Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Mini Shearing Break

On Monday we start our 'Main Shearing' this is our big shearing time of the year where we shear the bulk of our sheep. We are shearing at 3 different sheds and we're starting at our lease block up north. This means that this year the whole family is packing up and heading north to check it all out and lend a hand where we can. Last year I was running a course so I missed out and Muddy Hubby stayed back here to look after the Muddy Kids so he missed out too.

I am constantly amazed at how much stuff I have to pack as a Mum. I am an 'overpacker' from way pack always throwing in 'just in case' items half of which I never end up using. As a Mum though I've had to learn to economise on the packing due to the limited space in the car. I have 2 outfits for each Muddy Child, one for each day, PJ's and one spare outfit 'just in case' (I can't help myself!).

We'll hit the road in the morning and have some time to explore the town with the Muddy Kids before heading out to the shed to make sure all is in order for Monday morning. I think I am most excited about not having to cook dinner for TWO nights in a row. We get to partake of one of the two restaurants in town to fill our belly (and they're BIG meals they serve up). How we'll go sharing a room with all the Muddy Kids I'm not sure, we may all be coming back more tired than when we left.

The shearing North will take just under 2 days depending on how fast the shearers go, we'll then start at the second shed on Wednesday and this should be 2 days as well, my Muddy Father-in-law will be back here to help get the shed ready before we get back. Finally on Friday we'll move to the big shed and finish off the bulk of the sheep in just over a week depending on how fast the shearers go.

It's an exciting and busy time for us, most of the family is in the shed at some point, Muddy Hubby is already training the Muddy Kids to pick up the bellies and they've got little brooms to help sweep the floor. Lucky for my Muddy Organiser it's in school holidays so she won't miss out.

The Shearing Shed up North Last Year
What have you got planned for your school holidays?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Grateful for the smiles it brings

I have been following along with Maxabella Loves... 52 Weeks of Grateful for longer than I've been writing this blog. There is something about it that is so special, something that gives you the warm and fuzzies week after week.

So this week on it's 2 year anniversary I am Grateful for the 52 Weeks of Grateful. A special place that helps me to take stock of what's happening and actually take the time to remember to be grateful for what I have and what's happening in my world. That amongst all the parental angst and ups and downs that there is always a little light, something to be very grateful for, no matter how big or small.

I am not fabulous at writing a post to link up each week, sometimes life just gets in the way, but knowing it's there each week I still stop and think about what I'm grateful for and what I might write about if I could get it all together.

I am grateful for having this space to see what others are grateful for and what lights up their world each week, because without a doubt each and every post that I read in the link up brings a smile to my face.

I am a big believer that big changes begin with a small first step, so for me 52 Weeks of Grateful is one of those small first steps towards making more and more people grateful for what they have rather than feeling that they are continually wanting, or continually ungrateful for the wonderful things in their life that so many others would love even a tenth of. If we can all try to be a little bit grateful each week then that can spread, and spread, and spread, and I just love this concept. I am an optimist like that, I think it's ingrained into me.

Thank You Bron for the magic that is 52 Weeks of Grateful, it is a wonderful link up, that brings a smile to my face each week and I am very grateful for it, especially on those crappy days or weeks, because it can turn them around.

Linking up with Maxabella Loves at Village Voices for 52 Weeks of Grateful on this special 2 Year Anniversary. Make sure you click over and check it out, it is sure to bring a smile to your face.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What's up for Discussion?

I was raised in a household where you pretty much did not discuss religion or politics. You could talk in general terms but you don't come out and say 'I'm an Anglican' or 'I support the Greens' or whatever the case may be. It was almost like an unspoken rule, you may know what religion people are or aren't or where their political preferences lay but it's not discussed openly, it's just not polite.

So I was a little taken aback on the weekend, when at a party, a fellow Mum proceeded to tell me about the choice of school she'd made for her firstborn son. Now bearing in mind in town there is only a choice of two schools, the Public School or the Catholic School, this Mum proceeded to tell me that she had chosen the Catholic School for her son because 1 - she is Catholic and was raised a Catholic and 2 -  'Really where else would you send them' and then proceeded to tell me it was because she felt it was important to instill 'Good Values' into the children the way that she was raised.

Now really I think it's great that she has strong feelings on her child's education, and that she is so definite in her choices and what she wants for her children, as I have met many a parent who is apathetic about their child's education. What was hard to take (for me anyway) was this open discussion of her religion and her reasons relating to religion for her child's education. When I was growing up, this wouldn't have been up for discussion it would be 'oh great you're sending them there' or 'shame we won't be going to the same school' the religion discussion would just not have happened, particularly not so publicly or with someone who is not family or a close family friend, it just was not done. I'm more than happy to have a chat about the different schools, teaching styles, the make up of kids in the school and have had many such a discussion without the religion factor, so I know it can be done.

A similar thing happens around here at election time, people feel that it's OK to talk about who you voted for and share that information with you. This is information I don't feel comfortable hearing and then they get a little affronted when I won't return the information exchange and tell them who I voted for out of the slim pickings on the ballot paper.

Have I missed something, a shift in culture or conversation? Am I behind the times, is it now polite to discuss openly your religion or political choices? Were my family and friends always behind the times, was it always OK to discuss this, or am I experiencing a 'country thing' I wasn't aware of before? Am I the only one who feels this? Am I even allowed to discuss it here, or is that taboo too?

Maybe I need to review my conversation rules?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - A Little Light Show

A couple of years ago my Muddy Sister-in-law gave these delightful cupcake lights to my Muddy Girls to decorate their room. Initially they were great, then we moved rooms, didn't set them up, then there was a loose globe. Now finally Muddy Hubby has them going again and each night is like our own personal light show (we take what we can get out here!). Then for his Baptism Muddy Bubby was gifted with some lovely star lights, so we now have a light show going in 2 bedrooms each night! It puts a smile on everyone's face each time they get switched on.

Linking up with Trish at My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday and showing a bit of pink in support of her breast cancer fight, sending love and hugs to Trish and her family.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Planting We Will Go....

Our local Landcare Group were successful in gaining a tree planting grant, this included trees for members and some tree planting equipment. For us we have picked a few spots to plant the trees in big fenced off areas and then along roads through some of our blocks. This weekend we started on our big planting. Everyone had a job (except Muddy Bubby who crawled around the ute or slept), I dug the holes and planted the trees, Muddy Hubby banged in the posts and put the tree guards together, the Muddy Girls were in charge of pulling the trees out of the seedling tray, giving us the milk carton and the bamboo stakes. We had to rotate jobs between the Muddy Girls as there was a little bit of fighting over who got to hand out the trees and who got to make up the milk cartons.

We still have a lot to go, but we've made a start and it feels good, we now have to cross our fingers for a shower of rain to keep them growing, otherwise I think I'll be carting buckets of water to them up the paddock!

It's been fantastic to get out and about the farm as a family and get the girls involved in planting the trees. They can now check on them and watch them grow and probably in about 20-30 years the Muddy Kids will be cursing us for taking up their precious farming country with trees, but for now we're making a mark on our blocks, planting together and loving it.


Monday, June 25, 2012

A Bathroom a Clean Up and Some Dressing Gowns

For the last few months I've had my rental house consuming each spare moment of my thoughts, firstly with the Insurance Company Battle then with trying to make a decision about a repair or a major renovation and then trying to find 'the perfect builder' and watching the whole process of bathroom being demolished and rebuilt. Then finally at the end of last week came the BIG Clean Up! When I say big, I mean big, the dust from the building work had permeated every inch of the house. There was some painting to be done and some gardening touch up work, all before the first open house on Saturday. For Thursday and Friday last week I was missing in action for my family, trying to make the house clean and enticing for potential tenants. Finally it is all done, bathroom finished, house sparkly and clean and open house over. Now the wait for potential tenants and fingers crossed it happens soon as my bank account is looking very sad.

I finally fell into bed exhausted on Friday night, again missing bedtime and that special time each afternoon where the Muddy Kids each tell me about their day (even if they spent the day with me it gets recounted). So I was excited to rug my Muddy Kids up on Saturday morning in their dressing gowns and have some catch up time.

I'm hoping things return to a normal level of busy soon!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - We'll Keep An Eye on Things

Linking up with Trish at My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday. Sending Lots of Love and Wishes on this big day to Trish and for the fight ahead.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What a Difference the Right Weather Makes

This year I will have been living on the farm for 7 years, I've been visiting for longer, but actually living, breathing farm life for 7 years. 7 of the best years, with ups and downs and big events, four babies, lots of love and laughter. The thing that still amazes me and makes my heart sing is the first flush of green across the paddocks, those first few weeks when the seed shoots and the crops start to grow.

With just the right weather (not too much rain, but not too little, warm days but not too hot and not too cold) those seeds push their way up and out into the sunshine to test their fate with what the weather has to offer. I never thought when I was growing up that my life would revolve so much around the weather, it can mean the difference between a happy Muddy Hubby or a sad Muddy Family, money in the bank or a tight, tight budget. On days that it rains the businesses in town are busy, busy as farmers can't do much around the farm and head into town for 'town jobs'. It's often these days that throw the week into disarray as Muddy Hubby says 'let's go and get this job done' as opposed to the long to do list I had planned for the day.

Just before the weekend's rain, Muddy Bubby and I did a little crop tour while delivering chemical down to one of the blocks for Muddy Hubby. We checked on the Canola and the Lupins and it had been a few weeks since we'd checked them and my how they'd grown! They were starting to power ahead which was a lovely sight to see and cheered me up lots on a down day.

Does your life revolve around the weather like mine?
What's your favourite bit about where you live?

Canola, just shooting through

Canola starting to 'cabbage' out

Lupins just out of the ground

Lupins looking good

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Muddy Weekend in Instagram

Do you ever feel like you're just treading water, like you are busy, busy, but when someone asks you, you have trouble remembering what's been keeping you so busy. I get very forgetful when I'm in this state, forgetting appointments, jobs to do and worst of all groceries when I'm shopping and left the list at home. I hate this state, it makes me feel like I'm not accomplishing much and worse still my house is in a total state of disarray.

This weekend was one of those weekend, a not much, but lots happening kind of weekend. We did lots of baking, for gifts and to take to a party. We made a cool cubby house using the sheets and chairs, which was fun til Muddy Bubby came and pulled it all down. We did have fun rebuilding it though!

We checked on the bathroom renovations at 'Mummy's old house' as the Muddy Girls call it, and I'm feeling a little better as it's almost done (thank goodness). While Muddy Hubby painted I started the big clean up and some of the 'to do's' to be done before new tenants can move in.

Then we finished up with a big birthday party for a very cute 2 year old. My Muddy Tribe had a ball, playing in the big shed and getting dirty, making new friends and reacquainting themselves with cousins. It was so nice though to drive home watching a beautiful sunset, snuggle up on the couch to watch 'The Block' and then have an early night. It's the simple things I love the most.

Having newly discovered Instagram and LOVING IT, I'm keeping track of what we've been doing and reminding myself of why I feel so tired and want to be in bed early!

How was your weekend? Do you tread water like me, feeling like you're going nowhere?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Cranky at Black and White

So I'm a little bit cranky at the local council. About 12 months ago, before my Muddy Organiser started school, we started talking to the chief engineer at council about whacking a load of gravel opposite the end of our road so that the bus could pull off the road safely and not get bogged (it would also save our shoes from getting too sandy or muddy when it's wet, but you can't use that excuse with council). The engineer said just tell me what the bus company needs and I'll make it happen. The bus company said 'we need not to get bogged and to have enough room to pull fully off the highway'. The engineer said, yes, no problem, there's a few we need to do so we'll put it on the list, it's important especially as you'll be using it each day.

The start of school came and went (and it was WET), and still no gravel. The bus has slowly been wearing tracks in the dirt and sand, when it's wet it will spin it's wheels a few times before grabbing traction and pulling away, much to my relief. By the time the bus gets to us it's pretty much full, there's about 30-40 kids on it, and it needs a tractor to pull it out if it gets bogged (yes it's happened the Muddy Pa has pulled it out once before). I have recurring nightmares of having to ferry kids down in my car to where the crossroads are and they change to the next bus into town.

Yesterday morning on my way to town I got a little excited as I approached our bus stop, the council workers were there, I started to do my little happy dance, then realised they weren't there for the gravel. They were replacing a perfectly good black and white sign with a new bigger black and white sign. Given our road only has two houses at the end of it and we are the only people (other than visitors and the postman) who use the road in my opinion it's a waste of time and money. Maybe there's a new law I don't know about that says the black and white signs must be a certain size, maybe it's an RTA thing, but for 2 council workers to come out, remove the old (perfectly good) sign and bang in an extra 2 new posts and hang up the new sign, to me it's a waste. I'd rather have my load of gravel! My preference (if council cared to ask) is to do everything possible to avoid getting the school bus bogged, to help get the kids to school and to avoid me being a taxi for those 40 kids when it does get bogged so they don't miss the next bus! I know if it does get bogged it won't be council workers pulling it out it will be Muddy Hubby on the tractor!

I know it's a small issue, I know I shouldn't get so worked up about it. However when you have a council that is continually crying poor and telling us they need to up our rates by 50% (I kid you not) then it really makes me wonder why they would spend money doing something like this. I can cope with muddy shoes and the fear of the bus getting bogged and go without the gravel, but did they really have to make me cranky by replacing a perfectly good sign.

Our flash new sign

View from the bus stop on a warm summer morning
Did you have similar issues with your local council? How do you tackle your council problems?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Let me out!

For some reason I get the feeling my Muddy Bubby is desperate to get up and walking and out into the big wide world! He is happiest outside and out and about on the farm.

Linking up with Trish at My Little Drummer Boys for Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Smoked Paprika Chicken and Lemon Bake

I struggle in the kitchen, I tend to get into a rut and stick to what I know Muddy Hubby and the kids will eat. Every so often though I am handed a recipe that I think 'that will work in our house' and I give it a go. Mostly it's my lovely neighbour over the back paddock handing me a recipe she's already test drove with her two cherubs, and occasionally it's a find on blogs or the net.

This particular one was handed over the back paddock (Thank You Neighbour). It is super easy and there's never much left on the plate.

1.5kg chicken pieces
1 lemon sliced
1 cup black olives*
2 chorizo sausages sliced
4 cloves garlic
1 cup chicken stock
50g unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika**
sea salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place the chicken, lemon, olives, chorizo, garlic, stock and butter in a baking dish and sprinkle with the paprika, salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Only photo I have before it went into the oven. By the time it comes out it's a rush to the table to keep everyone happy!
I serve it up with rice and steamed greens, my neighbour serves it up with cous cous and steamed greens, whatever takes your fancy!

*I am the only one in my family who eats olives so I left them out rather than have to pick them out of everyone's meals
**I couldn't get smoked paprika in town, so substituted paprika, still very tasty

Monday, June 11, 2012

Good Excuse for A Party and Cake!

We had a little party around here on the weekend, we got our Muddy Bubby Baptised. It was a short notice kind of thing, it had been scheduled for August with a big First Birthday Celebration, but the Reverend is leaving town and agreed to do it before he goes. Just to double the fun my Muddy Sister-in-law had her youngest Baptised at the same time. We spread the news of the party via phone and text with very little time to get ourselves ready, and pulled together a great day.

I am pleased to say Muddy Bubby behaved and didn't cry through the whole thing, only beforehand trying to crawl around and stand up in his Christening Gown. All of my Muddy Kids have now been christened in this gown, it was my Mum's and then mine. In all his enthusiasm to get to the front of the church Muddy Bubby ripped the gown, not sure that it will last til my Grandchildren (man, that's a scary thing to think about).

We had lots of good food, good friends and family and a mountain of desserts to accompany the big blue cake. It's kind of sad to think that this is my last Muddy Baby to be Baptised, the last one of mine to wear the gown. Now I need to find other excuses for throwing a big party, somehow I don't think that will be too hard.

The best bit about the day was the weather, it was spectacular, we had been worried because we were having it outside, but the sun shone and everyone was looking for the shade to cool down. Now today it's back to the same old, same old, a bit cold and lots of washing!

Hope your long weekend has been a good one.

Putting on 'The Christening Gown' definitely not impressed!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Grateful for Family

At the end of last week I had a rushed trip to Brisbane for a family funeral, it was one of those times where I was thinking 'do I go or do I stay at home' and at the last minute I decided to go. Muddy Hubby stepped up to the plate and took care of the Muddy tribe with a little help from family and friends and I spent 24 hours with some family I hadn't seen in a loooooong time.

So long actually that I had some of my cousins saying 'gee the last time I saw you, you were only this big' or 'I haven't seen you since you were a kid'. The best thing about it though was other than the conversations about 'what do you do with yourself' and 'Really, you've got Four kids' things were so comfortable and comforting at such a sad time.

We talked and reminisced and shared photos and stories. This is what I love, love, love about family getting together, particularly family that used to do so much together, is the story telling, the remembering and the sharing of favourite memories. This is so special, we talked about my Grandma and her two sisters, about their growing up and their courtships during and after the war, then the growing up and family gatherings.

Since I've been back my family has been emailing me lots of photos, and I have been sent a recording of my Grandma's youngest sister sharing her memories (turns out my grandmother was dating two men at the same time when she first met my grandfather, scandalous!). My favourite thing from family has been the photo below taken at my Mum and Dad's wedding, outside the church, the same church where I was married, and that lamppost, it's still there!

So this week I am grateful for family, family spread far and wide, family sharing stories and memories and reminiscing. I hope my kids have the same comfort and love of family as they get older.