Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Out my Back Door...

Spring is definitely in the air.
Rain continues to fall and all of nature is rejoicing.

The dwarf agapanthus lining the front steps are shouting their joy,

as are the impatiens,

 this lavender (?),

the red roses are blooming,

whilst the pansies have nearly reached the end of their glory.

Moving away from the 'pretty', to the more 'practical' aspect of the back yard...

the corn seems to be doing well, 

this tub of lettuce is keeping us in fresh lunch salads

 the first mangoes are probably only one week off picking,

The second round of seedlings have been planted and are enjoying the rain

while these girls are working hard on turning Site 3 into a productive garden bed.

Meanwhile, the mower is having somewhat of a crisis, resulting in the lawn beginning to display some triffid-like behaviour.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

The Good Life

The older I get the more I yearn for a simpler life.  Perhaps this is my little mid-life foot stomp.  Perhaps you finally tire of the new technology created at great expense for what seems very little benefit.  Why, when authorities are crying about childhood obesity, are we pumping more and more indoor 'sports' games onto the market-place.  Kids can now play tennis in front of their television screen, swing a golf club without taking a step on the green, surf without getting sand down their boardies, or worse still, kill each other with daggers and machetes.  I look forward to my big, boxy television set blowing up. It won't be replaced with a flat screen, not plasma, not HD, not digital, not LCD.  It quite simply won't be replaced.  Many days our TV is not turned on ... at all.  With longer Summer days upon us, the time spent outside of an evening is some of the most beautiful.  We enjoy late dinner, rushed homework, reading time and bed, adding a fair dash of conversation to the mix.  No need for children to sit transfixed in front of a screen filling them with unfiltered, inappropriate, worthless garbage.

A new work phone arrived in the mail this week for Matthew.  Whilst neither of us are entirely inept, we're struggling to operate this small package of technological un-necessity.  We don't need a telephone that acts as a sat-nav device, a personal trainer or a music player.  In fact I'll go so far as to say the world wouldn't stop turning if mobile-phones became extinct.  I'm not techno-phobic, just think people are wasting their lives in front of screens (so says I, sitting in front of my laptop).  While people spend all day texting, messaging, talking on phones, they struggle to communicate with each other over the dinner table.  Ironic!

So here at Rock Wallaby where we're fortunate to be semi-isolated to the point where our children have no option but to play with each other, outdoors, in the sunshine, grass underfoot, dirt under fingernails, feed dogs, chooks, pigs and horses, we're doing our little bit to 'simplify'.  Starting with what fuels us.  We're blessed with the ability to produce our own beef, pork and eggs.  Ham, bacon and sausage manufacture all newly acquired skills.  In fact I buy little to no protein in the fortnightly grocery shop, with a regular supply of barra coming from friends up the road.  The occasional lamb roast finds its way home, as does a rare treat of local banana prawns.  Our beautiful Jersey milker Priscilla has recently calved and is now providing us with fresh milk, saving the purchase of the gallon these rascals drink daily, and freeing up a great deal of freezer space.  The kids are all keen to learn to milk, and with Christmas holidays looming, I'm happy to pass the bucket so to speak.

My vegetable gardening, whilst still in the early stages, is becoming a very enjoyable, rewarding pursuit.  (Post to come).  My first garden bed is filled with corn, finished flowering and now fruiting.  Cherry tomato plants are also in abundance, remnant of the tomatoes we frequently threw the chooks.  Cherry tomatos are in fact everywhere at the moment, lining the downhill fence of the pig paddock, obviously enjoying the washed down organic fertiliser.  My second site, a little neglected due to birthday party planning and camp getaways, is now planted with a broad spectrum of carrots, celery, beetroot, eggplants, squash, cucumbers and basil.  We have over 30 big beautiful pumpkins hanging off vines at present, many destined for the pig grain boiler, surplus to family requirements.  And so the quest for self-sufficiency continues. 

And while I won't be grinding wheat anytime soon, nor churning butter, nor giving up my airconditioned, cruise controlled vehicle, wearing an apron or home-schooling my children, I think there's a lot to be said for a simpler way of living.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Camp 2010

The two big girls and I have just enjoyed an enlightening, educational, cram-packed full of activity, exhausting week of school camp!!!  Eleven students, comprising the Year 4 to 7 cohort of our school, along with our principal and myself jetted our way south for five days and four nights of non-stop adventure.

Our trip to Brisbane by plane (first time for many of our students) proved to be just the start of many 'first-time' adventures for our young wide-eyed country kids.

First stop was the Museum.  Here the girls tried their hand at flying using a bat-flight simulator?!?

The Sciencentre was one of the biggest highlights of Day 1 with these optical illusions a lot of fun!

 Day 2 saw us tour the grand and impressive Government House, and amongst other things a run on the hallowed turf of Suncorp Stadium.

 The Lego Educational Centre provided an insight into robotics.

The Botanical Gardens provided a picture-perfect opportunity for a afternoon tea.

And then Dreamworld, featuring the majestic Rama...

Almost more fun than eleven wide-eyed bush kids could handle.

Other highlights included a tour of Parliament House, sightseeing on Mt Cootha, a trip to the Planetarium, a guided tour of the Port of Brisbane, Art Gallery, River Cruise...
What a wonderful week with a group of well-behaved, respectful and polite youngsters.
They did us proud!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Harry Potter and other things...

Harry Potter, the girls, Fred the Wonderdog and I set off early checking waters and looking for new calves.  Finding new babies is always made so much easier having a wizard on board.  Impeccable attention to detail, amazing eyesight and an ability to distract a mama cow in that fluorescent flapping raincoat cum trenchcoat.

This little tyke had barely gulped his first sweet breath when we stumbled upon him on our rounds this morning.  The sixth consecutive bull born to King Willie, our newest bull acquistion.

This week has been spent preparing for next weekend's flush, with donors requiring four days of morning and evening needling preparing them to superovulate, and recips also requiring needling to align their cycles with the donor females.  After two evenings of observation and AI'ing, we're now all prepared for flushing in seven days time, when embryos are at a stage able to be readily identified, handled and transferred.

In the meantime, Harry Wallace, Sally and Dad are preparing for a week alone, as I board a jet plane with Sarah and Jessie for Brisbane early tomorrow morning.  Everybody, other than Wallace, Sally and Dad are very excited!

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Nineteen Years Ago...

...on a Friday evening in early April, I walked into a bar in a small western town.

Not a regular pub-goer, I was co-erced into town by the farmer and his wife who worked on the same property as me.  Having only started work on the Tuesday of that week, they thought it a fitting introduction to the area.  Filled to the point of standing-room only, the bar-room was a mixture of older locals perched on bar-stools, families having dinner and the younger crowd from nearby properties in town for a night of socialising.

I met a lot of people that evening.  Not least of all, one strapping young man, tall, dark and lean.  Black hair curling to his collar, his charismatic charm seemed to draw people towards him.

Little did I know then, that some four years later (and fifteen years ago today) he would become my husband. 

Forever and ever.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Sugar and Spice

and all things nice.

Sarah has taken to diversifying her skills.  Known foremost for her whip-cracking and dog-training ability, leaving the domestic duties to younger sister Jess, this past week she has shown a creative side we're all enjoying.

These lemon-butter and cream-filled butterfly cakes went down a treat with a cup of tea.

As did these brightly coloured cupcakes, particularly enjoyed as lunchbox-stuffers.

Multi-skilling is a great and necessary female trait Sarah.
Keep up the great work!

Monday, 8 November 2010

The Carnival is Over

Looking out my office window now, one would hardly guess that a grand party extending over two days has just occurred this past weekend.  Look closely at the lawn and the odd stubby cap, prawn head or rib bone may be apparent but all other signs have been cleared.  Marquees dismantled, rubbish dumped, eskies washed, cold room cleared, tables and chairs returned.  All that remains is a bone-tired weariness that only forty-year-olds would understand!

With guests arriving as early as Friday evening and having just farewelled the last I am left feeling thankful for the wonderful people in my life.  It was a weekend filled with happiness and joy, not to mention chocolate hazelnut pavlova, vanilla bean, cherry ripe and irish liqueur cheesecakes, smoked pulled pork, freshly baked ham, roast pork and crackling, banana prawns, just-cooked mudcrabs and every beautiful salad imaginable.  A great opportunity to catch up with friends as well as add a few kilos.

Starting at eleven o'clock Saturday we catered for lunch and tea, with many staying over for breakfast, then lunch again.  Fortunately we are masters of over-catering and nobody left hungry.

Looking forward now to school camp next week.  I will be accompanying the two older girls as we head to Brisbane for a week's adventure.  Ten kids in a dorm, can't wait!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Pre Party Prep

Days and weeks have been a little crazy around here.
And now we're preparing for a fortieth birthday party this coming Saturday.
What began as a small barbecue for some close friends is becoming an all-out food fest to rival the Adirondack Festival of Food and Wine.

Not only have we been scanning recipe books for delectable desserts, notable nibblies and scrumptious side-dishes, but this weekend saw the 'fatted pig' killed with pork being a feature of the forthcoming festivities.  Roast Pork, Smoked Pork, Pulled Pork, Pickled Pork, ham, bacon, pork chops,sausages.

I do hope everybody enjoys pork.

We've also been repairing houseyard fences, washing walls, installing a new bathroom ceiling, de-cluttering sheds, mowing grass, slashing paddocks, power-washing verandahs and planting out flowers.

We do love a party in these parts.



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