Saturday, 30 April 2016

... take in what was left of the day ...



by Simone McPherson



For the last couple of weeks we have been hearing the ‘roaring’ in the early mornings and in the late afternoons of the Fallow Deer – Dama dama, for they are coming into season and that ‘roaring’ that we hear is the Bucks wanting a fight and calling in the Doe’s. These wonderfully quiet and shy creatures are a native to Iran and Iraq, however they were introduced to Europe back in the Roman times. 
  
I believe they have now become common park animals throughout England and they were the first deer to become established here in Australia.  Unfortunately or fortunately the deer where successfully released at Westbrook and Warwick on the Darling Downs here in Queensland between 1870 and 1872. 

PIKEDALE HOMESTEAD - BUILT BY JOHN PIKE
The Pikedale population – (represents an ‘area’ here in this district) ‘Pikedale Station’ was once a very prosperous 20,200 hectare Sheep Station, though now all divided up was established back 1843.  

DONALD GUNN managed PIKEDALE STATION in 1874, was a famous Wool grower of the Distirict & a Queensland Politician in his time
The old place has had a number of owners over those years until 1919 then being sold to James A Rogerson who had a substantial impact on the Station’s development.  The Rogerson family remained on the property with his son taking over, until 1959.  

Administrators Office & School @ PIKEDALE STATION 1920's - Qld State Archives
Pikedale Station also played an important part during the Second World War too, when a small school was built to accommodate the evacuation of the  ...


ST HILDA'S ANGLICAN GIRLS SCHOOL @ Southport - Queensland State Library
.... St Hilda’s Anglican Girls School from Southport in Brisbane.  

PIKEDALE STATION - outbuildings around 1870's - Queensland State Library
 However in 1957 Mr H Vahl Rubin bought South Pikedale, along with 6500ha of freehold land, which was Pikedale Station and on Sunday the 3rd of August 1963 the majestic old Pikedale Homestead was burnt to the ground, under “mysterious” circumstances, the most obvious being a disgruntled Shearer or worker at the time.

PIKEDALE STATION today - image by Len Knoxx
The outbuildings, shearing sheds, stockyards, meat building, sheds and other building are all but a ghostly memory now of that pioneering spirit of the Australia of long ago.

Image found on Google - no author
Now after that little bit of Local History, back to the Fallow deer, the Pikedale population has now reached herds of over 8,000 with the major population reaching 30,000 and extending into parts of New South Wales and as a consequence have become an epidemic in some areas and management options range from shooting, trapping to fencing of grid-lock over eight feet high.
Image found on Google search - no author
We do not view these creatures as a bother in reality they are good markers for how well your country is managing pasture wise.  With the numbers that we have on our property they are not in plague proportions and are not in competition for feed with the cattle at present, fortunately for them.  Nonetheless we do enjoy Venison on many occasions with family and friends and we regularly have friends down, harvesting the deer for venison for their own consumption along with Goat meat and this helps with the control of the feral population.

 A couple of weeks ago the woodcutter stopped by to say hello and I was given a whole box of locally produced tomatoes which I devoured, luckly for me El Ranchero can not eat tomatoes.  So each morning I would have a couple on my toast, in salads or just as a fruit until I had to roast the other half of the box for they were ripening at a speed that I could not keep up with.  So I halved all the tomatoes that were left, placed them on a couple of cookie sheets, drizzling them with olive oil, some pepper and lots of salt, some pieces of garlic and a good amount of Balsamic vinegar.  Then into a slow oven for a couple of hours, let them cool and into some jars which I kept in the fridge, the end result was delicious and I did not waste a single tomato as I squashed them into my morning toast.

With another visit of some friends I was also given a lovely little ornament for the garden which I made use of strait away for the little finches that visit the garden.

And I also found some mint which I rescued from the supermarket as it sat there dying of thirst.  I brought it home replanted it and now there is no looking back as it sends out its runners.  I love and use the mint daily in my salads and on special occasions in ‘wet’ salads like the middle-eastern style of salads.

I’ve also been slowly building up the lawn area with what I clean out daily from the stables thanks to our wonderful horses.

 The lemons are really starting to look a picture now against the sparseness of our garden.

And the dogs are starting to enjoy the warmth of the sun now that the seasons are changing …

… and Lily Pup is still in recovery from the damage to her hip that she did whilst at work a number of months ago, and she said she is now feeling a lot better, though she still has her ‘off’ days, poor little pet ….

We have taken the last of the Bulls out from the cow herds now and they have all had a good drench and I’m sure they are looking forward to taking their well-earned breaks as they get moved into their own paddock.

And as El Ranchero goes out to feed the Cows …  

… they are really enjoying their new feeding regime now that the Bulls have departed … 

However on one of those feeding trips in the middle of a ‘clean’ part of the paddock …

 … we got a flat …

… and when we investigated what it was that gave us the puncture, we just stared in amazement … “how on Earth … ?

Then a few days later after returning from town with a tonne and half of feed in the float … yes that is the horse float …

 … this time we were more astounded for what was removed from that tyre made no sense.  “… what is that ?” I asked “… and how did a shape like that get into the tyre …?” I asked.  El Ranchero enlightened me by telling me that it was a clip that they use on Tractors and that he had absolutely no idea how something that shape would penetrate a steel belted tyre, “ … just bad luck … “ is the reply he gave me.

However we did make it home after an hour of repairs as the Landcruiser was weighted down by the float and El Ranchero had major dramas in lifting the vehicle up enough to remove the punctured tyre and to add to the complications we had to stop on a hill, but where there is a ‘will’ there is a ‘way’.

I was just glad to get home and take in what was left of the day and my two companions where more than happy to enjoy the end of the day with me …





Friday, 1 April 2016

... facinations of ...



by Simone McPherson
The month of March brought us some beautiful ‘Big Sky’ days where the sky just seems to go on and on forever.

The first year heifers are doing wonderfully even though the pastures are becoming a little scarce and … 

… the dams a getting a little lower each day now, as we get into our Autumn here in Eastern Australia.

We are starting to bring in the mobs with Maxi’s help and it seems as though now that  he is becoming older he looks as if he is getting more and …

… more agile where his work is concerned, can  that be right? However I must admit that at the end of that working day he is truly pooped and just collapses upon the concrete veranda flat as a tack.

We have been getting some of the bulls out as the mobs come as they are suffering from sore feet following the cows and their calves all over the countryside.  it has nearly been three months or so now and they are due to come out of the mob again.  Giving the cows three cycles for them to get into calf, ample time I am told by El Ranchero.

With the change in the weather I too have been busy in my little garden as the Oak leaf lettuces are really starting to flourish …

… and each day I have been picking their beautiful leaves for salads along with the new leaves of the Kale, the Basil, 

... the Italian parsley and the sweet peppery Thai Basil, delicious …

The Bougainvillea’s that I planted nearly a year ago in hope of getting some colour into the little gardens …

… have truly outshone themselves with enduring colour, over and over again just glorious …

… even the geraniums are doing well after a bit of trial and error on soils on my behalf and I think I have finally got it right.  It seems they definitely do not like wet feet or molasses water however they enjoy clay and a bit of gypsum; and definitely no morning sun though they adore the afternoon sun? Interesting, fortunately for me they have been very forgiving and have eventually surpassed themselves in growth and flowers on a minimum of water. 

The little kumquats are busy again putting out another array of their beautiful heady fragrant blossoms and …
 
 … I have also picked all the Kaifer limes off the little tree in readiness for grating/zesting and storing to use later in salads, Asian stir fries, soups and some cake mixes, giving those foods an exquisite and exciting tang …

I have been a bit partial of late in having Biscotti too with my one and only coffee of the day …

I have unintentionally been experimenting with all the different types of recipes and combinations of nuts and so-forth looking for that perfect Biscotti in my minds, taste-buds eye.  I am proud to proclaim that I believe that I have finally come up with a true and tried recipe that I think works well, admittedly I seem to be the only Biscotti-holic that I know of.  Nonetheless this is a Biscotti recipe which you do not end up breaking  your teeth on with your first bite, a recipe that does not turn into mush when you dunk it in your coffee – which I love to do, a recipe that does not taste of cardboard and nothing much else.  

And I truly believe it has to do with the time in which the eggs and caster sugar are whizzed together, until light and fluffy with the addition of a cap full of Brandy instead of Vanilla along with ‘oven’ baked almonds not just toasted over the stove ...

 … a very big difference and the replacement of 100gms of the Low protein flour with a 100gms of Rice flour, for that extra bit of ‘Crunch’ in the Biscotti which I enjoy.  The Low Protein plain flour works well in this mixture too because it can absorb more moisture and sugar than the ‘standard’ flours.  And with the double baking that one does with Biscotti I find it gives the biscuit a better lighter texture.

And on that note I await for what else the month of April has install as I meet it with my newly found perception and fascinations; of understanding the world that is around me I hope the month brings you a fresh insight to what is around you as well  …

Sunday, 20 March 2016

... are just splendid ...



By Simone McPherson


With the ending of summer and the coming of the autumn months the country is looking rather sparse ...


... though the dramatic colours of Payne’s Grey and Naples Yellow are magnificent in their contrast across the countryside.



At this time too we get a number of visitors to the house not only human …



… however animal too, looking for that extra bit of sustenance, the ‘Pretty Face’ Wallabies are looking for Protein in the form of seeds and grains which they get from the ‘Wild Birdseed’ mix which is a mixture of black sunflower seeds, millet or sorghum, oats and corn? Not sure why that is in there.  And ‘Wild Finch’ mix that we liberally toss across the dry ground in front of the veranda.  Even so this mix is not only for the Wallabies but also for the many tiny Double-barred Finches Taeniopygia bichenovii, the Diamond Firetails Stagonopleura bella, the two beautiful species of Ground Parrots Pezopours wallicus, the many, many Galah’s Eolophus roseicapilla with the beautiful pink and grey colourings as well as the numerous wood pigeons and other grass feeders that shyly and quietly visit us at this time of year in the early hours of the morning.



Rocky too has taken to visiting me at the house for a lovely cold apple or a carrot from the fridge that he amusingly relishes as the juices dribble from his mouth.



We also had this wonderful moth appear though only for a day and not to be seen of again …



On my late afternoon walks the colours in the countryside are pleasant in the hues though the country is rather dry at this time of year, however it still possesses its own wild and rugged beauty.



On my walks we come across the horses – Luigi, Blondie, Rusty and Katie’s gang … 



… there is  Pedro and Rocky too in another paddock along with  



… little Dominga who is getting a little more daring in how close she comes to me though still keeping a good eye on where Mum is if she needs to make a break for safety 



The Grey Box Gums have been magnificent this year and I have been eagerly collecting up their fallen leaves, small twigs and bark for my little gardens in fact I have raked up 12 chaff bags of leaf debris …



… 10 bags of humus from down the Creek, 8 bags of cattle manure from the cattle yards – the horse manure is hopeless just full of all these terrible weeds.  I do believe that having two stomachs makes a difference in the amount of weeds that I get from cow manure, just about nothing.  I have also collected 4 half bags of dry clay grit as I could not even attempt to lift a full bag, from a number of dams that are close to the house …



… all for my little gardens that I have completely overhauled this year, digging through all that fresh and new compost 



… the Villa Franca lemons are doing superbly, though they were badly damaged in a terrible hail storm a number of months ago that swept through the landscape … 

 … the little Cumquat's too are doing well after the damage …



I have also planted some Oak leaf lettuces for the change in the weather along with Kale, and Thai Basil though I do think that it’s the wrong climate here for this lovely Tropical herb … 



We have been busy feeding out the cattle too …



… along with some helpers who prefer the comfort of the cab on these hot days.



We have also been checking the creek boundaries …



The paddocks that make up the creek boundaries have been closed up for the summer months ready for the cattle for autumn with fresh pick the pastures down there are just splendid to say the least …



… so much so that some of us just almost vanish amongst all those blades of grass, but what an unspoiled wonderland to get lost in …