Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The bits in between

Although it  seemed that laying the concrete was the major project for the week, we also had a few other jobs and activities  that we  had to work round as well.
The first  being Brian's birthday celebrations.
Once again we had the obligitory bonfire and friends and family over to celebrate, I made him an old favourite, Apricot  nectar  cheesecake for his  cake.
We had a great night, I used to make cheesecakes all the time when all the family were home, but rarely have over the last few years as they were just too big , but hopefully I will  now get back into making them more regularly again as we now have more people around to share with.
One of our wonderful local long time  volunteers had reached a point in her life where she felt she needed to move on to another town  where there  are more services available to her as she doesn't drive or own a car.  Many of the local  groups have been  gathering  to have  their small farewells to her and I got in and baked a few slices for our local craft shop farewell morning tea.
I made an Armenian Nutmeg cake and a coconut jam slice.
On Saturday, several of us gathered at  Barbara's home and we loaded all her furniture onto a truck, several vehicles and trailers,
And then on Sunday, drove the 200 klms to her new town and unloaded all the furniture into her lovely  new home. She will truly be missed by  the many groups and organizations that she  was a part of  and  volunteered for, and hope that she will be  truly happy  in her  new home.
While we have been away from home a fair bit , the chickens and turkeys took advantage of our absence and  sneaked into our yard and had a field day with  our cabbage and cauliflower plants.
Brian has had to do a fill in on and below  all the gates  with chicken wire as the smaller Isa Brown hens were just fitting under nicely, but the turkeys are another matter as they just jump up and over, they may be a little harder to keep out.
We have had glorious weather this week, with our apricot tree now in full bloom and already sprouting a few new green leaves, winter is nearly over, only about two weeks until spring is upon us.
Our  "Cauliflower  Hakea" is flowering for the first time, a small shrub that although looks soft and delicate, in reality  is a very prickly, spikey shrub.
I decided  to get  in and make a couple of lasagnas so that I could pop them away in the freezer  for an easy meal when I  don't  feel like cooking.

A lovely tomato based  bolognaise sauce, made from minced lamb and  my canned tomatoes, and  canned pasta sauce, teamed with a nice cheesy  melted butter sauce, layered with   pasta sheets.
I made two, but  they smelt so good that we decided to eat one that very night and only one made it into the freezer.
We have had a great week, full on, fun,sad,   exhausting, rewarding, productive   and progress on the house.
We have come to the conclusion that life here will never be dull, we will never be lonely , and  there will always be  a long list of  jobs to be done,  but LIFE IS GOOD.
Until we meet again,
Take care of you and yours,

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Is it wrong to be so in love with concrete ???

Huge week here at the farm, lot's of other small activities that I will document in a later post, but the main thing was that we finally  arrived at the day that  our big concrete area out the back was to be laid.
Brian had prepared the site with the help of the brother next door( digging with the tractor) and then the friend up the road( the boxing up and  leveling with many loads of blue metal base) and then the mesh.
He had planned for the truck to reverse up to our house and  then that all the volunteers would wheelbarrow the wet cement along the level pathway to the drop site.....but no !!! the driver in his wisdom( and thoughtfullness I must add), decided to drive the 11 ton truck full of cement  backwards and forwards several times until he got near the job site.. I tthink he felt sorry for our band of aged 60 +  volunteers....The result is now many, many deep tyre  trenches dug by the truck that we now have to fix
by wheelbarrow with loads of soil to repair the damage. Some are minor, but some areas are a big mess, we really can't believe that he didn't bog the truck.
We had a great crew of volunteers, Brian's brother and my brother, 2 neighbours, and a paid concrete finisher to do all the neat stuff  for us with all the right gear.
The truck arrived nice and early with the  hopefully correct amount of cement on board that our concreter had ordered and  the men all set to work.

The men all worked wonderfully together and it seemed that the  bulk was laid in no time at all( says me that wasn't out there shoveling and wheeling  full barrows.)
It was about at this point that the truck  driver announced that he wouldn't have enough cement  on board  and that he would have to do a second run back to base for another  cubic metre, which meant a two hour wait for his return.( and another $200 for travel) It wasn't  the drivers  calculation , but our concreters), who adjusted his bill accordingly for his mistake.
So our  concrete finisher worked on until the truck returned .
We eventually got the last section laid and smoothed off, and as we now had a fair bit extra cement( me thinks the driver felt a little bad  for us, we were able to quickly box up a couple of extra paths up the back and a step up to the coolroom.
My sister in law also came over from Dubbo to help and she cooked up a great meal of sausages,bacon and egg rolls and salad for all the workers.
She also brought with her  many  pots of small succulent plants that she had started
from her own garden and the two of us got in and planted in  the long garden along the front of the house. They will make an excellent low care ,low water use  garden.
 We are very grateful for all the help that we  received on the day and prior and  will return the favors as needed  by all our helpers.
The concrete looks amazing, I am so in love with my back verandah, everyone just did a brilliant job, I could not have asked for better.
I can hardly wait until the  cover goes over it in a few weeks time, it will be such a  wonderful entertaining area, and play area, and washing drying area, and just so much protection for that westerly side of the house.
This is the view out my kitchen window, for the first time ever I will be able to chat to visitors from the kitchen sink  while preparing food will be amazing. We badly need to oil up our old  outdoor setting, but that will be another day after the cover goes up.
It felt like we would never reach this point , but it is all happening, life is good....very busy but VERY GOOD.
Take care everyone,
Until we meet again  down the road,
when I probably will be out back having coffee on my new verandah, 

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Clean ups, sheep work, eggs and canning

With all the projects on the go we end up with lots of mess around.  Last weekend we had a big clean up, We had stored a lot of stuff near the cool room, so we started there and  moved the cement mixer and other bits and pieces, scrubbed the concrete and then moved the  old rabbit hutch that we use to grow chickens in under the cover. It had previously been out in the yard but was beginning to deteriorate rapidly.
We tidied up the area where the hutch used to be, turned over the soil in the veggie gardens, planted two blueberry bushes, and relocated  other things.
Brian sorted out all the dead batteries and gathered them together out back, the  ones that were still working we gave to the next door neighbours.
The dead ones will be taken to Sydney   one day as we have contacted the  place we purchased from  and they will give us an amount of money per kilogram. They were second hand when we purchased them, and we feel it is far better to recycle them rather than dump them at the tip.
Brian has been constantly  sorting out his shed, the last of the new shelving that we have slowly been buying  has finally arrived . He  put  one set up 2 days ago as he wanted to be able to  set  a batch of eggs going in the incubator.
We hope that we have  timed the eggs well as we  are having our daughter ,son in law and grand kids and friends of theirs with children visit toward the end of the month and they are hoping to be able to see them hatch or at least tiny chickens.
We have been having  some glorious sunrises,
Even though we are still  in winter, the garden is coming to life, the gazanias are bushing up and lush, and jonquils are beginning to bloom,
And every morning the sheep laze around in the early morning  sun as it spreads across the paddocks.
We have  fully meshed the back verandah area, the concreter will be here on Wednesday weather permitting.
I made up a small photo display to hang, it's my Dad and Mum, their wedding photo, the old family home and a more modern photo of my family.
We were lucky to be given a free utility load of mulch from a friend  and we have  completed the three  front gardens that I recently weeded.
Yesterday Brian and I  joined his brother and sister in law and their grandchildren  to help them drench, tag, ring and mark the  sheep on their farm.
Their grandson was chief lamb catcher and we all were allocated jobs to make the day run smoothly.
It a lovely spot and looks particularly pretty at the moment after the  recent rain that we have had.
We had a great but exhausting day, our work was overseen by Rusty the protecting alpacca and Tilly the old blue girl that barely left the seat  in the utility.
We all cleaned ourselves up afterwards and met next door for a bonfire,
At first it just didn't want to burn but eventually we had a great fire to sit around  and chat.
Brian finished off the last of the shelves this morning up in the shed, and  boxed up another small area that he will concrete if there is any left over on Wednesday when our verandah is done.
While  he was doing that I got in and made  a batch of sauce, this time it was Mango/apricot/habanero chilli sauce.
When cooked, I filled and capped my bottles and jars and water bathed them in 2 big pots on the wood  heater/cooker  for 10 minutes.
I have  several bags of habanero chillies frozen in the freezer and as  other ingredients  become available I will slowly produce  an array of chilli based sauces.
It has been another busy week, Brian is celebrating a birthday tomorrow and will spend most of the day helping a friend to erect a farm shed( along with another neighbour)
I hope to have a small celebration tomorrow evening with  those same neighbours and friends.
I hope your week has been  as  good as ours ,
Take care of you and yours,