Thursday, 23 February 2017

Time...lack of it, and finding the remedy.

Like most of us, I'm usually feeling overwhelmed by the demands of all that needs to be done, but now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
A couple of weeks ago, in the middle of a Monday night, I woke and decided that now is the time for me to retire from my paid employment.
No, nothing went wrong at work, I still enjoy my job, but it hit me suddenly that now is the time for me..... to slow down and allow myself some time.
Due to living a simple, rich and frugal life for the past decade, (yes those two words rich and frugal can belong together) we have no debts, so we are perfectly placed for me to step down.
So it's official, and after a few more weeks of fulfilling my work commitments, I shall be a retiree.
It's a wonderful feeling and I'm so very grateful that my life's path has led me to this point!
Life has been so very full these last few weeks (what's new?) and this post is long overdue.
I really don't know where to start. Can you sense that rushing sensation coming through my writing?
A few deep breaths, perhaps a cup of tea.....
So I'll just run through what we've been up to lately with a few pictures.

Last week I took a day away from the farm and work, to spend some time with my oldest longest time friend, Rachel, on her birthday.  She lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills so we drove down to Brighton beach for lunch on what was a perfect day.
I could get quite used to having a day away a bit more regularly.

Rachel has been drawing and painting ever since I've known her, when we were pre-schoolers. Her art works are stunning, and I'm very lucky to have a few of hers hanging in our home.
I'm completely in awe of people who have great talents, and here are a few of her pictures that she has hanging around her home.

 A couple of weeks ago Brian and I went to an auction sale in Angaston. Of course, the things that we were interested in bidding for were at the beginning, in the middle and right at the end, so we were required to be there, waiting around for the whole four hours.
That was a test of my patience I can tell you.....

But I hadn't been to an auction for years, and it was good fun. The large items that Brian was keen on, fetched higher prices than he was prepared to pay, but we fluked a few very cheap purchases.
I couldn't resist offering $1 for a few lots of odds and ends that no-one wanted.

So many treasures in this tub for $1
This was also in that $1 lot. I'm a sucker for a pretty jug, and I reckon we can never have too many!

 And so was this pile of plates and bowls.

Glass cups and saucers are sure to come back in vogue some day! ;)

Brian picked up a gas heater for his shed for $1, and I got a little two burner gas camping stove with small gas bottle included for $2..!! We came away happy. We caught up with our neighbors during those long waiting around hours, saw some rather interesting sights, and as far as a cheap, half day's entertainment goes, it was a cracker!

 Both Brian and I, over the space of two days, sighted three small Brown snakes a bit too close to our living areas for comfort. I'm most concerned for the safety of these two precious members of our family; Alan loves to play with lizards, so an encounter with a snake is quite likely. Meg would probably just stand and bark, but it's possible she could also get excited and go for a grab too.
One snake was located and dispatched, but I placed this net wrap from our large round hay bales along the snake access areas, so they will get caught if they try to slither through.
We're not irrationally fearful of snakes as such, and have total respect for them if they would just keep away from where we and our animals are moving about.

Hay bale net wrap around the base of this compost bin where I saw a Brown snake.

There have been two birthdays in the family during the past two weeks, so dinner in the dining room is called for on these special occasions. 
Special guests from Victoria stayed with us for a couple of days, but it wasn't for long enough, so we talked and talked into the small hours each night. 

Lots of cooking and meals preparation. 

We're picking a half case of tomatoes almost every day now, so some are bagged and put into the Farm-gate shop.

Some are washed, put into 2kg lots, and into the freezer until I have time to do something with them.

Two big batches of Jembella Farm Tomato Sauce have been made and are still waiting for the labels to be stuck on.

There was a hot spell in the past couple of weeks, but on this 41 degree day, cooking tomato sauce on the stove top was no issue. The smells and heat went straight up the chimney. 
In fact, lots of my summer time cooking happens on this gas hotplate on top of the wood stove.

These plums from Brian's roadside foraging, made a big batch of plum jam.

Plums also provided the fruit element in both batches of Jembella Farm Tomato Sauce

 Last week Brian received a call from one of our  Beekeeping Workshop attendees.  Ray had inherited some hives on his property but doesn't have the equipment or experience to look after them, so Brian went to check it out and show him what to do. 
As it turned out, Ray and Lynne are happy for us to maintain the hives for them, in return for a small bit of honey, and as they are located over the ranges, more than forty minutes away, their climate and flowering patterns are different to what we experience here. 
This season has been a tough one for our local area, but over there at Ray's, it's a different story.

So Brian took a day off work last Monday and we spent all day sorting hives, cleaning them out and collecting honey.

 It's good to have some honey in the storage cupboard again.

And now, back to the serious business of preparing my entries for this year's annual Angaston Show on Saturday.
Yoghurt and soft cheese are both in progress on the kitchen bench.
I've gathered all types of various jams, sauces and pickles, honey, eggs, apples and tomatoes to add to the entries for displaying in the beautiful historic Show Hall for celebrating this 120th Annual Show.

Oh dear, this has turned into an epic, and there's still so much to show and tell..!

So for now, I look forward to slower days ahead....maybe! :) 
The raspberries need picking, and so do the nectarines, before the birds take more than their fair share. 
Cheers for now and thanks for visiting.

I love reading comments, but often don't have time to respond, so I apologise in advance for that.
I also totally get it that you may not be inspired to leave a comment, so I'm just grateful that you've made it this far through reading my posts.
However, if you DO feel inspired to leave a comment, I'd love to know from which part of the world you're from and a little bit about you and your situation in life.  If you're a blogger, I generally trace you back to your blog, and have discovered wonderful blogger friends who inspire me in many ways.
Thank you sincerely!

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Summer Days

Ian calmly urges Mulga Bill into the race and onto our waiting trailer.

 An early start is always on the agenda during these hot summer days, especially if we need to move stock around.
It's time for Mulga Bill to return home after a two month working holiday at Kersbrook in the Adelaide Hills. This is his second time at Ian and Pam's beautiful property, as they requested him again after last year's nice crop of calves.
Today's temperature is rising up towards the forties, so we were on the road early this morning for the fifty minute drive to collect him, and were home and unloaded by 9am.
Mulga started roaring his arrival as we pulled into our gate, but he walked calmly off the trailer and down the ramp to greet Lavender and the two black Angus steers.

I had done all of my morning chores at sunrise; let the chooks and geese out of their sheds and fed them, fed the pigs, cleaned out and filled water containers for all the poultry and pigs.
I also brought Lavender into the dairy so I could seperate her calf into another yard for the day because I want to milk her tonight.
So when Brian got back from his early morning work at his paid job, I was ready to go.

It was still cool enough to pick some mulberries before retreating inside for the hottest part of the day. I've filled many containers over the past few weeks while the mulberry tree is producing a bumper crop, and am storing them in one of the freezers until I decide what to do with them.
When the peaches and apples are ready I'll make jams. Peach and Mulberry... Apple and Mulberry.
When I finish picking I grab a few unripe berries and head for the nearest tap or the water trough in the paddock near the old mulberry tree.
Squish the berries and rub into the stained skin, then rinse with water. Viola!!! All stains are gone!
Meg and Alan always love being with me when I'm in the paddocks, and today as I was busy avoiding stepping on any snakes whilst picking, Alan snuck off to have a lovely roll in the smelliest stuff he could find. But I didn't realise this until later.

Yesterday evening we processed two hogget sheep, presently hanging in the refrigerated cold room for a few days before we cut them into chops and roasts.
Where they were killed in the paddock is where Alan must have found a lovely smelly place to have his roll.
So when we all came inside to the cool house at late morning, the dogs went to their favourite sleeping places in the passage and bedroom. I was preparing lunch and kept getting a whiff of something not good.
I thought it was me, smelly from hosing off the trailer, until I stepped over Alan sprawled out in the passage.
"Oh my goodness Alan, what have you rolled in?"
Off we went outside to the hose, armed with a bottle of shampoo. A perfect day for a bath, I think I ended up just as wet as he did.

Look who watched our bathing shenanigans without moving a muscle.
Lizard watering station.

A damp smelling dog snoring next to me on the rug that he always has to scratch at to get it just so! He likes to be near me at all times when possible. A little bit of separation anxiety there perhaps.

Meg, on the other hand, is content sleeping under the table on her bed in the spare room.
Today is the first of four hot days forecast in the high 30's to low 40's here in South Australia. On the weekend we had more than 40mls of rain, so it feels quite steamy now! 
This is most unusual weather for us at this time of year, where we are used to it being hot and dry in February.
Our old house wears the heat staunchly, if we keep the doors and windows closed. So far this summer, the air conditioning hasn't been turned on, but oh it's lovely to know it's there if we need it. Perhaps after four days of extreme heat we may need to run it for a couple of hours. 
The ceiling fans do a great job, and I prefer them to air-con unless it's absolutely sweltering.

During the school holidays I had a visit from my blog buddy Emma who writes A Simple Living Journey.
I finally got to meet her three boys, and oh what fun we had together and.... to my complete joy, she wrote a blog post about their visit here.

 There might be a bit of this at some stage today!
Happy summer days to you my dear friends! 
Do whatever you have to do to cope, it's the only way, even if it is a bit unorthodox at times!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Salad Dressings

This morning at the supermarket I lingered at the salad dressings section, looking at some of the weird ingredients that go into them. The prices on some were rather interesting too.
I don't want to ingest those artificial ingredients or spend money on inferior food, so I try to adapt or invent recipes to suit our tastes, using real ingredients, with no preservatives.
Recently I found a simple recipe for Coleslaw dressing that contains mayo, so I use  Granny's mayo that I wrote about awhile ago. I always keep a big jar of it in the fridge to use as a base mayo.

A few simple ingredients makes a delicious, preservative and numbers free, Coleslaw Dressing.
I make up a batch and keep it in a screw top jar, usually only enough that we would use within a week, because we eat a lot of coleslaw type raw salads.
Half cup of mayo
Half cup of sour cream (did you know that the cheap home brand or Aldi sour cream is just as good quality as the name brands?)
One level teaspoon caster sugar
Half teaspoon of salt (Himalayan Pink or any good salt)
Mix it in the jar with a spoon, until well combined then add a splash (approx 1 or 2 dessertspoons) of apple cider vinegar to bring to the consistency of a thick dressing.

Another of my favorite dressings is this easy one that most of you will probably be familiar with.
I don't know what it's called, so lets just call it,
 Egg and Oil Mayo.
Put the following into a jar that is large enough to take your stick blender;
1 cup of good light oil (I use rice bran oil, because olive oil has a taste that is too strong for this recipe, and I don't use cheap vegetable cooking oils for good health reasons.)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dry mustard  (to taste)
Juice of half a lemon or 2 tablespoons
There's no need to blend and drizzle other bits in slowly; just put everything in together!
Place the stick blender into the bottom of the jar and blend.
Magic!! It quickly becomes a thick, pale yellow creamy delicious dressing.
It only takes a minute, and gets thicker the longer it's blended.

Fiddle around with it until you get the flavour you want; add more lemon juice to make it taste more Hollandaise if you like.
Or add some dried dill or chives.

I can't get enough of this at the moment, and am dipping thick slices of fresh picked zucchini and cucumber into it, for a snack.
It would be suitable for all types of food intolerances.. gluten free, sugar free, low carb, dairy free.
Guilt free creamy deliciousness.

If you have a salad dressing recipe you would you like to share, please do?

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Unusual Summer Weather

It's looking unusually green around the Barossa this summer. Such beautiful living weather; no long hot spells, regular rainfall every couple of weeks, the gardens are still perky, the grass/lawn is still green (which means we're still mowing every couple of weeks..sigh) and vegetables crops are producing well.
Summer rains are not so good for bee keeping, wine grape growing, crop harvesting and sheep farming.
Not all of these challenges effect us, but a couple of them do.
Bees.. The unusual weather, cold nights and higher than average rainfall, has affected the nectar release in the flowers. The bees are collecting plenty of pollen to feed their brood, but nectar is in very short supply so they're not making enough honey to feed themselves or for us bee keepers to extract. Like anything where we depend on nature, bee keepers have good and bad years too, so there will be no honey for us to top up our supplies this year.
Most people think that it's a given that we can take honey every year, but it's just not so.
Sheep... Damp warm conditions are a perfect environment for fly strike in sheep. The blow flies lay eggs deep in the wool of the sheep. where they hatch into maggots that feast on the flesh of the host sheep. Fly strike is not confined to the tail area of sheep, so no amount of mulesing will prevent fly strike. Don't get me started on that horribly cruel practice, needless to say, we don't support that kind of treatment for sheep.
Checking our flocks of sheep that are situated about the area on various blocks is a daily event now, and the job is made much easier with Meg the kelpie sheep dog.
Occasionally a sheep will need treatment for body strike. Using hand clippers the wool is taken off the affected area, the maggots are scraped and flicked off, (yep, it's an awful job but it has to be done). The area is treated with a fly strike preparation that kills any eggs, dries up the area, and repels further fly strike.

An update on the pineapple growing in the glass house. It's really looking like a pineapple now. According to the comments from readers who know much more about pineapple growing than we do, they take approx six months to develop into an edible size, from flowering stage. So I'm expecting we might get to harvest this one in our winter (May, June). Some small flowers are appearing on a few of the other plants in the row too!

We eat only seasonal food, so the appearance of tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini in our garden is a cause for great joy. Every meal consists of these delicious organic foods, in some form, usually raw.

 Tomato trellises.
Raspberry trellises at the other end of the vege garden, under 50% shade cloth. A few rambling Queensland Blue pumpkins are growing in a vacant area, watered with the grey water system from the bathroom.

From front to rear- zucchinis, lettuce, rocket, capsicums, horse radish, rosemary, lemon balm and garlic chives.
Chillies, Goosberries, cucumbers, beans and dragon fruit are along the bottom part of the patch.

My self seeding herb and vegetable garden patch, that is nearer to the house.
A message to all of those people who have been here to various functions in the past month and saw this garden looking very messy, you can now return and see why it was looking so messy.
The seeds that fell, are now coming up. The empty seed heads and spent plant stalks have been cleared away, given to the pigs to munch on. There is some order in this little patch once again.
Not too much order though... I don't work nature like that. There are still some flowering plants that are yet to drop their seeds, the bees need to eat too.

Mustard flowers.

Tomato plants from the prunings of Brian's tomatoes that were planted in October.  I wrote about taking cuttings to make more tomato plants here.
 When his tomato bushes have finished fruiting, there will be more tomatoes ripening on these younger bushes that were planted later, extending our tomato eating pleasure.

Self seeding rocket and the water container for lizard friends inside the enclosed self seeding vegetable patch. A rock on the edge of the water and small rocks inside the container to prevent any drownings from smaller lizards.

 The little orange tree is making good progress since I pruned and fed it in November. It gets a weekly feed of liquid manure or nettle and comfrey tea.
I have so much more to tell you, and show you, but this post has become quite long enough and I don't want you glazing over.
I bottled off my kombucha and put a kettle on the gas to make another batch just before I snuck away to write this. An hour has whooshed past and, yes you guessed it, the kettle is still on the gas, almost empty!! Ooops!
Time to get back to the tasks that need doing.

Monday, 23 January 2017

January Bee-keeping Workshop

Our final Bee-keeping workshop for this season. Morning tea on the verandah.

A class of eleven.  Lots of great questions and good discussions. The morning part of the day is spent in the shearing shed learning about the equipment and how to use it.

Lunch and morning tea breaks are great for networking and discussions among the participants. A wander of the gardens, and meeting the pigs, chooks and the rest of the menagerie is a must too.

After lunch we got hands-on with bees; checking the hives, finding the Queens, and uniting hives together.
Brian from Gawler.
People traveled from far and wide to attend. 

Sara drove from Watervale, near Clare.
Sue and her partner Pete traveled two hours from Jabuk, in the Mallee region of South Australia.
Both of these delightful ladies are blog readers, so it was both overwhelming and humbling to meet them. Of course we clicked immediately, as we felt like we already knew each other.

Sue and Pete, from Jabuk.

Alan loves people so he was all smiles.

The bloke who makes it all possible. How he manages to talk and impart his wisdom all day, amazes me. We work as a team, but he does most of the talking. I'm not so good at that because I get all talked out after a few hours, and then can't string two words together..!!
Each of us have our strong and weak points, so I guess we compliment each other. I do the behind the scenes stuff; marketing, bookings and financials, the food (morning tea and lunch), and general assistant facilitator.
Brian is the bee keeping Guru. He sets up the classroom areas, prepares the projects, and speaks all day.
Yesterday's session ran well overtime, but no one seemed to mind staying until 5.30pm.
Roberta and John from Marananga are in the background, and oh my goodness, what beautiful people they are. In fact, we had another wonderful group yesterday and made even MORE new friends.
So it's a wrap! The next workshops will start up again in October, when the next bee season gets under way.
Cheers, and thanks for popping in to this little blog.

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