The Little Fulla has just turned one. ONE. He is no longer a baby. He’s some sort of small person. This called for a celebration. We had a party for him on Saturday. Knowing how things go around here, I started getting organised well in advance. Thank goodness…
We decided to just have family at his party, which was 20-something people. That was enough for me to cope with! I decided on a wilderness theme and set about writing a list of food to make and buy. Fortunately, I started to make things in advance and freeze them, for complications were soon to arise. The Little Fulla became unwell a week beforehand. We ended up at the doctors twice that week and the afternoon before his party we finally came out with some antibiotics for his mouth infection. I didn’t care if he had sores on his face for his birthday, I just didn’t want him to be in pain and upset. It was a rough week for sleeping for him, and for me. I woke up every time he moaned or cried. Now, The Little Fulla was ill, so, obviously, one of the chickens would have to be ill too. Every time he is sick, one of them gets sick or injured. They are organised I tell you! This time is was Jane’s turn. While making chocolate chip cookies I paused to taste the dough part-way through. It was delicious. I have a weakness for cookie dough. I was feeling tired and compromised. I contemplated eating all the cookie dough. I thought forward to a future in which The Husband said to The Little Fulla, ” Do you remember the cookies we had on your first birthday? No? That’s because there weren’t any. Mummy ate ALL the cookie dough.” I decided I better not eat any more cookie dough.
Soft ginger cookies and animal- and tree-shaped chocolate chip cookies. Fortunately, I had recently bought a 3-tier cooling rack.
Poor Jane. I have always considered her to be the runt of the litter, so to speak. She’s always been a tad smaller and slower than the others and at the bottom of the pecking order. I found her lying down a lot and one of her legs was weak. Sound familiar? There is something going on with these chickens that I haven’t quite got a finger on yet (Marek’s, vitamin deficiency, heavy metal poisoning, something else toxic…?). And so, it was off to the Hospital Cage for Jane. I had to syringe Berocca-enhanced water into her beak a few times a day for a few days and encourage her to eat. While she never looked droopy, she didn’t have poop issues and I wasn’t afraid she was going to suddenly cark it, I was worried about her, as she was weak and wasn’t very interested in food or drink. She just lay down a lot. By the day before The Little Fulla’s party, Jane was looking a lot better; being on her feet every time I went to check her, eating and drinking well, making noise and showing a sudden eagerness to escape the cage, which is always a good sign. The morning of the party she was being very noisy and started raging to get out, knocking her water bell over everything. I was so pleased she was ok that I didn’t care about the mess, but I had to quickly set up a temporary pen for her alongside the orchard pen so her and the others could see each other. I wasn’t going to risk a sudden and potentially tumultuous reunion when I was going to be too busy to keep my eye on the feather children. Yes, the chickens are in the orchard now. Yay! We haven’t quite finished the vege beds and fencing (I wonder why…) but I set up a temporary fence a bit further back.
Between the ill, needy, what-afternoon-nap? human child and the ill feather child things started to go out the window. I carted The Little Fulla around while I tidied up the house and the yard. I had to remove at least some of the hazards for the incoming little people. The world’s biggest pile of cardboard was dealt with. I piled the flattened boxes onto the wheelbarrow and did two trips out to the letterboxes, The Little Fulla on my back. The Husband drove the rest out in his van. Did the recycling truck take them away? No! The reason, according to the label, was they weren’t in a bag. Ok… The Husband had to take them away in his van to the recycling depot. Further, while I was running around like a mad person, Frodo was trying to go broody. Not now, Frodo!
The night before the party was particularly busy. At dinner time The Husband, with dehydrator manuals in-hand, announced that he would like to make beef jerky. I just about died until he assured me that he didn’t mean that night. I was up until midnight icing cakes and cupcakes and things, made harder by the fact that we don’t have sucrose or icing sugar in the house anymore so I was juggling between multiple recipes of glucose (dextrose) icing. Fortunately, I had made a spreadsheet so I knew what tasks needed to be done in advance in order to avoid a frantic mess on the day. I started off with simple intentions for this party, which, naturally, turned into extensive, creative plans, which then had to be pared back to what was important and do-able. Things were by no means perfect but we got there! The Little Sister and The Little Brother-in-law came early to help and we got everything done just as people started to arrive. The Little Fulla coped very well with the big day and put on a great show for his first cake experience. He spent ages squelching it in his fingers, making pleased noises and smiling at everyone before finally taking a bite. He does like squelching things. And now we return to normal. Well, aside from the dishes to be hand-washed. They can wait. I’m trying to have a day of ‘rest’ today, relatively speaking. The Little Fulla is doing a lot better and has lots of new toys to keep him occupied. Although he still really just wants to go outside and explore. I’m just going to be a bit more careful about how much dirt and bits of nature he consumes.
The last year of our lives has been drastically different. The best things about The Little Fulla are getting snuggles many times a day, hearing him laugh his darling little squeaky laugh at the simplest things, teaching him to make sounds and say words and watching him smile and discover new things, especially outside. The hardest thing for me in the last year, aside from a long recovery from the havoc The Little Fulla wreaked on my body when he came into the world, has been the change in time. I was spoiled for time before and I didn’t even know it. It’s not even so much the massive amount of time that gets used up in looking after a small child, it’t the fact that time is no longer my own. I can’t just do things when I want to. There are needs to be met, chores to be done and an ever-present small person who requires my almost-constant attention unless he’s sleeping. I cannot be selfish with my time. I find it hard, when I just want to get things done, especially in the garden, and yet I wouldn’t give up The Little Fulla for anything. I could not go back to life without him. He is so special. I was never a ‘kid person’ or a ‘baby person’, and I’m still not really, but The Little Fulla is something else. He’s the apple of my eye, the avocado to my burger, the chocolate chips to my cookie. I love him with a fierce love, a love that I didn’t even know existed. That is the love of a mother and now I am beginning to understand just what my mother went through in order to raise me. Yikes. I hope The Little Fulla doesn’t turn out to be as stubborn as I was… *Cough*… am…