One's destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things - Henry Miller

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Farm Friendly Friday #8

Happiness is being where you want to be and doing what you want to be doing. As such, happiness requires nothing more than an adjustment in your attitude. ~ Ralph Marston “The Daily Motivator”

How true....

I began my Friday in a terrible state. I was woken by a rat making noises in the corner of the bedroom! Ahhhh! Worse was to come. On investigation there were not one but two rats setting up home in the bottom drawer of my bureau. More and louder AHHHHS! Hobo 1 to the rescue and with broom in hand he hastened their departure from the house.

How did they get in you may ask? We are having renovations done. Our old wooden soldier settler’s house built back in the 1920s is having its front and side verandahs replaced - and not before time as you can see.  A good paint job was hiding a multitude of sins!

It has the dogs confused!

A gap had been left under the doors by the removal of the floor boards. As usually happens in the country, the builder was held up for three days waiting for the new flooring to arrive. With our cold wintery nights, Mr & Mrs Rat had accepted our warm open-house invitation and moved in. YUK!

With rats gone I inspected the damage...not much but the contents of every drawer would need to be washed- messy blighters! Oh well here was my day mapped out for me. Washing! Not my favourite activity.

Breakfast brought a further surprise. Not only had our uninvited guests set up house, they’d had a midnight feast as well.    Each pear in a bowl of pears sitting on the kitchen counter, had been tested before the best had been selected and consumed. More and louder YUKS!

At this point Ralph’s words came to mind. “This just requires a change of attitude,” I told myself and from this point a beautiful, happy day unfolded.

Between loads of washing, I washed and trimmed the pears, and made a delicious bowl of poached pears for dinner.  Yummy!

In the process I discovered some wilted celery in the fridge and with the addition of an onion and half a parsnip made a lovely bowl of celery soup for our lunch. More and Louder Yummies!

Motivated I went on to prepare a dish for main course to accompany our pears - Open Roast Chicken with Orange Juice and Apples. The recipe is from one of my favourite recipe books, “Reader’s Digest One Dish Meals the Easy Way”.

When Hobo 1 decided at lunch he need to make a quick trip to Gladstone, I was free to go with him. I knitted up another coat hanger cover on the way in and out; met our granddaughter quite by accident in the car park and had a quick chat with her while we drove to the post office to collect the mail and arrived home to a delicious dinner ready for us in the slow cooker.

To end the day I curled up in bed and continued my tour of Tuscany with Frances Mayer, author of “Bella Tuscany”. Last night I visited the Greek ruins in Sicily, was reminded of sipping limoncello on our world tour and visioned myself eating “almond cake and thick lemon pie topped with roasted local almonds” whilst gazing out on the deep, blue waters of the Mediterranean.

Who cares about rats? It’s just a matter of attitude.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Peaceful Doves

What fickle weather we are having in Central Queensland - two very heavy frosts on Thursday and Friday morning followed by warm afternoons.  Today no frost but it's been cold all day and is now overcast and showery.  Although it has developed into a cold, miserable day the reward has been a house yard  alive with birds.

One group of visitors was a little flock of peaceful doves who dropped in around midday with their feathers all fluffed up against the wind. 

They fed on grass seeds at the bottom of our front steps. 

And then were gone...  A very pleasant, but brief interlude.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday on the Farm #7

Activity today has revolved around organising a pen of heifers ready for sale on Monday.

White NLIS tag clipped to  her right ear
The day began with a heavy frost just as it has for most of the week - the paddocks covered in a white veil and the cattle broadside to the morning sun for maximum warmth.

Young bull soaking up the sun
The water troughs were frozen over and it took twice as long to dress with all the extra layers.

Ice sculptures on the water trough
Before we began, I went up into the town for my daily check of the Discovery Centre, an accommodation facility run by local volunteers. I’m the janitor this week and the barnyard has been enjoying the bucket of wet scraps brought home each day. However they still want to line up for their daily billy of grain at the end of the day.

Where's our grain?
Just as the old pony has arrived for his slab of hay now the frosts are upon us. He is retired to the back paddock and ignored us all summer but winter has him back playing friends again! Poor old fellow is showing his age. He’s over thirty years old now. We bought him as a seven year old and he was my “stock” horse for many years.

The Pony
For lunch, I made a quick but tasty coleslaw - just some cabbage, grated carrot and apple with a sprinkling of chopped pecan nuts all moistened with mayonnaise; fried some thin slices of steak and popped them both between a couple of slices of toast “Just what the doctor ordered,” as we say.

Now we’re off to check that all the cattle have their NLIS ear tags. These tags are small round buttons fitted with a microchip that allows it to be read with electronic readers. They are clipped onto the ear of each animal when they are calves and permanently identify and trace their movements from birth to slaughter. All cattle on the farm have to have one. A white one says you have bred the animal and it has stayed on your farm till sale; an orange one identifies the animal as one you have purchased. All the information is gathered from the tags and stored in the NLIS central data base.

I find it amazing what Information and communication technologies are allowing us to do today.

When I was a principal, I was one of the guiding coalition of principals who drove the implementation of OneSchool in Queensland. OneSchool is a technology program designed and developed by Education Queensland to provide a consistent information management system for all our schools- a common system for managing student records, curriculum and learning plans, resources, finance and performance. It is a powerful program that allows access to data any time, anywhere, by anyone who needs the information - “A single point of truth”.

I found it interesting that when the OneSchool concept was first presented at a conference in 2006, a speaker from NLIS explained the power of their system and the benefits to the beef industry of this gathering of “single point of truth” data.

Where will this little fellow's life journey take him?
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Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday's Moment

Our district was opened up under the Discharged Soldiers’ Settlement Act of 1917.  Every discharged member of the armed forces was entitled to apply for a grant of land and support to build a home. 

Many British soldier arrived in the Boyne Valley under the scheme only to find the climate  against them, water in short supply and the country a far cry from the land they called "Home".  A few stayed a life time and their descendants still live in the valley today. Most left - disallusioned and disappointed in their dream.  This is the site of the home of one such family.  I wandered over the area and wondered what was their story.

I thought of the workmanship that went into standing this yard post that stands so strong through all the passing years; fighting a battle against nature to mark the place where a man once stood and pondered his next move.

Thought of the woman who stood on the verandah of her little two roomed home that rested on these blocks.  What did she think about as she looked out across the same paddock I walk across today?

Wondered who carted the water?  And how was it carted up the steep bank from the creek to the tank that once stood on these tall post to give them both a shower.

And tried to envisage the gate that stood between these posts.  Was it the entrance to their house yard?  Was it a garden gate?  What did they grow?  Did an old horse pull their sulky? 
So many questions.  Will they ever be answered?  Is it a research project I should undertake?...
And then I saw it...

...this tiny little white flower between the gate posts.  So pure, so perfect on its delicate little stem.  It was my camera lens that discovered its companion.  My dreaming ended as I rejoiced in the beauty presented to me to brighten my Monday - a moment to remember.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday on the Farm #6

It was a cold chilly day on the farm this Friday.

It began with a panic. I have three light sussex hens but when I came to let them out of the chook house this morning there were only two.

A search around the yard found the third safely tucked up under a low set water tank on a nest of eleven eggs.

Over morning tea we discovered that each hand on our bunch of bananas had twelve bananas on it. Is this the case for all bananas?

Then it was a trip to a farm further up the valley to pick up a cow that had been missing for nine months. She’d apparently been running there all the time and the farmer hadn’t known who owned her until he rang the Stock Squad.

I was so cold at midday; I went out to soak up what little sunlight there was. I was entertained by the antics of my pup Mopsy giving herself an adrenalin rush playing chicken with the cattle as they came in for their midday drink.  The calves on the other side of the fence were equally entertaining.

The ducks were all looking very wary when I snapped them in the cattle yards. Two of these big babies had been caught and dressed yesterday and they were a bit nervous about my intentions today.

This afternoon I cooked. First I put on a fruit cake. While it cooked I made some boiled custard from the extra eggs we found this morning and popped on a big pot of pea and ham soup. Then I prepared one of the ducks. I used my Stephanie Alexander Cook’s Companion to guide me and made a French-style roast.

We finished the day around the kitchen table in a nice warm kitchen with pea and ham soup, roast duck, bananas and custard - all but the ham hock coming from our own farm.
A very satisfying feeling.

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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Friday On the Farm #5

Irrigation and other Happenings
A busy day - too busy to find time to post. So here’s Friday on the Farm on Saturday!!!

The day began shrouded in fog as we began to lay out the next irrigation run on a new bed of lucerne we’ve just planted. I call the task my “Purposeful Walking Program”. With two shifts a day I get a good work out morning and night.

It’s very rewarding to see the little heads filled with promise popping out between the clods of soil.

I enjoy the changing moods of the mountains that rim our valley...

And the many birds that grace us with their presence – brolgas, magpies, bustards, wood ducks and various raptors are all regular daily visitors.

Back home to feed up the weaners and bulls in the yard and then to enjoy a late breakfast on the verandah in the sun.

Mid morning while I’m in the middle of washing and Hobo1 is mopping the floors Number 1 granddaughter arrives with her three little ones. The busyness grinds to sudden halt while we sit and chat and give the boys their traditional ride on the quad bikes. I’m sure they don’t come to visit grandma but just to have a “buggy” ride each week!

Just had time to rush up and do a couple of voluntary jobs on a local project in Ubobo when the family left. Then back to pull the washing off the line to be folded later before it was off to move the pipes again before sunset.

Some where in the middle of all this we were entertained by a stand-off between this praying mantis...

...and this Willy Wagtail.

The willy knocked the mantis off the verandah rail onto the floor.  The mantis raised his front legs, spread his wings wide and bluffed the little willy with his ENORMOUS size. The willy made several attempts to catch the mantis but all time the insect moved to remain square on to the bird with his bold defensive pose. I was glued to the spot motionless and without a camera just watching the mini drama unfold. The mantis won and the willy went off to hunt smaller fry. A very entertaining few moments.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011


The week that was…

What beautiful autumn days we’ve enjoyed this week.

Creeks, crystal clear and clean; Weather, warm and balmy with clear blue skies.

The fullness of this unusual 2011 summer is drawing to a close.

Last bottlebrush blooms for birds and butterflies,
grasses in seed for wrens, finches and other grass birds,

Cattle ready for market

And neighbour’s young bulls maturing into beautiful looking animals

The first frosts of the season arrived – light but still cold enough to bring the winter woollies out.

It sent the dog crazy,
confused the chooks,

and had the galahs, cockatoos, magpies and peewees seeking out the highest branches of an old dead gum...


…to catch the first rays of sunlight that found their way over the mountain so early morning ablutions could begin.

Late autumn is a my season…jam making, gardening, harvesting vegetables, cattle ready for market, poultry a-plenty…

…a time when I come alive and sing:
"This is the day that the Lord has made.
Let us rejoice and be glad in it."