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

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Holidays on the Farm

It’s Easter Holiday time here in Queensland and all the grandchildren are enjoying the week’s break away from school. Six of them have come out to the farm for five days.

Creator of the Holiday Plan
17 year old G1 has organised his four cousins to come and give us a hand to catch up on a few jobs that he felt needed doing. He has a nine year old sister and has brought her along too. The five boys, 13year old twins, their 16 year old brother, a 14 year old cousin and G1 are all “batching” in a little cottage we have on the farm.

G2 returning to the cottage with eggs for breakfast
G1 has spent most holidays with us as his parents both work. When he was smaller he would arrive with an esky full of ingredients and his recipe book. He’s always loved to cook and each day he’d cook one meal for us. Sometimes we’d get breakfast in bed; other times it would be lunch that he prepared and his speciality was meat balls. But these holidays he’s graduated to cooking all the meals for “the boys”. His sister is staying with us much to her disappointment. I think she’d rather be part of the new adventure over in the cottage. I’m rather envious myself. Last night they enjoyed a pork roast and tonight it’s Swedish meatballs.

Dawn reflections in a rain puddle

His crew has been a great help. Today they’ve completed the mowing of our very large house yard and farmyard surrounds; ploughed a paddock; relocated irrigation pipes that have become buried in grass and vines with the excellent wet season we’ve had; burnt the offending grass and a crop of hay that was ruined when we received 60 mm of rain in a storm that was followed by two days of mizzle; fixed the creek fences washed down with flooding yet again and been able to find time to help me move furniture around the office of a local community project I support as a volunteer.

Afternoon reward for a good day's work
They have had great fun swimming in the creeks when it was hot during the middle of the day and riding on the quad bikes in the late afternoon as the galahs came down to drink in the puddles at the front gate. I think everyone should sleep well tonight.

It is just great seeing them all together, negotiating roles, allocating jobs, keeping tabs on each other to make sure nobody is shirking responsibilities anymore than anybody else and generally just enjoying each others company and being “grown up”!

Day Done!
I didn’t believe it would happen but I have to give credit to G1 and G2 for pulling their random thoughts together so successfully. Good on you boys! Love you all…and Missy Moo as well!

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Friday on the Farm #3

I am very behind but I have the afternoon free today as I wait for a fruit cake to cook so I'll try to catch up.

Pineapple fruit cake

Friday on the farm??? Well, Friday was spent getting over Thursday!

Thursday morning Hobo1 suggested we drive to our property at Benaraby (an hours drive away) to pick up the calf cradle ready for the branding job on the weekend.  "Just a quick trip down and back," I think were his precise words. 

I hadn't been out of the house since a major operation left me with a tummy that hurt as it jiggled around with every move I made.  A drive in the farm ute didn't sound too inviting.  Still I thought if I packed myself up with a pillow I could take the trip... and I was getting a bit stir crazy!

Following the Straw Dog
So by 8:00am we were on the road with a few bales of hay to throw out to the cows - "straw dogs" we call them.  The cows follow us anywhere for hay and we don't need to use dogs to muster. So a few bales of hay always go with us to keep the cows interested in following the ute.

We hadn't visited this particular paddock since we fixed the fences after the January floods.  This was our first surprise - you couldn't find a track anywhere.  Every weed and vine known to man I am sure, was growing in gay abandon on the  river flat.

(Author note:  I thought I had the afternoon to myself but visitors arrived, favourite visitors, my granddaughter and her three little darlings.  So here I am back again much later in the day.  Where was I up to?  Oh, Yes...)

Little Darling 2 with his Mum
As we wended our way along tracks that were buried under weeds we found the cows or rather they found us.  We fed and counted them, noted new calves and found we were a cow short.  I offered to follow the mob down to the water and see if an extra one was waiting there while Hobo 1 brought the car around to pick me up.

Cows and calves on the water
He seemed to take a long time.  Then I spotted him back where we started and thought I must have misunderstood the arrangements. So I walked back to him.  "Don't hurry," he called.  "We're going no where.  I've put the car into the old well."

Trying to find his way through the forest of weeds, he'd miscalculated and the front wheels of the ute had dropped into an old abandonded well. No way were we going to get out of this predicament without another vehicle to pull us out.

Our son lives on this property and his children drive an old four wheel drive Nissan up to the front gate to catch the school bus.  We decided to walk up and see if the keys were in it.  But that involved a 2 km walk through hills and an overgrown paddock.
Son's garden
Fortunately we  decided to call into the house for a drink and luckily found one of the grandchildren at home on a study break.  He saved us the extra walk by jumping on a pushbike and riding up to the gate  and bringing Nissie back. 

Down at the well we tried to tow the ute out but found it had dropped over a post and was stuck on it.  Another trip up to the house located a chainsaw and with some difficulty balancing over the well, Hobo 1 cut the top off the post.  But now Nissie wouldn't work.  Her battery was flat.  A second balancing act lifted the battery from our ute and it was taken back to Nissie to get her started.  Then her battery was re-fitted and finally we were able to jerk the ute free.

Thank goodness for our grandson.  He saved me a lot of clambering in and out of vehicles.  I only had to direct traffic and  provide a communication link between the drivers.

Our quick trip??? Well it took us eight hours!  But we did get the cradle and were able to set it up on Friday ready for the arrival of the family on Saturday to help with mustering, dipping and the branding of the calves.  But that's a story for another day.
Watching the branding.

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Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday on the Farm

Rosellas on the bush

Rosella Jam
Today I made Rosella Jam and I'm rather pleased with myself. 

I've recently had an operation. Hence the lack of blog entries for the past couple of weeks. Now I'm facing four weeks of restricted duties. 

My rosella bushes were loaded in fruit and rain over the last week had brought on a new crop of flowers and the promise of more pickings to come.  So yesterday I picked the first crop and prepared the fruit.  Didn't find those tasks too challenging.

Seed pods covered in boiling water and soaked overnight

Husks washed and prepared
This morning I placed the husks in a saucepan and poured in the water from the bowl of seed pods.  To this I should have added some lemon juice but I didn't have any lemon.  However I did have some little bush limes a friend had given me so they came to the rescue.  

Add water from the seed pods to the husks

Little Bush Limes
I popped the sauspan on the stove and prepared my bottles while the fruit softened and reduced.  This took about twenty minutes. 

This much fruit...

Reduces to this much pulp after 20 minutes
Then I measured the fruit plup and found I had three and a half cups of fruit.  This indicated how much sugar needed to be added.  

1 cup of sugar for each cup of fruit pulp
I popped the jars in the oven to warm while the pulp and sugar boiled for another 20 minutes and began to jelly.
 The pink froth that forms on top needs to be spooned off
At this point I added a teaspoon of butter to help reduce the pink froth that forms on top of the mixture.  After removing this it was time to take the hot jars from the oven and to fill them with the jam. 

Voila!  This was the result.

That's why I'm feeling quite happy with myself tonight. 

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