Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I hope your day is spent with people you love, whose company you enjoy. I am looking forward to spending the next couple of days catching up with family.
Merry Christmas!! xx

Monday, December 16, 2013

Tagging the cattle and improving the yards

We spent our weekend here out in the heat, doing some work outside. I am not a fan of summer, I would rather do things outside from autumn through to spring when it's cooler. Damian had to hire a dingo digger to do a plumbing job on Saturday, so we hired it for the weekend and did some things around here. He dug some trenches to bury the poly coming from the dam up to the top tank underground, he also ran a trench from the tanks to the chook pen so I have water there instead of lugging buckets of water over each day. We also dug LOTS of holes for future use, for planting trees etc or burying the odd chicken that dies. We dug holes down at the cattle yards for the corner and strainer posts to build our laneway in to our cattle yards. Most of our cattle will go in to the yards fairly easily with a molasses bribe, but we have a few that refuse so by having the laneway, we hope to be able to force them in a lot easier. We got 2 sections of fencing done, and just have one more run of about 50 metres to do to finish them off.
Our cattle are also being plagued by buffalo flies at the moment, and were due for worming again. A few came in to the yards while we were working down there, so I ran them through the crush and wormed and tagged them. I put hot pink ear tags in to identify them as ours easily from a distance, and I also put insecticidal ear tags in to treat them for flies. I put 4 girls through and the bull. We have 14 to go, so will try and do them one afternoon this week. It makes it so much easier by ear tagging them as I know which ones I have wormed and which ones I haven't. It was very hot, but we achieved a lot.
(Hertie Gertie, our mini hereford, after tagging)
We got just under 30mm of rain here last Thursday, so the cows should have a bit of green pick to eat now hopefully. They have all lost condition over the last few months of dry weather, and with the flies giving them a hard time, they were starting to struggle.
The rest of this week will be spent working on finishing off Christmas presents, and then we will head down to Brisbane on Sunday or Monday to spend some time down there and spend Christmas with family.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

School awards

Kasey's school had their yearly awards ceremony this morning. Kasey received an excellence in behavior award, and an excellence in English award. The school really focuses on rewarding good behavior in their students. We are very proud of her achievements this year.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The big fat man in the red suit is done and dusted..... :(

Kasey was talking to me on our way up the track yesterday afternoon about Santa. She was saying that the kids at school all say that Santa isn't real...she has been bringing it up for a couple of years now...so I fessed up......sigh....
Not a little girl anymore...
Makes Christmas a LOT easier though...
She was totally fine as she was pretty sure anyway...
I have told her that she has to be the keeper of the magic for younger ones though and not to go and do what the other kids at school do to ruin it for everyone else....she agrees that it should be magical for littler kids so I think she will do the right thing. I try and always make a big deal about decorating for Christmas to bring the spirit alive, so it's not so much focused on Santa...it worked for Toni, she is as nuts as I am about decorating for Christmas, she wanted to put her tree up a week ago!! Kasey and I were talking about how Santa is for little children to bring the magic in to Christmas, but as we get older, it's more of a focus on family and friends and spending time with loved ones and enjoying each others company with good food and good times..at least we think it is...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Some property exploring

Things are still very, very dry up our way. We did manage to receive 16mm of rain last week, which gave things a drink and settled the dust for a couple of days, but we really do need a good solid drenching, like so many others.  We headed up in to the back 25 acres of property on the weekend as we would like to open that area up to the cattle, as it is where Brushy Creek runs and we also have a seasonal creek up there. The seasonal creek is completely dry, but Brushy Creek has a few waterholes in it as it winds its way along the property. Not a large amount of water at this stage, but definitely some back there. Before we can let them in to that back 25 acres though, we need to do some fencing repairs as the creek washed away some of the fencing in the floods. So we need to get stuck in to that as the cattle are going to start losing condition walking to the dam each day at the front of the property for water. Damian took the bobcat up to clear a track along the fence line and clear some of the lantana up there, so we can repair it, and we would also like to keep the boundaries with a clear fire break all the way around. It is very, very pretty up there, and this is the first time I have even seen that part of the property.

These are the dry creek beds. Very pretty. We also discovered a lot of blue metal and crushed rock up here, so we might end up with our own little quarry here that we can use for the track in.
Over the last few weeks I have picked up a couple of the last items that I needed to finish off the kitchen here in the cabin. I picked up a rangehood from the flea markets in brand new condition for $30, it was white though, but I bought some silver appliance paint and resprayed it in a stainless steel finish to match the other appliances. It came up really well
I also managed to pick up a stainless steel dishwasher for $100 on the local garage sale site on facebook. Damian installed it for me yesterday.
Our house in Brisbane is now finally on the market, so we are hoping that we can get some action there soon. We'll just have to wait and see how the market is. Our new business here in town is going well, we are creating quite a bit of attention and new customers, enough to keep our heads above water for now. Hopefully it continues along that way. I am working down in the office Mon to Fri most weeks at the moment, so that is keeping me out of mischief. I do start the Michelle Bridges 12 week Body transformation challenge next Monday, as I really need to build up my core strength as my lower back is really sore from the compressed discs in my lower spine. So I have been busy doing the pre season tasks, and I have to do the fitness test over the next few days. Damian said he will do the fitness with me, so we'll see how we go. Hopefully in 12 weeks time I will feel fitter than I do at the minute.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A bit of an update...

After being here for 10 months, I have now got my oven hooked up and working. It is a real novelty to be able to bake a batch of bikkies in 1 go, rather than over 3 bakings in my little George Foreman benchtop oven.

 Around the farm it is very dry and hot, as it is everywhere at the moment. What happened to Spring? I think we've had about 65mm of rain since about April...I hope this dry spell breaks soon. There is still feed for the cattle, but it is very dry. We are supplementing their feed with molasses and fortifier every couple of days to try and keep the nutrients up to them. So far they are managing to keep their weight on, even though we have 7 ring in steers from other properties over here at the moment. We are waiting to get our laneways built to our yards so we can round them up. Most of ours will go in to the yards for molasses, but we have 4 stubborn ones and the ring ins won't go in either, so we need the laneway to force them in so we can get their owners to come and get them.
Doughboy is happy with his girls, he is such a lovely bull, so gentle and docile, a great bull for first time bull owners like us, hopefully he throws that trait to his progeny, not sure if any girls are in calf, we are hoping so..
 One happy girl hanging out by the chickens
 Hertie Gertie is pretty happy also
The guinea fowl think they own the place, they boss all of the chickens around
I am rebuilding my chicken stocks at this point. I have 17 babies in the chook tractor, they are all about 6-7 weeks old now and off the brooder light. There are polish, marans, blue leghorns and a couple of araucanas. The roosters have been easy to spot for about 4 weeks now, they have such obvious comb and wattle development. The maran boy is also easy to spot by his black feathers over brown.
 At the front here are the maran girls, and then there are the polish and leghorns as well. There is also a lovely brown coloured leghorn as well, who should grow up really pretty.
 At the front here again are the maran girls, you can see they don't have the comb development, and they don't have the heavy black feathering like the boy.
 And these are the polish chicks, I have been wanting some of these for a long time as well, they are just adorable and they are getting very fluffy crests.
Here is Mr Neurotic, he has claimed the rhode island red girls as his own, the other 2 roosters even though they are twice his size don't get a look in.I bought 6 of these girls sight unseen as first year layers - free range - and when they arrived they were so bedraggled looking, feathers missing everywhere, and they really smelt bad. I dusted them straight away for mites, and they are due to be wormed again. I'm just not sure on the ethics of the lady I got them from, I have a feeling they may have come from an egg farm, their beaks seem shorter than average as well, they don't seem to have the sharp point that most chickens have on the end of their beaks, so I am really suss that they were free range at all, so I won't be buying any more from that particular breeder again. At least they do get to be true "free range" girls here and I hope by the end of their first year here that they will look nice and healthy.
 This is the rhode island red rooster I got with the RIR girls, he is a lovely quiet rooster as well. I do make a point of handling my roosters a LOT, I try to make sure I always pick them up and give them cuddles, so that they get used to be being around, I have managed to not have a nasty rooster yet, but I am sure it will happen at some stage.
  This is the sussex rooster, he is a beautiful looking boy, he doesn't really like handling much yet, but I still make sure I pick him up whenever I can
 Here are some of my 8 teenage chickens, I have 2 plymouth rocks, 4 sussex and 2 australorps. They are about 3 months old. They spend most of their days hiding behind the water tanks away from the harassment of the guinea fowls, they just will not let up on these little ones.
I only have 4 guinea fowl at the moment, and I am sure only 1 of them is a girl, so I do need to restock on those soon as well, even though they can be a real pain in the backside to the chooks, they do have really good merits so I definitely want to keep them around. I still can't branch out to ducks and geese though, but I am sure I will get there soon. 
And these are 4 of the ring in steers that I discovered 2 days ago. They don't have any ear tags and I can't get close enough to see if they have a brand, so we will have to wait until we get them in to the yards.The buffalo flies are starting to hang around the cattle again, so we need to get them some insecticidal ear tags to get on top of that before they start to get too bad.
Our house in Brissie is just about ready for the market, we hope to have it put on by the end of next week if poss. It will be nice to be able to just settle and not be back and forth all of the time, even if I am still not sure where I want to be. Most of my new veggies died in the heat while I was away, even though they were flooded with water once a week and mulched heavily, so back to the drawing board there :/ ....again... Anyway, that's the update for now, crossing my fingers for some rain soon, our dam is starting to get a bit  low. We still have water in our tanks, but some rain to refill soon would be great....

How are you coping with no rain? Have you still got enough water/feed for stock?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cleaning and decluttering

At the moment I am down at our Brisbane house with Kasey cleaning and decluttering, getting the house ready to rent out. It's been a BIG job. 21 years in the same house, and you tend to accumulate a LOT of stuff. Especially when we have been running our own businesses over that time, we had 15 years of paperwork stored in our attic space above the office! It's been exhausting, and I think we are probably only 50% done. I have been listing a lot of things on the online facebook garage sale sites for our area, and I have been having a good amount of success with that, so I am hoping I manage to get rid of some more things before the end of this week. It all helps, and all of these things we have cost money, so it is nice to recoup some of that, and as they say, one persons trash is another persons treasure! It's funny though, things you think will sell in a flash, don't, and things you think you'd never sell rush out the door. Our shed was full of bits and pieces, and we now have that down to a couple of shelves in there, neatly stacked in plastic sealed storage boxes. Our garage and carport was pretty full as well, and that is nearly empty, it mainly has things that still have to go to the dump or things we are transporting back to the farm. The attic above the office is now totally empty. I think we must have looked really dodgy throwing all of this paperwork on the fire on the weekend, but we only have 3 plastic storage crates left of current year's paperwork that we have to keep for the tax office.We have taken 2 full horse float loads of rubbish to the tip, and I think we may have 1 other load by the time we finally finish. And we haven't even started on the maintenance things we need to finalise before we finish either...
I have discovered that soapy steelos are soooo good for cleaning, they have been a godsend for getting things really clean. I am working on the kitchen at the moment, and they just get through the dirt that accumulates on the shelving so easily. My hands are like dry little prunes though with the combination of soap and scourers on my poor skin, I have been piling on the moisturiser.
Damian headed back up to the farm on Monday to do a couple of jobs, and he should be back down, probably on Thursday so that he can get some of the maintenance jobs done. I will be so glad when this is done, it's hard work, but cleansing at the same time...like a fresh start...
Oh...and I brought ALL of my chooks , and my new chicks with me so that the mongrel FOX does not help himself while we are down here...9 big chickens and 25 little chickens. The 4 guinea fowl stayed home because they all sleep in the trees anyway...it was a bit of a hassle, but I feel so much better being able to look after them and keep an eye on them...anyway, off to do a bit more cleaning, and then off to bed....zzzz

Friday, August 30, 2013

Kasey's pooh bear oops

I have a knack of tuning out on my kids, which can be a good thing, but sometimes it can lead to trouble.  While in Tasmania in January, I bought Kasey a purple lavender teddy bear which doubles as a heat pack. She has been heating up her bear the last few nights to take to bed with her. She came down last night and asked if she could put her bear in the microwave (along with some other mumblings)  and as I was busy looking at chooks online I casually said, sure, without looking up from what I was doing. About 40 seconds later  I was interrupted from my reading by kasey hysterically yelling " pooh bear is on fire!" on pulling pooh bear out of  the microwave, he was smoking...no flames, kasey was crying hysterically and all I could do was laugh! After putting kasey to bed for the 4th time after her continually coming downstairs upset, she finally went off to sleep, and pooh bear underwent emergency surgery. I had to cut off all the crispy bits, his head was completely unattached from his body, and resew on his head. I couldn't save his shirt as it has big melt holes  in it.  His surgery was a success and he is now all better, he just has a shorter neck, but once I make him  a new shirt, it won't even be noticeable. I still giggle every time I think about it, kasey just frowns at me. :D

All fixed - just a little naked....
This will definitely be a story to retell on her 21st!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

My Ear surgery experience

I have been a little quiet on the computer front of late as I went in for day surgery last Thursday to have the large hole in my right eardrum repaired. This involved taking a small graft and placing it behind my eardrum. They place a gel packing in first, then the graft...the gel packing holds the graft in place and eventually dissolves. My ear was then packed with heaps more dressings on the outer ear. I was pretty anxious before the surgery, so they gave me some Valium, which I now wish I didn't take as it made me so drowsy afterwards. I asked the anesthetist not to tell me when he was putting me to sleep, so I don't remember anything after being wheeled in to theatre. I was in a fair amount of pain in my ear after surgery, so they gave me some pain killers. My blood pressure was also really, really low, (78/47) so they kept me there for some time until it came back to normal. On getting home I felt quite sick and went straight to bed, clothes and all. Little Stella kept coming in and sleeping with me and stayed with me pretty much all the following day. They say they can sense when things aren't quite right and I believe she knew I was sick, as she's not usually that cuddly...sweet little thing. I was nauseous and had headaches all the next day as well, and Damian went up to my doctors and got a script for some stematil to try and ease it. I am still getting nauseous though off and on, so I will be glad when that stops. My ear isn't too bad, but gets a bit of a stabbing pain and a swooshing through the ear as well. I am hoping I will be feeling much better tomorrow. Day 3 - 5, still quite nauseous and headachey, I haven't been eating much at all. Damian went back up to the farm on Sunday, I was going to follow him up, but I just didn't feel up to the 4 hour drive so I stayed in Brisbane for an extra day. Kasey and I headed back up to the farm on Monday. My ear has been achey, but not agonising, just achey. Strong pain tablets every 4-6 hours keeps the pain manageable. I returned to work today, finishing up the office setup and running a couple of errands for Damian. I have to keep the dressing on the ear for 3-4 weeks, and then I will return to the specialist mid Sep to get the dressing removed and ensure that everything has been a success. This is my ear after the surgery, (a little graphic, sorry)  it has been dressed with a top dressing and covered completely in a plasticky film to keep any moisture out. This has to stay in place for the entire 3-4 weeks. My ear is getting quite itchy right down near the eardrum, but I can't scratch it.....arghhhh....very frustrating..
I am hoping that is the worst of it over for now, unless something happens with the surgery not taking...crossing my fingers all is well.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Is someone trying to tell me something??

Sunday started off being a good day. I had a bit of a sleep in, and by 11am the floors were done, dinner was in the slow cooker and I was getting set up for a day of sewing while the weather outside wasn't the greatest. Then I walked outside and was met by this:
All of the veggie seedlings I had planted are now history, and I have to find the time and energy to replant again. I am thinking someone in the universe is telling me that it isn't our time to be here on the farm just yet....so many crappy things are happening...you know when you just get the feeling that you're heading down the wrong path for this particular time in your life?? That's where I am at...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cheap fabric for the upcoming sewing retreat...

The twice yearly sewing retreat is coming up for Mum and I this weekend.  Luckily, I had prepaid this before Damian was out of work, otherwise I probably wouldn't go this year.  I want to start to do some weekend markets with my handmade products, so it is a good chance to sit down in peace and focus on getting my samples and some stock done. There are a few specific items I want to make all with a French inspired theme, and all involving ruffles of some sort :) Good cotton fabric is quite expensive at the quilting stores and at Spotlight, so I called in to the op shop in town and picked up everything I needed for $40. While I was at it, I bought a lovely cotton thermal blanket for Kasey's bed as it's getting rather chilly here at the minute, she does have an electric blanket as well, but we're trying not to use those unless we really need to.

 Anyway, in my $40 stash was a really nice, excellent quality comforter style bedspread which I am going to embellish with ruffles,

2 cushion covers for 40c each, which I am also going to embellish to match, and there are another couple of quilt covers and a few queen and double sheets all in the type of fabrics I was looking for, that will set off the vintage, french, rustic theme that I am going for.

I am going to use all of these as fabric, instead of as sheets and quilt covers. I think I have saved at least $200-$300 by going this way, and I think the end results are going to be amazing....

 Do you shop the op shops for your supplies?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Eating frugally

The challenge at the moment in our household is to spend as little money as possible on non-essential items, and to achieve the best price possible for essentials. We are trying to stretch our money as far as it can possibly go, just in case it takes a long while to get our business established here in a country town. Trips to our major regional town which is 50klms away, are only for essential trips. Our local Supa IGA has a range that compares well to the major supermarkets on both range and price, and we would prefer to shop there if we can to support the local community here. The one exception I have to this at this point in time is meat. No-one here is town does free range meat or chicken. There is a butcher in the major town that sells grass fed beef and pork, and the supermarket there sells organic free range chicken, so I need to make sure I stock up when I am there to store in our freezer. We do have friends who process their own beef and pork, and we hopefully will start to help them out with the processing, and purchase directly from them if we can. Damian does also want to learn to butcher our own meat chickens as well, but wants to watch someone experienced do this first so that we aren't learning as we go on an actual bird of our own.  Anyway....I am digressing a little :)
I think I am pretty good at using up what we have, and making cheap, nutritious meals out of not much. I think I can attribute that to Mum, as we didn't have a lot of money while I was growing up and Mum had to feed us all on a very limited budget...good on you Mum! xx I find that a good, hearty, filling meal can be made for very little money by making pies.  By mixing a little meat with lots of other fillings, a pie can be filling and healthy. One of my favourite pies to fall back on is a bacon, egg, silverbeet and cheese pie. I have a pie maker so I just lay a sheet of puff pastry in, fill it up, put on the pastry top, and 8 minutes later....yummo.
The egg and silverbeet are from our own produce, they only take a half rasher of bacon each, and a little bit of cheese to top. Another favourite is curried chicken pies, again very cheap.

 Just some shredded chicken, onion, peas, carrots, curry, stock etc. Out of $5 worth of shredded chicken I managed to get 8 pies. And I know exactly what is in them! Equivalent pies at our local pie shop which sells award winning pies which are just divine, are $5 each! I also find if I half bake the pies, I can freeze them, pull them out of the freezer to defrost when needed, and finish the cooking process then. Other pies I am going to make soon will be red wine and beef, steak and mushroom and steak and bacon.

Do you have a favourite pie that you like to make?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Free plants

While I was down at our Brisbane house last week, I took the opportunity to get myself some free plants to plant in the gardens up here at the farm. I just walked around the garden and pulled up the new plants that were shooting from the established plants, and divided some others up, and I ended up with heaps.
I have divided up comfrey, xanadu, heliconia sexy hangers, liriopes,
 Aloe vera, staghorns and elkhorns
 Rhoeo, Lomandras and Anthuriums

 There is a davidson's plum here..
 And there are heaps of agapanthus plants here, I just put them all in the one pot until I transplant them in to the gardens.
The only plants suffering any real setbacks seem to be the xanadu's, so I will see how they recover. They may just die back and re-shoot new leaves...hope so... I think I ended up bringing about 25 or so individual plants back, not bad for an hour or so's work. I am also in the process of planting up some vegie seedlings and putting them in the hothouse to establish and then will transplant them in to the garden. I have potted up pumpkins, chillies, vanilla bean, sugar snap peas, marigolds and bush lemon so far.
Sam says hi
 Stella is still a bit shy....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Craft studio makeover...part 1...from ugly duckling....

We bought this used site office last year to convert in to a studio/office/spare room, for up here on the farm.  Currently it is UGLY !!!....ugly...ugly...ugly...
The inside was even worse, it had that horrible woodgrain panelling on the inside walls, which had been haphazardly painted over, there was a big hole where the air conditioner had been, and while transporting it up here on the tilt tray, part of the inside ceiling caved in....oops...
So, on the weekend we started with the inside renovation. It has now been reinforced, some of the timber studs replaced and braced, and  re-lined with fibre cement sheeting, and is now ready for the cornice, skirting and arcitraves, then painting. We didn't go with gyprock walls, as the whole building is on skids, and if we want to relocate it, we can do so without risk of cracking the gyprock joins. It was a struggle with just the 2 of us putting up the ceiling sheets, but Damian rigged up a couple of support poles to hold the sheets at either end, which made life a lot easier. Trying to slot each sheet in to the previous sheets joining strip was the hardest part of the whole exercise.
Once it is all painted, I will get in some nice wooden floorboard look vinyl to finish it off, and dress the window with timber blinds. It will then be ready for me to move all of my craft cupboards and sewing gear in to. Oh..and I suppose I had better leave a little bit of room for the sofa bed, so that we can use it for guest accomodation when needed.... ;0)
We already have the outside cladding here, which I bought to clad the front of our shouse with, and we have so much of it left over, we will have enough to clad various chook pens, and any other structures or sheds in the future. I bought the whole lot 2nd hand for $200 which was an absolute bargain. So the whole studio will be clad the same as this, a cream weatherboard look cladding.

Damian is planning on re-roofing it over the next week or two and then putting the cladding on. We got brand new zincalume roof sheets for nothing from one of our suppliers who had ordered the wrong lengths in for a customer, and Damian was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time...score.   So it should turn from the ugly duckling into a beautiful swan very soon hopefully. Damian is down in Brisbane this week on a course, we thought we would take the opportunity while he is not working to get a couple of extra licences added on to his plumbing licence, so he is currently finishing off his gas licence qualification so that we can have that as part of our offering here in town for when we open up our shopfront in a couple of weeks in the main street of town. We have to build and fit out an office and racking etc down there as well, and he also has to head back and forth to Brissie quite a bit over the next few weeks to finish his course...he is going to be a very busy boy....I don't think he has time at the moment to work in a paying job! Luckily, in the overall scheme of things we have worked very hard over the last 5-6 years especially,  setting ourselves up so that we aren't in a bad financial position, but we still have bills to pay like everyone, but because of forward planning, hopefully we should be right to manage (very frugally) while we give this new business in town a good go, and luckily Damian is very handy with building things, so we don't have to outsource any of the building work.