the 1st XI on Boxing Day

Ha! Ha! Ha!  Without doubt, only the locals will have a chuckle over the title of this post :-)  But when we realised – well, it was just a sign that it was meant to be!  (The Boxing Day Cricket Test is played at the MCG each Boxing Day with each team fielding 11 players.)

geoffrey the proud father

Julian and I were lying in bed, Boxing Day morning, exhausted from the appalling heat of Christmas Day – the temperature did not drop below 30 until after 2am! – and I’d managed to pull a muscle in my neck/shoulder (I think it was from letting a very sweet patient with broken ribs repeatedly pull on my hand to help him up into sitting position on Christmas Eve) – looking on Gumtree at the livestock available.  It’s one of our favourite pasttimes :-)

And I said “Hey!  There’s 8 Orpington pullets for sale at Cockatoo – with $5 roosters! They sound good.  It’s so hard to buy good chooks – we really need to snap ’em up when we see them!”

Much to my amazement, Julian replied “Absolutely!  Let’s send them a text and see if they’re still available.”

Oh my goodness!  I was gleeful with excitement.  No Boxing Day let down here – if we could go pick up a lovely flock of pullets and a few cockerels it would be just as fun as Christmas morning!

Julian sent the text and I kept looking – goats in Orbost, peacock eggs in NSW, no sheep anywhere, but gorgeous Alpacas here, there and everywhere.   Within minutes, Mrs. Orpington replied.  “Eight pullets available and as many roosters as you like!  Come by around lunch!”

Oh yes please!

guineas in the garden

very friendly sophie

lemon verbena

baby guinea pig

their birth home

turkey egg compost

Well – it was so much more magical than we could possibly have imagined!  The best Boxing Day EVER!

Mr and Mrs Orpington were the loveliest couple.  They have a lovely permaculture establishment – chickens and turkeys roaming around the property.  2o odd guinea pigs tearing around the fabulous large hoop netted gardens – 3 metres high, with about a 9 by 20 metre perimetre – they were hysterically cute – used for cultivating the raised garden beds and keeping down the weeds.  One hoop garden is for vegetables – the other larger one is full of fruit trees.  And their lovely deck was covered in pots of vegies all ready for transplanting into the guinea pig tilled beds.

We stayed over 2 hours.  They shared so much of their knowledge and experience – and we invited them up to Wombat Hill Farm.

We packed 7 pullets, 3 cockerels and 1 little unknown into a very large plastic dog kennel (I picked it up from hard rubbish – washed it out, dried it well and filled it with fresh straw) in the back of the car and brought them back to Bootville where they’ll spend just 2 weeks in the rabbit/guinea pig aviary before moving on up to the farm. Their initial job there will be to till the vegetable beds – Julian’s making them movable A-frames.

But before too long, he will hopefully have their permanent home ready.  A nice little house on stilts with a deep litter grilled floor and ramp, in a fenced field about 30 x 40 metres, with plenty of shady Apple gums – just in front of the house garden.  We’ve even planned where we will put some nice outdoor chairs so that we can sit in the shade and watch these lovely chickens grow and roam.
temporary house

huddled

teenage feathers

dust bath

ginger and black

under the water bowl

so many pretty feathers

amongst the butts

fus intrigued

And Fu’s going to have to learn how to be as respectful and obedient around the livestock as Mr. and Mrs. Orpington’s lovely Sophie dog is.  It’s going to be a steep learning curve, that one.

 

lilly pilly jelly

with the basket

The previous owner of our wee farm was a big tree planter!  He and his dad (an arborist) planted a grove of walnut trees (which were burnt down shortly after by a neighbour’s out of control grass fire!), a grove of native hardwoods which cover the hillside in front of the cottage, and a superb windbreak that encircles the cottage and its garden.

too high up

They planted the windbreak with natives so as to encourage the local birdlife – immensely successful! – and in one of the top corners is a cluster of lilly pillies.  This tree belongs to the myrtle family, grows very tall, has vibrant, waxy green leaves, and produces thousands of little pinky red berries which the local wildlife love.

Like most Australians, I have grown up with lilly pillies and yet have been woefully ignorant about the edibility of their berries!  It wasn’t until this year, whilst watching Tilba River Cottage, that I realised how delightfully useful they could be!  Cordials!  Champagne! Ice cream!  Jams!  And such a pretty pink :-)

D72_0547

So my first harvest at Wombat Hill Farm – lilly pilly berries.  Collected with dear little friends that came over to help celebrate our first weekend at the farm.  In a rope basket of course!  Unfortunately most of the berries were so high up we had no hope of gathering them.  But enough were picked for one little jar of home grown goodness …

liquour

I followed the recipe and instructions from the Forster State School in New South Wales – which just so happens to be around the corner from where my grandparents lived by the sea in the Manning Valley – meant to be I say :-)

lemons

Added the juice from one of Mum’s lemons …

jam pot

Honestly, I’ve never had jam set like it!  I don’t know whether Mum’s lemons are especially high in pectin – or perhaps lilly pillies are?

set

But it was obvious this lilly pilly jam – jelly! – was not going to be dolloped.  By the time it had cooled in the jar, it could be sliced like quince paste and possessed such an intense flavour that it was best served in small amounts.

on bread

In fact, our lilly pilly jelly tastes brilliant with Erica’s divine 3 year vintage cheddar cheese from South Coast Cheese at Tilba – they were made for each other.  Perfect!

the solitary jar

So now, I reckon we need to plant more lilly pillies – luckily, they are very fast growing – and work out how to gather all those up high berries so as not to waste them.  Unlike Paul from Tilba River Cottage, I will NOT be climbing our lilly pillies with ropes and safety gear and shaking the berries down into waiting sheets.

But I do want many many more jars of this lovely stuff, that’s for sure!

 

on wednesday afternoon …

growing quilt

… I’m in awe of my mum’s beautiful quilt

white way of delight

… I’m so happy (relieved) that we’re moving into spring – my arms are bare and my own white way of delight has sprung ’round the corner

thicket of carrots

… I’m thrilled to pieces with my first thicket of carrots – shall have to look up when they’re ready to harvest

mary

… I’m a little bit pleased with how my wood and water colour experiments are progressing

sunflower

… I’m hoping this isn’t the only sunflower that will grow in front of my bedroom window  – given I planted the whole packet of seeds

camellias

… I just love the camellias that are smothering every garden in our neighbourhood

smoothie

… I’m sipping the berry, banana and yoghurt smoothie Abby made me  – just the fuel I need for a few more hours of research and mind mapping

… I’m listening to Vashti Bunyan’s whimsical magic and am so pleased that I found her via the equally magical Phoebe Wahl – make sure you scroll down to the fairy mobile so that you can watch the little video – it’s enchanting.

Half way through ten intensive weeks of classes, workshops and pracs.  Who’d have thought Complex Care would be so .. well .. complex!  I find out on Monday where and when my next placement is – two weeks in community nursing, two weeks in high dependency acute care.

I’m so looking forward to summer.

loveliness found 10/52

make sure you get to the bottom of this week’s ~loveliness found~ post
to check the winner of the May Gibbs giveaway!

again, thank you all so much for entering and leaving such lovely comments
– I only wish I could send all of you a pillowslip!

p.s. & if you would like to share your ~loveliness found~ moments from this week
– & I would so love it if you did,
please leave them in the comments (links always enjoyed :-)

~ the acorns are making promises they can’t keep, the carrot seedlings are exploding, thank god for indian summer cocktails ~
(freshly squeezed beetroot juice, a twist of lemon, traditional bitters,
a splash of Cinzano, soda, & a whole lot of ice)

~ big girl reading whilst little girl playing,
silly-sweet dog can’t decide who to squash up to
so boings from one to the other with a huge delighted grin  ~

~ picnicking delights – hand squashed strawberry jam
& gorgeous new to me magazine ~

~ finally getting the hang of things …
making the little green machine zig & zag,
& whizzing along with that magic loop ~

~ one day closer to filling these drawers,
oh how I love before & after photos! ~

~ the season of birthdays is over … the new one will arrive before I blink
… oh my she’s growing up so fast ~

~ & the winner is ….. number 27, Elizabeth Boswell!
send me an email, Ms. Elizabeth, to arrange delivery :-) ~