A Great Big Adventure

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Hello Bloggy friends!

You’ll never guess where I’ve been, never!!

Not Scotland. 😀  (Or those poor chaps in the photo wouldn’t be nearly so sunburned… )

Do you give up?

I’ve been farm sitting.

Yes!  A  Very Brave Person left their farm in the hands of the (completely uninitiated and citified) Bluestocking household.

Here’s what we’ve been doing…

Loving Angus.  Isn’t he beautiful?  He’s a mere youngster yet, and we are all smitten.

Feeding the goats and sheep.  Why was Blossy feeding the goat in her pj’s?  Because it was FIVE am.  (Yawn!)

She just couldn’t wait.

Feeding Cows. Cows, friends, are Very Scary Characters.  I may have mentioned here before that I have uncomfortable feelings about cows.

Geese! I want one. Or maybe two.  Aren’t they pretty?  Heidi, though, (yes!  It was Heidi’s farm, but more on that later) said that perhaps something less noisy would suit our very close neighbours.  But… but… geese are so pretty!  And goslings are very, very special indeed.

And because she is such a thoughtful dear…… Seedlings!

No, we didn’t have to feed them, we planted them in Heidi’s vegetable garden.  😀

Doesn’t that sound delicious, Bloggy friends?  It was.  And there’s more.

We went to a Scottish music festival during our time at Heidi’s farm.  And a great bookstore (joy!).  But even more delightful than either of those was the opportunity of meeting up with a lady from the Aussie homeschool board that I have known on line for years.

I didn’t actually get to meet Heidi, but certainly kept in close communication with her over our stay, as farming is trickier than I thought.

Friends, I may have said it before once or twice, but.. I really, really do have the best bloggy friends in the whole world. 😉

Farming, for the Faint Hearted

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Have I mentioned we live in the city?  Our house is surrounded by established gardens, and by midday is completely shaded.  It’s delightful, but not helpful for budding gardeners who aspire to vegetable patch ownership.

For some time now, we have enjoyed fresh produce from our farming friends.  There’s something exciting about selecting your dinner from the garden, and checking for lady beetles before eating!  What’s even more fun, is when the farmers can be induced to let us play in their dirt. 😀

We’ve long been fascinated with the variety, the sheer weirdness, of seed selection from heritage seed companies.  It’s worth browsing even if  you have no room for a vegetable patch.  We bought several varieties of obscure-sounding goodies, and showed our un-farmer-ish-ness by purchasing something that it is already too hot to plant.  (Ah! We are novices. 🙂 )

Right along with our new experiences of creating a row, and spacing and planting seeds, and watering, we were able to share a new experience with the farmer. Every parent will know what I’m speaking of: that phenomenon of having a lot of little helpers, which somehow makes a job longer and more complex than when you work alone!

We’ve also been watching the progress of several of the farmer’s vegetables.  We didn’t recognise the lettuce when it went to seed, and none of us could guess the identity of a sweet potato plant when we were first introduced to one.

Each week we check on the corn…

This week, we thrilled to see the first little radishes peep through!  Hooray!

Why are we extra excited about the radishes, you ask?  Well!  😀

Have you tried radish chips?  Even the little souls at our house who endure radishes gobbled these up.  They are that good.  So extra delishy scrumptious!

Radish Chips

 

Slice those little balls of fire into thin chips.

Toss around in olive oil.

 

Spread on a baking paper covered tray, and grind a little salt over. Or not.  (But I like to live dangerously 😛 )

 

I used the fan grill function of my oven, and left them for 15 mins.  In a normal hot oven they may take a little longer.

 

And that’s it.  They actually taste nothing like radishes, and it’s hard to say exactly what they do taste like, but friends, if you have radishes available to you, this is a must try.  Seriously.

Stay tuned…  I’m sure I won’t be able to resist showing you the chocolate capsicums, or the rainbow silverbeet, or the purple carrots, or …. (you really should browse the seed site.  It’s fun 😛 )

Thanks for visiting, bloggy friends!

 

 

The Turkeys Arrive!

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poult, baby turkey, chick

Hello everyone!

You’d never guess……I’ve seen (and held) brand new turkey babies!!!  You just can’t imagine how some of the most ungainly looking birds can produce such adorabilly chickies like these.

poult - baby turkey - chicks

I have been waiting and waiting with a degree of anxiety for these babies.  The farmer told us a few weeks ago that they were coming, and apart from my general interest in all things birds, and my particular interest in baby anything, and my especial desire to see baby turkeys (it’s a first for me), my camera is due to go interstate for servicing after it’s rough treatment at the beach recently.  It will be away for perhaps six weeks, and I so didn’t want to miss the turkey babies..and here they are!

poult, baby turkey, chick

Aren’t they darling?  I honestly thought they would be, at the very least, bald or gangly: but they are the softest, sweetest, and not a tiny bit scared of you, little treasures.

little girl holds the chick

We all were allowed to hold one, and they were perfectly content to sit.  They will spend the next three weeks in the farmer’s kitchen under a warm light, as turkey mothers are not the most efficient at raising their babies.

turkey chick poult

After keeping the farmers from their work while we each had a turn of adoring the chicks, we then went to see some lambs that were born last night, and check how much the others had grown.

day old lamb

With the light fast fading, we visited “Miss Piggy”, who has this week had piglets.   She was keeping her babies close by her, inside her shed, but her contemporary (whose name I don’t know – perhaps a more moral “Mrs Piggy”?) was feeding her collection of youngsters.

pig and piglets

It is a very fine thing to have farming friends who are willing to share with you!

City Meets Country

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hen and chicks

I am not cut out to be a farmer; no, no, no (just one, back breaking, limb torturing, skin prickling, day of hay baling made that clear!).  But I do love taking my children each week to spend a day in the country.  It has been a  marvelous source of joy and learning for them as we have visited  a local dairy farm.

a bundle of piglets

‘Our’ farmer is not just a dairy farmer: he has chickens, geese, turkeys, sheep, pigs, and of course…..lots of cows!  So he is what I think of as a picture book farmer. 🙂

children and calves

The farm is run by a father and son.  They have been very generous (and tolerant!) about sharing farming life with us, and have allowed the girls to observe, and even participate in, some of the farming activities.  We have all stood in the way and marveled during milking, and the braver among us have tried our hands at it; we have seen new born baby lambs (twins!), new piglets, and just this week, some dear goslings.

children and farmer with day old lamb

twin black lambs

goslings

I also saw my first ever cock fight: the photos didn’t go so well, but you maybe can see why I couldn’t get the song “Kung Fu Fighting” out of my head for some time afterward…  It was spectacular to watch!

cock fight

On one visit, we were helping feed the cows before milking.  The farmer had promised to show us the creek, but had more work to do first with the cows.  As we were walking out of the feeding shed, he called back that if my girls stayed to help in the next part of the task, he would be finished sooner, and we could all be off to the creek.

My children ran back inside to help, but I stood there in a moment of indecision.  I was holding the baby of the family, and paused to wonder if I should go back and supervise because after all, the farmer perhaps would think the girls more capable than they are (they each look older than their age) and would he be aware of how un-savvy they are about cows?

My pondering was pulled up short when I glanced up and saw a wall of cows descending upon me. The farmer said as casual as you please, as though I was not about to be trampled to death by the closet things to elephants in Australia, that I had better be moving.  Just like that.  “You’d better be moving, because they’re coming”.  The man is the personification of understatement.

To fully appreciate my dilemma, I should explain that it had been bucketing rain for a week.  The farmer has a LOT of cows.  The shed had a dirt floor with a LOT of…well, a lot of cow poo.  Juggling an almost two year is tricky on the best of days.  But to be wearing a pair of little pink thongs and a skirt, and juggling a chubby toddler while you slip and slide through the results of hundreds of cow’s after dinner actions, and there is an electric fence on one side of the narrow space you are attempting to traverse…..and there is a multitudinous assortment of enormous beasts heading straight at you……friends, it will injure my dignity if you try to imagine the scene. It was definitely a farming moment I won’t forget.

Miss 10 found out that baby cows, like baby most things, will chew on anything that comes handy…

calf eating dress

Truly, it has been a most richly rewarding time for our family to share a little of  the daily life on a farm .  If you don’t have a farm close by, you could perhaps register with  farm day, an organization who match up families from the city, with a country family for a day.  Or you may like to try a farm stay for your next holiday.

late afternoon ride

A perfect way to end a perfect day……

School on the Farm

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I love the country! Today we travelled about 30 mins out of the city (if you don’t count the time I spent lost) to visit an historic farm.

Turkeys are quite scary in real life.  We don’t have “thanksgiving” as a holiday in Australia, and turkey is not something that is eaten so often here.  Consequently, this is only the second time I have seen one of the eating kind (we do have scrub turkeys, but they are for decoration only!)

We also met geese, chickens, guinea fowl, peacocks, pigs, goats and a host of other farm type creatures.

All of the children were given the opportunity to milk a cow, under the patient instruction of the farmer.  Some were thrilled with the chance to milk a cow for themselves, others were a little less enthused with the prospect.  That was one longsuffering cow!

The farmer hitched his team of giant horses to an old plow, and demonstrated the art for us.

A farm day in an historical setting allows children who live in the city, to learn about where our food comes from in an authentic way.  Though, possibly the greater value with a trip like this is to grant them experiences which allow them to imagine and dream.

“What if we lived on a farm?”

“I’d have chickens, goats and horses…”

“I’d have a milking cow..”

..and so the conversations go, on the drive home.  A precious day!