and acceptable method of euthanizing birds.

In an intensive chicken farming, poor performing birds in the flock do not belong to the group. This means that those who are too small and skinny, weak and sick, as well as those who are suffering from physical defects or injury and those who are devoid of feathers need to be culled. Otherwise, they will just occupy the space and eat the feed of the healthy birds which could damage the highly competitive environment and eventually, would surely affect the profit of the farming business.

Being rejected is, at all times, very painful! Not only in animals, but also (and especially) in humans. This normally happens in school and in our workplace. In chickens it may be acceptable to do it but in our society, selection and culling is expected to be done morally and legally. People who are big and powerful, healthy and strong as well as those who are physically unblemished would usually take advantage to those who are inferior.

This is a good lesson to all of us. Just like the chook shed, this world has been given to us whole and complete. The ideal environment, nutritious feed, and potable water are all provided, so how we position ourselves in the society solely lies upon us. Gifted with intellect and free will, we have the freedom and the right to decide for ourselves, whether we chose to become small, weak and crook ** or to become big, strong and healthy.

crook**- noun [Aust & NZ slang] unwell, injured

Monday, June 2, 2008

Chicken and Mushroom

“What is it?”

On the 23rd day of my second month here in S.A., I found this plant-like organism on the ground. Surrounded by the lush and green grasses, this thing was lying beneath a cracked soil. My Australian workmate wiped off the dirt on top and inserted his index and middle fingers under this round, dirty-white object and pulled it. Look what we got, a mushroom!

The good thing about it, it’s edible! Yehey! We then started to roam around and had found some more. Wow! I had also noticed some shepherds across the field doing the same that day. And for exactly 10 days now, we’ve been collecting plenty of mushrooms.

I remember my blog entry last April 23, 2008... I've written about the dryness of this place. I never thought that the previously brown and dusty place will turn into a green and productive field!

ON THE FIFTEENTH DAY of the second month... The Israelites in the time of Moses, who escaped from Egypt, had started complaining about their discomforts in Sinai Desert thousands of years ago. They believed they were going to starve but the good Lord had given them plenty of quails and manna** in the desert (Exodus 16:1-36).

Unknowingly, sometimes I am (or WE are) like them. But God’s miracles and blessings never really end. He may not give me a flock of quails or two quarts of manna daily for forty years, but 'the chickens and the mushrooms' are more than enough to satisfy my hunger in this life’s strenuous journey. His gifts are, indeed, not just in the form of quails and manna, the reason why I have started opening my eyes and looking around so I could realize His countless presents to me daily.

I will stay in this desolate farm... I will stay and wait until He strikes the rock (somewhere in this place) with His stick to pour out plenty of ‘water’ to quench my thirst and the whole world!
**manna - a bread, something like a thin wafer.
- in Hebrew it means "What is it?"