Archive for August, 2007

Bat in my Belfry

August 19, 2007

This week I held a real live bat in my hands!  We were out at Milkenunny and finished lining the loungeroom Wednesday, well, apart from the trim and since we don’t have any trim yet that was all we could do.  We put some benches in either side of the fireplace which is good as it means I no longer have to share my kitchen table with an iMac and a Playstation!  So on Thursday we moved on to the next room which has been dubbed the vestibule, it has the clerestory bed in the top of it.  We started with the messy job of removing some old foil insulation which was essentially all there was as the lining of one wall and the ceiling.  Bits of dust and dirt and rat poo were falling around our ears and we found an old rat nesting spot.  Yuk, lots of ripped up plastic and so on, anyway we decided to take the wood lining off from the clerestory bed section as well as it was not terribly well done and so I moved up there to clean off the beams as well.  As I was sweeping away I came across a bunch of what I thought was mouse poo above one of the windows and as I was dusting it into my rubbish bag a little body fell down onto the windowsill.  At first I thought it was a dead mouse and then I saw the wings and thought it was a dead bat and then it gave a little shudder and I realised it was alive.  I gathered it up and we all had a good close look at the tiny bat.  After a minute or two it started to hang onto my glove with its tiny feet and then it started to groom itself, and was obviously waking up from a winter torpor.  We decided to take a photo of it outside, but once we got out there it just took off and went souring away over the creek.  I hope it managed to find a few insects to eat and another hollow somewhere to settle down in for the rest of winter.  As a consequence the latest name for the shack has become the bat cave, and the clerestory is now being referred to as the belfry.  I tried to identify the bat later but there are about 6 little bats in Tassie and I am unsure what it was.  Interestingly it could even have been a King River Eptesicus, named after King River in Albany, but if I had to take a guess I would pick it as the Chocolate Wattled Bat.

Anyway, enough for now.  I have to go and help collect more firewood, remove the remains of the tree that fell across our road the other week,  hang up the washing, vacuum the floors…. you know how it is!

Windy and Wet

August 13, 2007

Well, we had some wild, wet and windy weather over here last week!  I believe the flooding was even on the TV on the mainland so it must have been bad.  Mind you it was just the normal flooding of the rivers up our way and in Launceston, so we were not too adversely affected.  Though having said that I still find the way the rivers flood their banks in Launceston to be just amazing.  Anyway we certainly had some wild gusty gale force wind on Friday.  Kim was looking out of the loungeroom window when we had a particularly vigourous burst of wind and he saw the top half of one of the pine trees lining the road come crashing spectacularly down alongside our driveway.  Caleb had to go into town for TAFE and Lydia and I went with him to do the shopping so Kim suggested that we take the chainsaw with us just in case, and we were glad that we did.  We didn’t get more than a few hundred metres down the road before we had to stop and move a gum tree that had fallen across the fence and right across the road.  We chopped it into about 4 pieces and lugged them off the road before we could continue on.  That was another first for me.  🙂   I have to say that standing in the middle of the road watching Caleb saw up a tree with the wind roaring through the branches of numerous other tall trees that look exactly the same as the one lying across the road is not my favourite way to spend 15 minutes!  But I’m pleased to say that no more trees came down, and the weather has fined up since then.  However we did get water coming in along the edge of our sunken lounge room on Friday/ Saturday and the creek rose up to be within 1 metre of the back clothesline.  We also watched the edge of the creek erode away somewhat from the raging of the water, taking a big stump with it.  I’m rather glad that we don’t actually own this place as the creek is too close to the house for comfort really.  

My concern now is to see what damage may have been caused out at Milkenunny, I hope no trees have come down near to the shack!  Unfortunately there are a few very close to the back of the building and we have been planning to find an expert to fell them for us, but haven’t done so as yet.  Still, there is no changing what has already happened and we will get back over there later this week to have a look.  We did more lining last week and have almost finished the ceiling in the loungeroom as well as doing a goodly amount of the main wall in the vestibule as well.  We also finished running the water pipe to near the house from the creek at the top of the block.  Now we have to get a pump to fill the pipe so we can see how well it will syphon.  We also have a contractor from Mole Creek going to have a look at our driveway to quote us on spreading some gravel so we can make it less boggy, as it has become very bad in a couple of places and we’re not sure if we will make it through again.  Kim and I went to Hobart on Saturday to collect some deep cycle batteries that we will use as the power source for the second building.  The batteries have been part of a lighthouse power system and we are told they should last another 5 years.  They are good powerful ones and so we are very pleased to have got them, and at a good price too.  The older boys who will be sleeping in the second building have been trying to decide on a name for it.  My particular favourite is The Big Brother House, but although they came up with that one themselves and thought it was hilarious, they are strangely reluctant to have that as it’s permanent name.  I think their choice so far is The Manor.

Last Monday we took Sam up to the ski fields.  We had bought some skis and ski boots from a Launceston charity and the older kids and myself managed to have a go on a very mild training slope that we could walk to the top of and ski down.  We hired some ski poles and for the total princely sum of $50 we all had a good time getting a taste of what skiing was like.  Lydia was probably the best of all of us, despite a slow start when she kept sliding into the creek and I had to physically pull her out.  Caleb came in a close second, but Sam and I didn’t do quite so well.  I just could not work out how to steer and ended up crashing to a stop every time, and when you are down it is hard to get up!  We hired a toboggan for $15 as well and Josiah, and all the rest of us including Kim, had a go at that.  That was fun as well and much easier to master.  Caleb managed to bruise an ankle and slice his knee on a rock hidden under the snow when he was sliding around during a snowball fight, and he is still limping around a week later.  But despite bumps, bruises and freezing freezing weather (there was more wind and no sun this time) we were glad we went, and it was a fun experience.  I can imagine the older kids wanting to go and try it out properly sometime, getting a lift pass and all, but they will have to pay for themselves if they want to do that.  Mind you at $30 for an all day lift pass I believe it is one of the cheapest ski fields in Australia.

Today we had a visit from our landlord’s sister who has been in Launceston for a few weeks.  She lives in WA also.  Since we haven’t yet met our landlord, Lee, it was nice to at least see his sister, and we had a good time walking around the property and talking about our time here.  Josiah tried trout fishing in our creek this afternoon, but with no success.  We’ll have to get some licenses so the other kids can have a go too.

Anyway, I guess I better finish up for now.  Once again I have a couple of photos to share with you.
The first photo is looking across the paddocks of the farm at the beginning of our road back in the fine part of the year, followed by how it looked last Friday on our way to town.  I should have taken a photo of it on Saturday as well it was almost completely under water then.  I’ll have to get some more comparison photos later, I find it all just fascinating.

Then there are a couple of shots I took from the car as we drove into town on Saturday.  I have to say that the “normal” flooding does not get quiet so high or as close to the road as this, this is a few of times a year event.  See the fenceposts half under water.

And how would you like to live in this house with the water that close?
 I have to show you a shot taken from the upper bathroom window of our backyard and the creek.  The water came up higher than this during the night and the stump that the red arrow is pointing to is no longer there.

And to finish up I have a photo of Josiah fishing.  He had fun.

Moving Right Along

August 3, 2007

Hi All

We spent another overnighter at our block on Wednesday/Thursday and got stuck into doing the lining in the loungeroom.  I had to enclose some photos for you because we think the improvement is pretty cool.  I have to redo one set of curtains though which have become too short in the process of taking odd bits of wood off the wall, but I have just enough left over material so that is cool.  Kim also went around filling gaps in the hope that one day we’ll get all the entry spots closed up and the rat will not be able to get in, we’ve never seen him but he is systematically chewing the paper off the tins I have left there when we are away.  Kim even fixed the sash cord window in the lounge so it opens now.  Kim got a book at a garage sale called The Australian Carpenter (subtitled How to Drive a Nail, How to Build a House and all the Carpentry in between). It was written in 1948 and he finds it just fantastic to give him all the info he needs to do all the carpentry we find ourselves doing.

We had 3 inches of rain fall while we were at the block and the driveway was showing it.  The VW makes it through okay but it is a bit hairy in the front wheel drive Audi.  Still, we haven’t bogged yet… nothing like momentum to slide you through mud.  Maybe we should try the snow chains?

When we headed back to Blessington we were astounded at the water everywhere.  Launceston seems to have rivers that regularly overflow their banks in a big way, flood plains take on a very real meaning.  Paths that ran under bridges now just disappear into lakes of water, it is quite different to what I am used to.  Seeing how some sheep paddocks on the trip home had disappeared under water we were concerned as to what we would see at our rental house, but need not have worried, well – not this time anyway.  The creek was up and raging but has not broken it’s bank on the house side yet.  I believe we have a few fine days ahead so we should be okay.  It also looks like we have some fresh show on Mt Barrow so perhaps we can take Sam up to the ski fields tomorrow, even if he is not too well.

We are also the proud owners of our own chainsaw now, an essential tool we have discovered.  We picked it up at a garage sale for a bargain price and were concerned at first that it was too big, but have since decided that big is good.  Kim calls it affectionately The Chainsaw of Mass Destruction.  It also came with an attachment that allows you to mill slabs off trees, but we haven’t tried that yet.  We have had to chainsaw and chop firewood on a weekly basis and our new saw makes the work much easier than the little chainsaw we were using before.

I am very proud of myself because I got my tax return done half way through July, and so we are awaiting a reasonably sized return which will help to finance more insulation for the ceiling.  🙂  Our water testing came back very good, so the water is fine to drink which is great to know.  We still need to finish running the water pipe, there is only about 150 m to go to the house now, and we also need to work out water heating before we can move.  Still, we are getting there slowly.

Anyway, I have just been called to go and help get firewood so I best be off.

love to all


Anyway, to the photos.  Firstly some before photos of the lounge so you have a point of reference.

Then Caleb nailing up boards and myself putting insulation in the ceiling.

And a couple to show the improvement just when we were packing up to leave.  Kim and I want to go back and do more!