It’s Hard To Blog When You Can’t Find Your Slippers

“It’s easier to put on slippers than to carpet the whole world.” ~ Al Franken

 

The mornings have suddenly turned cold here at the farm.
I’m meditating with a heavy prayer shawl around me for my 4am starts, and choosing to stay sitting up in bed so I can remain cosy.

Normally when my meditation is finished I’d pop out of bed, put my dressing gown and slippers on, go make a cup of tea and sit down at the kitchen table to write in my journal and then blog.

The early morning floorboards are too cold for bare feet. I need my slippers in the cooler months. But do you think I could find them today? I usually leave them under the bed. How odd that they are gone.

I’ve been searching everywhere for my slippers!
I eventually discovered one, tucked under the desk on the front veranda. Only one though.

Rufous the very good dog found the second slipper. He was obviously minding it for me so it wouldn’t run off again.

Good boy, Rufous!

 

Meanwhile, in Dog Land…

Rufous: Hahaha, this slipper is delicious!

Rufous: Why are they calling my name? I am innocent. Well, I will act like I am innocent.

Rufous: Oops… Would you believe I found it here on the couch? Is it yours? 

Sorry, Mum. It’s only just a bit chewed. And soggy. But it’s still good.

 

 

‘Mum’s sleeping!’ by Guest Bloggers Bert & Harry

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“Sleep is the best meditation.”
~ Dalai Lama

Mum’s sleeping.  But she hates to miss posting her blog, so we are writing one for her.  We’ve had enough of napping!

There is a pesky lizard that keeps swimming in our water bowl.  This is a picture of him.

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A naughty bird keeps stealing our biscuits.  Here is the naughty bird…

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It’s raining here and there is mud!  Mud is awesome.  We love mud.

Also running in the rain.

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Now we’re tired and we’d like to get back on the bed with Mum.  But no-one will let us in!  And Harry ate our old bed.  Now we really have problems

Looking after Charlie

Charlie is one of the major loves of my life! We rescued him as a very small pup, and he has been an important part of our family ever since.

I hadn’t intended to get a dog… A friend from the country, who breeds working dogs, had phoned me to say that he was giving away pups. His children had left his breeding boxes open and instead of pure-bred kelpies and cattle dogs, he had a mixture of each. He even had some kelpie-labrador crosses, and that was what I had my heart set on.  But when I got to Benson’s to view the puppies, one fat little bundle of fluff came and sat squarely on the toe of my boot and pawed my leg.

It was love at first sight, and that’s how I ended up with Charlie, a kelpie-blue heeler cross.

When we bought our first cattle property, my grandfather, the son of a drover, suggested that we call our place ‘Charlie’s Run’. Back in the day a farm was often called a run, but this time we would name it not after ourselves, but after our dog. My grandfather thought this was an excellent plan, and so did we.

Charlie, on his farm

Charlie has had an outstanding record as a working dog, and as our friend. He’s travelled across the country with us, sleeping out under the stars as we’ve explored Australia, protecting our valuables, and keeping us company. Not only has he been a great help on the farm; mustering the herd, working the cattle yards, guarding things in the back of the truck when we’ve gone to town – he’s also kept us safe.

He intervened between a wild cow and Ben, saving Ben’s life and getting a broken jaw in the process. He stopped me from stepping on a deadly brown snake, and he has saved Bert, our youngest dog (countless times), from acts of puppy insanity such as wanting to bite the chainsaw or the whippersnipper.

The boys – Charlie all wise and sensible, Bert an insane but totally lovable pup!

He has also been unceasingly protective of me. Whenever Ben has been away, Charlie will position himself between me and anyone who comes to the door. He always lets them know that he’s on duty, looking after me. Whenever one of us has been sick, or down, he’s been right there at our side like a shadow, comforting us with his presence, always knowing how much or how little to intervene.

He’s taught Bert how to work the yards, and taken our mad puppy (also a rescue dog – you can read Bert’s story here) from a place of crazyness to a place where Bert can now do most of what Charlie did before, while Charlie sits and watches from under a tree, keeping me company.

Even now, he’s sitting at my feet as I write this.

But now it’s our turn to look after him. Charlie’s getting old. He’s sixteen, seventeen on the fourth of July. And a few weeks ago he had surgery to remove a very aggressive cancer that had manifested as an ugly and fast-growing tumour in his soft-palate. You could tell by the look on the vet’s face, even as he was trying to give us an up-side, just how bad the news really was.

We were all amazed at how Charlie bounced back from the extensive surgery. He’s got a gleam in his eye and a wag in his tail. And we’ve been spoiling him even more than usual.

We all know we’re on borrowed time now. I’m sure he does too.

And we won’t let him suffer. No living in pain for him, no indignities. Hard as it will be, when the time comes, we will look after him, the way he’s always looked after us.

Resting, after a big run around the new farm.

There is something so pure about the love of a dog, their joy in living, their devotion and loyalty. My life has been all the richer for knowing Charlie, and as heartbreaking as it will be when his time comes, it also helps me see the cycle of life, and remember that everything is okay.

Today, I’m looking after my dog. He’s been a bit wobbly on his feet the last week or so – a tumour on his spine it seems. He’s injured his paw, stumbling a night ago and ripping one of his hind claws almost off, necessitating a dash to the vet, where we sedated him and pulled off the whole nail. Charlie’s home now, with a pink bandage on his foot, and my unceasing attention. He’s been ordered to rest for a few days. No outdoors, no running around.

I’ve been delivering Charlie’s medicine by hiding the capsules in freshly peeled prawns. Why not? He deserves them, and they are his total favourite.

My old dog looks at me with a twinkle in his eye. He’s not silly – he knows he’s on a good thing. Ben and Bert have gone back to the farm to muster and attend to the never-ending string of jobs. While Charlie and I are cosied up together on the lounge, looking forward to prawns and tasty treats in the nice warm house, down at the farm they’ll be out in the frosty dawn, tramping through wet paddocks getting cold and muddy, and living on bachelor cooking.

It is my honour to look after such a faithful friend. He has a special place in my heart, and I’m glad to have him just a little while longer so I can feed him prawns, give him hugs and pats and make sure he knows how much I really love him. ♥♥♥

Easy Baked Custard Recipe AND a Free Kitten!

Today an old family recipe worth cherishing, and the latest instalment on life at my farm.

This baked custard recipe was my grandmother’s, although my grandfather liked to boast that he perfected it! It always reminds me of the love and care he had for my grandmother – he was never a man to be in the kitchen but as my grandmother’s eyesight failed and her health deteriorated he would cook this custard for her every week. And I have to admit he did a fine job of it too.

So what’s with the free kitten? I have some in my possession. I’ve been nursing them since yesterday when my husband found them, abandoned by their young feral mother in an overturned cattle trough down by the shed.

So on this frosty farm morning I find myself nursing four tiny feral, hissy-spittie kitties.

Later today I will take them to a cat shelter, not far from here, and kind foster mothers will nurse the kittens until they are old enough to live in the shelter, and be adopted out as rescue pets.

We have a box in the shed with emergency mothering supplies.  There is calf formula for baby cows (works on puppies and kittens in a pinch too if watered down), bird mix for baby birds, bird mix for injured adult birds, a mix for wallabies and kangaroos, wombat mix (only ever used that once but the tin is good for two more years!) and an assortment of bottles, droppers, gloves and sacks (for wrapping babies in). Who said I am no soft touch?

This baked custard is equally good for mothering – other people or yourself.  It is warm, rich in protein, and easy to eat and digest.  True comfort food with its silky texture and gentle flavours. I would have eaten some for breakfast, but somehow in the middle of the night the remainder has disappeared.  Those kittens must be able to raid the fridge!

Easy Baked Custard Recipe

Ingredients: 4 eggs, 2 and 1/2 cups milk, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, butter for greasing dish, nutmeg.  (If you need this recipe to be sugar free it works just fine with an equivalent amount of natural sugar substitute – I use Natvia and it tastes brilliant!)

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 130c (250f or slow oven)  if fanforced or 150c (300f – and still slowish oven)  if not.
  2. Grease a four cup capacity dish, and find a baking tray large enough for it to sit within.
  3. Beat eggs and sugar together with a whisk or fork until sugar is dissolved.  Add milk and vanilla and mix through.
  4. Pour mixture into the greased dish.
  5. Grate or sprinkle nutmeg over the top of the custard. (I am a firm lover of fresh nutmeg – once you’ve tried it you’ll never go back to the packaged stuff!)
  6. Fill baking tray with cold water so that it comes halfway up the side of the custard dish.
  7. Place carefully into oven and bake for 40 to 60 minutes or until set.  Custard will be firm under your touch, although it may still be a bit wobbly in the middle.  It will firm more as it cools.

Note: Oven temperatures vary widely. You need to cook this slowly to be rewarded with a thick, well set dish. If it is cooked at too high a temperature you will have lots of bubbles in your custard and a lot of whey (clearish looking fluid). Unless you have used low temperatures in your oven before, you need to check your custard after thirty minutes. After thirty minutes, if the custard has not picked up some colour and begun to set, your oven is too slow and you will need to adjust the temperature up a little. When I cook this at my farm in my Falcon Oven which is fan-forced electric, it takes 40 minutes to bake my custard. When I cook this dish in the city, my old gas oven takes 60 minutes.

Serve warm or cold.  Goes very well with stewed fruits, baked apples and pastries. I am reliably informed that it is also tasty with jelly. Warning – may be stolen by kittens!

Custard going into the oven in its water bath

Bert – totally perplexed by the hissing box just out of his reach (for his safety – not the kittens!)

Charlie took advantage of the early morning kitten action by putting himself back to bed – in my bed!