Sunday, 30 June 2013

Fairies in the garden(or at least in the house.)

This morning I had the wonderful pleasure of waking up  next  to my  nearly 3 year old grand daughter Holly.Her grandfather was away at work,So   she spent the night with me as her mum had a catch up with some old school friends and Dad had to work. So they made the 3 hour trip up to our place  from down south.
We went shopping yesterday for some beautiful new hair clips and some very important fairy wings, without which the world would just never be the same.
We seem to have a pink theme at the moment,as she seems to be turning into a real girly girl in comparison to the little tom boy that we have seen so far.
We had a lovely day, reading books and running around the house waving our  magical fairy wand doing all sorts of  "fairy Things".

We have had about 10 days of rain here on the coast and  Holly is getting harder and harder to entertain , to quote my daughter "she is getting cabin fever" and is just hanging out for some fine weather and the all clear to play out in the garden again.(You can only watch the Wiggles videos so many times) !
This afternoon we decided to make pink cup cakes and  let holly be in charge of the decorations. I think she was very pleased with the results,even though we did need a lovely  warm bath afterwards to remove all the excess icing and sprinkles.

We packed up a dozen lovely pink cakes into a container  for the return trip home to Daddy, and my daughter sent me this photo below  very soon after she left my place...someone was asleep !!!
She must of had a big weekend. Arn't they just so precious.
So a weary goodnight to all from this sleepy Grandmother,

Thursday, 27 June 2013


Last month, we headed out for a few days R and R with our caravan (on it's maiden trip with us) .We met up with my brother and sister in law and set up camp not far from the Warrumbungle mountains(about an hour and a half from our place.)
We set up camp and within minutes my husband and brother discovered we had a friend in the old shed beside us. It was a beautiful carpet snake,although i am not a snake lover I could see her beauty and we agreed to leave her alone, and hoped she would leave us alone. I have to admit though I did enter the outside bathroom with trepidation in the middle of the night and had a good scout around  with the light   to make sure she wasn't lurking around up in the rafters.
We had a good spot, light a good fire(luckily it rained after we arrived and were able to light the fire as until then we thought it was too dry)
My brother had bought his camp ovens and we had a lovely dinner of lamb stew and damper.There Was  even left over stew  to have on toast the next morning.
We love to sit around a good fire and relax,tell stories,eat and have a few drinks.

Looking towards the Warrumbungle mountains  ,we were fortunate to see a wonderful sunset with Mt Exmouth in the distance.

We had a lovely couple of days, and the wildlife was abundant, we found a very friendly frilled neck lizard,a pair of top not pigeons with their mum in the nest and a large group of kangaroos happily grazing in a nearby paddock.

We thoroughly enjoyed our little excursion and hope to do many more in the future. Our little  caravan is wonderful and will be truly loved,it previously belonged to our lovely uncle who passed away, and it was offered to us to purchase it.We will always have him with us on our travels.
So until the next adventure, whether it be here,at the farm or on the road, we wish you well,
Jane .

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Apple of my eye

When we bought our place there was one existing apple tree. We don't know what variety it was but it was about 7 or 8 years before we actually got a decent crop off it. There were many factors including,drought and the need to be pruned correctly(which we knew nothing about) and finally the continual onslaught of the King Parrots. As beautiful as they are, they just strip and destroy all the fruit .

So finally we came upon the idea of the polythene pipes hooped up over the trees and then the net over that. Some people prefer to remove their netting each year, we just leave them and keep the tree trimmed to stay just under the netting.The second smaller apple tree is a Pink lady,planted in honour of our dear uncle who had prostate cancer and swore by  the eating of a Pink Lady every day,Unfortunately he never got to see the tree produce it's lovely apples as we lost him just over a year ago.We also grow a lovely raised bed of rhubarb which produces an abundance of rhubarb for me to can. We quite often have an apple and rhubarb crumble for dessert, nearly everyone seems to love the combination.
I think this picture below  was probably the first year of canning the apples and rhubarb ,but this last year I did many dozens of jars of each and have them stored in the pantry.

As we slowly establish our place we will be planting an orchard of a few more fruit trees,so that we will have a few more varieties of fruit on hand to can without having to purchase  it. We have already planted two fig trees and have apricots of our own.
So looking forward to it.
Until next time,
Cheers from Jane in Aus.

Our own meat.

We have just spent a nearly a week up the bush. My husband did not want to return to work this morning (and I can't blame him). It is a little dry up there but we are getting a few small showers to keep everything plodding along.
We arrived late in the afternoon to find our front lawn covered with wonderful mushrooms, which of course we picked and devoured for our tea that night. What better dinner than  wild grown mushrooms with so much flavour and a nice piece of your own steak off a animal that you have raised yourself.
We had to restock our hay while we were there, our very kind next door neighbour feeds the occasional bale out to our stock while we are away if there hasn't been enough rain for good feed. Although we do keep Dorper breed sheep which are a South African breed which do really well in drier country. They also have the added bonus that they are good heavy meat sheep and they don't have to be shorn as they automatically loose their wool/hair by rubbing aaginst trees, posts,frnces and gates. You see lettle  bits of fluff all round the place if you look carefully. They are also a very friendly, quiet  breed.
We get our hay from a friend a few kilometres away  for which we pay about $8 per bale.
We butchered two lambs while we were there just for regular meat(no processing or canning)
We kill early in the morning ,we then portion the meat into smaller sections and age for 4-5 days in a spare refrigerator up in the shed.We hope to get a cool room down the track when finances allow, (to allow the  carcus to hang whole )but for now we find that the refrigerator works just fine.
Then when we are ready we get out the trusty electric band saw and cut up the meat...feels like we have come along way, we used to do it all by hand with a knife,hand saw and cleaver...such a neater job now. The  worst part is cleaning the band saw after, so we usually make it worthwhile and do at least two  animals at a time.
Just love all that meat..We love our veggies too but also love meat. Sometimes we  do all the legs and shoulders into chunks to raw pack and can, other times we make sausages and sometimes into lamb/beef bolognaise sauce..whatever we find ourselves needing. We are slowly learning to be more varied with our final products for the freezer and pantry.
Here also is a photo of the lamb sausages we made last time, this was 16kgs( approx 32 lbs)  We got this from 4 legs and 4 shoulders of lamb.They were lamb and rosemary flavour. We are still experimenting with different ones, as we are real beginners in the sausage making world.
We had a lovely break away, didn't get half the  jobs done that we had planned, but oh well.There is always next time,and the time after.
Winter is really starting to set in,good big frosts of a morning, but usually good days, then a roaring fire of a night. Nothing better than a nice glass of wine by the fire to end a productive day.
All the best until next time,

Monday, 17 June 2013

Precious grand children.

On Friday I made the trip out west to visit my oldest daughter and son in law and  my youngest grand daughter Claudia.
They live about 6 hours drive from us and we had met her when she was born  6 weeks ago but  I went back for another catch up, as they grow so fast.
She is very sweet, such a precious little bundle.
We had a lovely visit, lot's of cuddles and walks and just getting to know one another. Hopefully they will be visiting us down here in a few weeks , so we will continue to form that special relationship that grandparents and their grand children have.
Our other grand daughter  belongs to our youngest daughter and her husband. She is the beautiful ,gorgeous Holly.
Such a wonderful little cherub. Always laughing, and playing and chattering away and singing songs, such a treasure. .She is nearly 3 years old ,and so grown up.
I cannot express how much i love these two little munchkins, they fill my heart to bursting. They are just so special to us., as I'm sure will be any more that  come our way.
I returned home today looking forward to our next catch up.
My best wishes to all those grand parents out there, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as we do.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The best time of day.

To  myself and my husband the best time of day is sunrise and sunset. From the front verandah of our house( and from my bedroom window) we see the most amazing sunrises. The colour can sometimes be just so stunning. Mother nature sure is a wonder. We down tools and spend many,many afternoons out on the front verandah, either alone,with family  or with our neighbours, having drinks and nibbles or tea and coffee and just chatting away for hours. The other side of the house gets the beautiful sunsets, and can be equally as beautiful.
Below are a range of pics i took just one morning over a period of about 15 minutes.(I did warn you all photography is also an addiction of mine)
It never ceases to inspire me to get up and get moving. The above are all sunrises, and the sunsets are just as beautiful.
We don't give nature enough credit.
Take care everyone,until next time,

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Our first time canning corn.

 We try to grow vegetables at both the Newcastle  place and  up the bush, but things  seem to do so much better here on the coast with the higher rainfall and we arn't up the bush enough to keep the extra water required up to everything. We have a few timers set  that we run off 1000 litre tanks on a few things that we really need to keep alive. Back in February we picked our corn cobs from our garden in Newcastle and ended up getting roughly 100 cobs.
I then  cut some up to make smaller cobs and froze those,to use here in Newcastle as we needed them (I have a nearly 3 year old grand daughter who just has to have a corn cob every meal.)So I need to have lots. The rest of the cobs I then stripped the kernels off and froze until we went up the bush next time (That's were I keep the pressure canner)So then, on our next trip up, out came the canner and I got busy, I canned the niblets into half pints as that's just a convenient size for the two of us, and that seems to have worked out well.Also in the photo was some other canning I did that day, some  Bullhorn peppers,Dilled carrot sticks(which were really lovely for nibblies with drinks on the verandah) and also a few half pints of 3 fruit marmalade that hadn't sealed from some earlier canning.

I definately would recommend growing and canning corn, it has already been excellent value to us.
Sorry if these photos  arn't in order as I just can't seem to work out how to manually change them,
Cheers everyone,

Monday, 10 June 2013

And then I discovered Pressure Canning !!!

I had ordered some of my Fowlers Vacola  jars from my supplier and when they arrived they had sent me a "new " type of bottle to try in the preserver. It was a Ball Mason jar, I had never seen one before. My girlfriend who hails from Wisconsin in the USA had told me about them  and her type of preserving she had done with the 4H group and with her Mum and Grandma.
I started using these jars to water bath and  also did some research online only to be introduced to the big wide world of Pressure Canning.
We decided to purchase a pressure canner and my kids all put together and bought me my big baby, a big All American .
It is amazing, it holds 19 pint jars or 14 quarts. I just love the large loads it can do, and I can accomplish so much in a day.
How wonderful to be able to do, vegetables, soups,stocks, stews,and meats and store away for  later meals. I especially love the ready meals and meats.
Above we have curried sausages in quarts, then Chicken stock and raw packed chicken breasts and finally below we have chicken and vegetable soup.
I am so addicted to canning, I am sure many of my friends who have never heard of it think it is a little odd, but to us it is just the most practical, sensible normal thing to do  with what we produce and can buy cheaply.At least I know that we will always have food and know what's in it..
Anyway I am sure I will be posting many more canning exploits in the future,so hopefully you all don't tire of them.
Cheers from Aus,

Preserving....Australian Fowlers Vacola method.

I like my Mum before me  for many,.many years  had  bottled or preserved fruit  in our good old faithful "Fowlers Vacola " preserver.
It uses a rubber ring  and then a preferably stainless steel lid with two clips to hold the lid down during processing. The old water bathing method even allowed for vegetables, meats ect by doing a double process method.
As new information came to light this practice was  abolished and only fruit ,jams, jellies,sauces,relishes.and pickled  ingreients were allowed to be waterbathed.
Originally we used a Fowlers stove top waterbath, and my mum passed on her Electric preserver...this was heaven (or so it seemed at the time)
The Fowlers Vacola bottles come in many various sizes, either having a 2 ,3 or 4 inch mouth. They are varying  heights and volumes, and like the  older mason jars, we still find a few special blue ones around.
I was washing this lot up to transport to the farm ready for the stone fruit season.
This is my faithful old Fowlers Vacola electric preserver, would be close on 40 years old now.
We have recently purchased a new  Electric water bath , as we felt the thermostat on the older one may no longer be as accurate as it should be,. I still do most of my fruit ect by this tried and true method.


We recently had some visitors up to the farm from the city. We all decided we would like to do a spot a crayfishing(or yabbying) as some call it.
We catch them in freshwater stock dams out in the paddocks(on a neighbours property) with sticks stuck in the mud with cotton and meat.We also have special crayfish traps in the shape of the Sydney Opera house.
We arrived at our designated fishing spot only to have  a few cattle surround the cars for a stickybeak at what we were doing. The little  fellow we had with us was terrified of them, I don't think he had ever had much to do with them before.
We placed all our lines and traps in and waited, we had a quick response  and in no time at all we had taught lines and crayfish coming quicker than we could pull them in.
Our city visitors were such fun to watch, we get into the water to about knee deep and catch them in scoops before they can escape off the lines, but they were afraid of the mud and water and preferred to stay at the edge, but in doing so ,so many crayfish escape back into the water.
We had a wonderful few hours, which included a picnic on the dam bank and watched as our youngest visitor was fasinated by the crayfish, and was horrified at the prospect of eating them.
I haven't as yet had a go at canning them, but I am sure it could be done, maybe in vinegar. We eat them  just boiled in salty water, and cooled with  either vinegar, squeeze of lemon or mayonaise. The other favourite is as surf and turf in a lovely creamy melted butter white sauce on top of steak or chicken ..Yummm...Food is never far from my thoughts.
I am sure we will  repeat this on many occasions as it is a favourite pastime of ours.
So until next time.
Cheers everyone,