Friday, 25 February 2011

Why are you still in your School Uniform?

I often feel I neglect my kids.
"Go outside and play", I say.
"Haven't you got jobs to do"?
"Who's on dogs"?
"Why isn't the table set"?
"Who left lego all over the lounge room floor"?
"Why are the chooks still out"?
Some days it feels as though this is the only dialogue I throw their way.
And I go to bed every night thinking tomorrow will be different, tomorrow I will listen with both ears when they tell me of their day at school.  Tomorrow I will be calmer, tomorrow I won't raise my voice.  Tomorrow I will talk, watch, play, be an active member in their lives.
And yesterday I did.  At least for a little while.
Walking back from the yards with Sally after locking the milker's calves away, just as the sun was dropping low.  "Mum, come and watch us on the trampoline", the other three chorused from the front yard.
And instead of telling them I had to go and start dinner, I did.
They set me up a chair.  And I watched.  And I took photos. 

And I worried about them hitting their heads on low hanging branches. 

And we talked.

As the sun sent its last golden rays across us.

About Ben 10 watches, and other equally important issues.

And because it ended up so late, and Dad wasn't going to be home...

...we had toast for tea.

Thursday, 24 February 2011


There's a lot of it going on around here.
We have Brahman cows raising Brahman calves,

and Brahman cows raising Brangus calves

and Brangus cows raising Brahman calves

and Red Brangus cows raising Brahman calves

and Droughtmaster cows raising Brangus calves

and Murray Grey cows raising Brahman calves

and Charbray cows raising Brangus calves

and Jersey cows raising Brahman calves.

We're a lot like the Jolie-Pitts really.
Just sharing the love.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

For all the Meat-Eaters out There...

... particularly my pork-producing brother-in-law.
Gave me a giggle.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

What They Don't Tell You.

A mother's life is undoubtedly a varied and full one.

I had no idea when I signed up for this gig that I'd be the only one in the family capable of putting a new toilet roll on the holder.

Little did I realise I'd be able to cure most ills with a kiss and a Wiggles bandaid.

I didn't realise there'd be days when the bus would be waiting for us at the gate, the work ute would be in the shop, the battery would be dead in the good car and we'd have to pile into a cattle truck to meet the school bus.

I didn't know my ability at putting badly bent teeth back into position without the need for bracing or orthodontic qualification.

I didn't realise how gladly I'd swap positions with any one of my children when they are hurt, physically or emotionally.

I had no idea that I'd be able to make a cake look like a racing car, or a caterpillar, or a castle, or even a slightly squashed echidna.

I would never have guessed my ability to teeter on the top rung of a double-bunk ladder and still execute perfect hospital bed corners whilst tucking in sheets.

Who'd have thought I could conjure up four appetising lunches every morning, whilst cooking bacon and eggs and listening to spelling words, the washing machine humming in the background while the kids stand in front of both the pantry and fridge, repeating "But Mum, there's nothing to eat".

Little did I know I'd be able to change a tyre on the side of the road, clad in tight skirt and heels, whilst keeping three small children from venturing onto the Bruce Highway.

I had never considered the possibility of four young children with stomach bugs and the amount of sheets that can be laundered between 11 pm and 3 am.

I didn't know I'd be able to keep a straight face while my youngest child explains to my mother in graphic detail the mating process of our border collies.

And I never would have thought that after running from daylight to dark to meet their every need, often with no time to eat, that I'd still need to lose three kilos.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Too Sick for School

We've had our share of sickness in the household this week.
Three girls with colds.  Two home yesterday, the other one today.
Thankfully the boy child remains healthy at this point.

And while I try not to benefit from the misfortunes of others, I was most grateful when Sarah offered to come and work the head-bail for me as I needled heifers.  A job that I would normally have to do on my own, quite do-able, but so much easier with someone to ensure the lead is working up the crush.  A time consuming and somewhat frustrating task on your own. 

About ten cows will fit in the crush.  When working alone I will usually only send about eight up.  This extra space compensates for the fact that cow number 1 usually likes to stop in position 3 as opposed to position 1 and have a little look around.  This means I, the cow poker as well as cow chaser need to leave the pound, run up the crush, poke cow 1 in the ribs, insult her parentage, appearance and attitude, then run back along the line, poking cows 2 through 8, who by now are ever-so-slightly offended by my handling of cow 1, and often times cow 7 and 8 have decided enough's enough and are backing back into the pound.  All of these issues compounded at the moment by the fact that the forcing yard gate is lying in the shed undergoing repairs and was to be re-hung last night, but alas, wasn't.

To cut a long story short, the whole task was made so much easier by the assistance of my oldest daughter, sniffling and coughing but not complaining.

No doubt, she'll want to check my schedule before her next sick day!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A Few of my Favourite Things, Seven in Fact.

One of the first blogs I ever discovered, and still one of my absolute favourites is Count it all Joy, the creation of Meredith, mother of six, devoted wife and amazingly witty, beautiful woman, who I'd dearly love to share a coffee (and rainbow cake) with.  I've no doubt if we could clear our calendars of P & C meetings, tuckshop duties, soccer fundraising, feeding sale bulls, judo lessons, violin practise, needling heifers and early-reading workshops, we'd be right on it.  The ten kids and three thousand kilometres separating us would fall by the wayside and together we'd marvel at each other's amazing fitness levels, perfectly coiffed hairstyles, extensive vocabularies and trim svelte bodies despite the many years of pregnancy, breastfeeding and wiping baby vomit off floors and spaghetti off walls.

Alas, our calendars don't allow a get-together anytime soon, but still I can admire from afar.

Meredith has so kindly bestowed an award upon my blog this week, actually one which I have most gratefully received before.  Also, another amazing mother from the mountain ranges of the USA, Mountain Mama, has also passed this award along.  Mountain Mama is living her life in the snow-covered mountains, raising three gorgeous children, home-schooling and providing a life of freedom and love for her family.

Rather than share seven facts about myself, as I have already done here recently, I thought I might share with you seven of my favourite things around this place I call home.

In no particular order, here are just a few of the material items I either cherish, adore or simply enjoy.

This beauty was given to me for my fortieth birthday by my amazing parents.  It is partially responsible for my inability to lose these last unwanted couple of kilos, as resolved this past New Year's Day.

This clock sits on a dresser at the end of the dining room, chiming beautifully every hour and half hour.  Every few days the key must be inserted into each of those two holes visible, and wound up.  The clock was presented to my Great Grandfather upon his retirement from the railway many, many years ago, and is in need of some repair.  I absolutely love it and will one day sand and re-varnish it, returning it to its former glory.

This old stool sits in our lounge room, usually carefully disguised by piles of papers, library books, magazines, remotes, transformer lego pieces, discarded plastic cups, even clothing.  My first memory of this stool is it sitting in my grandmother's kitchen with a large bread bin resting on top.  When stripping it recently, I was amazed by the rainbow of colours it has seen during its life, most recently a bright burnt orange, so popular in the 70's.  I'm yet to wax the top, and will sand and repaint the legs Antique White ... one day soon.

This book for the past three months has been the most often thumbed through, regularly resorted to, fast becoming tattered, dog-eared script in this place.  It is my bible when it comes to trying to grow vegetables to feed my family, easily written and I would heartily recommended it to anybody with a love of chooks and home-grown veges.  (Special thanks to my good friend Mare who recommended it to me in the first place).

This dining room table is possibly the hub of our home.  Every meal is eaten here, it's where the sewing machine comes to reside, finances are discussed here, school notes completed, homework stewed over and much general family discussion takes place.  It also has Sally's name garishly engraved into it, although nobody in this house was responsible for doing so.  It is the dining room table my dad grew up eating at, and I well remember my grandmother preparing beautiful meals at it for all her extended family.  I look forward to the day when my grandchildren will gather around it also.  (It could quite possibly do with some more sanding as well ... how is it that I can't get superglue to hold the sole on Wallace's shoe, yet weetbix can adhere to this tabletop for seven months or more?)

My love of photography is one that is growing all the time.  I've had this camera now for over two years and am only just starting to discover there is more than an Auto setting.  It accompanies me most everywhere, bouncing around the back of a quad bike, on the floor of the work ute and everywhere in between.  I'm most happy to think that in twenty years time my memories of these days will be so enhanced by the number of images I have of my children and our life.

These beauties are relative newcomers to the 'favourites' list, being a gift to me from my husband this Christmas past.  I love everything about them, their unique shape and texture, the fact that they are the perfect length and of course I believe every girl deserves some pearls in her life.

So there you have it, another list of seven.
May your life be enriched by knowing I have much sanding ahead of me.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Ahoy Cap'n

This week, at a special school assembly, students fortunate enough to be elected to school leadership positions were presented with their badges and congratulated by the school community.

May I present:

Captain of Delta Sports House


School Captain 2011.

Yeah, yeah I know.

But it's my blog, and I'll brag if I want to!

Big Brother Pete

Four years my senior, the first words uttered by my brother Peter when informed of my birth were "Well, looks like that's the end of the Cowboy and Indian set, it'll be flamin' dolls for Christmas now". 

And so began the love-hate relationship of our childhood.  The Cowboy and Indian set still arrived, with me spending much of my fourth year tied to the Hills Hoist, my feather head-dress (far too big for me) falling down my forehead and circulation faltering in my tiny hands.  Thankfully in calling distance of Mum for assistance, not so fortunate when Brave Cowboy Pete tied me further afield.

I recall entering the house one day, rushing to the bathroom to wash my hands in the basin of water that stayed put for the day for just such purpose, plunging my hands into the water and recoiling in horror at the biting pain in my small chubby fingers as a mousetrap, set by my mischievious brother, had grabbed me.  I well remember the shrieks of glee coming from him as he emerged from behind the door, and though I can't remember the details I've no doubt he wouldn't have been quite so excited when explaining the scenario to Dad that evening.

I also well remember leaving him behind at boarding school.  I remember the dark trip home, Mum and I inconsolable for days.  Living too far from school for weekend visits, he would only return home during end of term holidays.  After one such visit I remember finding a note he'd left me under my pillow.  He was letting me know I could have all of the fantales left in the fridge, his share included.  I remember crying as I had my shower and explaining the tears to Mum by saying I'd burnt my hand under the hot water!

I also remember years later as he moved through his 'biker phase' being dropped off at secondary school by him on a huge thumping Harley Davison (or was it a Ducati), my necktie flapping over my shoulder, thinking I was the coolest kid on the block!  Heck, none of those other girls need know it was my brother!

His work as a diesel fitter took him over much of the state and finally onto Darwin where he met his amazing wife Dinah and I had the honour of being chairperson at their wedding, only six weeks before my own.  He's now the proud Dad of two gorgeous boys, who idolise him.

And in two days he will walk away from the company he has been with for over twenty years to begin the next chapter of his life, answering to nobody but himself (and perhaps Dinah), steering his prawn trawler up and down the Queensland coast in search of small crustaceans.  Any concerns of Dinah's about their lack of stable, reliable income were put to rest with "Well hell honey, we'll live on shrimp... Dey's uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There's pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that's about it".

But for today, it's my big brother Pete's birthday!
And I want him to know I could never have wished for a more wonderful man for a brother.  He's big and rugged, strong and honest, smart and funny in the driest way possible, with a huge splash of integrity thrown in, and I'm very proud of the fact that we're blood.

Monday, 14 February 2011

I Feel the Need...

This little girl has had a fairly rough week.

Her beloved pony Tiffany who has taught her so much over the past two years had to be returned mid-week to the people who'd loaned her to us.  Sally's heart was absolutely shattered and in turn so were her parents'.

Many phone calls later, a suitable replacement was identified,

and Saturday afternoon Dad and Sal set off in the truck, returning with

this beautiful,

sweetheart of a brown mare

named Speed.

Sunday morning, after Dad put her through her paces under the watchful eye of his girls

Sal was legged up

and away she went

handling her new steed as only a super-confident six year old could,

and possibly causing her mother some level of angst in the process.

I feel the need ...

the need for Speed.
(name that movie).

Saturday, 12 February 2011

'Tis War

There are those of us who are enjoying the beauty of these colourful, feathered visitors to our little sorghum patch, grown in one of the pig paddocks to supplement their diet.

Rainbow Lorikeets,


Pale-headed Rosellas,

Red-Winged Parrots, all enjoying the sorghum smorgasboard on offer,

while the Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos wait their turn in the distance.

This elusive unidentified hatted specimen made a rare appearance and was captured on film.

And while the sound of birds chattering and chirping filters through the kitchen window, filling all with a sense of nature's beauty, the joyous peacefulness is shattered by the booming of Elmer Fudd and his pea-shooter.  For if there's one thing to spoil a farmers joy of his sorghum crop, it's pesky varmints trying to steal it!

Friday, 11 February 2011

What's Cookin'?

I'm starting to wonder if this year's policy of not buying cakes, biscuits, muesli bars and other lunchbox stuffers was such a great idea.

For the more I bake

the more they eat

and the more they eat

the more they want

and the more they want

the more I bake...

... and so it goes.

This week's production inclued two banana ring cakes with enough leftover for twelve banana muffins (with a recipe from Amy at 'Life with Soul', the most delightfully moist and delicious banana cake I've ever tasted), a batch of jam-drops, a peanut caramel slice and a double-batch of choc-chip biscuits.

Now, to go and hide it all where they can't find it!


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