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Sunday, 7 February 2016

Fifteen

We love a birthday in these parts. No matter whose it is we all equally relish the opportunity for a celebration. Weather advice Friday predicted somewhere between 100 and 300 mm of rain for our region (further cause for celebration), indicating that three high schoolers really should have had the weekend at school.  Jess the birthday girl however wouldn't hear of it, and so all came home early Friday, and of course no rain fell.

No complaints however, after eight inches recorded for the week at Rock Wallaby.  Four inches of beautiful grass rain at Bottle Tree, but unfortunately no run-off as yet, so we will continue to pump water there.

Jess was up at 5 proclaiming to all who would listen that it was indeed her birthday Saturday.


With the whole family rejoicing in the ukelele gifted from Nan and G'Dad!


We've been counting the joy. ALL. weekend.


With Sal to remain in a cast for another five weeks, after a little prompting from one frustrated mother, Dr Gomez made it very clear to her during last week's visit that she was not to even consider sitting on a horse's back during that time, and possibly even for some time after the plaster's removed.


So riderless Chikita has been subjected to a whole new array of tricks, including smiling, bowing and lying down.


With Dad's arm immobilised for at least another four weeks,


Wal has become his left hand man.


And will soon step into the role of chief dehorner as a growing team of calves at Bottle Tree can't wait for Dad's full recovery.


Sarah received her 'Senior' badge at a special assembly Friday, marking the beginning of a very important year for her.



There's been bacon smoked,


special birthday dinners enjoyed,


and of course birthday cake shared.


The school-term normal is returning to our lives with three back at school, leaving my two one-armed bandits at home.  The evening routine of fielding calls from the three teenagers is now interspersed with meal-cutting-up duties.  And with Matthew not allowed to drive for another seven weeks, my day job now includes driving Miss Daisy.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

A Silver Cherry-Filled Lining

Not big on New Year's Resolutions, this year I'm simply adopting a half-glass-full kind of policy.  There's really no point thinking any differently.

In light of recent events we discussed the positives to come from the week just gone.

Matthew could very easily have had fingers completely severed in his shed incident.

Sally, who happened to be riding backwards (let's not even go there), could very easily have been kicked during her descent, with far worse injuries.

And then to top off the vast amount of time I've spent in orthopaedic surgeon's waiting rooms this past week, I managed to photograph a recipe in one of the magazines and put it to good use this weekend.


So what could be better than one ring of profiteroles?


Why, two of course.

And what could be better than that?


Cherry cream filling, and chocolate coating ... that's what!

See ... every cloud has a silver lining.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Pancho & Lefty

When I started this blog back in 2009, the kids were aged between five and nine and life certainly seemed to have a chaotic edge to it.  As they've grown and become far more self-reliant, I've often wondered if the name is still apt.  Sometimes I change the header to read "Cattle, Kids & sometimes a little Chaos", "Cattle, Kids & occasional Chaos" or "Cattle, Kids & some Chaos thrown in".  This past week though "Cattle, Kids & a bloody great dose of Chaos" seems to fit perfectly!

I've spent more time at the Hillcrest Hospital than I have at home.


With this team.

A little shed accident left the big fella with severed tendons in two fingers, resulting in surgery and immobilisation of the arm for six weeks. 


Mercy.


Not to be outdone, Sal took a tumble off her pony the day after Matthew got out of hospital, resulting in two broken bones in her right wrist, requiring realignment and plastering.  Six weeks of plaster for her as well.


Neither can cut up their dinner.  Or make a bed.  Some can't even do their strides up.  I can see twenty years of training slipping away before my eyes.

In good news, I'm establishing myself very quickly into the role of 'boss'.  With the three oldest back to school next week, I'll be cracking the whip over these two wingies.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Life Lessons We're Learning as a Family having a Learner Driver in our Midst

When it comes to parenting, the term learning curve is really nowhere near the money. Something more like the 'never-ending, steeply-inclining straight line of learning' would be more apt.  Perhaps with a few spikes thrown in for various milestone events.  And the funny thing is while those kids think they're the ones having to do all the learning, there's just as much education involved for Mums and Dads who are trying to stay one step ahead.

Toilet-training for me proved to be one of the most challenging, god-forsaken, never-ending, frustrating periods of my parenting 'journey' ... sitting on the floor of a cramped toilet, quietly whistling, encouraging someone to go 'wee-wee'; the seven stops on the way to town, crouching beside the tyre of the car because someone in the backseat calls out 'poo' and realises it's a great trick every 20K; leaving trolleys of groceries stranded in Woolies as we beat our way to the parent room with a small child clutching their nether regions.  

But I'm realising that though toilet training proved frustrating, it was at least not life-threatening  ... enter 'L' plates. Sarah obtained her Learner’s Licence at the beginning of the Christmas school holidays.  Though she'd turned 16 several months earlier, a clever combination of being at boarding school and a few sly mama moments meant we’d postponed the inevitable as long as possible.  Forgetting the paperwork, arriving at the Transport Department just as they closed for the day and “losing” her birth certificate could only be stretched so long. 




It’s been an interesting ‘journey’ for all the family, as one learns the road rules, and the rest of us learn incredible patience and facing our fears.


1.       Check your Blind Spots
In life or on the road, obstacles frequently appear out of nowhere.  You can’t always trust your mirrors, keep a good watch over your shoulder. Except when you’re backing.  Then use your mirrors.  Don’t open the door and hang your upper body completely out with one hand on the wheel whilst looking behind.  Just because Pop does, it isn’t the best way.

2.       Come to a complete stop at STOP Signs. 
They’re big, red and say STOP for a reason.  It isn’t a suggestion. It isn’t an opportunity to send a text or check Facebook.  Similarly, when I say “slow down” it isn’t multiple choice.

3.       Eye-rolling can apparently be sensed in the driver seat.
Likewise, sudden intakes or out-takes of breath, gripping the door handle, or trying to apply pressure to a non-present brake pedal can all be perceived by the learner driver as some form of non-confidence in their abilities.

4.       Learn to Change a Tyre and Back a Trailer.
And change the oil.  "It's the life of a motor", unquote Grandad. You’ll thank me later.  And impress a lot of people that can’t.  We travel a lot of roads without a lot of traffic.  Waiting for a gallant gent to arrive to assist in changing a tyre could mean hours lost.  And it would appear to me that many of the young men of your generation may not be of much assistance anyway.  Word of advice to young men … learn to change a tyre, and don’t ever pass a young girl on the side of the road who’s doing the same.  Chivalry is not dead, or at least shouldn’t be.

5.       Not so Funny Now is it when your Siblings decide to Rumble in the Backseat?
Wasn’t so long ago you were one of them, and did little to heed my pleading to please be quiet, you were making it hard to concentrate on the road. What goes around comes around.
  
6.       Don’t ever Run out of Fuel.
Check all your gauges all the time.  There are no excuses.  Know your limits.

7.       Amber Lights Really do mean Prepare to Stop
Despite what your father says. Or does. And though we’ve been known to float through a few reddish-amber lights in the fully-loaded Acco, you’ve no excuse in a new Prado with a sensitive braking system.


I’ve roughly calculated that over the next five years, there will be approximately three months when I’m not sitting in the passenger seat to a Learner driver.

Perhaps toilet training wasn't so bad.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Carefree Summer Days

With the big fella still officially on holidays until next week (though the phone has started to ring again), the tempo of days has been somewhat relaxed.  For me at least.  I've been taking it decidedly easy, even managing to devour three books.  Between dozer work and welding, Matthew's kept himself well occupied and I shall raise my head from the pages when cattle work resumes shortly.


We travelled to Bottle Tree earlier this week, and after much pleading from the girls brought their horses home until next muster.  Unfortunately no rain there from the most recent influence, though cattle are looking well, having gained some ground from rain received before Christmas.  We'll return for a round of branding before the child workforce returns to school.


In terrific news, we received close to five inches of rain over two days early in the week here at home.


Putting grins on all faces.

Horses have since been washed, manes hogged, hooves trimmed, tails tidied.  Kids remain a little scruffy.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Christmas at the Beach

Not immune from Australia's great love affair with the beach, we excitedly traded boots for boardies and headed south to the whale-watching capital of the country over Christmas.


Our plans were somewhat altered when Matthew's Mum had a fall early in the week, seeing her hospitalised for the duration of our stay.  It turned out a blessing that the hospital wasn't far from where we were staying, meaning we could visit daily, and were able to bring her out for Christmas lunch.



As well as the requisite eating, drinking with a little more eating thrown in, we enjoyed some beachside action.









The boys were gifted a day-trip on a fishing charter,


returning with big stories of the ones that got away.

We returned home to only seventeen mm in the rain guage, but wonderful stories of good rain in the north and west, long overdue.  We know our turn isn't far away.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Summer Days


With the older three home from school and the door firmly closed on Sally's school-room for the year, it's time to get down to business.


The three girls and I headed to Bottle Tree to put out the last of the working bulls and dip a few cows.


This sweetheart obviously didn't get the memo that it's been a little dry.



Cattle have picked up remarkably in the past month after close to three inches of rain fell at Bottle Tree.  Unfortunately the heat of recent days is seeing the green turn a little blue, but hopefully more storms are on the way.


Calves are a little later than usual, and branding will wait another month.  We'll be sure to get a round done before our workforce heads back to school.



This pesky beggar was hanging out with the first calf heifers. A long way from purebred, he looked to have a fair dash of kelpie in him.


Jess is enjoying a new young horse.  A half brother to Sally's Chikita, he's a whole lot more life in him than her old steed, who's been retired after many years of faithful service.




Sarah's old spotted horse is also new to the plant, after losing her old black Bob.  He's a bit of an old plugger but is filling a gap until we find something else.



Wallace couldn't join us, he'd been appointed team-leader of Grandad's pre-Christmas crabbing operation.
 
In other exciting news ...


we've a learner driver in our midst.


By my calculations, I'll have L plates on my car for the next six  years.  Should have nerves of steel by 2022!

Thank you all so much for your lovely comments on my return to blogging.  It's a wonderful community that I've missed greatly.

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