I know it has been a long time since I put my fingers on the keyboard to share my thoughts and activities wit the world out there. It has been busy dare I say, or just lazy on my part. But the inspiration did not come at all. The incessant rain, the cold freezing nights did not help or should it have been? I can’t decide at this very moment. My little voice inside says : ‘c’mon you have been lethargic, uninspired and just plain leisurely.’ I will opt for the latter and also for the second one uninspired. Well, what is inspiring now? I truly still can’t say. But here I am. Even if I said above that I was lethargic, that was only regarding the writing. I have not be idle on different levels. The garden as usual has taken its share of pleasure and little work at that time of the year tending to the winter vegetables growing profusely at the moment.

One of the many cabbages

I have also knitted a pullover to take with me on our trip to France. I have knitted also countless hats for friends and at the same time listened to many audio books. Organising accommodation and itineraries for our trip. And it has been also a few weeks of constant socialising. Sometimes I wonder if I am really retired. Like I said to Peter, it is worse than our job in Hong Kong. But in a nicer way really. No demands on my time and deadlines. Yes, I am glad to be off  the vicissitudes of a working life. I guess retiring has it advantages as you choose what you want to achieve, and put your attention where you like. Our new puppy dog  Zaina, now just over a year has also been a handful. Very demanding and we sometimes wonder why on earth we got such a large dog. German Shepherd can be formidably exhausting. Wanting to play and spend her boundless energy teasing us and always on the look out for some sort of mischief. Luckily the cat, Fripouille takes care of that by taunting and goading her to play. The two of them running around the garden like lunatic, he climbs up the highest tree and stares at the dog while she whines and whimpers in frustration. Then, it is another gallop at full speed hiding under the car or on top of it while she is not looking. Maybe tired of having her neck stretched up in the air.  He waits till she gives up, climbs down and starts to all over again. Peter and I are stitches. But that is not all. When the day is over the same scenario repeats up and down the stairs, under the bed, behind the curtains waiting for the dog to appear and then springs in front of her nose pawing her or just crawls under an opening of her belly and grabs her fur. The poor dog has not got a chance in the world with those claws. Exhausted they crashed at the foot of our bed. Not really, because Fripouille chooses the comfort of the plush blanket of our bed and he is higher that Zaina.

Fripouille in all its length
Fripouille in all its length
She stole my chair while I was not looking
Cat on a hot tin roof
Cat on a hot tin roof

Then one day, one of the newly born calves decides to scamper next door and starts bellowing as it can’t get back to its mum. The two of them wails till they are reunited. But in the meantime we are chasing and searching for the calf. Nowhere to be seen. Neighbours on horses and on foot in pursuit of the little one. After a whole afternoon we give up in despair and distressed and leave it to mother nature to take its course. Nevertheless, we know if calves are separated for too long from their mum they can perish. The little blighter was only a few days old.  As one might expects, the next day mother and calf are peacefully side by side. The kind lady Jo, who shares the property with us tells us that she had seen the two together that morning. It was incredible after all the efforts of the day before. The mother cow stands patiently while the young one suckles its heart content no doubt. All our efforts were in vain. That night, we just crashed completely exhausted. So, life goes on with visits from friends, our days volunteering at the gallery, attending the property and the vegetable garden, walking the dogs, feeding the cows and so on. All sounds so trivial, but I can assure you it is far from it as it demands constant devotion and attention. Of course I have not mentioned the marathon cooking, jamming, pickling and cheese making. One thing that we have been experimenting with is our new wood oven.It took a lot of know-how, patience and perseverance to sort out the real temperature and the length of cooking bread in it. The results were worth it but it is so time consuming and frustrating. But the taste of bread cooked in a wood oven is unbeatable in spite of the instability of that mode of operation. We have not given up yet. It will take lots of practice and assiduity to savour a home cooked and home made bread and cooked to perfection.

Home made olives with homemade flat bread
Home made olives with homemade flat bread
Sour dough bread from wood fired oven
Sour dough bread from wood fired ovenYes, that is already a lot.

We are now preparing for our next trip and already the excitation is palpable. France and Thailand here we come. Tho, the readiness is here, there is always the feeling that we are better off in the splendid surroundings of our beautiful farm. I also know that a nice break from it all will be welcomed. So, do I feel guilty for not writing, I must confess …not at all.

Till next time

When it happens it happens!!!

We all say when one thing goes wrong it start to become an avalanche. Well, over the last few weeks the avalanche started to get bigger.

One day we noticed that the bathroom tiled floor erupted in black patches along the grouting.  I used all sorts of products to try to get rid of it but to no avail. after a long examination by my partner, he suggested that  we asked a professional tiler. A young man, who comes and help us around the property on Saturday who is also a tiler during the week had a look and gave us his opinion. The results were that the drain was not properly seal when the tiles were put in place. He crawled under the house to find out that the boards had been slowly getting wetter. My husband decided to crawl himself and took another look and was armed with his camera as well. Well, it was true indeed the floor boards were wet, very wet. What to do? The young lad suggested that we appeal to the tiler who did the job a couple of years back and see if he could do something about it.

So, on the phone my husband  went and spoke at length with him. Of course what did we expect the results would be? Not his fault at all, but it had to do with the plumbing. The young lad, said to us that tilers must by laws give a 10 year guarantee on the jobs that they performed. He had to have a license number and we must have a receipt of his works. We do. Haha! really!  How are you going to convince someone to come and honour their work? But the discussions went on and the tiler promised to come back in 2 weeks to have a look. We are still waiting and in the meantime we have no shower. The other side of this story is that we are in the process of finishing a small sleep out and we bought an outdoor shower that hooks up to a gas cylinder. So, here we go, we hook it up among the bamboos and the bougainvillaea, (very thorny spot) and we go and take our shower among nature. Of course, being summer this is no problems and can be quite enjoyable to shower out. This saga for the time being is far from being resolved as we wait for the original tiler to come and inspect the works and see if he would honour his works. Shall we have faith in human nature or would it be again a case of washing their hands of their responsibilities? That is so often the case. We shall see.

Just before that, a tick killed one of our vealer and we were not here to rescue it. He died a painful death. A few years ago the same thing

New Calfhappened to his mum and we were fortunately around and she was rescued and is kicking strong today. All our cows are very tamed and we do pat them and feed them by hand. This year we had 4 calves and we lost one. The other 3 are all strong and healthy.

New calf

The python has also been around and devoured 5  of our 3 months old chicks. We do share a lot of our life with the native fauna around here. The goannas also help themselves to eggs without counting the natives rats that can’t resist our corns and strawberries as well as their daily tour of the chicken coop to rummage for left over grains. The native galahs swooped in to see if they could scavenge some extra grains from the run, with them they brought the tiny insects called red mites. Red little blighters that suck blood. They did not invade the chickens so much( which is weird)  but seems to have a preference for my husband. And me from time to time.  They even accompanied him in bed. He was moaning from pain of the constant scratching. Waking up all hours to discover patches of bites. So did I. It was becoming a real nightmare. Theses little suckers preferred the warmest part of the body, in the groins, under the armpits, behind the fold of the legs and other places that I leave you to imagine. We tried DM earth, cleaning and other things nothing worked. In the end the radical solution had to be envisaged. The complete clearing out of the coop. All the hay was shovelled out and we dusted the whole area with a sulfur product.( nothing obnoxious)   It worked,  after a few days the population had diminished considerably but not entirely. I repeated the operation twice a week. We showered every time we went to the coop and changed clothes, changed sheet every night, sprayed the bed and sofas with eucalyptus oil solution which I made, took the duvet out in the sun, washed the floors every day, and even washed the dog. Now, the mites have retreated or died. Also the fact that we had 3 months without any rain did not help. Their population exploded, while the mosquitoes died out for a while. Small respite. Who loves to live in the country

Python full of chckens

One day as I was cooking bread, I just put it in the oven, put the timer on (my phone in my pocket) and went out to feed the fish in the pond and a little weeding. Came back when it struck and saw that the oven had stopped working. No more heat and my bread was half cooked. Despair engulfed me. But, not losing my cool, I tried different settings and realised that it was only the fan forced part that was not functioning, I therefore put it on normal oven. But it took twice as long and our dinner bread was late, very late. Another calamity!

IMG_0231My husband and son, managed to dismantle the the back of it to discover indeed that the fan forced was not working. Another job to attend to. Ordering a spare part through the  internet and another day to fitted in. BRRRR! That day, I went ape. Two weeks later, they had decided to dismantle the oven just as I was ready to put another batch of bread. 10 to 15mns they said…Really I thought, hummmm, I did not believe it. The bread kept on rising and was getting flat. I was really worried, then they could not put it back together. By this stage I was fuming . Take a deep breath, calm down, what other tricks are there not to lose one’s cool? I joined in trying to put it back with them, I lost my cool, frustration started to build up…again stay calm, take a deep breath. Then I realised that they were trying to put the racks the wrong way. That little, or not so little episode made me furious. That was 2 hours later. The bread went in late, very late and a friend of ours who was coming for dinner said the bread was really nice. Really! I was not game to tell him the story. But, still spare part for the oven will be ordered and replaced next week… because in the meantime the washing machine also started to pack up.

Next week, I was assured it will be fixed but not while I was trying to cook another batch of bread. So the saga of the washing machine starts. I discovered that it would not spin. Tried all sorts of knobs and combinations to see what was wrong. Nothing came to mind till I saw that the water was not going anywhere at all. Blockage? yes for sure. Lint trap. I tried to take it out and it would not come. My son and my partner( husband of 40 years by the way)  could not move it also after 24 h of struggling. I rang the service department at Asko. No problems they said, a customer service will ring me in 10 to 15 mns. It has been 6 hours! No service person will come to a country area to see what was the problem and fix it. Us in the country are seriously disadvantaged.

My two men struggled 2 hours this morning and managed to get the lint trap out. Lo and behold! what did they find? Money, yes lots of coins. They had been banked…or should I say banked up in there for the last few years. Happy to have fixed the problem, my son said, Gigi, this is how you laundered all the money hey? $20 in coins, there was also foreign coins…The perfect way to do it my husband said. We all had a laugh and a huge sigh of relief. Now, my son said: ” who is going to get it? ” He put them in a bowl of soapy water and counted the loot. Me, said the big bear, no, me said the little bear, no, said the mama bear, I’ll have it all and shout you all a beer!

trying hard to clean the lint trap.

Deep inside

The loot

In the end one has to laugh at it all. Nothing serious really. We all enjoy good health that is the most important, the rest can be taken care of in due course. Yes, problems happen and they are part of living. As we say around here “compost happens”