With life on the farm running reasonable smoothly, we were able to take a long holiday to visit family and friends in the UK & Europe, take time to do some sightseeing and attend the celebrations marking the founding of the boarding school “Rannoch” 60 years ago where Ken was amongst those first pupils.
Having found a retired couple who were happy to “farm sit”, we departed Perth on the direct flight to London in early August. It was an amazing holiday and we arrived back at Marribrook in mid October with many happy memories, lots of souvenirs and several thousand photographs.
When explaining about our life on the farm, it was sometimes hard for people to grasp the concept of being reasonably self sufficient (meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables) with no mains electricity, water and gas, no rubbish collection or mail delivery, having no mobile phone coverage and being 17 km from the nearest settlement. Maps and photos helped, but we soon realised that the things that we accept as part of Australian rural life are far from normal in urbanised Britain. Some pictured us with lamps and candles, not realising that solar systems can be designed to run a household. However, one of the most common questions was answered with “Yes sometimes we do have kangaroos in the paddocks .”
Ian and Jullian had done a great job looking after everything and have said that they would be happy to return for another stay. Ella was overjoyed to see us again, though she has been a little suspicious of any recent visitors we have had, in case we are going to leave her again.
The winter rains were below average but with warm sunny spells, the grass continued to grow, so on our return there was still plenty of feed in the paddocks. Only now is it starting to dry off. However the weeds had grown well in our absence, therefore the vegie garden needed plenty of attention so that summer planting could begin. Fruit had set on the plum and peach trees as well as the smallest of the cherry trees, so all have been netted to keep out the birds. Currently we are enjoying a few strawberries and youngberries. The ornamental trees we planted are now growing well and hopefully will grow strongly.
The sheep have been sorted and the surpus ewes and lambs sent off to the Katanning saleyards where they made a respectable price. We have picked out a new Wiltipoll ram and will collect him shortly, after having first drenched the ewe flock for intestinal parasites. Being a young ram, we hope he can look after our 46 ladies successfully.
Meanwhile our herd of cattle has increased, with Trudy giving birth to Midnight and Hilda producing Captain Scarlet. Pauline is due any day, so we look forward to having 3 frolicking calves in the paddock, though there will be some bellowing soon when we wean MissT and put her with the other youngsters.