Saturday, 7 June 2014

... not in any particular order or method.



by Simone McPherson

Of late we have been awakening to find a cloud that has been quietly resting upon the landscape offering us a wonderful sense of tranquillity to the start of the day.

As the mist quietly rises and evaporates revealing the landscape that lies beneath which it had softly been embracing and the intensity of the blue skies above ...

… the vapor begins to melt away and the horses begin to materialise.

… there are other creatures too that are conspicuously hidden under the faint blanket of mist … a family of ‘Pretty-face’ Kangaroo’s …

… as the Horses wander out of the translucent soft lucent likeness of the Gums that stretch out into the gullies …

… they, however have one thing on their mind …


… and that is Breaky …

… which they come up for early each day … 

...one ...

 ...by one ...

... they track up the hill … 

... even old Gabby is there ... 

… it can be a little unruly as they all jostle for position … 

… and then there are those individuals that ponder if there is any prospect of a morsel for them as well? … 

… Rocky however enjoys the extra attention from El Ranchero and …

 …I do believe El Ranchero delights in all the affection as well ….

… once they have had their Breakys … it’s time to saddle up ready for another day.

We have been bringing in the paddocks one at a time …


… there are fourteen paddocks and three of those paddocks are locked up for winter for then we shall need more feed.  Depending on the size of the paddock, we stock in the region of 48 cows and calves with one or two bulls to over 78 cows and calves and four bulls …

… its weaning time again …

Each herd  ...

... is brought into the yards …

… and of course along the way we have to make a pit stop …

… sometimes on the horse other times with the Toyota … and the stop always involves a well-earned swim by the loyal workers … Maxi Boy and Lily pup …

Once that is over it is on with business …

Firstly the Bulls are drafted off, drenched and put in a paddock all of their own for a well-earned rest till next joining which will be the 7th of December this year.  And they are more than happy to have a spell from chasing those cows all over the countryside ….

… then the cows and calves are brought back into the yards for drafting …

… more often than not there is a challenge at hand  

… though it is swiftly under control ...

... with our two workers who are on the ball … and the drafting continues …

… once all the drafting is over and the sunlight hours disappear it’s home time and the horses are let loose to forage and a relax after their hard toiling …

… Rocky and Luigi are let loose too, to join the others as they are not part of the labour force yet …

On another note we have had only a little rain here with that specific cloud burst being over there not here …

… though with the change in the season the paddocks are looking a treat at this time of year with the native Queensland Blue Grasses in particular looking exceptional. 

We have had friends come over for a stay, giving the both ‘Men’ time to unwind and become ‘Boys’ again … 

… and there they go on an adventure …

I have also been busy using up bits and pieces; actually mounds of fabric that I have hoarded over the many years.  Nothing too elaborate just useful, for instance some cushion covers, pillowcases.  I am also making an attempt to cover some old but sturdy kitchen stools, some table cloths and I have given myself a challenge to hand print a new Doona cover? Mmmm stay tuned for that one I estimate that I should have that completed in a year? Imaginably? …

We have also had a bit of a diet crisis, as we all do at this time in our lives … for us it has been ‘Acid’ in the form of consuming too much acid forming foods.  So I have had to take a crash course on Acid forming foods and Alkaline forming foods their benefits and how to combine them in our daily routine … 

Each morning we start with a green smoothie which we then have again either for lunch or dinner depending on whether we have our main meal at lunch or dinner … 

 ... the green smoothie consists of a good hand full of English spinach leaves, about 2cm of fresh ginger, continental parsley and about a cup or so of fresh pineapple and little water and some ice in the blender and then “… Waa -la ...” a beautiful green smoothie and the best thing of all is that El Ranchero loves them!  Much to my surprise and delight!

I have been making my own ghee or clarified butter – which is more Alkaline on the body -then turning into a garlic and chilli butter which I use for all sorts of things even frying an egg for breakfast in the morning!  


Now that was over a month ago since we changed things around and I must say that I feel so much better.  I have more energy and I have even lost a little weight that is a bonus in itself.  The change in our eating habits was because of El Ranchero.  He was suffering quite a bit of stress and the acid forming foods where adding to his distress, and now?  Well he is a different man bless him.

I have also been busy with my little gardens …

… with the little lettuces coming up fast before it gets too cold we are eating them just as swiftly …

… I have been exerting my brain considering ideas on what I can use for planters … in this case some old Olive Oil tins … not sure how long they will last but I think they look great for the moment ...

... plenty of room for roots with the added benefit that I can bring the Olive tins inside instead of cut flowers – not much opportunity for cut flowers out here - or move them out of the heat during our summer months …

In addition to the many things that I juggle I have paperwork.  Not predominantly one of my strong points, though of late I just have not had the moment in time to sit down and sort out, sort through.  And let me tell you, it’s escalating; I have beautiful almost feathery lightweight sculptural pieces of paper in all shapes and colours that have been imaginatively arranged and layered all over my desk not in any particular order or method.  Perhaps it’s time that I made a dent into the accounts and the correspondence that awaits me.  And yes, I have been putting it off for too long and now I have the added anxiety of where do I begin?  It’s like a blank canvas or writers block … just start … anywhere will do …










Saturday, 26 April 2014

... treasured times ...



by Simone McPherson
April is always a lovely time of year in this part of the country.   

The mornings are crisp and invigorating with the skies a perfectly clear Cerulean blue.

With the three inches or so of rain that we received over three weeks ago it has completely transformed the countryside to ochres and tones of green resembling the lovely patterns found in a patchwork Quilt ….

… and to think that only four weeks ago or so the country looked like this …

The grass cover after a little rain can be deceptive as I watch the lovely soft tall Native grasses as they bow their velvety heads gently in the sway of the breeze.

Whenever I look at the ground as I am walking this landscape I am reminded that this country is a very harsh and hard country. The mixture of Native grasses and introduced along with the other herbs that naturally cover the ground is still only around 20% to 30% and even less in some areas, yes it is tough country.

… it is a reminder that the plant life in this landscape have really evolved to put down their roots as fast as they can and to get those seed heads up as quickly as they can for in an instant the whole countryside can be altered and put into drought mode once more where the plant life lay dormant waiting for the rains, anticipating that little window of chance to establish, yet again … bringing abundance and life to the countryside …

With this wonderful spurt of life through the rain and warmth that still exists in the ground at this time of year the Horses too, have been taking full advantage of all the richness and variety of grasses available on offer to the point of where they seem to think that each blade of grass will be their last and as a result they too are bursting at the seams … well in this case at the girth!

… Porky-girl really has to watch her figure unfortunately … which means she has to spend a little time in the overnight paddock … she is not too impressed, so she tells me …

… we have been flat out with ‘calf marking’ … still … and it is just wonderful to see that the cattle coming through now have picked up so much with the changes in their pastures and ...

... also with a good drenching too for we have had a very bad outbreak of ‘Buffalo Fly” – Haematobia exgua - a parasitic fly that lives on the cattle sucking their blood, with all this warm moist weather it has provided ideal conditions for the Parasite to commence it’s cycle.  The end result is that the cattle end up in very poor condition which in-turn impacts on their productivity.  The Parasite especially seems to attack the male cattle – perhaps it’s their hormones - more than the female cattle and it is not uncommon to see a Bull just walking around in a cloud of black flies just awful …

The other day we got word that there were a few cows and calves that had somehow gone through an electric wire and were taking full advantage of the neighbours Creek country … 

... luckily the neighbour does not use that particular part of his country as it is very rugged and step.

So we packed up the Toyota with the necessary tools needed for repairs and I took plenty of old chaffing bags for this particular part of the creek is where I get all my lovely dirt full of leaf and bark litter for my little gardens … and off we went.

On first sight the creek had definitely changed with water now running down the creek course …

Maxi and Lily-pup never let an opportunity pass and we had to make a pit-stop for a quick swim …

We drove as far as we could before we had to set out on foot … an hour later the dogs had found the cattle and had set them on their way, back towards our boundary at a quick trot … we on the other climbed over huge rock faces and ledges, skipped over rocks across the creek so not to get wet and plodded through layers and layers of pebbles and gravel rock that had been eroded over the decades by the water running down the creek bed.

… as the cattle approached our boundary we had prepared the electric fence line by disassembling and deactivating the electricity so that the cattle would pass through without any complications which they did … and off they all went with their tails in the air …

… it was a long afternoon, when we got back home Maxi decided that he would just stay on the back of the ute he was pooped! 

I have also been cleaning out and readjusting my little gardens after those awful months of heat and no rain where I had to let the gardens go.  Now I have packed polystyrene that I collected from our local supermarket, down the sides of the drums that get the direct morning and afternoon sun over summer … fingers crossed that it will keep the gardens a little cooler over those hot months.


I’ve been collecting humus dirt from the creek beds and lovely cattle manure from around the throughs making up my soil mixture for all the tubs giving them a new lease of life along with some clay from the dams and sand from the creek beds … it’s almost like making a cake …

I have also started edging around the concrete veranda as I need a little “order” when I go outside and besides we have more than enough rocks …

El Ranchero even contributed by finding some more drums that he no longer needs to use for the cattle so I was quick to incorporate those into the ‘Landscaping’ …


... and some hollow logs that the wood cutter had left hehind ...

I’ve planted the gardens out with my usual this year … parsley, mignonette lettuce, pansies and violas along with some Rosemary that I found …


… the larger drums will be planted out with a cumquat tree in each to assist in the shading of the drums over summer though still giving me enough space to plant some salad greens and spinaches over summer … why cumquats? Well … you will have to ask El Ranchero that, as that was his input …

I’ve also been busy making my version of Greek Shortbread biscuits …

Over Easter we were invited for a barbeque lunch by one of our new neighbours and their families so I thought I would give these lovely little morsels a try and successful they were! … 

My memories of Easter apart from all those little chocolate Easter eggs, was my mother baking traditional shortbread biscuits ...

 ... no wonder we became so excited with all that sugar and chocolate I don’t think much has changed from the time when I was a little girl rummaging through the garden in search of an Easter egg or two that the Easter Bunny had left behind … they were treasured times with family and friends …