The Aftermath – so what DID happen to Jaq?

It’s 24 hours later, we’ve had time to figure out just what the hell happened last night. The truth is, we’ll never really know, but this is the favoured theory at the moment;

We think there was a feral cat under the veranda. Jaq got into a frenzy chasing it, it dashed into the shed. Tussle ensued, cat sprayed (hence the vile stench).

Jaq, always an excitable thing when it comes to cats, got so worked up that her body went into overdrive. It wasn’t about the cat anymore, she knew she was in trouble and needed to get inside the house. She couldn’t calm down, she was beyond the point of no return.

Her heart gave out.

That’s our most plausible explanation of why a 4 year old fit and healthy dog would suddenly die without a scratch on her. It explains the banging and barking, the stench, and the lack of physical damage. The vet agrees this is most likely but won’t be definitive without an autopsy, and we’re not going there, it’s done.

Thanks for the messages and phone calls of support, dear friends. We are all fine, sad but moving on. That’s life in the country, they say.


Fireweed and burnin’ shit


I don’t participate much in the physical running of the farm, it frankly doesn’t interest me, but autumn brings what is becoming a family tradition – the picking of the fireweed. Although it looks kind of pretty with it’s bright yellow flowers, fireweed is dangerous for cattle and if left can spread over an entire paddock in a very short space of time. Some of the properties around us haven’t kept on top of it, so it inevitably spreads to us.

So every autumn when the fireweed begins to show, we all head out to the paddocks to fill big hessian bags full of the stuff. Tippi has fun because it feels like picking flowers, and what little girl doesn’t love that. So we walk, and pick and chat in the cool, afternoon sun.

I’ve learned a few things on these fireweed missions:

1. We have paddocks in Australia, not fields. They are never to be referred to as fields.

2. Baby cows are NOT calfies. They are calves. No exceptions.

3. It is apparently not funny or cute to refer to alpacas as llamas, its irritating. Which is funny, don’t you think? Farmer Andy doesn’t seem to think so.  And no, we can’t have one for a pet.

4. Blackberry bushes are also a weed, even if they do make good pies, so they all got ripped out and now I wish we had just one.

5. We also can’t have geese, or a peacock, or goats for pets, although I haven’t given up on some of those yet. Peacocks eat baby snakes. I want a peacock.

6. A heifer is a girl cow, a steer is a boy cow that’s had his privates removed. Actually I’m not sure if I’ve got that right.

At this time of year, there’s massive moths – or are they bats – as big as my hand fluttering at the glass doors at night trying to get in to the light and scare the crap out of me. But at least the snakes have gone to bed for the winter. Although, does the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having mean they might still be up?


And it’s bonfire season. Still, clear nights spent outside in big, warm coats eating sausages in buns, talking shit, burning shit, stars like you’ve never seen them before. Pass me the red, will you?



I Did a Tree-Change But it Didn’t Make me a Gardener

When contemplating a tree-change, images of weekends spent pottering in the garden came to mind. We would eat an abundance of home-grown fresh produce and any excess will be pickled or frozen for use when out of season. We would never shop for fresh produce at Woolies again – on Saturday’s I would frequent the local farmers markets to buy anything we haven’t grown. When visitors came to dinner, everything on the plate would be home-grown, including the meat.

The first two years, I had reasonable success with snow peas and zucchinis.  Tippi would go out to the veggie patch and pick and eat her own crunchy snow peas – I’m a natural! The strawberry plants thrived but didn’t fruit very much, but I was undeterred – they’ll do better next year!

The problem with veggie patches is that they require attention ALL THE BLOODY TIME! Turn your back for a few days and the weeds start to take over, the snails slide on in and the birds have a party. On a fine spring day, I will happily spend an afternoon in the veggie patch clearing, weeding, digging, planting, fertilising, watering. Allen Seale would be proud! (to readers too young to get the reference, he was a gardener on TV in the 80s famous for his whistling lisp)

Then I’m done. Until the next warm spring day that is a) on a weekend and b) on a day that I FEEL like gardening again – that can be weeks for even months later. Damn, stupid veggie patch doesn’t just look after itself. By the time I get back to it, I have to start again. And then the same happens, so I start again. Then the same happens again. And then it’s winter and there’s no bloody way I’m digging around in dirt when it’s 4 degrees outside.

Five years on, that veggie patch and I are still not friends. This year we actually got a few strawberries – all of which my daughter ate – and I have a huge bush of parsley of the old fashioned kind – you know, the curly stuff no one uses anymore – and that’s about it. No snow peas, no zucchini, nothing. Zip.

Wouldn’t you think that the very act of making a tree-change (rather than just talking about it forever) would automatically grant you magical gardening abilities?

It doesn’t. Here is the fruit of my every now and then labours:



There’s actually some tomatoes in there, but they’ve been there for weeks and just stay green.


Oh, and I still haven’t been to a local farmers market. I’m going this weekend I promise! Our guests do eat home-grown beef and lamb, but I can’t take credit for that – that’s Andy’s job.