Sleep and chicken politics

A week of very bad bedtimes. Weening from the bottle compounded by sleep training and long and busy days have left both of the parents in this house worn down.

Depressing political maneuvers abound today. Federal regulation of free range eggs at categorical failure in all but one respect. Egg cartons must now display stocking density on the pack. 10000 hens in 1ha shed with a tiny caged patio they can choose to visit will continue to be called ‘free range’ in many states and will override the better requirements some states had maintained. I even went so far as to call the relevant ministers office yesterday,  for all that it accomplished. Despite now having hens it will be some time before they adjust and even at peak laying we will still need to supplement with purchased eggs. It is disheartening when the big supermarkets can essentially write their own regulations. 

That is hardly the worst thing proposed today but I don’t have the energy to really let rip on the monumental idiocy of this proposal.

I accomplished nothing last night and am not long for bed this evening looking forward to painting just as I am able. N has been making progress in the garden and restoring an antique table from degraded enamel whitewash. My birdbath is a failure until the interior of the dish is enameled the metal oxidises so quickly the water turns to a nasty orange soup in the course of the day. Going to start the sawhorse project this weekend.


I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the destruction of Australia’s National Broadband Network is corruption and incompetence on an unbelievable scale. One hundred Billion dollars over the next fifty years to pay for a degraded copper network twenty years overdue for retirement is a travesty. Combined with the bill for building the substandard and already obsolete MTM network. The whole project has been a monumental failure for all but the few who were lucky enough to get fiber from a skilled contractor while the roll out continued. If the next non coalition government don’t commission an inquiry to bring the people responsible to face the consequences of their decisions I’ll be very disappointed. Not that this should in any way be confused for me having genuine hope for this outcome being met. Why, just today I was linked evidence of our government’s interminable maleficence on climate action and even the concrete expectation of charges of criminal negligence for pollies who willfully obstructed climate action over the next few decades won’t make that feel any better.

Bandwidth is going to be like the weather within a few years and Australia’s virtual weather is going to be dismal, glitchy and shit. Today I found a perfect example of exactly why I make this comparison. Also an excellent demo of why I believe AR is going to out compete if not completely absorb VR as it becomes consumer viable. Test phase demonstrations of consumer grade virtual telepresence:

Going to have to move to NZ or South Korea if you actually want to use it. The Australian network even in metropolitan areas can simply not cope. In rural areas even with the better than average speeds I’m getting it is still like going back in time.


Managed another sketch draft last night trying for more this evening.




Tue 29th

One of those days where every thing is stretched thin. Fighting infection in the cut on my left pointer knuckle. Kindergarten takes such enormous focus of attention. One client canceled due to illness at the last minute. Nine thirty at night and only just now beginning a post after which I can either go to bed, play or create.

I have managed to get a sketch card done most evening lately and so I am plodding away at the 44 evolutions deck. The Castle terrain card is taking enormous effort to make even small progress on but by little steps it progresses still. Haven’t touched my story book in more than a fortnight. Planning another path and some sawhorses outside, next big build will be a cubby to attatch our slide to. Likely also build on a quad bike crate. That project will take a while to come together though.

New tutoring clients lined up for later in the week which is good news. Two weeks of holidays approaching most understandably want a break, which combined with the lack of school work is will putting pressure on the finances. More costs cropping up at every turn too. We have to transfer registration of our car to NSW prior to departure an expensive and tiresome process including fresh blue and green slips as well as fresh and more expensive insurance.

Started listening to ‘The Art of Travel‘ which is quite lovely but not, at about the half way point, as entertaining as ‘Consolations‘. Caught up to episodes of Sense8 I’ve seen before and have slowed down on them, as extraordinary as remembered and a pleasure to see what I had missed. Looking forward to finding time to read the ‘Fight Club 2’ comics.

Keeping up on my professional readings on data which WESS crew will know I just love. This report is involved in a bit of the fuss in Australian education at the moment.

Adding a couple more photos to yesterdays epic, showing design details.

Build Complete


Feels like an age since I started this project. Today after many delays the hens are doing their job admirably laying waste to the fields of cat head sprouts that have sprung up after the recent rain. There were lots of delays some quite unavoidable but three months from inception it is done. There are plenty of other projects waiting in line and I’m planning on attempting video of one or two.

For this evening here is the build process. There were a number of design alterations along the way. It all started with a rusted out old motorcycle crate piled among the bricks.

The crate is visible to the right of this panorama of the yard as we found it. PANO_20151224_092052 In speaking to our neighbors, the local motorcycle shop and family friends they offered some newer crates free of charge.

I saved this quad bike crate from the scrap heap and began with the idea of a box without a base.



Of course there was no bloody ply at the tip when I went the looking this first time. So I had to buy one sheet. Being frugal I managed to find a layout that would give me all the pieces I need from that one sheet. My only electric saw is a jigsaw so my edges leave something to be desired in perfect straightness.



The old motorcycle crate was cannibalised for many parts including the gate beginning here.


I built two the same, at the time it seemed unlikely that we would have the properties fences to a state where the hens would be allowed out during the day so I was planning on a primary tractor and an additional run section.


First sides going on.


Realising that I am never going to be able to keep it as square as I want it without a base. I for the time being abandon the idea of the extra run and attach the base section.


When working without a base side pieces were hanging from the top.


With the addition of the base I added an extra end support I had into the middle and hung the sides on it instead. The gate hinge support is also reinforced this way.


Material constraints left me with a gate hinge too short to extent the whole height. In the background the awning brackets in fabrication.



Awning brackets mounted


Side awnings on. The rear has to wait until roof hinges are done.


Main entrance and detail.


Beginnings of the roof stripped from a very heavy piece of the motorcycle crate.


Edges attached, applying insulation with ‘help’.


Locking the Styrofoam jigsaw in with aluminium tape.


Coating the underside in foil.


Ready for roofing.


Scrap roofing iron from among the debris cut with a hand angle grinder forms the cover.



Lots of sharp edges to deal with.



Sitting in place.


A tiny ten minute tease of rain stained and warped some of the ply.


Roof hinges on.


Cleaning up timber edges prior to painting.


Everyone helps paint, while the enthusiasm lasts anyway. Free paint is the best paint.


The best wheels found up until this point die under pressure. I was hoping they were solid rubber as there was no valve visible. Not to be.



It takes two more trips to the tip and a lot of trial and error to find better replacements. In the mean time wiring began. Using off cuts and old crumpled spare pieces from the farm this was frustrating and slow work. Compounded by the fact that we were having great difficulty finding someone to sell us point of lay hens.


A view into the roost. Nesting boxes from an old Ikea shelf and scrap ply.


Wiring continued an hour here and there for ages.


News that hens would be available in a week put the pressure on to finish the job. Painting the door, ramp and wall extension using a very smelly old enamel found in the shed.


Ramp in place. Thriving fresh crop of catheads visible in the soil here.


Interior shot. before floor wire.


View from the front before and after wall extension.

IMG_0555 IMG_0556

The previous wheel axle holes are no longer useful.


The new wheels require an altogether different kind of mount.


Of for a drop grinder.

IMG_0560Ready to weld.


Calling in help from my brother in law for this job. Snapped with welding goggles on of course.


I put the wire floor in so that the hens can be contained during moves and they will be safe if and when a fox gets into the enclosure at night.


Job done. Last couple of additions today not yet photographed. Gravity water container, hatch so the hens roost door can be opened without entering the enclosure and modifications to the nesting area in the roost to make it a little cosyier. I’ll edit them in at a later date.



Our hens are Isa Brown rescues from an egg farm which disposes of its hens at one year of age. Waiting to establish dominance order before assigning the names we have chosen for this batch. Georgie, Porgie, Pudding and Pie.

20160328_Easter2016_3620 sml


Bonus build…

Ancient crank shaft from the metal heap in the back yard


plus plow blade from the farm


 plus a little sugru,


equals distinctive bird bath.IMG_20160328_175848

Sugru was still drying at dark so testing will wait for the morning.

Eyeing some much needed sawhorses for my next build. Not that I think I can produce a pair like that.




A couple of extra details. As with everything but the one sheet of ply, the hinges on the roof and the boxes of screws, the latches are found, rummaged or reused from somewhere else.


My but those hens can do a number on an interior. two choose to sleep in the nesting boxes two on the bar.


Access hatch for releasing and containing hens without entering the enclosure. Needs a better latch but the local hardware in a now atypical experience have none.




The bird bath holds water and there is spoor to suggest that it has been in use today. No witnessed visitors yet though. The water stains pretty quickly though, I may need to strip it back and seal the dish. Also visible is the new path still in need of edging on this side and fresh sheet mulching on the other.








Ishtar and Missinformation

A lovely Easter Sunday, egg hunts, family lunch and success welding and attaching wheel mounts to the hen house.

First egg from our own hens!

Epic bedtime battle with F won at 9:58PM.

On the subject of eggs… I have seen this picture show up in my feed more than once lately. I may even have ‘liked’ it at some point.

Neither Reasonable Nor Scientific

A cursory google produced this well articulated deconstruction of the idea. They claim that the image originated on the Richard Dawkins fbook page. Which necessitates sharing this pertinent flow chart.

I am really interested in the origin of modern mythologies and could easily write long form about the few that I am actually familiar with. I am also very frustrated with the way people keep producing and sharing such blatantly misleading factoids in this the age of information.

But it is too late to write essays it is time to paint.






The chook tractor’s roost is complete, the pen and wheels still require some finishing touches. Wheel mounts require a few more welds and although I had a crack at one, I’ve decided to wait til tomorrow for assistance finishing them. For now we have four hens occupying the roost, all Isa Browns rescued from destruction at one year of age from an egg farm. They are looking pretty motley but I think they will fatten up and get some more healthy feathering on in short order.

Photos galore on completion.

Discovered care of this post that there are another two Comoran Strike books. which is great news to me. Love a good whodunit.

Finished the second and third series of ‘The Museum of Curiosity‘. Still loaded with fantastic guests and ideas but simply not as good without Bill Bailey. Not a fan of the third seasons programs variations on submission protocol either.

Nursing a sunburn headache. So heading to bed in very short order.



Made my first weld today. In addition to much more grinding, screwing and other laborious activities that can be mistaken for innuendo.

We paved the final stretches of the paths I dug out while the earth was soft last week and began locking the paving edges in place with mud. Final touches, including the wheel braces being welded with help from my brother in-law are going on the chook tractor. Tomorrow we expect to purchase some tenants to occupy it!

Total build photo log incoming just as soon as I can find a program other than iTunes that will let me get my photos off my iphone.

First ever #weld. Much harder than some make it look. #make

A photo posted by @liatach on


A long day in the sun has left me wrecked so I’m taking the night off from all work beyond the end of this post.



Paint fumes and stupid injuries

We will finally be able to buy some hens this weekend so the pressure is on to get the bloody chook tractor done and dusted. Cut my finger with a hand saw. Being stupid because I was hungry. I’m perfectly fine and the wood got cut too. I just felt a right idiot and stopped for lunch a good hour too late.  Affixing the final bits and pieces, painting a few parts with ghastly and fragrant ancient orange enamel found in the shed. 

A bloody software update from Wacom lost me an hour+ of progress on the castle card which was infuriating and compounded by needing to spend the next hour finding and fixing the issue. Wacom make what are hands down the best computer drawing tablets but they are not without their issues. My previous Intuous survived an ant colony deciding it would be a lovely place to live but died when not one but two of the micro USB cable connections snapped off the internal circuit board. This kills the tablet. So far the current one has been excellent, better constructed and apparently less desirable as ant accommodation but… the software has been crap, the multitouch functionality is of very limited use. Worse still the applet has continually forgotten custom settings, randomly decided it can no longer detect the still functioning tablet and last night they shipped a driver update that caused insufferable cursor lag and BSOD’d me for the first time in ages. Not happy, particularly as the castle card is going to be included as a print draft for play testing at an upcoming event in Brisbane. I had rendered out all the forest and blocked in the rocks at the castles base. Haven’t had time to redo that work and the submission deadline is up.


More painting to do. Took what I think is one of my best macro shots so far today.


Love that the facets of the eye are visible. Curious that a significant portion of what it can see would be it’s own antennae.

Unknown #beetle 13mm. #macro #coleoptera #insect

A photo posted by @liatach on

I’m starting to develop some serious lens envy of the people I follow on Insta.

This guy in particular is rocking some incredible gear. I’m not ready to invest in this hobby to this extent yet, but be warned it may happen.

So cool:

An adult Maratus volans feeding on a fly. Central Coast, NSW, Australia

A photo posted by Michael (project Maratus) (@michael_doe_project_maratus) on

Teaching in a strange land


Witnessed my first ‘Stations of the Cross’ performance today as performed by year 6 students, with delightful handmade props and cheap satin robes. Certainly no ‘Passion of the Christ‘ but and interesting experience all the same. Having not grown up in a religious family I have only attended church a handful of times in my entire life. Working in a Catholic school has been full of such experiences. Not just the frequency with which they invoke the holy trinity with the sign of the cross and lay blessings upon each other. It has been a bit like visiting an altogether different country, I can’t help but take mental anthropological notes. I wonder if my experience is common to others, including students from families outside the faith or if the Cath Ed system only rarely employs the nonreligious?

Anyway, I am done for the week, back on for four days with a year one class next week and another week possibly with 5/6 after that. Hopeful of some days in NSW public in term 2 particularly after the long wait for registration. Local NSW’s school have an odd holiday timetable this year made stranger by Easter falling early.


Started watching Sense 8 again last night. In truth despite hooking multiple other people on it I missed the first couple of episodes and haven’t gone back until now. In the few that I have seen that series delivered more emotional impact and showed more bravery than any American TV series since ‘The Wire’. I’ll do a fresh review once complete. Started listening to the second season of ‘The Museum of Curiosity’ which although still very entertaining unfortunately no longer has Bill Bailey in it. Season one is simply hilarious and had me in stifling laughter on public transport multiple times when I listened to it pre-blog last year.


Back onto the castle last night and I’ve always more to do this evening. Current progress is going to have to do for the next print draft of the deck. I was hoping to have a the castle card finished and more of the sketch drafts of the evolution cards complete, but work got in the way. An example of one of the fifteen draft evolution cards I’ve done is included below and I’ll share a castle draft either later tonight or tomorrow.




Mr Robot

Another day with Kindergarten, two tutoring clients and a bed time battle. Cards aren’t going to paint themselves and I have a review I need to get down. Keeping it all brief so as to paint.


In Review

A few days since completing this series and thoughts have percolated some.

I enjoyed Mr.Robot a lot while watching but towards the end I did begin to get annoyed with some of it’s conceits. Predictability, endless cliff hangers and what I feel is an important lack of detail in how others perceive the characters and in consequences of their actions.


I struggled to place Rami Malek throughout and only now looking at his history do I realise I recognize him from ‘The Pacific‘. He is honestly perfect in this role, his unusual heavy lidded eyes and kind of deep reserve make him completely believable as this very peculiar, more than typically socially awkward hacker. The series hangs on his acting and he supports it with grace.


It is difficult to talk much more about the series without spoilering a major plot arc so if you plan on watching tune out now…







Warned you were.

I wasn’t wrong in recognising a Tyler Durden character back after episode two. In fact the similarity to ‘Fight Club‘ runs a lot deeper than just Christian Slater’s character. The main plot line of destroying the world’s credit records is just one of the glaring similarities and I actually laughed out loud when they used this piano version of that Pixies song.

A simply excellent sound track throughout.

On the one hand I was really glad they went through with it and did the hack. On the other I don’t think they in any way effectively communicated the global nature of the unrest such an action would precipitate. Budgetary constraints aside they in no way begin to let on the shear chaos that such an action would inevitably bring on.

Christian Slater’s big speech disappointed me. Maybe it was that he is too recognizably him, not the role. Maybe it is that he so obviously apes part of his idol Jack Nicholson’s style. Maybe it was the script which at a crucial junction required an extremely moving and impactful diatribe and failed to nail it. Maybe he just wasn’t able to bring enough gravitas to the moment. No matter what the reason it was a let down. Not so much that I wont tune back in to season 2 immediately after the series finishes (week by week is for masochists). But a let down all the same, particularly given the pretty high standard of writing and performances throughout the rest of the season.

I’m keeping it as “highly recommended” with the caveat that it is really Fight Club fantasy for pacifist nerds.