Sunday, August 30, 2015

Easter at Fortuna, Aramac

This year we spent Easter at Fortuna (this is my first chance to post about it!). Kim and I have always loved spending time out there - there's something about heading over the Great Dividing Range that creates a kind of peace for us! The closer we get the more it feels like we are going home. It's weird because neither of us is from the west, but we both feel the same. So many times we talked about selling up and heading out there, and just as many times we talked ourselves out of it! Mostly because of kids and education etc etc....

We arrived on Good Friday and returned back home on Tuesday. So it was a short and sweet visit. We were greeted by the blind kangaroo, who is now 9 years old - she would't have survived in the bush as long as this. Kim's brothers family have been saving animal for years and have roos that come and go, an emu (or two) that come and go and lots of other animals like echidnas and birds!

They have quite a few goats - this is where our nanny herd came from. They are a tough breed and make very good mothers. The dingoes are always a problem and so they come home to be locked in the yards each night.

We drove to Greyrock which I thought was the site of some aboriginal caves, but these are on another property and we'll have to do them on another trip. Greyrock is the site of the 3rd coach stop from Clermont to Aramac. There is one aboriginal carving as well as whiteman graffiti on this huge rock that dates back to the 1800's, and up until recent times. There were a few rocky remnants of the old pub, but nothing else.

Can you see the aboriginal painting in the picture above? There's a man and I think a child beside him. The right hand picture was the oldest date that I could find - 1898.

Then we drove around Horsetailers Gorge, which was where the coach horses were rested and swapped over for the next leg. Apparently there are aboriginal burial caves here, but no one has really explored them. The gorge was a good choice as it only had one way in and out.

Next stop was on the jump up (this is where the range country goes down to the downs country) where there is still visible signs of the stage coach track that was carved into the rock of the ridge.

Our trip back to Fortuna took us past Lake Dunne. This road has many fantastic sculptures.  These are made by a local lady and from a distance look so life like - they are life sized.

Sunset over the downs - looking out from the desert country to the downs. It's a big landscape out there.  What a nice way to finish a lovely few days.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Western Queensland

Kim and I just did a very quick trip out to Aramac. Kim's brother and his family own a property, Fortuna, out there and they are really starting to feel the effects of the drought. Most of western Queensland has been in drought for several years and there are a lot of people doing it very tough, with a lot of cattle being sold or moved off properties.

Fortuna is in what they call Desert Country. Out west, there is desert and then there is the Down's. The downs country is flat, black soil and almost treeless country. In good seasons it's highly productive fattening country and runs sheep as well as cattle. The desert country is tougher and more arid, and is really only suitable for cattle breeding, as it's not the best type of fattening country. However, when a drought hits, it's the desert country that hangs on you will often find graziers moving their cattle from the downs to desert to keep them going.

These photos were taken around the watering point, so there's no grass. There is grass out in the paddocks, but it's getting shorter! These are also younger cows and so they aren't in too bad condition.

There are quite a few people that have taken their cattle and are droving them along the stock route. They will do this until the drought breaks. Life is pretty tough out there at the moment for  a lot of grazing families.

Fortuna isn't too bad, but if they don't get rain this coming wet season, things will be pretty grim for them too.  Unfortunately they are now inundated with kangaroos, as they've moved up from the downs country. They are also having a lot of trouble with dingoes. They too have moved up because there are less roos and cattle on the downs now. The fairly large goat herd on Fortuna has been badly affected by the dingoes, so we brought a load in with us. We brought some young wethers as well as a few older nannies that won't make it through the drought. So our goat herd has grown!

Maitland got some leauceana so that we could give them a nice feed when we unloaded them. Some of our goats were keen to get to it too. Can you see the one on the roof and the other inside the car?

We spent Easter out at Fortuna and I had meant to post a bit of a story about that, so I'll do that in the next couple of days. 

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sunday breakfast

Do you have any Sunday habits? Edmund started a habit of having pancakes for breakfast on a Sunday morning. He seems to be here when I'm not but when I've been here, there has been suttle pressure for me to continue it.

Our pancakes are more like pikelets and we usually serve them with a hot honey and butter sauce. When we have bananas, we have sliced banana, honey and butter sauce and then cream on top. Recently we made a chocolate sauce and have that with crushed nuts. That's pretty good too. I occasionally get inspired and make crepes but they are a little more work.

Tomorrow I'm mixing it up a bit and having crumpets. Sigrun showed me last weekend how easy they are, so I going to have a go. The sourdough mix has been mixed and will hopefully be nice and bubbly by morning. I wasn't sure what to serve them with but I think we can choose from honey, star fruit jam that I made yesterday or some coconut sugar syrup. This is so easy to make and I use it nowadays instead of maple syrup I figure that palm sugar comes from a country closer to us than Canada. You will find the recipe here. This is also really nice withe natural yoghurt. And yes I know it's sugar, but for an irregular thing I reckon it's okay.

What do you have for breakfast on a Sunday?

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Night

Laura and I cooked dinner tonight - Calamari, stir fry vegies and rice. A guy from Cairns (?) comes to Baralaba once a month and his calamari is some of the best I've had for years. For a long time the only calamari I've been able to get, is "squid hoods". This calamari is the real deal, it's frozen, and it's whole squid. Cleaning the squid is so worth it, to get nice calamari. I use a Vietnamese recipe that is just so good. Calamari needs to be marinated before cooking, and then cooking very fast. Tonight we marinated it in ginger, garlic, chilli, sugar (1 tspn) salt (1 tspn) and pepper. Then before cooking, you toss it in flour and then deep fry. I like to use lard (however, my lard is finished and I used macadamia oil tonight). And, sorry, no photo of the food.....I am not a food blogger!

The exciting part about the calamari we got from this fella, is that he's keen to swap meat (pork, beef or goat) for seafood! I love that kind of trading!!! 

So, the take home message from the above discussion, is that cooking with someone else means food that is twice as yummy, and trading home grown food for seafood, is part of the sustainable goal for me!

It's Friday night now and it's been quite a while since I've posted - almost two weeks and wow have they been busy! I've had a weekend at the markets in between and this is my weekend at home.

Last weekend (while in town for the markets) I did a sourdough workshop - an advanced one, learning how to make crumpets, croissants, scrolls and pancakes. It was so good - any time spent with fellow food enthusiasts is always good. And I think we'll have crumpets one day this weekend, they were my favourite I think, although...the scrolls were yummy the next day...and the croissants!!

Yesterday we killed some roosters, which is something we need to do more often. There are ducks still to do and more roosters that we need to catch yet. Our three backpackers were pretty keen to be involved in the process - their keenness may have had something to do with the crowing at 3am!

This chook plucker (below) is an incredible invention - Our kids bought us this - I wonder if you can buy an automatic invisterator! This thing makes plucking a dream, but we are a bit slow doing the rest. 

I like to break up the chickens into the parts (breasts, thighs etc) so that we can do different things with the chicken.I do keep a few whole, because roast chicken is so nice. 

Right now, Kim's watching footy and I'm sitting by the fire. Winter has come back again, so it's nice to have the fire going. I've got a pot of bone broth on it (we have a pot belly stove).  Soup for lunch tomorrow! We have soup about every second day these days. Although we need to eat salad every other day, because I have so much lettuce and rocket in the garden. My garden it delightful lately, but that will be another post, and I'll take some photos as stay tuned.