A significant proportion of Aussies call their evening meal “tea” which is not to be confused with the English tradition of “tea at four o’clock”, that’s “Arvo Tea” here. The full list of meal breaks is as follows:
Breakfast – Breakkie
Elevensies – Smoko
Lunch – Lunch (at least that’s something we agree on)
Tea – Arvo tea
Supper – Tea
Munchies before bed – supper
Lately, we’ve been enjoying Yabbies for tea, really I mean supper. Yabbies are small lobsters which live in the dams in the paddocks (reservoirs in the fields for the livestock). We’ve been living on this farm for exactly a year and it wasn’t until I gave the Kiwi a yabbie net for Christmas that we had ventured out to one of the dams looking for the little critters. A yabbie net looks very similar to a small lobster pot and once baited with a lump of dog meat you throw it out into the dam (remembering to hold onto the anchor string). It takes about the same amount of time as it does to down a stubby (drink a small bottle of beer) and just twenty minutes later the net is pulled up and amidst much squealing from me and any other onlookers, the Kiwi bravely hoikes out the mini-lobster’s and puts them in a bucket.
I won’t go into the next part of the process but they are quite good with a dollop of homemade mayo and a glass of cold, crisp Sav Blanc constituting a very civilised “tea”.
At the end of November we were delighted to welcome more friends from England, the Eley’s who came to stay for a couple of nights. It was lovely to see old chums out here and I had a ball showing them round our beautiful surroundings. Not wishing to brag too much, our guests said the Southern Grampians was some of the most stunning Australian country they had seen. The weather smiled and it was even hot enough to have our first swim in the sea.
Shearing continued quite a bit longer than the intended three weeks as the inclement weather made it difficult to keep the sheep dry enough for their annual haircut. Not to be forgotten, our little flock also got their short back and sides.
I stuffed their super soft merino wool into eight supermarket carrier bags and today took it to a wool buyer in Hamilton. I was chuffed to bits when the buyer complimented me on the quality of our wool and I beamed from ear to ear when he handed me my first “wool cheque”. I’ll give Phil (not a merino and not such good money for wool) and the girls (all merinos) an extra scoop of barley as a special treat tonight.
On the last day of shearing there was a certain amount of high jinks in the wool shed with one of the shed hands demonstrating his acrobatic skills!
Before he was shorn Phil was in the “doghouse”, ie persona-non-grata, as someone (not me) left the garden gate open and we caught Phil raiding my veggie patch. I found him munching his way through my prized french beans looking very pleased with himself. Unfortunately Phil is tame so no amount of “shoos” from me and more crossly “get out you b******d” from the Kiwi did Phil seem remotely bothered to shift. I eventually managed to get a dog collar round his neck and tried to lead him out but all he did was to lie down and really dig his toes in. The only way to get him out was to entice him out with a bucket of barley! He’s such a pig!
It is important when driving around the countryside to keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and other roadside hazards. Even hitting something as relatively small as a Magpie can cause costly damage to your vehicle as we found out when driving home from friends; we thought we’d gone over the top of a Magpie. However the next morning when a couple of work colleagues said to me “nice work of the maggie Camilla” I realised all was not well. At lunchtime I went out to inspect my car and found to my horror that we had indeed struck a Maggie, it was stuck in the front grill of the car and what’s more the poor thing was still alive! Luckily a chivalrous colleague came to the rescue and put the maggie in the hedge who seemed none the worse for his relocation to the suburbs of Hamilton.
Just before Christmas we were delighted to be informed of the arrival of twin grandchildren for the Kiwi. Their arrival doubled the number to four and gave him his first granddaughter. We also had more terrific news on New Year’s Day with the announcement of the engagement of his eldest daughter. The Kiwi is one proud chap!
Our friend Jim and his daughter Kayla came to stay for a night – they had been on the road for days and I think appreciated a real bed – albeit the caravan!
We celebrated Christmas with new friends on their veranda with the most sumptuous lunch with all the trimmings.
A game of cricket followed with Margot and Daphne proving to be excellent Silly-Mid-ons.
My cousins from Sydney came to stay for New Year. The Kiwi and I decamped to the caravan which made us feel like we were on holiday too even though we were parked outside the chook-house!
The Port Fairy Parade kicked off our New Year with an eccentric array of homemade costumes and floats and everyone loved it. We saw the New Year in with bubbles and Pavlova watching the fireworks in Sydney on the telly. We wished our families Happy New Year on FaceTime but they were still several hours away yet from their celebrations.
To blow out the cobwebs the following day I made the rather rash decision that we were going to climb Mount Sturgeon. “It’s smaller than Mount Abrubt so it’ll be a doddle”. Not long into the climb my eight year old cousin and I both thought we were going to die with exhaustion. After a considerable distance further, we sat down on a rock together saying the view from there was probably just as good as at the top and unanimously refused to budge another step. The Kiwi gallantly said he would look after the ladies, (I think he was completely pooped too) and the rest of the team raced on ahead and waved to us from the top. Yes, it was a fantastic view and a great start to 2018! So Happy New Year one and all!