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

 

 

Post Redundancy -It’s Been 6 Months!

I can’t believe that 6 months have passed by since Mr D’s time at Icon Water came to end.

You can read about it here.

The months before it happened were so traumatic and yet it all seems a distant memory now.

We have achieved so much in that time. Previously, because of work and the travel times to work, we were really limited to weekends to try and get through the list of farm projects, especially in the Winter due to the shorter days. So things just stayed on the list and the list just got longer.

I wonder how we ever got anything done prior to redundancy as it seems there are still not enough hours in the day and we are here most of the time.

Anyway, the journey so far…

Two paddocks have been fenced. Mr D has also been doing repairs to our boundary fences.

So many new additions starting with Shanks, the not so poddy Ram. In September we added 24 Ewes, 18 (so far) of which turned out to be pregnant. Very unexpected!

Mr D and I have now added 4 cows (Poll Herefords) to the menagerie.

We had our first experience with the Cooma sale yards a couple of weeks ago. The auction was fairly fast paced which was good as the sun was beaming and the flies were manic. Two have calved without any problems, one calf was lost due to being crushed by it’s Mother and we are patiently waiting for the last one to be born.

These five Babes are the most recent addition.

Last Tuesday we traveled to Coolemon , which is about half an hour passed Wagga Wagga, to purchase five piglets, two girls and three boys. We collected B1 along the way.

They are hilarious to watch. I have been doing quite a lot of reading and I can no longer say that I’m sweating like a pig. Why? Pigs don’t sweat which is why they need a constant source of clean water to wallow in.

We have had time for time out. Time to spend with Family and Friends.

Mr D’s second rock wall has been completed.

We are coming out the other side of major renovation. New floors, painting, architraves and skirting. The painting continues on and on and on…

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We celebrated 24 years of marriage! Young things in this photo…

And here we are at Christmas! The last six months are a blur.

We have decided to have Christmas Day and Boxing Day off. We will just eat, drink and be merry!

Sound like a plan? Are you going to down tools for a couple of days?

Mrs D x

Containing The Baaaby!

Shanks, the poddy lamb, is now sixteen weeks old! Where does the time go?

If you haven’t been following, here’s a catch up.

At the end of May this year, B1 called (we were on our way home from Sydney) to tell us about a poddy lamb for sale in Jindabyne and asked do we want it? We hummed and hawed as we were not set up for a two week old lamb. He would have to be bottle fed several times a day and how were we going to shelter him? At that time, our overnight temperatures were down as low as -8 degrees.

We said yes and from the minute he arrived, chaos reigned! Shanks didn’t like the laundry, in fact he did didn’t like being alone at all. I spent the best part of three weeks sleeping on the lounge with Shanks sleeping on the floor next to me. I didn’t sleep because when he wasn’t sleeping, he was busy. He was attracted to the fire and I would spend most of the night worrying about him burning himself on the glass or up shooing him away from the hot glass.

During the day he followed me around, everywhere! Eating toilet paper, raiding the compost bucket, head butting me, weeing and pooing (a lot)…the list goes on. We still had crappy carpet at that stage, in case you were wondering.

Anyway, that’s all a distant memory now and I am happy not to be sleeping half awake on the lounge.

Shanks was originally destined for the freezer (the reason for the name) however we have decided to keep him for when our recently purchased ewes arrive. The meat eaters that love meat only if it can be purchased from the butcher will be rejoicing. Fingers crossed he does his boy duties well. We are a bit worried that he is a mamby pamby and those girls are just going to push him around.

For now he spends his day wandering the house paddock eating, relaxing and bleating. Have you ever heard a lamb bleat when he has a mouth full of grass? Too funny!

That’s the catch up out of the way.

The next part of the plan should have been fencing however some sheep (ewes) came up for sale not too far from where we live. We have paid a deposit and thankfully the farmer is happy to hold onto them until we are ready.

And now for the fencing. The existing fences on the property are pretty run down. Mr D and I decided to erect new fencing within the existing boundary rather than spend money on the old one. Sheep don’t respect fences, especially the cross bred varieties, so it needs to be rock solid.

Mr D has done all of the planning. Fortunately, the local rural supplies (where the materials have been purchased) have a guy in the warehouse named Guy, funnily enough, who has worked as a fencing contractor and has been happy for Mr D to pick his brains.

Fencing is a process and expensive. It has taken weeks to get to this stage and the constant rain has not helped.

With help from friends, the posts have now been concreted into the ground. These are big posts. The holes are dug by an auger attachment on the tractor to a depth of 900 mm and each gate post has required 10 x 20 kg bags of concrete and every other post 4 x 20 kgs, all hand mixed by Mr D (we priced a petrol powered concrete mixer and decided that for the price, it wouldn’t get enough use).

We are now up to the all of the stuff that goes between the posts. Star pickets, barbed wire, high tensile wire, ring lock and gripples (Mr D loves that word)…

I haven’t been involved up to this stage however I did spend the day on Tuesday helping Mr D with the first stretch of 60 meters. Only 1440 meters to go….

Sunshine and fresh air is good for the soul however I can tell you my body hurts today. I am pleased with progress. I am also pleased that the fencing is happening now in the cooler months so I don’t have to worry about the snakes.

This is a big project. What big project have you got happening at the moment?

Mrs D x

Spring Has Sprung- Surprise!

I am very happy for Spring to arrive however it’s arrived a little early this year. Mr Frost hasn’t packed his bag yet!

It has rained for days and days which is important when the fruit trees blossom to help set the fruit.

The sun came out this afternoon (very briefly) and I couldn’t help basking in it’s warmth and spending some time in the garden. After weeks of work, dental appointments and other stuff, spending time in the sun seemed like my reward.

A picture journey.

The herbs are all coming back to life.

The raspberry vine has started to leaf.

The nectarine and plum tree have come to life.

The chooks were enjoying the sun also, dust bathing frantically before it disappeared again.

Turkey girl was happy to pose for a photo.

Shanks wasn’t. Look at how big he is!

More blossoms.

The strawberries are back. They don’t really die off in the Winter however they feel rejuvenated when there is warmth from the sun.

And the Rhubarb was looking promising however the Turkeys love it….a little too much.

What are you loving in your backyard at the moment?

I am excited at the prospect of warmer weather, being in the garden again and home grown fruit and veg.

Mrs D x

Baaargain Hunting!

Mr D and I have lived here for just over seven years now and the plan was to have livestock. If you don’t have livestock on 100 acres, you spend most of the summer months weed spraying, slashing paddocks and whipper snipping. Guess what we have been doing every summer since we moved here?

Life has a funny way of butting in (Shanks style) and delaying your plans.

On Saturday, we headed out to Bredbo which is about 20 minutes north of us on the Monaro Highway. If you head to the Snowy Mountains (from the North), you will drive through Bredbo (not to be confused with Thredbo). A friend of a friend had sheep ready to go to market however was happy for us to buy some from him.

I know very little when it comes to sheep and my experience with Shanks has not made me an expert by any means. The one thing I do know is that I have no interest in the wool, I am very happy to buy that from Spotlight. It’s for that reason, a shedding breed was definitely important. Until recently, I didn’t know such a thing existed so sheep were not even on the radar.

Another thing I know is that sheep really are silly. They are driven by the most basic things and like most animals, these things are innate. Survival would have to be at the top of the list. Sheep that haven’t had substantial human contact are just plain scared and will climb over the top of each other to get away from you, unlike Shanks of course, who will try to take down glass doors to hang out with you.

Shanks is a Dorper crossed with Damara, two varieties of sheep that are bred for meat, shed their wool and cope with the Alpine climate. The ones we looked at on Saturday were Dorper crossed with Poll Dorset.

It’s always an experience to go to a working farm. We are hobbyists by comparison (I wouldn’t go so far to say Pitt St farmers).  You can ask me anything when it comes  to chickens and turkeys. The address we traveled to is a gazetted road however you had to open and close a gate to enter. The cattle were standing on the side of the road, no fences, chewing their cud and spectating.

These cattle belonged to our friends who we were following. You can tell they have been handled. Thankfully there was a fence, as I was in danger of having slobber all over my mobile trying to take their picture.

We reached our destination and met Mark the farmer and, of course, the girls. Unfortunately Mark was unwilling to pose for the camera. Mark did however ask the obvious question. “When do you want them?”

Now because I’m a ‘buy the shoes and then find an outfit to match’ kind of girl, we had to explain to Mark that we would need to erect some decent fences before we could take them. So you know what the next very pressing project will be……you got it, fences.

The list is long….

What’s next on your list? Needs or wants? Let me know.

Mrs D x

Wilson, please be my friend!

There are some days where staying in bed probably would have been a great idea. Of course you don’t know that until you get up and the fun begins.

Mr D has now been home for a week after having been made redundant and there have been lots of discussions about what lies ahead. Part of the discussion has been about me going to work more often. For several reasons. It allows Mr D to have a long break from working, it preserves the nest egg and it gets me out of the house.

So late last week, I let my boss know that I could do a couple of extra days during the week and we decide that Wednesday would be good day to start.

Now because all day parking is a challenge (because it’s limited) in Canberra, my plan was to leave home at 6am and be in Civic before 7.30am.

I was up just before 5am, kettle on, coffee machine on, bed made (my lounge bed that is), lunch half prepared, clothes planned…..it was going well until Shanks unleashed what seemed like a weeks worth of poo (pellet style) from one end of the house to the other. I promise I am not exaggerating. It was all the way from the fire place in the lounge room, passed the dining room, through the kitchen and finished in the parent’s retreat. After kicking him out and cleaning up after him, I gobbled my breakfast (that Mr D had cooked for me), inhaled my coffee and continued to get ready. Departure time 6.30am.

It poured with rain on Wednesday, of course. Now I usually park in the Law Courts parking in Civic however it has a 4 hour limit and is just too expensive for a whole day. So I drove further around London Circuit and parked in the all day Wilson parking. It was still pouring, I might add. Arrival time 7.45am.

Now if I wasn’t already anxious enough, the machine to get the parking ticket is different to the one I am used to. I am second in a queue (trying to look like I have done this a thousand times before) watching the poor lady ahead of me try and negotiate the machine (obviously a first timer like me) with the rain making it almost impossible to see the screen. The lady behind me is standing in the rain with no umbrella so I offer to share mine. We chit chat and I explain to her that I haven’t used this machine before.

In the meantime, I can feel my fringe shrinking into a frizzy curl on my forehead due to all of the moisture. The curse of curly hair.

It’s now my turn at the machine. My fears were not unreasonable. I couldn’t see the screen. I didn’t know what I was doing. Panic was just about to strike when the lady I have shared my umbrella starts pressing the buttons on my behalf (of course an act of kindness…nothing to do with her drowning in the torrential rain and her being frustrated at my complete inability to operate the machine). So it was done, a ticket was born, I thank the lady and start breathing again.

After depositing the ticket on the dash of the car and collecting my bags, I start the 10 minute walk to the office. As I walk, I am mulling over the day, thinking about which clients I will work on, wishing the rain would bugger off for 5 minutes, when it dawns on me that I have entered MY number plate into the machine for the parking ticket. I didn’t drive my car that day, I had taken Mr D’s car. Shit! After a few seconds of irrational thought process, I decide that’s it only one letter different and hope that the ‘Brown Bomber’ (as they are affectionately known) has poor eyesight and there won’t be a parking fine attached to the windscreen when I return.

I did make it to work that day and the rest of it went quite smoothly, surprisingly. Often, as you know, a rough start to the day can often set the tone for the rest of it. Throughout the whole ordeal though, I was thinking I should have stayed in bed.

Do you have days like that? Tell me about your ordeal.

Shanks’ Baaffoonery!

The fun continues with Shanks in residence.

He is growing so fast having put on 1.6 kg in the last week and his baahaviour (sorry couldn’t help myself) is out of control!

When I said that having a poddy lamb was like having a newborn, I was wrong. It’s far worse! At least when you put the baby down, you know it will still be there until you pick it up again. Even a toddler can be placed in their high chair with some frozen peas or orange segments while you prepare the meal. Rat hour starts half an hour before every feed with Shanks. That’s five rat hours a day!!

Mr D and I are not the only ones feeling the effects of having a poddy lamb around. Poor Panda! He has been very patient with Shanks. Everywhere Panda goes, Shanks will follow. I think Panda is feeling a little harassed. It was bad enough having to share his kennel with Cleo, now he has to share it with Shanks as well. Luckily it’s a very big kennel. Sharing is caring, right? Poor Panda!

Our efforts to wear Shanks out are successful occasionally. We haven’t worked out the secret yet however this photo of him asleep at my feet makes me think we were successful that day! Have I mentioned that he snores?

Another little party trick is raiding the compost bucket. Mr D caught him the other night removing a banana peel for his gumming pleasure. He picked this bit of parsley out and gummed it to death. It’s so hard to get a photo of him doing anything. The minute I am at his level with the camera he needs to be up close.

He loves plastic. Whether it’s the sound or the texture, I am not sure. Of course, it’s not really good for his health so we keep having to remove him from the situation. I have been painting so I have furniture covered in plastic sheets. Thank goodness I have finished. Problem solved!

I spent the weekend away recently which meant leaving Shanks in the charge of Mr D. This meant bottle feeds, cleaning up wees and occasional poos, sleeping on the lounge, not being able to go to the bathroom by himself etc. I have to admit I was glad for the break.

I walked in the door Sunday afternoon and the first thing Mr D said to me was, “I understand now”.

He then went on to tell me that he hadn’t brushed his hair in two days and his teeth didn’t get cleaned until mid morning each day.

Mr D was demonstrating to me how he was cleaning up one lot of wee and couldn’t understand why his knees suddenly felt cold and wet. That’s because there was another one right next to it. And to add to the hilarity of it all, while he was demonstrating, as he knelt on the floor, my eye caught the glimmer of a new puddle. Too late, wet knees again!

Then, of course, there is the sleeping on the lounge. With the wood fire in the lounge room, it’s obviously quite toasty and there isn’t the need for a quilt, a blanket is sufficient. The fire however doesn’t burn all night which means having to put more wood in a couple of times during the night. If only it were that simple. Shanks is not happy to stay sleeping, he has to follow you to the fire, head butt (he has graduated from nudging) you in the back of the knees and nibble on your toes.

Feeding time is hilarious. Shanks is so boisterous when he drinks his bottle. Mr D told me that on two occasions over the weekend, Shanks lurched forward that hard while drinking his bottle, that it shot out of his hand. I have learnt to rest my hand Shanks’ chest to lessen the violence of his lunges. Because he drinks the milk so fast (200ml in 4 1/2 minutes), when he’s finished, it looks as though he is foaming at the mouth. Milk lips!

So that’s the latest on Shanks. He spends a lot of the day outside now. It is probably time for him to be outside overnight, we just haven’t decided the best way to go about it. Any thoughts or suggestions? Bear in mind that our overnight temperatures have been as low as -9 degrees celsius and he is only three weeks old.