9/17/2003   Sorry to take so long to again thank you for keeping in touch and also in sending you something to share.  I just wrote to an old friend from my surfing days in Hawaii and thought the email might be of interest to you and others!   Cheers, Doug and Nadine
... Our lives are now really grounded in Armidale which is a small town not unlike Grass Valley when both Nadine and I were lots younger - except for a university and a slightly bigger population. Armidale has a higher elevation than Grass Valley and Nevada City and gets just as cold, but very little snow as our Winters are the dry time of year. It is a small community where we know lots of people when we go to town. Our farm of 220 acres is about 12 minutes drive from town -- on a busy day we will see about five cars on our way into town. And it is not growing very much.
Nadine is really really busy as an academic at U of New England. She has been working half time as Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) for the Faculty of Education and half time in Early Childhood. She is about to resign from the Dean work as it is really thankless and frustrating. But she gets to escape to our farm!!!!

I work harder physically than I probably ever had. I get Saturday mornings off to go shopping in town! We have 500 pinot grigio vines planted in a vineyard established two years ago. A second vineyard was prepared for planting last year, but a drought stopped us from planting, so this is now being planted with 60 merlot and 500 pinot grigio. The new plantings of grigio are from cuttings off our established vineyard. A third vineyard of another 2,000 vines is planned for next year. In November our farm will be fully certified as Organic and we will produce Organic wine as well (see attached photo of our first crushing). We will also produce a few eggs and vegetables, organic of course, for selling in town. I am now building a chookhouse/greenhouse using our own milled timber (see attached photo). Our short term plans are to improve our soil using an old fashion

technique of rotating animals and crops -- first two Jersey cows will graze on a plot, then three Large Black pigs (a threaten breed), then chooks (chickens), then a rotation of three or four crops. All this will happen in a small area of about five acres near the house. The rest of our block is native trees. To keep my hand in my 'old' fisheries profession our five dams are stocked with rainbow trout and Australian native fish: silver perch and Australian bass with yabbies (freshwater crayfish).

For socialising we have our informal 'slow food society' which meets irregularly for long lunches where a selection of wines are blind tasted (see attched photo) against a big selection of dishes prepared mostly with our own ingredients and by three of us males who have professional cooking experiences. My experience came from Michel's, The Reef Hotel and The Chart House in Honolulu. Our other cooking socialisation occurs at our stone wood-fired oven, which we built of course!  We spend four to five hours cooking and eating pizzas, which take less than two minutes to cook in the oven that took over four hours to fire up.
So we have a good simple life together -- since our 10th high school reunion in 1975.
Aloha nui loa, Doug and Nadine
 
Merry Christmas 2002 and Happy 2003 New Year
Our Greetings.  Well, some how another year is nearly over and that makes two years into the 2000’s.  This letter is later than planned, but earlier than last year when we didn’t write until after Christmas and a lovely holiday visit to Victoria to stay with old friends Mike and Anne.  We sincerely express to you our holiday greetings and best wishes for the next year.  Like last year, we will be e-mailing rather than post-mailing this news-letter to most family and friends.  Certainly an emailed news-letter arrives quickly, looks very professional and has living colour too; it is so different from the commercial Christmas cards with notes that we used to send.  What follows is an overview of our last 12 months of life, mainly work and a little play.  It has been a fruitful year and we feel older.
At home & farm work.  Last news-letter we introduced Mister to you.  He is still such a sensitive and clever Border Collie-Kelpie cross; and, he is the light of our lives (see photo).  He and Doug are inseparable --

	•	they walk around the vineyard together;
	•	Mister runs in front of the tiptruck down to the grand canyon dam to pump water for the vineyard,         
                        orchard and garden;
	•	they ‘talk’ to each other about what work to do today, chasing away kangaroos, rabbits and hares, and 
                        being friends;
	•	Mister rides to town at least once a week in the tiptruck; and,
	•	Mister now has some time inside each day on a mat in the tile entry (he can watch TV from there).
Doug has completed many outside tasks during 2002, primarily by himself as I spent most of each week at Uni.  Some of Doug’s big jobs have been…
1. Fully fencing the House Vineyard to about 2 metres or 6+ feet.
2. Creating a second vineyard, Millie’s Vineyard, from digging deep trenches before adding dolomite, gypsum, phosphate rock, and chook mature to cutting and building the 12 post and wire rows to support about 700 vines.  The grapes were to arrive recently but they didn’t; and because of the severe drought across all of New South Wales, we will not plant until next winter.  In fact, we have decided that we will prune our House Vineyard Pinot grigio vines in June/July and start our own cuttings for Millie’s Vineyard, rather than buying them.
3. Fencing the south side of the house including all of the big vegetable and flower garden with the woodfired oven and a new BBQ area that we hope to build a roof over during this holiday season.

4. Completing the Woodville-stone woodfired oven that was mentioned in last year’s newsletter and having our first fire and cooking events from early winter (see photo).  The pizzas and other dishes were the talk of all our guests at each ‘Donald Road Slowfood Informal Society Luncheon’ we held.
5. Starting the high fence for the orchard; this area will include a chook-house for chickens, quail and Guinea fowl with an attached small lean-to glasshouse for starting spring seedlings each winter.  The major wooden posts are in along the driveway and at the four corners of the orchard (last June, Sherry and Mike helped with these).  All the wooden posts and stays for fences are from our trees around the vineyard sites and house.  They have been removed from the ground including the rootballs, bark stripping, and cutting to different lengths for various purposes around the property.
6. Watering, watering, watering… This has been a big job for some time, as we have been in an officially declared drought for months and of course there was all the extra dryness leading to the declaration of the worst drought in 100 years.  To assist with watering and our best fire protection system, Doug made use of his functional creativity.  He bought a giant plastic cube with a metal frame (a 1000 litre shipping container for syrup); found a super-duper 4 wheeled trailer to attach to the tiptruck; and then, made all kinds of fittings to match with our fire-pump and mounted it in the trailer too.  The fire pump has been at the ready on the ground at the house dam’s edge near the NW verandah corner.  Then he made up movable driplines for the vineyard and the orchard, created a fire-hose spraying option for broad areas and also an option for regular hosing by hand or with sprinkler.

7.  Planning and beginning what is now called his ‘arty farty’ pergola on the south side of the house between the entry porch and the stone dunny over the camellia and rhododendron bed (see photo).   And, we still have about a million jobs to do!
2002 visitors and trips.  Doug’s daughter Sherry was here for June and into July, with her friend Ray joining her in Armidale for a week with us and then they spent about a week in the Blue Mountains and Sydney before flying back to North Carolina, USA.  We did several regional day trips to share this part of New South Wales with Sherry and then Ray.  Mike and Anne were having a winter holiday from Jack’s Gully Farm in Victoria and they stopped by for a few days while Sherry was here.  Sherry, Mike and Anne experienced one of our 2002 wine tasting lunches with local friends Gilbert and Robyn and Simon (Gilbert’s son), who is studying at Australia’s branch of Cordon Bleu’s (French) Cooking School in Sydney.  This was a Pinot noir tasting with 7 different wines compared glass by glass with about 6 courses of foods.  This followed a Pinot grigio tasting lunch we had held in February, with four Italian, two Australian and one New Zealand Pinot grigio.  Both meals involved covering the bottles’ labels and tagging all bottles and multiple glasses with colour-coded tabs for blind-tasting and sampling with various savory to sweet foods.  At the end, the bottles were uncovered to identify which wines (winery, age, cost) each guest preferred with which foods or did not prefer!
We did a little traveling in 2002; but, we are not keen on going very far from safe Armidale; the world is crazier than ever!  For example, we had two ‘slow-foodie’ weekends away with Robyn and Gilbert.  One three-day-weekend in Mudgee to visit wineries, particularly to organic ones and one long-weekend north to Mullumbimby and the Japanese Guest House that we stayed at about 3 years ago.  Nadine attended her 3rd World Forum for Early Childhood which was held in Auckland, New Zealand in April and just recently she spent (with Doug’s assistance) a week in Hong Kong negotiating liaisons and possible joint ventures in early childhood education for UNE.  As Nadine’s closest colleague and friend, Rhonda ‘baby-sat’ the Walden Woods house while we were away on most of these trips.
Nadine at UNE.  2002 has been another busy year; and, I am now feeling stronger personal-professionally than during most of 2001.  I had my least involvement with early childhood education in years; but I made up my time: with Faculty Associate Dean (Teaching & Learning) roles(mainly meetings and developing policies/procedures); by teaching in the EdD program; by working with the University’s Teaching and Learning Centre one day a week from September to December on revamping our standard evaluation form for students to rate their experiences in units of study; by writing three journal articles and one conference paper; and, developing on behalf of the Early Childhood Program a new coursework Masters degree in Child and Family Studies that will begin mid-year 2003/July and requires students to undertake 3 of 8 units of study from 2 or 3 other designed Universities (2 in NSW and 1 in Qld).  In 2003, I will be back ‘in’ early childhood education more (about ½ time) and have a few other new projects to begin (tell you next seasonal letter).
Beyond the now.  Do have a Happy New Year and keep in touch at least once every twelve months.  For those who are not sure, our address is:  469 Donald Road, Armidale, New South Wales 2350  AUSTRALIA; the phone number is: 02 6772 8966.

 
Fond seasonal greetings, Doug and Nadine


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