I love the farm. The place where my husband grew up. It was his father's home too, and his grandfather's, and his great-grandfather's before that.
'The farm' is a property of about 600 acres located an hour's drive north of Goulburn in the NSW Southern Tablelands (see here). This time of year the mercury bottoms out about zero and doesn't climb above 6 most days (and that's being generous). Of course my favourite place to be while the men are out working is on the tiled hearth, right in front of the wood fireplace.
As you could imagine, the farm is a place steeped in history.
There's Clinton's Mum and Dad's place (a quaint little fibro that's modest but comfortable), his Nanna's old house (built in the early 1900s) and a plethora of old sheds and outbuildings that each have a story in their own right.
They run sheep, mostly, and grow potatoes.
On the farm, it's about as handmade and homegrown as you can get. I've learnt a lot from watching, working with, and listening to my in-laws. It was Margaret who inspired me to buy a Fowler's preserving kit to bottle fruit and vegetables while they were abundant and in season.
She's shared with me her recipes for tomato sauce, relish and chutney - not to mention that famous chocolate slice. Her kitchen is small, but it runs like a well-oiled machine - churning out jams, scones and Christmas dinners for 15+ without a hiccup or a complaint. It's not uncommon to find a roast leg of lamb cooling in the meat safe, out in the walk-in pantry.
This latest visit to the farm was to help out with the annual task of lamb marking - the process of innoculating, ear branding and tail docking the young lambs. It's not a fun job - it's dirty, hard work - but the kids love getting up close to the animals and having a chance to help out their grandparents. This year we were joined by some friends of ours from Port Macquarie, who relished the opportunity to get in there and have a go, and learn something new.
And of course, I must not forget to mention the chickens. Oh, how I wish I could keep some chickens! The girls just love traipsing down to the chookyard with their old tin can filled with grain to feed (and with Nanna's help occasionally hypnotise) the chooks. And for me there's nothing better than those soft little hands cupping a warm, freshly-laid egg.
Yep. I love the farm.