Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Science Fair

I keep forgetting to write about this....
A few weeks ago I had to work all weekend so my husband took the children to a science fair that a group of teachers and high school students were running in our town. They spent a few hours there and the kids had a great time, coming home with bags and bags of experiments and free giveaways. It sounds like it was really well run with lots and lots to do. I wish our town did more things like this. The only complaint I have was regarding the "box" in which my son brought home one of the experiments in. It was a cigarette packet and it just happened to be from his own homeroom teacher..... who I know is a very heavy smoker. My husband said he did apologize when he handed the box over claiming that it was the only thing he could find to put the things in so they wouldn't get broken on the way home. The experiment does fit perfectly into the box, but.... a cigarette packet... to a 9 year old.... in 2011? I can remember my brother making a dog out of cigarette packets, but that was .... many years ago. I guess Japan still has quite a way to go when it comes to cigarettes and children!

2 more sleeps

My children are counting down to our departure for New Zealand by the number of sleeps.... 2 more including tonight. I am counting down by the number of classes I still have to teach - 5 down today, 2 left for tomorrow. In other words we are almost off! As usual I have been leaving a few things to the last minute and as usual Japan is living up to its wonderful service in an attempt to keep me happy enough that I will want to return after our great holiday in the land of the long white cloud. On Friday I decided that after 9 years of the same glasses I "needed" some new ones before we left. I wandered into the local shop and asked if it was possible to get some new glasses within 5 days (remembering that there was a weekend included in there). No problem. Sit down, get my eyes tested, get given a cup of tea, have my old glasses cleaned and the nose piece changed while I wasn't watching and was told that they would be ready on Sunday! The whole process took less than half an hour and that included a chat about the fact that in Japan you don't have to be a "real" optometrist to make glasses and another chat about how New Zealand won the world cup rugby. As well as taking very limited time it also only cost me about a third of what it would have in New Zealand. I will still have my eyes tested properly in New Zealand every now and then, but the technology they used here was definitely very good and I have no complaints. Thumbs up for Japanese service - again!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

They seemed to know....

Today we said goodbye to all our chickens. I literally shed a few tears doing it - and all I had to do was help get them into the crates. As soon as we walked into their yard they went crazy - even before we tried to catch them. They also only laid 5 eggs today - as opposed the 9 or 10 they usually lay. I guess they just sensed something was amiss.
We made the decision to let them go for two reasons - firstly because we are heading back to New Zealand later this week for over 3 weeks and getting my mother-in-law to look after them would be a bit too much for her, and secondly - because they were starting to lay less and less (still not bad, but they had seen better laying days!). After we get back we will clean out the chicken house, do a few repairs and then start the process over all again. I don't think I could live without my chickens anymore!
We thought about killing them all ourselves..... for a few minutes, but quickly changed our minds when we found a place in our town that would do it for free. And then we discovered that for a relatively low price they would also pluck them, gut them and cut them all up for us too... so now we have a freezer full of chicken! I thought the meat was going to be really tough, but the man who prepared them for us said that it looks pretty good - I guess we may have to test it out tomorrow.....

For anyone new to this blog our chicken adventure started after we went back to New Zealand 4 years ago and my son (and I) fell in love with all our relatives' chickens and pushed hard to get a chicken house built.
Our first 5 chickens were purchased from a local high school and had been raised by hand. The next 5 were from a big "chicken factory" and took a little longer to get used to people. The next 12 I picked up as tiny little chicks on the day they hatched. The children helped with delivering the eggs to the neighbours and cleaning them out, feeding them etc. and as a reward they continued collecting egg money and we have had a few nice holidays with the proceeds.
As the chickens grew we lost a few to sickness, a couple to predators and completely lost track of which were the old ladies and which were the teenagers. All in all we have been lucky and ended up with 15 chickens to say goodbye to today. It is definitely going to be strange tomorrow not hearing any clucking and not having to go and collect any eggs. Who am I going to tell all my problems to now? They were wonderful listeners!