Saturday, 22 August 2015

New projects and other things we have been up to.

We have had a fairly hectic schedule of late, but we are slowly ticking jobs off that giant list we have drawn up and are constantly adding to.
One of the major projects hubby wanted to do was to erect a tall fence around our newly established orchard and cover it completely to protect the fruit from the parrots and to also incorporate a second chicken coop within.
The first job was too remove a rusted  metal water tank out of the area before the fence went up. The new chicken coop will be placed there. We had thought( and silly us did not check) that the tank was empty, only to find after moving it  that it still held a panel of water. at least  that  small area of paddock got a good watering.
Next he collected some tall wooden posts from up on our hill and then combined with some recycled metal posts we already had  ,dug the holes and started the tall enclosure.

He then  used a recycled screen door for the gate, and has  put one section of  netting around at a metre high.
We  also purchased some new fruit trees, as a couple of the ones  that we bought last year failed to  grow. we bought a new peach, apricot, pear and nectarine, all ones selected specifically for their taste and  suitability for canning or preserving.
We  were offered the use of a neighbours spray unit on the back of his truck, so we decided to mix molasses, seasol, seaweed, and worm pee into the 1000 litre drum and spray our small feed crop which has been growing really well.We are hoping this natural fertilizer will work a treat and boost the growth, and we are expecting rain in the next couple of days.
The sheep love it when hubby puts them in afternoon for an hour or so, they sit at the gate waiting for him to open it up for them (who says sheep are silly) .
Our seed potatoes  that we had purchased (Nicola Variety) need planting, so hubby used the old rotary hoe and ploughed up trenches between the fruit tress in the orchard and  planted them. I think he said he ended up with about 50 something  seeds after cutting a few that had multiple shoots.

We  have had a lovely visit last weekend  from our older daughter and  our two little granddaughters  one aged 2 and the other 8 weeks. .Miss 8 weeks is such an adorable baby, and  this nanny just wanted lot's of cuddles.
The  2 year old was just such an amazing help to her poppy( who she funnily enough  calls Pierre  for some unknown reason.)

They  watered the garden every morning with  their yellow watering cans,
She helped him build a new small seed raising  greenhouse,
We have planted  a few starter seeds, just to see how we go, and she helped poppy water them in as well, I love the concentration on the job.
We attended a  local agricultural field day at Gunnedah , we have wanted to attend for many years but have never been able to.
It was a huge day, lot's of walking as the  exhibition was spread over 26 hectares.
We saw everything from gigantic  air seeders,
to sweet little seeders that would be hubby's dream to own  for our little acreage.

And then there were the  massive tractors on tracks,
 And the  display of beautiful old girls
  that we fell in love with. There was a great display by the Gunnedah  vintage farming group that had stationery engines working  in weird and  funny  ways.
Hubby and I were lucky enough to be given tickets for our birthdays to an Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison tribute concert show, and we had a night in Dubbo with dinner out, the show and a nice motel for the night.
We bought a new safety screen for the fire, so that there were no worries when the  grandchildren  are here. It is great, has a locking bar across the back( not in photo) so it can move forward to far or fall over, and you can access the firebox through the front door that is hinged to open, but we are unable to use the oven when the screen is in use. We will fold it up and pack away when not in use.
I have been baking a little in the oven, we made a lovely salmon quiche  the other night which  cooked beautifully and was very tasty.
Another project that began yesterday was  our first attempt at hatching chickens out in an incubator.
Our  kids had given their father the  incubator for his 60th birthday, and we have only now  been able to set it up and use it. A neighbour had borrowed it and has  had 2 batches of chickens  hatch out with success.
So the neighbour brought down 2 dozen fertile Isa Brown chicken eggs and we supplied  nearly 2 dozen hopefully fertile  Light Sussex eggs and we loaded it up for our maiden  incubation trial.hopefully we will hatch out some  cute little chickens in about 21 days.
Wish us luck.  :-)  :-)
I went for a drive the other day to a nearby town for some appointments, and when driving down near the park near the river I had to stop to let these gorgeous geese cross the road,
I was so entranced by them , that I suddenly realized I was going the wrong way in a one way street.
we have also had a daily visit from this pretty Rosella  and it's mate ,  the pair have been looking for their nesting box that hubby  temporarily removed during renovations, and he has now replaced.

We had our second baby lamb for the season  two days ago, I love the Dorper breed with their black heads. This one was born exactly one month to the day after the first one also in the photo on the  right.
I am FINALLY  able to report that the   three areas ( lounge/dining/study  that we have been tiling are   completed , the tiler grouted the last of it this morning and he will return in a few months to complete the kitchen area after we have  removed the kitchen and fireplace, and we have replaced the window and a new glass  back door where the existing fireplace chimney  is.
Although it has been a painfully slow process due to his age and health, we are extremely happy with the finished job and will be happy to have him back again or recommend him to others.
It will be lovely to have our house to ourselves for a little while, I feel like our three  tradesmen have been wandering around for 6 months now, so we will have a little break, I will paint  the  newly renovated areas  before we move on, although we will get the builder out next week to measure it all so we can begin the ordering process for all the needed materials so they will be on hand for when we are ready to continue.
So until we all meet again down the track,
take care of you and your loved ones,
All the best,

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

A bit more of what we have been up to

We have had a fairly crazy few weeks of things going on around here( months  is probably more like it) , so I thought I would just post a bit of what we have been up to.
Brian  started sorting out the raised beds that we will grow our summer garden in, and  we  arranged to have a load of garden soil delivered. He decided to recycle our old lounge room carpet into the bottom of the garden beds, we hope that it will help retain  water and will eventually break down.
 I had promised Brian that when it came I would personally move every shovelful into the beds.
So when the truck load arrived, I set to work.
It took me two days, but I eventually moved it from this pile up above into the raised beds below.
I filled all four beds, plus the  square  bed under the apricot tree that Brian built. he has since planted then with iris plants.
We will still need to get some more as we still have a couple of beds to go, but this will at least start us off.
Since we had dispatched  the roosters last week I needed to process them. I decided to make Sweet and sour chicken with  the meat I was able to trim off three of the birds,
After packing all the chicken and vegetables in raw, I then poured the sweet and sour sauce over, sealed and pressure canned  the quart jars for 90 minutes at 15 pounds pressure.
With the carcasses i had left I decided to make chicken soup,
I pre- cooked it  most of the day in a big soup pot on the wood stove  , filled  my pint jars, sealed and  pressure canned it 70 minutes at 15 pounds pressure..
This is just so handy, a pint is just a perfect meal size, and I always give my mum some as well for quick and easy meals for her.
Hubby celebrated his birthday this week, we were just going to have a quiet night the two of us, but we had an invite from some friends up the road to join them to celebrate the occasion.
I made a cake, a Ginger Fluff Sponge,
it was the firt time I had made it, so was reasonably happy with it, it tasted great.
Our friends have a large metal "fire basket" that they have up the back, it is about 6-8 feet across.
We sat  around that fire and had the  nicest evening. Brian said  it was a wonderful way to spend his birthday.
Our girls have finally started laying, one everyday, one every second day and one at random.
Don't laugh, but I have numbered the eggs, just so I know which are the freshest.
They are a  reasonable size, mostly between 55 and 60 grams so far, but I am sure they will get larger as time goes on.I don't want them too large as then you often get problems.
I had some herbs in small pots, and decided yesterday to re-pot them into larger pots.
I have perennial basil, mint and curley parsley.
The broad beans are doing well, starting to flower now,
and there a  few spaces in the garden , ready to start  planting the spring summer garden.
Speaking of spring, the wattles are blooming( I picked some for inside off the side of the road) and our apricot tree is in full bloom, way too early we think, but maybe it knows something we don't.
Last night we had our first meal that we cooked in the new heat N cook stove that we installed, I made turkey and vegetable Korma curry( albeit an Aldi jar of sauce), in any case it worked  great and tasted wonderful.
And FINALLY our tiler is nearly done, 3 more days and our tiled area will  be fully finished.
It has been a long drawn out process but it is looking really lovely.
Just that little square( 30 tiles) to go tomorrow and then the grouting. Just in time as our daughter is coming to stay on the weekend with our two granddaughters, the house will be warm and tidy, and after  they leave next week I will begin the painting.
Until we meet again down the track,
Take care,