An Act of Kindness

I will never forget the first Christmas here in 2005.

We moved from Sydney nine days before Christmas and my number one priority was to unpack before my sister-in-law arrived on Christmas Eve. It is now 2011 and I still haven’t unpacked everything.

Christmas day 2005 arrived, we had opened our Christmas presents, had breakfast and were getting ready to go to church.  I was feeling a bit homesick as this was the first Christmas we had had without our extended family.

Suddenly there was a knock on the kitchen door, I had no idea who it could be as I wasn’t expecting anyone.  When I opened the door there was this bloke with a box of fruit under his arm.  It turned out he was our neighbour from up behind us and he was bearing a box of apricots from his trees.

What a delightful, surprise.

This simple act of kindness not only cheered me up as I realised that we had moved into a wonderful area, it also sent me on a path of preserving.

That first box of apricots was made into several jars of jam, some were stewed and of course many were eaten fresh.  We have generously been offered some apricots each succeeding year.  Now not only do I make jam but also I make Apricot Chutney.

Alas , last year a late frost destroyed all the apricots in the district so there were non to be had.  This disaster for the apricot growers turned into a bonus for us as we were invited next door to help ourselves to plums and peaches, both of which were made into jam and stewed.

I started looking around for other things that could be made into jam or generally preserved. I didn’t have to go far before I found things.

Blackberries were plentiful on our property, before we sprayed them a couple of years ago, but before they were sprayed I went out and picked, what I thought was enough to make jam and other things.  The problem with blackberries is you need to pick an enormous quantity to do any thing with them, and it is a very prickly process to do so.  I did manage however, to pick enough to make some jam, some blackberry pies and to also have some fresh.

When we first moved up here I was offered some strawberry plants and some raspberry canes.  Which I gratefully accepted.

It has taken a few years but last summer I was able to pick enough strawberries to make two batches of Strawberry Jam, of which I am very proud.

The raspberries haven’t been so prolific, but I have a sneaking suspicion that between the magpies and me, getting up early in the morning and eating them might be the reason for the shortfall.  However, I have been able to freeze quite a few raspberries and as a special treat I make them into tarts with puffed pastry.

So that first box of apricots delivered on Christmas day in 2005 has led me on a path of discovery in the kitchen.

Posted in rural living | Leave a comment

A Different Experience

I am about to embark on an unwanted experience.

In January 2008 when travelling in the United States of America, I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. It was removed in February 2008, & I have since tried to live life to the fullest.

This being in spite of having to learn to talk again and still getting tongue-tied when I am tired or stressed. And the memory loss is infuriating for both my family and myself.

Now, after four good years, the MRI I had at the beginning of the month has revealed a suspicious growth.

I now wonder what awaits me.

At present I am waiting for the Neurosurgeon to get in touch for an appointment then all my options will be revealed.

In the meantime I wait………

Posted in rural living | Leave a comment

Sydney to Country Life

Cows & Calves

We decided to wean the calves from their mothers, so we brought them all up to the yards for drafting.  When we did this we noticed one of the cows had a huge abscess on her cheek and another, not so large, behind her ear.

We continued to draft the calves from their mothers and put them, the calves, in a separate small paddock.

We then had to deal with the cow with the abscess – Whitey by name.

We ran all 13 cows through the cattle race and the crush until Whitey was in the race, we caught her in the crush so we could look at her face.

The Vet was needed!

We let the remaining 12 cows and the bull out into the lane with the intention of immediately pushing them into the back paddock away from the house.  Then we were going to put the calves into a paddock next to them – that way we wouldn’t hear the ensuing bellowing between the cows and calves.

However, the cows didn’t want to move out of the laneway.  We had missed our chance of moving them without their realising the calves were missing.

We tried, and tried to move them into the back paddock.

That’s when it happened – I fell off my motorbike!!

We decided to give up, and leave the cows and the bull in the laneway, put the calves into the holding paddock and leave Whitey in the yards until the Vet arrived the next day.

We endured 3 days of bellowing between the cows and calves.

How did the moving to a farm come about?

One day, about 7 years ago, we were on our way back from Queensland, when my husband, Hopeful Harold, announce that one day he would really like to move back up to the New England area.

He started looking on the internet for farms to buy – about 100 acres and not too far from town.

It took me about 6 months to agree with him, after all we had a beautiful house in the suburbs of Sydney, in a very quiet street and lots of friends.

Finally, I agreed to the move and the search for a place was on in earnest.

We eventually found a suitable house and property. Approximately 180 acres, 8 kilometres from town, mostly flat but with a “hill” at the back of the property which had 360 degree views.

This was it!

We not only bought the property, we also bought the 13 shorthorn cows and the Charolais bull that were on the place.

Next, we thought, no farm was complete without a dog and cats to catch mice.  Hence, we bought Bandit, the Border Collie, and acquired several cats.

This blog will be about the antics, trials and tribulations, and enjoyment of all the family.

Posted in rural living | Leave a comment