Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Well Christmas is done and dusted in our household for another year. It was a very rushed downhill run into Christmas, and I didn't manage to get everything finished that I would have liked to, but anyway, it all worked out well. Kasey was tapping me awake at 5.30 this morning, and she was happy to watch tv for a while until we got up about 6.30. It was actually funny, as we decided this year to give Kasey more worthwhile presents, instead of lots of little things that don't get used. So we had a word with Santa, and asked him to not give Kasey so much this year, and as I walked out this morning Kasey turned to me and motioned to the smaller pile of presents from Santa and said..."that's it...that's all I got..." with a very unimpressed look on her face...however, she was actually totally fine with it, and has received more than enough from both Santa, us, her brother and sister, and her aunts, uncles and grandparents, cousins etc, and has gone off to sleep tonight tired but happy, and not overwhelmed by too many things....which has been great, as she has been so easy to get along with today, unlike previous years where she has had a meltdown as the day has worn on.
Unfortunately, the day has not been all great, when we got home I went up to check the clucky hen, who had 1 baby chick 2 days ago, and still has 10 eggs under her to hatch, to find the baby chick gone....we don't know where it has ended up, but my thought is that a rat has taken it..we have a big rat plague problem here at the moment. We pulled up some metal sheets that were on the ground, and the dogs got about another six or so rats this afternoon, but there is still lots more up there to get.....I have managed to move the clucky hen this afternoon into the protected large cage which a rat would not hopefully be able to get in to, it only has spaces about 10mm wide, so I am hoping that will protect any new hatchings from them...I don't know if we are going to get anymore to hatch or not, as there has been no more since 2 days ago when they were due...we will see what happens over the next few days, but it's not looking really good at this point, and may have been a futile exercise both for the hen and for us. Disappointing....
Damian and Kasey are both asleep, and all presents have been put away, and the washing is on and the house is tidy, all rubbish from today has been boxed up ready to go to the tip, so I will be heading to bed soon. We need to pack tomorrow as we will be heading back up to the property on Tuesday for a week or so, hopefully there hasn't been too much rain up there at the moment, so we can get the gully in the access road fixed so that delivery trucks can get in and deliver the supplies for the septic to be installed.  Damian has built a fantastic little flatpacked bathroom which will have a flushing toilet and a shower etc, to make it much easier for when we stay for extended periods, or for when we have visitors to the property. We are really looking forward to it. Michael and Toni are staying behind, and will look after things here for us, and monitor any new babies that may be born up at the chookhouse and relocate them to the chicken tractor once it is safe to do so

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Our new adventure

So, it's now official. We now own 152 acres of property about 4 hours north of where we are now, near Bundaberg. We spent our first weekend on the property last weekend, and will be heading up again after boxing day for a week or 2. It's just land, no house, so a big clean slate. We already have lots of plans for when we head back up, and we are getting a big water tank and toilet and shower shed put up while we are up there next. Currently we stay in our van when there, overlooking the mountains...lovely. Lots of new adventures waiting for us...

 The property is a good mix of flat areas and undulating areas, and lots of waterholes and gullies for building more dams if we want. The view over the mountains is gorgeous. Friends camped with us on the property over the weekend and their 2 boys and Kasey went exploring and played in the trees all weekend, poor Kasey was absolutely stuffed! This was about 5 minutes after leaving the property on Monday....
There is a large amount of timber just sitting around the property which will need to be pushed up and tidied up, but we won't be short of firewood for a very long time! At this stage we are looking at building a house over the next 12 months or so, but that will all pan out as we have the time to do it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Christmas shirt

I have finally gotten around to finishing my Xmas t-shirt off.
 I have been so busy trying to get the embroidery done on the patchwork quilt I am making, that it has taken precedence over everything else. I am hoping to get the quilt finished to hand stitching the binding on tonight, but that will depend on how I'm feeling after Kasey goes to bed tonight.Then I will have the accessories to finish off....oh...and her desk to paint :S..... I have most of the gift wrapping done on most things, so that's all sorted.  Just got to sort out where will actually be on Christmas day so I know what food to organise, whether we will be here, or whether we will go to Damian's family for the day. I would love to just settle here for the day, but I know Damian would like to catch up with his he can make the final decision on that one I think.  Anyway, off to meet up with a friend for afternoon tea, and then back to work with finishing things off...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'm my own worst enemy...

Next time I decide I'm gonna make a full patchwork quilt, cushions, pillowcases etc for a certain little girl 3 weeks out of Christmas, someone slap me....I'm over it....

Friday, December 9, 2011

Baby bird

I just found a baby bird in the greenhouse. Lucky I found it before the dogs did. I have no idea what sort of bird it is though, it just seems just a little too young to be able to fly yet, but is uninjured. I rang Australia Zoo and they suggested I put it up in a tree out of harms way, as the parents will normally be around watching it. So I did that, and some mynah birds were feeding it and looking after it, so I have just left them to it, as all seems well. One of the mynah birds had the telltale yellow on it's beak, and the other one didn't, it looked like a grown up version of the baby.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Another Xmas t-shirt

This one is for Toni...she saw me making Kasey one and put in her request for one for herself. I have another t-shirt to do for myself as well, so all of us girls will be sort of matching on Xmas Day

I purchased this nifty little mannequin today from Overflow, I saw them there a few weeks back, and was tossing up whether or not to get one, but they come in so handy. It isn't an adjustable one, but it will allow me to get the idea on how something is going to look so I can bring all of the colours together nicely and be able to stand back and get a good look at the project I am working on. Kasey finished school for the year today, so sleep in tomorrow....yay....

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Camembert, books and crafts

My camembert cheese from my course at the end of October is maturing quite nicely. It has grown all of it's white mould, so now I have cryovaced it and it is in the fridge waiting to be eaten as a Christmas treat.
 I have purchased myself a couple of books in the last couple of weeks. I saw this book today, and grabbed it. It is a huge book, a couple of inches thick, with so many old classic recipes in it.
  I picked up this book at Spotlight a couple of weeks back, it is a lovely book with lots of lovely sewing projects for the home, but all are with a modern look.
I knitted up this scarf as a gift for my heartsister in Melbourne, as well as this lovely heart sachet, which I thought was apt for my heartsister. The heartsister idea is through the Simple Savings website, and we send a gift or card or thought to someone anonomously each month or so, and we receive something from someone else, and at the end of 12 months, we all reveal who we are a heartsister to. It's a nice way to make some new friends, sort of like a penpal, but a little different.
I managed to finish off the Christmas shopping today, which is great because Kasey finishes school tomorrow, and I didn't want to be traipsing around the shops trying to think with Kasey in tow. So now we can concentrate on doing fun things in the lead up to Christmas, and go to the movies and other Christmas time activities.  So just need to finish the wrapping, and a few hand  made things, and that's it. The shops were so busy as well, people absolutely everywhere, and it's only going to get worse, so I m glad I don't have any more shopping to do, other than grocery shopping.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas planning coming together....

Diesel is back home from the vet. He is fine apparently, his leg seems much better, so we just have to go through the long recovery process now. The Christmas tree was put up on the weekend, as well as the other decorations.

 I have been trying to find Kasey a nice Christmas t-shirt for weeks now, and haven't been able to find anything in her size, or the messages on them have not been appropriate for a 7 year old girl. So I bought just a plain t-shirt, and embroidered it myself. The only request from Kasey was that she wanted a reindeer, so I am happy with the end result.

Managed to get a little more Xmas shopping done yesterday, so I am getting pretty well organised now. I have quite a large project underway for Kasey for Christmas though, so hopefully I can get that finished...might be a few late nights spent on that one. I have to go now and make a phonecall, I ordered Mum a subscription of Handmade magazine for Christmas, with the first issue to start in January so I could include the voucher in her Xmas present...they sent her the first one yesterday!! Not Happy Jan!! Luckily it is only part of her present, but I really expressed to them that it HAD to start in January, and they said, yes, yes, no problems, definitely won't start until January.... to get started on my very busy day....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Back to the vet

Diesel has come up really lame in his left leg today...we have been keeping him extra quiet, so we are hoping it's just delayed from the surgery and not an infection. They have kept him in overnight to monitor him and the surgeon will check him tomorrow.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Diesel's operation

Diesel had his surgery on Wednesday. He was meant to have it Tuesday, but a couple of emergencies came in, so they had to put him off another day. He is home with us now. He was very sore and stiff when we picked him up, but he is on pretty strong painkillers. He has spent a quiet night in the laundry, but he wants to keep walking around, and he's not allowed to for the next 10 days...hmmm...gonna be fun. Damian is bringing home some temporary fencing today, so we are going to make him up a penned off area half on the grass and half on the concrete so he can do his business when needed, but has to stay pretty quiet otherwise,  as he can't run around with the other dogs for 6-8's gonna be a loooonnnggg time for Diesel.
2 days later: Diesel is full of energy and wants to run around with the other dogs. He has escaped numerous times, had half destroyed the laundry, and was doing himself more damage by clawing at the closed door when he was supposed to be keeping his legs fairly still, and chewing the trims off the walls, so I tied him up outside with the other dogs, and he quietened right down. Then we had to go out for a little while, and came back to Diesel running around with the other dogs, as they had all helped him to escape!  We have built him a penned off area, and he keeps pushing under the fence, so we are now going to go and get some timber to nail it all down around the ground so he can't push under it. I think because they have removed all the spurs from his bones, he is feeling fantastic, but there is so much internal healing to do, that we really have to try and keep him quiet, but Diesel is not playing the game at the moment. So, he is inside with me, feeling very sorry for himself, watching the other dogs run around.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Weekend happenings

On my way back from up north last weekend, I picked up a large tray of mangoes from a street market stall. Today I thought I would use some of them up, rather than them going to waste. I am in the process of making mango icecream with the thermomix, but I forgot the cream, so we will make it for dessert tomorrow night instead, it only takes a couple of minutes. But I did get the mango chutney made. And it is extremely yummy, it is a thermomix recipe, and has a nice bit of spice to it to make it tasty, but not hot, and this mixed with the sweetness of the mango and raisins, is yum.

I played around about a bit with my scrapbook max software, to do up the label, as I might make some for Xmas presents. We do have another clucky hen, one of the black australorp girls is sitting, so I will get her some fertile eggs this week, and allow her to hatch some out. She is so funny, if I feel under her, or speak to her while she is sitting, she carries on like there is no tomorrow, cackles away and won't be quiet for at least 5 minutes....I purchased a new chicken feeder as Damian hasn't had time to make the necessary adjustments to the one he made, and we have so many rats taking the chookseed, so I have finally been able to put the lid to the fully closed position today, and they are working it out, with a couple of the girls very confident in using it, and they are teaching the other girls at the same time. We have managed to dispatch of a few rats this weekend, they were nesting above the nesting box at the chook pen, so Damian took the dogs down there, and promptly got rid of quite a few, the dogs are so quick, and the job is done in a matter of a second, much more humane than baiting them and them having a long, slow death. We have to get them all gone, as I have been stressing about snakes, and nearly stood on a huge snake this morning, I don't know if it was a black or a brown, it looked like a brown snake to me, but some of the black snakes can look brown as well....whatever it was I want it GONE.....snakes absolutely creep me out, I am terrified of took off towards next door pretty quickly, and the neighbours aren't helping  by having grass 2 foot tall in their back yard, so I think we might have a word to them and ask them if they can keep the grass down, at least through summer when they are really moving about. So I will only be going down there with my gumboots on, and keeping a really good eye out from now on. We have seen more snakes here in the last 2 years, than we have seen in the previous 17 years here...ugh.....I shudder at the thought of them....Damian managed to get the skirting and arcitraves all done in the office today, and get it prepped for painting, so that will be next on the list. I have managed to get a few Christmas presents sorted over the last few days, so I am feeling much more organsied about that, even though I still have no idea what to get Damian, or Michael. Damian and I might even forego presents for each other this year, as we really don't need anything in particular...and we have a few other things happening during December and January which will more than make up for it. So, off to sewing class tomorrow to finish the project started last week, and to finish organising Toni's Xmas present. I have a busy week coming up, Diesel's surgery is Tuesday, I have a wedding on Thursday and the sewing club Xmas party on Friday night. After that, things should settle down though for the run in to Christmas, hopefully

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Chook issues....

Have lost 2 chickens today, Sam my rooster had to be put down as he had a huge tumour come up in his left eye, and it had actually destroyed his eye, the only option was surgery to remove his it was quite painful for him the only option was to put him to sleep, and another one of my black Australorp's had come down with something..not sure what, but she was on her last legs, so we had her put down at the same time. So, down to 8 hens, and 2 chicks. I am going to dose them all up on oxymav B which is an antibiotic, and try to get on top of anything that might be lurking around down there. Unfortunately, this is what happens when a new chicken comes in the the flock and brings an illness with them, it just goes through the whole lot, the last couple of years has just been awful for losing chickens....I am getting close to just getting rid of the whole lot and just starting again down the track....the rule of thumb of 1 in all in is probably a good one for control of not bringing in disease to an existing flock. I have got Diesel booked in for surgery on his front  legs next week, just got to ring the pet insurance company now and hope that they will cover the surgery...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Some new adventures....

Some new adventures are coming to fruition for us....things are still panning out...but very exciting times ahead!!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Catch up pictures...

Mother and chicks, they are growing up fast!
I have re-mulched 1 side of the vegie garden, 1 side still to go
Corn is coming along nicely
Strawberries are starting to fruit - just a little
Garlic are ready to harvest - only tiny bulbs though
Potatoes coming along
Lots of eggplant fruiting at the moment
1 tiny capsicum starting to grow
Luffa's have been harvested
Silverbeet is looking good - the chooks love it!
Freshly mulched fruit trees - this is a fig tree, I am waiting for it to re-leaf
Diesel has a habit of sitting up right on his bottom - think he is crossed with a meerkat
Dogs and chickens enjoying the afternoon coolness after a very hot day
The naughty chickens unmulching my freshly mulched fruit trees !!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Catch up ramblings.....

Suffering insomnia again quite badly at the moment...I had about 12 months of sleeping pretty well, and now I am back to having to take a sedative to get to sleep....very annoying...I have been very usual I know....have been and stayed with friends for a few days at Kolonga, I am heading back up there again on Thursday and staying the weekend as our van is up there, but will be heading back on Sunday so Kasey can be back for school on Monday. Was also away last weekend at Craig (nephew) and Erin's wedding...beautiful ceremony, and I also had wedding flowers to do for a wedding the following day... even though you don't "do" much at weddings, they do take it out of you! I am busily re-mulching the vegie garden at the moment to help it get through the heat we are experiencing here at the moment, I am doing a bit each day, so should have it completed by next week some time. I have been pulling out old plants, and doing a general tidy up, so it's ready for some new plantings soon as I get the time. The new chickens are growing up beautifully, nearly 3 weeks old now, they are starting to get proper looking feathers on their wings, won't be long and they won't look like cute little fluff balls anymore :( oh well....other than that, just the usual, I hope to get around to posting some photos soon from around the place, and catch up on a few posts I have in the wings still waiting to be published. In the vegie garden the eggplants have gone mad, the corn are coming along nicely, the garlic look like they are ready for picking, plenty of silverbeet that I am sharing with the chickens, ( I saw a recipe on simple savings for some silverbeet pesto which is apparently very nice, so might try and make some up) some lovely leeks, beetroot  and a few herbs. Capsicum need a boost, as well as my chillies, as they aren't doing very well right now... comfrey finally seems to be taking off...broccoli and cabbages are growing nicely, but the heat will probably bolt the broccoli to seed...the sunflowers I planted didn't take, or the seeds where stolen by the birds, so I want to plant lots more of those, I love seeing these  beautiful, happy flowers when I go down to the chook pen and the vegie garden. The last couple of days have been really hot here, with temps over 30, so it's back to early and late outside, and during the day inside...that's ok, might get some craft or sewing done, or may actually get some Xmas pressies done...anyway, my eyes are finally starting to feel heavy, so I will sign off here for tonight, and try and get some visual photos up soon to go with all of my ramblings...   :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


I signed up for a cheese making course about 6 months ago, which I spent the weekend in Brisbane doing. We made lots of different cheeses such as Quark, Milk Ricotta, Whey Ricotta, Chabichou, Cheddar, Camembert, Mozarella and a Greek Fetta. It was a very busy couple of days, with lots to learn and lots of different processes to get our heads around. But it all came together by the end of the course, so I am just waiting for the cultures and rennet that I have ordered to arrive, and then I will make the first home cheese that they recommend we make so we continue on with making cheeses.

Above, Cheddar cheese, there is 2 hours of constant stirring to make this, and it takes 9-12 months to mature, a lot of work, so large batches would definitely be beneficial in making cheddar.

 This is a Greek Feta above, this should be ready to eat in a couple of weeks, and I will marinate this one.
 This is fresh Mozarella above, this is ready to eat now, I am looking forward to making up some fresh home made pizzas with this.
 This is Chabichou above, I have never heard of this cheese before, it's a creamy cheese.
Above, half of the Chabichou has been marinated in a oil, herb and garlic marinade.

 Above, the other half of the chabichou has been left as is to eat with fresh crusty bread or crackers.
This is Quark above, again a creamy cheese.
Above, this is Whey Ricotta, I will make up some filos or ravioli's with this I think, I have heaps of silverbeet to use up which will go nicely with this in some filos or ravioli.
 This is milk ricotta above, this is best eaten the day it is made, again I will use this in some cooking dishes.
Above is Camembert, I am waiting for the white mould to grow on the outside, should be about 6 weeks until this is ready to eat.
At the end of the course, we finished off with a wine and cheese tasting meal, so I got to try some different cheeses, I mainly like cheddars and creamier cheeses, the mouldy and really pungent cheeses definitely are too strong for my palette, as were the goat and sheep milk cheeses,  but the triple cream camemberts and double bries were lovely, and not something that I would have gone out and bought for myself to try, so now I know what sort of cheeses to both buy and make, as there is no point in making something that none of us will eat. I also bought some yoghurt cultures, so will try making up our home made yoghurt with those instead of the couple of spoonfuls of easiyo starter....I think it will be even cheaper again to use those. We are heading away to Kolonga this weekend, and I know that the cheeses will be appreciated up there, so will take some up to share with platters over the weekend, which will be nice. I was a bit iffy about going to do the course, but I am really glad now that I put myself out of my comfort zone and went and did the course, I met some lovely people, a couple of really nice ladies in particular, and I may look at doing the Cheese Making course module 2 some time next year if I continue on in the mean time and make some different cheeses.