Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Daniel is 21!!!

Daniel turned 21 on Monday - I really can't believe it!! We had a small family BBQ with his grandparents on Monday night after a day of waterskiing. We are planning a 21st birthday party hopefully in February once we get the pool paved and fenced and a deck built.

Daniel and Ange.

Christmas Day

Here is the aftermath of present opening Christmas morning!

We gave Daniel and his girlfriend Ange, tickets to the AC/DC concert in Melbourne in February - he was impressed!

Ryan received a helmet for jump waterskiing, a DVD and some loud pyjamas - impressed with the helmet, not so much the pj's!

We gave Emma a new ipod after she lost hers at school during the year, the DVD to the P!nk concert we went to in August and some makeup now that she's 13.
Farmer Phil gave me 2 tickets to see Mamma Mia the Musical in Melbourne in March. Can't wait to see it as I loved the movie.

Christmas Preparations!

Normally I'm very organised for Christmas but this year with harvest interrupting proceedings, I was very unorganised!! I usually have all the presents sorted at the beginning of December, but this year I was still shopping 2 days before Christmas Day. It all came together in the end, but next year I vow to be organised early!!

Emma sang with her girls choir on 23rd December in an outdoor Christmas concert. As you can imagine, 8 teenage girls sound very angelic!

Harvest 2009 Wrap Up

After 6 long weeks our 2009 harvest finally finished about 10 days before Christmas.

In my previous post I said that I was to drive the tractor and chaser bin for the duration - well, plans changed when the header driver we organised had to cancel due to poor health. That left us in a bit of a pickle, so it was decided that I would learn to drive the header. I was a bit daunted to start with but once I got the hang of the 36ft front, I did okay!

We were stopped a couple of times due to high temperatures and wind which makes it too dangerous to continue harvesting because of the fire danger it causes. We also had a few days of wet weather which was really annoying, as Farmer Phil and I just wanted to get harvest finished and forgotten as it was another very poor year regarding lack of rainfall and well below average yields for the crops.

All we can do now is forget 2009 and look forward to a much better and wetter 2010!!!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Emma as the "keen cat".

The fearless sparrow, the wise dog and the keen cat.

At the weekend Emma was involved in a Children's Operatic Workshop at Morundah which was run by Richard Gill OAM who is the Musical Director of Victoria Opera. They learned and staged a performance of Brundibar after the 2 day workshop. The children were allowed to use their scripts for prompts because this play is normally learnt in a 10 day session! Emma played the part of the "keen cat". Richard did a wonderful job with the children.

One original participant of Brundibar was quoted "when we sang we forgot where we were and forgot how hungry we were".

Krasa and Hoffmeister wrote the opera in 1938 for a government competition, but the competition was later cancelled due to political developments. Rehearsals started in 1941 at the Jewish orphanage in Prague, which served as a temporary educational facility for children separated from their parents by the war. In the winter of 1942 the opera was first performed at the orphanage: by this time, composer Krasa and set designer Frantisek Zelenka had already been transported to Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia. By July 1943, nearly all of the children of the original chorus and the orphanage staff had also been transported to Theresienstadt. Only the librettist Hoffmeister was fortunate to escape Prague in time.

Reunited with the cast in Theresienstadt, Krasa reconstructed the full score of the opera, based on memory and the partial piano score that remained in his hands, adapting it to suit the musical instruments available in the camp: flute, clarinet, guitar, accordion, piano, percussion, four violins, a cello and a double bass. A set was once again designed by Frantisek Zelenka, former stage manger at the Czech National Theatre: several flats were painted as a background, in the foreground was a fence with drawings of the cat, dog and lark and holes for the singers to insert their head in place of the animals' heads. On 23 September 1942, Brundibar premiered in Theresienstadt. The production was directed by Zelenka and choreographed by Camilla Rosenbaum, and was shown 55 times in the following year.

A special performance of Brundibar was staged in 1944 for representatives of the Red Cross who came to inspect living conditions in the camp; what the Red Cross did not know at the time was that much of what they saw during their visit was a show, and that one of the reasons the Theresienstadt camp seemed comfortable was that many of the residents had been deported to Auschwitz in order to reduce crowding during their visit. Later that year this Brundibar performance was filmed for a Nazi propaganda film. The Brundibar footage from this film is included in the Emmy-Award winning documentary "Voices of the Children" directed by Zuzana Justman, a Terezin survivor, who sang in the chorus. Ela Weissberger who played the part of the cat, appears in the film.

Most of the participants in the Theresienstadt production, including the composer Krasa, were later exterminated in Auschwitz.

The plot of the opera shares elements with fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretel and The Town Musicians of Bremen. Annette and Little Joe are a fatherless sister and brother. Their mother is ill, and the doctor tells them she needs milk to recover. But they have no money. They decide to sing in the marketplace to raise the needed money. But the evil organ grinder Brundibar (who represents Hitler) chases them away. However, with the help of a fearless sparrow, keen cat, and a wise dog, and the children of the town, they are able to chase Brundibar away, and sing in the market square.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Harvest 2009

Yes, harvest has finally started for us. The canola has been windrowed for more than 10 days, so it's just right for harvesting now. So far the yields haven't been anything startling, but we'll wait and see how they go as we progress. We're not expecting a great harvest after the low rainfall figures for the year.
This photo shows the windrow of canola being fed into the header. I learned to drive the header this afternoon. I've never had a go before and as Farmer Phil drives the semi trailer, I volunteered to drive the header. We've got a man coming next week to take over when we start the cereal crops, but I'm happy to plod along in the canola. I'll then drive the tractor and chaser bin for the rest of harvest which should take 4-5 weeks.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Our Day With Sam and Jenny Bailey

Wow, what a whirlwind week we had last week which culminated in over 350 people crammed into our little hall to listen to Sam and Jenny Bailey tell their story. We had a huge response to the night with people coming from miles around to listen. There were many comments at the end of the night that we need to do it all again next year!!

We asked Scott Reardon to speak to the crowd about his latest water skiing achievement of becoming the World Overall Disabled Water Ski Champion after the World Championships held in France in September this year. Scott has overcome great adversity just like Sam after losing his right leg in a farm accident when he was only 12 years old. Scott is now focusing on an athletics career and is training hard with the ambition of becoming a member of the Australian Paralympic team for London 2012. He is a very determined and talented young man and we wish him all the best for his future.

Sam had us all enthralled as he told his story from his childhood raised on a family farm, to his jackarooing experiences in the NT, to his tragic accident which left him a quadriplegic, to his long rehab in hospital and then back home with his parents, to learning how to farm from a wheelchair, to finding and falling in love with Jenny, to his remarkable life of travelling and speaking now. He truly is an inspiration! We certainly have nothing to complain about!!!

Jenny spoke about how her relationship started with Sam and how much she enjoys her life now even though it's not quite what she'd envisaged for herself.

I had to make a speech as I was the person who thought of bringing Sam and Jenny to speak at a community event for our little town. All the other Ag n Chat ladies were on stage with me for moral support as I was shaking like a leaf reading my speech!!

Sam and Jenny posed for a photo with us Ag n Chat ladies when the night was over. It was a huge relief for us when the night was declared a huge success.

Sam spoke to the school students from the 4 small schools in our Shire. He donated a signed copy of his book "Head Over Heels" to each school library.

Farmer Phil and I took Sam and Jenny to Yanco Ag High School where Ryan and Emma are students, to speak there. Most of the school population are kids who have grown up on farms and have a rural background. Sam's message about wearing a seat belt and not speeding really made an impact on these kids. He even suggested writing the letter "C" for consequences and "SAM" underneath on the windscreens of their vehicles to emphasise seat belt wearing and not speeding as the consequences of both can be significant on the rest of your life.

Jenny is a tiny little pocket rocket and amazing woman. She and Sam have a wonderful partnership and relationship which was lovely for the kids to see. Sam said he wouldn't change anything about his life because he reckons he's got the best life of anyone ever!!

Yanco Ag had to host Sam and Jenny in the dining hall as the regular hall was being used to hold the HSC examinations. Sam asked 4 boys to lift him and his wheelchair up onto a table so that he could see all the students. Many questions were asked by the students after Sam spoke so it was great to know that the kids had really listened to his story and message.

Sam and Jenny also donated a copy of his book to the library and the newly elected prefects for 2010 posed for a photo opportunity.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ag N Chat @ Horse Stud

This month's Ag n Chat topic was a visit to a thoroughbred horse stud - Kooringal Stud which is about 20km north east of Wagga.

I don't know the front end from the back end of a horse but hearing about how a horse stud operates was fascinating. Stuart and Penny were exceptional hosts and were very passionate about their family-run business.

We all learnt a lot and had a lovely morning tea in Penny's magnificent garden.

Jacqui using the "control-a-foal" harness which makes handling foals much easier and safer for the handlers while the very relaxed mare looks on.

Stuart's family have lived in this house for 99 years and the wisteria over the pergola is 99 years old as well. It's trunk was massive but the bush was still very healthy and alive.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Surprise Visit

Daniel and Ange blew in on Sunday morning for a surprise visit after spending the night in Wagga. They came over for the Wagga Ag Races to celebrate their friend Trent's 21st birthday.
We had a Fire Brigade BBQ lunch at the shed for a presentation of long service and appreciation awards so Ryan, Emma, Ange and Daniel begrudgingly posed for a photo!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

School Reunion

Last Saturday night I had a school reunion. It was 25 years since we were in Year 10, or 23 years since Year 12 for most of us at Kooringal High School together. It was the first reunion I had been to and it was very odd seeing everyone as 40 year olds!! Some of us held our age well, while others hadn't been so lucky!! It was great to catch up with friends I hadn't seen for quite some time even though we communicate through email and Facebook.
Here I am on the left with Yvette, Kelly, Jo, Jacqui and Karen.

Ski School

Last week Farmer Phil, Ryan, Emma and I spent a week at Colombo Creek Ski School. It was for a Junior Training Camp so that the kids experience some expert tuition in slalom and trick skiing before the beginning of the tournament season. Farmer Phil was a boat driver for the week and I was the camp cook. There were 16 kids and 10 adults for the week.

The kids have a great time and all get on really well together. The adults have an equally good time with lots of laughs, drinks and sitting around the fire at night when the kids have gone to bed!

The main thing is for the kids to improve their skiing and Ryan and Emma certainly did that.

Tanika, Deanna, Emma, Luke and Ryan sitting around the fire bucket warming up after their sets.

Sue who helped me with the cooking, Farmer Phil on a boat driving break and Jono having a break from trick coaching.

Ryan's style in the Slalom Shoot Out competition.

Emma in the Slalom Shoot Out.

Colombo's Got Talent with the older girls performing an act - Jenna, Tanika, Hannah, Jayme and Deanna.

Jayme, Leah, Tahner, Sierra and Emma singing.

Jayme, Ryan, Blake and Brittany watching the show.

The winner of the Slalom Shoot Out was Luke in the middle with Deanna coming second. Ryan on the right won the Most Improved Skier Award.

The kids, coaches and boat drivers on the dock for the last day of skiing.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Dust Storm

We had a huge dust storm last night which was mixed with some rain which left our house and vehicles in a huge mess. Here are a few photo's. I don't know when I'll get to cleaning everything up because we'll probably get another dust storm in the next few days!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Sam Bailey Visit

For the past 12 months or so I've been wanting our small community to host an event for the wider community to come together for a night of fun and laughter, and to forget about the farm/drought for a while and just have an enjoyable, cheap night out with the whole family.

About 2 months ago I thought of an idea and put it to our Ag n Chat ladies at a meeting that I hosted in August. I suggested that we bring Sam and Jenny Bailey to speak at a community function. The idea was met with great enthusiasm, so with the help of a couple of ladies we're in the process of organising Sam's visit to us in October.

For those who've never heard of Sam and Jenny, here is a concise version of their incredible story from Sam's website:

Sam suffered a spinal injury in a car accident when jackarooing in the Northern Territory at 19 years of age, leaving his a C6/C7 quadriplegic. Against the odds, he returned to the family farm and fulfilled his lifelong dream of becoming a farmer. In 1999 Sam married ABC Radio Rural Reporter, Jenny Black, after proposing to her "live" on ABC Regional Radio. At the time Jenny had spent 17 years as a newspaper and radio journalist. She now helps Sam run their Croppa Creek farm, speaks with him and together they're about to start writing his next book. They appeared in February 2000 on ABC Television's "Australian Story" and their book "Head Over Heals" was published by ABC Books in 2006.

I had seen Sam and Jenny's story on ABC's Australian Story and then I'd read their book and thought what a wonderfully inspirational couple they are. The night is being fully sponsored by local businesses and sporting clubs in our community so that everyone in our area has an opportunity to attend. I received this letter included with a sponsorship cheque, and wanted to share it with you:

"Having viewed the documentary on Australian Story and read their book, it is impossible not to admire this couple. Not only have they achieved amazing feats individually and together, when dealing with their own problems, Sam has reached out and offered an incredible amount of support to others coping with some of the devastating challenged life deals out. A truly remarkable couple who are well qualified to inspire others!"

We're all very excited about the event and can't wait for the date to arrive!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Henty Machinery Field Days

Farmer Phil, Ryan, Emma and Ryan's mate Mitchell went to the Henty Machinery Field Days yesterday. HMFD is a huge agricultural field day held at Henty, NSW during the third week of September every year. It's been happening since 1963 and is renowned in Australia as one of he best field days for farmers.

I forgot to take me camera so here are a couple of photo's from the website.

Here are just a few of the many brochures collected during the day - new car, new ride-on lawn mower, chaser bin, boom spray, spray nozzles, motorbikes etc, etc.

HMFD has a great ladies section which is filled with gorgeous clothes, jewellery, beauty products, and garden essentials. Here are my purchases for the day - a new pair of Sloggers gardening clogs, first aid kit for the boat, super-duper easy head for the whipper snipper, super-duper stain remover (yes, I got sucked in after watching a demonstration!), wire bird wreath and the essential variety of fudges.