Wednesday, 30 October 2019

... not to get, too Excited ...


by Simone McPherson
A couple of weeks ago we managed to get - over two days - 32mls of Rain from a Rogue Storm that passed over us.  The 32mls gave all the plants and the animals too, a good wash and you can just see a very light green tinge over the paddocks.

However the most thrilling news was yet to come, as we drove out the next day … from a Dam – a small hole really, a Duck Pond that looked like this three weeks ago, to …

… THIS! Yes! … that is the same spot and even …

… Jackie-Jack had to take a paddle just to make sure it wasn't a Mirage 
… he's even got a little 'grin' on his face ...

Other Dams also filled, though not as spectacular as the Drive Dam ...

... although more of a hole, this is the Spring that was dug at the beginning of the year on a “gamble” which ...


... thankfully did pay off, to another beautiful spot to swim, this Spring Dam also takes care of the 35 head of cattle that we have left …

… and most importantly for all the Dogs, Maxi, Lily and Jackie-Jack is the swimming hole in Bull Paddock as it happens to be the most popular.  I guessed that, as they always have a race down to see who is the first in and then they swim and swim and swim … So as …

… we got a little reprieve from all the Dust Storms that we have been having, it was a pleasure to see the country sparkling and washed.

The other Element that this Country and the people that dwell upon this land have to endure is Fire, and at one stage we had more than 54 Fires burning in a radius of about 200kms, mostly started by dry lightening strikes - however many are by peoples neglect in not adhering to Severe Fire Restrictions unfortunately; though ….

… that did not stop El Ranchero making use of the small amount of water that some of the Dams and Creek holes had collected …

… we were very kindly ‘lent’ a water pump which has been a Godsend over the past months …

The Water Pump fills the Water Pod on the back of the Ute and then that water goes into the Garden Tank to try and resurrect some of the garden plants that are left and not to forget the Horses.  They are going through 22 gallons a day of water between them.

The little Cumquats where given a good soaking over a week and even …

… a little Broadleaf Iron bark that, had let go of most of its leaves; a lovely young tree just outside the garden fence which all the little birds used to visit in better times, and …

… of course the lavender that was given to me by a very Dear Friend years back, and of which I have taken numerous cuttings.  I do believe has tied some of the Bee’s over during these hard times with pollen thankfully.

The Bougainvillea’s have all been ravished by Pretty-face Wallabies now, along with …

… both of the Villa Franca Lemons – I have resurrected so many different barriers, though they still seem to manage to push their way through during the wee night hours looking for feed,  carefully removing each and every single leaf! ... really …

… I don’t blame them, they are all looking very skinny and wormy the ones that have survived so far as many have perished, we find them deceased in the Paddocks, El Ranchero has even been …

… putting out “Wild Parrot Mix” for them which is a mixture of Sunflower seeds, cracked corn, barley and Sorghum, which they devour nightly.

El Ranchero has been putting all his extra time – every afternoon for two hours at least – he spends cutting back our Cypress Pines which are now in plague proportions not only choking out all the grass areas – when there was grass mind you, they also turn the soil around them Acidic.

However he has had a wonderful Friend who comes down to see how things are going and to lend a hand 'here and there' they; well we all do really … get caught up in some friendly Rivalry ‘Target Shooting’  which is not only great fun …

… it challenges your Skills and Abilities too.

On his visits ‘R’ always brings down a wonderful supply of fresh eggs from their chooks, which are prized like Gold for us.  I recycle the dried out shells into the garden crushing them down, they add calcium to the garden beds, ready for when the Season Breaks!

We also had another Visitor turn up with … can you believe the size of that Cabbage? Yes, I love Cabbages, don’t ask me why? …

… they are just so versatile – fried, stir fried, steamed, made into Fritters, finely shredded for salads and even Kimchi.  They are lovely and crunchy and good for you too ... what more could you want?

We have also been given some beautiful Bok Choy which went straight into a Beef Black Bean Stir Fry, that very night!! YUM! … and I mustn't forget the ...

… yes, fresh Zucchini’s which …

… I grated and made into a ‘Monster’ Zucchini Slice for the freezer, only grating the outer part and discarding the inner watery seed section, which may I add, both Rocky and Pedro devoured once they worked out how to eat them, we also received …

… a Beautiful Butternut Pumpkin, a lovely Pumpkin with a creamy texture, I like to slow roast them in the oven with plenty of Sea Salt and Olive Oil and once done, let them cool before mixing in a good lathering of Garlic Yogurt.  I make the Greek Style Yoghurt Dip/Dressing with, salt, lemon juice and a good number of pressed Garlic cloves, now you’re talking and with the Pumpkin I add a good handful of chopped Italian Parsley and some Spring Onions too! … Just Delicious-ness!

I have also made some Sweet Chilli and Ginger Jam … though it really was a little runny … a Sauce? as I had quite a number of Birds Eye Chilli’s that I had forgot about in the back of the fridge, that I could not waste.

It’s always nice to have something to offer Visitors when they appear and this Cake is El Ranchero’s most Favorite of all Cakes …

… yes it is the Orange and Poppyseed Cake.  I make this delicious cake with no Dairy – Sunflower Oil, Orange Juice … mmm … though I do put a good tablespoon of plain Greek Yoghurt in, and if I am lucky enough I will also mix in a good handful of Cumquats, seeded and cut finely skin and all, for a bit of Zest and Pizang to the Cake!  and I have also been known to add a Good splash of Campari into the Icing on occasions  ...

This Cake is not only versatile and easy to make, it keeps beautifully though our household never has a chance to have a slice the ‘Next day’. 
… and it is especially treasured on Coffee breaks …

Now I have to mention that on one of our Shopping Expeditions I found this lovely 'pre-loved' bowl at the ‘Tip’ shop! Can you believe that?  What a perfect find for me …

With the little bit of ‘Down’ time that I now find myself having, I decided to lash out and buy some beautiful Fabrics for furnishings … I should really say ...


... Beautifully ‘Designed’ Fabrics through ‘Spoonflower’.  I have been so excited with my ‘find’ that …

… I have even ordered a Colour Chart, so that I can get back into my first ‘LOVE’ Textile and Surface Design.  I did not Major in Textile Design at University all those years ago ... quite a few years ago now!  I Majored in Printmaking, though later I did start up a small business in Textile Design through Screen Printing – which was fun and interesting too.  

Do you remember that 'sentence' that you sometimes would overhear people mentioning in conversation … “FULL CIRCLE” … I have a feeling I may be there.  I have been so inspired by all the wonderful Designers out there on ‘Spoonflower’ … That I have organised myself to attempt to fathom Adobe Photoshop CC and I have even pulled out some of my 'old' hand drawn Textile Design Templates that, I still had, amazingly for Screen Printing.  So please stay tuned for that one, even El Ranchero is encouraging me and has fixed up our spare room as a Studio  … Yes that is another Post ...


… and that my Friends has been what we have been ‘Getting On With’ over the past Two months … Goodness and it looks as though September is just around the corner.

There is one last thing that I need to finish on … the other morning (3 days ago from the date of this Post) while El Ranchero was showing me where the new Fence line is to go; he has pegged it all out ready for the Dozer … another Post for that one I'm afraid, anyhow I suddenly ‘Screamed’ STOP!!! … yes, El Ranchero did mention some words that I CANNOT repeat!!!  He backed the Ute up a bit and there it was … I could not believe my eyes, our Spider Orchid – a Native Orchid to this Region coming into flower, after maybe 3 years now since I last saw the Little Orchid in flower.

Now I have to remind my readers about this Beautiful Little Orchid.  This Little Orchid only begins to Flower before a ‘BIG RAIN’ … OMG!! Now I don’t want to get too Excited, but fingers crossed … it can be a Summer, Winter, Spring or Autumn Rain, the Little Orchid is not picky, it will only send out its flowers before that BIG DOWN POUR!

Finally we, El Ranchero and I would like to send out our Deepest, Heart felt, Gratitude to all of our Wonderful Readers for your ongoing Support and Encouragement over these Terrible Tough Times – You have all given us such a Boost, Thank You so much … and Yes, we do pass all that Hope on too; to others who are feeling the Strain as well … like Us! Very much Appreciated, Thank You One and All ….




Tuesday, 20 August 2019

... slowly letting go ...


by Simone McPherson
June and July are traditionally our coldest months of the year although this year with the Drought conditions more widespread than ever we now have Dust storms that are sweeping across the landscape.

Mind you these Storms last up to two days or more with winds that never seem to cease and then our Hearts sink even further as what is left of any sort of Top Soil …

… squalls past us in huge big Taupe clouds blocking out the sun and giving the Countryside an eerie and unnatural feel …  

We have had three Dust Storms bluster past us now from the West covering everything in its wake with a fine film of reddish sand.

Through all this, life has to keep going and the Sun rises yet again to another dusty day … there are always jobs that need doing and especially in ‘these’ rather worrying times, they are mostly those tasks that ‘One’ does not seem to get to in typical seasons …

… for example, moving a fence line with posts that are now ‘concreted’ into the ground as all the moisture has vanished from the ground ...

… and we also have another fence line that needed a three way access

… of which is nearly complete, just the gates need to be hung and the electricity reconnected again …

 El Ranchero and Rocky have still been busy going out on their rides together …

… with Rocky needing new shoes every six weeks or so …

… the Farrier is a good four hours round trip, drive away with an hour spent with ‘T’ the Farrier, 

catching up with the gossip and getting the update on the news of how the District is coping with the Drought conditions as they continue to unfold.

We are still feeding what we have left; of which is now 5 cows out of a herd of 280 and 6 Bulls of a herd of 9 to 11 depending on the season …

… we have now moved off all the Weaners around 98 of them, excepting twenty or so that we are managing to keep alive due to a number of factors; hand feeding for one …

… El Ranchero has also made use of this beautiful old tree that had died about ten years ago. 

He has converted it into a trough as we were having a few problems with the weaker weaners not being able to access the cracked corn or we would find unannounced guests making ‘Pigs’ of themselves, even getting into the trough, what can you say? … Feral pigs!

The other factor is that the hole that was dug on a 'hunch' a number of months back has proved to be ...

... a 'Brilliant hunch' as the hole is still filling very slowly with precious water from a small spring …

Oh! did I mention too … we did get a cloud burst back in June would you believe …

… seven and a half mls …

… just enough to give everyone a wash, though really not much else … 

... it was still wonderful to smell that wet dirt smell and there were ...

... no complaints from any of us that was for sure …

Jackie-Jack has still been getting the hang of his job with his training regime …working alongside El Ranchero and Rocky, however some days are …

… just a little bit too tough for a little guy with bendy legs and he needs an afternoon nap to catch up with things … Honestly!  

On another note I too, have been busy completing, unfinished jobs that I had here and there around the house in between Dust Storms; all I can say is ‘Thank God’ for the person who invented “the Blower” I use mine every single morning, anyhow the one job I had on the burner for ages was …

… an old cupboard that I wanted to give a new lease of life too … 

... along with a tallboy - set of draws - and with a little left over paint here and there I now have some extra storage space in the kitchen …

… which has in turn inspired me back into the kitchen once more …

… I have also been playing around with my acrylic paints ...

... with a few landscape images … 

However as another day ends and we are already halfway through August it seems that we will not have rain in this part of the country now till after November 2020!  

Not forgetting that we are already three years behind … the grasses and pastures along with the Native trees that have all been slowly letting go as all the moisture disappears from the ground … sadly, you feel so helpless unable to help ...

CRUTCHING SHED & HOMESTEAD DECEMBER 2015
It’s a little scary and we try not to go too far down that road at the moment better to live ‘with’ the environment and than to go ‘against’ it …