Saturday, 5 April 2014

... the country is just a picture ...



by Simone McPherson
As the month of March slipped by our days were taken up with the marking of the calves and ...

 ... the drenching of their mothers as well as reducing the herd by another 100 head due to the minimal rainfall we received over spring and summer which in-turn affected the amount of feed that we had available on the ground.


El Ranchero also spent a lot of man hours in constructing a hitching yard for the Stock horses ... 

... in a large shed at the Homestead that is no longer used to house dry supplement for the cattle. 


He has separated one of the bays and dug out … yes! 

… yet more holes to assemble the hitching rails ….

… we used some Cypress pines that were cut down a number of years back to clear the creek banks from their invasion to promote the native trees of the area the Box Gums and the Apple gums along with the Tumble-down Gums which naturally inhabit the creek regions …

… he has also incorporated other rails that were part of the original fence line that where built back in the early 1940’s and the 1950’s and now those fences have long since gone … the timber is still magnificent and after thirty or more years it shows no signs of deterioration.

The horses have all been moved into our now “new” House Paddock …

 ... and some have been introduced a little closer to even the back veranda ... 

… and there is one in particular … ‘Pedro’ who has given his thumbs up to the whole project …

 ... you see Pedrocitto, as he is affectionately called loves the company of Humans, so moving closer to where we are is just perfect for him as now he has become the ‘on sight supervisor’ making sure that we are all doing things how we ought to be … 

… and he is very used to having his mid-day siesta’s so his nose was a little out of joint when he could not go into his new stall for a number of days while we waited for the concrete to set, he is such a funny boy.

Porky-girl on the other hand was not too impressed with the new overnight holding paddock, you see it’s that little bit of ribbon – the electricity that she did not approve of … 
… although, these days she has to watch her figure as she does not know when to stop as all the grasses are so delicious!

We also had five weeks of baby-sitting … young Bailey … initially he thought all this freedom was great until he was taught some manners and given some guidelines of how things ‘are’ as a ‘working dog’ … not so much by us but by Maxi boy and Lily-pup. 

Well after a few discrepancies, Bailey said he was very happy to be a part of the “pack” and was contented to follow the ‘rules’.  There is no fun in being by yourself you know.

The old – ‘new’ Toyota Ute had to go in for some fine tuning much to the delight of Maxi and Lily-pup, I was not delighted at all.


We also had some visitors over the month which was terrific to catch up on all that gossip and of events that have come to pass. 

I was given a huge shopping bag full of freshly grown Tahitian Limes – one of my absolute favourites …


 … so I was very busy juicing all the limes and freezing their juice for Thai curries, salad dressings and to drop a couple of cubes into an icy mineral water … what else would you need.


... living out here you learn not to fritter away anything and you make use of every little part of whatever it is that you have received and so the beautiful Tahitian Lime skins full of zest were cut away …


…. Put into the food processor to be finely chopped up …

… and then set to dry on a tray in the sun for a number of days before … turning the dried peel into a salt … mixing the dried peel with crushed sea salt, a pinch of dried chilli and a touch of ground black pepper … it’s a lovely season for Lamb, Chicken on the BBQ, fish if I’m lucky – though these days the only fish I see is from a can – Red Salmon, and the seasoning is lovely on a green salad just sprinkled over the top.


… I also saved some leaves that came with branches of the limes still attached.  I use the leaves in cooking – for steamed rice or a rice pudding and any curry dishes the flavour is only very subtle while still being very refreshing, besides I adore lemons and limes I could quite happily eat a lemon sandwich on lovely fresh rye bread with continental butter!


I was also given a Kefir Lime … another favourite of mine for cooking … a lovely little tree which I quickly added to one of my little gardens that I had already cleaned out and re-potted with manure from the cattle and Lucerne hay that I had collected from the Horses after that terrible dry spell that we had.


The Kefir Lime … though Tropical should do fine at this side of the house in a pot as it is always warm and we don’t get frosts up here.  I first came across the Kefir lime whilst visiting my mother many years ago when she lived in Indonesia.  The leaf is the only part of the tree that Indonesians cooked with at that time and it would flavour their rice dishes and it was in many of their vegetable, chicken and beef dished.  Though my most memorable dish was something very simple … scrambled eggs cooked in coconut oil with a finely chopped Kefir lime leaf and a smidgen of a finely chopped fresh chilli … just delicious for breakfast or at any time of the day really.


…. And then just as March started ... with a small shower of rain ...


 ... we then got on the last few days of March a terrific down pour over three days, of rain … 

...in-fact it was three inches of very gentle rain that soaked well into the country and now ...


 ... the country is just a picture as it swiftly responded to all that water ….

The country, the cattle, the horses and even us – we have all now been washed clean of all the dust, of all the aridness and we have all now been hydrated once again and transported back into living beings … it is a wondrous thing, this existence, this life that we have been given …






Wednesday, 26 February 2014

I can sense a sigh of relief ...



by Simone McPherson

The month of February has been a challenging month for us here.  Our rain did not come as usual at the end of October 2013 then November came and went still without any rainfall. 


Subsequently it was Christmas and the end of another year and still we did not see any rain of any description, and I had to let my little gardens go as the heat blistered.


Mind you there was plenty of noise indicating the coming of rain as stormy skies swirled around and we could smell rain and see it as it passed us by.  

We could also hear the sound of thunder as it filled the air announcing that perhaps something was going to happen as lightning strikes lit up the threatening skies above and in spite of everything, naught yet again, but another waterless storm.


Afterwards we realised that we were glimpsing the end of January 2014, and a miraculous thing happened we got half an inch in half an hour even so we looked up towards the heavens wishing for more of a deluge ...

 ...nevertheless that was to be our ration, we were grateful and the little garden sprang back to life ... I don't know how?


So we carried on as we do as there are always matters to attend to …

We finally finished the boundary fence line and as the other end of the old boundary follows the old watercourse of the creek which meanders through the gullies and ravines ...

... there was a second crossing over the creek which we had to attend to …


At this particular section of the boundary the country down in the creek bed is like a wonderland ...

... the country could not be so unlike the grazing country on the tops of the hills.


There are magnificent old trees peacefully standing there in the speckled afternoon sunlight … 

... and others just standing in the edges of the old creek bed when it is in flood.


The grasses are so high as this country has been locked up for over a year now ... 

... that Lily pup completely disappears as she scurries through the tall soft  grasses to catch up to El Ranchero.


There are even pools of water that Maxi puts to good use as he quietly wades through the coolness of the creek.


This crossing is only a short distance perhaps under 100mtrs.


El Ranchero does some mountain climbing to set the line above the ‘Flood line’ and ...

... also to set in the little portable solar panel that will power this particular section.


We manage to resurrect some electric tape that was washed away in the last flood.


And El Ranchero sets about re-aligning the stays for the electric tape that got twisted as the water rushed through the watercourse of the creek ...

... during the last flood it’s hard to imagine that the water even reached this level.


And now that the Creek country has been fenced, we have been organising cattle ...

... that have been specially tagged, with our Brand for this Creek paddock as they have a habit of wandering off.   

The cattle are in desperate need to get into that beautiful feed down in that lower country.


Furthermore Maxi and Lily pup have been on hand and putting in a good days work ...


... as we ventured down to one of our front paddocks to check the creek and another boundary line.

Well it was not running at all … in fact El Ranchero commented on it being as “dry as a popcorn fart” … that is a little bit of Australian humour, yes it did make me laugh.


Here is an image that was taken last spring … a little bit of difference in water height there.

And while down there it was a good opportunity to do some of my target practicing with our Smith & Wesson 357 revolver as I had just received my licence for. 


We carry the Smith & Wesson on the horse when we are out mustering, for those occasions when we come across diseased or injured stock and it is also there if; for some reason we become separated whilst out mustering for signalling if one of us has an accident with the horse taking off, crossed fingers that has not been the case to date.   
  
So El Ranchero has been busy doing reloads as I practice my firing skills.

"… now that would be a thousand reloads in that bucket” El Ranchero informs me ...

... mind you they are not all mine as the Smith & Wesson 357 would have to be El Rancheros favourite firearm, I am just a novice in these matters.

The Bulls have been busy taking care of their harems though at times there are some punch ups. 

This particular one though, was through the electric fence luckily they have enough respect for the fence line and do not challenge its boundaries even so we gave them a hurry up and pushed them on their way, they were very reluctant to move on as they had not finished having words with one another.

Now looking back I suddenly realise where the month of February has vanished too and now the month of March is upon us and I anticipate what awaits us? 

Wait a minute! is that the sound of rain that I can hear? Without hesitation I know what is at hand for us, the Heavens have opened and the rain is now falling I can sense a sigh of relief from the countryside as it is quenched by the falling rain, now that is a good start …