Whale Migration and Seismic Testing

Seismic testing has been given the go ahead along Newcastle’s coastline. It involves sending repetitive sonic blasts into the ocean floor to identify natural gas deposits, which in turn has the potential to effect everything pretty much everything through the marine life chain.

These pictures are from last weekends protest rally here in Newcastle, NSW, where it seems  someone forgot to ask the community if they actually wanted a potential offshore gas field along their beautiful coastline. The testing also coincides with annual whale migration, meaning both testing and consequences of potentially having an offshore oil or gas field surely need to be seriously reconsidered.

Further reading can be found here.

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Seven kinds of lovely

Hunter Valley 6 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 5 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 1 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 3 || cityhippyfarmgirl

Hunter Valley 2 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 7 || cityhippyfarmgirlHunter Valley 4 || cityhippyfarmgirl

It doesn’t happen often, so when it does, it’s lovely… Seven kinds of lovely.

Lovely big quiet spaces to explore

Lovely log fires to practise fire making skills

Lovely misty mornings

Lovely smokin’ hot tea

Lovely little towns to walk to for coffee

Lovely visiting dogs

Lovely little family break.

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Hope your tea is hot and your toes are warm this week people.

Also, thank you so much to all the lovely kind people who dropped in and said hello in my last past. It was really wonderful seeing all the comments trickle in from long term commenters, to people who had often lurked in the shadows and commented before. Thank you!

 

Little Black Cow Farm

cityhippyfarmgirl

There was a long sigh of utter contentment, leaning against the fence watching the sun come up. The kids were back at the house watching cartoons, and the smallest and her dad were snoring still in bed.

I’d set the eldest two up and then had quietly slipped out of the house. There was a sunrise to be had over those paddocks and I wasn’t about to miss it.

Staying at Little Black Cow Farm stay had been on the agenda for longer than I could remember. I’d often read Kim’s blog and wistfully planned long weekends away. Finally, after a generous invitation, I actually did.

Little Black Cow Farm stay is a 300 acre working beef farm in Branxton, Hunter Valley. Land of vineyards, photo opportunities and good food. The most glorious of foods. I’d set myself up with a little challenge for the weekend, to only eat as much locally produced food as I could get my hands on. Tricky? Stopping off at the local IGA before we got to the farm, I happily didn’t think it so.

In my basket I had Liberi eggs, Udder Farm Fetta, Udder Farm camembert, Udder Farm milk, sourdough from Morpeth bakery and organic wine from Macquariefields. If we only had dairy, bread and wine for the next three days…well, just quietly I didn’t think I would be complaining.

Settling into the farmstay, the kids are riding on the tractors and I get to quietly wander through the farm stay permaculture visitors garden. Kim has set it up so that her farm stay people can pick anything they want, and so I do.

Whenever I am home, my tiny potted garden brings me a lot of joy, but being here? In amongst the sprawling strawberry tendrils, the bushy parsley and the climbing snake beans I can’t help but have a few moments of ‘one day’ thoughts.

Squeals of delight and general loud kid conversation snapped me out of any ambitious garden plans. I was being ordered to jump aboard as the tractor had other people to pick up and the three year old driver couldn’t wait any longer for me.

garden salad || cityhippyfarmgirl

Dinner that night was a salad I had picked from the garden earlier, sausages from a few paddocks away, (Kim and David make their own which you can buy during your stay) and some of the bread and cheese I had hunkered away earlier. For dessert we had custard- made from the local cream, milk and eggs all done in a piece of kitchen kit, that I had often wondered about, but had never played with, (more on this in a minute.)

From a locavore point of view I was super happy. From a foodie point of view I was deliriously happy. From tired point of view, I was shattered… must have been that country air I suspect. Time to sleep.

A new day and there I was contentedly watching that sunrise. There are a few sure-fire things in this world that will always make my heart sing and watching the sunrise, has always been one of them.

eating locally || cityhippyfarmgirl

Back at the house and I start getting breakfast together. As I mentioned earlier there is a piece of kitchen kit, that is quite the rockstar of kitchen appliances for visitors to use, and I was keen to give it a crack. Was it really everything people raved about? Let’s find out.

Last night I had made custard in it, amazingly I hadn’t exploded anything, and the rockstar really had made perfect custard. This morning though I wanted to test it further, so butter was on the agenda with half a carton of cream left over from last night’s custard. Whoosh…done. Um, one minute that took. Hmmm, hard boiled eggs? Yep did that too. Coffee, why yes please. It is a weekend away after all, no coffee would be completely unaccceptable. Would the rockstar sort that one out? Yes, apparently so!

A wonderful day was spent doing weekend away kind of things. The kids got to harass the animals again, the adults got to talk, we went on a farm tour to the ‘top of the world’ and then suddenly dinner time was whispering again. I thought I would put the rockstar to the test once more. Thai Style Pumpkin Soup was on the menu, dicatated by what was in the garden. A simple soup, with all the ingredients (pumpkin, lemongrass, thai basil and a little chilli) being sourced just a couple of metres away.

Last day arrives and we farewell all the animals. We say goodbye to the dogs, goats, sheep, cows, pony, chooks and I peel small gripped fingers away from the guinea pigs, (I’m sure I heard them sigh with relief.)

I don’t think I have ever stayed somewhere that was so accommodating and involving towards kids and adults, every age was considered. Kim and David are the most wonderful hosts. From a welcome plate of homemade biscuits, kids toys, oodles of books, dvds, farm animals, climbable tractors, jeep tour, individual activities designed around your needs and wants. And one of the best things?…a perfectly edible (and encouraged to do so) permaculture garden at your doorstep.

It was the most relaxing weekend I’d had in a long time, and just quietly… I can’t wait to go back.

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Local Hunter Valley connections to be enjoyed

Little Black Cow Farm Stay– accommodation

Udder Farm– milk, cream, cheese.

Liberi Eggs- boiled, fried, scrambled or runny if you are one of those funny people who like runny eggs.

Morpeth Sourdough Bakery– locally baked sourdough…say no more.

Macquariedale Organic Wine- one glass or two?

Little Black Cow Farm Beef– these are happy beautifully kept cows that taste rather delicious in sausage form.

Sacred Tree Markets– on every third Sunday within the township of Branxton. 

locavore biodynamic wine

I hadn’t bought a bottle of wine for a very long time, but Friday night I had decided was wine night, (well this Friday night was anyway.) I needed some antioxidants!

Walking in to the local bottle shop, they had a really big array of wines to choose from. Gosh, how to choose? Its been so long since I had a vague clue as to what was good and what wasn’t. That clue had long since flown out the door, and left with my choices being white or red?

G’day, do you have any organic, biodynamic and or local wines here?

The assistant sprang in to action, and explained he didn’t usually work there but he thought there were a few that would fit my description. Flying all around the shop, he could only come up with one locally produced one (within 160kms). He offered to ring the owner who had stepped out for a minute to ask him if there were any others, but I said that was fine and kept perusing. Apparently requests such as mine only come in about every 1:1000, so demand wasn’t high.

The owner came back and straight away directed me to a biodynamic locally produced family run winery. He was very knowlodgable and didn’t even take a second blink when I repeated my request of what I wanted.

I like that… Not feeling like a complete leper all the time with my requests.

Wine bought ‘Wild White’. Produced by Krinklewood Biodynamic Vineyard– located in the Hunter Valley.

Taste- pretty darn good. I’m no wine expert, but I like it when I like it and don’t when I don’t. I’m complicated like that. I think it would have gone perfectly with a cheese platter or as we did with a light dinner.

I would love to know how much of a market there is out there for these sorts of wines. Organic, biodynamic, or locally produced. Is it something that crosses peoples minds when they are purchasing? Availability? At $18 a bottle it’s not the cheapest of bottles available but certainly not expensive either. And for a person that very rarely buys wines, I am more than happy to support biodynamic farming practices within my locavore area for an infrequent bottle buying.