30 August 2009

The new hens

Hello Lily and Jasper,

I think that I forgot to show you the extensions to the chook yard.
Last year sometime Grandad and I extended the yard by about three times its size. This was so that if we had to go away then there was plenty of room for the hens to run around when we were not there to let them out each afternoon. We would only leave them for two or three days at the most.

Early this winter I gave away all our hens to people who wanted them as pets because they hadn't laid any eggs for a long time. As it had been raining such alot this would also allow the yard to dry out and we could clean out the hen's shed too.

Last week I decided that it was time for some new hens, so I bought three when I was in Lismore. They are very timid at present and are still getting used to living in our big yard. I'm sure that when they have settled down they will lay us lovely brown eggs. What do you think?

25 August 2009

Our vegetable garden

The garden has been growing really well this year, probably because it hasn't been a very cold winter, there haven't been many frosts in this area.

I planted cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli to start. We have finished the cabbages and have planted a new lot, the broccoli is still producing and we had a couple of good cauliflowers.

Next we planted lettuces, silver beet, beans, peas, onions, zucchini and rocket plus swedes and kohlrabi. We still have a very productive bed of perennial leeks and of course lots of flat leafed and curly parsley.

In the big bed at the back we have planted the zucchinis and lots of potatoes which look really good at present but we'll have to wait and see what they produce.

I also have lots of culinary and medicinal herbs in pots which will be planted out in the next few weeks after the rain starts.

The little orchard down the hill from the house has been booming - the mandarins have now finished, we've had loads of bananas and are now just finishing the last bunch, the oranges have been wonderful and we have a glut of grapefruit. A couple of years ago I planted a tangello and a blood orange near the vegie patch. They have produced huge amounts of fruit, most of which we have now used but the blood orange has to be the champion. The poor little tree which is in the foreground have over 50 oranges.

There is a glass of blood orange juice in the photo. It is a glorious rich pink colour, tastes delicious and is not as tart as a lot of orange juice. There is a good sample of the days harvest in the basket.

I hope that when you come out next year that the garden is looking just as good so Lily, Jasper and I can go vegie harvesting. There is nothing better than picking an orange and then eating it or picking the peas or beans for dinner.

21 July 2009

Cold camping

We must be losing our marbles to even contemplate camping out in the coldest week of the coldest month of the year, and then to go to an area that records sub zero temperatures. But we did! Sundown National Park looked just as it did when we were last there over 20 years ago, maybe a few more kangaroos but that is all. Our last visit must have been later in the year because it looks pleasantly sunny.

When we arrived the wind was blowing hard from the southwest but we enthusiastically put up the camper to provide us with the most shelter possible and opened a bottle of sherry for some inner warmth. Too cold by then to even consider lighting a fire, just get into bed and try to warm up. Well, that took most of the night but by morning it was pretty cosy inside our camper trailer snuggled up with a lambs wool underlay, feather and down doona and as much clothing as we could comfortably sleep in. But we had to get the fire going! So we put on our now very cold clothes and jackets, four layers in all I think, and set out to light the fire. Fortunately we had brought kindling and firewood with us so it should have been easy. But the ground was so cold that it didn't light easily but it certainly smoked a lot. I thought we should take some photos of our camping site while we were waiting for the fire to heat up enough to cook breakfast but after this shot (the only one) the camera was so cold the mechanism wouldn't work so no more photos.

A hot fire eventually provided us with a wonderful cooked breakfast at about 10 o'clock, right down to toasted fruit loaf. We spent the morning sitting in the sun in the shelter of the camper, there was no wind blowing so we were pretty happy. We had driven across to the town of Texas to get the papers and had a lovely lazy morning. Lunch was around a really good fire at about 1.30 and at about 2 o'clock it was starting to get a bit cool which made me really nervous of what was ahead for that night. Just before 3 o'clock we both started to say together that maybe we should consider going home tomorrow as it really wasn't terribly comfortable and within a few minutes we had decided that we would be better off going home that night, in fact straight away! I didn't realize how fast we could get packed up and away but by 4 o'clock we were in the car and on our way home.
It was a long way home over the mountains from Tenterfield in the dark but it was wonderful to slide into our nice warm bed at about 9 o'clock.
Needless to say a post camping family meeting has unanimously decided that there is to be no camping south of the Tropic of Capricorn between the months of April and October.

15 June 2009

Rosebank Blessing

For the last couple of months a group of locals has taken over the running of the store. A cooperative has been established and the Rosebank Store and the Green Frog Cafe have reopened. Sadly the Post Office is gone for good but the little shop is doing well. The cafe staff are finally learning how to make reasonable coffee, there is a weekend cook/chef for breakfast and lunch and locals provide cakes etc. for sale.
As you know Rosebank is quite a spiritual place and so it was decided that for the good fortune of the business a blessing should be arranged. Four Gyuto Monks of Tibet have been staying in the area and on Friday night they performed a blessing ceremony at the Green Frog. We (along with about 70 others) were able to hear the extraordinary tantric chanting for which the monks are renowned. I know that you could download their chants from many sites on the web but here is our take on it.

17 October 2007

Jacaranda time

I know it's a long time since I posted anything but I felt that I just had to remind you of how the jacarandas look at this time of the year. I should have chosen a brighter day to take the photos.

I've also included a tractor shot for Jasper.

08 September 2007

The garden club

Recently I have been encouraged to enter parts of the garden in the local garden club competition, and I finally succumbed and entered in two categories, Australian native flowering shrub, and a flowering vine.
Because the weather has been so cold and dry this winter the flowers were all a bit slow appearing but there were enough there to see.
The powder puff lilly pilly looked pretty good really, in fact good enough for me to win second prize! The flower heads are about the size of a grapefruit. I was stunned and really quite pleased.

The wisteria which looks great now didn't have enough flowers on it to be prize worthy.

I mustn't get too carried away though as both Margaret and Wendy also received prizes for areas of their gardens which are far more impressive than ours.
So now I have to think about what I can enter next year, maybe the vegie garden?

02 September 2007

Chocolate Pudding

Do you remember this?
David and I have just been making a chocolate self saucing pudding to have with our Sunday lunch. With all the wonderful chocolate that you can buy I'm sure you could make the most delicious pudding. I wonder if you have this old recipe - in case not - here it is.

60 gms soft butter
1/2 caster cup sugar
1 large or 2 small eggs
1 cup SR flour and 1 tablespoon cocoa sifted together
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk
dash of vanilla
Plus another 1/2 cup sugar and 2 desertspoons of cocoa mixed together for topping

Cream butter and sugar, (do this with a wooden spoon, you won't need a beater), whisk in unbeaten egg and vanilla (optional) until creamy. Fold in flour and cocoa alternately with milk.
Pour into a greased ovenproof dish and sprinkle with sugar and cocoa topping. Finally pour over 1 &1/4 cups of hot water and bake in a moderate oven for 30 - 40 minutes.

Make sure you cook in it a dish that is big enough!!

Serve with lashings of whipped cream and/or ice cream. Guess who didn't want his photo taken?

For Lily - the wallaby family having breakfast under the trees this morning.

Grandad on the tractor for Jasper