Rain.. Yay.. Blink.. Oh.. Was that IT?!!

Even in the depths of winter farmers long for moisture falling on the fields. We received a little shine from the heavens and should be grateful. But I am greedy.  My fields and gardens even in their winter slumber are greedy. I wanted RAIN! Lots of rain. grey-day-010

But we did get a shower or two so I will be grateful for that. Hairy MacLairy has been telling me that this hole in the door had nothing to do with him at all and what am I going on about? We will look at that today Hairy. Our last warm day for a while. grey-day-019

 

Yesterday was a great day for washing on the line. I think the washing line needs some repairs too!grey-day-009

My herd.

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TonTon doing the round up. Everyone is taking a lot of notice of the herding dog. Not.

Good morning.  Queenie was in heat yesterday and has spent the last 24 hours mooing plaintively to the bull across the creek.

Daisy kicked only once during her milking yesterday. The difference in that cow in only three days of treatment is fantastic. Milking later in the day is so much more relaxed. John’s new job is to brush her while I milk. Her tests show improvements in both of the weak quarters. And her behaviour tells me that she is no longer feeling pain. Even though nothing full blown ever really presented itself, I knew there was something not right with this cow. So I can tentatively say that the Mastoblast (the homeopathic remedy) is proving to be an excellent find.

Mama is on a stricter diet for this pregnancy with no sign of the lameness that she is prone to.  Soon I will start to add grain to her diet but only exactly what she requires. No spoiling her this time. Mia is also growing quite wide.  Let’s hope she has no trouble this time.

So today we will finish up the last of the outside chores then hunker down for another spell of deep winter. But, that’s OK.  My  long silk underwear has arrived along with the silk thermal inners for my gloves. So I am ready this time.  Bring it on, Old Man Winter!

Have a lovely day my darlings.

celi

 

 

 

The lovely tiredness that comes from good hard work

I am not used to working so hard anymore, my body has gone into winter mode but this brief respite from the cold  must not be wasted. So I shoveled the proverbial almost all day yesterday. A new pile of compost was started. And the others were turned over.  And any areas that might have had hay mixed in with the straw were wheel-barrowed straight out to the fields. One day I will get a manure spreader but they are OH so expensive.melted-004

The barn was overdue for a good clean up and tidy. In fact as a rule I do more house work in my barn than I do in my house. In old fashioned language instead of being described as a housekeeper I would be described as a barn keeper. Which has nothing to do with an inn keeper though I would not mind being one of those either. Anything but a house keeper actually.  A gate keeper is not an arduous job. I could do that one. But I digress.  A barn keeper I am. melted-008

I found a little time in the late afternoon to walk out the dogs and the kinks in my back.melted-009

And see what we could see. Um. Nothing. Nothing to see here yesterday except some pretty impressive shadows. melted-003

The Daily View. There was green grass under all that snow. Who knew.

Good morning. It seems that this warm interlude will last another two days, though the rain and snow that was promised are being slowly taken out of the forecast.

Today I shall finish pruning the grapes in between clearing out that one last big pen and freshening the chook house.  We are getting two eggs a day now, and one a day from the barn birds. All the animals are in the sacrifice fields, stomping about enjoying the warm.

Daisy still has access to her corner of the barn and had a lovely day watching me work. She takes her Mastoblast homeopathic medicine very well. I just cut a capsicum in quarters and pour the fluid in as though it were a spoon. She opens her mouth and eats the lot, spoon and all. This will keep her healthy while she transitions to once a day milking and hopefully bolster the two weak quarters.

Oh and when I was in the barn last night I heard a peacock call out. That loud Neil Neil sound. I have not heard a peep out of them since early last summer so that is an                 interesting change. Kupa’s tail is so long now that when he shifted position on a fence, as I walked past,  he managed to brush my face with his tail feathers.  They are not soft.

Have a lovely day.

celi

A Tiny Thaw that Melted the Daily View

Get down off that wardrobe Thing One and go outside, it is a lovely day. the-thaw-006

Did Miss c make you go outside too?the-thaw-008

I am just watching The View melt.the-thaw-010

Did I miss something?the-thaw-014

No, we are watching The Thaw Tui. You can join us.the-thaw-038

Is it thaw time? 

No. It is just a thawy day.feet

But the chooks don’t mind, they are still hard at work preparing the corridor paddock to be sown with new grass seed in the spring. I spread the contents of Queenie’s sunroom stall out there for them to flick about.

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Yesterday it stayed above freezing all day. This meant I could catch up on lots of farm chores. It is hard to spread manure when it is frozen solid, so yesterday and today are perfect days for this.    The new compost heaps will be started today too.

Daisy begins her Once A Day milking today. From now on (if all goes well) she will be milked at 9.30 each morning. Her tests (using the California Mastitis Kit) came through OK though I will take more tests throughout this transition and then once a week after that. As you know a cow’s udder has four separate quarters, a sample of milk from each of these quarters is tested. This is very simple to do and now that we have the kit we will know if she needs attention. The consensus is that she has been fighting a sub-clinical infection. There were the remaining traces of this in two of her quarters. Though no other indications at all. But her natural health has fought it.  So we will watch  closely. If the somatic cell  levels increase we will go back to twice a day. But I do think that with a more laid back milking schedule,  less demands on her body plus a twice daily dose of the homeopathic remedy she will recover tip top health and a better attitude. It is all about balance and we need to help Daisy recover her balance.

I won’t go away and leave a milking cow again.

You all have a lovely day.

celi

 

Chooks are very strict Babysitters

This is a scene I happen upon quite often lately. The chooks put the kittens down for their afternoon nap then slowly surround them.  Babysitting. These two sister chickens are always the closest to the kittens. You may remember them from the spring when they were job sharing one small chick, who they eventually lost.abwalkies-002

Now they have taken over the duties of babysitting the kittens. If I had zoomed out further you would have seen more chooks and all the peacocks, who often make up the outer circle  but they all moved off when I appeared. abwalkies-004

But these two who would not leave their babysitting posts for all the tea in china. This little scene is usually in a sunny corner, I am not sure why the babies were put to bed in the calfs pen yesterday afternoon. Bobby was outside.

Now look below – do you see what I see?

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Yes. Someone broke the sheep’s door. Maybe Mia and Mama are getting too fat to fit through the door anymore, or maybe they all decided to try and go through at the same time with Hairy being a bit rammy. Old barn doors that are frozen to the ground break easily. This goes on the repairs list. And when it thaws a bit more today I shall dig out the door and push it along to make the gap wider. abwalkies-016

We  went for a walk yesterday. abwalkies-021My friends and I, though Daisy is in a crazy mood lately 

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chasing everyone and larking about. Once we got out in the field she was more interested in finding a little grass to pull up.

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Li’l Puss rides on my shoulder most of the time that I am in the barn ( he uses his claws if you try to shift him off before he is ready), and follows along behind when I am out and about. He has been seen jumping onto the backs of cows. Queenie does not seem to mind but Daisy always startles and looks back in that totally dislocated way that cows can and says Get Off.  But L’il Puss will only get off if he is close enough to a fence for a dignified dismount. I will get a shot of this one day soon.

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The Daily View.

Good morning. Today will be another warmish day so we will spend time outside doing repairs and mucking out pens while it is comfortable to work out there.  John is still off work (he does not work in the winter)  so this is the time of year to get ahead on the heavy chores if we can get outside.

Daisy, who went through a period of good behaviour, has started jumping and kicking again during the second half of her milking, I will test her again for mastitis, then as soon as her homeopathic remedies arrive (today hopefully) I shall begin to transition her to once a day milking (OAD).  This will take the pressure off everyone (though The Bobby will need to be weaned from milk if her production drops too far) and I will move her milking time to late morning when it is warmer.  The plan is that I can milk her once a day through to the spring when I will get her pregnant again. So let’s hope that plan works out. Once a day milking is much easier on the cow and the humans. My research tells me that I can expect anything from a 10% to a 30% drop in milk. Though the fat content will be higher and the cow will put on some weight. I will be vigilant as far as health goes as the risk of mastitis over that transition period is much higher.  But it is time. I have pushed her far enough.

You all have a lovely day. We will.

celi

Onion Jam and Carrot Cake

I spent some time with my mother’s recipe book yesterday, onions-ana-cake-020

which looks suspicously like my own.

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I thought I might try her custard recipe,  (eggs you see!) but I understand now why she always ended up making it from the Edmonds Instant Custard packet. I cannot work out her recipe for Elaine’s custard either. onions-ana-cake-016

I decided to make carrot cake instead from Deb’s recipe book. I have been after this recipe for years and Deb had to go back to an old friends to finally find it for us.  And her daughter kindly copied it from Debs recipe book while I was visiting. onions-ana-cake-034

So I shall share this with you.

Louisa’s Carrot Cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 small tin crushed pineapple
  • 2 small cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil (or sunflower)
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 scant tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix everything together.  (typical NZ method) Bake at 180 (350F) for 40 – 60 minutes.

Cream Cheese Icing (Frosting) 

  • 125g cream cheese (1/2 small carton)
  • 60g butter (1/2 US stick)
  • 2tsp grated orange rind
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar

I have to admit that the icing is my favourite part of this cake. Store in the fridge.

Earlier I had made some Home-made fresh cheese and on the wood stove was onion jam. Chopped onions caramelised with red wine, balsamic, brandy and  1 heaped teaspoon of brown sugar.

So we had a very tasty afternoon.

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There now. Thats enough cooking for one day. onions-ana-cake-024

The Daily View. onions-ana-cake-022

Good morning.  We are still below freezing -yes I have put sand on the steps and my long silk drawers should be arriving this week.   It is 14F (-10C) this morning but there is a rumour that the weather will warm up this coming week, just a little would be nice, though so far this winter has been mild and we can’t complain really.

I keep meaning to say that I still visit the Old Codger twice a week and he sends his love. He is doing very well.

Have a lovely day.

celi

 

Move along, Move along, Nothing to see Here.

I decided not to post a page this morning. Then after the milking and after I had started a new cheese, my daughter called from hot, hot Melbourne and said ..

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I am waiting. I have been checking and checking. Where is todays post? I want to read it before I go out.

What time is it, I said.

Midnight.

Midnight. Oh. Well, there is nothing to see. I took a few shots yesterday, I said, but they are all so deadly dull.

We want to see the dull too, she said. five-003

And how will all your people really know what it is like if you hide the dull from them? Chimed in Our John.

You are not supposed to be listening to other peoples phone calls.  I said.  He went back to his paper.

I thought men could not hear a thing when they were reading the paper, my daughter whispered in my ear.

Hmm, I said. five-002

So here you are. But you do see what I mean. five-001

The only change I have today is that it is windy as well.

My daughter told me a story about some people in Aussie who, to escape the bush fires, evacuated themselves down to a beach. There they discovered that they were sharing their beach with a large number of kangaroos who had also designated the shore as a meeting point in case of fire.

Have a lovely day.  And welcome back to work New Zealand.  I am off to check and see if the cheese has set.

celi

Look at my beautiful Shush Sisters

Though they spend most of their time in their sheltered winter quarters, if the weather is nice, The Shush Sisters still come out each day for a walk. Sheila has dressed up for her outing and put a bow tie on her tail!! friday-007

No,  it is TonTon behind her.  Though Ton appears to be wearing a brown top hat so this shot just gets worse and worse. friday-002

Both Charlotte and Sheila are growing up into very nice looking piggies.  For those of you who are new, these are Hereford Pigs  Charlotte has the white face and sticky uppy ears. Sheila has brown smudges on her droopy ears.  Charlotte is in more shots than Sheila because Sheila is almost always walking right at my heel like a well trained dog. I need to call the swine herd and make an appointment for Charlotte with the Boar. Not a very delicate thought is it.(?)  Does a rhetorical question have a question mark?friday-004

Minty is also difficult to get a shot of as she is almost always standing on the other side of me, at her own heel. friday-013

And what have we here. (?) A chook escaping back INto the chook house. Which of you chickens was playing with a ball inside, even though we have talked about this before and who broke a window? I will have to fix that tomorrow.  Two more eggs today! Joy. friday-017

The Daily View.

Good morning everyone. Today is shopping day so The Matriarch and I will take her big jeep into town and fill it with  supplies for the next few weeks.  We always start at the feed store and finish at the grocery store. The list is long.  Not my favourite way to spend a day as you know but it is not as cold this morning and most of the ice has melted off the roads, so it is a good idea to just get it over and done with.

Have a lovely day. And if you are in Aussie I hope you find somewhere cool for the next week or so. The temperatures there sound scorching.

celi

 

 

 

A Little Dr Seuss Spot – Of Sun and the Origins of an Egg

Someone laid an egg yesterday. a-thursday-005

Was it you? Maybe not. a-thursday-009

Certainly was not you and I know it was not me. a-thursday-020

And we know for sure that Queenie, waiting patiently under leaden skies for a little sun, did not lay an egg. a-thursday-038

Out of the gray a roving spotlight of sun shot through and we all forgot about the egg.

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Instead we stood very still in our tiny spots of sun  – our sun spots. a-thursday-028

And breathed warm thoughts. And when the sun winked back under the clouds again.a-thursday-042

I took the precious egg inside, walking very carefully up my frozen steps and put it in a tiny bowl then stored it in the fridge. Maybe tomorrow we will get another egg, then I will make … you know I am sitting here wondering what I will make. A cake? An omelette with fresh cheese? A fried egg on toast? Custard and meringues. I think I need to wait until I have three eggs.  I have not had an egg in ages. I am not sure I can wait!!

Now, who laid that egg?

Have a lovely day.

celi

PS To while away the winter we will revisit our year ago posts again.  On this day a year ago: the drink with the unpronounceable name. Oh I remember this!

PSS And many thanks to Mary at Brissiemaz who nominated me for the Reality Award. Thank you so much for thinking of me.

Also The Brave Cook awarded me for the Blog of the Year award.  Thank you so much Lukasz.

I must apologise to all the people who have given me awards over the last while as (what with writing a book in the afternoons) I quite simply do not have the time to give awards my best. And I do feel as though I am letting people down. So one of my blog resolutions for 2013 is to thank people immediately on my pages, then add them to my blogroll as an extra thank you, because I really do appreciate the thought and those award posts take a lot of care and time to make.  I am sorry I am unable to participate fully.

c

The Mists of Writing while Walking the Boundaries.

Mama the policeman will have something to say about that. acold-walk-009

Every photograph, though taken on the same day, has slightly different light and is viewed differently by each reader. This is why every writer has something viable to say. acold-walk-003

Some might say: Mama you are looking fat. Others might think she is looking a little bit pregnant, an oxymoron  – to be a ‘little bit’ pregnantacold-walk-011

My mother, who was not fat, always wore red lipstick and heels every time she went out,  even if it was just to the shops. In fact, towards the end, one of her good friends said to me that she could tell Mary was really sick because she had stopped wearing  lipstick. Mum  wore perfume sprayed from a crystal decanter that she kept on her low oak dressing table. She once laughed about an actress who would spray a mist of bright perfume into the air ahead of her and then step into it allowing the scents to envelop  and drift down onto her person at will. My mother did not like to be too heavily scented you see. So she would spray just a little behind her ears, into her soft curls and the aroma of my mother, combined with the drifts of sea spray from just beyond the front gate, would linger there for hours. When she got home and said goodnight with a hug,  and her hugs were always quick and to the point – her lipstick still firmly in place, we could smell that mingle of scents in her throat.

nrHatch has thrown down a very gentle challenge. She is hosting a writing competition.  The prize is the book A Writers Desk. But more importantly she asks us to write a little about our desk and our writing methods to enter the competition.  This is what I was thinking about as I followed the footsteps of a light coyote with a heavy left back paw around the boundary of the farmy. Now, here is my entry for the competition.
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Thing One approves of course. acold-walk-023

For me – writing is a little like that long forgotton actress’s footsteps as she moves into droplets of  perfume scented air.  I  hear her light step as I spray the mist of another world into the air before me and then I walk straight in, and I am gone there. The scents and stories settle around me and cling to my skin. The characters lurk about the desk, sitting on old books and sniffing at empty, long stemmed glasses. I sit at our desk for a while. Then I write. 

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Chomping on consonants and sipping at vowels I was, as I walked the boundaries in the biting cold. acold-walk-032

Then the  light changed.

Good morning. Thank you for yesterdays comments, I have ordered my long silk drawers and  have even ordered a pair for John.  When I present them to him I am going to call them Tights, just to see the look of horror on his face! Why are they called Long Johns anyway. I guess Johns being underwear, but why are undies called Johns?

Have a lovely, lovely day.

celi

Onwards and Upwards at 5F (-15C)

This kind of beautiful clear day …jan-1-025

… always has to be paid for.

(Do you see the shape of the Coupe’s roofline developing in the framing here?)jan-1-001

There was a lot of sun for warmth gathering yesterday. jan-1-013

And I know why now. jan-1-014

It is 5.30 am and 5 degrees F outside.  Yes, that is MINUS 15 in celcius.jan-1-022

I am dressing in as many layers as I can before I go out to milk.sunset1-002

Good morning. At least it is not blowing. We can survive most temperatures as long as there is no wind and the early mornings are often calm.  I will wear tights, track pants, two pairs of socks, a singlet, two long sleeved T shirts, a long sleeved thermal and a big heavy teenage boys hoodie and then my clown suit, my big work jacket and thermal boots. Then two pairs of gloves and my scarf and hattie. I will waddle as I walk.  But I wish I was a sheep this morning with their heavy wool cladding.

I think I am going to invest in some long underwear this year but I have no idea what would be good.

The worst part is when I have to take off my gloves to wash Daisy’s udder and put the cups on. Then my hands are wet, and they freeze very quickly – this is bad.  She is still milking out unevenly so it is not a fast process either.

But she is still giving way too much milk to even think about drying her up even if I wanted to which I don’t.  So we will design protocols to deal with the cold. They did it in the old days on these little farms. I can do it now. I just have to work out how.  Though I can see why in Europe they built the cow shed onto the house!

Good morning. Have a lovely day. When the sun comes out it will be lovely here too.

celi