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Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Rock Wimbledon

Can you see the resemblance? Swap the boots for Nike sneakers.


Shorten the shorts.

Lose the hat.

Darken the hair.

And there you have it.

Roger Federer.

...well, it's got to be better than Tiger Woods.

It's Raining


There were only limited grumbles yesterday when the six of us were bringing a mob of cattle in to the yards and the heavens opened above us. Soaked to the bone we pushed the cattle to the closest paddock to the house, wished them well and made a quick dash for home. With saddles hurriedly pulled off and horses bushed, it was hot showers and hot coffees all round. But no complaints. We've had over three inches of rain in the past ten days. Puddles abound and green grass is pushing it's way through. Cattle have left the molasses troughs, and headed further afield chasing green pick. One job I'm not going to miss!

Along the way we picked up a young heifer in obvious calving difficulty, joined her in with our mob and brought her home. Unfortunately we pulled a dead breech baby out of her. Hopefully she'll be fine after a little care for a couple of days.

Our preg-test results were rather pleasing, considering the dire climatic conditions we were experiencing at the time of our last flush. Came in at close to 60%, a great result for transferred embryos. Now with a little rain, we'll launch into another program.

Grandi (Matthew's mum) arrived Sunday evening for a few days with us. Was like the second coming of Santa with very excited kids looking for lights at the gate much of the evening.

So now it's starting to feel just as Christmas is meant to.

Short, sharp showers keep moving over us, ensuring the dryer is being given a workout for the first time in a long time. Rows of jeans hang in the shed.

Cricket is playing on the TV, 1000 pieces of jigsaw are scattered over the sewing table, the smell of smoking bacon drifts from the shed, and both Peter Watt and Bryce Courtney are calling my name. Bliss. And we've just whipped a cheesecake up for a special 'forty-something' year old birthday boy.

This is what Christmas is meant to be.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Xmas Over & Out

There were new frocks for pretty girls, belts and boots, toys and books, all in all a pretty good loot.
While Sally and Wallace worked on their archaeology skills, digging for dinosaur bones in this lump of clay...


Sarah painted some new book ends,

Wallace dug some more.....

and poor old Jess waited her turn.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Merry Christmas to All

This afternoon I attempted to close my eyes for twenty minutes, on this the eve of Christmas.
I may as well have attempted to backstroke across the English Channel. Would have been as successful. I'd lined the kids up in front of an uplifting, light-hearted Christmas movie, and even given them a basket of washing to fold. All that about idle hands, devils tools and all. But obviously the Christmas anticipation is too great. Too great for children to be quiet.

It's been a full week. After a hellish 'drought week' last week involving me being rather off-colour with a particularly nasty cold, a bike fall, starving stock, tired cranky children and an absent husband I unsuccesfully attempted to sell the place, the kids and move to Northern England, where the fields seem so green, all to no avail.

This week I'm back. I'm better. I'm keeping the kids, the cattle and the place. I completed my Christmas shopping and all is well with the world. The above storm clouds had something to do with it. We've received 32 mm of rain in three falls during the week. At least on half the place. Enough to keep us going.



These little tykes don't know there's a drought. They're growing beautifully, taken to roaming between paddocks as they please, will soon be big enough to feel the tickle of the electric fence.

These girls are growing too. Sally, and Tammy. And Ruby.



This girl had a particularly early morning assisting Dad with the Christmas pig slaughter.



And these also featured this week.
And I just had to include them again. Just because.

To all our family for whom this blog was intended, we wish you a wonderfully happy Christmas, and to all those I've met along the way, who also share an interest in our lives, I thank you and wish you a joyous festive season.

Pork all Round

You wouldn't know we were beef producers.

The aroma of smoking ham has been wafting around the house all day.
Very Christmassy.

This afternoon has seen the inclusion of some ribs and pork sausages. Should go down a treat with some pre-Christmas drinks.


Bless you Charlotte.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

All Creatures Great and Small

Cleaning the feed-room out yesterday led to this little discovery.
A Children's Python.


Our oldest child, who has an avid interest, bordering on obsession with anything reptilian, left me with the task at hand as she headed off to find siblings to share the prize.


Who would have thought that one little creature could entertain four youngsters for one whole day.


I think he was relieved to re-enter the feed room on dark.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Oh Yeah!


Already I can feel the extra calories surging through my body.
These little delights are a family favourite, or a tradition as Jessie deemed them. One she intends to keep going.



Christmas Truffles made.
One more job marked off the list.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Have you Finished your Xmas Shopping?

Well hell no honey, I haven't even started.
I've been asked that question every trip to town since early November.

It's generally about this time of year I start wondering why I scoffed at all those supermums back in July. You know the ones. The ones busily darting between toy sales and pre-stocktake sales at Kmart, Target and Big W, frantically lay-bying gifts for their loved ones. The same ones who in October tell you how amazingly busy they've been wrapping and boxing and labelling and stashing gifts in cupboards.

What, may I ask, is the fun in that?

What, pray tell, are they doing between now and next Friday?

Now me, on the other hand - the anti-supermum, will pack her beloveds into a car at an ungodly hour tomorrow morning, head to town to face a 39 degree day (will be packing an overnight bag for fear of not getting finished), battle the crowds, force my children to sit with Santa for a photo (after annual hair-trims), part with more money than one should, buy not only all my Christmas gifts, but also the Christmas grocery shop, then attempt to fit all said items plus four kids in the car for the trip home. All the while screaming threats that if they even dare to glimpse towards the burgeoning pile of boxes and bags in the back of the car, that so help me I will put the car in auto-pilot, climb over the back seat, smack you all with my shoe and tie your hands together with my belt. HO, Ho, ho!!!

See the little angels they were five years ago.

Christmas shopping in July.
Huh!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Is the Bike Alright?

Should have realised the goodwill and feeling of family harmony was too good to be true. After Christmas Tree erection and Gingerbread cookie creation, I should have let the bulls stay exactly where they were.

Instead I thought I'd do the right thing and put them into our currently-defunct hay paddock, so they could savour what's left of the struggling lucerne. In hot pursuit of one young bull who was apparently quite happy right where he was, the bike and I parted company. Upon hitting a rather deep hole at speed, which I spied all too late, I took the low road, the four-wheeler the high. In an effort to save an already sore shoulder I let my face take the brunt of the damage. In hindsight, not such a smart move. As I sat in the dirt and bawled like my five year old, gingerly touching parts of me that hurt, every bending part of my body seemed to be grazed. In my forlorn and hurting state, I decided I don't want to do this anymore. I want a house in town with a pool, a big cool blue pool, a fan-forced oven with a light, carpet in my bedroom. And I want a green lawn, with water that comes from the tap without having to turn a pump on. And I want the blood to stop dripping from my chin onto my shirt. Because I'm out of Napisan.

But I'm better now. I returned home at a much more sedate pace, was lovingly tended by my baby girl who thought an aishe-pak would fix it all and rang my beloved for some soothing comfort.

After establishing that the four-wheeler was unharmed, his concern for the welfare of the mother of his children was quite heartfelt.

11 More Sleeps

My beautiful little fantasy of the whole family happily erecting the Christmas Tree, hanging decorations, whispering excitedly, assisting each other with placement advice, whilst humming carols was dashed when I returned from the yards this morning to find the job done and dusted. The tree was up, candles placed on any flat surface deemed suitable, wreaths hung and a selection of empty boxes and bags strewn across the loungeroom floor. Admittedly I was delayed a couple of hours, having found two new babies in need of some assistance to find the 'milky' end of their mums.

So, moving right along to Plan B of family togetherness. The harmonious gathering together of children to partake in the delights of Christmas baking. And it actually went quite beautifully. Maybe a little 'goodwill' and 'peace to all' is settling over us, along with the dust.

Or just maybe I'm getting a little more tolerant.
What's a little mess?

A whole lot of fun.


And just look at these beauties.

Good enough to eat.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

I Don't Mean to Brag...

Is it politically correct to use your blog as a brag-book for your kids?

I'll assume it is.

Last night as they read the awards out for 'Academic Excellence' in the three school age groups:

Junior Division: Wallace
Intermediate: Jessie
Senior: Sarah,

two parental hearts swelled with pride.

Okay, so it's not a very big school, but hey, we could mix it with the city folk.

This young lady in particular, made us so proud, as she's put in a super-sized effort these last two terms, and its paid off.


Not just a pretty face!

Friday, 11 December 2009

The Week that Was

The week started with a little bit of branding. All in anticipation of weaning between Xmas and New Year. Always a rather hot and dirty job, all the moreso on a 39 degree day, with a furnace roaring approximately 2 feet behind you. Kids were on hand to bring calves up the crush and hold tails, run ear-pliers and vaccinations. Sal and Wallace hung in as long as they could, before the heat overtook them and they headed for home.

Tammy and Ruby were relocated to their new abode.


And introduced themselves to their neighbours.

This foxy little devil was born this morning. He's definitely not an embryo calf, think his mum may have had a dalliance with a neighbour's bull. SSShhhh. I'm sure he think he's rather handsome.



And of course yesterday we celebrated Family Fun Day, which involved some three-legged racing, some egg and spoon racing, sack races as well as an afternoon of frivolity in the pool. Mums and Dads all over our area are sporting tight spots and stretched muscles that hadn't been used for quite some time!

Tonight we head into school for Presentation Night.
Then begins six weeks of no schedules, no buses, no cut lunches.
Yay.

And PS. It didn't rain.
Just in case I haven't mentioned it before.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

What Would Turtles Know Anyway???

It would appear that the turtles moving to higher ground were simply going on vacation. Think they're back now. Although, give them their dues, there were storms in our area last week. Very small isolated ones though. Some people not too far away received in excess of two inches. Unfortunately none fell over us.

In fact our situation is becoming quite dire. Many people in our area are losing cattle on a weekly basis, on a daily basis. Gut-wrenching, soul-destroying stuff.


We've many more calves to fall this month. Another round of embryo calves due this Sunday.


The kids start holidays Friday. Lots of fun stuff happening at school, a very welcome diversion from home at the moment. "Family Fun Day" tomorrow, followed by Presentation Night Friday night. Dad got the call that he doesn't have to go to a sale tomorrow. All meatworks are full and getting ready to close up shop for the year, so hooray, he'll be able to come to school tomorrow.


Not a lot of 'Family Fun Days' happening here at the moment!


Friday, 4 December 2009

Fa La La La La

The school bus was twelve minutes late today.
Ruined my day.
Not really ........I guess.
Just seems that way as you're sitting there, waiting, waiting.

Had my Christmas cakes in the oven.
Will blame the bus if they're no good.
Not that the bus affected them. They didn't come out until nearly 2.
Five and three-quarter hours it took me to do two molasses runs. Just the same length of time to cook my cakes. Funny that.

Had it taken seven hours to do the molasses, that's how long it would have taken to cook my cakes. Funny that.

Nice way to spend a Friday.

Re-entered the house to the beautiful aroma of rum-soaked baking.

I only meant to cook one cake. But after filling my large square tin, there was still sufficient to fill a dozen muffin tins, so we'll still be eating Christmas cake come Easter I imagine.

And probably only me. Of course Matthew won't eat fruit cake.
Fruit!
In a cake!
Some people just don't get it.
The kids do like fruit cake, but this one just might be too rich!

And with kids merrily fa-la-la-ing, practising for their guest performance at tomorrow night's "Christmas Tree" extravaganza in our small community park, rehearsals underway for next week's end of school Presentation, the aroma of baking Christmas cake, it's just starting to feel a lot like Christmas around here.

Now, if I could just get the stench of molasses out of my clothes.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Once Bitten, Twice Shy


Most tragic of tragedies, Charlotte our proposed Christmas Pig, has endured a nasty dog-bite on one of her buttocks (pronounced ba-ttock, as per Forrest Gump and the only way the children now seem to be able to say the word, amidst a flurry of giggles). Fred the Wonderdog is not looking so wonderful just at the moment. The small nip resulted in a rather large nasty looking abscess requiring a little doctorin'.

So yesterday afternoon the great Pig Whisperer and his trusty offsider (that would be me) did ourselves some pig-wranglin'.

Now pigs are quite difficult to wrangle. Someting to do with their anatomical anomalies. They have no necks. Which makes it extremely difficult, in fact nigh on impossible to hold them still.

So having stealthily approached her from behind, scalpel poised in hand, the abscess was lanced. Getting close enough for a penicillin injection was now made quite difficult.

So the gate was swung on her small covered pen to give us some more room to move. As she exited her pen, the great Pig Whisperer swooped. Grabbing a back leg, I was required to move in on the front leg, tipping her over. Unfortunately I wasn't given these instructions until after the event, by which time she had escaped the tackle. (As in any such marital situation, mind-reading is a prerequisite). The great Pig Whisperer's glasses were ripped from his face somewhere during this ruccus, which gave me moment to smirk (wrong move).

Second tackle was more succesful, with us both moving in like Gordon Tallis and Darren Lockyer. Poetry in motion. The pig was down with Matthew doing his best to keep the 80 kg hog somewhat calm. Still smarting from the rebuke I received for having not been "on the ball" during the first tackle, for one fleeting second I was tempted to thrust said penicillin needle into the human buttock presented before me. Santity prevailed, and Charlotte walked away rather nonplussed by all the fuss.

Tammy and Ruby

Two new members were inducted into 'Team RockWallaby' yesterday.

You may recall Fred the Wonderdog going off to perform fathering duties some months ago. These two are our share of the resulting twelve.

Tammy's mum is Star, a hard-biting, hard-working career girl who when given the opportunity competes in many trials across the state. Tammy is a little more timid than Ruby, but has already bonded with her new 'pack'.


This is Ruby. She is a full-sister to Steel, already a worthy member of our workforce. Their mum Bronze is a much awarded trial dog. Ruby is cheeky, adventurous and would much prefer to sleep in the lounge room than the laundry.

These two little girls enter our team with high expectations already weighing on their sleek black shoulders. They have entered into a life of selfless dedication, loyalty and compliance (hope you're hearing that girls).

And if they're anything like their dad, the only reward they will want in return, is a little bit of occasional lovin'.


Which shouldn't be a problem.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Dear Santa

Hoping this finds you and yours all well in your Winter Wonderland. I trust the season has been a little kinder in your northern clime than it has here in this great southern land.

I've no doubt you are in receipt of many letters at the moment, but hope you might find the time to cast a wise eye over my requests.

This year, above all else we would like 12 inches of rain.
Not all at once.
Preferably over about four days would be most suitable.

If this is too large an ask, you could possibly arrange:
a B-double of hay
52 tons of molasses, and
24 tons of grain.

Again, if this is out of the question, then maybe the following would be of some assistance in getting us through this trying time:

8 bottles of Rum
10 cartons of XXXX Gold, and
1 bottle of Tequila.

Wallace is in desperate need of a 'Buzz Lightyear' with green retractable wings, I re-iterate the greeeen wings. For the past two years you have most generously provided him with Buzz Lightyear's, but unfortunately the 'greeeen' wings seems to be the sticking point. The 'retractable' also seems to be quite important. But I think first and foremost if we can aim for the 'greeeen'. If all else fails, let me know, and I'll do some work with a texta the night before.

Sally would like a slithering robotic snake and large hairy spider, both preferably remote-controlled, so she can attempt to scare her long-suffering mother at the most inopportune moment.

Sarah is at a loose end. She's at that age where toys just don't cut the mustard, but she's not quite ready for the grown-up stuff. It doesn't help that her techno-phobic parents won't allow electrical devices into her room. If there's anyway you could provide her with her own bedroom, that would be most suitable, in her mind at least. Failing that, if it would be possible to relocate at least two of her younger siblings for a short period of time I know she would be most grateful.

Jessie is fairly easily pleased. She doesn't want her mother or father to spend any money this year as she understands money is being poured into drought fodder at the moment. She explained to me that you (Santa) would have it covered. That's a great relief to us.

Please note, that we will endeavour to leave some lucerne on the front yard for your reindeer, but in light of the fact that over 30 wallabies are currently descending on our garden nightly in a vain effort to steal a little green grass, please be forewarned there may not be much hay left for your most worthy sleigh-motors. Please help yourself to the rather meagre haystack in the far shed. Your own beer and bikkies will be safely guarded inside the house.

In the meantime we will look forward to meeting with you at one of the local shopping centres during school holidays.

Until then.
Kind Regards.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Smokin'

Had I been asked last week what I thought this contraption was, I would have had to say I had no idea. Or hang on, is it a mailbox?


But of course, now I know it is a state-of-the-art Matthew-made 'Texas-Barbecue-Smoker'.

Of course.

Note the various levers that must be in just such a position for the best result.

Our smoker had its inaugural run on Sunday evening.



Let's just say I'm not pulling the Chef wall oven out anytime soon.

But this little beauty is going to be a major contributing factor in the production of bacon, hams and all manner of smoked goodies in the months to come.

Quick, somebody go throw Charlotte another feed.


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