Paddock+Garden = Today’s Late Lunch

Our plan, for a long time, has been to be as close to a self-sustainable lifestyle as possible while still having a practical mindset….you can’t do everything! We still have a long way to go, however, today marks a milestone at RaFG headquarters.

Today, when I looked at our roast lunch, there were only two things on the plate that had not come out of the garden or the paddock (condiments excluded), the potatoes and the broccoli. It’s too early for potatoes (here anyway) and I never have any luck growing anything in the Brassica family.

I started to write this post while lunch was cooking. I could smell the leg of lamb (from one of our lambs) roasting away in it’s marinade of garlic and rosemary (both out of the garden) infused in olive oil.

In the saucepan, ready to cook, were the beans and squash picked fresh out of the garden.

And soon to go into the roasting pan, with the lamb, was the golden nugget pumpkin that I picked yesterday.

All we need now is a crop of hops and some grape vines…

What’s growing in your garden?

Mrs D x

 

 

Do You Think It’s A Sign?

July has been a huge month. Lots of good stuff and lots of annoying/ frustrating stuff.

I’m feeling like it has been one thing after another at the moment, so I need to rant. Hope you don’t mind.

Christmas in July went off with a bang on the 2nd. I have a post written however I am having some issues with corrupt files on the SD card in my camera and I am not able to take the photos off it (photos that can’t be replaced). I’ve tried all of the things I can think of (including recovery software) and my next step is to take it to the IT guy in town. He wasn’t very reassuring though. Wish me luck on that one!

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The day after, being Sunday, Christmas in July, the Eagle took our newest Lamb. I know it’s nature however it is still heartbreaking when it happens. We have had more lambs since so we are always on the look out for predators. I find I’m doing a lap of paddock one morning and afternoon to do a head count and make sure we still have five lambs (a set of twins were born on the weekend).

Mr D has been away a lot with work which has left me doing things I wouldn’t usually do. Not because I don’t want to, simply because I just don’t have the physical strength to do it. I’ve had to find muscles I didn’t have and still don’t. Enter pinched nerve in shoulder and dodgy knee needing physio. Am I getting old? Or maybe I’m just not meant for this stuff.

We have lost several Ewes recently. We don’t know why however when we talk to our neighbours, they have had the same issue. Not to say that makes us feel better, it’s just comforting to know that it’s not necessarily something we are doing wrong.

Bearing our losses in mind, I noticed a Ewe had fallen over just on the other side of the house paddock fence. It was a Tuesday morning and Mr D was in Wagga. She couldn’t get up and although it would have been easy enough to go and push her back onto her feet, I had Shanks to deal with first. So what was my reaction? Cry. Then swear…a lot! Then start to use my brain.

How to distract Shanks? I went and collected some biscuits of hay from the bottom shed and threw them over the fence on the lower side of the paddock where the Ewe had fallen over. I tossed that hay into a position where Shanks wouldn’t see me as I entered the paddock thanks to a very large fallen tree surrounded by a copse of living trees. Anyway, I managed to get that Ewe on her feet and despite a few stumbles along the way, she made it down to rest of the sheep and the hay.

The cows and sheep (except Shanks) were moved into paddock three this month ( it might have been June, I’ve lost track of time). Paddock three incorporates part of our driveway so we now have two gates to open and close when entering or leaving the property. I can tell you now that’s a pain, especially when you consider the amount of rain we have had. Mr D and I had been leaving the house paddock gate open during the day (when at home) however as the livestock hadn’t discovered that part of the property in their usual travels.

Well, in my wisdom or lack thereof, I decided to leave the house gate open over night last week. I saw the cows come through later that night and I should have dealt with it straight away. I didn’t. The next day, it took me about an hour and a half to remove them from the house paddock. They caused quite a lot of damage and there was poo everywhere. Lesson learned the hard way.

This weekend just gone, B1 and B2 came to visit as it was B2’s birthday recently. 20 years old. Far out! He brought some friends with him and they spent the weekend riding motorbikes, eating, watching movies…the usual stuff. It was a great weekend!

Monday, yesterday, saw Mr D heading off to Albury for the week and me left to restore the house back to it’s usual order. By the time I went to bed last night, aside from being exhausted, the wind had become gale force and it stayed that way all night. Even the ear plugs weren’t blocking that noise.

Now if I thought that parts of this month had been challenging, I was wrong.

This morning I was up at 5am, as I am most days, to put wood on the fire. Because the wind had been so strong, even with the damper shut, the wood had burned quicker than usual so the fire was out except for one little coal. It took me an hour to resurrect it.

In the meantime, while collecting smaller pieces of wood for the fire, I noticed that the wind had blown my green house over along with all of my seedlings. I went back to bed. I haven’t even dealt with that yet.

Later in the morning, as I drove down to feed piggies, I noticed a tree was down over the fence of paddock one. This paddock connects to paddock three and the cows and sheep have access to both.

With piggies fed, I’ve headed back up to the house all the while contemplating the repair needed to the fence. I’ve let the chickens out and have gone to replenish the Turkey’s water only to discover the water tank that supplies the outside taps is empty. At this point I’m wondering if I should have got out of bed this morning.

I stayed calm, kind of. After coffee and an egg and bacon roll, I came up with a plan to fix the fence (temporarily), executed it and now I just need to monitor the livestock until the weekend when a proper repair can be done.

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That was all before lunch time and as I’ve looked to the sky and asked the powers that be what else could go wrong, I’ve seen this. Was this a sign? What was it telling me? Probably nothing. Just good timing. I had a giggle. In my mind, that arrow was telling me to get out NOW!

So I’m just about to finish this post and I’m thinking about heading down the paddock to do the afternoon piggy feed. I’m wondering if I’ve faced enough challenges today or if there are more waiting. It is only 3.30pm after all.

How is your day, week or month? Traveling smoothly or crashing and burning like mine?

It’s nearly August. Hooray!

Mrs D x

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Piggy Post

Five little pigs! Well, maybe not so little anymore.

At nearly 6 months old, they are huge now.

It has been a steep learning curve. Mr D and I had only vaguely talked about having pigs so when these ones became available, we were caught on the hop (or should that be trot?)….not just little a bit, a LOT.  We had no food, no enclosure, no nothing!

We picked them up in December from Coolamon, which is about 4 hours drive North West from Cooma. Getting them in the car was noisy and getting them out again was just as noisy.

As we had no enclosure organised when we arrived home at 7pm that night, that was the first thing that needed to be done. Thank goodness for day light saving. Mr D had 4 pieces of weld mesh (each being 2.4 metres) which served as the surround and we used an old dog kennel as the shelter. It was dark by the time we had finished however it was more than adequate for the piglets.

They have since been moved twice from that enclosure as they have grown like wildfire. Most recently, we have moved them down to the middle paddock to a much larger run with a much larger and more suitable shelter. A hot wire (electric fence) has been added to keep them in.

So what have we learnt so far about pigs?

They are noisy. They have quite a vocabulary however the one you want to try and avoid is their squeal. The squeal that comes when you pick them up is by far the worst. They are too big to pick up now, so that problem has been solved.

They need wallow water which, in our case, is in the form of a kiddy pool filled with water.  I replace that water each morning and what I have tipped out creates a mud bath. Our big sow is the most likely to wallow, especially if it’s a warm day. I have learnt (the hard way) to stand back now as she shakes like a dog which means the mud flies. She will then come and nudge me with her filthy nose.

Pigs, ideally, should be fed twice a day. Their drinking water should be separate from their wallow water as the wallow water gets filthy and the biggest sow likes to urinate in the fresh water. I imagine this is a form of territory marking.

They eat a lot. A LOT! We try to vary their diet. In the morning they have carrots, potatoes and any other vegetable scraps that haven’t come off the dinner plate. They also have pig pellets (grower available from the local rural supplier), soaked wheat and sometimes a biscuit of hay. The afternoon feed is very similar. The apples have finished now until next season.

Pigs like to dig….with their noses. That nose may look like a soft fleshy thing however it is tough and hard.

Their eye sight is quite poor. When it’s meal time, they actually hear and/ or smell us coming before they see us.

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They have a couple of favourite foods, luckily. When I head down to feed them, I throw in a couple of carrots as a distraction as they won’t let me in the gate otherwise. Or more to the point, they want out of the gate. After carrots, they love corn. They especially love the spent corn plants.

They can run.

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They can climb. This little boy found himself on top of the housing not knowing what to do next while his sister did laps OUTSIDE of the pen.

To quote Mr D, they have ‘big balls’ and they were only 4 months old when he made that observation. We had Peter the vet out just recently to castrate the males. It was eye opening.

On the subject of castration, it is best to have them castrated at one week of age. This was not possible for us as we didn’t get them until they were four weeks of age. And then we sat on our hands for a bit trying to decide what our plan was for the males. At 4 months they were not easily managed, even with a good dose of tranquiliser to settle them. They slept a lot that afternoon.

If you plan to eat the males, you must eat them before they reach sexual maturity (suckling pig) which is at about 6 months old or castrate them. Why? After they mature, the meat becomes tainted and is said to taste like smelly old socks. Now, given that I have never eaten smelly old socks (nor do I plan to), I am going to say that the smell must give an indicator as to what the meat might taste like. Either way, we have solved that problem.

Pigs don’t like being cold. Our weather has cooled off a lot in the last few weeks or so. There has been a couple of times I’ve gone down to feed them in the afternoon and they have put themselves to bed. Of course, food always brings them out.

They have a personality much like a dog. They love a scratch, will chew your boots if you let them, give you a nudge to let you know they want your attention, grunt and squeal to let you know they are pleased to see you and will wag their tails.

We have realised that pigs make good ‘tractors’. I threw some Clucker Tucker and Zucchini plants into the first pen. Everything grew at a much faster rate than I would usually have expected. When they have finished in their current pen, the plan is to plant potatoes.

Having pigs has certainly been interesting and definitely entertaining at times. They are not for everyone though.

Do you have experience bringing up pigs? Or know someone who does?

Mrs D x

 

 

 

 

Today In The Garden: 17th April Edition

I’m wondering where the time goes. It’s April, and more than half way through it. Scary!

It has been weeks since my last post. I have lots of posts that I have started however I just haven’t had the time to complete them. It takes hours to put these things together.

Mr D and I did Fire Arms Safety training this afternoon in preparation for getting our firearms licence. It is the only way we are going to deal with the fox problem. I have to tell you that I was feeling anxious about the whole thing and needed a distraction. Apart from the usual chores of the day, I find the garden always manages to transport me to a peaceful place.

So…..today in the garden. More of a photo journey.

It was a dismal day weather wise. Sun out, sun not out! I don’t mind…just rain. We need more rain.

The tree onions and the garlic are happy in this weather. It’s my first time growing them so we will see how we go.

The Zucchinis keep on keeping on although the dreaded leaf mould has begun with the onset of the cooler weather.

The Musquee De Provence continues to invade the garden. This one is huge. I placed a seed packet on it to give you an idea of the size.

Luckily, the weather has been warm enough to keep the tomatoes ripening on the vine. The vines have started to die back though.

Radishes. They just keep on growing. I pulled up a few today to add to the salad and just threw in some seeds to take their place.

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The citrus is the anomaly. Citrus does not grow well in this region which is why all of our trees are in large pots on the verandah. We have flowers and fruit on the lemon, lime and cumquat trees. I fertilise and mulch regularly remembering to keep a 5 cm space between the trunk of the plant and the mulch. Citrus likes it’s personal space.

The squash is coming to an end. I think these are the last two as the plant dies back.

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The sunflowers are starting to wither. I will grow these again because if nothing else, they put on a smile on my face.

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The sweet potato is something new. Similar to potatoes except vine like.

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I threw some corn seeds in and I’m hoping they will make it before the first serious frost. Fingers crossed!

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I have also thrown some beetroot seeds in as the last lot didn’t come up (might have something to do with the age of the seeds). They grow pretty quickly in the right conditions so with any luck, I will have something to pickle before the real Winter hits.

Well that’s it. Not really a day in the garden. More like a couple of hours.

Mr D and I passed the Firearms course. I made a couple of silly mistakes in the test. Anxiety can be the worst thing however I passed. Applications are now in the mail (because I am ultra organised and didn’t want to make a special trip into town tomorrow just to post them) and we will receive notification in about six weeks….because you can’t rush these things. Right?

What’s happening in your veggie garden?

Have a great week!

Mrs D x

Neighbours

I’ve been thinking lately how lucky we have been when it comes to the neighbours we have had over the years.

Since we got back from the cruise, I have been that damned sick. Light headed, ear ache, sore throat and a relentless cough. I coughed up the first lung week ending Friday (Happy Birthday and thanks very much), and after overdoing it in the paddock yesterday with piggy relocation, I coughed up the other one at about 3.30 am this morning. It hasn’t been pretty and I’m not the best patient (I don’t get sick very often so I’m not very good at it).

As a result, Mr D told me to keep warm (it’s chilly here this afternoon) and rest. Apart from picking what need to be picked in the garden and a few other mandatory daily chores, I have done very little.

Given that I’m really not much good at sitting still, I thought writing a post was a good use of my time (a post was long overdue) and wouldn’t take much of my already depleted energy stores.

Neighbours.

When we lived in Sydney, we had great neighbours. Mark and Judy across the road (who we still keep in touch with), Bob and Gail on the left and June and Graeme on the right. We were all busy with work, children and grand children however we always managed a cuppa from time to time and the odd celebration for a Birthday or Christmas.

I think back to a day when B1 and B2 were quite small and quite sick (usual child hood ailments). I had finally managed to get them both to have a sleep at the same time however I needed to shop for some basics. I was able to call on Gail to sit with them for the 15 minutes that I would be gone.

It was sad to leave them all behind however when B1 was in 5th class, the decision was made to make a tree change. It was time to leave the Sydney rat race behind.

How we came to live in Cooma is a story for another day however we didn’t move straight away. We had bought a house that needed a lot of work so for eighteen months before the move, we travelled to Cooma every available weekend and did renovations. I think about that time and wonder how we did it. We were much younger then.

Anyway, it was during this time we got to know Georg and Al across the road. Funnily enough, they had moved to Cooma from the Central Coast. We would often have Friday night pizza or a bbq with them and other neighbours in the street. They were good times.

Georg and Al moved on after a few years (they are still in Cooma and we see them quite regularly) and Michelle bought that house across the road. Although we have moved out here to the farm and she has moved back to Canberra, we are still great mates to this day.

We also had the lovely Bernie and her husband Don living next door for a short time. We manage a cuppa catch up from time to time.

It’s been nearly eight years since we moved to the farm and a couple of things have happened over the last few days that have prompted this post.

There are always lots of little things that help you to appreciate your neighbours. It’s when big things happen that you realise how very lucky you are.

A couple of days ago, Mr D spotted one of our neighbour’s dogs running across our paddock. It’s a black Labrador that belongs to Dave and Donna (well, their son in fact) and she is completely harmless however after our incident with Panda and our trigger happy neighbour (the one we don’t get along with), I always like to give Donna a quick call and let her know.

So while I was chatting with Donna, I asked about the Hereford bull in their paddock (she and I both thinking it belonged to her back neighbour) and whether or not I could get the number for the back neighbour. I explained to her that we were wanting a bull to service our cows and that we were happy to pay. She said she would call me back as she didn’t have the number.

When she called back, she was embarrassed to inform that the Hereford actually belonged to her and Dave (Dave is the farmer and Donna works full time in town) and that they were happy for us to use their bull free of charge. The first big thing.

Now you might ask how we get that bull from their place to ours given that we have a neighbour in between. Enter Matt and Nicole. We haven’t met Nicole yet (they are relatively new neighbours) however Matt is a very nice guy and as he works for Parks and Wildlife and grew up on property, he is very informative when it comes to weeds and other farm pursuits.

Moving along, Mr D had previously discussed with Matt about putting an access gate into our shared boundary fence and had already said that we were happy to bear the cost. As I write, they are installing that gate. After chatting over the fence at lunch time, Matt said he had a gate (we were happy to buy one however Matt insisted), we had the other materials required and now it’s happening. Happened. Another big thing.

Neighbours. That’s 25 years of neighbours so far.

Have you got great neighbours? Or maybe you haven’t been so lucky.

Tell me about your favourite (or not so favourite) neighbour.

Mrs D x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things That Tickled My Fancy: 16th January 2016 Edition

Warning: A photo included in this post may be a little disturbing however please be assured, it is usual farm practice.

Where does the time go?

The last ‘Tickled My Fancy’ that I posted was mid November so I have a bit of a catch up to do.

Things that have tickled my fancy in recent times.

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B2 and I travelled to Canberra on the 3rd January to celebrate our friend’s very special 18th birthday. The day was spent on the Lake Tuggeranong foreshore eating, drinking and being merry.

Phil came out to help Mr D with drenching, vaccinating, docking (using a hot knife), castrating and shearing. The count on our lambs turned out to be 18 (it’s hard to count them all when they are spread out in a paddock). 11 boys and 7 girls. Shanks has been performing his duties as stud ram. Phil informed us that some of our girls are pregnant. Hooray!

A recent shopping day scored a few great bargains. New shoes for me. We also scooped the pool at the Salvation Army. 6 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of 3/4 pants, 3 shirts and a colouring book, all for $64. That’s not all! Spotlight had paper patterns, 3 for $10.

Another project is finally finished. The cushions on our lounge were dead and needed replacing. I bought the fabric and inserts in September however I just hadn’t had time to sew them. As of yesterday, we now have 6 new cushions.

The garden has been very confused due to our weird weather. It’s been a very different Summer with overnight temps dropping to as low as 4 degrees. Finally though, with some good rain and a few warm days, things are starting to grow. Raspberries, zucchinis, squash, figs, tomatoes, comfrey and the lone pear. The baby corn (no corn yet) is huge now.

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We are counting down the days to our cruise. Noumea here we come….soonish!

Our niece came and stayed for a few days. We shopped, went to the beach, had dinner out with friends and she spent a day with our friend’s daughter watching movies and playing games.

The cows are letting me get a little closer to take photos.

Mr D and I watched ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ last night. I loved it! I can’t wait to see the second one now.

Onlookers. One of the turkey girls is always close by and doesn’t mind a photo shoot.

This is the 100th post on my blog!

Well, it’s time to go and do something that doesn’t tickle my fancy….after sewing, the floor is in desperate need of vacuuming.

What has tickled your fancy of late?

Mrs D x

 

 

 

 

 

2015: The Post Analysis

Happy New Year!

2015 was an interesting year. Lots of ups and downs. Some gains and losses.

One of my New Year’s resolutions, however, is to make more of an effort to look for the bright side of things and spend less time dwelling on how I could have made things better or even have changed them.

Some things are what they are. Some people are who they are.

I thought I would start by looking back at the highlights of the year that was: 2015.

January

We had a visitor while friends had some time away. Barry the Jack Russell cross.

Mr D started work on the second rock wall.

The garden was promising a great harvest.

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A 21st was celebrated.

February

I started blogging. This has been a great thing for me. Writing about stuff is very therapeutic. Thank you for following!

Lots of zucchinis and thoughts on different ways to eat them.

Plums off a tree at the front of the property. We didn’t even know it was a plum tree. Plum jam.

Entries in the Canberra Show.

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A show: Mother and Son.

March

Lots of produce from the garden.

Entries in to the Cooma Show. A 1st for the Sultana Cake.

A trip to Merimbula for Mr D and I.

April

A 50th and a 21st celebrated.

A garden still giving.

Preparations began for B1’s 21st.

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My first attempt at an apple pie. We had that many apples this year!

May

Two 21sts this month. B1 and our nephew. B1’s 21st was a great night.

The first of our livestock additions. Shanks the poddy lamb.

June

Redundancy for Mr D begins.

Toodle Pip. A celebration to mark the end of Mr D’s time with Icon Water.

The first snow for the season. Winter makes a grand entrance.

July

The purchase of the next lot of livestock additions.

B2’s birthday.

The most views on the blog in one day. 146 views on the 30th July.

August

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An 18th birthday celebrated.

The first and major part of the renovation begins. The floor.

Blossoms on the fruit trees start to appear due to the unseasonably warm weather.

A visit to our Nephew and his Cafe.

September

The fencing project begins in earnest.

The arrival of our July purchase.

Our garden starts to come back to life.

Meeting with family from Sydney and Tasmania at Floriade, Canberra.

The most popular post on the blog in terms of views. Quick Slice: An Oldie But A Goody.

October

Lambs are born. Definitely an unexpected surprise.

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24 years of marriage celebrated.

A day trip to Merimbula with our friend Michelle.

A party to celebrate the engagement of our Nephew Matthew to Gabby.

The garden continues to bloom.

We move B1 to Wagga Wagga. New beginnings.

November

B2 is now a 2nd year apprentice. Where did the year go?

Little chicks.

Queanbeyan show entries and wins.

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Strawberries.

Our annual Christmas get together with the ‘locals’.

December

The Christmas tree goes up.

We have our first experience at the Cooma Saleyards and purchase four Hereford cows.

We celebrate Mr D’s birthday by running away to Merimbula for an overnight stay.

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The first calf is born.

We purchase five piglets. Red and black Berkshire cross.

Christmas presents are put together at the last moment.

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A fruit cake with a Christmassy decoration.

Boxing Day (our official Christmas day in 2015) is spent with B1 and B2 in Wagga Wagga.

A catch up with friends and family on Tuesday and Wednesday this week to deliver the gifts.

Blog stats: 97 posts, 1976 views and 848 visitors.

And before I let 2015 go, my Nan is in hospital and has been over the Christmas period. Mr D and I popped in to see her on Wednesday morning. She won’t see this post however I love you Nan xo.

I have just had a text from my Aunty to say Nan is going home today.

Well, there you have it. The pick of the bunch. It’s been a big year! Lots of things have been ticked off the list with a lot more still to go.

What’s your New Year’s resolution/s? How good are you at keeping them?

Happy 2016!

Mrs D x