Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Pantry Progress.

We headed west again to the farm, armed with a list a mile long of all the jobs we intended to do, knowing full well we probably wouldn't get half of them done.
We passed by many beautiful paddocks that were  a sea of glorious yellow canola, such a stunning sight at this time of the year.
When we were about 25 miles from our property we noticed a thick column of smoke rising into the air.
As we traveled along we were trying to work out where the fire would be, but as we got nearer home the smoke looked closer and closer to our area.
turned out to be about 3 klms from our place, a farmer was burning off stubble and it got away. It burnt a fair area of their property, but luckily no property or people were affected.
The sheep greeted us  with enthusiasm as always, knowing that Brian will give them some hay, this  time we were greeted by four tiny  new  faces.
The next morning  another ewe had a beautiful baby lamb, she was a new mum, an another ewe was trying to bully her and take the lamb off her  for herself(even though she had no milk to feed it)

We separated the mum and bub to give them some bonding but unfortunately she rejected the lamb and we lost it overnight. We learnt a valuable lesson, in not leaving the lamb so long without taking it and  bottle feeding.
We had brought up with us 5 sets of metal shelving to eventually build  and put into my  soon to be walk in pantry after the laundry fixtures are moved up to the shed into the new laundry room that is in progress.We decided to  empty the old cupboard and erect  the first  shelf unit.
We were extremely pleased with how easy they were to build and how great  all my canning jars looked on them. e decided to build a second set, so I emptied another cupboard and moved our small freezer to make room for them.
We very quickly filled up the second set as well. This makes an excellent storage area for all my canning jars, equipment and other  things that I use in the kitchen.
We have decided that we will put four sets of these shelves in the pantry, and instead of the fifth set we will put our larger chest freezer that we have on the coast. That way everything  will be close at hand when I need it. The fifth set we broke up and added an extra shelf to the untits and will do the same top the remaining  units.
We decided  that we would add a watering system to our orchard that we  started last visit. Brian buried black poly irrigation tubing and added a spray at each tree, and then hooked this all up to a  battery operated timer to water the fruit trees at regular intervals   even when we are   back on the coast.
We plan to add another 6 trees to the orchard soon, and will expand the watering system al
ong with that.
Our neighbours had given us a bag of oranges, they said they were not good  eating oranges and would only be fit for juicing or marmalade, and  as I already had made enough marmalade for our use, I decided to juice them and can it.
All citrus juice must be heat treated by heating it to 197 deg F (or 88 deg c)  and maintaining that temperature for 5 minutes, before pouring into hot jars and water bathing for 15 minutes.
I only had 7 pints of juice, so I water bathed it in a  stock pot on the stove instead of using my big electric water bath preserver. We will just drink this juice or use it to make fruit punch, I hope to do many more juices and cordials and syrups in the future, this  area is all new  to me.
We have had a really busy time, and I will show  more of it in another post. The satellite  internet service doesn't always want to co-operate   here at the farm, and what would take me 20 minutes to post on the coast has taken me  nearly 90 minutes tonight,so I will leave it there.
So until we meet again,  which will be soon I hope !
Take care,

Monday, 11 August 2014

Birthday Celebrations.

What a huge week we have had. Starting to feel like we will meet ourselves coming back the other way.
 On Thursday  we drove down to Sydney airport and met our son from Perth  and brought him home. He then drove his vehicle back down to Sydney to leave it for some mechanical work and caught the train back arriving here about 10pm.
 The next  day we then drove back to Sydney via the car workshop where we left our son to pick his car up after the work had finished and continued on to Wollongong where we were later that day to meet up with all three of our kids to celebrate  the occasion of my husband turning 60 that week.
I gave Brian a beehive as a gift, but is was in kit form that he has to assemble.

We booked into a tourist  caravan/cabin  park right on the water front,about 50 metres tops from the water.  to be independent as our daughter is soon to give birth to our third grandchild, and we didn't want to be causing her too much extra work or worries.
It was so wonderful to sleep with the waves crashing in on the beach through the night and early next morning I sat out on the front deck to await the sunrise.

What a wonderful sight it was, so once it was up, I made a cuppa and sat back down to enjoy the scenery and within  minutes I had a host of colourful noisy feathered friends, the resident Rainbow Lorrikeets.

They were just so friendly and we fed them some multi grain bread and they just loved it. Our grand daughters arrived at about that time and also  just adored feeding the rainbow birds.
Our kids all put together and gave  hubby a brilliant new egg incubator for his birthday, something he has talked about getting for many years.,He was verry chuffed with it.
We all had a lovely celebration seafood  feast for his birthday and then came back to my daughters home to have   the  very tasty birthday cakes. She had organized a passiofruit sponge and a carrot cake for the occasion.

We headed north again yesterday  after a totally lovely family weekend, only for me and  our  son  to return to Sydney again today to take our son to the airport to fly out for a  holiday in the US.
He is so looking forward to seeing a huge part of the country, doing a total of 12,000 miles and touching about 42 states, some more than others.
We have had a beautiful, but hectic week, we thoroughly enjoyed our family's company and  had such pleasure watching  what  beautiful little people  our grand daughters are becoming.
Hopefully, life will be a little quiter over the next few days.
Take care until we meet again,

Monday, 4 August 2014

Just Cruisin'

Lat week   two friends and myself  booked a  harbour cruise to celebrate one of the girls' 60th birthday.
It was  advertised as a Christmas in July  lunch cruise.
Newcastle is a fully functioning  working port and has ships coming and going all the time.
We set out from the  dock and firstly headed out towards  Nobby's or the heads.
I have taken some panorama shots, but you will probably have to individually  click on them to see them better. In future I probably won't use that function on my tablet camera  unless I mean to actually print up the photo.
Newcastle is a busy port, it is a major coal loading port, as well as wheat, fertilizers, containers and many other imports/exports too numerous to mention.

While we cruised around  the crew gave us a wonderful narration of the ports history, and showed us many points of interest around the harbour, many things even though we have lived here for nearly 30 years were unaware of.
This was a three hour cruise(all I could think of when the captain said that was "Gilligans Island",I just had a quite chuckle to myself)
We met some lovely people on board, the crew told us it was an unusually quiet day, the boat normally full to its 60/70 capacity, but on our day they only had   about 20 passengers.

The lovely group of women above were from "The Red Hat Society" a group initially started for women over 50 to meet up socially and have fun. They are not a charity and are self funded, and they organize regular outings for women to socialize who otherwise may not. They explained that the age limit has now been lowered .
We had a lovely  fellow who sang wonderful "older" songs and kept us entertained with trivia and music the whole time.
We were then able to help ourselves to a sumptous Christmas style buffet and  sweets  which were delicious.(and I forgot to take a photo...too busy eating my lovely lunch.)
We had bar facilities to purchase drinks, and unlimited tea,cofee ect for free.

We went up as far  and under the Stockton Bridge, did a circle and came back down into the harbour then up the other arm towards  the old BHP site.

There is also a newly built  public marina for all the small sail  and motor boats, it is located near the seafood markets.
We had a day of mixed weather conditions on the cruise, it started out overcast and drizzly, cleared to blue sunny skies, then clouded over and rained quite heavily and then backed of to misty rain for us to disembark.
I took every opportunity I could to go up to the viewing  roof and get photographs, I cannot believe  that I was the only passenger to do this on the whole trip. I just love the wind in my face and all that spectacular scenery.
The photograph above shows the newly developed area of the harbour, it is called Honeysuckle. There are  wonderful new hotels( Crown Plaza) and apartments, restaurants,hotels and businesses all located along the foreshore. It certainly has come along way  from when we  arrived here the first time over 35 years ago.
These days, cruise liners have  started to make a stop here in Newcastle, and passengers make their way on tours up to the Hunter valley for wine tasting excursions and eateries and many other activities.
I had a wonderful 3 hours on my cruise and unlike the ill fated "Minnow" we did return to port(not that we really ever left it).
We have looked into other small cruises  that the company advertises  and there are a couple that go up the river  to inland towns and return. They are between 6-8 hours in duration with lunches at lovely old pubs up the river. I think Brian and I may do these trips before we leave the area permanently. We enjoy that slow winding river cruise Idea( ocean cruising does not call me what so ever)
We had a wonderful day, and would highly recommend  the trip to any one.
so, until we meet again,
Take care,