Spring News

Photography

It’s been busy, which is great. As our 5 Willows business is becoming more widely known, we are receiving more enquiries and providing more photography services to the local community, which is very exciting.

Craig has photographed a number of weddings in Thredbo, Lake Crackenback, Perisher and Jindabyne - they are always different, lots of fun, and very special. We also had a family shoot with the couple renewing their vows in front of the children, followed by some snow-location family portraits and and all-in family snowball fight!

Two beautiful moments from the most recent wedding - Niki & Liam - congratulations

Two beautiful moments from the most recent wedding - Niki & Liam - congratulations

Andrea & Rob renewed their vows with their children in the KNP, followed by a customised tour of all the best snow spots

Andrea & Rob renewed their vows with their children in the KNP, followed by a customised tour of all the best snow spots

As much as 5 Willows is a commercial business that supports our family, we are also very aware of the importance of continuing to serve the local community. We perform much of the commercial photography work at SMGS, and Craig continues to teach photography in the senior school ‘Academy’ programme twice each week, but we are also very excited to be photographing the JCS Yr12 formal this year.

We gave away prizes every day during the SMIEC interschools equestrian event, with the Image of the Week winner receiving a large printed canvas which now has pride of place on the bedroom wall apparently - photography is there to be enjoyed.

Image of the Week for SMIEC 2018 - the winner received a large canvas print, ready to hang

Image of the Week for SMIEC 2018 - the winner received a large canvas print, ready to hang

Furthermore, having worked with Theo from Schoo Studios earlier in 2018 to photograph some of the local school children, we are very happy to be extending this service in 2019 to a more significant partnership covering schools in the Monaro region. Annual school photography is a very valuable service and we are very excited to be able to keep it local.

The Garden studio

The spring bulbs have been and gone in the Garden Studio as we continue to try and establish the trees and plants that we believe will make the studio look great in the photographs and be a lovely space to explore too. Most of the trees have survived the winter frosts and snow, with just a few casualties as expected.

With some more constructions to be completed we are excited to see the studio continuing to take shape, and will be looking to announce an opening in the not-too-distant future.

Our family home

We are very excited to have received DA approval for construction of our family home on the property, with work due to commence in December. As with the Little Haus, our off-grid solar arrangement will be providing 100% of the power to the property, and water and waste are also to be carefully managed.

Horses, dogs and chooks

An update wouldn’t be an update without new animal additions to talk about. We have one new horse, Nickel, who is an experienced stock horse and Caroline’s main ride.

Nickel

Nickel

Two new puppies also arrived just before winter. Buddy and Jess are two German Short-Hair Pointers and have grown up fast. They loved the snow and are happy and spoilt like all of our pets.

Jess (left) and Buddy (bottom right) are new arrivals and had fun in the snow, but not as much as Nitro (top right) who liked to catch snowballs in his mouth!

Jess (left) and Buddy (bottom right) are new arrivals and had fun in the snow, but not as much as Nitro (top right) who liked to catch snowballs in his mouth!

We are also hoping for a few new baby chooks in the middle of November. Nanny, our resident broody hen, and her daughter are both sitting on a few.

Food

Our potato crop ended very well last season with well over 200kg grown, supplied to The Market, or directly to customers, or eaten ourselves. The 2018 harvest has sold out and we are on our last bag at home.

Our potato crops were great in 2018, but they’ve all sold out now. Early 2019 harvest are already in, with more planting this weekend.

Our potato crops were great in 2018, but they’ve all sold out now. Early 2019 harvest are already in, with more planting this weekend.

With the weather warming up we are excited to be able to home-grow more of the ingredients for our Vegetable Stock. Currently in the ground we have strawberries, peas, beans, blackberries, raspberries, rhubarb, chilli plants, garlic, lettuce, onions and some early crop potatoes.

This is alongside the plum, fig, apple and crab apple trees that have established themselves and are starting to show new season growth.

We will be planting more potatoes for the main crop in the next few days, and the seedlings for zucchini, tomatoes and carrots will be transferred soon too. We’d just like a little more rain.

Food experiences

We have always loved watching MasterChef as a couple since the beginning, and now we love the fact that all of our children also love the show and have a real passion and appreciation for food. We genuinely hope they will enjoy this part of the family business.

On a recent trip to Melbourne we did go a little bit crazy in the City. We had a casual dinner booked at Gary’s Boathouse restaurant which was lovely. We stumbled upon Birch & Purchese in South Yarra, the exquisite dessert shop owned by Darren Purchese who was also there at the time and was so generous with his time to our family.

Our family with Darren Purchese at ‘Burch & Purchese’, South Yarra, Melbourne, and some of the amazing delicacies on offer

Our family with Darren Purchese at ‘Burch & Purchese’, South Yarra, Melbourne, and some of the amazing delicacies on offer

The big splurge came at Dinner by Heston - a 3 hour experience worth every cent not just for the food or the perfect old-school service, but for the sheer wow-factor that the children shared as every course was presented. The meal finished with a bonus course of ice cream, made with liquid nitrogen at the table, complete with clouds of smoke!


Hopefully it won’t be such a long wait until the next update from us at 5 Willows.

Moving into Autumn

As the summer season has drawn to a close, and Autumn sets in, it's a good time to reflect on a busy season at 5 Willows. 

Food updates

Our veggie patches and fruit trees are a labour of love, and we are now able to offer some of our produce for sale. 

CLICK TO SEE WHAT'S AVAILABLE NOW 

Vegetable stock paste – available at The Market, Jindabyne. We include as many ingredients as we can that are grown on the property.

Vegetable stock paste, with some of our lovely horses feeding in the background

Vegetable stock paste, with some of our lovely horses feeding in the background

Fresh zucchini – we’ve had a successful and long season with the zucchini, and they’re still producing. These are also available at The Market, Jindabyne, and are delivered by us generally 3 times each week.

Zucchini flowers, some baby zucchinis still growing on the plant, and then the day's crop

Zucchini flowers, some baby zucchinis still growing on the plant, and then the day's crop

Potatoes – we planted three varieties - Kipfler (great for salads and boiling), King Edward (great for roasting, jacket potatoes, and chips) and Nicola (a good all-rounder well suited to mashing). We have a bumper crop and potatoes are available to order from us directly. Click here for more details. 

Digging up a row of Kipfler potatoes

Digging up a row of Kipfler potatoes

Click on the button below to check out the full details of what's currently in season.

We have also had success with strawberries, thornless blackberries, carrots, heirloom corn, chillies and lettuce, all for our family table. We have a large number of tomatoes starting to fruit too, and have planted peas, cauliflower, broccoli, asparagus, and more lettuce for the autumn season.

Strawberries are having a long season with many large and beautifully shaped fruits

Strawberries are having a long season with many large and beautifully shaped fruits


Photography

It’s been a very busy few months with the Photography business.

Craig has been busy photographing a number of weddings at Lake Crackenback, Thredbo, Berridale and Jindabyne. Bookings for the wedding season later in the year are also strong with Thredbo and Lake Crackenback being the preferred venues.

Bridal party on location at Cascades in the KNP

Bridal party on location at Cascades in the KNP

We were happy to be involved with the Christmas Fair at the Equestrian Resort in December, with 5 Willows providing the Santa Photos for the local community.

Classic country community Christmas Photo - Dec 2017

Classic country community Christmas Photo - Dec 2017

We’ve also been working with local real estate agents to photograph properties for sale, holiday accommodation, and the Banjo has updated it’s food menu and accommodation offerings so we’ve been responsible for shooting a whole series of work for the branding that will follow.

Food, drink, and the Banjo Paterson Inn; Accommodation at Beloco West - The Quarters

Food, drink, and the Banjo Paterson Inn; Accommodation at Beloco West - The Quarters

We also try to be continually involved in the local community and in particular the schools. Craig has been working with Theo Schoo this year on many of the local school photographs, including SMGS, JCS, Dalgety, Nimmitabel and Berridale schools. We have also been teaching Photography as an optional ‘Academy of Excellence’ at SMGS for high-schoolers in Term 1. SMGS continue to use 5 Willows for many of their school event and marketing work too.

Progress on the Garden Studio structures hasn't been able to progress as we would have liked, so they are on the list before Winter sets in.


On the Farm

We have a new horse, Billie, who came from Junee in January. She has settled in very nicely and Emily is enjoying riding her. We now have 6 horses in total having sold Bindi the Brumby.

Emily riding Billie, our newest addition

Emily riding Billie, our newest addition

Nanny successfully incubated a second batch of baby chicks that hatched on New Year’s Day. They have all been integrated now with the existing hens, while the roosters are separately housed.

Winter/Spring Update

It’s been some time since our last blog post, and as you would expect, a lot has been happening.

Firstly, some sad news – one of our Burmese cats, ‘Jasmine’, died at the end of September. She had been in the family since April 2004, was a wedding present to ourselves alongside ‘Teapot’,  and is missed.

On the very same day, however, we were excited to find 9 new baby chicks all successfully hatched after being incubated by ‘Nanny’. They do say that a cat has nine lives, and what a special coincidence this was.

Horses

Our troop of horses has grown through the winter and now stands at 5.

In July we welcomed Charlie and Abbey to 5 Willows. Both are Standardbred horses, rescued from the Trot circuit. Charlie is a big boy at more than 16hh, aged 14yrs, and is ridden by Jack mostly. Abbey is a younger mare at 8yrs, approx 14hh, and is Caroline’s project.

In September we added young Elmo to the mix, who is a seasoned Pony Club veteran already at only 6yrs old. He’s a great size for Emily.

Emily on Elmo, and Jack on Charlie - at the Snowy River Pony Club

Emily on Elmo, and Jack on Charlie - at the Snowy River Pony Club


Then just last week we adopted Rambo, about 18yrs, another big boy at over 16hh. Rambo is a Thoroughbred and ex-racer who was looking for a new home as his previous owners were moving to Queensland. We are hoping that he’s a gentle giant and Craig can get some saddle time with him.

Dogs

Nitro, our rescue Kelpie pup, now has a playmate. Bear, also a Kelpie, was another animal looking for a new home during Winter, and we were happy to help. Bear has a more solid build to Nitro’s sleek frame, and the two are together most of the time.

Nitro (left), and Bear

Nitro (left), and Bear

The Garden Studio

The Garden Studio continues to make steady progress. As the soil temperature started to rise we’ve been able to plant:

-          A row of crab apples along the current driveway, which will not only grow into beautiful trees, but also supply edible crab apples for jelly and jam

-          Two sections of ornamental pear trees for their spring and autumn colours 

-          A cluster of Silver Birch to create a little walkway through the foliage

-          Liquid Amber as a feature tree at the end of the waterway

-          Some small Weeping Willow cuttings – we just love Weeping Willow trees

-          The lavender garden  - containing a variety of lavender plants

-          Red Oak trees for a vibrant contrast in colour, and

-          Two beautiful Robinias that should provide colourful flowering later in the season

 

We’ve had a few losses/damages from kangaroo and deer in early Spring and as a result the Garden Studio fencing is in the process of being heightened to approx 1.8m around the entire boundary.

Left to right - Silver Birch, Robinia, Ornamental Pears

Left to right - Silver Birch, Robinia, Ornamental Pears

We also managed to win a beautiful old Fordson Major tractor and blade at a nearby clearing sale auction in Dalgety. This tractor has so much character and will make a beautiful ‘scene’ in the studio.

Tractor.jpg

Water

The lack of any substantial rainfall since the epic downfalls in May filled the new dam has been a challenge for the property but also for the Garden Studio in particular. We have extended the pipeline from the bore-fed water tank about 150 metres beyond the Little House, and added long hoses to be able to access all parts of the Studio area.

Wind breaks

As we spend more time in the Little House and on the property, progressing through the seasons, we are learning about the effect of the winds in particular. We have started to prepare four separate areas for wind breaks, and have taken delivery of approximately 70 conifers that we hope will develop into effective wind breaks, and also provide a constant rich green colour to the property landscape throughout the year.

One of four wind break areas being developed on the property - this will house 15-20 conifers

One of four wind break areas being developed on the property - this will house 15-20 conifers

Chickens

Our hens have been very reliable throughout the winter, averaging 6-7 eggs per day. We have purchased a large batch of boxes to keep these, but also start to distribute to family and friends. We’ve had some labels printed too, and the 5 Willows Farm Fresh Eggs are being very well received. The animals are all free range, and most days are free to wander the entire property – and they do turn up in some unexpected places!

Nanny, our Partridge Brahma hen, cemented her name through September when she successfully incubated 9 eggs to hatch. We have a mixture of colours in the new arrivals, and aren’t sure yet how many are males or females. They are living in a temporary but secure enclosure under the protection of the Little House, and it won’t be long before we start to introduce them to the older chooks.

The baby chooks at 1 week old (left), and on the day they hatched (right)

The baby chooks at 1 week old (left), and on the day they hatched (right)

Nanny with the baby chooks, about 5 weeks old 

Nanny with the baby chooks, about 5 weeks old 

In preparation for this, we’ve also extended the existing chook house and run to about double the size, including a very solid dog kennel that has been repurposed for the chooks.

IMG_4959.JPG

Photography

Perisher

Through the winter ski season Craig worked in the Media team at Perisher, spending most days on the snow taking photographs for the Perisher guests. Definitely one of the best jobs in the world on a calm and sunny day, although there weren’t many of these in the season. It was a great experience and very enjoyable. It was also great to be able to catch up with Emily at school while I was at work. 

Weddings

As the weather improves we are seeing more wedding photography activity, with bookings already in place for January and February 2018. Craig has also been able to photograph weddings in September (Thredbo) and October (Jindabyne) this year, featuring the snow and gums of Thredbo and the beautiful Lake Jindabyne.

Thredbo, Sep 2017

Thredbo, Sep 2017

Family

While the Garden Studio continues to develop, Craig is able to visit client’s own properties, and is photographing a family in November in the area.

Local area

To support the local area, Craig has spent time at Snowy Mountains Grammar School to produce a series of photographs that are being extensively used in the local and wider press together with Social Media.

SMGS in use combined.jpg

We will also be responsible for providing the Santa photos at the Christmas Fair, held at the Jindabyne Equestrian Resort, in December.

With such beautiful surroundings nearby, Craig has also been working on his landscape photography skills, capturing the steady flow of the melting snow into the Snowy River.

North Perisher, Oct 2017

North Perisher, Oct 2017

What's next?

The list is long but that’s what we like. As spring moves through into summer we hope to make further progress on:

-          Fencing/planting in the garden studio, with more edible trees such as apples and plums

-          Building a jetty on the dam

-          Educating the horses

-          Planting a host of foods into the vegetable patches

-          Planting the wind break areas

-          Moving forward with the plans for development of the main homestead through Council

Chooks part 3 - Eggs!

We have eggs!
Nanny is into a daily routine of laying one egg each morning, while the ISA Browns haven't quite started yet.

Egg in the nesting box - Monday 19th June, 2017. Thanks Nanny!

Egg in the nesting box - Monday 19th June, 2017. Thanks Nanny!

We've also said goodbye to Jeff as a gift to Mick Miners on his birthday recently, so we now have Chewie and Bobby to rule the roost between them. 

Bullet and Bindi

Introducing the latest additions to the 5 Willows family - Bullet and Bindi

Bullet (near) and Bindi (right) settling in to their new surroundings

Bullet (near) and Bindi (right) settling in to their new surroundings

Bullet is a 3yo Australian Stock Horse x Brumbie and is a very well mannered and easy going fella. He was an ideal choice for our daughter Emily's first horse.

Bindi is a 4yo Brumbie with a very inquisitive personality. She's already struck up a lovely friendship with Bullet, and they're both settling in well to their new surroundings. 

Chooks part 1 - the chook shed

The chook shed is, quite simply, a work of art. Designed for easy human access and chook comfort, it's made almost entirely from recycled materials, leftover pallets, and our old backdoor from our previous home - a 1920s bungalow in Wahroonga, Sydney.

The chook shed and enclosed run in use and looking great

The chook shed and enclosed run in use and looking great

The run is fully enclosed, and we open the door to let the chooks forage when we can. We need to give special thanks to Mandy & Grant Kamholtz in the construction stages, and Mick & Jo Miners for the supply of the roofing tin. We have afternoon shade from the nearby snowgum tree, and nesting boxes accessible from the outside.

Construction gallery