Owen is now 14

My son Owen has just turned 14.
As they say, it’s not long since I was changing his nappies.  He was a real brat at nine years old, and in the last year he’s become a fairly impressive young man.
Lately, I’ve often had him working with our wwoofers, partly for some extra manpower and partly because our wwoofers are generally fine young people who set a great example.  He’s made a valuable contribution to some of the projects at the Goulburn Club, for instance.
Owen has joined the Air Force Cadets, and very much looks the part.  He had an induction camp a few weeks ago, had a great time and fitted right in.
For his birthday, he brought 6 mates out to the farm for a camping weekend.  They cooked some of their own food, and ran through some complicated Nerf-gun scenarios.  One of them by moonlight.  Owen had somehow wangled some night-vision goggles, so I think he had an unfair advantage in that one.
The plan for the big dinner was to kill a goose and some chickens and cook them over the spit.  As it turned out, the Saturday turned suddenly cold, so Allison decided to do chicken burgers for them, inside the house, instead.  And birthday cake with icecream — so much for military rations!  Then they got to watch a horror movie, and sleep in front of the wood fire.  Roughing it NOT.
So the goose lives on.  We had in mind one that the wwoofers called “Thid”, after the Ice Age sloth.  Thid is a runt or failed goose, or possibly a duck/goose hybrid.  Who seems to be blind.  His goose siblings wouldn’t have him, so he lives with the ducks.  We feel a bit mean about intending to eat him, but we certainly don’t want to breed from him.  There is a farm logic that we have to follow here.  I expect he will be tasty when the time comes.
Speaking of farm livestock, I should report that we have no beef cattle right now.  Our pure highland-cattle mother Heather (named after my friend we bought her from, not my past stepmother) got caught and damaged in a fence, and had to be put down.  Tasty the calf was due to be eaten then, and we decided to do his half-hereford big sister too.  And quite delicious they have been too.  Only we’ve eaten far too much of the delectable stewing steaks, and not enough of that boring old rump steak and t-bones.
I’m banned from having any more beef cattle until we fix up our fences.  Some were never repaired after the 1984 bushfire, and are now only a voluntary boundary to our livestock.  Hopefully, sometime this year I’ll get the materials and a good wwoofer crew and we’ll do something about all that.

The episodes you’ve missed

I used to blog weekly, and those days are long gone.  Then we were doing everything for the first time, and there were lots of stories to tell.
These days, the seasons roll on and we face much the same opportunities and challenges each time.  Sometimes we’re more successful, sometimes less.  We kind of know what we’re doing now, which is not always a good thing.
Life has become a little more difficult lately.  Government cutbacks mean that my own work comes in short spurts; which gives me time off in-between, but I spend that time applying for new contracts.  We have to be careful with our expenditure.
Allison’s specialised work (training internet trainers) came to an end last year, and her lovely break has turned into an extended period without work.  Partly personal and family circumstances, partly fewer opportunities to go for.
Life has still been interesting and often rewarding, but the outcomes are not as colourful as in the past.
I mentioned here that I became President of the Goulburn Club in November.  It has taken a lot of work, which for the most part has been fun.  We’ve turned the Club from a break-even proposition into quite a profitable venture, and now we’re tackling decades of maintenance backlog.  But it doesn’t make good blog copy.
I’ll specifically mention that we (myself, Allison, Owen, and a variety of wwoofers) restored and painted the ornate plasterwork in the Club’s ballroom — it took weeks of work.  And now looks fabulous.  We’re just finishing repairing and repainting the nearly derelict squash court at the back of the Club, which has become one of the Club’s main earners.
I spent weeks going through dusty old boxes in the Club’s old cellar, and put together a sizzling history of the Club for Goulburn’s 150th birthday as a city.  That’s actually a good story, and I should really write up a separate blog post on it.
Our medieval activities have been quieter, though we did have a fabulous Rowany Festival over Easter.  We now have some enthusiastic new members and a big list of new SCA projects.  Matt (aforementioned enthusiastic newbie) is going to keep us on track with these.  He and I have both promised to get our ancient and lumbering frames back into armour, to have another go at getting SCA fighting happening again locally, come Spring.
We did do some good work with the horses last Spring, but not so much lately.  It depends on the wwoofers we have at the time.  Domino (antisocial mother of Gawain my cuddly Clydesdale riding horse) is pregnant and expecting around Christmas Day.
We’ve had some gorgeous wwoofers lately, including belgians Tim and Shanna along with brits Toby and Abbie.  And we’ll never forget Danny, and eight foot tall (so it seemed) yankee who made a wallaby-skin man-thong and wore that (and only that) at every conceivable opportunity.  For this crew, I dug out my old Dungeons and Dragons books and they disappointed some gnomes and dashed the wicked plans of the wizard Carrion.
More recently we had Raja and Luisa from Germany and Dominick from Switzerland, who strove to turn our somewhat neglected farm into something a bit tidier.
Summer was a hot one, after two cool years.  Autumn has been just stunning, and it’s just now starting to get a little chilly in the mornings.  And again the seasons turn and Winter is Coming — oh, I put a lot of time into reading Game of Thrones, which was well worth doing despite the sheer complexity of the plot and the inevitable messy demise of all my favourite characters.
I’ll try to keep the ravens coming a bit more regularly.