Some guests

I call Jean my step-mother, but it’s not a great term for somebody who was your father’s partner well after you grew up.  “Close family friend” might be a better phrase.  We catch up when we go to Victoria, every year or so.

We had Jean and her friend Pat visit last weekend.  Jean’s been a follower of this blog for years, and keen to experience life at Cockatrice Farm, so they stayed in our cottage.  We have three wwoofers at the moment (Johanna, Tim, Leon) and they stayed there too.

Jean and Pat did get the whole CF experience — dinner at the Goulburn Club on Friday, a medieval feast on Saturday (at our friend Jane’s new farm), dinner at the wonderful Bank Thai restaurant on Sunday, and a chicken dinner on Monday which was harvested and plucked on the farm.  I suggested that Jan and Pat chop out some tussocks too, but they weren’t so keen; hard to get good wwoofers now.

Jan and Pat did have a good time with our wwoofers, and made them pancakes.  I think the wwoofers were pretty considerate house-mates too; this lot are very easy to have around.

Fortunately we had mostly good weather for the visit.  I took Jean and Pat into Floriade, the spring tulip festival in Canberra.  We also managed some work with the horses.

On the Monday I convinced Pat to help me as typist to transcribe some old court records from 1619, for my family history research.  Arthur Hewet, draper of London, had been languishing in the Fleet Prison for debtors for 10 years.  He had once bought properties in the names of his three sons, as it was otherwise hard to leave anything to younger sons, but now that Dad was languishing “in decaie” in prison they wouldn’t help him out.  Maybe his debts were so big, and Arthur so close to death, that they made a commercial decision to leave him there….

We had a lovely time with our guests, and hope we’ll see them here again before too long.  Particularly if they keep bringing Christmas cake with them.

Jean did remark that the regularity of blog postings has dropped a bit, so I’ve found a couple of old stories which didn’t quite make it to the Web.  And I’ll try to post more regularly now.

The lost post #2

(Written on 2 Oct, but not posted till now sorry.)

It’s really spring now, and we have some wwoofers again.

The garden was a complete mess after winter.  That’s still pretty much the case, but it’s making good progress.

Yesterday was a lovely day and we brought the horses back into work after a break of many months.

Gawaine (the clydesdale) was his usual delightful self.  We think he’s finished growing now, as all the bits are back into proportion, and he’s working really smoothly.  He’s great to ride, but a few inches taller than last year — a big boy, but not too big for riding.

Paulie (standardbred ex-trots-racer) was more co-operative than I expected.  Jan thinks he gets his emotional cues from the rider — which all horses will do, but Paulie seems to respond particularly well to a calm and confident rider.

Doc (thoroughbred brat) was a bit all over the place, and we didn’t ride him.  Jan was keen to give him some time to get his head together.  Usually he’s very good to ride despite being an overly-friendly nuisance the rest of the time.

That’s all the riding horses we have at the moment.  Rocky is now retired — he’s getting a bit old, and he had leg problems the last two years.

The lost post #1

(Written on 18 Sep; sorry not posted till now.)

We’ve just had our first wwoofers for the season, three young German guys.

They were good workers, and we got a lot done in two and a half days — but they’ve found some paid work in Victoria and left this morning.  We’d be happy to have them back in the future.

We’re definitely getting less enquiries than in past years, and the wwoof website is pretty quiet.  Things are obviously tough in Europe, but I’m surprised that hasn’t increased the number of wwoofers in Australia.  Instead of being unemployed at home, a year of adventure in Australia could be a plus.  Unless the families just can’t afford to send the kids overseas any more.

For the last couple of years, the Australian Government has had a rule than anybody wwoofing for three months could get an extra year on their tourist visa.  For us, that meant that suddenly everybody wanted to stay for three months and one day, just in case they wanted to extend their visit.  The ideal visit length at Cockatrice Farm seems to be about 2 months, so in the last few weeks the wwoofers started to get bored.  So that arrangement wasn’t great for us.

The new rules are that wwoofers can still get extended visas, but they have to work 7 hours a day for 5 days and then have 2 days off, still for 3 months.  Which doesn’t suit our farm very well, so we’re not doing that.

It’s not yet the peak wwoofing season, so we may yet get a rush of enquiries.  But it would be handy to have some helpers again soon.