Saturday, December 31, 2011

So long 2011

After putting a new property sign on my to do list for 2011 I finally hung one yesterday with only two days of 2011 left. The old sign was really just an old pice of shelving painted with house paint and was never meant to be permanent but it hung around for years. Not a good picture of the new sign but I wanted to post it anyway.

It seems that the cute and cuddly always get the better deal as far as pictures go so today I have a couple of pictures of big grown up sheep instead of lambs. On our farm the adult sheep are just as friendly as the lambs and really don't mind having their pictures taken at all.


This is Bessy. She was the second lamb born on our farm and before we decided to specialise in the Suffolk breed. She always produces the tiniest little lambs and she is really ladylike and a wonderful mother. Her own mother, Essy, is still with us and is a very youthful nine year old and I think she is a little upset that she wasn't allowed to have lambs this year.

Julia's Rose

Just in time for the new year, the rose garden is amass of blooms (weeds too with all the rain). This is Julia's Rose which is one of my favourites. I really admire its understated beauty.

Dahlias are aplenty too. My only complaint about dahlias is their lack of scent. Though perhaps if they were scented it might be just too much all in one flower.

In a change from the dahlias and roses (and gladioli too) I decided to arrange a vase of agapanthus when my sister visited for afternoon tea on Wednesday. They were completely stunning and I can't begin to think why I have never used them inside before.


Finally, I hope for a happy 2012 for all. I intend to make the most of the wonder in my life and strive to make a difference (even if it is but a little one). Goodbye to 2011 and welcome 2012.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Boxing day

While Christmas Day seems to be very much a day for being 'in the moment', Boxing Day seems more contemplative. A day for rest, relaxation, maybe a bit of recovery and reflection for me at least. I do love this time of year in between Christmas and the New Year. It seems to be all fun and none of the usual responsibilities and places to be. Even the chores are allowed to slide just a little bit.

The only problem with too much time to think is that I am often prone to run off with grandiose plans and ideas of what I would like to achieve rather than what is actually achievable. I can dream anyway.

Tomorrow we are having a second Christmas celebration with my sister. She has brought her little family up from Sydney and my parents are hosting so it is all fun and maybe the washing up for me.

Chookyblue's SSCS

I really did resist the temptation to open my parcel from Rose Marie which I'm still surprised at. It probably helped that none of our presents were under the tree before Christmas due to Puss doing some damage in Christmases past. Chookyblue's idea of having the ornament to open earlier is a help too.

The gift I received is simply lovely. Rose Marie said she could tell from my blog that I loved flowers and she did a wonderful job capturing a sweet bouquet in her stitchery. I now have the tough decision of where to hang the wallhanging. At the moment I am favouring the lounge room because it will be most visible there.

My partner was Trash. I made a table runner with a Christmas theme. This was such a great swap to be a part of and Chookyblue has links and pictures galore on her blog to all of the swappers with plenty of inspiration and ideas for next Christmas. Thanks Chooky.

On the farm we had a new lamb born at 4am Christmas morning and it was Christmas day that the male turkey decided to hop off his eggs and bring out the five chicks he has hatched. I am really impressed with him having the patience to sit for the month when it isn't really his job. So far we haven't ventured too close to them because male turkeys are truly not the most friendly of characters especially when they are playing mum.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays

I think the sheep are feeling sorry for this poor little, straggly pine.

Happy holidays from our family to the lovely people who visit us here. I hope the festive season is full of peace and joy and that good things are in store for 2012.

Today Hope had her ears pierced. She has been counting down the years from when Grace had hers pierced at 10 four years ago. Tomorrow Hope will be ten so she is a little early and very happy. I can barely believe that it has been ten years since she was a tiny Christmas baby.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Weather

Cool and wet.
It is another rainy day here. The weather although very wet is actually quite lovely. Just right for spending time together.
This has been my daily attire. Boots and raincoat. Much different to what I have been reading on Tania's blog where it is HOT. We haven't had a day this month that has reached 30 degC in our valley and almost 100mL of rain with more falling right now.

Lambs and ewes are in the paddock all day but bed down in the shed overnight. It is one toasty, cosy and cute place to be.


Monday, December 19, 2011


Feeling exhausted today. I haven't overdone it and I'm not sick but I can't seem to shake the feeling of weariness. My intuition is telling me that the chocolate I enjoyed yesterday is the culprit.

Anyway, I am going to try to work through it and maybe have a herbal tea or two and hope that helps.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Around the yard

Yesterday I spent some time tidying the vegie garden. Spreading mulch, weeding, planting, dead-heading lavenders and a little mowing (by Tim). It was looking a bit neglected but now it is looking good, in my eyes at least. The best part, sheep and lambs on the other side of the fence.

My orange coloured buddleja is really splendid right now. I only planted it this year as a tiny mail order plant it is now just as tall as me (which isn't tall as far as people go but is tall enough for a shrub). This one is in the rose garden and is providing a touch of colour whilst the roses are having a rest.

Last year I grew rice in an old bath tub and it was fun, interesting and grew well. This year the bath tub is home to some fibre growing. I have cotton in the tub. We travelled through cotton growing country last year when we went to Lightning Ridge and it tweeked my interest in giving fibre a go. Of course we grow our own wool but I was keen to have a try at a plant based fibre that doesn't need too much treatment on a small scale. So far it is doing well and has been a simple plant to germinate and grow actually my only input has been to put the seed in the soil, water and watch.

The rice growing also prompted some variety in my grain t growing. This is some of my buckwheat. It is said to be a favourite with bees so that makes it very welcome here although apparently single flora buckwheat honey is very much an aquired taste. That won't be a problem for us. The buckwheat crop is small and the bees forage from such a wide variety of flowers that our honey is truly mixed flora. It is a pretty little plant though.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The animals are in control

It seems that right now the animals are in charge here. The ewes are checked periodically during the night to make sure there is no trouble because trouble does often happen at night for some reason. Thankfully though there has been no sign of trouble. During the day there are the usual chores plus Grace and Hope are on lamb playing duty. It is not surprising that they can not bear to eat our home produced lamb meat when they become attached to them when they are tiny.

Sometimes the sheep just want to have a chat over lunch.

Even Puss has taken over the kitchen. She isn't allowed in the sink but she doesn't care.


Monday, December 12, 2011


Our first tomato for this season. I am behind with tomatoes this year after the hail storm last month destroying 29 tomato seedlings. I thought it was 30 but one lone Brandywine survived. I have planted out some more tomatoes so I am optimistic for some more home grown goodness soon. Until then, I will support the local organic growers who were spared in the storms.

The first tomato from the garden actually came from Hope's little garden bed. It weighed in at a huge 16 grams which didn't go very far with Tim and I sharing. It might have been tiny but it was delicious.

The weather is still playing tricks here. It has been unseasonally cool and very wet. Gardening and farming are both endeavours which are at the mercy of the weather and a positive attitude is your best friend.

Tonight I am hoping I have enough energy left over after a day in town to do some Christmas crafting. I love this time of year and the flurry to make some special little things for those I hold most dear.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Party time again

This time we celebrated Hope's birthday with her school friends. Her actual birthday is on December 25 so not a good day for a party with friends but as school finished up on Thursday we had a small party in town. A couple of hours playing and then a pizza picnic in the park with ice cream cake for dessert. Hope had a great time with her friends and Tim and I had a quiet afternoon tea together while they played.

After the guests went home I took the opportunity to snap a picture of Tom, Grace and Hope in front of the agapanthus at the park. It is such a lovely park which is really underutilised and never busy.

No more new lambs as yet but the little ones that are already here are starting to find their feet and will soon be too quick to catch. The little one in the picture above has one thing on her mind and while mum was resting decided to make the most of the opportunity...

for an easy drink.


Friday, December 9, 2011

On My Mind... Lambs

Rhonda who hosts On My Mind each Friday has some sad news on her mind today. The sudden and unexpected loss of a hen sitting on eggs and a tiny chick too. I'm often hesitant to write here on my blog about eggs which are being incubated until they are hatched and all is well. A farm, whether it is rural or backyard is fraught with opportunites to see new life and sadly see life slip away first hand. It is happier news here on my mind. We have lambs. Only three so far but there have been no complications or difficult deliveries. A set of female twins and one ram lamb.

Black lambs are just one of the reasons why Suffolks are my breed of choice.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011


A big thank you to Rose Marie for the SSCS swap parcel which arrived to today. My ornament is lovely hand painted moose and is now hanging proudly on my silver table tree. Rose Marie has a great blog, Applique and Patches with some great sewing inspiration.

Chookyblue has to be thanked too. I can only imagine the effort involved in organising such a large swap.

The main gift is wrapped securely but is tempting me every time I look at it. I think I will have to get Tim to hide it from me just to be sure I don't peek before the 25th.

Still no lambs. But is a cool, wet night so just the weather it seems from past experience for ewes to 'choose' to give birth.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Watching and waiting

Right now we are playing a game of patience. Watching and waiting for the ewes to start lambing. Our usual lambing time is in the spring but it was necessary this year to delay joining. Some people say that this can cause a problem with fertility and lambing rates but all the ewes appear to be almost ready to give birth. The lambing rates remain to be seen though but I am hopeful for at least a few multiple births.
If heavily pregnant waddling is anything to go by, the ewes are more eager than us to have these lambs on the ground.

Here is father turkey. Not visible are the nine eggs he is incubating.

I think his broodiness has something to do with the fact that the last lot of turkey babies are only a couple of months old and mother is still busy mothering them and not ready or available to sit again. It shouldn't be too long for this next batch of eggs to hatch and so far I can say that our father turkey has made a fantastic incubator but I'm not sure how he will go when the hatching starts.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Catching my breath

Home again after a trip of almost 1800km in a couple of days. We arrived home Saturday afternoon and I have now caught up on things around the farm including moving ewes ready for lambing and now it is time to catch my breath. Though I still haven't had much of a chance to get out into the yard and garden to do too much. Although the trip was long and tiring, it was good to see some other parts of the state. We left behind wet, windy weather and our very green valley and headed south west. Our region doesn't grow the same broad acre crops so it was interesting to see the gorgeous colour of the crops almost ready to be headed.

Tim did the bulk of the driving and I got to be navigator and crocheter for the trip. I worked on some gifts for Grace and Hope because they stayed behind and it is all very top secret.

We must look like the most unlikely characters when travelling. No cafes or fast foods stops, just the old air pot which works like a charm and my favourite retro picnic basket. There are so many pretty road side rest areas around.

The boys also like to do a bit of exploring and treasure hunting during our breaks.

The late lambing ewes are fit to burst right now and there should be a few babies to blog about soon. Our male turkey has even decided to get in on the act and is sitting on eggs. I thought he was feeling unwell but he seems fine just doing his bit for gender equality.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Herbs and macarons

This is possibly the world's worst looking macaron. I have made them before but feeling a bit adventurous decided to try a different recipe and they just wouldn't form a 'skin' before baking and didn't have the right lift during cooking either. I have had a few problems with recipes from this source so I think I will steer clear of this magazine in the future. My sister, Kelly, has also experienced a few issues with the recipes too so maybe it isn't just this cooks fault.

Herb bed 1 had some attention today. I would really like to be able to make lovely drawings of the garden bed to map out where and what everything is... maybe next week. I looked at a couple of free online garden design programs but they weren't suitable. There are still a few empty spots but it is lush enough right now. Not a very culinary bed but lots of useful plants.

  • curry plant

  • Turkey thyme

  • lemon balm

  • lemon scented geranium

  • fennel

  • Avonview lavender

  • garlic chives

  • catnip x 2

  • cherry tomato

  • chives

  • foxglove

  • common thyme

  • chamomile

  • rosemary

  • southernwood

  • oregano

  • santolina

  • peppermint scented geranium

The list has surprised me with its length, I really didn't realise that there were so many different plants in this bed but herbs are really my favourite plants. It feels like a good time to be taking stock of what is in the garden and what can be added. New plants will have an easy time settling in while there is moisture in the gound and warmth in the air.

Advent calenders opening up tomorrow so it is excitement all round here.


Monday, November 28, 2011

The party is over

We are not quite back to normal life yet as we have a visitor staying until Thursday. Then the three adults, Tim, Tom (who is officially an adult today) and I will head to Wagga Wagga for an interview at the university. It isn't his first choice of university but he is keeping his options open and we will find out for sure in a couple of weeks. The rain has passed and the sun is back out with a vengence . The path is so weedy after the rain. The cheeky cosmos and some rather stubborn parsley seedlings have emerged and it is times like this when spraying is very tempting. I'm not going to though. A couple of hours and the hopefully the path and garden will be back in order.

As you can see we had the dinner inside even though the sun started shining at around 2pm. We had about 200ml/8 inches of rain so it was much too soggy to be outdoors. The artichokes in the vases were quite a nice addition(once the ladybugs were relocated) especially for a dinner for a male.

I made Tom a simple mud cake for his birthday cake. The chocolate ganache icing, cherries and chocolate curls lifted it though and it was quite rich.

For my sister, Jody's 40th birthday cake, I made a little tower of patty cakes. Plain vanilla cakes with pretty icing. These were my pick of the three cakes.

I also made a cheesecake with a fruit topping. Not enough butter in the biscuit base meant it was a little crumbly but nice just the same.

Today for Tom's real birthday dinner, it is lasagne as always. It is his favourite and we have rarely missed a year. Just a humble cinnamon teacake to hold the birthday candles, we have indulged a little too much over the past couple of days.

Until dinner time though I will be busy replanting my tomatoes and pulling weeds while the ground is still giving.


Friday, November 25, 2011

More wet weather

We seem to be right in the middle of a weather system that is producing rain, rain and more rain. Although it is hard to be grateful for it right now, in a month or two we will be thankful for the soaking of the soil that is happening now.

Today I had a full trolley of shopping to buy and bring home for tomorrow nights dinner. Before I went shopping though I did a little procrastinating. Whilst packing up my parcel for Chooky's SSCS, I located some charms I got for Christmas last year. That led me to a little jewellery making. I had some earring findings and in two minutes I had a new pair of earrings. I wore them to town and felt a little special all day.

Wet weather and dinner parties don't mix though. I had planned an elaborate outdoor extravaganza. Well there were going to be fairy lights, candles and a long table. Now I have to set up inside and the guests will get to watch me cook and plate up...aargh. It will be just like a cooking show only not. Anyway I may be absent from the world of blogging tomorrow but I do hope I have a few minutes in the day to spend catching up with online friends.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A little damage

After much rain and the nasty weather of last week, the warm days have returned. The days do have that threatening storm feel though. When I could finally get back out into the garden to check how things faired, not everything was rosy. The pods are bruised from the hail but the peas inside are ok.

The artichokes are looking a tad sad and I am now going to save the tops for a table decoration for a dinner I am having on Saturday evening.

There were no berries left on these strawberries but some others were better off. I think it is often the newest and most cosseted of plants that suffer the most. Or perhaps that is just how it appears.

I am very happy that it is so early in the season to have this damage because I lost 30 tomato plants last Tuesday and as there are still months of warm weather, I can replant and expect a decent crop.

I am in the midst of preparing for my son, Tom's, birthday dinner on Saturday night. It will double as a 40th birthday dinner for my sister too. That means two birthday cakes and twice the fun.Tim has been putting up fairy lights and I have been dreaming up menus that hopefully everyone will enjoy. I'm excited about it now that I have been bitten by the entertaining bug.