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Delight and Things

a little peek at what delights me

Tag Archives: farm

I took this photo a while back when I “helped” put the sheep in the yards. (And by “helped”, I mean I was mostly just taking photos. Good thing we have a working dog who can’t get enough of pushing up sheep.)

Although it’s not the greatest, sharpest, most beautifully composed photo, I couldn’t resist sharing it because I just love how the light illuminates the clouds of dust.

dog_light

Just another evening on the farm – trust me to turn a sunset chore into a photo shoot instead…

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I’m one of those people who will follow roadsigns that may be going totally out of my way providing there’s the promise of fresh fruit and veg at the end. “Farmers Market, 15 km in the opposite direction” – sure. “Mango Man, 3 km up an incredibly steep footpath, this way” – I could probably use the exercise. “Community Garden, around the corner” – I’ll go for a look, just to see what other people are growing.

You can imagine my delight when I came across Colton Bakery on the drive back from a fishing trip on the west coast of the Eyre Peninsula over New Years. Well, to be fair, I didn’t just ‘come across it’. Most people who’ve lived on the EP for any length of time know about it, and I’ve driven past it once before when it wasn’t open. But this time, the timing was perfect – the open sign was out and I had spare change in my wallet. They had beautiful loaves and rolls in paper bags on shelves, and a small tin for money. “Everything is $4”. I left with a multigrain loaf and a bag of sticky rolls.

Colton Bakery, SA

I love the handwritten welcome sign, especially the comment “I hope the care and feeling put into the bread is reflected in the finished product” – that’s what I love about small roadside stands like this; they’re full of heart. There’s no harsh glare from fluorescent lighting, no sterile smell of plastics and cleaning products, and there’s no need to wait in a line for ten minutes to finally get served by a bored teenager who’d rather be checking Facebook. There’s just someone who likes making bread, so they make enough to cater to passers-by.

Colton Welcome

I’ll never be an amazing enough baker to have a roadside bakery. But it is one of my dreams to eventually have a little honesty box for veggies down at the bottom of my driveway. There’s one in Canada on the road to my parent’s cabin in the woods, and there’s something just so wholesome about it. I love the idea that someone’s surplus homegrown veggies could be someone else’s garden fresh dinner. I love the idea of having faith that people will leave a couple of dollars for said veggies. I love the idea of a handpainted sign and a little tin box with a hole in it for coins.

Every time I have to drive to town and back (an hour round trip) before 5:30pm in order to buy some not-so-fresh produce from the grocery store, my resolve grows stronger to become an expert veggie patcher (it’s totally legitimate to use that as a verb, right?) so I can one day help other out-of-towners like me who want a couple of fresh veggies but don’t have the hour it takes to get them. Maybe it won’t happen this year, but I’ll start designing my handpainted sign just in case.

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Today I woke up to rain. After almost two months of baking heat, I actually found myself smiling out the window at the dark, damp, cloudy day. After making myself a hot chocolate (yes, it’s still 25 degrees out, but for some reason hot chocolate felt necessary in order to enjoy the rainy morning) I headed out to the home farm with Jamie because I didn’t have any other plans for the day. There were 90 sheep there that needed loading into the truck to shift back to our property.

By the time we got out there everything was soaking wet. But while soggy weather may deter people from working outside, the dogs could not have been more excited. We took the two best yard dogs to load the truck, Buckles and Rough. I love watching the dogs work – you don’t know focus until you watch a sheepdog in the yards. Nothing distracts them, not the rain, not any birds flying by, not even me hovering over them to get close up pics. Even after the truck was loaded the dogs wouldn’t look away.

Buckles and the sheep

Loading, watching, raining, lamb bums!

Roughy still watching the truck even after her job is finished.

I’ll say this much – I wasn’t much help seeing as I was taking photos the whole time… but the dogs did a far better job than I would have, anyway.

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This may sound stupid, but… as of yesterday, I feel like an empty-nester.

This past spring, three of the sheep died, leaving baby lambs as orphans. My boyfriend’s dad brought them home, called me up, and put me in charge of raising them. About three weeks later a fourth joined the little flock.

I told myself I wouldn’t get attached. But then I started noticing they each had quirks, habits, likes, dislikes – in short, personalities! And it’s hard to not name something that has a personality. So we ended up with Scout (after the tomboy main character in To Kill a Mockingbird), Rambo (due to his size and deep voice), Focus (who had trouble focusing on his bottle at first), and Tiny (not so much named by personality but by physical appearance).

Focus and Rambo

Anyway, they’ve spent the last four months hanging out by the house. They’re quite entertaining – they baaa at you when you speak, they prance around and kick their heels, they chase the cats, they head butt your knees when they want a scratch, they take any chance they get to eat my garden. And, like a dog would, they get excited when you come home after work. They know the sound of the ute and come running when you pull up. And I realised – damn – I got attached. No, not just attached, totally smitten. I am the equivalent of a crazy cat lady, but with lambs.

So two weeks ago Scout and Tiny managed to relocate themselves to one of the mobs of sheep and have been happily out there with them since. No big deal, I still had the other two at home to chat to when hanging out the laundry. Until yesterday, when Jamie and I drove them down to the yards to vaccinate and tail them, and then put them out in the paddock. But as they followed me up the ramp to the back of the ute, and held them in our laps as we were driven out to the mob of freshly weaned lambs that would be their new family, I began to feel a bit like a mom dropping her kids off at school on the first day of kindergarten.

Fortunately, they didn’t seem to be too phased by the change and as of this morning were happily grazing with the other lambs. And although it’s hard to pick them out of the 200ish other lambs there, they’re pretty easy to find when you look in the rearview mirror and they’re running after the ute with their tails wagging.

The three original lambs when they were little

It am fully aware that it’s a bit ridiculous to be upset by weaning my lambs, but I guess I felt like I was their mom, and this is my first experience in watching ‘kids’ grow up. I will admit I felt a little bit proud of them when they were out there, making new friends… so I’ve decided to accept the fact that I’m a bit of a crazy lamb lady and hopefully put it to good use again next spring. Until then, I’ll just have to take 5 minutes every now and again to go and give my sheep a scratch on the head in the paddock.

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After admiring my boyfriend’s mother’s lemon tree the other day, I snuck a look around and, confirming it was safe, stole three fat yellow lemons off its limbs. I left a good 70 lemons on the tree, so really don’t feel toooo bad about it. I was really doing the tree a favour by removing some fruit so it could focus its energy on sustaining the other ones, right??

I looked at them sitting in the fruit bowl on the table top for about a week, and although they looked quite fresh and decorative, knew that they needed to be used. Then while flicking through a magazine while waiting for a ride later on that week I happened across a recipe for lemon butter.

Delicious! The perfect use for my three yellow friends.

Things fell into place when I got a free afternoon due to some showers (never have I been in a job where things slow down because of some rain!) so I got to work. Juicing, zesting, simmering. About an hour later the house smelled so fresh and citrusy good I could hardly wait for it to cool down before tasting it.

Yum. Every lemon lover must try this recipe. Although it’s not exactly the one from the magazine (as I’m not great at following recipes).

Lemon Butter

  • 3 med lemons
  • 1 orange
  • 100g unsalted butter, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  1. Zest the lemons and the orange into a medium saucepan. Juice the lemons (leave the orange) until you get 2/3 of a cup. If you don’t get enough out of your lemons, top it up with bottled lemon juice or squeeze the orange.
  2. Toss in the chopped butter and the sugar, then stir constantly over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
  3. Whisk your egg yolks in a bowl. Add to the butter mix in the pan. Continue to cook at medium heat until it thickens, but don’t let it boil.
  4. Pour lemon butter into jars and seal while still hot. Or tip into a sealable container and refrigerate for up to a month.

 

What delighted me most about my lemon butter was that my eggs were also farm fresh, straight from friends’ chooks!

Hope you get a chance to enjoy on fresh baked bread for a morning snack.

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As you know, I come from a ski resort. But I am not a winter fan. And unfortunately, it’s officially winter here now – although I can’t complain too much because I’ve yet to have snow coming in over the tops of my boots or to scrape the ice off the windsheild before starting the ute up in the morning. Bonus! Although it can get a bit fresh here and I do like to light the fire the second we get home from work and I did have to purchase a column heater for our bedroom, it’s not too bad in the grand scheme of winter.

A funny thing that I’m discovering here is that things in the garden are growing! What? In winter!? Because we’ve been getting a little bit of rain, things are sprouting and the bulbs are coming up (although randomly, in the middle of the lawn… odd planting practices by the previous inhabitants of the house I suppose) and the rose bushes are growing tiny new branches. I have to admit I really want to give the garden some tender loving care so it can at least take the eye away from the industrial decoration which is the tanks and the pipes and the clothesline, buuuuuut I’m at a bit of a loss as to what I’m supposed to be doing because at home, nothing grows in winter. Nothing. Thank goodness for the internet and for wise friends!

I’ve planted a small veggie patch in which I’ve put some winter veggies: cauliflower, beetroot, broccoli, silverbeet, and carrots, but the seeds are slow to sprout and I’m unsure whether it’s the soil, the temperature, or my lack of experience in sowing. Probably a combination of all three. After getting frustrated, I started some seedlings inside and they seem to be doing alright, so hopefully in a few weeks they’ll establish a big enough root system that I can transplant them.

Luckily, I’ve found this handy sowing guide for Australia that will hopefully give me a bit of help in keeping my garden going. For those Canadian friends who are reading this, I offer you no support. You have it easy, with a clearly defined growing season, ample precipitation, and a non-frying sun. But I do wish you the best for your summer veggies which should be growing nicely in the sun at home right this very minute.

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This is a totally new experience for me. Although growing up in a ski resort did mean that we were fairly dependent on the weather for our livelihoods (no snow means no tourists which therefore means no jobs), I am truly coming to understand that rain (although generally speaking not my favourite of the weather options) is extremely important as it means whether or not you will get paid this year.

We’ve spent the past few weeks relatively relaxed in terms of workload due to the fact that the earth was dry. Like, hasn’t-rained-in-months dry. And coming into the Aussie winter (which is when the grain crops grow) this was a little less than perfect. Although the soil was cultivated, we needed some rain prior to planting all the crops. And luckily, after weeks of “wouldn’t it be great if we could have some rain today”, on Wednesday it clouded over and the heavens opened.

We were flung into the rain in full-on work mode. The get up at 5:00am, finish at 9:30pm with a ‘run home for a sandwich when you can’ kind of a work mode. Okay – oddly enough, I’m actually okay with this. (Although ask me that at 5:00am and I might tell you a different story…)

Things are wet and soggy. Everything is. Driving out to the back paddock is a slippery, muddy, puddles everywhere trip that takes 15 minutes longer than usual. I can only equate it to driving in wet snow at home. But it’s beautiful. There is nothing to describe the brief moments when the sun comes out and the blue sky reflects off the puddles and you can smell the earth warming.

The most delightful part about it all is that even as quickly as the 24 hours after the rain starts the earth responds and you begin to see little sprouts of green everywhere. It’s like spring at home, but it happens every time it rains! Love it.

And the update on the work – I’ve learned how to drive the seeder so I’ve been helping sow the crops. I’ll admit it’s kind of tedious, sitting in a tractor all day, pausing every 2 or so hours to refill it up with fertilizer and seed, but it is rewarding watching the paddocks turn a beautiful green about 10 days later. The best part though is when we drive around the paddocks and my boyfriend asks me, “How’s your crop looking, Raine?”. My crop! The one I sowed!

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