Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Mummy's Boy

Sometimes my children play tricks on me.
(Like doubling in size since this photo was taken four years ago):

Sometimes they tell me they're unwell and couldn't possibly go to school.
Sometimes I know they're not really ill, but sometimes I just like to keep one of them home from school to keep me company.  I'm selfish like that.
And this morning when my little boy told me he didn't feel good, I may have even rolled my eyes as I continued to make roast pork and gravy sandwiches for their lunches.

But because he's my little boy I told him he could stay at home. Even though I had rolled my eyes.
And since he's since been very, very sick in his bed and I'm busily washing sheets, I realise I should be more particular about what I roll my eyes about.
Sorry my boy.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Techno, Schmeckno!

As far as computing and internet knowledge go, I'm real good with cows!
It's taken me months of quizzically staring at my computer screen to work out how every other blogger has the ability to use coloured font, stryke strike-through affects and re-size images, such as this example of Sally's birthday horses.

I now feel complete.

Happy Weekend.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Chocolate Cake & Other Delights

In my opinion, chocolate cake is as much about childhood as skinned knees, loose teeth and hide'n'seek. And can be used to cure most ills, from gravel rash to chicken pox and many in between. I grew up with our beloved Chocolate Heather Cake, and now my children are too. A simple all-in-together recipe that never fails. And it's only in recent times that I've found out that 'Heather' isn't a particular type of cake, but in fact the name of the lady who long ago shared the recipe with my Mum. Fancy!

Due to time constraints I wasn't able to whip up something from the Cake Book today, but remembered this little delight as shared by Niki several months ago.

So, with the good ole Heather Cake as the base, away we went. Baked in a new extra deep sided round cake tin, as opposed to the square tin I use every other time, allowing for far easier slicing and lunch-box stuffing, the resulting round cake was split into three layers. I didn't bother flattening the top, as I knew it would be covered.

Re-gluing the cake together with chocolate butter cream, the complete cake was then smothered in more of the same.

And most wonderful about this cake, it just doesn't matter how slap-happy you are with the icing, because nobody's going to see it.

It's taken me many years to work out that icing the cake off the serving plate makes presentation so much easier. Thank the Lord for MasterChef.

Standing in the confectionery aisle at Woolies earlier in the week, I couldn't for the life of me remember what Niki's cake had plastered around the sides of it, I just knew they were chocolatey and biscuity. Have a break. I opted for these chocolatey biscuity wafers, which I think worked quite well, but not as consistently uniform as the Kit-Kats would have been.

Not to worry, when things look a little rough, we simply say it's the rustic look don't we?

Then it's much like brick-laying, vertically.

Next, much like a corset to hold a girl together add a ribbon around the girth.

And start placing the M&M's one at a time on top of the cake. The positioning is critical. This way no little m's will be showing. After the first three you'll realise I'm joking and empty the entire packet on top. Too easy. So what if the odd little 'm' is showing. It's short for magical.

And there you have it. But just when you thought you couldn't get any more colour and chocolate in one cake, a nice collar of smarties just to finish off.

Add some colourful candles...

...and one six year old birthday girl

...and you're ready to par-tay.

By far the easiest, and possibly most colourful birthday cake I've yet created.
Thank you Niki for the inspiration.

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Weekend Review

We've just returned home from a very special, albeit 'quick' trip away to visit with Matthew's Mum and Dad.

There was quite a bit of football played, due to coaxing by this footy-mad goon,

some heckling,

a whole lot of eating, which seems to go hand in hand with any family gathering,

and even an early birthday celebration for a young girl who turns six later this week.

These candles sure do take some blowing out...

still blowing...

Amidst the flurry of electioneering, we managed to enjoy a special birthday tea, enjoy the odd beverage and add much to the ensuing election coverage!

And after what was a six and a half hour drive home, amidst a convoy of demountable housing, children slept, ate and teased each other (just a little) right to the front gate. Dogs, pigs, bulls and weaners all pleased to see us home.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Wascally Wascals

These cheeky old girls have been giving us quite the run-around the past couple of weeks. Running high in the hills at Chabo, they've been enjoying the peace and solitude offered by the high country.

Unfortunately for them, their holiday was over.
Fred the Wonderdog, his ever-energetic son Steel and the boss had other ideas for them, one of which included a one-way ticket off the place.

After mustering Chabo two weeks ago, these girls weren't even sighted.
Second round found them, but unfortunately a neighbour's bull who'd taken to running with them, was definitely not interested in coming to the yards. In the mayhem that followed all escaped into the wilderness, not without some frustration on the part of dogs and men.

Third attempt, with no neighbour's bull in the mix, saw the precious old dolls make it nearly to the yards, when one particularly nasty heifer, who had been looking for out since the beginning, spied her getaway point and departed. The dogs could only do so much in thick scrub, and thus the mob was again blown.

Until yesterday...ding ding...Round 4.
Finding the little renegades on a watering point near the boundary, we slipped them through the fence, into the neighbours and walked them to their yards. Off their own beaten track they walked along like little sheep.

Under the very watchful eye of the boss, who by this point was quite frustrated by their rascally ways.

Meanwhile I enjoyed the views and offered as much advice as I thought necessary.
An important contribution I thought.

Monday, 16 August 2010

The Sisterhood

These girls have never played on a Wii,

nor an X-box, Nintendo or a Playstation. Nor any other electrical device which encourages sitting blank-faced in front of a television screen for extended periods of time.

Nor will they ever own a mobile phone. At least not while I'm paying the bill.

Ask them if they've heard of Facebook, and they'll probably cock their head to the side and stare at you quizzically, much like this dog is prone to do.

Asked what 'myspace' is, she'd probably respond her bedroom, which is more of 'ourspace', having shared with her younger sister all of her younger sister's life.

And I don't think they're really missing out!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Two plus One

The echidna is supposedly a solitary animal, with pairs only coming together during the breeding season, and only then for a short time.

Which doesn't really explain this gathering in the hay shed this morning.
Some sort of political rally perhaps.

Or some kinky 'menage a trois' I'd rather not know about.
Not in my hayshed thank you very much!

We're helping them work through their problems though.
A little psychotherapy coupled with some hypnotherapy and we're sure to have all the issues out in the open very soon.

Same time tomorrow guys.

Friday, 13 August 2010

What a Week!

There has been quite a level of excitement amongst the rocks and wallabies this week.

First and foremost, Mama Pig delivered her baby pig-a-lets earlier in the week. Unfortunately, and yes, size really does matter, she's been squashing quite a few of them, and we're down to seven last count. Hopefully these magnificent seven are sufficiently street-savvy to step aside when she lies down. At only three days of age, they've already taken to bravely venturing outside the sty in which they were born. Many have already felt the sharp sting of the electric fence on an inquisitive nose.

Tuesday we headed to town for our District Sports Carnival, where Sarah and Wallace participated in the sprints. Both were extremely excited, tummies full of butterflies. Wallace told me he thought his head would fall off he was shaking so much at the start-line. About half way down the track though genetics stepped in and prevented too much further excitement.

My boy lost his front tooth. Probably about time as he races on towards eight later this year. Not to be outdone, Sally wiggled and prodded and pulled and pushed until one of her bottom front teeth also came out. Busy week for the Tooth Fairy. And yes, this means my last baby has lost her first tooth. Momentous!

And last week these goons commenced hockey training. One of our school mums is an A-grade hockey player, so we're using her skills for our personal advantage and she's coaching the children on a Friday afternoon.

It would seem at this stage the best part of being a professional hockey player is wearing a mouthguard. A more fetid, germ-carrying receptacle I dare you to find.

This sweet baby also came to live on my desk this week. I love her. She's fast. And quiet. And doesn't need to be fed.

We also enjoyed 66 glorious millimetres of rain. Our first rainfall since March, we had aching necks from staring skywards. A beautiful early start to Spring, particularly enjoyed by my long-suffering garden.

There's also been a little photography taking place at the yards. The time of year when bulls pose for their annual photo-shoot. Bull Sales will be upon us in the very near future. This year we head to Charters Towers in mid-October.

So here's to a glorious weekend, ready to start all over next week.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Days Gone By..

My days turn into weeks far quicker than I like.
It means that the days I don't get finished what I'd like to, are all too quickly becoming weeks of incomplete tasks.

Last week I'd planned an outright attack on the house. Walls to be washed, windows cleaned, a general Spring-clean, only a month early.
It started well. Straight into the kitchen with guns ablazing. Pantry emptied, cleaned, culled and re-packed. Walls. And ceilings. Washed. Fridge emptied and suitably sanitised.

Unfortunately Tuesday saw me back on molasses rounds, an almost all-day task.

Wednesday was a preg-testing job which again took all day. Don't mind me looking at my watch, I'd just far prefer to be scrubbing ceilings than feeling for baby calves in the back end of cows. So many reasons to be grateful not to have been born a cow!

Thursday and Friday were wiped when upper management moved to start our annual bovine vaccination program, involving sorting, drafting, putting cull cows aside to be trucked to Chabo, much like 'spring cleaning' but of the paddocks!

The weekend was then spent backing and forthing to Chabo, with cows to the meatworks, cows up there to fatten, cows back here to calve, far too much to-ing and fro-ing.

And this week I've again managed one day in the house, and the office has received a make-over of sorts.

It's much like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge though. Not that I have. But by the time you reach the end the start's in need of another touch-up. If only those children would stay out of the pantry.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Note to Self

We have a number of 'Golden Rules' in our house.

First and foremost and readily recited by all younger members of the clan is my personal favourite "Look after your animals and be kind to your brothers and sisters". We tried to instil this one from a very early age. Still it seems to be rather easily dismissed.

Another golden rule is 'Whoever's on Chook Duty, MUST empty the scraps'. How hard can it be? Possibly not of the 'Golden Rule' calibre, but a rule all the same.

Yet another is 'Always feed your animals before you feed yourself'.

And the point of this post, the golden rule that says 'Don't ever, ever, ever turn your back whilst filling the molasses trailer'.

Which is all very well if you're not capable of multi-tasking to begin with.

Today however, the clock was being fought from the outset, with two trailer loads of molasses to go out, hay to be fed, pig-sorghum to be boiled, a full feed-up to complete and make it to school by 3 as the bus wasn't running, and then onwards to town.

And as the molasses trailer seems to behave like a 'watched kettle' I figured I'd have time to set the tank up running into the trailer, head for home at a fast jog (slight exaggeration), jump on the tractor, quickly run out some round bales and back to the trailer before it was full.

While some people get their adrenaline rushes on the ski-slopes of Southern France, bungee jumping over the Niagara Falls or running bulls in Pamplona, I get mine bouncing the John Deere in High Fourth from yards to hay paddock and back again, all the while wondering if the two precious show heifers in the paddock of the molasses tank have managed to dislodge the outlet pipe from the tank.

And while I'm happy to report the heifers got up to no mischief, I will confide it is impossible to run out more than three round bales in the time it takes for the molasses trailer to fill.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Meet Tawny

This little fellow's moved into our laundry.

There was an opening after the chickens vacated last month.

We stumbled upon him while doing the rounds Sunday morning. He was hanging by a wing and a leg in a barbed wire fence. On first glance we actually thought he was dead and continued on our way. It was on the way back that the kids noticed his head move. So he was rather unceremoniously disentangled and placed near a log to recover. Naturally the Harry Butlers amongst the younger members of the family weren't prepared to leave it at that and returned that afternoon to find he hadn't moved. So wrapped in a towel, home he came.

While his leg and wing seem to have some damage, his appetite's quite healthy. After having some water syringed into him, he then managed to force down two small bait frogs, followed by two geckos.
I think he's going to make it.
And our houseyard eco-system's in for a bruising.
At least if you're of the smallish amphibious or reptilian persuasion.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Sport Report

Friday morning, as the fog lifted on a glorious Central Queensland day (surely this is Spring), five of our 'district' schools came together to partake in the fierce competition that is 'Sports Day'.

With the distant bellow of cows in the adjoining paddock, they marched and war-cried like the little warriors they are.

School leaders proudly held their flags high and taunted the opposition with memories of past victories.

And with a team of sportsmen with the determination, strength and grit of this young man, Marlborough was again dominant.

Mighty, mighty Marlborough. That's US!


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