house sitting

Travel Theme : Farm Routine

My recent stay on a farm sit was all routine. So when Ailsa challenged us this week with the word “routine” those 4 weeks on the farm sprang instantly back into my mind.

So come back to the farm with me as I do my daily routine…

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Of course getting out of bed every morning is routine for everyone. The time may be different but we all start our day the same way. But this particular morning when I opened my eyes and saw this blood red sunrise I had to grab my camera and, still in my nighty, rush out into the veggie garden to capture its golden glow.  I also took some photos of the veggies.

After breakfast it is time to feed the animals. I can hear the cows calling.

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Then it was the turn of the sheep.

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Mary had a little lamb, actually Pauline had 3 and I feel like the Pied Piper. Notice the “daggy” hat? I cannot compete for any fashion stakes!!!

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How those lambs have grown and they love the pellets too.

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Water is the life blood of the farm. Being in a “rain shadow area(A rain shadow is a dry area on the lee side of a mountainous area (away from the wind). The mountains block the passage of rain-producing weather systems and cast a “shadow” of dryness behind them. rain is not regular and all the irrigation is reliant on the water from the 2 dams and this pump system to send the water through a complicated irrigation system to all the native flower orchard and the gardens.

I stressed about it failing, so every day I would climb up to peer into the tanks checking the water levels.

Another weekly routine was to “back flush” the pumps to clear out sediment. That was a fun thing the dogs loved too.

Then there was the veggie garden, a regular routine of weeding and harvesting every day.

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But how satisfying it was to gather and then eat these delicious vegetables.

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These are just some of the fruits of my labour. These were picked when Deidre arrived home. The sweet corn all matured together so we had a morning of picking, preparing and processing them for the freezer.

Now I have a secret confession to make…

See behind the  veggies? Well that became my obsession, the dishwasher. I have never used one before and poo-pooed the idea of using one for just 2 people, BUT it became my routine to put the dishes in this marvellous machine after every meal. How circumstances changed my attitude… 

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These strawberries are all in pots and on a raised bench making the daily routine of picking very easy. They also have an automatic sprinkler system and are in a netted enclosure to keep out birds.

The strawberries are nearing the end of their productive season but still found enough to have strawberries every morning with breakfast and strawberries and ice-cream for dessert every evening. Sometimes mixed with rhubarb, a taste sensation made in heaven…

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When Deidre arrived home she came out to help pick the strawberries, notice Seldon, he would get the over ripe ones, he loved them and would dash from one of us to the other in anticipation.

The day is now ending, but one very important task is to feed  the dogs and put them in their pen for the night.

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After a satisfying day on the farm, taking me back in time over 30 years to when I farmed in New Zealand. There is one last thing to do.

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Take time to smell the roses…

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Categories: farming, garden, house sitting, photos, routine, travel, travel theme, vegetable garden | Tags: , , , , , | 46 Comments

Seasons Greetings from Down Under…

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This is the New South Wales Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum is a small genus of 5 species, all occurring in Australia and New Guinea) and is a very popular cut flower for Christmas decoration. They are one of the flowers grown on this native flower farm I am house sitting during Christmas, so I have picked a bunch to put on our Christmas table.

Towards the end of December this hardy and reliable plant puts on a great display of red ‘flowers’ – however all is not what it seems. The true flowers are white in colour and fairly insignificant and are seen in late spring to early November. After pollination by flies and native bees, the sepals, which are the outer series or whorl of flora leaves that protect the flower bud, enlarge and turn deep pink to red in colour enclosing the fruit, a single seed, a nut and the whole fall when ripe.  

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I also picked Kangaroo Paw and Protea to make a cheerful display.

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Sending thoughts and best wishes to all my Blogging friends from all around the world. It has been a pleasure “chatting” with you all and sharing photos and stories about your lives and countries.

Looking forward to joining you all via the wonderful world of WordPress in 2016. 

Categories: Australia, Christmas greeting, flowers, house sitting, photos | Tags: , , , , | 41 Comments

Farm walk…

Every morning I walk around the farm checking the animals and just generally enjoying the walk with the dog.

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I can hear the cows calling me. The bales are behind this machinery shed.

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Tuck in girls…

Now to check the sheep…

How the lambs have grown. (remember this? The day one was born) They follow me into the shed for their morning feed. The lambs are eating the pellets now.

Through to the next paddock to check on the old ram and his 6 girl friends.

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A favourite place on a hot day is under this old shelter. It used to be used for milling the logs many years ago, but all the machinery has gone now. Can you see the sheep? Come over and look closer.

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Seldon leads the way as I walk toward the dam.

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He sits and waits for me as I take photos.

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Dams are a necessity in this area as it is very low rainfall. Notice the windmill?

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Seldon has found a shady spot to wait for me. “Come on” I can hear him saying…

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I carefully skirt around this big ants nest. Millions of them busy scurrying about. They can give a very nasty bite.

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I can hear you saying, “but what about snakes?” Believe me I keep a wary eye open for them. Suddenly along this track there was a flash of black and before I could point my camera a snake disappeared into the undergrowth. He had seen me before I saw him and was not going to hang around. Most snakes will slither away so they are not a real danger.

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Past the second dam, and yes that is water under the weed. It is Salvinia a very noxious weed and hard to control. It spread from the neighbours property and Kim is trialling an insect that eats it. I think it may be working as the centre of the dam looks quite brown compared with the outside area.

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In the paddock next to this dam is the last flock of 9 sheep. These are the hoggets and destined to be going into the freezer. Maybe I could call this a “gathering” of sheep…

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Time to head back for morning tea. Next time I will walk around the native flower plantation.

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Maybe I will bring my cuppa out here.

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Or sit and smell the roses…

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Or best of all as the weather gets hotter, and today it is forecast to be 39c (102f), go for a swim later on…

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Well Jo here is some sunshine for you. I hope your winter is not too cold.

I’m joining Restless Jo’s walking group this week with a last walk before Christmas.

Categories: Australia, farming, gathering, house sitting, Jo's Monday walks, photos, travel, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 53 Comments

Garden Gazing, or should that be grazing…

House sitting on a farm is quite different to house sitting in suburbia. It is peaceful, no traffic noise, only the sounds of nature. A background hum of insects, calls of the birds, wind rustling through the trees.

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Then there is the garden…

No tiny veggie patch here. It is almost the size of a Market Garden…

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Looking back towards the house. I have pulled out soooo many weeds, but still they keep coming to haunt me…

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Looking in the opposite direction across part of the potatoe patch down to the tomatoes flourishing on their stakes. Notice the plant on the left?

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It is producing an embarrassing number of these marrows. Help, anyone out there have any marrow recipes?

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To the right of the potatoes is the sweet corn plantation. They are not quite ready yet, but when they are there are hundreds of them…

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Did you notice the beans? Well already I have frozen so many and still they keep coming.

We had an “Oops” moment with them last weekend. After a stormy and windy evening,  when I checked the garden next morning, I found the middle structure of beans blown over flat…

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Can you see that gap and the sad mound of leaves?

Fortunately we had our son staying for the weekend and he helped Jack haul it up and re-stake it.

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So they live to produce another day…

Here are more and more…

 

This is a very dry area as it is situated in the rain shadow of the Blue Mountains. There are 2 large dams on the property to supply abundant water every where. Kim has an ingenious watering system covering all the main areas, worked by timers, and all day they turn sprinklers on different areas in rotation.

The veggie garden has 3 sprinklers that I move around to a different part each night and turn on the timer to water the areas for 5-6 hours during the evening.

I have never tasted such crunchy and delicious vegetables. We are living on the fruits of our labour and feeling so healthy.

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I will end this post with the other member of our animal family. Hippy is very ancient in cat years. I think she is in her late teens and spends all her days lazing in shady spots around the garden.

 

Categories: Australia, farming, garden, house sitting, oops, photos, travel, vegetable garden, Weekly photo challenge | Tags: , , , , , , | 38 Comments

How Airbnb turned into a house sit…

For a change I chose the inland route to Sydney on our way from the Gold Coast to the farm, house sit. Mainly because I had not been this way before.

Armidale was to be our first stop over, almost a 600 kilometre journey from the Gold Coast.

Have you heard of Airbnb? (If not check it out here.) I have used it a lot and love it. Well when I contacted Clare for a 2 night Airbnb stay in Armidale, she emailed back to say she would be away on the days we wanted accommodation. BUT she noticed we did house sitting, would we like to do a deal, stay 3 nights, pay for one and feed her chooks and water pot plants? Of course I said yes…

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It was in an ideal location. At the end of a quiet street, almost in the country, near the University and only a 5 minute drive to the CBD. If you look carefully you can see the few pot plants. It was rustic and basic but had comfy beds and every thing we needed.

I looked in the long grass under that big old apple tree.

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And found a worm farm tucked away.

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After feeding the 5 chooks and checking for eggs. It was time to explore Armidale…

To be continued…

Categories: Airbnb, Armidale, Australia, chickens, house sitting, photos, travel | Tags: , , , , , | 34 Comments

Helping with the native flower collection.

This farm grows native flowers for the market and it is almost the end of the season, but we were lucky enough to help with their last collection of Banksia, Kangaroo Paws and Protea.

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 Deidre cuts the flowers and Seldon, the dog, supervises.

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With great concentration Jack helps with the cutting too.

Kim collects the bunches and brings them to the packing shed.

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Seldon and Matilda come rushing over to make sure I do every thing right.

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The flowers have to be put together in bundles of 5 and be matching in size, then put into a bucket of water. Then they will be delivered to an agent who will take them to the Monday morning flower markets.

It is a very satisfying job.

Because it is the end of the season this is not one of the jobs we will have to do again, but it was interesting to help with the collection.

Categories: farming, house sitting, travel | Tags: , , , , | 17 Comments

House sitting again and the joys of farming

We are now house sitting again.

We arrived here 5 days ago and it has been an intense learning curve. Water systems involving pumps, dams, sprinkling systems to be shown. Power systems with cords and connections going in every direction. Discussions of what to do in the event of storms, fire and floods. (Keeping fingers firmly crossed)

Four cows needing attention, 18 sheep of various ages and that included a ewe that had twins only a few days before we arrived. Two dogs and an ancient but lovable cat.

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A large vegetable garden to be cared for (and eaten!!!) and acres of native flowers to enjoy.

I am in seventh heaven I didn’t realise how much I missed the farm life. During the 5 days I followed around taking copious notes.

This morning at 4am it was D day. We went with Kim and Deidre to the airport and waved farewell to them as they flew off to America. Then brought their car back home. Arriving back at 6-30am we were ready for breakfast.

Now we are on our own (well not counting all the livestock!!!)…

First to check the ewe and lambs, aren’t they adorable…

Then to count the other sheep, one’s missing. I walk round the paddock and way over on the other side, near the dam, I find her. But she was not alone. Standing beside her was a fine, healthy baby and she was very protective of him.

With Jack’s help I separate her from the others and put her in the pen with the other mother.

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Here he is only a few hours old. What a lovely start to our 4 week house sit.

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I check them a couple of hours later and he has had a feed and is looking very contented.

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Meanwhile Seldon the border collie watches over them.

Being here is certainly an inspiration for me, going back to my farming roots.

I also think it is a transition for me during the next 4 weeks to be back on the land.

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Now it is 3-30pm and time to do the afternoon rounds of animals, gardens and dog and cat feeding.

 

Categories: Australia, farming, house sitting, inspiration, New South Wales, photos, transition, travel theme | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

On the road again…

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We are heading over the Great Dividing Range travelling to Sydney via the inland road and it is springtime.

We are travelling in our Toyota Corolla car this time but we see lots of caravans and campers on the road and it reminds us of previous trips in Matilda.

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The scenery is quite spectacular.

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Fields are covered in white daisies and they look like snow.

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 At 1330metres it is the top of the ranges, so we stop in a small township called Guyra,  for a wander around and stretch our legs. It is Sunday and the shops are shut and the streets deserted, but look what we see…

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I have to go over for a closer look.

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A bench with writing on it. Just what Jude is asking for in this months “bench series”

We are now in Armidale doing a 3 day, mini house sit. So much to see in this fascinating heritage city but that must wait for another day…

 

Categories: Australia, bench series, Great Dividing Range, house sitting, New South Wales, photos, travel | Tags: , , , , | 30 Comments

Evening Glory…

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This is the small courtyard at the front of the house where Mitch has his evening dinner. It is a private, tropical looking space and I like to sit on a bench and watch the evening settle in as Mitch chews on his bones.

Most of this week it has been showery, overcast days, with the sun just making intermittent appearances. The rain has created a lush, green environment and today the sun came back out.

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Looking over the back fence I noticed the setting sun creating a misty, aerial perspective. I had to rush in and grab the camera.

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It caught The tips of the azalea on the corner of the neighbour’s garden.

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And turned the bottle brush into tiny torches.

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The grand, old tree across the road slowly sinks into the shadows.

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This will be an apartment dwelling to thousands of insects and other creatures and I picture them all settling down for the night, or maybe just waking up to spend the night foraging.

We have been here 2 weeks now and only another 3 days before we go back home. How quickly the time has passed.

Categories: Australia, house sitting, New South Wales, Ocean Shores, photos, sunsets | Tags: , , , , | 24 Comments

Time for walkies…

One of the main things I have to do on a house sit is “walk the dog”. All dogs love going for “walkies” and Mitch is no exception. It is also a good way to explore the new area.

So would you like to come with me for the afternoon walk?

The house is on a spur high above the surrounding bush, and it is hilly. Just across the road is where Mitch is taken for his morning walk, before breakfast!!! Then again at precisely 4-30pm…

That hill is very steep, it feels almost vertical and it certainly got my heart pumping.

I had to stop, catch my breath, and, of course, take a photo. I think Mitch was quite pleased to sit down and wait for me.

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Almost to the top. This is my second stop, (puff, puff, puff) another photo of the view looking back down the hill. Are you still with me?

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There is a picnic area with free BBQs and these lovely gum trees were casting elongated shadows, pointing the way through an avenue of trees

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Finally we reach the summit and find a bench (this is for you Jude) and look at the view. It is late afternoon and you can see my long shadow.

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But the walk isn’t over yet. What goes up must come down. So now I head down the other side of the hill.

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This is not so steep, it has a path that winds gently down through the bush and steps make the descent easier.

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It is an attractive and well maintained piece of bush and plantings of bottle brush, Grevillea and various other species line the track. I had to stop to photograph this unusual white bottle brush.

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Mitch looks back “come on” he seems to be saying, “we are supposed to be walking”…

We finally reach the end of the track where it comes out onto a road, so now we turn round and go back up the track and the steps to the summit. It is still quite steep and a challenge going in the opposite direction. But here we are back at the summit.

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This is the view inland over the Border Ranges. More areas to explore.

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Just as we reach the bottom of the hill this fit young thing swished by.

That was my first walk with the dog, the day we arrived. It is now 3 days later and I have scaled the hill five times. I am very pleased to report that this morning I made it to the top without a stop…

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Restless jo is an avid walker and her latest ramble was on the Algarve border. She has inspired a cyber group of walkers from around the world to take us along on their walks. You may like to join them.

Categories: Australia, house sitting, Jo's Monday walks, Ocean Shores, photos | Tags: , , , , , | 36 Comments

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