Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chooks Arrive

The kids have been wanting chooks for ever it seems. Roger always has an excuse why we shouldn't get some chooks (we already have a good local supply of eggs, and who would look after them when we go away, and he doesn't have time to build a run for them), and I don't really mind because I don't like things that flap. But after the last time we visited Nanna and Granddad I realised that there is more to chooks than an egg supply. And more than chook manure and scrap disposal. While we were at Hope Farm I think Odette must have been over to the chooks at least five times every day. Feeding them, checking for eggs, making sure they were shut in at night...The kids absolutely love the chooks.

So despite not having a house or yard built for them the kids and I decided it was time for some chooks. We decided on Friday morning, and by Friday evening we had six chooks! I rang my friend Nan Lloyd who has been our egg supplier and asked if she had some spare chooks, so she said she would round some up for us.

I took the old parrot trap and turned it upside down so that there was wire on the base (to stop foxes getting the chooks) and then put soil and straw over the wire on the ground. We found some old shade cloth and covered the top to stop the chooks flying out. We put a broom and a shovel through the wire to make roosting perches. And then we put the chooks in!

P.S. for overseas readers:

If you didn't know before, then you should have guessed by now, that chooks is what Australians call hens...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Crafts

The children have been getting into the spirit of Easter by dyeing eggs, and creating bunny things at school and at home. Roger made some hot cross buns for us to eat this morning.
Odette came home from school and told me she had drawn a "Bottom Bunny".

Well I had no idea what a Bottom Bunny was (do you?) until she showed me how they made it!

First sit on a large piece of paper, then get someone to draw around your bottom and most of your legs. That is the shape for your bunny's face! Add the facial features and colour in your bunny. Just like Odette did!

The egg dyeing activity took place at the Warragal Park International Primary School, which is another name for our old house. The children have made themselves a school and any helpXchange visitors we have are roped into being the students. Max, Emilie and Anne-Priscilla worked very well on their dyed eggs, and you can see the results below.

The eggs were first decorated with sticky tape to create a pattern, and then coloured with food dye.

Then they created gorgeous little containers filled with cut up tissue paper for nests for their eggs.

Odette's egg and the one that Hugh made at school (sensibly hard-boiled), have a few cracks in them.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Price of Wool

Top prices from the Farm Weekly

A major part of our farm income is from the sale of fine merino wool from our sheep. The wool is sold at auction, and for some years the price has not been very flash. This year however we have received exceptional prices - the highest prices ever - for our wool. On the top of a very poor season last year and a long dry summer the result of our wool sales has buoyed us a bit. We have sold our wool over several sales, and this particular sale (F39, pictured) was very exciting. Our auctioneer rang Roger on his mobile phone straight after the sale to tell him of the fantastic price (it was a fair bit higher than the estimation) - she could hardly contain her excitement!
Now if only we had some more to sell...
We will have to wait until November before our next shearing, and who knows what the price will be like then? To guarantee a good price Roger has forward sold the wool from the ewes at Wattle Creek to a broker. There is a base price set, which will vary depending on the quality of the wool. And the quality and quantity of wool will be determined depending on the season.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What We Catch in the Fox Trap

We have so far only caught one fox in the new fox trap. We have caught Hugh's dog Pompon, a wild cat, a crow, and then tonight the most magnificent of all - a wedge-tailed eagle. The bait was a dead "twenty-eight" parrot, which Matthew shot last time he was home.

Odette and Anne-Priscilla looking at the eagle
When Roger came home he let the bird out.

N.B. Photos on this post are by Anne-Priscilla Hubo, or by Bonnie on Anne-Priscilla's camera.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bike Riding

Sophie and Bonnie and our French visitor Anne-Priscilla went for a bike ride yesterday, all the way to town. We don't very often ride off the farm. But they decided just in time that they would be able to get to town before dark, and set off at about 3:20pm. The first ten kilometres was pretty hard on the unsealed gravel road, but once they were on the Collie-Darkan Rail Trail the going was easier. I think Anne-Priscilla is more used to riding long distances than the others, as she wasn't complaining of a sore bottom or sore muscles this morning. They have left the bikes in town (Roger brought them home last night) so I wonder if they will be keen to ride them home again??

Friday, April 8, 2011

We Need a New Sheepdog

Pompon in action in the sheep yards
 We lost our sheep dog Bobby during shearing. I think he was overworked during the hot weather, but honestly I wasn't sad to see him go, and Hugh still has the scar to remind me. Since then there hasn't been much call for a sheepdog. Until this week. This week Roger has been taking the merino rams out of the mobs of ewes. They have been in since the third week in February ready for lambing five months later. (14 February is the day we plan to put the rams in for joining - Roger always jokes that it is a Valentines Day treat for the sheep!)
I have been the sheepdog helping to bring the mobs in and run them through the drafting race. On Monday morning I had to help bring a couple of mobs in where the fence has been taken down for realigning a laneway. Without a fence the sheep could run off in to the paddock or the creek, so two of us on motorbikes made it easier. It was very very dusty. The paddocks are dry and bare, and the sheep stirred up the dust so that you couldn't see from one side of the mob to the other. When I got home afterwards I was very dark-looking, with circles where my sunglasses had been.
Today when I helped bring a mob of sheep in from a paddock with lots of bush, there was hardly any dust. That's because it rained yesterday. We had 6mm of rain, and the weather has turned dramatically cooler, which is nice after a long hot summer.

There always has to be ONE going the wrong way!

Roger ready to count out the ewes.

Dog's eye view...

Stop that ram!

Roger in the thick of things.

Spot the ram.

Without a dog it is difficult bringing a mob of sheep through the bush. With a little fluffy dog called Pompon it can be much harder. Pompon went with us this morning, and it was not very helpful when he jumped off the motorbike and started chasing sheep in all directions. When a few sheep split off from the mob I tried to get them back, but ended up with the whole mob breaking for freedom. And then I got stuck.
I am not really a very good motorbike rider. I take it pretty steady, and Roger lets me ride the ag bike which is geared lower, and has a nice wide seat. (He rides his  trail bike when we go together.) This morning in the bush I tried to dodge between some trees, but I came upon a log which was too big for me to ride over. There were rocks as well, so I couldn't turn out of it, and it was down an incline so I wasn't strong enough to push the bike back out. I just had to stay there until a big strong man came and rescued me! Which is pretty pathetic...

I think Roger would be much better off with a sheepdog to help him muster sheep!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Diary of a Homeschooler

I have a little bit of competition on the blogging front! Sophie is planning on blogging EVERY DAY!
I can just about average one post a month, so I had better step up if I want to keep up with her!!
I haven't even told you blog followers that Sophie didn't return to boarding school this year. She didn't like boarding, so during the holidays she investigated alternatives. She really wanted to do home schooling, but I didn't think that I had the required energy to put into such a program. If she was an only child I probably would have tried it. But I don't want to give up anything, and for me to take on the role of tutor I would have to be dedicated to it.
That is why we decided on SIDE, the School of Isolated and Distance Education, which runs out of a base in West Leederville in Perth. You have probably heard of the old "School of the Air". Well this is the modern version. The material is delivered both electronically and through the post, and Sophie has teachers based in Perth who mark her work and guide her with her progress. Sometimes she has phone conversations, or online lessons using a program called Centra. Some of her work is online via Moodle. She can post, email or fax work to her teachers.
Sophie has a study area set up in my Anita Jean Photography Studio in Darkan. It has been working OK, she comes into town with me each day, although I haven't been doing any (many) photo shoots in the studio - mainly a few passport photos since she has been set up. I really wish I had more room here, but part of the building is used by Hygieia Health and Beauty Salon, and I have let a friend have a small room for a painting studio. I dream of building a huge big photo studio out the back, and then Sophie could have the whole room which I currently use for shooting in. But I haven't won lotto yet. Probably should buy a ticket!!

Look at Sophie's blog Diary of A Homeschooler.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hope Farm Clearance Sale

My parents, Ken and Wendy Solly, have sold their Hope Farm Guest House in York, and will be moving to a smaller house only one street away this week. Last weekend they had a clearance sale. Roger went on Friday to help move furniture, and I went with the children after school on Friday. Saturday morning was very hectic trying to get all the smaller items out onto the tables, and get the final price labels on.
When I saw some of the old stuff that has been around since I was a child I became quite nostalgic, and couldn't possible let them give away the tray that my Dad made in woodwork when he was at school. So I brought it home with me.
They were going to sell the old milk separator, which was in use at our farm Menota when I was a child. I remember turning the handle and watching the cream come out rich and warm into a bowl, and the taste of jam and cream on fresh bread. I couldn't possibly let someone else buy it, so I brought the separator home too. Likewise the hoya pot plant, the jug and bowl set, and one of Aunty Claire's old bowls.

We also brought home this pink sofa, which Sophie and Bonnie are quite fond of.

There was a table with free items, which Hugh took charge of.

Lots of furniture...

small household items...


decorative plates...

and much more.

The children had always believed that they would get the alpacas from Hope Farm to bring home to Warragal Park. But Granddad and Roger had other ideas, so the children were quite disappointed.

Hugh showing his muscles...

Bonnie helping to clean up early in the morning

Granddad's friend Bill helped on Saturday morning. His car number plate says "Wild Bill" but these days he says his friends call him "Mild Bill"!

Granddad spent some time in the pool with the kids. Another disappointment for them is that the new house doesn't have a pool!

Granddad and Nanna preparing for the sale.

On Saturday evening cloths were put over anything that remained on the tables, and the remaining furniture.

Bonnie locked the gate for the night.

It has been thirteen years since Ken and Wendy moved into Hope Farm, and we have had some memorable family occasions there. We have all enjoyed being able to go and stay there, especially for the Christmases when all my sisters and their partners and children have been there, and there has been room for all of us. So it will be sad to no longer have a family base like that, but it is time for my parents to move on. Downsizing is the term used to describe their move. The new house has a small and easily maintained garden. They will not have all their animals to look after, or the vineyard which requires lots of hard work. Or a swimming pool to keep clean. Or stairs.

It is the end of an era.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Wagin Woolorama

The Wagin Woolorama is an annual agricultural show which we always look forward to with great anticipation. It has become a two-day event, and we find that we cannot see everything in only two days. This year we took Odette and Hugh - and Laura (helpXchange from Germany) to look after them - on the Friday, and Sophie and Bonnie took their friend Kirsty on the Saturday. The older kids are big enough now to go off by themselves, so they don't have to hang around while Mum or Dad (or both!) chatted incessantly. I love catching up with people at the Woolorama, and this year I had a real blast from the past when I met some people I hadn't seen since 1993!

We haven't used a pram for a couple of years, but took it in case Hugh got tired. Odette used it instead!

Sophie, Kirsty and Bonnie pose before entering the Woolorama. And do I see some bunny ears Roger??

Dog high jump...

balloon flower and balloon motorbike!

Bonnie and her friend Amelia check out the sofa in the full transportable house which was on display.

The shearing competition...

Ram judging...

Roger took advantage of the "Show Specials" and bought a new shearing head.

Kirsty, Bonnie and Sophie watched a lady demonstrating FIMO products.

Friday evening we had wine and cheese with our good friends at Rabobank.

Sophie, Kirsty and Bonnie painted umbrellas.

Roger and I caught up with our real estate agent.

Local engineering firm had sheep handling equipment on display.

As one of our friends said, the Woolorama is one of those events where as soon as you get home, you write it on the calendar for next year!!