Sinister is the wrong word maybe flat out scary

Is this what I think it is? I took this photo tonight.  And I swear I have never seen this hole in the glass before! Is this from a gun? A rifle?.

Hmm. It is pheasant shooting season.

TonTon and I had words with hunters coming too close to my house today in  their camouflage gear and their fluorescent  vests. I ran down to the creek and intercepted them. There were two of them, armed with rifles and two dogs.   I say please do not shoot so close to my barn, I have pregnant animals.  You are shooting at My birds.  Startling my sheep.  This is My home. I would be grateful if you would take your guns elsewhere.  This is private property.

I am angry. They scare me. I lick my lips and the moisture freezes. I resist the need to wipe my mouth with my fingers.

They are stolid and playing stupid with sly looks. They look bemused. What did she say? A foreigner!  Did you get that?  Did you know one of Them lived out here?  They look at each other and back at me. My heart is beating so loudly I am surprised my chest is not moving in and out with the rhythm.  The Big One spits tobacco to the side, missing my boot.  I do not move.   He shifts his rifle. I leave my sunglasses on but wish I was not wearing my silly hat with the Pom Poms. I am furious and these Pom Poms sway with the whip of my head.  But I will not take the Pom Pom hat  off either.  I will not shift. I forget to breathe.  I stand, motioning  TonTon:  In.  He looks back. He would rather stand in front of me. GET IN.  I say. He sits.  Still in front of me.  He will only go that far.

The men look at each other and shrug their shoulders.  Their faces are florid and blinky.  They look back at me.  I am suddenly aware that I am out here in the middle of nowhere, alone, except for a small sheepdog in a fury.  These  men have guns.  Loaded.  I wait. My shoulders back, feet in grubby green gumboots solid.  I will not swallow. Ton growls.  Low.  Daisy calls from the barn. I am glad my hands are in my pockets.

Then they nod, grunt, turn  and move on, guns on their shoulders, barrels pointing back at me.  Their dogs range, barrel chested, hungry. TonTon hates them all with an unusual passion.  He quivers at Sit unable to control his bark.   Desperate to race after them and have his say. I say Down and he hurls himself furiously at my feet and glares still, visually spitting, growling up at the men as they leave,  his head down and sideways. The BigDog is so scared he has hidden. The men with Guns terrify him. I watch them walk.

Get In.  I say to TonTon as I turn my back on their barrels.  He is reluctant . Get in Behind! I growl louder.  I am angry.  I bite my thumb at them. I swear quite nastily. Dog leaps to my heel.  He is Looking back as he walks forward. Lets put the sheep in. I say.

This is better. 


Snow as Art, An award, and yes, a wee story

All my favourite artists have an ability to disconnect from the present and plunge out into the future and their art.

This is why I love snow after the storm. As an artist Miss Nature is brutal, selfish and startling.  She is very fond of mixed media too. She is my favourite artist today.

A wee while ago a very beautiful and generous blogger passed the Leibster Award across to me. Aimee at Soul Dipper is a gentle and kind, compassionate woman who genuinely loves mankind and is a lovely writer.  A rare gift. She is indeed one of a kind. And I thank her for her gentle sure  words both for me and the others she mentions. 

I have chosen a few bloggers  to pass the Leibster award to who love the land. They are at the end of this post waiting for you. Some are very new to me and  a few not so new.  One I have been following since July 4th when I started this blog. That is old!! I will tell them that the nomination is not a chain letter. I only want to highlight them as memorable and worth visiting. I do not want to add to their workload!!  So they may pass it on if they choose and when they choose.  Life is all about choices.  I  think that if you have time to pop in they will stretch our wee blogging bubble a bit.   A bonny blogging bubble.  Hmm..  That is an Alliteration. I love the word Alliteration. Alliteration reminds me of a moment many years ago.

The day I  learnt the word alliteration it was summer. School had just resumed after the New Zealand summer holidays and I was 11.  In class that day hearing and understanding that word was like a light bulb going on  above my head.  Suddenly  I knew this word, I could say it and spell it and I knew what it meant.  I owned it. I could have it and keep it. It made sense to me.  I was thrilled to bits at this massive discovery.

It was a big old school.  All varnished wood or clean cream  and blue paint.  It had one long L shaped building, with one wide indoor corridor  that ran the length of the building turned the corner and ran down that side as well.  It was very wide, about four kids laid head to toe with their shoes on wide.  The corridor was  light, as the top half of the exterior wall was entirely made up of  generous windows stretched right  to the ceiling. The highest windows were open to the pine trees laden with summer scent. It had  hundreds of  brass pegs  under the window sill- dark with age, maybe they had been brass once. Their tips shone brassy. These pegs were to hang our schoolbags (mine was brown leather and I hated it as it was a hand-me down of my brothers and I hated him too because I also had to ride his hand-me down bike from the beach to the town school. Secretly I did not mind about the boys bike but appearances had to be maintained even when  eleven years old).

Hey out of the bike shed with you and back to this corridor. The pegs also ran the entire length of the corridor.  Hung with the motley collection of dark bags.  Now, way below the hanging bags and also stretching as far as I could see  and further (they still had not realised I needed glasses at this point), was a shiny wooden boxy bench. So a child could sit on this bench under his hook to do up his shoe maybe. Or drop her bag there when she was lazy until she was told to hang it up on the hook – that is what they are there for.  The bench had to stay clear.   This was a rule.

On the interior side of the corridor facing these huge light windows were the classrooms, they had high windows  along the wall too, also open today to catch the breezes delivered from the corridor windows. Spaced evenly down this side were the classroom doors.  Each door had a number on it and a classroom stuffed full of children and a teacher behind it.  So the corridor with its gorgeous hardwood floor was long, wide,  full of sunlight and delicious fresh early summer air, the scent of pines and leather and waxy floor polish.

For some reason on the morning that I learnt this word alliteration, I was walking this corridor alone. Everyone else was still in class. Maybe I was delivering a message or coming back from the loo. I cannot remember.  I DO remember that I began to walk smartly, swinging my arms and legs, saying the new word softly to myself.  Alliteration. Then I broke into a kind of shuffly dance jog, my roman sandals catching on the floor, tripping down the glowing corridor, letting the word gain volume and speed. Then I began to leap up and down,  up and down,  on and off this bench as I took off and raced and flew down the corridor, jumping over the puddles of sun, singing alliteration, up onto the bench turn and weee off the bench. A rhythm developed , a dance gallop, a leap. Alliteration I called out with each jump!  Then shouting it at the top of my voice.  ALLITERATION!  The sound rung wonderfully. The acoustics were gorgeous in this big wide light empty sun filled corridor. Alliteration took form and that form was me and we leapt and shouted and flew down the corridor together.  Then bang, bang, bang. Doors sprung open and out popped teacher after teacher, growling like awoken bears, cuckoo clock rumbles. What is this commotion.  No running in the corridors. Who shouted.   Then doors gently shutting.   One tall teacher had  sent all the others back in with a flick of her imperious finger. She remained in the open doorway of her classroom.  She beckoned me with her one long finger.

Caught mid leap, I stumbled across.  You are a noisy child.  What do you think you are doing? Her words precise. Her diction perfect, her back ramrod straight.  Did she strap the rod on every morning. That ram rod. She was the scariest of them all, her hair absolutely white, in a tight white french roll. She was a Miss  somebody and taught French to the Clever Kids. Her glasses were on a chain.  Her cardigan buttoned and matching.  Pearls. Have you anything to say for yourself? She peered down at me.  Oh the contrast – me with shirt hanging out, skirt askew, socks fallen, all elbows and knees, curls wild and I do mean wild.  I had pale blue eyes and freckles and a nose that was always sunburnt.  Panting. You can see it now can’t you. I looked back up at her, grinning like an idiot. Heaving with delight. Not even Miss Whatever Her Name Was could subdue me that day. I had a Word.  Well? she said.  Have you anything to say for yourself?  Silence, she looking down the perfect line of her nose. My  head bent backwards a bit further,  trying not see up her nose.

Alliteration, I said very quietly.  Letting the T sound tickle.  She raised her eyebrow at me.   She could raise one eyebrow, it was very impressive. She pulled her lips together, and twisted them hard to the side.  What is your name? Cecilia, Miss, I said.  Another pause as I was accessed. Back to class, Cecilia. No running. Then much to my surprise she  turned back in to her room and there was the sigh of an obedient door closing behind her.

I ran as slowly as I could back to class and to my complete delight My teacher was discussing onomatopoeia. She nodded to me to sit at my desk. Wow. I whooshed back to my seat. Onomatopoeia. I wanted that word too!   The delight. 

These bloggers  are great teachers.  So many great teachers in the Blog World.

Mud Ranch



Kenleigh Acres

Life at the End of the Road

Dawn and 8F (yes -that is 12.7) another 2 hattie, 2 pairs of gloves and 2 pairs of socks morning.  No wind though.  Clearing skies. Time to get to work.

Good morning


Hiding Out from the Blizzard in The Barn

It is 14F (10C) this morning. Snow on the ground. Yesterday we were locked inside  with a blizzard hurling itself around outside. It was about 18F all day.  Snow flew in swirls through the fields past the buildings and straight out across the plains.  It seemed very certain of its path that  snow.  We were in the way and got smacked for the privilege.  The Farmy Animals were locked in the barn for the day as well.  So I wrapped my old camera in a plastic bag  against the nastiness, put all my clothes on at once and went to the barn, taking you guys with me. Did you know that your eyes live in an old camera.

The wind was gusting up to 40 miles an hour (a good Wellington kind of wind), TonTon, the Big Dog  and I literally forced our bodies into the wind to the barn. Bent.  I have heard of old fellas stretching a rope from their houses to their barns so they can pull themselves hand over hand  to see to their stock, this seemed like a good idea to me yesterday. Finally we got to the door, shovelled the snow away from it and stumbled our way into the barn, the wind howled at us, furious that we had made it  and we slammed the door in its face.    A curious thing happens in the barn when the wind is bombarding snow at the walls. The moment you close the door against the storm, the volume drops and the barn shifts right through time into a stillness that is layered with age somehow.  You see, the walls of the barn are full of cracks, shrunken old, old boards, holes, loose planks.  The huge space becomes fractured and hesitant. Old. The light itself is borrowed, flickering in Tinkerbell delight from an old movie reel.

Filtered, finely sifted, talcum snow drifts into the barn through the minutest of cracks. It is caught in the light like dustmotes. But not dusty. It gently falls through the tips of light like  a sunshower of the finest shards of  crystal champagne glasses. There is no sound though there should be a tinkle. Just this glisten in the air. These tiniest of rejected diamonds.  Like migraines flashing lights in your eyes but sweeter. The Storm is blindfolded in here.  Only its breath is allowed. This immense embracing sense of otherworldliness consumes us.

It is warm from the animals, alive and shuffly.  I take shots of the cows for you but it feels as though there should be more big heads turning and other tails switching.  The shuffling and chewing is ancient.  Timeless. Shadows are here in this light. Other doey eyes slowly blink. Other calves sigh.

Everyone stands or sleeps or chews quietly. No-one is bashing at the doors to get out today. Or bellowing for more feed.  History has come.  Old forgotton lullabies are being sung.

And now once again it is Morning on the Farmy.  The sky is still black so I have yet to see any  of the damage outside. I am concerned about the hives.  The storm smashed through here for most of the day and night. The snow has stopped but the wind is still ripping through. Mary’s Cat decided to sleep in the barn but was sat on his stool at the kitchen door by 4.30am as usual so he is OK.  Such a worry that tough little vandal of a cat.

OK, since I started to write it has dropped to 13F.  So I had better start putting on the layers and out I will go.

Good morning


How to take beautiful photographs for your blog with an ordinary camera

I am an ordinary photographer, with an ordinary old Nikon.  Nothing special. No fancy pancy.  People say to me  “How do you do that?  What kind of camera do you have?”  So I thought I would jot down a few of the things I have learnt about taking photographs.

I don’t want to sound arrogant. I am still learning. Some really good  photographers read these pages.  So please join in. Sometimes I think it is a good thing to share ordinary  information without all that techy stuff, that I don’t understand anyway.   I am going to use old shots from a holiday years ago, merely to entertain your eye on the way, so we do not get distracted by the Farm Animals. Sometimes a picture helps. 

Taking a good shot for your pages is very simple if you THINK as you shoot. I am not talking about Food Photography – that is not my forte. All I know about Food Photography is to have natural light, a pale background, declutter, a prop, and a TriPod.  I am still learning that too.  What I want to talk about today is the photos of your streets, and your flowers, your animals, your mountains, your people  and your stuff. You are surrounded in some wonderful, individual, very special images that only you can see.  You will interpret them in your own particular way. So don’t be afraid.  Come on out of the Camera Closet. Come out and Play.

You do not need a fancy camera to create a good photograph.    You don’t particularly need Photo Shop either though it is a useful tool. Even though something like Photo Shop will make a good shot better, and a fantastic shot awesome,  a crap shot will still be crap.  So decide your level of excellence and delete the rest.  I prefer to rely on using the camera to produce a good image to begin with.  So lets take a minute and look at what you are going to shoot.  Ask yourself what you want me to SEE.   Then think: Composition. Contrast. Clarity.   Celi’s Three C’s. This will always give you one great shot per set.

Study other peoples photographs. I personally like  to study  newspaper photographs, because these are very seldom taken in a studio. They use available light.  They have limited time. There is very little dressing done to the location.  And their images have to tell a story.  So study them, get a pen and create thirds -horizontally and vertically and look at that photographers choices.  Look at the focal points.  Look at the light.  Where was the photographer when he took the shot.

Now think about Celi’s Three C’s.

1. Composition.

Divide your composition  into those three sections vertically and horizontally. You will have four lines and nine boxes. Think about where you want your subject to sit in your grid.  Your focal point needs the best light and the focus.   Your viewers enjoy symmetry. I tend to compose with the subject in the left third looking into plenty of space or the right third looking back.  You may prefer a central image like the one above. But make a decision.

Think about different levels. I almost never take a shot standing, unless I am standing on top of something to get height. When you are buying shoes you stand in front of a low mirror –  looking down on them does not give you the best image.  So crouch, or lie down, or climb a tree.  Or do all three. Lean to the side.  Please stay out of the gutter and try to stay clean, unless you simply must get filthy in pursuit of the perfect shot. And do not stand on the car if your husband is watching.

Look at the background. Ensure that your horizon and the lamp post are both absolutely straight.  Use your grid for this. Be fastidious about this.  Always give me one clear line to hang the image on. Unless you really want everything to be mis-aligned or on a diagonal. I was trained by Dad on the beach, taking shots of the sea. Out here on the prairies it is the same.  Any tilt in that horizon ruins a shot.  A tiny angle on a roofline kills it.  The line of the ceiling, or a fence or a kitchen wall. Even a tree. So straighten that horizon before you shoot. Now look and make sure there is not some stray object in your background. Check all four corners as you go. My mother said all four corners should be different in her paintings.  My father would say get all that rubbish out of the shot.

Get close to your subject.  Allow your subject  and his environment to fill your screen. If you are unable to crop your image later then crop with composition.  Maybe only a quarter of the image is more dramatic. Get closer as long as you do not compromise your clarity. Keep thinking, take risks and make decisions.

Use foreground. Sometimes shooting a landscape with something in the foreground like long grass or a tree or the corner of a building immediately creates depth.

Allow room for the eye. My mother was an artist. In fact when we were little she set up a child’s play pen, and sat Herself in the playpen so she could paint while we played, without anyone knocking into the easel. Anyway she told me when she painted a landscape that she always gave the viewer a gap, or winding path or open gate so that their eye could walk into the scene and rest there.

2. Contrast

It is all about the light. Back lit is dramatic.  Side lit is nostalgic. Heavy white cloud adds depth to colour.  Light does all kinds of fabulous stuff. So look at your light source, usually the sun and use it to your advantage.  Look up, Look across and Look down!!  Study your light.  Remember that light reflects. How will you capture it.

You want a contrast between light and dark, soft and strong.  I know this sounds simplistic but it is a major decision.  Focus on the area that you want to be clear and well exposed. Allowing the rest to go darker or lighter.  With a little snappy snap camera you still have choices.

Natural light is always going to be better. Avoid a flash unless you can set it on low or direct it into a reflector.  A flash flattens your subject. I hate flashes.  I want to see your light.  You all know that I prefer late afternoon or early morning.  Lovely low winter light is my favourite especially with animals and faces.

Position yourself to take advantage of your light. Once again. Look up, look across, look down. Where should you be to take advantage of the light.  “You’re in my light!” was heard shouted frequently in the big house at the beach where I grew up. If you are inside in low light, secure the camera so it is rigid (tripod, pile of books, whatever)and adjust your settings for low light.  But do not stand in the light! My Dad told me where there is light there is a photograph. 

3.  Clarity. Use a tripod or as I often do,  lean your camera on the camera bag, or on a bucket, or on the side of a door, a wall, fence or the car (as long as the motor is not running) or hay bale or fence post, even a shoulder if you have a spare one lounging about.  Your camera may have a stabiliser but nothing is better than tight and still.

Ensure that the subject is sharp. If it is an animal or person focus on the eyes.  Wait to get your focus before you fully depress your shutter.

Release the shutter and wait for a second.  Look at what you have done. Do you need to do that again? Many shots are ruined or lost by depressing the button then running or turning.  Make sure your work is in focus  and the best you can get before you move to the next shot. (The joys of digital). Slow down.  Later, look at your shots  with a tough eye and delete, delete, delete.  Don’t waste your time on rubbish, go get the good stuff. Do it again.

I was talking to a jazz player once. I asked him how he learnt how to play this jazz with such accomplishment. He said he studied classical music in Paris (somewhere posh) and  once he knew that he had a thorough understanding of the principles of good music (and this took years), he took some of  the rules and broke them, creating his own form of jazz. But he said he could not have broken the rules in the right places without knowing the music first.

So look up, look across and look down.  Practice seeing.  And keep shooting until you start achieving your objectives.  Which means you have to think about your shot and choose an objective. 

Fear is your only enemy.  Sometimes you just have to walk around the corner, surprise a surprise subject and shoot the hell out of it and hope you get one good shot.  See above!!

So, go and buy a newspaper, find a shot you love, draw the grid and study it using Celi’s three C’s.  Then get that little old camera out of the drawer and start shooting. Then shoot some more. Every time we get something wrong, it helps us work out how to get it right next time.  So take good note of the failures, they are important learning. Then do it again.  Then show me.

And remember you do not need a fancy camera.  You just need you,  any camera and a Plan.


The Original Mumma Munch Recipe

What do you mean you can’t read that! This is the recipe my mother wrote into my recipe book years ago, before she died.  Well, obviously Before she died, I mean, if she had written it After  she had died this would be a very different story!! Anyway, this was before cell phones and computers in homes and milk in cartons and granola bars in crinkly packages.

She devised this recipe to encourage us kids to eat raw foods.  Hence the  cornflakes (very tricky cover).   And I am willing to bet that she never made it the same way twice. This is a stand out favourite for my kids.  And you can stuff it full of good dried food!

Mum obviously used the first pen that came to hand. Faded green (sigh)  So I shall interpret. She always wrote important stuff in capitals. So I shall too. Please excuse me if it sounds like I am shouting the recipe at you.


  • CORNFLAKES 3 cups
  • ROLLED OATS 1 cup
  • SULTANAS handful
  • COCONUT 1/2 cup
  • WHEATGERM dsp spoon
  • BRAN 1/2 cup
  • KIBBLED WHEAT dsp spoon
  • SESAME SEEDS 1/4 cup

(In a pot)


  • BUTTER 1/2 LB
  • SUGAR 1/2 cup
  • HONEY  dsp spoon

Mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl, I took out the sesame seeds and added walnut and flax seeds.  Then boil the butter and sugar mixture until it begins to pull away from the sides.  Be careful or you really will have toffee.  We boiled  and stirred for 4 minutes. The Matriarch made the mistake of stepping through the door at this very moment and very kindly took over the stirring as it needs to be continuously stirred, and I still had the floor covered in grocery bags.

Then quickly pour the hot mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well.  Work fast as it is setting. While it is still hot pour into a  pie dish (Mum used to make this in a roasting dish, as she did with most things, after all there were quite a few of us) and pat firmly into place, keep patting and pushing firmly as it hardens, flattening with a spoon and then pop into the fridge.

Cut into small slices when co;d. This lives in the fridge until it is all gone.  Which will be very soon!

Now the rule is:  (this is not a silly rule!) When the children are doing the cutting and dividing – one cuts and the others choose. So the cutter makes sure that all portions are exactly the same. Getting to have the last slice does that to a person!!

A shot of The Farmy last night as we walked away from the sunset. This weather is a gift.  Lovely walks. We are getting so far ahead on our winter jobs.  Stalker’s Garden has new raised beds.  The calves have a new fence (they are not impressed).  A new guttering spout has been  installed for another rainwater barrel (every garden needs one). There has been Thinking done about the pig sty, maintenance on the barn (doors that open and shut, with new Daisy safe latches)and Our John has even begun to sow a few seeds for the vege garden.   I know, I know, far too early, but there is no stopping the man, he does this every year!

Good morning!


Foolishly depending on a Frost and seeking the Red of a Barn.

You see we have had such lovely crunchy frosts the last few days and I decided last night, in all my wisdom, that this morning I would get out the macro and slither across the freezing ground and shoot through the frosted garden into the glow of a rising sun.

Oh what heavenly shots  of glistening frost I shall post, I thought.

Um, no frost this morning was there. Hmm. Change of Plan.

So instead  I have posted a few of yesterdays research shots, as I try to track down a more relevant  and  more period shade of the Old Red Barn.  It is an interesting study.   So far it appears to me that the romantic notion of the Red Barn is not really historically correct. Density, materials, location – there are many mitigating factors.  And at what period in the aging (though I would rather say progression) of this colour should we point and say -that one. That red is correct.  But I am sure so far that The Red Barn should really be a much warmer colour.  Though I do not know its name. Describing a colour is a little like describing the sound of a banana. We all use different visual references. 

But definitely Not the heavy, blemishfree, built to last,  break your eyes Red of the modern claddings. The Old Red barn was much more organic and restful I think. More of a wash that soaked the wood, rather than covering it.  It had umber in it and iron and a sunburnt orange, I don’t know. More research needed.

Good morning.


10 Questions Answered and a few bloggers tagged.

Mandy from The Complete Cook Book has tagged me to answer these 10 questions. As usual I thought this would be a breeze, but I had to THINK!  Thinking is hard.

Now that you have finished admiring my three citrus marmalade. Without further ado, lets get to work.

1. Describe yourself in seven words.  How about I love- Being The Mother, Cooking, Eating, Farming, Gardening, Writing and Travelling.  I am  driven to Improve, Document, Share, and Comment.  Also I am very bad at maths.

2. What keeps you up at Night?  Reading. If I am in a good book, and I use the word IN deliberately, then I will read on and on and on.

3. Who would I like to be? Hmm. This is a toughie.  I am actually quite happy to be myself. Maybe if I said Who would I like to be for a day.  For a day I would like to be a tall, slim, rich, bejewelled Lady (with great hair) who Lunches!  For this day I would also like to drawl when I speak, making fashionably cynical  remarks to entertain the table.  I would be the one who  makes the perfect comment right then, not think of it three hours later.  I would have the most beautiful handbag and high heels that are as sexy as they are comfortable and long beautiful fingers with nails! (I know those shoes do not exist but this is a dream sequence right?) Oh and I would have a handsome driver  (with a cap) to take me back to the farmy after my lunch, so that I could have a few glasses of crisp clean white wine with all my sanguine imaginary friends.

4. What am I wearing right now? OO, How naughty! It is 5.30 in the morning! Use you imagination, then add two pairs of socks, three additional layers of indeterminate origin and a hattie.

5. What scares me? In all honesty most People scare me.  I have the absolutely brilliant  and not so rare skill for saying the wrong thing at exactly the right time. And no small talk.   If I have a role I am fine, that is why I am always in the Kitchen at Parties, the Teacher in classrooms, the Director in plays, and the (somewhat tipsy) family Photographer at weddings!

6.  The best and worst of blogging. The best of the blogging, is of course the people. I am not shy of you lot!! And the other best thing is that there are many of you who will pop in with emails and comments that help me learn new stuff. For example MadDog who yesterday sent me the info to make the images on my pages smaller in pixels which will use less space.  Wonderful.

The worst of blogging. The worst is that I would love to put you all around the same table and eat and laugh and DO LUNCH.  And this does not happen in the blog world. That is sad. I would be shy anyway.

7. The last website I visited was L.L. Bean. They have a pair of American made farm boots  that I am going to buy to keep my poor feetsies warm out there in the cold.

8. What is the one thing I would change about myself. Do they mean something that I  have no control over?   I mean I can change most things if I want to. I am in control of myself after all.  Oh I have it! I would have a built in time travel button. Then I could just pop over to visit any of my children (who are all over the world) or any of my good old friends (none of whom live close) for a cup of tea and a yarn whenever I feel like it.  Naturally the built in time travel button would be free and I could carry a bag full of goodies too. Also I could just pop back and see any movies I missed, while they are still on the big screen! That would be a useful thing.

9. Slankets yes or no? (I am presuming at this point that whoever started this quiz is a rep for slankets?) Having never heard of them I looked them up. So, Um  -NO. They are not made locally, they have no natural fibres, they will probably hang about in a landfill for a gazillion years and they look silly. Plus I don’t sit on cold couches without enough clothing to suit the temperature, I never watch TV and I read in bed at night.  Maybe I could get gloves for the reading though, as our bedroom is unheated.

10 Tell us something about the person who tagged you!

  • Mandy is kind and kindness is the quality I value most in a person.
  • Her pages at the Complete Cook Book are clear, tidy, up to date, informative and easy to navigate.
  • The recipes Mandy presents are simple and makeable. (Well that is not a word but you know what I mean.)  Mandy makes real food that I can cook. There that is better sentence structure.
  • She has a beautiful fig tree and if my memory serves me right she also has peacocks in her village. But that is an old memory.  My pages have been up for six months now and Mandy has been with me since almost the beginning. She is an old friend in the blog world.

Above are a few vanilla beans in a wee jar of alcohol to make vanilla essence. It will sit in a dark cupboard now, for a few months. Now I would like to tag just a few of you to answer these questions if you like.

Viv in France

Bits and Breadcrumbs

Yummy Chunklet

Bagni di Lucca and Beyond

Savory Simple

The Big Fat Noodle

Another clear mild day is breaking,  just a smoky wipe of pink on the horizon and TonTon already has his head on my knee applying the Lets Get to Work pressure!


“You’ve strangled me?” I said to the nice man, moving Moaning Mia out of the way with my hip.

“Throttled. Yes Ma’am.” 

“So.. TonTon I cannot play with your ball from in here! Think about what you are doing! Mia stop that, stop jumping! Wait.” I said to the little man.  “Mia,  Get OUT of the chook house. I have got to fix this door. Stop that, this is a phone not a toy. Listen” I said to the little man,  as Moaning Mia and I finally  get through the chook house  door with the eggs intact and the phone back to my ear. “I have called to ask you why my internet is so murderously slow. And you tell me I am garroted. Mia get down! Go find your kitty.” 

“Throttled back Ma’am. Is Mia your Dog?”

“No” I told him “she is a very BAD SHEEP!”  Mia is finally quiet. Sullenly chewing on my jacket pocket.  “Now, please explain to me in tiny words why the little man on the internet bicycle is pedalling so bloody slowly. ”  I sit down on a big rock in the field,  in the afternoon winter sun.

“Oh.” The little man on the other end of the phone rallies. “Well ma’am you have used up all your gigabytes. So you get slowed right down. Throttled.”

“Giga- whats- its? Mama what do you want. It is not dinnertime.”

“Bytes ma’am”

“More like nibbles then aren’t they. (silence) Well what do I tell my people? I can’t tell them anything can I. I can’t read their pages, or download their pictures.  AAH! (girlie scream.) Hairy don’t sneak up on me like that!”

“I’m sorry? Are you OK?”

“My ram, Hairy Maclairy. Just tiptoed up beside me and stuck his nose in my face. No manners.  Hairy back up, you are making me nervous. But My readers, my people, they are waiting to hear about my bees! And I can’t even load an image.  Or answer my comments.  Or comment on their pages. I write a blog about my little farmy.  ”

“You have bees?”

“Mmm. we have bees too don’t we, Daisy? We are off to check them in a minute.” 

“What is the name of your blog?”

“The Kitchens Garden.”

“Cool. Well, the good news is that your next round starts on the 8th. That’s in two days.  So I will go and check out your blog on Sunday then?”

” Well that is good news. Thank you.  Ok I have to move, I am being mobbed. See you Sunday then.”

I am pleased. All is not lost. The little man on the internet bicycle sighs with relief and forgets to try and sell me a better package.  He thanks me very much for my time, wishes me luck with the animals and goes back to putting the brakes on me for two more days.

And so to the bees.

Two of the hives including the Blog hive seem to be doing OK.In the warm weather they have been tolling their bells and bringing out their dead. A certain amount of attrition is normal.  Bees do not have very long lives.  You can see in the centre of this shot a healthy housekeeper bee dragging out one of the dead ones and dumping it over the side.

Except for this hive who had so many dead that both their entrances were blocked with bee bodies. I cleared them with a stick. Not good.  This was always the weak hive. It is still heavy with honey so I can only assume that they broke ranks on those warm days and were not fast enough at cuddling back together when  that flash of very cold weather hit us. For bees there is safety in numbers as they wait out the winter. Big numbers are best. 

I have put protein patties into the tops of all the hives.  But this is an instance when I do wish that the weather would stay cold (but not too cold) and constant.

When farming we have to take the good with the bad. Sometimes everything you do is not enough. Mother nature is a big part of the equation. So I will order a new Queen and possibly another brood of bees as well and in the spring we will strengthen this hive with some newcomers.

Dawn is here.  I am so relieved that that little internet peddler is pedaling at a reasonable speed again. 

Good morning!


This was not my breakfast

Our John reckons that this beer looks like something they might drink in The Hobbit!  But I have not been the mad scientist again. If you look closely you will see the tree hut!

It was so beautiful and warm yesterday evening that TonTon and the cats and I sat out on the verandah.

We had a cold beer and watched the sun go down.

I will be loading a few more of last summer’s garden pages onto the FACEBOOK Page every day or so. The Kitchen’s Garden Project FaceBook Page is all about gardens, sharing gardens, helping our neighbours build their gardens  and the food and friendship that  gardens grow. So if YOU have any vegetable garden pictures, old or new. Or posts you wrote that would interest us all, or books you have read, please feel free to put them up on the page as well. Let me know in the comments, or email, with the link or I will pop your name in as an administrator if you want to post ideas and tips frequently.  This is a community page! 

Don’t forget to press LIKE here and on the FB page. We need to get the word out that gardens are cool.

The sun is rising. It is going to be another beautiful warm day. But there are dangers for the bees in this fluctuating weather so I am going to work with them a bit today. I will update you on how the bees are tomorrow.


When The Cat Won’t Play: on the Farmy

The whole farmy has turned camera shy all of a sudden.  Yesterday afternoon TonTon and I took the camera on our rounds,  but the sun fell in behind massive clouds, the light dropped and no-one would co-operate.    TonTon hoped to see a decent Play Cat-Fight , but even Thing Two was totally lacking in interest. 

“Hey Thing!. C’mon. Play with me.  play with me. Hey. Hey. Thing! Don’t be boring! 

Ha ha ha, that tickles.. Play some more. Come on!! 

Come on Thing Two, Play with me!  Do it again. Tickle my Tummy! Do it again!  Do it again. 

Oh no. I touched Thing Two’s face. I didn’t mean it! I didn’t mean it !  I forgot  The Rule! I’m just a little kitty. How am I supposed to –  NO! Not the bottom!    Don’t sit on me.  Sitting on top of Kitty’s is mean…. aahh, I can’t breathe.

can’t… breathe..

Help Me. Miss C. Help me. (gasp) He says he is going to sit on me until I learn to behave myself. What does that mean? Miss C. How do I do the behave thing!? Help me! I can’t breathe. Help! Ok I’ll be good. Get off.  I’ll be good.  I promise!” 

Mary’s cat has promised to be good. From now on, when the Farmy is having a quiet day, he is going to be gentle and sweet. We’ll see. 

Then this morning at dawn, as the cats, dogs and I went out to feed the cows, chooks  and sheep we saw this:  Through the window of the truck.

Good morning!