Tag Archives: farm

Weekend Coffee Share10th June, 2019.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Thanks to the English Queen’s official birthday, we Australians on the other side of the world, have received a gratuitous public holiday. Although I take an interest in the royal family, I’m a Republican to the core. After all, we Australians are more than capable of standing on our own two feet and making our own Vegemite toast. That said, I’m not handing the holiday back.

Anyway, how was your week? I hope you’ve had a great one and have a few stories to tell.

It’s officially Winter here. However, the weather is quite variable from day to day.  This week there were a few truly miserable days where is was raining, freezing and gray without even a hint of sunshine, and the lot of us complained bitterly wondering what this dreadful beast called Winter is and what it’s doing here in the land of perpetual sunshine. Fortunately, the weather-makers got the message, because we then had a few glorious days of sunshine and we were all happy again. Our world was put right again.

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On Wednesday, I managed to get down to the beach for a walk and took my camera along just to ensure my heart rate didn’t increase to anything like the point where it could be considered aerobic exercise. While watching the waves roll in, I thought about all the generations of people who have arrived by boat upon these shores and come to call Australia home.

While this might seem a bit strange, I’ve been researching our first arrivals for my book. Our earliest arrived in 1808 only twenty years after the arrival of the first fleet. So, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. Arrivals by boat continue today and give our politicians much to discuss.

It’s funny how they fail to consider that the Aboriginal people weren’t happy when we landed on their shores and that those threatening spears might have been their way of saying: “Stop the boats”. While refugees need new homes and places of safety, my concerns turn more to the environment. There are way too many people on this planet and these population pressures are causing hosts of serious issues impacting on the survival of the planet. I had a bit of a wake up call on that front this week while writing a poem after my walk along the beach. They weren’t my thoughts. A random muse dropped them into my poem. However, once they were there, I couldn’t ignore them. A warning that our planet is more important than people. Coming from me, that’s a big thing because I’m a people person and I’m not as much of a big picture thinker. However, as I said this insight come from somewhere else and was left in my lap.

Yesterday, we drove up to Somersby just North of Sydney  and went to the Harvest Festival. Well, we actually went to visit the pecan farm where my annual violin concert is held. Hey, I’d better rephrase that and say that Stratford Music where I learn the violin has their annual concert there and I am but one of the many performers.

 

 

Anyway, getting back to the pecans, the idea was to fill up a bucket with pecans which were weighed and paid for as you left. We arrived quite late in the day because we were also there to pick up our daughter from dance rehearsals nearby. So, things were winding up, but we did see them shake a tree to get the nuts down and the merrymakers were rummaging around collecting their loot. I gathered up some pecans myself. However, I was also distracted through the lens and enjoyed photographing the naked branches silhouetted against a muted blue sky with the quirky-looking seed pods dangling on stalks. Kids were having a ball running through the fallen leaves and the chilled air was filled with laughter. It was very refreshing and although I’m 40 something myself, I still found magic in crunching those fallen leaves underfoot. We’re drying out our stash for a bit and then I’m going to attempt making a pecan pie for the first time. I’ll have to see if I can source some other local ingredients to truly be able to say my pie came straight from the farmer’s gate.

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It wasn’t long before sunset when we set out and we pulled over beside the road to photograph a stunning row of Autumn trees which were prancing around in that glorious magic-hour light looking absolutely glorious. I just kept taking photos from all angles not knowing quite what was going to work out best til I got home.

 

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Indeed, to be perfectly honest, I wanted to soak all of it up and take it home with me. Plant that setting in our own rundown and neglected backyard of arid beach sand. Well, I wouldn’t really want to do that, because I wouldn’t want all of those beautiful trees to die.

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After picking up our daughter, we drove down to Sydney for my parents’ birthdays. That was a low-key celebration at their place sandwiched in between the kids’ activities and Dad’s golf. There was a bit of a miscommunication about the cake and so there was no cake, no Happy Birthday but we had the presents and card sorted. After dinner, mum and I retired to the lounge room where she accompanied me on my violin. Our main piece was Tristesse by Chopin but we’re also working on Edgar’s Love’s Greeting. Although mum’s done a lot of accompanying over the years as well as teaching the piano, getting our act together has been unexpectedly complicated. We usually end up having different versions of the same piece of music, which have been written in a different key. So, even when we’re playing together, it’s been difficult for us to be on the same page. However, we’re starting to get there now.

No doubt, many of you also experience this in different ways in your families and finding togetherness is more difficult than you’d expect.

Meanwhile, in terms of posts for the last week, there was Ghosts On The Run for Friday Fictioneers and if you’re wanting to have a good laugh, you should go and check out Jonathan Livingston Budgerigar. You’ll never forget him. Speaking of Jonathan Livingston, I made a few references to him in Gull On The Run.

How was your week? I hope you have a great one.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by  Eclectic Ali. We’d love you to pop round and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Macadamia Castle & Ballina…Monday 7th January, 2019.

Well, our travels around Byron Bay continue today, as I explained, exactly a week behind the action in the interests of home security and also actually having a holiday while we were away. That didn’t mean I didn’t do any writing. This year, I’ve committed myself to writing more regularly in my journal (a page to a day diary) and would like to write every day but am not going to beat myself up if I miss a few days, especially atm when I’m trying to catch up on my travel writing here.

Naturally, we usually have the kids in tow when we come up to stay with Geoff’s sister at Newrybar just out of Byron Bay. However, the kids are currently away at the Australian Scouting Jamboree in Adelaide and  so our holiday was a little different. Geoff ended up staying at home and just sleeping trying to recover from the year at work and my in-law’s property is so green, lush and different to our own place, you don’t necessarily feel the need to go anywhere else. Well, unless you’re me and have to get out and immerse yourself in the incredibly rich, diverse and one-off cultural delights this region has to offer.

Above: These photos were taken at The Castle back in January 2009. They don’t have the piglets there anymore.

So, Monday afternoon saw us drive down the highway to the Macadamia Castle for afternoon tea. We usually take the kids there to see and interact with the animals. Although they’re now teens, they still love it and I find that it’s very much like visiting your grandparents’ farm. You never grow out of that. Geoff and I also love it there. However, we didn’t want to pay the entry fee for just ourselves and were more interested in our slice of Caramel Nut Tart. We have it every time we go there and it should come with plenty of caramel sauce, which it has ever other time we’ve been there and they were more than happy to bring more out. We bought a couple of postcards from the castle which we sent off to our kids at Jamboree but so far they haven’t arrived and they’re leaving today. Fingers crossed that that post office fairies can pull their fingers out and get them there in time.

Next, we were off to Ballina to get petrol and post the cards. Ballina is more of a business and practical shopping hub, although it is on the riverfront and quite pretty in its own right. Just not exciting and by and large, seems to lack the sense of creative overdrive you usually find in this region.

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Ballina Manor

However, we did see a sign to Ballina Manor and we went off to explore that. Unfortunately, we were too late for a tour but there’s always next time.

We also happened to park outside a discount book store and it won’t surprise you that that spelt TROUBLE!! I bought a few books as gifts but for myself, or to be more precise as educational material for my role as parent, I bought Maggie Dent’s  Mothering Our Boys. I managed to get about halfway through while we were away and had hoped to finish it by the time the kids returned from Jamboree, but there’s always going to be gaps and I’ve been busy trying to sort out our daughter’s room and somewhere stuck between a rock and a hard place, there’s my husband and I and within that, myself…me. Well, that’s why I’m sitting here with my cup of tea and am writing now. I needed a breather. Indeed, I needed to breathe full stop.

Well, this is a relatively quick stop off today. Tomorrow, we’ll be off to Bangalow.

Thank you for joining me!

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS I don’t know about you, but I often have difficulties finding photos to go with my blog posts, even for places like The Castle when we’ve been there something like 20 times over the years. I was looking for a photo of the front of the Castle, which really needs to be taken up by the road rather than where you park the car. I’m sure I’ve walked up the hill years ago to photograph the knight which stands guard out the front day and night. However, I couldn’t find it. One of the reasons for this difficulty is that I’ve often looking for that overall, big picture wide-angle shot for the featured image, while I most frequently take photos from a zoomed-in or close-up perspective. Indeed, working this out has been quite an insight into how I view and photograph the world and that I probably also need to zoom out more to make sure I take in the bigger picture as well as the minutiae.

Not the Boss’s Wife…Friday Fictioneers.

“This place ain’t right. There’s blood on the stone. Ma always said: `stone house, cold heart.”

“Watta ya mean, luv? She’s the best property in the district. The whippersnappers will love it when they come along… swimming and fishing in the creek. Our El Dorado.”

“I sense their starving spirits. Those broken shearers. The native people. Their blood’s still etched in the stone.”

“You’ve got a bleeding heart, Mary. It’s survival of the fittest. We’re gunna spin the golden fleece. Tame the great outback. ”

Charlotte refused to step inside and gave Charlie back his ring. She couldn’t become the Boss’s Wife.

Agriculture Showcase: Royal Sydney Easter Show.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve had to check out the  “District Exhibits” competition at The Show. These displays are set up by four districts of NSW and South East Queensland. A theme is selected and created pictorially on a large scale, to strict rules and using only the produce of the particular district which typically includes wool, wheat, apples, pumpkins, sugar cane, citrus fruit, vegetables and brightly coloured bottles of preserves. Also displayed are other primary products such as fleeces, carcases of beef, wine, honey, cheese and sausages. These pictures are usually really clever or feature freakishly large veggies like pumpkins the size of a carriage. Of course for city slickers like myself, all of this is amazing and where city meets country.

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The Western District’s Exhibit.

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I just loved this train, which actually moved around. By the way, you’ll notice that the exhibition is sprouting due to the humidity.

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The kids taking a closer look and feel of the produce which has gone into the exhibit.

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Do you remember these jars of preserves? My grandparents used to preserve Cape Gooseberries in them. They lived in Queensland.

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The Northern Districts’ Exhibit. This area includes Byron Bay.

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The South-East Queensland District’s Exhibit.

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The Australian economy used to ride of the sheep’s back. Looks, like we’re now carrying the sheep.

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Southern District’s Exhibit.

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This 249kg pumpkin wasn’t part of these exhibits. Rather, it decided to do some blog-bombing and who am I to argue with a 249kg pumpkin? No, I moved right out of the way…”You can have anythi9ng you like, Sir. I’ll even give you your own blog: “Huge Pumpkins Inc.”.

I’ve really enjoyed revisiting the highlights of the Royal Sydney Easter Show. It’s such a huge, sprawling event that you have to keep moving and through the photos, I’ve been able to experience it all in much more detail.

Do you have a local agricultural show? Please share any posts. We can all go on an international agricultural show crawl.

xx Rowena

 

Snake Bait

“Quick kids! Get inside! There’s a Black Snake out there. No! Don’t run. Just walk. Watch where you’re going. Think!”

Isn’t that how any normal parent would react if there was a venomous Black Snake anywhere near their precious kids?!!

Of course!

But…NOT yours truly! I all but yawned and kept eating my Weetbix. I didn’t raise the alarm at all!! Without my morning caffeine boost, I was “non compos mentis”, mostly dead but still somehow alive….a virtual zombie. 

Out of the corner of my eye, I’d seen a sliver of Black Snake slithering through the freshly mowed grass and under the barbed-wire fence and into the cow paddock next door. Australian Geographic rates the Black Snake as Australia’s 10th most deadly snake and while unlikely to kill you, the venom causes blood-clotting disorder and muscle and nerve damage, enough to knock you off your feet http://www.australiangeographic.com.au/topics/science-environment/2012/07/australias-10-most-dangerous-snakes/

Although I registered seeing the snake, I blinked and it was gone. It didn’t seem real. More like a hallucination or apparition than the potentially life-threatening emergency it was…a deadly snake!

I kept eating my Weetbix.It takes a long time for me to wake up in the morning and switch from my surreal dream state into someone remotely functional.

Stopping to photograph the sugar cane and the approaching storm clouds near Grafton.

Stopping to photograph the sugar cane and the approaching storm clouds near Grafton.

Although Geoff had driven the entire way to Byron Bay, being a passenger also took its toll on me. Even after a good night’s sleep, I could still feel the car’s rumbling vibrations pulsating through me, the long-distance driving equivalent of “sea legs”. It also takes me a good day to adjust to my new surroundings, even though Geoff’s sister’s place is our home away from home. Just call me “slow”…even cold-blooded.

Anyway, Geoff stuck his head through the door, probably to check whether I was still alive, when he spotted the snake out the window. A man of action, unlike his more philosophical wife, he went straight outside to raise the alarm. The kids were out there picking mulberries and while they weren’t near the snake, there were no guarantees that “Joe Blake” (Australian rhyming slang for snake) didn’t have a few mates also sunning themselves out there in the grass.

What nobody usually tells you about Byron Bay and the surrounding regions is that they’re populated with snakes. Sure, they might not be found grinning on local postcards and there certainly aren’t any “Beware of the Snake” signs anywhere either. These are the sort of thing you leave out of your tourism brochures and “Welcome to Byron Bay” greetings. Not good for tourism.

However, that doesn’t mean they’re not there.

Geoff grew up on a farm in NE Tasmania where his Dad wasn’t the only one who boasted “the only good snake is a dead snake”. Dad’s brother had been bitten by a snake out in the bush when he was a boy and in Tasmania, any kind of snake is deadly poisonous, especially to a kid. So, this was quite a serious, life-threatening incident, which stayed with him for life. There was another story where Dad had spotted a Tiger Snake in the paddock at work. Dad was heading for the shed to find his gun but the snake, who was equally spooked and looking for “an out”, also took off down the paddock. Indeed, the snake was apparently keeping pace with Dad in what must have been the incarnation of his very worst fears, although I can’t help seeing it as a cross-country race with a difference. Yikes! They’re made of strong stuff down there in Tassie!

So, when it came to dealing with snakes, Geoff was no novice.

Although Geoff was quick off the mark to warn the kids, he didn’t press the panic button. He walked calmly because you don’t run around snakes. You stand still and pretend to be a tree. Besides, we’re quite used to snakes being around the farm. That said, when it comes to live snakes out on the loose, we’ve only seen the more benign carpet snake, which used to be curled up in the rafters in the garage, looking about as energetic as Homer Simpson in front of the TV eating donuts. Yet, just because we haven’t seen snakes out in the grass, that doesn’t mean we haven’t seen the evidence such as a six foot snake skin left dangling from the barbed wire fence overnight. There are also the stories and I’m not talking about the bush equivalent of the urban myth but first-hand, local accounts. One mum we knew had found a snake curled up underneath her son’s Tonka truck one morning. She found it because locals check under everything. Snakes don’t discriminate. Anything could be a potential “home”.

Anyway, the kids were outside picking mulberries and I can just imagine the deep purple juice staining their lips and running down their fingers. Mulberry picking is such a quintessential part of childhood like Twinkle Twinkle, wobbly-falling out teeth and Summers at the beach. Of course, none of these glorious visions include a poisonous, potentially deadly Black Snake lurking in the grass and an ambulance ride to Emergency.

Yummy mulberries.

Yummy mulberries.

Turns out the kids weren’t keen on any close encounters with snakes either. Once Geoff had told them about the snake, they promptly decided they had enough mulberries and came inside to eat the fruits of the harvest. Phew!

The kids eating the mulberries they'd picked on the farm, while I spotted a snake.

The kids eating the mulberries they’d picked on the farm, while I spotted a snake.

Unfortunately, this didn’t mean the snake saga was over as such. It was more like a mutual stand off. After all, the snake probably didn’t want to see us anymore than we wanted to see it…a form of mutual “respect”.

Have you had any encounters with dangerous local wildlife? Do tell!

xx Rowena

PS I’m now home and in the process of typing up all my tales from last week. I didn’t have a computer with me and they’re all hand-written in the journal which might sound rustically romantic but it’s a pain getting them sorted out.