Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Some Small Changes for the Better

As the official date of my retirement is getting closer I'm feeling so happy that I made this decision. There are a few "Long Service Leave" days up my sleeve, so I'm taking one of those each week, which means I'm working just one day per week now.
Easing into full retirement, I'm so lucky!
For some people it's a big step to take, and they need to prepare for all of that free time they will have. I've been reading some things on-line about preparing for retirement, but as usual I don't feel like I really fit into that box.
There is so much to do here that keeps me on the go from sun-up until well beyond sun-down, but the big difference now, is that I can take it more slowly. Breathe..! Ah, it's so very good.
I have more time to practice gratitude for all the small things.
I've started washing the trims and some of the paint work outside of the house; a task I usually did at the end of each summer, but haven't done for a couple of years. The bird poop and spider webs are awful.
This beautiful home that we worked so hard to renovate to our simple tastes, looks sad and neglected, so with extra time in my week, it's a job that's being done bit by bit. I can't do it all in one day,  but when I do it I want to feel good about this work that I'm doing.
I feel such gratitude for this home that we have; the home that is all ours. No one can take it away from us, it's our past, our present and our future.
My days are busy, but it's good busy. I prefer to say they are full.
Lots of living creatures rely on me. I'm responsible for their welfare and comfort; that gets me out of bed every morning. They come first and their needs are tended to before mine.
And the garden... those plants need nurturing and maintaining to keep them alive, especially now in this hot dry climate.
No two days are the same, but the skeleton of my days is constant, depending on the time of year and the animals that I have in my care.
This time of year is fullest of all, pigs, milking and cows, gardening, watering, processing the fruits and vegetables that grow here or what we've found in our secret orchards.
Yesterday was Tomato Puree preserving in the morning, and Fig Jam making in the afternoon.

 Figs gleaned from a neglected tree made up a lovely few jars of jam for us and some for the Farmgate shop at the front gate.

 Kombucha secondary ferment with raspberries. Fizzy!

Fizzy kombucha lid explosion!
I made the big mistake of opening a bottle of raspberry kombucha before fridging it first. I was thirsty and had forgotten to put a new bottle in the fridge. Bang!  I felt such a shock, my hand felt like it had been blown up and I just stood there looking at my hand and waiting for blood to start pouring out.  And then realised how lucky that the lid exploded off and not the glass bottle. No blood though. 
I then went through the cupboard and very carefully "burped" the remaining two bottles of raspberry booch over the sink. It's only the raspberry that gets so fizzy. The ginger (Brian's favorite) hardly gets any fizz at all.
This was all I salvaged from that bottle!

Brian phoned me from work in the afternoon while the fig jam was bubbling on the stove to tell me he was called to do a bee rescue after work. Now that I have more time in my week, I love to go with him and be his run-about helper. The jam was turned off, to be finished and put into jars later.

The owners of this property have been co-existing with this wild swarm living in the wall of a shed, but now that the shed is going to be demolished, they called us to rescue them, rather than call in the pest exterminators.
This made our job a little easier as we were able to pull the boards away without concern about wrecking the structure.
Behind the lining boards was this square frame and the bees had made it their home. Our job was to cut the beeswax apart and drop the bees into our bee hive, and put all the beeswax and honey into buckets.
I couldn't take any more photos because I had one gloveless hand to work the camera button which the bees were trying to attack. One small piece of bare flesh! I don't like getting stung.
They were mean and they wanted us out of there. They didn't know that we were just trying to save their colony and their lives.
We're not sure if we managed to get the Queen. The hive box will stay there for a couple of days to allow them to get accustomed to going into it before we bring it home.
Brian will return to assess it later today after work. He will know, by observing the bee's behavior,  whether there is a queen in there or not.

 Do you wash your plastic zip lock bags and re-use them?  The other day a young friend called in and when she saw these bags drying over my utensils holder she said "What a great idea! You're keeping the flies off your wooden spoons." 
Hmmm... well no, I don't actually have that many flies inside our house, do you?  As it turned out, she very wisely didn't want to use fly spray and her house was full of flies. I sent her home with my spare fly swatter.
A text from her later in the day "Where has this fly swatter been all my life? I'm a great shot, no more flies, but how do I get the squashed fly marks off the walls?"
Enough for now,
Cheers and go well.


  1. Oh the adventures of life on the farm! Keep the stories coming, it sounds like there's never a dull moment! I chuckled at the exploding kombucha, and the fly story! Thank you both for saving those bees, we have to do all we can to help those little fellas! And those figs!!!!! I pay $1.20 each for them at the local markets, and that is cheap compared to the supermarket! I just love anything "fig".

    1. Cheryl It's time you planted a fig tree methinks! :) Gosh, that seems an outrageous price.

  2. Your life seems certainly full, Sally, but how lovely that it's filled with things like jam, figs, bees and all the animals on your farm. I do wash and dry the few clip-lock bags I've been re-using for donkey's ages. I don't use them to catch flies either;) Meg

    1. Life is what we make it Meg, and my good things may not suit everyone, but they're the simple things that bring me joy. :)

  3. Taking all your leave entitlements before you retire is far more tax effective than a lump sum payout at the end.

    1. Thank you Mr HM for your professional encouragement. It just seemed like the logical thing to do and now I'm glad. :)

  4. When I read that you are easing in to retirement and only working one day a week, I thought but you are working all the time at home. People often say "what are you going to do at home?" Well we all now how busy you will be!

    1. Thanks Zena. It's certainly a big life change for me, and I hope to use my time wisely. :)

  5. I didn't think you would have had time to 'work' anyway, Sally. I love the comment about the fly swat as they can be messy if you are a good shot. Do you have one of those special lids on your kombucha which don't cause explosions. I can't remember what they are called and only use bottles with that type of lid on my kefir. Is it 'clamp down' or something like that?

    1. Going to 'work' certainly cuts into my time Chel. I'll need to look into those lids you mention. This is the first time I've ever had a kombucha explosion. Ginger beer and fruit fizz... yes, and I burp them regularly to be on the safe side.

  6. have just caught up with a few of your posts, am behind in my blog reading; so glad Lavender has come good & you can milk her without worrying too much about the injured teat now. RASPBERRIES! YUMMO! your jam looks lovely, what a rich colour it is! well i failed at jam making, many, many years ago & never tried again. love fig jam! can never get enough of it. yours looks awesome!
    those bees have been busy! hope they settle down for you, friend of mine has an aggressive lot, it took them over a week to forgive him for robbing the hive lol.
    great posts
    thanx for sharing

    1. We've got to find a way to get you back on that jam making horse again Selina. ;)

  7. I'm fully retired on the farm now and loving every minute of it but wonder how in the world I ever got anything done!!!
    Enjoy your retirement and I love your blog!!

    1. Thank you for your kind words Rita. How did we indeed do it all when working full time? That's the mystery.

  8. What a fabulous day you had!
    We live on such a small piece of land that we can't have bees (or chickens ), something I'd like to try. So I'll live vicariously through you. Thanks for sharing your busy days.

    1. Thank you for reading and for your comment Debbie. Every day is pretty good and full of interesting things. I'm so very lucky to be woken by our lovely cow every morning. :)

  9. I really enjoy reading your posts and admire you both for your lifestyle and philosophies. I live on two acres In an area which sadly is being developed. I have chickens and grow all my own fruit and veggies and can't imagine ever going back to living in a 'normal' house. I left working full time and entered retirement abruptly, family commitments, but now I wonder how I fitted everything in. I hope you enjoy yours and I look forward to reading about all your new adventures.

    1. Dawn, your two acres of garden and it's maintenance will be keeping you busy, fit and healthy with all of that wholesome produce to eat at the end of the day. There's so much to fit into each day isn't there?


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