Saturday, 12 August 2017

Visitors, a birthday, pride and a few other things thrown in.

Once again that merry go round has started up and doesn't seem to be letting us off, as we have had another really full on few weeks.
We had some good friends come to visit from the coast as as they are keen sewers and love to help out we asked them if they would be prepared to help us  with a big project that we had started.
Our beautiful old Rail Heritage  Barracks accommodation that we volunteer for, has need a bit of a revamp but as money was  tight we opted to just do a bit of altering to the older style quilts  to achieve  a more streamlined look.
The  original quilts  had a huge surplus of material, including a pillow sham and a sort of pleat or placket  at the end ,
So our visitors , Pat and Fay got busy and started unpicking the surplus material,
Then  my Sister in Law Kerry  who was  one of the two original ladies that thought of this( along with Cheryl) came over with her trusty  sewing machine and along with Pat  did the alterations in a huge all day +++ working bee.
The girls worked hard all day,
While they did all the sewing and unpicking, I kept up with  being the  gofer, the morning and afternoon tea supplier  and the clean up person, and  also made a lovely batch of sausage rolls for their lunch,
We had cut up a batch of cauliflower pickles the day before, so while they sewed I cooked and bottled  that.
I ended up with a good supply to share with everyone.
After a couple of busy days, the end result we feel has been so worth the effort,
This "new" lighter quilt is so much easier to strip, launder and remake as most of us volunteers are now getting older, every little bit helps.
The photo above shows the winter option on the left and an idea we had for a lighter summer option was  to use the old pillow shame at the foot of the bed to  keep that area clean and the small flap that was in the pleat we have turned into a scatter cushion.
All 24 quilts have now been altered, laundered and returned to  their  beds at the barracks.
Thank you girls for that mammoth effort that you put in, It was so worth it and we really appreciate
all your  hard work.
While the girls were here we decided to  take a drive and head to the Warrumbungle National Park  and head to a cafe we had heard about.
It had been completely destroyed in the devestating fire of January 2013 and has now been reborn with love.
I don't normally advertise or push a product or business but  after visiting Tibuc Gardens cafe and meeting the owners Trish and Elaine  and hearing their story,  I decided to include the visit in this post.
It is located in a beautiful spot  not far from the Siding Springs observatory,
Elaine and Trish are working hard to reestablish the lovely gardens, and they are coming along well. The cafe has a beautiful bush outlook.
The cafe has a wonderful open, light filled feel about it.
So if you are in the Coonabarabran area and  looking for  a nice cafe, believe me you couldn't go wrong with Tibuc Gardens, the  atmosphere was wonderful,  food was really fantastic at very reasonable prices and the service was  efficient and  friendly . We certainly will return in the future.
The details are below.
Brian celebrated a birthday during the week, so I made him a cake, he requested  one that wasn't too creamy or rich, so I made him an old favourite  from a recipe my sister shared with me over 30 years ago, an Armenien Nutmeg cake.
We had fish and chips on the river( his choice)  and then had the cake for supper with hot chocolates.
The next night we were invited up to a friend and neighbours place to a lovely baked dinner , cake and a nice fire . Great food and great company never goes amiss.

It is still incredibly dry here, even though this happened, ( and here is the proof),we recorded 19 mms.

  And as well as that Brian actually got to wear his raincoat to collect the eggs  one afternoon,
We are still hand feeding hay to our sheep  to supplement the lack of green grass.
We have now  changed from the large round rolls to large square bales as we can feed out in "biscuits" in  multiple  area instead of all together to hopefully reduce waste.
The whole place is  very bare, the days have been warm but we will need rain to produce  pasture for the stock.
I love how they get straight into the piles , rushing between lots thinking that there may be something better in the next pile.
Even the chooks get in on the act and are not the least bit concerned about the sheep.
The chooks and turkeys  spend hours every day scratching around in the hay.
They are always looking for bugs and insects and the hay laying around provides the perfect  place for that.
Our turkeys now only number 6 but I am sure as in years before they will  very quickly multiply.
We are collecting on average between 14 and 17 hen eggs per day.
I was able to send our visitors home with  many dozens of eggs and a few big batches of lemon butter.
We have been doing some cleaning,clearing and burning over the last few days, Mother nature supplies us with a constant  accumulation of leaves, twigs, logs and rubbish that we always must keep on top of and especially now as the fire season approaches.
I took on clearing around the wood heap and fire drum area,
Brian took on a fallen log on the high rocky are behind the chook yard.
If we don't get substantial rainfall soon, we are  certain that the fire restriction season will be brought forward , so we are  taking advantage of what time we have available.
We have been doing some running repairs on our caravan,
Cut the top out of an old beer keg  for a fire bucket,
Purchased a new shade screen for the caravan, we also bought the end drops. As well as shade this also acts as a privacy screen and also  creates a bit of a wind break. We hope to have a few small trips away  before too long and are really looking forward to the break away.

We have had reason to be a little proud this week. Brian's brother Bill travelled ( along with the other Australian team members) to Maribor in Slovenia for the World benchrest  shooting  titles.

He and the team did Australia proud in the team events , GOLD and BRONZE  !!!!  Well done  team.

On an individual level,  Bill also excelled, bagging a silver medal. We are  extremely proud and excited  for  him and all the Australian team members.
It has been  great to have our visitors here for the week, and as much as we had a totally wonderful time it also was  nice to just be  the two of us again, not to have to  think of meal preparation  and special diet requirements ect.
We will have a few quiet days to relax and recharge.

 So until we meet up a little  further down the road of life
Take care
Jane and Brian.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

A busy if slightly frustrating week.

When we first moved here full time to the farm  our poultry numbers have increased dramatically, and we  realize that if we are going to be able to travel and leave  friends or neighbours to look after them we must continue to downsize their numbers.
To achieve this we have been routinely  dispatching roughly a dozen at a time( 6 turkeys and 6 roosters) We leave them hanging in the cool room for three or four days  before processing to the freezer.
With some of the turkeys from the freezer I decided to make up some turkey curry,
Firstly I dusted the cubed turkey pieces in seasoned  flour,
These were then fried to brown them,drained,

and  added to a big  stainless stock pot. I then added my curry base( from a jar this time)  and stock and vegetables and cooked  on the stove until the  meat and vegies were tender.
At this point I thicken it  and cook a little longer to cook the flour thoroughly.
I decided to  put this into  meal sized dump bags that are just right for Brian and I for a meal and we also  tested to see if they fit into the small freezer section in our caravan, and they do.
We attended the Mudgee small farm Field Day, we had traveled there  with Brian's brother and his wife from next door and we had a lovely day  wandering the exhibits.
we only managed to lose the men once, but after a quick  embarrassing public announcement over the loud speaker we were very quickly reunited.

The men especially  loved watching the tractor pulls, which I have to admit I  rather enjoyed as well.
We bought some tasty salamis off two different stalls and some really delicious chorizo that I made up into a couple of tasty dishes  back home.
This one was  a nice spicy type of quick fried rice  dish, perfect for a quick lunch.
I also  got in and made a  couple of batches of  turkey soup( from the  carcasses  left over from the turkey curry.
I ended up with 14 quarts and 16 x 750 ml jars of  turkey and vegetable soup to go into the pantry.
I have been saving all the carrot,onion, & pumpkin peels and ends  as I prepare  all the  vegetables and freezing them for future use  when I want to make a batch of stock.
We  attended the AGM of our local Rail Barracks volunteer group so I tried a new recipe for a lemon curd cheesecake using the lemon curd up that I had  made a few weeks ago.
It was  really   good and is certainly a recipe that I would make again for another occasion.
I did a good tidy up again in the pantry( this is a regular activity as I am the queen of dumping in there.
We had a trip to Dubbo last week and managed to catch up with my Mum for lunch which was  lovely. Mum will be 93 this year and is very independent and we are very proud of her( I snapped this pic of her without her knowing as it tends to give a much more natural result.)
Some friends of ours had  asked us if we would like  some bee equipment that they no longer used, we gratefully accepted their gift and went out to their farm and picked it up. It will be handy for us  after we  sterilize them to make sure there  is no disease  in them. ( It had been 17 years since they were last used.)
A few months ago we  purchased a pallet load of retaining wall blocks from Bunnings, last week Brian began constructing the retaining wall at the end of our back verandah .
As we had never had anything to do with building a retaining wall before( with an inside 90 deg corner) we did not know that  to do this properly you must start  with the  base level corner block first.
So after discovering this important little piece of information after we were unable to complete  the corner we had to totally dismantle what we had built and start again.
Things were looking up and we  kept building until we ran out of blocks.
We then traveled back to Bunnings ( over an hours drive away) and purchased  another pallet load of the same blocks as we  already had.
We unloaded them on the lawn and began building the next morning,.......then I heard Brian call out in frustration, went out to discover this.............
The new load ( obviously from another batch) were slightly different, too different to just  keep laying them....a couple of phone calls left us with  two options, to either return all blocks for a full refund or work with what we had. We chose the latter.
After once again disassembling  the full wall( bar the base row) and rebuilt it alternating the rows  to produce a  striped effect along the wall.
Our son had arrived at the farm by this point and he helped Brian  rebuild at a much quicker rate. To save time , this time they didn't back fill as they went and just as the  last couple of blocks went down, the whole wall collapsed.
If  we didn't laugh we would have cried..........we were devestated.
Our son just said, come on, let's just do it...... and we all got in, row by row, barrow after barrow of soil and rock backfill and got it back up.
We have progressed as far as we can, we still have  a few more blocks to lay down the side( we need to purchase about 10 more blocks) The curved corner  at the end was difficult  as it leads onto the stone steps, but we are very pleased with the final result.We still need to source the capping stones for the top as well.
We  held a  birthday BBQ  lunch here yesterday for a friend and neighbor, we had a lovely day  with many compliments on our wall( it went a long way to  make  all  the grief worthwhile).
This morning was the most amazing sunrise, the whole sky was just stunning. We see this glorious  display from Mother Nature  from our bedroom  most mornings when the  conditions are  right.
The beauty of the country side is  outstanding. It is so sad to see  how dry it it. We desperately need rain, there are predictions for a few  small showers this week,  if they come it will help but we need  good steady large  falls of rain over a prolonged period.  Large trees are dropping dead, there is no moisture  in the soil, even when we buried our beautiful Tilly girl  we would have expected to see some moisture down deep but there was nothing but powdered soil.
The  land is suffering and I dearly hope it turns around soon.
Hopefully the next time I post I will have better news on that front as  surely we must get rain soon.
Take care until we meet  again
Jane and Brian.