Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Spring Rush and Dear Friends

Dear friends,
Thank you for your  kindhearted  comments in regards to the loss of our Soda. I know you will understand why I did not answer each comment personally, and I hope you will accept my gratitude to each and every one of you for taking the time to write, in each case, the perfect words that were balm to my soul. You knew exactly the right thing to say. Wow, from people I have never met came comments, emails and phone calls with wishes that were perfectly soothing and powerful.
What a beautiful community we have here, and I'm so grateful to you all.

 The days are warming up and the Spring rush is on.  There is much to achieve each day, and now the watering routine has begun. I do wonder why I create so much work for myself, but I enjoy pots of colour and greenery around the place.

You know how concerned we were about getting a hay crop this year? The contractor arrived last week and agreed it was time to cut.

This smaller crop was lush, but the other paddock was not so, but he cut it anyway.  Oh what a great feeling of relief, but we must not count our good fortune just yet; not until it's bailed and put away in storage.
The number of bales will be well below our usual, but combined with our stored hay from last year, there will be enough to feed our cows and sheep through summer and get us through until October 2019.

Brian has taken two weeks annual leave to do our shearing, among countless other things that need doing at this time of year. Most of these were the ewes that we did not mate up in view of the dry season ahead. So no lambs for them this year, but they put more energy into growing an extra long fleece. Brian was doing some fancy footwork to handle the huge girls and shear their wool off.

At morning smoko on the first day.  I didn't recognize Coco with her wool off, but she was happy to see me and came over for a chin scratch after I snapped this photo. She was one of my bottle fed lambs from last year, now grown into a lovely strong ewe.

Jack of all trades, this bloke.

We butchered the steer. 
I helped bring him into the crush because I was familiar to him and he was relaxed around me. We didn't want him stressed.  I then swiftly moved the other cows into a far paddock before beating  a fast retreat while the men completed the job in a competent and professional way. 
I'm so very grateful to have people around me who are capable and can be trusted to do such an enormous task. As a meat eater, preferring to eat chemical free and ethically raised and dispatched meat, I can't stress enough the importance of taking control of the entire process from birth to plate.

 Hung for two weeks in our refrigerated cool room.

Our butcher friend helped us cut the carcass into all manner of cuts and portions. I chose to forfeit a couple of rolled roasts and gained these ribs instead. 
We enjoyed some of them slow cooked in a sticky Asian type sauce in the wood oven for dinner that night. Delicious.!

This is the advantage of helping our butcher, standing alongside him, and choosing the cuts as we go.
Brian helped me to make approximately 10kgs of mince with the off cuts and then I spent the remainder of the weekend packing the meat into meal size portions. It's a huge job that needs to be done with care to avoid any waste.
Most of the meat was packed into vacuum sealed bags and will store very well in the freezer for twelve months or more. The meat that we intend to eat first, within five or six months, was packed into ordinary plastic bags.

  Rendering the beef fat in the wood oven. 

For baking and soap making.

The weather has been cool enough to have the wood oven burning everyday, so there has been quite a bit of baking going on.

It has been a bumper couple of months for the Farmgate stall since our local Cottage Industries shop in the town closed its doors. People obviously love to access old fashioned home made foods.

There's bee work of some type going on every day now that we're into Spring.

Marking young Queen bees ready for sale. Red is the colour for this season.

Bee rescue call-outs are a daily occurrence at this time of year.

 Heavy work.

My goodness we've come a long way since our early days of hand winding the honey extractor under some bee proof netting strung over the Hills Hoist (wash line). We laugh about that now, and never take for granted our much easier set up that we've built up over the years. 
However, for all the modern equipment that we have now, our honey is still the same in quality. It is still spun from the frames without the use of heat, to maintain it's raw and pure goodness. 

 Lavender's calf Bertie is six months old now and it's time she was weaned.  

As we have only three cows on the property now, and I wanted to keep Lavender and Poppy together in the same paddock, I needed to buy a paddock companion for newly weaned Bertie. 
Also, now that Lavender is not feeding a calf, she needs to be milked twice daily. 
ALL that MILK!!!  What a great way to use up some of it by feeding a bobby calf?
A call to one of our local dairy farms on Sunday, and by evening we had this little bloke in our possession.  A Friesan bull calf, three days old, had been bottle fed on colostrum...perfect.  
Such long legs, we named him Stretch. 
Before we lifted him onto the back of our ute I slipped an homeopathic Arnica pillule into his mouth to reduce the shock that he would suffer from the short trip to his new home. 
I previously wrote about our use of Arnica here.

 Bertie, meet Stretch.
Bertie was reluctant to accept Stretch as a replacement for his mum; weaning time is stressful for all and there were a noisy couple of days.

But this morning peace reigns as the two paddock mates have become acquainted. 

So I think I've almost caught up on our news for now. I'll show you the vegetable gardens next time. 
Cheers until then.
Sally XX


Saturday, 6 October 2018


Hello, it's been awhile since I wrote but we're still here.

 I've been trying to form the words, and although three weeks have passed, words still won't connect or make any sense of our loss.
As this blog is a real account of our life here on our little patch, I can't choose to omit an event that has knocked us over, to the point that we still can't discuss it with each other. 
Time will help us to process this part of our journey, but the loss leaves a big empty gap in our lives.

January 2018 - September 12th 2018

She gave us some challenging moments, but the joy we received from her funny antics will be treasured always.
Ever keen to please, always loyal and loving to her humans, and clever beyond words. 

What happened?
She was the master of escape, and although we had made every effort to prevent her from jumping over or digging under fences, she made her way onto the road and was hit by a passing car.
It all happened so fast and the end was quick.

Soda, you were a special girl, a darling companion to us all. May you run and play and chase bunnies forever. 

The pain passes but the memory remains. Each dog leaves a paw print on our heart.

Thanks for reading and visiting my blog today; it was a difficult one to write. 
Give your loved ones, especially your dogs, an extra cuddle today in memory of all those dogs who are taken before their time is up. 
R.I.P. Soda 


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