Saturday, 8 September 2018

It's Been A While.........

It has been over 2 months since I last posted, it has been a really busy  time and we have travelled many kilometres , enjoyed the company of family and friends, maintained the hand feeding of our stock and even managed to get a couple of small projects completed.
Our daughter and son in law sold their house, so our lovely old "retired" ewes went to live with another  family on a small acreage  with good feed.
We brought their ram "Vlad the Impaler home here to the farm.
He is a lovable big  boy, always wanting a pat or scratch every time you  are near him, he has fitted in well.
When he arrived, he was very excited to see our girls.

It has been a harsh winter, with many big frosts  ,many mornings  dipping well into the minus figures. We have had our water pipes burst a couple of times.
We had a go at making our own pasta which was fun and reasonably successful , we teamed it with our home canned turkey bolognaise  and it was delicious.
I also made jalepeno cheese balls  and they  have become a firm  favourite to have with drinks and nibbles.
Our Hakeas have been blooming, adding a little colour to what has been a rather dismal landscape.
We did a trip to Newcastle to meet our daughter and bring home  our eldest grandaughter  to the farm for a week.
While there we visited a dear old friend who was  ill in hospital.
We had a great week with lots of farm activities, egg collecting, cooking, feeding the sheep, craft activities, tractor rides,  caught up with cousins and had several  bonfires.
We Travelled to Wollongong to return our granddaughter home and were able to attend an early 8th birthday for her at the Botanical gardens.
By the time we returned home  our other daughter and three grandchildren had arrived at the farm for a three week visit while they were between  the sale of one home and the purchase of another.
We had a wonderful  time with them, doing lots of activities with a few other special outings thrown in along the way.
During this time we still had our usual volunteer  jobs, rail barracks cleaning, campground facilities cleaning and the compilation and printing of our local monthly paper.
During this period our friends up the road were on holidays and we helped out by feeding stock and pets, chickens and garden watering.
Brian helped his brother with the drenching, tagging and marking of his sheep and lambs.
The lambs are all  a little sore and sorry for a while afterwards.
Brian celebrated a birthday and we had a cake,
The kids all put together and contributed a large amount of money towards a new BBQ for him.
He had to build it which kept him busy for a while.
Our son also celebrated a birthday, he turned 40 which I still find hard to believe.
We had a large family/friends  gathering here at the farm , with a pig on a spit and a help yourself buffet dinner.
The next morning( as we hadn't cleaned up), there was one cute kelpie that  thought he had struck gold, finding lots of little pork tidbits to scavenge.
Our older builder has been back, this time to install a "proper" toilet door instead of the horrible plastic pull across door we have dealt with for years, and a nice new  aluminium window to replace the old set of window louvers.
We are really pleased with the results, he will now move onto a few more small jobs that free us up to do other things.
Sadly we had to make a sudden trip back down to Newcastle as our dear friend Vic passed away and we attended his funeral. Vic was the very first person that we befriended when we first moved to Newcastle  nearly 40 years ago and we have remained friends ever since. He made many trips to the farm over the years helping Brian with many projects.
                                                                   RIP Vic.
The farm is just ever so dry,Brian put the drone up again last week.
 We have had horrible dust storms, the hand feeding

continues daily, both here, next door while they were away,
and also at  the neighbours other block down the road.

We took a couple of days to have a small break away and travelled to Stuart Town to catch up with some old friends., we saw many, many kangaroors, wallaroos and wallabies  on the road both dead and alive, more than I can ever remember seeing in my whole life,
We had several near misses, as they were just every where.
Our friends that we caught up with are struggling to feed their sheep as well but they are trialing a  system where they are growing their own green fodder.
They have a "room". heated,with lights, and  timed misters that "grows" their fodder over a 7 day period.
Barley seed goes into trays on day 1,
This is then kept at 23 deg, with lights and misting for 6 days( another set of trays with seed is added each day for 6 days)
By day 7 the seeds that were put in on day 1 now have sprouted and grown daily to lush green fodder.
They pull 3 big trays(9 rectangles of fodder) each day,

They chop them up into smaller pieces,
Load it into their vehicle,
and feed it in equal proportions of pellets and vetch to their mob of  Australian White sheep. They seemed to be thriving on it, many had lambs and they all seemed to be in good condition..
We had a great catch up with them and really enjoyed seeing the fodder growing project first hand.
We then continued onto Dubbo and enjoyed a day catching up with my Mum.
I did a bit of a cull  of my  precious things. The cupboards were crammed full and I had to make some tough decisions( I just can't keep everything), the cupboards now look a little neater.
I hope that one day our kids will keep a few special things from these  cupboards as many  items have very special memories.
Last weekend we once again hit the road and drove to Newcastle to attend the 60th birthday of one of our  old neighbours  that we lived near for many years.
We had a lovely night and she was surprised to see us there. We had a night in a motel and continued on to Wollongong the next day to celebrate Father's Day and  our grandson's belated 4th birthday and attend   the book fair and family day at our granddaughter's school. It was meant to be grandparent's day but that was postponed to a date in November. We had a lovely 3 days there.
We called in to see our other daughter in her new home on the way back and stayed a night there also.
On our return Mother Nature finally decided to be kind and we had 7.5 mm of rain late in the evening, then the next morning
woke to this beautiful sky to the west.
A storm passed over with another 5.5 mm falling without washing  soil away.
It was beautiful, we need more, but it's a start. Hopefully after a few more sunny days, we will begin to see a little green growth sprouting out in the paddock .
The sheep headed up on the hill during the storm but all came down later to look around.
At Christmas time our kids put together and bought us a family photo session to be done here at the farm. The photographer Lisa came and took the photos and overall we are really pleased with them. This  one is Brian and I  down near the stock yards.
We really enjoyed the session and maybe in a few years we may repeat   it to have an updated photographic record of the family as it grows and changes.

We have had a huge 2 months and  it seems that  it will continue to be that way.
There is always something that needs doing, or somewhere to go, life is just busy, but in a good way.
So until we  catch up again with you all,
Take care of yourselves and each other,
Jane and Brian.

Monday, 2 July 2018

Another visit to Lightning Ridge

The 6 weeks since my last post have been so busy  and time and energy consuming that I just haven't had time to  sit down and compile a new post.
 Last month Brian and his brother travelled back to Lightning Ridge for 10 days to work with another brother in the opals fields and I kept busy here looking after the farm,animals and catching up on some preserving.
Two weeks ago we  all ventured  up To Lightning Ridge again to help out where possible.
As we drove  into the mine area I was totally  in awe of the Roly Poly grass balls, dried and piled up everywhere  pushed by the wind.
The boys got busy down in the big sandpit playing with those big tonka toys, Brian drives the red and white tipper,
and the brother in law from next door drove the "Big Yellow Ute"
The boys all took turns in loading the stock pile of earth into the hopper with the front end loader.
My Sister in law  Yvette and myself  were on "keeping the hopper flowing to the conveyor belt" duty,
and after a day of doing this, my hands  fell to pieces !(even though I was wearing gloves.)
We resigned from that job (some other men arrived and we happily handed it over to them)
The next job we got was running the water truck down to the artesian bore and filling up the 3 X 1000 litre water pods and  driving them back to  the campsite.
 We were so funny, so nervous and we only drove the little old truck 20 klms /hr and in second gear(nervous Nellies)
While we were at the washery   I decided to do some shadow photos after doing one shot by chance.
Yvette and I first,
then Brian and I,
and finally 4 of us workers.
We girls were on Kitchen duty, putting out many meals and snacks over the 10 days but unfortunately while looking for a knife in the  utensils drawer I found it sooner than expected and sliced my finger badly.
Thank goodness my daughter had made us up a wonderful emergency medical kit to keep in our caravan  and we were able to doctor my finger up beautifully, but it certainly curtailed  my work for a few days. It is all mended now.
I went a little crazy with the camera  up there and I will now bore you to death with a mass of images that I fell in love with at the washery run off area.
As the clay that washes down dries it leaves the most amazing patterns.
Back at camp, the fluffy dust caught my eye, with tyre tracks and boot prints jumping out at me.
 Our brother and sister in law have installed a spa bath at the  washery, there are already rough tin showers erected  there and plumbed into the hot artesian water and now  people can  relax in the bath to soak  away their  aches and pains after a day of back breaking opal mining.
 One day  Yvette and I went down to the spa, only to find that the area we stopped the vehicle in was  a wet spot and when we went to leave, we sunk and the ute bogged. The biggest embarrassment was to have to  wait until Brian passed by in the tip truck and flag him down to get us out of the bog.

 Just  before dark each evening our friends the goats came to visit us each night across the other side of the mine . All up there was about 8 of them, a sweet little family group.
A local man who is friends of my brother in law , had spotted an emu nest  during his  work day on a nearby property and offered to take us to see it. I had seen an Emu egg before, but had never seen an actual nest site.
The male Emu, who sits on the eggs to incubate them ran off as we approached , but Charlie assured us that he would return once we  went away.
At the end of the week, we "tailed out", which is the term for  when all the earth that has been washing in the giant agitator(like a big cement mixer) and all the rocks, stones and beautiful little pieces of timber come  rolling down the shute onto the table where they are sorted through hoping to find those  elusive stunning opals.
This what was sorted, not a great haul, but they told us there were a couple of nice stones  in the bucket.
The boys dug out quite a bit of earth , the pit changes  every day, this was a pic I took on the last day.
One day Yvette and I roped one of those big prickly Roly Poly's, popped it in the back of the ute and took it back to camp, That night we lit it up and rolled it down the road  into the mine.
What I have posted here is just a snippet of what we did, we love "The Ridge" and will probably  be back there many more times to visit and have a working holiday.
Life here has returned to it's normal busy routine and will probably be even busier over the next few months. I will try  to update a little more often , but time will tell.
Take care until we meet again.
Jane and Brian.