Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Bad Habits

Thanks to TV advertising and some dinner table discussion, the kids have fairly strong views on the habit of smoking.

Sunday, while we crossbranded cattle, this boy sidled up beside the branding furnace

after searching for suitably sized sticks,

lit one end and proceeded to puff away whilst glancing at his shadow.

While some might find this behaviour a little worrying, I'm not losing sleep.

I well remember as a child the greatest treat of all time was a packet of lolly 'fags'.  A hard white candy stick with red coloured tip, looking to all the world like a cigarette.  This lolly sucking childhood habit hasn't contributed to any long term detrimental habits, other than a sweet tooth possibly.

Naturally, political correctness saw the cessation of production of such harmful sweets.  A generation of children forced into smoking by these early recollections of enjoying cigarette sweets?  I'm hopeful Wallace will realise that smoking sticks and smoking cigarettes are mostly unrelated.

Monday, 27 June 2011

A Quick Weekend Wrap

So as not to allow the children any false hopes about holiday fun, frivolity or sleep-ins, we had them out of bed in the dark Saturday morning ready for a trip to Bottle Tree.  With the crate to be put on the truck, horses to run and many hungry mouths to be fed, it still took close to half the day to get there.

Sal's little horse Wahoo came off the truck kicking at his belly and wanting to lie down.  Never a good sign.  Still, with work to be done we set about the business of ticking off the job list, returning to the yards later in the day to find him down and in considerable pain.  Dad had the kids start walking him laps of the paddock, the most helpful remedy for colic, while we started ringing veterinary associates in the hope of procuring a shot of Flunixil, a relaxant often helpful in such cases.  Finally tracking some down a couple of hours closer than the long drive home, the kids and I continued to walk Wahoo well into the cold, dark night waiting for the return of drug-running Dad.  By the time of his return, Wahoo had improved considerably and after a shot in the backside, we left him for the night confident all would be well.

And so it was.  With Wahoo back in the mustering team come Sunday, we hit a paddock of cows best described as rude, used to running from one end of the paddock to the other, chased with motorbikes, and no ability to be held and walked.  With four eager, excited cowboy kids, a boss with a plan, and a Mum with a preference for latte-sipping and macaroon-tasting, we attacked. 

Round One went to the bovines.  With cows splitting into fourteen groups, Dad and his dogs doing the work of four men, Mum yelling at kids not to go out of a trot, with the paddock strewn with fallen timber, we managed to gather them on a fence and hold them, while Dad kept bringing extras into the mob.  Sal declared these the worst cows she'd mustered in her life (she is six after all), and wondering why we hadn't brought more dogs.  We managed to walk them in a most orderly fashion to the yards and set about preg-testing and cross-branding.

Wallace, looking decidly foreman-like, wearing the knife belt I made over twenty years ago, spent most of the day looking handsome.

Sarah handled the bookwork, trained dogs and groomed horses.

Jess found herself

in a tight spot.

We've left the horses up there and will return during the holidays for another lap.  Meanwhile there's lucerne to be planted, weaners to be worked and a house to be cleaned.  We love holidays.  More workers.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

This boy of mine...

is learning to drive.

Amidst cries of "not fair", "how come we had to be ten", "how come you always change the rules for Wallace" from the two big girls, he's slowing putting it together.

And as I've tried to explain to the girls, it has naught to do with age, it's all about leg length.

Still, the seat needs be in fully forward position, pillow firmly wedged behind, and even then he still often peers through the steering wheel rather than over it.

Gear changes are proving somewhat problematic, with the whole clutch depression, accelator release and stick change a little overwhelming.

Not helped by the chorus of expert sisters in the backseat, all eager to offer advice.

And with holidays just days away

I've no doubt I'm going to have plenty of offers of chauffering around the place over the next two weeks.

Home James.

Yeah ... Macaroona!

An afternoon tea hosted at school yesterday afternoon to farewell one of our lovely teachers provided the perfect opportunity for a flurry of Nigella-like activity in this kitchen.  Minus the pink cardi, the peaches and cream complexion and the long flowing skirt.

Wanting to try my hand at baking macaroons, macarons, macaroons for quite some time, a ladies' afternoon tea seemed the perfect opportunity.

Unfortunately I was unable to achieve the little frilly edge or 'ruffled base', characteristic of perfectly formed macaroons.  I'm yet to work out why.

But still ... the chewy, soft, yet crunchy outer meringue, rounded out by the creamy ganache filling sandwiching it all together was enough to make this jeans-clad, slipper-wearing mama feel decidedly Nigella-like, if only fleetingly.

Now, if you could just excuse me while I go unpick the waistbands on all my jeans.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Puttin' on the Ritz

Every year at this time, a group of ladies from my area swap their blundstones for heels, their work gloves for diamond rings, and their dusty Akubras for fascinators.  With husbands and children left waving in the dust, we head to town for a day of trackside celebration.  Our table of ten included our two beloved school teachers, the balance local Mums not often given an opportunity for a day away.

With my Nanna hat pulled down tight and my singlet on (thanks Mum), we enjoyed a beautiful Winter Racing Carnival Girls' Day out.

Just a shame it happens but once a year.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Sarah Marie

This brown-eyed beauty

celebrated her twelfth birthday yesterday.

Twelve-teen as Sally likes to say.

We made a long day of it. A slight technical electronic hitch resulted in our bedside alarm clock showing an hour earlier than it really was.  Which meant Matthew headed west at 3 instead of 4 and the kids and I got up at 5 rather than 6.  A quick glance at the kitchen clock as I poured my morning coffee, made me shake my head in wonder. 

We're really quite bright, we country folk.

It did mean we were able to take in the lunar eclipse and start birthday celebrations ahead of schedule.

Already fearful that my obsession with all things food was filtering through the generations, Sarah's order of pancakes for breakfast and a three course meal for dinner left me even more anxious.  An entree of chicken noodle soup, followed by southern fried chicken, wedges and caesar salad, completed with a layered chocolate cherry dessert for dinner kept Mum firmly grounded in the kitchen all afternoon.

This monstrosity kept wanting to slide all over the stand.  Finally I speared a skewer through the middle to keep it still.  Ingenious.

My cake-icing skills not about to win me any prizes

with cherries, chocolate and crumbs all combining for a rather dishevelled rustic finish.

Don't count the candles ... we were two short.  I think.

And this necklace one of the highlights of the gifts on offer.

In Year 2 at school, Sarah's class was asked to write a short biography, a means of providing an insight into their lives for the benefit of our new school principal.

This was Sarah's. 

I like how Dad's represented as a champion hay-maker and I'm obviously a baby-factory.

We still have that rotten wheeler too, I mean rotweiler.  Allah, I mean Ella.  And for anybody whose hanging on the edge of their seat, awaiting the birth of Ella's puppies, I'm afraid I don't think it's going to happen.  She appears to be no longer pregnant.  Quite disappointing, as I  felt certain they'd be great dogs for rounding up burglars.

And here she is, celebrating her very first birthday.  Sarah, not Allah Ella.

And now...

Still very much into hats.  In fact "hat" was the first word she ever spoke.
Thanks for twelve wonderful years beautiful girl.
And don't go leaving your hat outside again ... Ella will eat more than the front brim next time.
You're twelve years old, you should know better.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Another Week

Days seem to be turning into weeks into months far too quickly at the moment.
This past week saw an Under 8's Day at school. 

Technically not under 8, Wallace still felt compelled to enjoy the great myriad of activities on offer.

These rogue piglets found a point of exit from their paddock and are wreaking havoc at every turn.  If they touch my potatoes I'll have an apple stuffed in their mouths faster than they can say "wee wee wee, all the way home".

With a yard full of weaners, Ruby and Steel have had a full-time job educating them. 

Coke rather non-plussed by all the fuss.

He thinks he's at Mission Beach.  All he needs is a Pina Colada.
This little critter met us at the gate on the way home from school Friday afternoon.

Prickly character.

We had 23 mils of rain Saturday on what was definitely the coldest day of the year thus far.  I shivered all day, enough to ring Matthew and insist he buy a heater on his way through town.  I transferred the laptop to a spot directly in front of it and spent the day trying to look busy entering calf records.  The children played games,

we made bread, pea & ham soup and self-saucing chocolate pudding. 

And then when the rain stopped I started to plough

and Matthew inspected, in between trucking machinery between here and Bottle Tree.  We'll be re-planting lucerne hopefully by the end of the week.

With a long weekend to fill, the kids set about busying themselves,

bikes to ride,

bubbles to blow,

feed bins to sit in,

and grain fires to watch

whilst wishing for marshmallows and wondering how we could transfer this apparatus to the lounge room.
Thankfully our Winters only last a week or two.

Counting down to school holidays now.  Two weeks of school to go.


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