Friday, 31 December 2010

2010: The Year in Review

After the horror drought of 2009, rain began to fall at Christmas and we spent  January rejoicing at no longer having to drag a molasses trailer around the place keeping cows alive.  My baby girl started school, leaving a gap in my life, no amount of chocolate could fill.  After ten years of having a little one by my side I was a little lost.  So, of course I followed her off to school.  Relieving one of our wonderful teacher aides, who was taking a six month break from school, I filled in three days a week.

February saw the rain continue to fall with 429 mm recorded in our diary.  That's one wet month.  My beautiful second daughter turned 9, we celebrated with pavlova.

Another 149 mm fell in March with many children unable to make it to school due to flooded creeks and boggy roads.  The six children that did make it to school one Monday in March (four of them ours), stood on the school verandah and watched Perkins Creek burst its banks and spread across our oval.

In my first year as President of our local Agricultural Show association, our local show came and went in April.  A great success, it was the first year Fred the Wonderdog didn't win the Dog Jump event, although he did do a PB and came third, his daughter placing second, and a giant pig dog (sorry, no pig dogs allowed in 2011) winning the event.  With Old Nev visiting, we attended our first Anzac Day dawn service.

May came and went with little fuss.  The kids spoilt me with an assortment of beautifully self-made Mother's Day Cards.  Still waiting for that call from Hallmark, and am expecting bigger things from Wallace in 2011.
Our big girl celebrated her eleventh birthday in June, the kids all competed in their first ever campdraft and Dad and Sarah attended a dog-training school together.
July provided a grand adventure, with the three oldest children and I flying to Brisbane to visit Grandad who had just undergone knee replacement surgery on both legs.

We also won the prestigious CQ Carcase Competition with a brahman steer, cause for great celebration.

With normal winter conditions setting in, we commenced feeding lick, again bringing the old molasses trailer out of hybernation and starting the rounds.

In August our baby turned 6, we had an early celebration during a brief visit to Grandi and Old Nev, followed up by another party at home.

We had an Interschool Sports Carnival

as the fog retreated to the hills.
And Mama Pig had piglets for us.

We welcomed Spring with the addition of new babies. 

Our favourite time of year, September saw the construction of a chook dome and the commencement of vegetable gardening,

the creation of our first cake pops,

and a fair dose of horse-work (not to be confused with housework).

Our first ever inter-school hockey carnival was enjoyed, the highlight for these kids being the posession of mouth-guards.  Cool!
October is our big business month with bull sales in full swing.  We headed to Charters Towers this year and were very happy with the results.
We completed one boundary fence, the chooks continued to work tirelessly on turning bare ground into vege gardens,
and somebody in the household turned (sshhhh)  f.o.r.t.y.
November saw a wedding anniversary, 

a trip to Brisbane for school camp and a whole lot more wonderful rain.

Wrapping up the year, December saw over 500 mm of glorious precipitation, setting us up for a productive 2011 featuring fat cows and sappy weaners. The two boys of the family celebrated their birthdays and we enjoyed Christmas.

Here's to another big, bold, full year ahead.
We're ready for you 2011.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

The Season of Peace & Goodwill

This trampoline was part of the great Christmas loot received by our kids this year.  With thanks to Nanny and Grandad.

Of course it came in a large box containing some 317 parts, various U-bolts, trampoline mat, springs, foam edging, the spring-attaching-tool amongst other things

... and an instruction booklet.

What didn't come in the box was

... a marriage guidance counsellor
... to assist with construction.

The kids are absolutely loving their new outdoor thrill-seeking device

... and I'm sure Matthew and I will be speaking again sometime in the new year.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jog

We arrived home yesterday afternoon to thankful dogs, chooks, ducks (loving the weather!), cows and calves and water rushing down the road to greet us.  Thankfully we live on a ridge, even so, we could not be wetter.

The kids immediately tore outside with new toys.

The background showing the state of weather in our parts still.

Still in Christmas dresses, the girls took turns flying Sarah's newly acquired kite.  A double-stringer, with near cyclonic conditions, it took quite some holding.

With faces craning skywards, they took turns at taking the reins.

While others looked on.

Then headed towards the crash-site.

With Christmas gumboots receiving a good workout.

Smiles all round.

Until Mum starts calling from the verandah.
Get inside you kids, get out of your good clothes!!!

Boxing Day

Despite torrential rain falling from Christmas Eve to now, the kids had little trouble finding indoor activities to amuse them.

Wallace declaring this Christmas the best yet, with lego a major factor in the joy he was experiencing.

Sally had not only written to Santa requesting a dog named Bella, but also mentioned it to him when talking to him at the local shopping centre.  She knew, before opening the big green parcel from Santa what she had in her hands.

 Jigsaw puzzles are a perennial favourite, moreso during wet weather.

And then, when a brief break in the rain appeared, outside we would head:

 Too cold for grown-ups, but quite acceptable for those aged twelve and under.

 And then the kites came out.

And despite the wind dropping away as quickly as it would appear, a great deal of fun followed.

And just as things started to turn ugly, with crashing kites and knotted lines.

Dad returned from a trip home to feed animals, check calving heifers and generally do the rounds, just in time to start de-tangling duties.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

It's Not about the Food...

but it's certainly a much enjoyed extra this time of year.

Christmas Eve we came to town, heads hung a little low, all feeling a little disappointed that the torrential rain covering much of Queensland had meant my brother and family would be remaining at their northern home.

But the show must go on, and we set about whipping up the following dinner:


Roast suckling pig, the back half at least.  With news there would be a few less at the dinner table, we delivered the front half of the pig to an appreciative neighbour.

Accompaniments included:

And was followed by:

This family favourite pavlova.
A delightful new take on an old favourite.  Two layers of pav created with the addition of some roasted hazelnuts to the mix.  One layer generously sprinkled with extra hazelnuts before baking.  Sandwiched with a cream cheese, cream and Kahlua filling, with both layers drizzled with melted chocolate.

A good start to Christmas.
Only would have been made better by the addition of my brother and his family.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Just Another Day at the Office...

Today we're readying ourselves for Christmas.

Yesterday saw our last major work event before we kick back.

We flushed four heifers and implanted eighteen embryos.  A good day, despite the rain, which thankfully was not as heavy as predicted.

Needled to induce superovulation, our donor females are the cream of the crop, those heifers whose genetics we wish to further expand within our herd.  By synchronising recipient females to line up with our donor females, we can remove the multiple embryos from our donors, implant them into recipients who act as surrogate mothers, bearing and raising the calf.

By flushing our 'superior' females, we can produce in one season as many calves as that female may produce naturally in her lifetime.

So yesterday, Day 19 of the program, donor females were administered an epidural to prevent them straining, a catheter is inserted, first into one uterine horn, then the other, a flushing solution 'flushed' in and out repeatedly, bringing out with it the embryos, which collect in a filter.  Transferred to a petrie search dish, under the microscope we scan for the little blighters, pipetting them into a holding solution to await transfer into their surrogate mama.

The recipient females are palpated, scanned internally to determine from which ovary an egg was released.  The ovary from which an egg has erupted, will form a 'yellow body', the corpus luteum, which can be manually detected.  This allows us to know which horn of their uterus to deposit the transferred embryo, tricking the recipient female into thinking she has indeed been impregnated, and her body then treats the embryo as her own. 

Some days it would seem far simpler to put the cows out with a bull, but when the babies arrive and they exceed all expectations, it makes the early mornings needling, the long nights checking donors all worthwhile.

But for today, cows are back to their paddocks, hams have been smoked, animals fed, children are absolutely beside themselves with excitement and anticipation and we're heading to town for some Christmas-family-time.

To our family further afield, sending love and warm wishes.  To everybody who has shared some of our lives this year via this blog, sending you warm Christmas wishes.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

We Heart Christmas

While I'm happy to admit I do love to cook, craft has never been my thing!
But wet, miserable days when kids can't roam outdoors call for drastic measures.
Reaching far back into the memory vault, I managed to recall this easy wreath, first created by Sarah at school many years past.  This time, instead of the everyday round wreath variety, we pushed an old clothes-hanger into something resembling a heart, cut strips of Christmas-coloured fabric and promptly left for the yards.  At least Matthew and I did, in gumboots, with mud almost oozing to the top, cows to palpate in preparation for tomorrow's flush.  With torrential rain forecast for our parts tomorrow it should be a fun day!
We returned to find Jessie's creation.
The addition of a red bow, and here we have a beautiful new Christmas-flavoured kitchen adornment.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

A Christmas Baby

Seems it just wouldn't be Christmas without a little calving drama.

Last year on Boxing Day we were too late to save a little breech baby, losing his mum as well several days later.  The year before we 'helped' a heifer calve, only to have her lose sight of her maternal duties and abandon said baby.

This year's Christmas calving has ended a little more happily.

This particular old cow, thankfully decided to calve within sight of the house.  At smoko time she could be seen kicking at her belly, taking backward steps, looking behind, telltale signs of an impending delivery.  Unfortunately by mid afternoon she was no further advanced.  No sight of two little feet and Mama becoming rather distressed, lying flat out on her side straining.

We walked her to the yards and up the crush where Matthew set about donning gloves and conducting an internal exam.  Rather than being presented with two front feet forward and little head nestled between, allowing for a smooth exit, the calf's head was bent back.  With epidural administered to stop Mama pushing so hard, Matthew managed to push the calf back sufficiently to turn the head around.  It was only at this point, with fingers in baby's mouth, did Matthew feel the bite of baby, and allow us the relief of knowing we had a live one.  Baby came out with some assistance, had a rigorous chest massage and gulped his first breath.

A most successful outcome.
Happy Christmas baby boy.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

The Lucky Dip

We have a new chore system in place for the holidays.

Each morning at breakfast I devise 4 chores, write them on scraps of paper and place them in a hat. The lucky chore dip ensues, with each child the proud recipient of a task.

The jobs aren't mammoth, hard-hat wearing, steel cap boot-toting type jobs; just small simple tasks that I'm hopeful will allow for a more smooth running abode over the holidays. And more importantly a little moral lesson in life not being a party! Jobs like: clean the vanity basin, sweep the laundry, hose the verandah, clean your duchess etc etc. And at the top of each job, the probing question: "Have you made your bed?"

So far it's working well, the kids are actually excited about the lucky dip, poor little souls. And when the job's done, away with you my sweets. See you when your bellies are rumbling.

Now if I could only get Matthew to pull a job out of the hat!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Construction 101

We've had quite the busy day today.

As well as doing the rounds this morning, milking the cow, returning recips to their rightful paddock, power-washing the breezeway, dog cages and vet crush, as well as cleaning and stocktaking the yards lab, we managed to whip this little festive abode together. 

I use the term 'we' rather loosely.  I was merely a labourer.
"We're right Mum, you hang the washing out".

The girls did the baking yesterday,
so today it was just about throwing it all together.
With an assortment of colourful building blocks on offer...

they set about glueing and placing...

testing and tasting...

(in fact I don't think he was allowed to do much of anything else)
[I would have let you help me with the washing buddy].

Until finally, it was complete.

And only 3476 kilojoules per serve.
Mmmmm.  Mmmmm.


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