AS CHRISTMAS approaches, Holli, my young offsider, and I have been really getting into the festive spirit.
Some people say that Christmas is only for kids.
But I really don't believe this to be true.
Myself, I absolutely looove Christmas.
The writing of Christmas cards (which starts in November for my overseas friends and family) gives me the opportunity to catch up with, and keep in contact with, old friends who could otherwise just fall by the wayside.
I love going down to the mailbox everyday in December, eagerly ripping open the cards on my walk back to the house.
I especially appreciate the ones with notes or photos.
I love the baking days, making rum balls, Christmas tree-shaped shortbread and Christmas cake.
I generally eat so many "samples" I can't eat dinner!
I love the pleasure of serving my homebred, home raised and home baked ham, duck (which I have plucked myself) and turkey (also home plucked) that I have purchased from the pig and calf sale.
I love decorating the real Christmas Tree - the tree I have sent John out to pinch off the side of the road.
Unfortunately, John doesn't know one tree from another and last year's tree was certainly not a pine tree.
It really did turn out to be a bit of a disaster, losing most of its needles long before December 25.
I was still vaccuming them up months later.
I went to all the nurseries in town looking for a replacement, but no-one sells real Christmas trees anymore.
I would have settled for a Norfolk Pine in a pot, until I looked at the price tag.
Maybe I will go with him for a drive to pick this year's tree.
Holli and I have also been practising Christmas carols.
I am an awful singer, completely tone deaf.
Holli is the only person I will sing in front of, as she is too polite to make fun of me.
We have been singing nearly every Christmas carol we can think of, but keep coming back to our favourite - the 12 Days of Christmas.
We sing it as a duet.
Holli sings one line and I sing the next.
We come together and sing the five golden rings and a partridge in a pear tree.
If you know the song, you will know how we sing it.
What we lack in tone, rhythm (and sometimes words) we make up for with enthusiasm.
Anyway, this lovely Christmas song prompted us to start thinking about what would be the12 greatest animals to recieve as a Christmas gift -living here on the Southern Downs.
Below are our favourites:
- Water buffalo: For milk and mozzarella cheese and the beautiful serene expression on their face.
- Large black rare breed piglets: For next Christmas's ham of course.
- Chinese goslings: The ultimate in poultry for softness and cuteness and a crucial standby for next year's December 25 dinner.
- A Jeruselum donkey: A great gift for any sheep producer, who has problems with wild dogs, and the bonus is he can double as an actor in the kids nativity plays!
- An Australian cattle dog (blue to match the turkeys described below): Man's best friend. Will still talk to you when you are in the doghouse.
- Slate blue turkeys: For they are pretty to look at and will provide a limited number of eggs. Failing this of course they can be used for next year's Christmas dinner.
- Blue andulusian hens (they will match the turkeys and the cattle dog): For these are terrific layers and will provide eggs for the Christmas pavlova.
- A pair of golden pheasants: For they are beautiful birds to admire, but they do need a big pen with a good amount of ground cover to be happy. Can be used as a delicacy at dinner during the festive season.
- Xoloitzcuintle dog: Yes you can get these obscurely named dogs in Australia. They come in three sizes (toy, minature and standard) and two varieties, hairless and haired! An ancient breed, one of the world's oldest, dating back 3000 years. They are also known as the Mexican hairless dog. They are smart, loyal and quite athletic. Not recomended for Christmas dinner!
- Fallow Deer : there are six types of deer in Australia, the fallow deer is the prettiest with its russet coloured coat, white spots and bambi like face. You do need higher than normal fences to keep deer in and specialist handling facilities. If you enjoy venison, this could be an alternative to the ham and turkey for Christmas dinner.
- Rare breed guinea pig: There are many breeds of guinea pigs. I really enjoyed researching this one. My favourite breed was the texel. These are sure to be a hit with the kids at Christmas. Breeds include abyssinian, rex, teddy, silkie, peruvian, texel, himalayan, sheba mini yaks, skinny pig (hairless variety to match the xoloitzcuintle dog) ridgeback, crested, english merino, coronet and lunk.
- Costarricense de paso horse or the costa rican walking horse: Every young girl's dream is to own a horse and this is Holli's favourite. These horses have only been in Australia for a few years, take a look at the website -
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