Friday, 29 July 2016

The last few busy weeks at the farm ....part two

We had a wonderful week with the grand kids here at the farm but their holiday was all too quickly over and we traveled to Wollongong to return them home to  our daughter and son in law.
We then stayed a few days  with them all down there to help with the kids   while they  had appointments and some activities  away on the weekend.
when they returned, our daughter took us to the Wollongong Botanical gardens. We fed the eels and ducks in the ponds and wandered the spectacular gardens.
I especially loved the succulent and cacti gardens.

And there was this gorgeous Rainbow lorrikeet  sitting up in the bright flowers.
We had a few meals out and  just enjoyed spending time down there with them.
On our return life  very quickly returned to normal, and we  seemed to be in overdrive for a while trying to catch up on a few jobs that we just didn't get time to do  with the children here.  You forget how much time a 6 year and nearly 2 years  swallow up, and we only  just  managed to get the  must do things accomplished.
Our cabbages have been wonderful this year,

I had noticed on a few sites quite a few people  canning coleslaw and singing it"s praises, so I thought I would give it a try also, So I shredded my cabbage, added grated carrot, sliced onions and  capsicums,placed it all in a big plastic bowl and salted it and let it sit for an hour.

I made up a brine of apple cider vinegar, sugar, water, mustard seed and celery seed, brought it to the boil to dissolve sugar  then let to cool completely.
The cabbage was then rinsed well under running water and packed firmly into  pint jars and the syrup  poured over  leaving 1/2 inch head space.
I then water bathed the jars for 15 minutes in a big pot on top of our wood heater/cooker in the lounge room.
We found this quite nice, but in reality it is pickled cabbage, not really coleslaw, and yes I probably will make more next season as we really love pickled anything  at this house.
On saying that the  next project we attempted was pickling or curing  some of our own meat.
My Mum used to use a product called Qwikurit many years ago, and recently I saw it for sale at a  agricultural field day,
We selected a leg of lamb for the first trial, added the required 30 grms of powder per 4 1/2 litres of water in a pot on the wood stove and let it bubble away for several hours,
and the result was a beautiful leg of corned lamb, it was delicious.
We then tried a leg of pork the same way and it was equally  lovely, this will become a regular  way of having a variety of cold meat from now on here at the farm.
About a week ago we were working out in the back yard when we heard a big crash and looked up to see that this tree had just fallen over of it's own accord, no wind or  anything, I took some pics of the blossoms, as I think the gum tree blossoms are  quite beautiful .
Our back verandah is progressing slowly, our concreter has  quite a few commitments and it will be a while before he comes, but Brian has been getting everything  else that needs doing so that when he finally gets here , it will all move faster,
Brian  with the help of the neighbours  removed the old lean to  roof that had always been there, it had to go as it's  supporting posts were located in the area to be concreted.
I reluctantly got into the garden this week and did a little weeding,  I am not a big gardener, but I do  love the garden...
I weeded the iris  and clivia garden, and along the front of the house.
Our Hakea tree is now in bloom, it is a very unusual pretty flower.
Last night we had a small gathering  here to celebrate a good friends' birthday, she is a lovely girl who is always doing for other people and thought it might be nice to have a small  do in her honor.
We just had a very casual  get together around a blazing fire in a 44 gallon drum with lot's of yummy food and a few drinks.
We had a cheese platter, other nibbles tray, hot mini spring rolls and mini quiches,
and also whisky franks ( recipe was from  a girlfriend of mine here in Australia that hails from Denmark ,Wisconsin.) They are delicious and ever so moorish.
After a lovely few hours of chatter and fun, we then concluded the evening with tea/coffees and a double layer chocolate birthday cake( a new recipe that I " googled" yesterday and made up. It was a totally scrumptious cake that I  am sure I will make over and over again in the future.
It's been a BIG few weeks, I have have got myself a little run down, just trying to fit too much into too short of time.
I have a rotten cold at the moment, which has taken a really strong hold and I just can't seem to shake it. I am in sitting by the fire right now as I write this post, keeping myself warm.
I will take it easy for a few days, there is nothing too urgent  on the agenda until Sunday/Monday, so a rest will be  just what the doctor ordered( so to speak) lol.
Hopefully when we meet up again,  I  will be well and healthy,
Take care of you and yours,

Ps Here is the Whisky Franks recipe as requested by  a reader...

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

The last few busy weeks at the farm.

These last few weeks at the farm have been wonderful, but exhausting.
When we had the front room extended out onto the verandah we had to remove the plastic weather blinds that we had previously installed, and as the weather was cold and nasty  we decided to see if one of the old blinds would fit. We were lucky that the smaller of the three blinds was a perfect fit.
This has made a  lovely protected area at the entry  of our house, and a nice cozy spot for the old blue girl to  lay on her comfy bed and watch the world go by from.
Brian has been  heading up the hill up behind our place on a regular basis to  bring back a utility load of wood. He decided it was easier to just get it as we need it and then there isn't huge piles sitting around, and he spreads the  physical load on himself as well.
Our bare windows had also  made the job of heating up the  house a little more  so a friend and I traveled to Dubbo  to purchase new curtains for the lounge room/dining/office.
Brian spent the day  putting up the new rods and hanging the new curtains, I am really pleased with them and already they have made a huge difference.
Next on our agenda  was a trip to Newcastle to meet our daughter  so that we could pick up our grand daughter and grandson to bring them up to the farm for a few days of the school holidays , as Mum and Dad had to work. Newcastle  is a halfway point for both of us.
As we left home early in the morning  and along the way the scenery was  beautiful with areas of fog lingering around which made for some  lovely  views.
On our return with the children  we attended a function in town  to view the "Melbourne Cup"  which was  being taken on a tour through regional NSW visiting many small country towns like ours. It was lovely to see, there were the  normal speeches and photo opportunities and a lovely morning tea supplied by  the CWA and Progress  committees
Our  young grandson is nearly 2 years old and in to absolutely everything and nearly drove me insane  while I was trying to work in the kitchen, so I purchased  this great baby gate to  keep him in the lounge with Poppy while I worked
It was wonderful,  and it made such a difference.
While the kids were here our niece called out with her children so that all the kids could catch up and play and as she had recently celebrated a birthday and I had a surplus of eggs, I decided to make her a sponge  birthday cake.
Our winter garden has done extremely well and Brian harvested the last three cauliflowers ,
He was very proud of them,
They were huge, one measuring over 30 cm across(1 ft) and weighing 5.3 kgs(11 lbs)
I sectioned them all up  and froze flat into bags, I ended up with about 11-12 1kg (2lb) bags
The rhubarb has also been doing well and we have been picking regularly for us and for friends, I haven't canned  any  this season though.
The steel  finally arrived for our new back verandah, we were away when it was delivered( we had specifically asked for it not to come that day, but the company took it upon them selves to disregard our request), so a friend came to help unload. The truck driver  was a lousy driver and was unable to turn the truck  for some reason and he and our friend removed three different fences to allow him to  turn around and he also bogged the truck tree times and had to be pulled free with the tractor..
We were so annoyed when we were told and have had serious words with the company and will never deal with them again., But the good news is we are one step closer to  the new  verandah being completed.
The clean up of the back  shed  has progressed fairly well, Brian has  removed all the old batteries and all the old shelving and has erected the new metal industrial shelving we purchased .
I took on  the job to relocate all the "stuff" back onto the shelves, a job still not complete but not too far to go. We moved  1 set of shelving up to my laundry end to organize a bit of  that "stuff" too, we have ordered another 2 sets of the blue/orange shelving  to go on the left hand side near the  inverters to act as a work bench and storage( we will leave off the second from top shelf to allow access to  the  inverters .
We now finally  have room to move up  there and can actually access my washing machine again  and   possibly  be able to find things again. I still have a few piles  to sort through  which I will do over the next week or so.
There was so much to share this time that I decided to break it up into two posts, I hope that in doing so, that it hasn't become too disjointed. I will do the second one in the next few days.
We so enjoyed the grand kids  being here and we   did lots  of activities with them, but my daughter has requested that I not show them online, which I thoroughly understand.
They love coming to the farm and will be back again in about a months time, but with their Mum and Dad next time, which will be fun.
I hope you are all well and happy and will catch up   again hopefully a little further down the track,
Please take care of you and yours,