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"You've Got to Sleep With Your Mum and Dad" is now available on Amazon. Childhood angst, marathon swimming, international exploitation and the threat of impending pinniped intimacy. on 2014-08-13
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Have a look at my page on Amazon. Still plenty of summer left for challenging literature. on 2014-08-13
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Check out my Amazon Kindle page. 'The Baby Who Killed People for Money' is now available. An utterly charming child with a unique and lucrative skill. A father with no defence against his daughter's impulses. Would you take your little girl around Europe for a spot of murder tourism? Of course you would. on 2014-06-30
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A Thousand Natural Shocks An anthology that includes two of my stories. Available now at Amazon. on 2013-11-11
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Archive for April 10th, 2014

Posted April 10, 2014
  Posted by in Uncategorized

This post comes after the one about driving a Bedford truck with a garage on the back.

Getting the chickens from Murray Bridge was a simple matter. I drove the hundred miles down, picked up a cardboard box that made scratching and cheeping sounds, and drove back.

Introducing the chickens to the students was fun. Each chick imprinted onto one kid. Later, any pupil could go into the chicken shed and call his or her chick, even when it was twenty times the size tha it had been during the introduction.

The chickens went into the shed, the one that I had brought to school balanced on a 3-ton Bedford. They had a good life as far as meat bird living standards go. Plenty of room, an assigned carer. They weren’t allowed outside to exercise that valuable body mass off or to dilute their fast-grow diet with low nutrient material that they might dig up. They scratched and clucked and fed inside the shed.

And they grew. The chicks had been taller than normal ones, with thicker legs. They needed those sturdy limbs as they stacked on the weight. Soon, they expanded to fit the space available. The 8-week growing period was over amazingly quickly and the chickens were ready to be converted inot food.

I had made the booking with the slaughter and packing company in Murray Bridge weeks before without noticing that the transport date was in the school holidays. So there I was on my own with fifty hefty broiler chickens needing to go the hundred miles to Murray Bridge. My compact Ford Laser hatchback was the only available transport. This was a very different proposition from bringing the little, fluffy versions the other way a few weeks earlier.

I took the back seat out of the Laser and scouted around for materials to chicken-proof the car. Fortunately, an outback school is rich in resources. I floorboarded the back of the car with pine from the woodwork department. Then I taped five layers of corrugated cardboard along teh floor and up the sides to the roof. Loads of newspaper after that and it looked secure and absorbent. Time for the chickens.

The birds were unafraid of people and calmly accepted being picked up two at a time and being put into the back of a car. Towards the end of the process, a couple jumped out but they came when I called and were soon safely in place. I shut the hatch carefully and started driving.

My construction work held up well until the half-way mark. The floorboards shifted when I went round a sharp corner and there was a burst of alarmed clucking. I decided to keep driving. There wasn’t much I could do without emptying teh chickens out and that was a non-starter.

I drove very carefully and finally drew into the driveway of the killing fields. The slaughtermen showed no suprise at my method of livestock transport. I don’t think they had time. We took the chickens out and I learned first-hand what a callous business butchery is.

I opened all the windows on the way home but the stench of high-grade manure was awful. I ended up throwing my overalls away. Nobody wanted the pine floorboards after that either. They had slid to the sides, allowing the chickens to wallow about on my upholstery. I washed and disinfected the inside of teh car many times but it never really smelled the same again.

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Posted April 10, 2014
  Posted by in Uncategorized

When I was working at an outback school in South Australia, circumstances conspired to transform me into an Agriculture teacher. This was odd because i had no experience or qualifications in agriculture and my students had lived and worked on farms for their entire lives.

My classes taught me how to clear land, put up fences, prepare soil, plant, harvest, bale and sell crops. I’m not sure what the students got out of it but I learned massive amounts.

The Curriculum Committee pronounced itself satisfied with this but they wanted an animal product as well. The simplest of these turned out to be meat chickens. The first thing to do was house them. The Agricultural Research Centre 20 km away had a garage that they didn’t want. One of the parents offered to lend me a 3-ton Bedford truck, a solid beast from the early 1960s. Off we went one school day with a with me driving a truck for the first time, with a load of students, all of whom had been driving trucks since about the time they learned to walk.

The shed was a standard, galvanised iron single-car garage – the ideal size for a crop of 50 meat birds. Now came the time to take it apart and stack it onto the truck. The students, the research station’s staff and I stood around and looked at the job.

“It’d fit like that,” someone said eventually. I didn’t think it would but I was outvoted. Our combined muscle power hoisted the shed onto the bed of the truck. I remember the picture that appeared in the school newsletter. It looked like this:

bedford2

It looked to me as if it would tip over backwards before we even started moving. Everyone said, “she’ll be right,” then looked at me. I got into the cab and started the engine.

For the whole way back to school on dirt roads, I had a tingly feeling of anticipation. At any moment, I expected the whole assemblage to sit back on the shed and launch the cab into the air.

We got there. The entire school gathered to watch me reverse the truck into position in front of the concrete base we had laid a fortnight previously. It fit perfectly.

The post about transporting 50 monster chickens in a compact car follows on from this one.

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