Sunday, 29 December 2013

Day 2 At The Woodford Folk Festival

Day 2 and today it was just Hubby and I.

We kicked off the day with a high energy band - Ben Caplan and The Casual Smokers

Then we took some time to chill out and enjoy a cuppa in the shade where we shared our table with some other friendly festival goers.
We then headed off to see one of the acts I had really been looking forward to, The Whitetop Mountaineers.  Imagine the type of music that a stereotypical american hill billy would play and you are in the right area.  I have a secret love of banjo music and this one ticked all the boxes for me.  Martha also did some flatfoot dancing while playing the fiddle that was really impressive.  It was so great to see a something that is such a big part of their Appalachian culture.

Kim Wempe entertained us in the afternoon.

And the streets were alive with action.

One of the things that you can do at the festival is listen to guest speakers talk on a range of topics.  I have been to a couple already and plan to post about them after the festival.
There is so much to see and do it is a challenge to see it all and I know we need to manage our energy levels to get through the week so on night 2 we had an early one and were home at 7pm.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Day 1 At The Woodford Folk Festival

Day one and Hubby, my best friend Sandra and I headed off to the festival for a nearly 16 hours of festival activities.
It was hot and we prepared ourselves for the heat with hand held fans, water spray bottles and all manner of sun protection.
Here are just a few snapshots of our first day.

The children's festival is a festival within a festival.  Filled with all sorts
of fun things like circus skills and puppet shows.

There is plenty of entertainment on the street and the entire festival is a
cacophony of sights and sounds
 Some of the musicians we saw during the day were

Wes Carrs lastest offering - Buffalo Tales was a fantastic and I might even go and see him play again.

 A young lady by the name of Minnie Marks who had amazing guitar skills and a totally unique husky voice.

During the afternoon there was a thunderstorm and as we ducked for cover we ended up in a venue listening to a group from Brisbane called The Poachers who were really good and made an interesting change of pace.

Later in the afternoon we sat in on - Mulberry Bend who were great performers and really connected with the audience.

As the evening rolled in it was time to get our dancing shoes on and this time it was Busby Marou who got us up and dancing.  They are another group I would see again.

We tried not to have too late of a night as there are 5 days to go.  So it was home to bed only 10 mins down the road and a shower to was the dust off.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Merry Christmas To All

As we head into the Christmas season I want to wish you all a safe and happy festive season.

This year we have been really busy so we have paired things right back including the tree which is normally a real one that Hubby cuts down.  This year that was too much work so we opted for a bunch of fallen gum tree branches.

There is now a grand total of 4 gifts below the tree. One for my brother in law, one for our dog Jessie, one for my Mother in Law and one for my best friend.  We do not go crazy with the gifts.  My family are in NZ so we do not buy for them, and with Hubby's family we pick names out of the hat and all buy for one person.  My best friend and I buy for each other and Hubby and I do not buy each other gifts (although Santa usually leaves us a packet of our favorite chocolate in our stockings) as we choose to do something together instead.

This year we are spending the week following Christmas at the Woodford Folk Festival.
We live nearby and we are really looking forward to seeing the huge range of performers, there will be everything from circus and burlesque, comedy and educational speakers to music from Australia and around the world.
I will be reporting back on some of the great stuff we see and am looking forward to sharing it with you.

Do you have anything planned for after Christmas?

Monday, 23 December 2013

Very Boozy Christmas Pudding

This is a recipe that I adapted from another one and I have been really happy with the results each time.  It is not hard and can easily be made by a beginner or with the kids.
While this pudding does get better with age it is still good even if made and eaten straight away.
My the dried fruit measures are what I used this year but in the past I have also used prunes. dried peaches, dried cranberries and dried figs.  All I do is ensure I have the same total weight in dried fruit each time.

Very Boozy Christmas Pudding

870 gm Mixed Fruit
375 gm Raisins
100 gm Currants
225 gm Dried Apricots
100 gm Glace Cherries
1 tsp Nutmeg
2 tsp Mixed Spice
4 Eggs Lightly beaten
250 gm Melted Butter
1 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
225 gm Jar of Cranberry Sauce
2 Cups Brandy
1 1/2 Cups Plain Flour
1/2 Cup Self Raising Flour
Cooking Twine

Start the day before by chopping all your cherries in half and then placing them along with all your dried fruit in a large bowl.  Add the cranberry sauce, spices and Brandy and stir to combine.  Cover with plastic and leave overnight, stirring a few time during this period.
The next day grease your pudding basin/s.  This recipe will fill either a 10 cup basin or in my case an 8 cup basin and a plastic one left over from a shop brought pudding.  If you are using a metal basin it pays to line it with a round of baking paper as well.  To do this fold square of baking paper on the diagonal, and then on the diagonal again twice more bringing the points from the long side together. You can then cut an arc across the wide end if you want to fully line the basin or across the point to line the sides.  When you unfold it you can line your tin.  If you are using a plastic basin you will only need to butter it.

Mix your eggs, butter, brown sugar and flours well until combined and then mix into your fruit mix.  Spoon your mix into your prepared basin.

I covered both of my basins with a circle of baking paper tied this with cooking twine very tightly under the rim of each basin to prevent the pudding getting wet.  My large pudding basin has a lid so I clip that down over the baking paper and the plastic one has a lid too so I do the same.  If your basin does not have a lid you will need to secure a piece of foil over the top of the baking paper.  I place the smaller pudding in the fridge for cooking later (they can sit in the fridge for 24 hours no issue).

I cook my pudding on the bottom section of a bamboo steamer in a large stock pot but you could use a metal trivet or something else to keep your pudding off the bottom of the pot.  Fill with boiling water until it is half way up the side of your basin, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 hours making sure you top up the mater if needed.

When cooked remove from the water and let it stand for 30 minutes before turning out.  This is great warm or cold and can be served with ice cream, cream or custard but I think it goes best with home made egg custard.

How do you like your Christmas Pudding?

Friday, 20 December 2013

Goodbye Lady and Dumbo

Last month I posted about how the poor old cow (Lady) we borrowed from our neighbour had unexpectedly had a calf who we named Dumbo because of her huge ears.

Lady was very old and after having Dumbo she was not in very good condition or producing much milk.  We fed her up on good grass and hay and she managed to regain some weight but the milk situation was still not good.

Dumbo was growing but it was only a matter of time before she would need far more milk than Lady could provide.

So we called our neighbour who owned her and raised our concerns.  He told us that he had another cow with a calf who had plenty of milk and he would put Dumbo with her.

Lady is really old and the reality is that once the other cow accepts Dumbo as her own lady will have no further use and probably be killed.  This may sound harsh and mean, but if she is not capable of raising a calf then she has no value to a farmer.  If she was ours and had given us years of good service then we would let her live out her life in peace.  But she is not ours and for us the right thing to do was to make sure the calf had the best chance possible.  Sadly that meant saying goodbye to them.

So we arranged for him to come down and collect Lady and Dumbo and so that our cow still had a companion he brought us back a little steer.

A bit blury and from a long distance but
Lady and Dumbo are on their way to their new home.
We haven't given him a name yet and he is still very weary of us but a bit of hand feeding should calm him down.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Living Through Renovations

Our house is currently in a state of chaos.
We have had to empty 5 rooms (entry, 2 bedrooms, office/craft room and lounge) so that we could do some painting and get new carpet laid.
So we currently have our belongings piled up on every available surface with little pathways running around from room to room, basically we are living like rats in a maze.

 This is the reason we are painting.  Ugly ugly fake wood paneling, we call it caravan cladding.  Both our living room and our kitchen dining room are clad in the wood paneling and it makes our house really dark not to mention dated and unattractive.

So we called in the assistance of Hubby's parents and started painting.  First coat was a undercoat/stain blocker as we were not sure if the stain would come through.

Even with just the undercoat on we could see that the paint was going to make a huge difference.

Then it was on with the colour.  It is the same colour that we have used in the other rooms we have painted and is a pale beige colour.

The reason for undertaking painting this close to Christmas is because we had ordered carpet and it was a bit of a last minute decision to paint the walls.  We had originally thought we would not bother but we decided it was worth the effort.
We have been looking forward to getting carpet for ages as our floorboards were really ugly.  Years of paint drips, evidence of old carpet and lino and plenty of ventilation.  Getting the floors sanded and polished was not really an option.  It would have been really expensive and we were not sure all of the boards would have stood up to the sanding.

One of the ventilation hole.
 Woo Hoo here comes the new carpet and nice thick underlay.

 And here are some before and afters.

Looking into the spare room...

Check out the floor...

And now look at the difference.  Amazing.

And in the lounge...

No more fake timber...

The spare room had already been painted but the floors were still terrible.

We couldn't wait to cover up the mess.

And now it looks like a proper bedroom.

I am so glad it is all done, now all we have to do is put the house back together.  But not everything will be going back where it came from.  We will be using this as an opportunity to have a big de-clutter.  Thankfully we are not having visitors stay for Christmas so we can take a bit of time to sort everything out.  But I suspect we will get sick of the chaos and not let it drag out too long.
We still have the kitchen/dining room to paint and it is a big space so we are going to leave it for a few weeks.  Plus it is where all our stuff is currently piled so until we get that sorted there will not be any more painting.
And let's face it it is Christmas.

Have you lived through renovations?

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Save the ABC

I received this email today and thought I would pass it on in case you wanted to support the cause. I feel that it would be a real shame for this to occur so it you feel the same way please make sure you sign the petition

This week, members of the Government - including Cory Bernardi, Bronwyn Bishop and Ian Macdonald - agitated to defund Australia's favourite public broadcaster. 

Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi called our ABC a "taxpayer-funded behemoth", and suggested that "we could perhaps cut the ABC budget and allow the commercial media operators to compete." 

Let's sign and share this petition, and create a huge, instant response to stand up for our ABC

Sign Up Here 

Here's why we need to oppose this now: they've pulled this move before. This is the Coalition throwing out a test balloon, so they can see how the public responds to their long-held desire to slash the ABC. 

Pulled straight from the Christmas wishlist of Rupert Murdoch and right-wing think-tank the IPA, defunding or commercialising the ABC would ruin a rare, educational and uniquely Australian public resource. 

We like our ABC free of ads, free for all, free to remain fair and balanced. 

Will you make sure Tony Abbott knows to keep it that way? 

the GetUp team. 

PS - This is just the beginning. This is far from the first time politicians have tried to sell off our independent public resources. In 2006, when Howard tried to further slash funding to the ABC, GetUp members came out in force, holding grassroots demonstrations around the country, and forced a back down. Earlier this year, members chipped in to run a national ad ensuring that the Victorian state Liberals backed down from threats to privatise the ABC. Join the fight again?

Monday, 9 December 2013

Wildlife Rescue

Over the weekend there was a very strange occurrence here on the farm.  Hubby was working out side and saw that the neighbors herd of cattle was all stirred up and were stampeding around in a circle in the middle of the paddock.  They were making quite a ruckus, so much so that I could hear the commotion from in the house.
At first we could not see why they were running around in a circle and then we noticed they were charging at something but we couldn't see what.  So hubby set out across the paddocks to investigate.  When he came back he was carrying a very distressed wallaby.  How/why it got into the middle of this huge paddock far away from any sort of cover I don't know but there was no way it could have escaped from those cows.
It was trembling and breathing rapidly, there were some scrapes on its front feet and when we set it on the ground it rocked back and forth before hoping around in a circle.  We figured it was concussed.

We put it in our spare chicken pen and left it there with water while we called the local wildlife carer.  Her advice was to leave it in the pen overnight and see how it was in the morning.  She said that it was very possible that it could die over night but if it made it through we could release it.

The chickens were pretty intrigued with their new neighbor.

The next day the wallaby was still alive and was able to hop in a straight line so we caught it and took it to an area of bush not to close to farm land.  He/she hopped away without an issue so we assumed all was well.  We also hoped it would stay away from cows in the future.

Have you every had to rescue wildlife?

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Peter Piper Would Be Proud

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper picked?

Well they are at my place, I just haven't pickled them yet.  And in case you a wondering how much a peck is well you can learn all about here.
I have 5 plants growing and they are cropping really well.  I have picked these ones green as we can get bugs here that destroy everything in the same plant family and I do not want to risk getting none at all. There are still heaps on the plants so I will leave the next round to ripen a bit longer.

Of the 5 plants I am growing 4 of them are growing jalapenos that are exactly how I would expect them to be, small and pointy.  But one bush is ones that are long and pointy.  I was not sure if they were chillies of any variety or if I had planted out some of the Italian Fryers capsicums that I grew last year.
So I had a little nibble on the end of one.  Tastes like capsicum.  I had a bit more of a nibble.  Yep still tastes like capsicum.  One more nibble to be sure.  Oops that's hotter than capsicum.  Either they were capsicums and have cross pollinated or they are just a different type of chilli

Check out the size difference, and my nibbled one.

Earlier this year I made a whole lot of pickled Jalapenos and I will be using the same recipe again as we were really happy with the result.

We love these on Pizza and nachos and a few diced up fine mixed into home made mayonnaise is great.  Hubby also likes to add them to his sandwiches but that is a bit much for me.

Do you eat jalapenos?
How do you like them?

Monday, 2 December 2013

Chicken Pox On Chickens

So our hen who was injured by the rooster is doing fine.  She has showed no sign of there being anything wrong and today when I checked under her coat the would looks like it is healing well.

However we were not off doctoring duties just yet but this time it was to one of our new girls.

She had been a bit lethargic since arriving and we thought it was due to the change in home.  Then she started looking really sleepy and sitting with her eyes closed.

I decided that it would be wise to catch her and have a closer look.

On closer inspection she seemed to have an eye infection on one side and I suspected conjunctivitis so I gave her eye a rinse with a salt water solution and we isolated her in a separate pen in case she was contagious.

Today when rinsing out her eye I noticed that her comb was quite swollen and lumpy, almost wart like.
But after doing a bit of a search on the internet it looks like she actually has fowl pox (chicken pox).
From everything I have read there is nothing we can do except that wait for time to pass and hope that she only suffers from the dry form (external only) and not the wet form which can cause internal issues such as breathing difficulties.  I looks pretty unsightly but at this stage she is still eating and drinking and will apparently be immune once it all clears up.  It is not able to be passed on to humans so no worries there but it could get worse for the chicken before it gets better.

We sure are being exposed to some interesting animal situations at the moment but that is part of life on a hobby farm.

Have you had to deal with fowl pox?
What was the outcome?

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Unexpected New Life On The Farm

Since we had our cow "Freezer 1" butchered last year we had not purchased another cow to replace her as we already had "Freezer 2" waiting in the wings and it is unlikely that we would need to have a further cow to fill our freezer before we moved to New Zealand.

So instead of buying another cow we borrowed one from our neighbour.  For a while we had a big dopey steer we called bozo and when the neighbour wanted him back to send to the sale yards he gave us an old dairy cow he had purchased as part of a group of cows.

Freezer 2 is the one at the front, Bozo at the back.
We called her Lady and she now calm and friendly around us (might be something to do with the hand feeding and treats).  We think that Lady must be really old and I am pretty sure she has no teeth left as sometimes you can hear her gums squeaking when she chews.  She arrived at the neighbours with a group of cows and calves that really should have been weaned already.  So when she came to our place I was kind of relieved for her.  I figured that she really just needed to be left to rest and retire in peace with out lots of other cows or calves trying to drink from her.
She has always been thin and no matter what we feed her she does not seem to put on weight.  We thought she was finally starting to look a bit better a few weeks ago which we put down to extra hay we have been feeding and the mineral block they have had access to for the last few months.
So you can imagine my surprise when I was out near the paddock today and I saw a tiny calf standing next to her.  I was speechless. Poor old lady had been carrying yet another calf. 
Now you might think that we just missed the signs or are a bit clueless but trust me I know what pregnant cows look like as I grew up in a dairy farming area.  I am not sure how she has managed to survive another pregnancy and the calf is very small so I am not sure how things will go from here.  She does not seem to have a lot of milk but the calf is doing all the right things to get it when she can.

We have moved them into a paddock where there is plenty of of grass so hopefully that will help with her milk production but I think we will have to keep an eye on them.

Oh boy, it has been a big week on the farm.  I am just hoping for a few calm and easy weeks as we lead into Christmas.

Have you had any big surprises like this before?

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

The New Girls

So yesterday I mentioned that we had gotten ourselves some extra hens so here they are.

"Did I say you could take my photo?"

"I can't hold this pose much longer"

"See I am much taller than you are"
 They are starting to settle in but there is still some division between the older hens and these new ones.  None of them have names yet and we are open to suggestions.  Your thoughts?

And our injured hen seems to be doing great.  She seems quite happy in her designer outfit and is showing no signs that anything is even wrong.

We gave her her second dose of antibiotics today and checked her wound to see how it was going since we had taken the dressing off.  It seems to be healing nicely and there is no sign of infection.  I have to go to Brisbane for a few days for work so I am glad that I will not have to be stressed about her.  I am not sure if feathers will ever grow back on the wound scar but it will be a while before we know.  Until then at least she has some sun protection from her new outfit.

Have you ever used chicken saddles?