Australia Day

It was Australia Day yesterday.

Our current “willing workers on organic farms” (WWOOF) visitors were John and Karen from Ireland and Kevin from Korea.

We took them to Goulburn’s celebrations, for activities including an aboriginal smoking ceremony, a sheep-shearing demonstration, vintage cars and a man showing snakes and lizards.

It was the hottest day so far this summer, but we found a breezy spot in the shade for our picnic.

Then we went to the swimming pool, which had free entry for the day.  Crowded, but a nice way to cool down.

In the evening, we collected another wwoofer, Vincent from France.

Do you remember how our cat Brulée had been missing since our christmas holidays away?  She wandered in last night, evidently back from her own summer holidays, after nearly a month.

She’s healthy though down a little in weight.  She won’t leave me alone if I’m in the house.  The other cat, Twurts, was just as surprised.  Cara the dog is unimpressed.

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The Storm

Our friends Jochen and Astridh got married in Perth.  Which of course is so far away that their east-coast friends couldn’t make it.

So on Saturday we decided to have a party for them in Goulburn, on our farm.

We put up our splendid medieval tents, and decorated them accordingly.  All was looking great.

Then the thunderstorm came.  Hailstones the size of marbles, then of golfballs.  There was havoc for ten minutes, then a thick carpet of white hail.

The gutters filled with hail, then overflowed, flooding some of our buildings.  Our fruit trees were shredded, the vegetable garden destroyed.

On the highway, traffic stopped for the duration, doing lots of damage to the cars.  Three police cars were ruined.  On our place, our farm ute vehicle looked … well, how would you tell?

Our lovely tents were thrown down, and the big one has been very seriously damaged, about five metres of torn canvas.

So we moved the party indoors, and had a great time anyway.  We can clean up later.

(The black patch is Yarra.)

Brulée has gone

While we were away after Christmas, our cat Brulée went missing.

Jessica’s dogs were staying at the time, which in Brulée’s mind was a major affront, so maybe she simply left.  Or perhaps she was just hunting mice out in the fields, and found herself competing with a snake that didn’t play fair.  No sign of her at the pound.

Our other cat, Twurtle has lived his whole life with his sister as his best mate.  He is miserable, and spends long hours yowling.  He has at last started to eat a little.

He’s been trying to sleep next to me on our bed.  I don’t mind cats on the end of the bed in the middle of winter, but snuggling up next to you on a summer’s night is just not on!  So Twurts has been repeatedly jet-propelled off the bed, and even dumped outside when he doesn’t get the message.  Which is not to say that we’re unsympathetic — in fact he’s been getting a lot more cuddles.  We hope he settles down soon.

We have a batch of silkie bantam eggs in the incubator right now, and they have been hatching over the past few days.  Tiny little chickens.

Our Canadian wwoofer, Melissa, has left — she’s invited us to Montreal some day.  We have two new Irish wwoofers, Karen and John.

The weather has been warmer, and more humid than we are used to in Goulburn.  Some pleasant evenings, swimming in the dam until the mosquitoes come.

Flooding in Australia

For those who read this blog from overseas, the current flooding is much further north, 1000 km away.

We had our flood some weeks ago, and we are back to small rain showers most days.  New Year’s Day was hot, and we have had a few other warm days, but mostly the skies are overcast and the temperature about 25 degrees Celsius.

We are experiencing a “La Niña” (girl child) weather event, the reverse of the “El Niña” (boy child) event which gave us severe droughts.  These happen from time to time.

No, I don’t think there’s any “Global Warming” involved.  Nor with the snow in the Northern Hemisphere — even George Orwell would be impressed to see that described as Global Warming.

All is well on the farm.  We’ve said goodbye to wwoofer Timo, again!  We still have Alina from Germany.  We have Melissa from Canada, who has been good value during a short stay, and Kevin from Korea joined us this week.

Bill Harry

I was briefly in Melbourne for Friday and Saturday, attending the funeral of my great-uncle, Bill Harry, who died age 94.

Bill was the brother of my father’s mother, and the last of his generation.  I refuse to feel upset when anyone over the age of 80 dies; in his case, I feel privileged to have known a fine man.

The Harrys are my Cornish ancestors, mostly seafarers from St Ives on the north coast of Cornwall.  I imagine them to have been smugglers or pirates at some point!

My Harry ancestors all seem to have had sturdy constitutions, and lived to great ages.  But they seem to fade out in their late 80s, and Bill had some years with advanced dementia.  Which was a sad thing, as he had always been a great fellow to have a chat with.

Bill was a great family historian, and lover of anecdote.  Apparently his grandfather John Harry was a sailor on a ship, captained by his uncle, who landed during the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s.  John deserted the ship, with many others of the sailors, and it seems that his uncle refrained from having him dragged back in chains as a deserter.

John Harry had little luck with mining, then had a fine farm  and the largest Clydesdale stud in Australia, then lost it all in the Great Depression.

Bill himself was a semi-legendary figure.  His funeral program shows a dashing young soldier of World War II, as part of the 2/22 Infantry Battalion.  They had 1300 troops, and found themselves facing a Japanese invasion force of 20,000.  Some surrendered, and were sent away on a Prisoner-of-War ship which was sunk in mysterious circumstances.  Others split up and lived off the jungle until they could escape — and Bill as a kid from the bush was one of these, with excellent survival skills.

Eventually about 400 of them made their way home.  Bill’s battalion mates made it clear that Bill deserves a lot of the credit for those who made it back.

Back in Australia, Bill worked tireless for the survivors of his battalion, and for war veterans generally.  His day job was setting up soldier settlement farms, but he worked on many committees.  Here’s the list from his eulogy, which I think is just remarkable:

Aside from being President and later Secretary of 2/22 Battalion Lark Force Association from the 1950’s until 2002, Bill was:

  1. Honorary Treasurer of the Victorian Returned Servicemans League (RSL) for 39 years,
  2. on the Board of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust which raised the funds and set up the Winston Churchill Scholarship.
  3. on the Salvation Army Executive Committee for over 20 years,
  4. on the Corps of Commissionaires Board of Governors for over 30 years,
  5. a founding member of the Anti-Cancer Appeal,
  6. 26 years as Chairman of the Patriotic Funds Council of Victoria,
  7. a Trustee with the Necropolis Trust for 15 years from 1988.
  8. He was also a Council Member of the Melbourne Lord Mayor’s Fund for Hospitals and Charities for 40 years.

Within the RSL he was

  1. Honarary State Treasurer for 37 years
  2. Treasurer of the War Veterans’ Homes Trust
  3. Treasurer of the RSL Widows and Widowed Mothers’ Trust
  4. Chairman of the Anzac Appeal and Poppy Appeal
  5. a member of the RSL National Finance Committee
  6. he was Chairman of the RSL Cricket Competition (cricket being a great love)

Bill was very much the youngest of his siblings, and married later in life: to Ruth McMasters, a teacher in New Guinea.

His kids Frazer and Rohan were not so much younger than myself or my sister, so they counted as younger cousins and we saw quite a bit of them.  Whenever they arrived, I quickly hid my favourite toys to avoid their destruction!  The family in general felt that Bill and Ruth let the kids run amok.

As I expected, Frazer and Rohan grew up to be confident and capable adults — and it was great to be able to catch up with them again.  Ruth remains a favourite aunt.

I left the farm at 6.30 am on the Friday, driving by myself down the Hume Highway, and only just made the funeral at 2pm — after rear-ending someone in slow traffic just fifteen minutes short of the nominated time.  Guess my concentration must have lapsed.

Thanks to my sister Glyn for putting me up for the night, and we had a very pleasant cafe dinner together.  Then the long trip back.

2010 in review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 6,300 times in 2010. That’s about 15 full 747s.

 

In 2010, there were 66 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 158 posts. There were 145 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 14mb. That’s about 3 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was May 28th with 149 views. The most popular post that day was Wwoofing.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were permaculture.org.au, facebook.com, bushcapital.org.au, timo-australia.blogspot.com, and mail.live.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for cockatrice farm, cockatricefarm, cockatrice, chook dome, and http://www.cockatricefarm.com.au.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Wwoofing January 2010
6 comments

2

About January 2010
1 comment

3

Medieval January 2010
1 comment

4

Getting here January 2010

5

Permaculture January 2010