Friday, 1 February 2019

Grandkids,A trip away and Australia Day Celebrations.

Mostly in the Christmas school holidays we have our youngest daughter's children  come to stay here at the farm for a week as their parents are working and it's a great opportunity for us to spend some more  time with them.
This year as is often the case the weather was horribly hot for the whole week. We still found lot's of activities to keep busy, our daughter had sent along a few craft activities with the kids  which we usually did out on the verandah each morning. We found ourselves at the local pool most afternoons.
There is always great interest in the poultry and  they loved letting them out each morning, collecting eggs and locking up at night.
The tractor always is very popular and Pop has to constantly find small jobs to do with it that they can ride along with him.
Down in the orchard the pear tree had some fruit which wasn't fully rip but the parrots were starting to attack and destroy the fruit so we decided to pick it with the help of our grandson.
All we got was a bucketful of fruit.
I decided to preserve them into jars, but as they were under ripe, I thought I would   simmer them in a light sugar syrup before canning them into jars to hopefully avoid or at least downplay that under ripe taste  and I think we were  successful.
They will be a handy addition  to the pantry and we have already sampled one jar and it was good.
We did a couple of trips to the park when the weather allowed and our sweet new mother cat and kitten also proved to be winners, filling in many hours with their care  and attention.
Sadly we received  the news that a good friend who was also both of  our  daughter's Brownie guide leader has passed away, so we reorganized our plans a little and met both our daughter's in Newcastle to attend  the funeral service, before  taking the children home to Wollongong.
After spending the night in there we headed off the next morning to Brian's sister and Brother in Law's home in Goulburn.
 They have bought a beautiful older period home and have lovingly restored it, keeping many of the internal decorations  in keeping with the age of the home. They have done a wonderful job.
I especially love the round glass porthole windows that match beautifully with  other lead light single and french doors throughout the house.
In his spare time our brother law likes to restore cars and his last 2 pet projects have been this beautiful old Mini Cooper and Ford Falcon. They are beautiful and from the early 60's, he is very proud of them.

We had a wander around Goulburn, a coffee in the famous  Paragon Cafe and lunch out to celebrate a belated 70 th birthday  to Brian's sister.
We also had a wander around a lovely nursery and bought a few  small bit's and pieces and while there spotted this gorgeous metal dragonfly sculpture.
Brian's sister is a keen gardener and  This wonderful healthy chain Of Hearts was hanging on the back verandah.
There are hedges  along the driveway and hidden among them are little cut out pockets where friendly little meerkats , frogs, owls and others  hide and pop their heads out. I found them very sweet.
We had a lovely visit, staying two nights before heading towards home.
We travelled up through Crookwell and were totally amazed at the large number of wind farms  in the area.
I love this old bridge we pass over ,
We had a good run home,stopping in  Milthorpe  for morning tea  and Wellington for lunch.
Now that we arn't travelling with a dog it is easier to take time to stop a little more for  leisurely breaks along the way.
After we returned home  it was into Australia Day  weekend, our older daughter and the three grandkids came to visit for a few days.
It was horribly hot and so we tended to be out back in the mornings, early cuppas and breakfast nearly always eaten  out on the back verandah and then move in as the temperature rises.
Our littlest man found the dishwasher and had a great time .
This year as in the past we had volunteered to help with the Australia Day arrangements, our little town has the 7 am time slot which is  brilliant as we  have our ceremony early and can escape the heat of the day.
The afternoon before we (The Progress Association volunteers) went in to help the Men's Shed boys move the tables and chairs from the local school to the park ready for the next morning.
There are some wonderful volunteers in our town but sadly the average  age of all these groups is about 70 years, there is a major lack of young people stepping up to the plate, there are a few and they are wonderful and are doing an amazing job , but they are few and far between.
The next morning we were into town around 5.30 am to  set up.
The  Park is beautifully maintained by The Men's Shed boys and it looked a picture as usual.

The Orbital Swing Band from a neighbouring town always generously volunteers their time to come and play at our ceremony, They have been doing this for well over 10 years and are a great bunch of musicians  who are a pleasure  to listen to.
This year in our  Volunteers Service Award ceremony they were  presented with a certificate of appreciation. Our Australia Day Ambassador this year is Katryna Robinson, an It recruiter with over 20 years of experience  who founded a company called "Every Little Bit Helps", which  sources, packs and distributes care packages to the  homeless and people in need. In over three years the  company has distributed over 25,000 packages.
There were several other  presentations to worthy volunteers  who have given generously of their time over many years.
There were also some presentations of grant  money to a few of the local groups from the council.
The Mens's Shed, The Progress Association and The Show Society.
There was also a presentation of appreciation to our Australia Day Embassador Katryna for her gift of time to come and speak to us and help  with the presentations.
At the conclusion of the official part of the morning, the Progress Association ladies served tea/coffee and Juice and the ever ready Men's Shed boys cooked up a  tasty barbeque breakfast for the crowd.
This social part of the morning is wonderful as we get to catch up with people that we only see occasionally.
What a great "Breakfast In The Park" it was,
Congratulations to Everyone that  received a very well deserved award, they have given much of their time and energy to our small community and continue to do so without wanting or asking for recognition. It is people like these generous hard working people that make our small Australian towns great, no matter how small they are.
We all need to take a look around and see where we too can step up and volunteer in some capacity.
I hope you all enjoyed your Australia Day Weekend as we did,
Take care  until I catch up again,
Jane and Brian.

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

A Few More Visitors To The Farm And A Few More Tasks Behind Us.

After New Year my Brother  contacted us to let us know that he  would like to come to the Farm from Sydney for a short visit.
He occasionally comes to see us and Brian always tries to accomplish  a few jobs while he has the extra set of hands.
The first thing they did was to remove an old apple tree that in 16 years has never produced an apple bigger than a golf ball  on the very rare seasons that it has actually fruited.
The uprooted apple tree was placed over the fence for the sheep to strip ,which they proceeded to do immediately.
There  had been a hump in the front yard where pipes used to run to a collection tank  and once that tank was relocated the pipework was no longer required.
As Brian dug down he  found 12 rubber car tyres, pipes and a railway sleeper.

The area was leveled off,  and Brian seeded the area with  grass seed.
Due to the severe heat and low rainfall  we currently have Brian has been drawing a pod of water regularly from the river which he has been spraying onto the newly seeded area and  some also onto the gardens when possible.
Sadly the  grass hasn't taken very well even  with the regular watering,due to  the extreme temperatures that we have been regularly experiencing,
and  also that we had to leave the farm for a few days have all contributed to it's failure. We will try again once these horrible hot days  come to an end.
While my brother was here we visited town  and called into the hotel for a few drinks  and a catch up  with some  people my brother hadn't seen for a while.
When I went out back to the beer garden enclosure , these beautiful feathered friends were  getting a drink and a feed that the publican  had placed out for them.
Mother Nature is so cruel  at the moment and  the animals  are  doing it very hard  so every little bit helps .We are also leaving containers of water around for anything that needs a drink.
Brian has now fixed the useless leaf strainers that we had installed into the down pipes of the gutter system as they were constantly blocking and allowing the water off the roof to pour out and be lost.
The solution of a sleeve inserted into the down pipe is not overly pretty but with our last small storm and 11 mms of rain we received all of it was fully harvested with no waste.

 I have been cooking  some more of my  individual portion controlled meals for the freezer and also made up a couple of batches of spinach and ricotta sausage rolls also for the freezer.
They are handy for when we have vegetarian guests or just for anytime finger food snacks with drinks.

Brian has been doing a few lawn mower repairs as there hasn't been much use for them over the last 6 months or so, but this week they actually got to be used as the few storms that we had have  finally produced some grass albeit scattered and patchy.
I have painted a clear textured anti slip lacquer onto the timber slatted mats that Brian made for around the backup shower that we built up in the back shed.
We installed  a shade cloth blind  on the front verandah in conjunction with the clear plastic blind that was already there to make a slightly more protected area  for some of  my potted plants to survive the heat in. It makes a good shaded little area.
Our blended family of guinea fowl s are doing well with the two Mum's doing a wonderful job of raising their 16  babies.
Our mother cat is settling in well and making herself right at home.
We have decided to keep the female kitten so that they are good company for each other, we still have to arrange to have the kitten  desexed in the near future.
We did a spot of babysitting this last weekend, our next door neighbours had to travel away so they asked us to look after their sweet little Spoodle called "Princess"
Brian and Princess were inseparable and she decided that he made a good substitute for her dad.
An old friend  and just up the road neighbour from Newcastle contacted me and asked  if she and her boys could  catch up in the holidays as she was working in a nearby town teaching swimming lessons, and we happily agreed.
Clare had never been here before but her two boys had, many times with their grandparents  who used to come here regularly ever since we have owned the farm. Sadly we lost Ken but Pat still comes quite often to visit with us and is due to  come again soon.
When the boys were here one Spring many years ago we took this cute picture of them on our back steps.
Of course as soon as the boys arrived, much to their dismay I wanted to re-create the photograph, and here it is.
I think they look so sweet, I told them that even when they are adults and they return we will  do this again and again....
We went for a wander up the hill behind the house to show them the great view towards the Warrumbungles and Siding Springs Obervatory.
After we came came back down the hill we also checked out the beautiful sandstone  rock face behind the house where there a couple of small caves.
It was so lovely to catch up with our visitors, the boys are growing up well  and are now happily living on the north coast, having moved north about the same time as we moved  full time to the farm. Hopefully they will all return again before too long.
We are struggling with this  extended period of high temperatures, we get done with our outdoor tasks early in the day and then hibernate inside under the evaporative  roof  air conditioner  until is is bearable enough to go back out.
We have been keeping busy and the days have passed quickly, January is almost over and I just can't see where it went.
There is always something to do, life is certainly never boring or dull.
 So until we meet again,
 take care of you and yours,
Jane and Brian.