Our Lifestyle – July 2020

July 22, 2020

Life has moved on so much in the last few years that I decided that I really should update the original, as well as the first update, of the ‘Our Lifestyle’ post to more accurately reflect how things are now.  So, here we go….

To get to our property you come down the gravel road of Sykes Road for just over 1km.  There are cleared grassy paddocks on your right and bush on your left for most of the way.  Soon you come to a green fibreboard house on the right.  This is the home of our good neighbours the Philpot’s.  You pass their house and associated paddock and the adjoining land is ours.  You find our driveway just after the power lines that cross the road and run up our block.  The new entryway is nice and wide and the upgraded driveway is good to use.

We have a notice warning that we have dogs running free on the property…and we are not joking!  🙂

The area on the right is our fenced 4 acres, and the cows reside there, in 3 separate paddocks, restrained with electric fencing.  The ponies spend some time here too,

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while the chooks with their runs are in the top paddock section that is closest to the house, as are the vegetable gardens that need to be fully fenced to keep out the wallabies, possums, sparrows…..

Keep going up the driveway and you will pass the cleared area on the left where we sometimes think of putting a small cottage

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and then the turnoff to where our private power pole used to be on the right.

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We originally had a little workshop with a cement floor down by the power pole which we extended a lot, though without the cement floor.  Kim installed shelves for our tools and fencing gear and a table to use as a work bench.  It is full to overflowing.  Also down the path to this shed we store our collection of wood, poly pipe, tin and various oddments that may be useful one day.  It is a bit of a rubbish dump at times but it is surprising how often you go and drag things out to use for some project or other.

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Continuing up the driveway you come to a large cleared area on the right surrounded by portable electric fencing, which is where the ponies spend a lot of their time (since the fresh growing grass in the paddocks in Spring and Autumn will cause laminitis in their hooves).

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Opposite this cleared area there is a turnoff to our other neighbour Dave’s house and then the turnoff to “the manor” – both on the left,

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After the upper pony paddock you will find the container shed and workshop that Kim is in the process of doing up.

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Opposite the shed is where we park the tractor

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and where a lot of our firewood is processed,

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and behind the container shed is Lydia’s bus.

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If you follow the driveway to the end you will pass the caravan and annexe and Josiah’s bus

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and at last you will arrive at the house.

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Now by calling the building a house I am being rather generous.  In Tasmanian parlance it would be called a shack.  On the outside it is lined with rough vertical hardwood which has greyed and blackened over the years.  The more recently enclosed carport is lined with bondor panels.  It is by no means a pretty building, although we have come to regard it warmly as our home.

To enter the building you go through the sliding glass doors into what was once the carport and which currently serves as a storage room and laundry.  This room encompasses the washing machine and laundry sink (new additions), an old wardrobe that is doing time as a linen cupboard, a cupboard for cleaning materials etc, a spare freezer, vacuum cleaner, brooms, washing baskets, numerous shoes and boots, tubs of dog biscuits and a box for firewood.  The lining of the room is still a work in progress.

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There is a door off of the storage room into our toilet with it’s composting loo.

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Composting toilets may be a bit of a new idea to many of you but they work quite easily.  It is simply a large bucket inside a wooden box with a toilet seat on the top.  One uses the toilet as normal but then instead of flushing you just throw some sawdust over the works before closing the lid.  Surprisingly there is no smell and the bucket is emptied onto our multi section composting heap out the back each day where it is covered with straw.  It takes roughly 6 months to fill each section of the compost heap, at which time we start up a new section and leave the old section to sit and compost down for 2-3 years.  At the end of just one year all bacteria should have been killed by the heat of the composting process and all that should be left is rich worm laden soil.  We chose a composting toilet since we live in a karst area and did not want septic seepage into the water supply.  Also there is very little water usage required, unlike a flushing toilet.

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Another door off of the storage room takes you into the upgraded bathroom with it’s shower and spa bath.  The kitchen, laundry, toilet and bathroom water go into a leech drain which we installed that is lovely and large.

The new bathroom

The entry to the living areas of our home is through the storage room.  Firstly you step down into what we call the vestibule.  Straight ahead is the lounge and to the left takes you to the kitchen.  Above you is the loft bed.  The vestibule houses a desk with a computer, multiple shelves, a couple of dog beds and the ladder/stairs to the loft.

The loft fits a queen sized mattress and was where Kim and I slept when we first arrived.  We added an extension up there to fit a single mattress which was Josiah’s bed for a while, but is now just used as storage.  (Lydia used to lay down a mattress on the lounge room floor when we first moved here.)  The loft is now available with two single mattresses for visitors (or a blow up double bed mattress) and is also useful for the chronically unwell family members to use during the day if they need to lie down while the rest of us get on with life down below.  It is the place to be if you are cold and the fire is on as the heat rises and makes it nice and snug up there.  You can also peer out at the possums in the moonlight when they come to call.

The lounge room is warmed by a free standing wood heater, which is a very popular feature in winter.  We are contemplating replacing it with a new model sometime soon.  There are lounge chairs along the back wall and a built in desk with computer paraphernalia and some shelves on the other side.

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It is rather small and cosy but we like it, although we wouldn’t complain at all if it was larger!!  Unfortunately in winter there is absolutely no way of getting clothes dry outside, so we have run two lines across the lounge room and end up often having clothes and towels hung on these lines in order to get them dry.  This makes our sweet cosy room even more cluttered, but it is better than running a clothes dryer with our limited electricity.

I suppose I should explain our electrical system.  We are completely off grid these days and have two separate 24V battery storage systems charged by solar panels, one at the main shack and one at the caravan and annexe.  There is also a 12V system up at the manor.  We have a generator for when the power gets low, and that powers the chargers to bring the batteries back up to full power as well.  We have plans to have a micro hydro system for use in winter one day, but it has proven difficult to get the pipes laid and connected, and will not be ready for a while yet.

Kim has set the solar power system up nicely inside with the controllers, fuse box and inverter in corners of the kitchen and the caravan’s annexe.  It would be illegal for us to wire up the buildings ourselves so we have simply run power through the buildings using extension cords and power boards.  We have mounted the cables along the walls to make it as neat as possible, but it is all still all out there in open view.  It all works just fine, and we no longer really notice it.

We mainly use the electricity for lights, computers, fridge/freezers and washing machine etc, but we also have a reverse cycle air conditioner in the lounge room which we can use for cooling on hot, sunny days when electricity is free and plentiful.  Heating comes from the wood heaters, or some diesel heaters in the buses.  We have hot water coming from a solar HWS which is boosted by the combustion stove in the kitchen and a gas booster is in the system to use as well if we wish.

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The kitchen is small but essential.  We have some nice tall cupboards with a sink alongside one wall and some cupboards under the window.  The combustion stove sits in the corner and heats our water when it is fired up, and there is a gas oven as well for when the combustion stove is not in use.  There is not a lot of bench space but the table can be used for food preparation.  We have a walk in pantry that is invaluable and a lovely large fridge/freezer.

And that is it for the main house, just 3 rooms!  We carpeted the vestibule and lounge but just have bare floorboards in the kitchen.  Originally of course there was no lining, no insulation, no lights or power, no cupboards and no running water in the building at all so we have come a long way!

Sleeping happens in separate buildings.  The older boys sleep in their own shack that they fondly refer to as “The Manor”.  This shack is about 400m away from the main house, which means that, rain or shine, they have to trudge off with a torch each night up the hill through the bush to their beds.  You cannot see the manor from the house, in fact you can’t see it from the path until you are just about on the doorstep.

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Electricity for the manor comes from its own 12V system.  The boys can have lights, electric blankets and some computer and DVD use up there, and have a good sound system too.  The batteries are charged through a solar controller from a couple of solar panels in front of the manor, and they have a back up generator now as well which charges the batteries when they are getting low.

The manor has just two rooms which we have opened into one, the first larger room contains a kitchenette, bookshelves, chairs and a wood heater, while the smaller room has the beds.  We finally lined and insulated the ceiling and walls and put down a level floor with nice flooring so it is pretty nice now, although I still have some edging that I would like to put in.  Despite the building being a bit small and distant, Caleb and Sam are very fond of it and enjoy their isolated and rustic rooms.

Kim and myself sleep in the caravan and annexe (leaving the loft bed available for visitors!)  The caravan itself has a small kitchen which we don’t use as such, a bedroom with a spare bed (that was Lydia’s room for quite a while) and a tiny bathroom beyond it which has a shower and composting toilet.  The annexe has two rooms.  Kim and I use the smaller room as our bedroom and have filled it to overflowing with our water bed.  The larger room has a wood fire, desk and computers, a couple of lounge chairs and a TV screen, and is nice to hang out in.

The caravan is lovely to spread out into but it is getting on in age and tends to leak after the rain sets in.  We were constantly trying to seal leaks and eventually covered the whole thing with greenhouse plastic to keep it going for the time being.  It would be nice to build a shed over it one day to keep it reliably dry, but that is not happening in the foreseeable future.

Josiah now has an old bus as his living quarters.  We renovated the shell of an ancient electric bus to have a bedroom in the rear and a large open area with computer desk etc.  It has some slight leakage problems too, but we are managing that with a tarp over the centre over winter.  We also installed a diesel heater to help Jo get through the chilly winter days. He greatly enjoys having his own space.

Since it worked so well for Josiah, we also bought Lydia a bus of her own.  Her bus was already kitted out with polished wood cabinets, a kitchenette, a tiny toilet and shower, a small bedroom area, and a back room that was once a horse float!  We rearranged the bedroom so that Lyd could have a single waterbed in there and installed a diesel heater to keep her warm, but no doubt there is more adapting that would be nice to do one day.  For now though she enjoys having her own area, and she has enclosed an outside area for her cat to range about in.  It also houses an outside pond for her big old goldfish and has a bit of a garden in there as well.

We never seem to have enough under cover storage areas.  All of the excess things that we wish to keep are stored in plastic tubs in one of the 20′ containers of the container shed.  We hope to build some shelves in there one day to make things more accessible, and really need to have a big clean out to make more space. The other 20′ container stores our firewood.

The 40′ container along the rear of the container shed will be Kim’s new workshop.  It will be lined and have shelves and benches and there will be a sliding door directly into the carport for easy access to work on the vehicles.  Kim works so much on the cars that he now has his own private wrecking yard hidden away in the bush.

We have recently added a few small runs and houses for the corgis.  Things are in the planning stages for more purpose built kennels and dog runs for the future, assuming we continue to breed the dogs.

Our water comes from a small creek way up the back of the block and gravity feeds down to the house.  Since we improved the water pickup area we have had no problems with the water supply which is great, as we used to have to regularly pump before.

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All in all we actually find our lifestyle quite comfortable, in fact we feel quite spoilt with all we have.  The lack of space in the lounge room and the limited storage space would be our biggest complaints, along with leaks in buildings of various descriptions.  But we count our blessings and greatly appreciate the improvements we have made over the years.

There are many projects to keep us busy.  A few times a year we need to fire up the brush cutter to slash grass and bracken etc away from the fenceline, or to cut down saplings that are coming up all over the place.  Also keeping on top of thistle seems to be a never ending task.  We are constantly cutting felled trees into firewood rounds which need splitting and stacking to dry as well.

It would be lovely to build some sort of barn to store hay and stock feed in one day – preferably away from the house so that the rodents don’t feel welcome to visit.  It would be rather nice to have a covered shed to milk the cow in as well.  Upgraded chook house/garden buildings would be welcome and then too a stock ramp and some yards to go with it would be useful.  What a list!  Always lots of ideas.

Our days, while varied, tend to fall into a regular pattern.  Lydia is off to work early, so we usually don’t see her in the mornings.  Either Kim or myself are usually the next up and if it is cold we light the lounge room fire ready for everyone else to enjoy when they arrive.  Kim often returns to the caravan after breakfast as it tends to be warmer there and he reads all his internet news services and plans his day.  I will normally feed and toilet the dogs in two shifts (as two dogs don’t get along), and then go and feed the chooks and let out any who are allowed to free range.  After breakfast the cow needs to be caught and milked, after having her own portion of grain.  Certain times of the year we can choose not to milk her if we wish, and just let the calf have the milk, which gives a nice bit of flexibility.

Cathy milking twinkles

Hay gets dished out to the cattle and the ponies as well, and then the milk needs to be strained and refrigerated back at the house.  I like to do housework in the mornings if I can, and then I have the afternoon to work on one of the chores or projects.  All too often these days the older boys are too sick to do much which is a shame, and 2-3 days each week I need to go out all day to do my volunteering, so we don’t achieve things as quickly as I would like.  Of course there is shopping to be done once a week, although these days we are often having it delivered, and there are many other appointments that take us away from home, but my favourite days are when we have a couple of people well enough to really make a dent in the lists of things to do.  Then of course there is dog training to do, tea to cook, baking to do, showers to be had, washing to hung out or put away, emails to be written, research to be done, books to be read and perhaps even computer games to be played or a video to watch.  Around 8-9pm each evening we go out and lock the calf away from the house cow if we are milking, so that there will be milk for the rest of us on the following day.

Our phone here is through the computer’s NBN connection, but that seems to work quite well.  Unfortunately our mobile does not work at home, although Kim has managed to get it to work through the internet so that does help.  Lydia’s phone is with Telstra and that does work here, but their plans are very expensive so we only have the one with them.

We are 10 km away from the small town of Mole Creek with a population of around 350.  There is a small IGA supermarket in Mole Creek, a pub, online access centre, Post Office, a couple of cafes and an engineering business.  There is also a lime mine just out of town.  It takes about 10-15 minutes for us to get into town.  We usually do any extra shopping in Devonport (groceries are usually home delivered) which is 40 minutes from home travelling through Sheffield.  Sometimes we go to Deloraine instead which is 30 minutes away in the other direction.  If we need more of a city we are 70 minutes drive from Launceston.

We no longer feel as limited in the luxuries of life, and we really are quite comfortable here.  When I read books about how people lived in olden times it surprises me that we feel like we need as much as we do.  God has really blessed us with a great family and with our lovely property and, despite the limitations of bad health in many of us, we are all working well together to try to make a sustainable lifestyle.

A little news and my baby bird saga

February 25, 2020

Well, I thought it was time to bring you up to date with the happenings at Milkenunny before we head off on our overseas adventure in just over a week.  So soon!!  After that I imagine I won’t be talking of anything else for a while.

 

Kim has struggled with a long run of bad health, numerous kidney stones and a cold and stomach wog all took their toll and made his chronic fatigue syndrome worse.  Lately he has begun to improve, but has to be very careful of himself to ensure he recovers properly.  Nevertheless, we have made some progress on his container shed.  A friend came over and helped Kim to mount the uprights of the hoist, and to raise the top beam up and bolt it in place (no mean feat!).

Then we waited for some warm dry weather and painted the floor with 2 coats of an epoxy paint which should seal it and protect the surface somewhat.  After that the tractor came out and we moved a bunch of gravel over to make a drivable ramp into the shed.  Now we can finally park cars in there again!  The hoist needs a fair bit more work running cables, attaching arms and motors and all sorts, but that can be done at a later date as it is out of the weather.  🙂

Earlier this month Willow, our first corgi, finally came on heat.  That meant a (very) early trip to the airport so she could fly off for a week to Queensland.  She had a successful mating with a handsome Pembroke corgi over there, and then came back home again.  We will not be able to tell if she is pregnant for about 4 weeks, but fingers are crossed!

Twinkles milk supply slowly reduced with my limited milking routine, and the calf is drinking it all now.  That will be one less thing for the family to have on their plate while Kim and I are away.  My hen also managed to hatch some chicks.  She lost a couple, but is doing well with the remaining 4.  We hope that one of them will be a nice natured rooster.

Then a few weeks ago I found a bird’s nest upside down on the path as I was doing my morning chores.  On a whim I picked it up and discovered two healthy and hungry chicks inside!

I phoned wildlife rescue, trying to find a carer for them, but was told instead that if I couldn’t find the parents I should take them to the vets to be put down.  I’m afraid that, foolish woman that I am, I couldn’t bring myself to do that and so I took on the role of momma bird instead.  We thought they must be wrens, as we have heaps of them here, and everything I read said that wrens would be out and about in just a few weeks and that they should be fairly readily accepted by the family groups in our yard.  Accordingly I researched feed mixes and had them on an interesting mix of egg, breadcrumbs, insectivore mix and grated cheese.  I supplemented that with maggots and chopped up meal worms.  Yum!  I also pulled out the heat pad that I used for the pygmy possums.  Anyway, they thrived!

After just a few days they looked a lot more like birds and wouldn’t stay in their nest anymore and didn’t need any extra heat.  Mind you we were keeping them in the lounge room of the caravan and annexe that Kim and I use for our sleeping accomodation.  I brought in some branches and they settled nicely into sitting on them.  The next stage was to get them to start to feed themselves, instead of needing me to feed them by hand.  I made some tiny feed bowls out of bottle caps and hung them in the bushes.  I also dug out an old cage so I could take them to my volunteering work with me.  I was very excited when they began to occasionally feed themselves, although they still wanted to be hand fed as well.

It was good to have the cage as I could sit it outside in a bush on a warm day to get them used to being outside a bit.  Just over a week after getting them they looked really sweet, and it was plainly obvious that they were not wrens at all, but Silvereyes.  We added honeyeater mix to their food blend.

They continued to grow and mature, developing better feathers and a greater activity level.  I ended up with the room getting rather messy and full of branches for the babies to fly to.  I would change them for fresh ones a couple of times a week, and they began to really enjoy fossicking through the leaves in search of goodness knows what.  I think their favourite was the gum tree, and they would find leaves stuck together by insects and pry them apart to see if there was anything good to eat in there.

Finally we decided that they were looking pretty mature, flying well and being generally quite active and that we should let them go.  They still would happily eat food off a spoon, but were also happy to eat from my hanging bowls.  I managed to find a wildlife carer not to far away who had looked after lots of birds, and he was helpful and encouraging and agreed that releasing them where they were was the best idea.

Since they had been living in the building with the window open to ensure they acclimatised to the outside temperature, releasing was as simple as taking the flyscreen off the window one warm and mellow afternoon.  I tied a small gum sapling to the hand rail outside to give them easy access, and hung some feeders in that as well.  They considered the idea for a while before taking the plunge, but then they ventured out into the big wide world.  We have a nice bushy Japonica close by that they quickly flew into, and then they could work their way to the big gums and wattles nearby via some other bushes.

It seemed quite strange that night to have no baby birds in the building.  I looked around at dusk to see if they had returned, but there was no sign of them.  However, the next day, as Kim was leaving the building, there they were, flying into the little gum and asking for breakfast!  They were hungry and very tired and I coaxed them back inside for a few hours sleep.  However they were recovered again by the afternoon and enjoyed flitting around the bushes nearby before retiring back into the building at dusk to sleep.

Yesterday morning they headed out again and disappeared for a few hours, before returning for more food out of the bowls in the gum, and hanging around the bushes again.  I was out a lot today but had to refill their bowl a couple of times and did see one of them feeding in the afternoon, before taking off back to the gum trees.  They have a good startle reflex, but are otherwise fearless of Kim and myself and will happily eat while we are walking past on the ramp.  It is nice to think that they can learn to live outside and hunt, but still have the support of the feeders when they need it. Hopefully in just a little while they will become completely independent.  Some Silvereyes in Tasmania migrate to the mainland in Winter, but if ours don’t hook up with a flock that go, they may be some of those who stay here instead.

 

Kim has enjoyed being able to get nice and close to take pictures of some birds that are usually too high up in the trees and too quick moving to easily photograph on our property.

And that is enough news for now!  Best wishes to you all

A busy start to the year

January 18, 2020

Hello All!   I hope the new year is treating you well.  🙂

2020 is the year my father turns 90, and so it was decided that a celebration was in order!  Dad’s birthday is the 4th January which very conveniently fell on a Saturday this year.  I flew over to Perth the Thursday before and got picked up by my sister Alison and taken to her home in Lower Chittering.  On Friday we cooked up some sweet things for the catering, and welcomed Ali’s daughter Amy home from Broome for the party.  Ali had already prepared all the savouries before hand and her daughter in law, Sasha, was preparing a fantastic cake in the shape of a toolbox – very appropriate for my Dad.
Saturday we headed to the folks church and set up for the celebration.  My other sister Linda was over from Canada and all her family had collected with Mum and Dad for Christmas.  They came to the church hall too, replete with fruit and vegetable platters and dip, and we set up the building with some lovely table decorations that Ali had prepared earlier.  The celebration went well, lots of lovely people, plenty of food, good speeches, and the weather not as hot as it might have been.  The younger generation of the family were all wonderful, helping out with preparations, serving and cleaning up too.
I went and stayed with my folks after the party, somehow managing to squeeze in with Linda’s family who then left one at a time over the next couple of days, returning to jobs and life in San Francisco and Sydney.  I headed home on the Tuesday while Linda and John were able to stay until the end of the week before returning to Canada.  It was wonderful to catch up with my folks, my sisters and their husbands as well as the nephews and nieces from both families, even if it was only for a very brief time.  🙂
It was also nice to be in Perth for a Sunday so that I could go to church with Mum and Dad and meet their new pastor and see the growing congregation.  After the service they had a shared luncheon, and they also made it a bit special for Dad’s birthday.
Meanwhile, back at home, Twinkles produced a healthy heifer early in the morning of the Sunday I was away.
She was not due to calve for another week, when I would have been home, but it turned out she couldn’t wait that long.  I had been watching her udder enlarge the week before and I confess that I had been a bit worried that she wouldn’t last the distance.  In the end Sam managed to handle the first few days of milking without me and the little girl had no trouble feeding so it was all good.  It is the first time Twinkles has given us a live heifer, we had begun to think she could only throw bull calves.  This calf is a beautiful glossy black girl who looks so very much like her mamma.  Her name is still undecided.  The family didn’t seem to like Glossy Flossy which was my first thought, so I have started calling her Blossom, but after her antics the last couple of days I am wondering if Little Miss Feisty mightn’t be more appropriate.  She has been kicking up her heels, slipping under the fence and chasing Willow the corgi!
Normally when the cow is newly calved I milk her twice a day in order to keep her milk supply up, however with Kim and myself booked to go overseas in March I am following a different plan this year.  I have been only milking each morning and hope that Twink’s milk supply will slow down a little and that by March the calf will be taking it all so that the family don’t have to milk while we are away.
Just to reinforce the bad timing of my trip to Perth, the day I left we had a paddock of hay slashed in Mole Creek and turned into small square bales.  We have always had round bales before, but I thought it might be worth trying the squares as they are easier to transport, and I wanted to try a new contractor who only does small squares anyway.  We ended up with 170 bales which all needed moving fairly quickly so we could cover them from any possible rain.  I managed to transport 2 loads of 20 bales in our Caravelle van before I had to leave for the airport.  Sam and Kim did another 2 loads and Sam and Lydia did a further 5 loads over the next couple of days to bring it all safely home.  We have it stacked on pallets and under tarps at the end of the pony paddock, as it will probably be the ponies who use it all.
Late last year we had the misfortune of having a quoll get in and kill a couple of chooks.  The biggest problem that this caused is that one of the birds killed was our rooster, and we only had the one.  My first thought was that perhaps this was the time that we should start to run our chook numbers down, but Kim was keen to have the option of breeding again if we wanted to.  So then the wait for a hen to turn broody began, and after a couple of weeks my old favourite “Pea” began to sit solidly.  This also happened on the day I left for Perth – it seemed a long and busy day!  I put about 11 older assorted eggs under her, and on checking the other night it seems that all but 2 were fertile.  I expect it will be another week or more before they are due to hatch so we we have our fingers crossed for healthy chicks and that there might be a nice quiet rooster among them.  We have now set up 2 elecromesh fences to completely surround the chook and garden areas and are hoping that no quoll can find it’s way inside through that.  So far, so good, and I know there is a quoll around but hopefully it will stay out!
My tomatoes are growing well and some have set fruit now.
As always time will tell whether we get the tomatoes to ripen before the cold comes back.  🙂  Vegetable growing time always seems to be way too short for me in Mole Creek, although there are plenty of climates who have more extreme weather than here.
For the last few years I have bought hay from a lovely farmer up north and he sent me another 18 rolls this year.  They arrived just the other day loaded high on a truck, and they have been tipped off and are waiting for me to straighten them up a bit and cover them all.  This hay will be more nutritious than the pony hay, and so is allocated to the cow and calf.
Kim has had the parts arrive for his hoist so now we just have to work out how to put it up!  I am very much looking forward to having the job done, if not to actually doing the job.  Those large beams weigh ~325kg each so it will be no mean feat to get them to stand up in place while we mount them into the concrete floor!  Kim hopes to get onto the job soon but between his chronic fatigue syndrome being made worse with the heat of summer, bouts of kidney stones and various colds and stomach wogs, he hasn’t had much health to do it yet.
We purchased a cheap little caravan recently from a farm nearby.  It is set up as a mobile chook house at present, but we are considering setting it up for possibly puppies in the future.  We have been waiting anxiously for Willow to come on heat so we can send her off to be mated, but she is not obliging so far.  It seems we have no choice but to keep waiting.  🙂  Hopefully we will have puppies one day!
The wattle trees have been going to town with their seed and seed pods this year.  A while back I had a visiting friend ask me what the trees were that were turning brown, and at the time I wasn’t sure what she meant.  Of course I should have realised that it was the Silver wattles that put on such a dazzling yellow display in Spring…
that then turn to and develop brown seed pods.
Once the seeds ripen, the pods open and drop and scatter all over the ground, and the ground is smothered in them in places this year.
The seeds are little black things which I guess birds and possums eat, but they can’t possibly keep up with the feast available at the moment.  We have even noticed that clusters of seed seem to accumulate around the tops of little ant nests on the driveway, so I wonder if they can store them up as feed too?  I fear that we are going to have a wealth of new baby wattle trees coming up in Spring next year.  I wish there was an international market for wattle seed, as Tassie could do some exporting and really help the national GDP this year.
I have been settling in to my new routine with volunteering at the Mole Creek Online Access Centre.  It is actually pretty quiet on the computer side of things and I don’t have a lot to do with helping people there, although it is nice when the occasional person needs a hand.  When it is quiet I can do things on my own laptop which I take in with me, which is nice, or I can try to improve my understanding of the computer programs we have at the Centre.  Another part of my responsibilities is to give advice to tourists who come and check out our brochures, and at this time of year that side of the work can be busy.  I enjoy chatting to visitors and helping them to enjoy their time visiting Tasmania and especially our lovely local area.
Anyway, I guess I have waffled on enough for this episode!  Best wishes.