Sunday, May 31, 2009

Chooks galore

Bruce the Rooster looking over some of his flock...

Yesterday I relocated the last of our chicks. They were the ones that were incubated. I HAD to try it after all. It is nice to see them grow from little fluff balls to adult size. The boys get a huge buzz out of it.

This is our third lot that has gone out, one after the other. I must say that while I love having them grow up inside and watch them develop their feathers, combs etc I am soooo happy to have my bathroom back.

The wood shavings that I use at the bottom of the 200 litre drinking container (that is used in a paddock for the cows usually but not currently needed) are the problem mainly. This has all the dust taken out of it before packaging, but I still manage to end up with the dust up my bathroom walls, on the ceiling and everywhere else for that matter.

I have a doggy house especially for the chicks. What I do is put wood shavings on the base of the doggy house and then put in there their 4 litre ice cream container with fresh water and their large food container with chick feed. They are usually 8 weeks old at this stage. For the doorway of the doggy house I use an old metal tray and then place a brick against that so that it stays in place.

This way they can say hello to the other chickens who are in the process of getting to know them so that when they are introduced into the flock they don't get attacked. Don't get me wrong there is always the initial - I am higher up the food chain than you... but generally they all get along fine. I have about 30 chooks, 4 ducks, 3 guinea fowl and 2 geese at the moment and have agreed with Russell that I will not be hatching out anymore for a while. We have enough mouths to feed at the moment. Though they free range all day and only use the seed first thing in the morning while still in their chookhouse.

I must just say again, I am soooo happy to have my bathroom back. It is clean, tidy and no chicky noise is coming from it... And the dogs are rather happy to have access to the whole house again as well...

Cheers Damaris

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hanging out the Clothes

My washing line, this morning...

When it comes to hanging out the washing I have always been a bit of a nerd. I like to have it perfect or not at all. I paid for that one a long time ago when first married...

I had asked Russell to put out the washing for me as I was really busy doing other things. He did but when I went to look later how it had been done, I went and redid most of what he had just done. He was sooooo not impressed. That was it - he didn't hang out the washing again for years. Not that I asked. I sort of knew better. Now when he does it, I just leave it and don't say anything about the way it is hung out. I say "Thank you" instead. That off course encourages him to do more... Positive reinforcement works wonders, and not just on the hubby either.... :)

Many friends have commented on how fussy I am with my washing but this is how I look at it. If you take that extra little time to make sure towels are hung with three pegs and really straight and socks are hung together than you have less time wasting later. My tea towels are also always straighten out. Doesn't take any extra time but makes folding them at the line with dry so much easier and gets rid of the need for ironing. I only end up ironing Russell's shirts these days.

I like to fold out at the line and do this in sections as well. The basket is split up for me. I have Russell's clothes on one side, mine on the other. I then have Joshua's clothes on top of mine and Timothy's on top of Russell's clothes. Then come tea towels, face washers, towels, blankets, rugs for the floor and whatever else.

This way when I go inside I have everything ready to go into their spots. First kitchen stuff, then linen off all kinds and then each child gets theirs put on their bed. It is their responsibility to then put it away into their drawers that have pictures on them to let them know beforehand what goes into what drawer. Russell gets his clothes on his side of the bed and I put mine away straight away.

This way the basket is also empty and ready for use again as soon as it is needed.

I have a front loader machine that is 7.5kg so I only wash about every 1.5 weeks unless I am washing blankets. Very economical. I certainly don't believe in wearing something once and then washing it... What a waste. And that is not because I am on tank water only. I have always been like that. Thanks Mum. :)

When Russell and I were engaged I was very fortunate to be able to get ahold of a clothes dryer. It had only been used 1/2 dozen times and as my then step dad's boss was refurbishing his multi-million dollar home from cream to white I got the cream dryer for a bargain $75.00. To this day I only use it when I absolutely need to and also make sure I put money into a jar for electricity as I realise it really chews the power.

I must admit, I love the smell of sun drenched clean clothes and love to sniff them before I put them into the basket. We are very blessed in this country to have so much sun and to have it do so much work for us.

Must go now and put another load on...

Cheers Damaris

Friday, May 29, 2009

Pins have come out...

The three pins from Timothy's shoulder
Russell and I took Timothy back to Toowoomba Hospital this morning to get his three pins removed. These pins were put in on Mother's Day. Timothy had been playing on a playground and climbed up on a rocket at a park in Toowoomba. He fell about 2.5 metres onto his right shoulder. He went to hospital with the Ambulance and ended up having surgery that night. Next night he was allowed to come home. He has been off school since then, three weeks.
He was really worried about them hurting. Before we left I gave him Nurofen so that he could not feel the pain so much.

We got there and they took us to a treatment room. He was swabbed down on the shoulder and the pins were taken out. Timothy was scared but very brave. He said that it didn't really hurt but felt very strange. He could not decribe the feeling...

So now we have to take him back again in another three weeks and have more Xrays done to see if the bones have mended correctly.

Timothy will go back to school again finally next week. At this stage I am keeping him home for Monday and possibly Tuesday. Where the pins were the holes are still open and want them to close up a little first before letting him lose on the school grounds.

He is now looking forward to getting back there but ponders what he will do when the rest of the school (there are only 30 children in our school) does sports. What is he going to do? We will see...

So here is hoping that the mending keeps going the way it should.
Cheers Damaris

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Reisauflauf just out of the oven. Yummy...
As you have probably gathered from previous posts, at the moment I have alot of milk on hand. Lorray is still giving me over 6 litres a day and I can't seem to give it away quickly enough. There are people wanting it but they are too far away from me for me to give it to them regularly.
So as a result I have been cooking all things milky as much as possible. Alot of times my boys ask for Palatschinken, which is Austrian for Huge Pancakes. You can either do them savoury or sweet depending on your mood or taste.
Yesterday I made another lot of Reisauflauf. This is the Austrian version of Fluffy Creamed Rice. Joshua and Russell especially love me to make this. Timothy is not so keen on it as his taste buds are more savoury.
I love having this cook on the stove and then when you put it into the oven to finish it off.... oh the smell. I love that smell thru the house. The boys can always tell what I am cooking, especially if it their favourite. I love also making this recipe as it uses up about 3 litres of milk each time. This way the Reisauflauf tends to not disappear straight away and we have it for a few meals or snacks.
I feel very fortunate to be able to do the cooking that my mum and grandmother did before me. I love mixing the cultures together and trying something new. When Russell and I married and moved our cooking books into our new bookcase, you should have seen my surprise. I came with three cookbooks, Russell with about thirty!!! He loves to experiment and cook as much as I do so we are a great combination in the kitchen.
Good excuse to not try to outdo his white sauce for example. I could never possibly do a better job... So why not just let him do it. Forever..... :)
Cheers Damaris

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Dishwasher is BACK!!!!!

My Beautiful Dishwasher, back in its correct spot. :)

My dishwasher has not been working for a while. It started playing up middle of November 2008 but I didn't get onto anyone to fix it for me until February this year. I didn't mind doing the washing so much at that time but it wore thing pretty quickly...

I had a company come out and they said it was just blocked spray heads. Well there were a couple blocked but that did not change the fact that the pump was not pumping water to the top tray... I was not covered by warranty and had to fork out $169.00 for their words of wisdom. Needless to say I will never use them again.

I took my dishwasher to another man in Warwick and he was able to order the new pump in for me... but wait for it... they had none in stock so I had to wait for another seven weeks. So a couple of days ago I got it back. A friend helped me get it out of my car and into my house and even helped me with hooking it up again.

I have a motor and pump (being all in one these days) that is of better quality as they didn't make my older model anymore. Mind you my dishwasher was only purchased July 2007. You would not think so with the amount of trouble it has given us.

I also love having it back in our lives as it only uses 13.5 litres of water and heats it own water. Therefore not using my solar hot water and using alot less than when I do it manually.

But I am optimistic that this is in the past. It works beautifully and perfectly. I am one happy girl. You will soon find out that it does not take alot to make me happy. When I don't have to have my hubby doing dishes on the weekend and he can do other stuff... he is happy too. :)

Win, win situation I believe.

Cheers Damaris

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

And then there were 31 less, mice that is...

Bottom right shows shadow of a chook wanting to get her beak on that mouse...

Out here we have had a problem with mice for the last two months or so. Alot of people in the village are sharing stories about their homes being invaded by the critters. I can't stand them myself. Joshua used to have them as pets. That was fine as long as I could not smell them or had to feed them. I am more a dog person. :)

Yesterday while in town I went to the Hardware and decided to get the cheapest mouse traps that would work. So I ended up with 12 wooden ones for $.60 each. I got home and with Timothy (who is still home from school due to pins in his broken arm) helped me put them all over the shed floor. We got a heap yesterday and kept checking the traps, adding more peanut butter if need be.

We did it again one last time last night when I finished milking Lorray and left the shed be for the night. This morning I had 31 mice in total dead, ready for the chooks and ducks to eat. They had a feast and wanted more. This is gonna safe me some seeds as well which is an added bonus.

This has been the best option that we have used to far I must say. I had used Ratsak before but only found a few and didn't want them leaving the shed and then eaten by my animals or native birds etc.

I am about to go out again and see what the traps are up to and how many we get but one thing is for sure - when milking this morning, I don't see or hear anywhere near as many as I did yesterday running around the place. It is nearly quiet, just the way I like it.

Here is to the end of an invasion. Now how to keep them out of the garden and my roof area.....

Cheers Damaris
Update: Over the last week we have killed about 200 mice and still going. The numbers have come down alot but they are still there... Now it is getting colder hopefully we can get them all. They don't tend to breed during the colder months but the shed is warm and dry so here is hoping they don't all find it from the neighbourhood....

Sunday, May 24, 2009

How times change...

Tyres arranged and filled with seed potatoes

When I first came out here with my family I was determined to keep on recycling or reusing as much as possible as I had in the previous house. I felt that being out here in a rural setting though would give me alot more incentive to do the right thing.

I was also looking forward to putting more vegie and fruit gardens down and was really hoping alot of others did the same so there could be some sort of bartering going on. I looked forward to the cooking and the preserving and water bathing of goodies that I would pick up along the way from farmers out here that were getting rid of glut. I had alot of grand ideas that everything would happen alot quicker than it actually has.

We have been out here now for 1.5 years and we have our vegie gardens going. I have 5 rows going as well as over 30 old tyres that I got from Tyre shops and friends for growing potatoes. That area is together, electric fenced off because of the cows. There is another fence around the garden beds but that has over time been trampled down by my calf. The garden beds are about 100 metres away from the house.

The orchard has olives, blueberries, red apple, green apple, mango, orange, lemon, mandarin, fig and fijoa trees in it at the moment and more will come in the winter. This is also electric fenced off and down the front of the property.

The problem I find with the vegie garden is that it is too far away. I can't get it closer to the house but not getting there every single day means that at the moment the mice are having a field day out there. The are eating my strawberries, beans, zucchini, carrots, you name it. Nothing has a chance. I feel rather disappointed by it all. We had really bad soil brought in last season and basically had to forget anything growing in there. There was more broken pottery, crockery and glass in it than anything else. Never again from that place... So new soil has been brought in that is so much better.

I don't really know how to combat the mice problem as they are everywhere at the moment. I had 20 lots of tyres going at one stage but because of the poor soil that we had at the time all the potatoes where either eaten by mice or they ended up very small. Hence nothing to barter with or give away for that matter.

I have made a heap of orange marmalade from a ladies tree in the village where she didn't want the fruit. I have given most of that away. Same with Plum jam that I made middle of last year. Just this week gone I made Onion marmalade for the first time and ended up with 1 x 36 VC jar, 14 x 31 VC Jars and some other containers full of them as they will not last long. I must admit for a first timer at this one I don't think I did too bad. They will be mostly kept for Christmas presents.

I have found that having chickens and now milk that I have had visitors wanting to barter which I find wonderful. Not many around here grow their own gardens and I have spoken to a friend before about setting up a community garden??? Maybe that will get people involved more? Time will tell...

I must say one of the best 'deals' that we got was when I was asked for eggs and the next day we ended up with a jar of honey from the man's bee hives... What a treat and we all agree that it tastes soooo much better than the store bought stuff. I can't wait till spring when I have arranged for our own to come here. We will probably have two of the honeybees and maybe two or three of the Australian native stingless bees. I love those critters. Difference is honeybees give you about 75kg per year where as the other only about 1kg per year. Though they are alot smaller. Must give them a break!

So at this point I give away what I can and know that people love it. It warms my heart to know that they enjoy it. I do hope I overcome my issues though with the vegie gardens as I really want to produce everything that we need but need to do alot more research...

Cheers Damaris

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Rain, rain and more rain...

Rainbow on Friday, on the way home from Toowoomba.

You may have heard that SE Queensland has had alot of rain in the last few days. There is more to come apparently.

Our here near Warwick, we have had a lot of rain but nothing like parts of Brisbane. I am glad that our tanks are all full and overflowing in parts. The tank on the shed just keeps dribbling over the edge. Funny to watch.

Couple of nights ago I went and milked Lorray as normal. After milking I always give her, Lavender and Sausage a biscuit of lucerne hay. Well I did that alright, in the dark with Joshua's new little touch that he got for his Birthday.

On my way back from Lavender's paddock I remembered that I had not been able to collect eggs for two days due to the continual pouring rain. So I made my way to the chookhouse, remembering that it can get rather slippery when wet. Black soil in all its glory...

Yep you guessed it. I got through the gate of the chookpen area and slipped over and landed on my right hip. I am sooooo glad that noone saw me as it was rather funny. I felt myself going down, in slow motion and as if it was not happening to me. I realise this is how I feel when having a car accident as well (have had a few too many off them...) Anyway got up, got my 18 eggs and went back inside.

I was more cheesed off that I couldn't wear the pants I had on for more than one day as I just got them out for milking Lorray to keep warm. I also got 6.5 litres of milk that day.

The rain has overall been wonderful as we really needed it. It is soooo brown around here. Unless irrigated it is just so brown. Time of year really but still will be nice in a couple of weeks to see the green coming thru in the paddocks.

It is the mud boots on the cows I can't stand to look at. It looks rather uncomfortable... Today there is still a bit of spitting around the place. Chooks are happy and geese and ducks are having a ball in any puddles that they find. Happy days!!!

Cheers Damaris

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Happy 10th Birthday Joshua

He has made it... He is in double digits. As he is my youngest I am feeling a little sad but also am very proud of him. He has come such a long way in the last twelve months. Amazing how quickly kids grow up. He has settled into country life beautifully and will get even more settled as we stay here longer.

He is making some lovely friends around here and these friendships will only grow stronger as they spend weekends together and have lots of fun discovering the local creek or just riding around the place. I love it that he loves to get on his bike and just ride. Be out for the day and come home hungry and dirty. I love it... This is how I grew up in Frindorf, Austria. We were hardly ever home during the day if we could help it.

In a way I can't believe that he is 10 already. Where has the time gone? But I am so glad that God gave him to Russell and I as we would not be the same without him.

Cheers Damaris

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Broken bones but no Spinal injury

Timothy, smiling because I asked him to, through the pain as they clean up the three pins

Well our week here has been rather eventful...

Sunday was Mother's Day and my day started out lovely with the two boys and Russell giving me presents. Russell had turned a fountain pen for me out of olive wood from Bethlehem, which I just love. The boys also made lovely cards for me.

We then went to a nursery in Toowoomba and bought lots of lovely plants. Some grasses as well as I love them. We had a lovely lunch, that didn't agree with me but that is another whole story, and visited Picnic Point parks on what was to be our way home.

At the third and last park Timothy decided that he wanted to climb a rocket ship and got up on one of the wings. Well about 2.5 - 3.0 metres up he fell and landed on his right shoulder. Ambulance was called and they were rather concerned for his spine as shoulder pain can mask spine pain. He was put on morphine while they stabilised him at the park and then transferred him to Toowoomba Base Emergency Department.

Once there within two hours he had had X-rays that confirmed he had broken his humus at the top just under the ball that goes into your shoulder. It was broken all the way through. He had made a real mess of it. The X-rays also confirmed that there were no spinal injuries.

The surgeon also came and told us that he needed to go under anaesthetic for them to pull on the arm and put it back into place. At the worst if that didn't work they would have to put in a pin to keep the bones together while they mend.

He went into surgery and they tried to pull the arm and put the bones back into alignment but the arm just kept flopping around. He had really done a good number on it. They ended up having to put in three pins, which stick out of the skin under a bandage and the ends are bent at 90 degrees to be close to his skin. The operation that should have taken an hour ended up taking two hours but finally he was in recovery. He then went to the Children's Ward after having trouble getting his temperature up. Heaters and hot towels did the trick!

He came home the next night, Monday night, and he has been improving slowly since then. He is going for more X-rays on Friday to ensure that the bones have started knitting together and that the pins have not come loose. If they do they have to rebrake the bone and reinsert the pins. Don't want that if at all possible. His arm will be in a sling for at least six weeks they say so will be a lllloooonnnngggg six weeks at this end. :)

So he is rather bored really, has read alot, playing his DS, lying down alot and not moving his arm. After Friday we should be able to start with some exercises. Hopefully he can get back to school next week as he is actually wanting to go... Nice change :)

Cheers Damaris

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

RIP Poppy

Joshua with Poppy licking him, something she loved to do to everyone.

Well I have previously written about our three darling dogs. Today we lost our lovely Poppy. Timothy is very upset off course and we just buried her. We will plant a tree on top in memory. A plaque is also being put together by Russell for her.

She was only 8 1/2 years old which is a shame. From the looks of things she had a heart attack. At 11:30am I was watching her moving and making little barking noises that she always made when she was chasing something in her dreams. By 12:30pm she was gone.

We checked her all over and there were no ticks or anything else that could explain her demise. Timothy later went and put flowers from the garden all over and around her. He may have alot of problems expressing himself but he feel deeply and this proves it for me really. Tonight will be a tough night that is for sure. And so will the next few...

Cheers Damaris

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Milking Machine Journey

Well this morning was our first try at milking Lorray with our portable electric milking machine. All parts were working fine and suction was good.

Lorray tried to kick a couple of times and was not happy, to all of the sudden be on a halter again when she was doing fine without it. :) She got me in the shoulder with her hoof.

She was not a happy camper. So in the end I tried milking her out but she was not letting me have the milk. Most of the time we had three cups on her but once we got all four on. She was NOT happy about any of it, let me tell you. I ended up taking the milk that I did get and where I got 6.2 litres yesterday for the whole day, I only got 1.3 litres with the machine this morning.

I must say that the machine was very efficient and quick. Lorray did not get her usual amount of grains but then she also didn't let me completely empty her either.

I have cleaned the machine as per instructions and it now waits for another time. Not today that is for sure. I need to get that milk out of her tonight or she may just bust as far as she is concerned.

Yesterday, at our produce store an old dairy farmer said to me that my thumbs would adjust in about another two weeks. This has me thinking whether just to milk her by hand. He said he would not worry about the machine as it is too much cleaning up afterwards which is right but I am more concerned about the amount of feed that she going through. It is certainly alot more costly than buying the bull milk from the shops. (That is what my kids call it as it doesn't taste anywhere near as good as our girl's milk, they think it comes from a bull not a cow. lol)

So at this point in time I am going back to hand milking in the night but will try again tomorrow morning and see how she goes. Currently she is very wary of Russell and I but I realise that she will get used to it if given enough time and maybe that is also what I need as I really am enjoying the milking. It really is such a lovely bonding time for the cow and me as well. Don't know if I want to give that up. Or maybe I can rest my head on her back leg as the machine does all the hard work.... Time will tell.

Cheers Damaris