Thursday, March 27, 2008

ness catches yabbies

Ness has been determined to catch yabbies in the dams on the farm, and had her first success yesterday. The bait was goat bones, and we now have 2 of the prehistoric monsters in a bucket.
Options- use as bait for bigger fish, or eat them.

She is braver than me- with those claws I decided to leaving handling to the expert.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

sick dogs

Still in the orchard in Mudgee- this time our attempts to depart have been thwarted by ginger dog who has been intermittently vomiting for over a week. Typical symptoms of a foreign body blockage as not responsive to medical treatment, so we had to take her into the clinic and Xray her abdomen. No obvious blockages found, so we are continuing to monitor her progress, but I suspect that further action may be needed.

She has not been sick for 36 hours, and is quite lively, so fingers crossed she is merely malingering. Problem is that she cannot take her oral medication ( arthritis and urinary incontinence ) so having to resort to injectable steroids for pain control- the upshot of this being a few bladder disasters. Not funny when living in a van.

Meanwhile any hopes of the promised blue eggs from Angelina the new chicken have been dashed as 'she' has started strutting and crowing and jumping the older ladies. A hasty rechristening, and now we have Brad the rooster.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

easter goat

The easter task this week was to ‘process’ the male goat in the herd who was superfluous to requirements- you may recall the castration episode a few months ago. I will refrain from going into too much detail, but the deed was performed by a lovely beardie type who appeared on a scooter with a goatskin bag containing a not terribly legal firearm and a large knife.

Recalling the days when I worked at Notts city abattoir enforcing all the minutiae of UK meat hygiene regulations it was surreal to watch a carcase being hoisted up on a tree branch outdoors and being skinned and gutted.

So today we had the job of converting the carcase into recognisable cuts of meat for the freezer while G distracted the children. They are beginning to work out where ‘meat’ comes from, but maybe are not at the stage yet of seeing a whole carcase appear from the barn for butchering.

I am not sure what a qualified butcher would make of our efforts, but I reckon that a team of veterinary surgeons did an impressive job of jointing and chopping. Not sure what ‘rack of goat’ will taste like but visually they look splendid, and I was very pleased with my dissection of a loin.

Any decent recipes for goat? Please let us know or it will be goat curry for weeks.

Also a big thank you for reading the blog, the landmark of 1000 hits was reached yesterday.

happy easter

Just a quick 'Happy Easter' to everyone.

Monday, March 17, 2008

self sufficiency

Another milestone last night when we dined with J & G. The meal of goat's cheese feta starter, roast pork, roast potatoes and squash, broccoli, green beans, cabbage and apple sauce, followed by plum pavlova was created in its entirety by produce from the farm- pretty amazing after only 6 months here.

Admittedly the wine had to travel a few short miles, but all in all the night was a triumph for free range home grown negligible food-miles living.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


The end of a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, with friends Jules & Vanessa over from Sydney for a spot of provincial living. This meant yet another winery crawl, but we went to some that to date we had not visited and restocked the Winnebago cellar.

The Pieter Van Gent winery was pure pleasure, with a superb setting of a cellar full of huge oak barrels lending a heady scent. Vanessa had visited 15 years ago and was keen to check it out again. More white port in the cellar!

Saturday night was the 4th Mudgee 'Mudfest' an outdoor short film festival staged at a local winery- a great venue, good collection of films, and catering by the Ormiston Free Range master sausage makers. A turn out of nearly 1000 people ( 10 % of the town's population ).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

babes and boars

With some free time 'at home' before we head off on further travels it was time to catch up with some light reading. I happened upon a quality quarterly periodical 'Bacon Busters' the definitive guide to hunting pigs with dogs in Australia.

I was fortunate to get the edition containing the free 'Babes and Boars' calendar. March features Nicole, who loves pig shooting and getting down and dirty in the bush, and very lovely she looks too in her camo bikini sporting an extremely phallic rifle. I think that the recently slaughtered and heavily bleeding boar corpse is a creative and artful juxtaposition.

All the ladies featured 'like nothing better' than ripping pigs apart with huge dogs, shooting them, then celebrating with a raw steak and several pints of vodka. A Lara Croft physique ( with additional pneumatic breasts ) are a prerequisite, as is scanty clothing, a large knife, and light blood smearing. One assumes that in their spare time they also cook, clean, set up camp, look after the dogs, polish the ute, strip and reassemble the quad bike engine, and shag like nymphomaniac rabbits.

Even the dogs appear to have a dress code, and the men a penchant for baseball caps and blue nylon.

Eagerly awaiting the arrival of my 'Full of Grunt' T-shirt and matching baseball cap.

Meanwhile, the sausages were a raging success in Sydney, and in under 5 hours all 800 had been sold. This looks like the start of a thriving new enterprise- very funny to think that a few weeks ago we all sat round the dinner table and said 'better google sausage recipes then' and now the gourmet product is being enthused about by the eating public.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

missing pig

A big day today for the free range pork enterprise- J & G are off to Sydney to promote the first sausages at a Mudgee Fine Foods promotion. Berkshire bangers have rolled off the production line and are about to wow the pork sausage wary Australian gastronomes.

The week did not go completely according to plan. Poor Gloria, the gilt who had a penchant for the ladies has consistently failed to get pregnant, and was the first to take the one way trip to the abattoir on Tuesday. The local butchers were supplied with bags of freshly ground herbs and spices and instructions on meat/fat ratios based on our intensive research and multiple sausage tastings.

By Friday afternoon said butchers were still waiting- Gloria had gone missing! Somehow the carcase had been misplaced and not made its way back from the abattoir. Frantic arrangements were made to get it here in time, and sausage production was only completed yesterday afternoon. J & G had to get up at 3 am this morning to collect, pack and wrap 800 sausages before the 4 hour drive to Sydney.

We did get to sample the first ones to roll off the production line and they are mighty fine. The Berkshire meat has lived up to all expectations.

Friday, March 7, 2008

back to the country

We have returned to mudgee after a week in Sydney, and it is great to be back in a rural setting. Sydney is a stunning city, but neither of us would want to live there permanently.
A few of our favourite pics here, more on slide show.

M & N and family ( including M's parents over from England ) are visiting this weekend, so unfortunately we will be obliged to do another winery tour.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

tourists in sydney

We have spent the last three days being tourists in Sydney. Despite two previous trips here there was so much we had not seen, so we climbed the harbour bridge pylon to enjoy the stunning views, had a closer look at the Opera House, walked the length of the Botanic Gardens ( where I was somewhat freaked by the thousands of fruit bats hanging around ) and of course managed a little light shopping.

Ness is a firm believer that the only way to really get to know a city is 0n foot, so we have pounded pavements, spurning public transport. All very exhausting- I suspect she will have me swimming across the harbour today. Hopefully I can persuade her that ferries are an acceptable way to get to Bondi.

Weather great as autumn approaches. Catching up with more friends this evening, then back to Mudgee on Friday to collect the ginger dog and van and plan phase 2 of the tour.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Mardi Gras

After many years of wanting to be here for Mardi gras, we finally managed to attend. A friend booked a first floor restaurant so we had a fantastic view of the parade. At street level all the short people came armed with milk crates to stand on, but even that would not have been enough to see the action as the place was heaving. We did not have tickets for the all night party afterwards, but not sure we are up to all night raves these days.

Will load some pics when we get back- highlights were the opening 'dykes on bikes' and my favourite was the catholic gays with a very well constructed pope mobile. Gay super heroes from the planet 2010 were rather special- 'the fuchsia is pink'.

Off to do some tourist stuff today-we are planning to be bold and climb the harbour bridge, so should be some wobbly photos to display later.