Archive for December, 2007

What have we come to?

December 24, 2007

With the beetle unlicensed awaiting major welding and the wagon off the road with a worn out motor we really didn’t want the Audi to have have problems.  But sadly it’s transmission died on Saturday – in Perth of all places – so freaky having a Perth in Tasmania!  Despite having Ultimate membership the RAC were not terribly helpful annoyingly – our fault I guess for breaking down 93km from home instead of 100.

That means that we are now reduced to having only one vehicle on the road – a Datsun ute!  HORRORS!  What have we come to????  Those of you who know Kim will understand how much this must pain him.  🙂

Seasons Greetings

December 21, 2007

Just wanted to send you all our best wishes for the Christmas season and for the new year.  Despite reservations about it’s origins and current state we continue to celebrate Christmas as a time to remember the birth of God’s son.  We have decorated an outside tree this year, it was the right shape and there is much more room outside than inside for a tree!

As city slickers we have been enjoying watching the local farmers making hay and silage.  The paddocks were just so full of grass around here, and even after it has been slashed and rolled into hay rolls it is growing back really fast.  We are also pleased to have two vege gardens up and running now.  The chooks have been a little bit of a disappointment.  We had to teach them how to roost and they seem very confused when we throw them lettuce and cabbage offcuts as if they don’t know it is food.  On top of that they have gone off the lay so we are only getting the occasional egg from the 12 of them and it is very hard to have to buy eggs when you have 12 Isa Browns at home!  Still, they remain uneaten by quolls or devils so we are thankful for that, and I am sure they will adjust to their new lifestyle given time – but we miss the old girls we left behind in Albany.

We pulled the motor from our old VW wagon apart, and were briefly hopeful that the problem was isolated to just one cylinder as there was a broken oil ring and some freaky wear on the piston and gudgeon pins.  However, you can test the wear of a motor by putting the ring into the barrel and measuring the gap with a feeler gauge.  With this motor  it is considered worn if the gap is about 0.4mm.  In this case, as the photo shows, we could fit the whole set of feeler gauges into the gap!  🙂  So the long and the short of it is that we need a new motor.  😦  Surprisingly  there actually is one in Launceston, but we were hoping not to have to spend money like that right now.  However we have a couple of spare Beetle motors so Kim is seeing if he can get one adapted to fit into the wagon.

Howe Update

December 9, 2007

I thought it was time that I caught up on news again.  We have been keeping busy, although I often have to be reminded of what we have achieved because it is too easy to see just what still needs to be done instead of realising that we really are making progress.

We were blessed with some good rain this week, which is great as it means our little creek is certain to stay running for now (which is very important since we have no water storage as yet).  November was an overly dry month here but these latest rains have pretty much made up for that.  Since it was nice and wet we spent a day burning some of the tree prunings from the 9 trees that came down to make the satellite work and the 6 easy ones that came down because they were too close to the back of the house.  We have to register the fire with the Tasmanian fire service and must keep the combustable material to under one cubic metre, so we just basically fed a small fire for the whole day and got through an amazing amount of stuff – but there is still more to go!  I think I better get used to having a never ending “to be burned” pile.  It was good to get rid of our towering piles of branches though.  Only about one and a half trees left to go now.  One of the good things of having a fire is that we always put on some potatoes to roast in the ashes and they are really yummy.
We have also been doing some brushcutting and have cleared part of the area from the house over to a cement slab we found buried in the bush which we have put up a car shelter over the top of.  This shelter has the VW wagon under it which has meant Kim has been able to do some work on that, so the motor is now out and ready to be pulled apart and investigated.  It is very nice to be able to see some more space when you go outside.  We created a car parking area in the process, marking the boundaries with some logs to make it obvious.  Our wood stack is about 6 cubic metres worth now, largely thanks to Sam’s work in splitting the blocks.
I also set up an outside living area under the carport next to the house. Since there is not a lot of space inside, being able to spread out outside is rather nice, and on warm afternoons the breeze blowing through is very pleasant.
Kim has built some bookshelves in the vestibule/office which were filled up at an alarming rate, but it is great to have some of our books back out again, especially Kim’s Christian reference books.  He also made a bed extension for Josiah up in the clerestory which has meant we can spread out ourselves a little bit.
I’m pleased to report that our electric fence appears to be working and the chooks are still alive.  There is evidence of something trying to dig in – and failing!  On Friday we moved the dome and planted out our first batch of seedlings, YAY, here’s hoping the fence keeps out the rabbits and hares as well as the predators.  I decided that the seed raising spot I was using is too shady as the seedlings are a bit tall and straggly, so I have moved them all now to the newly cleared position which is much sunnier.  We also planted a little garden bed out there for Josiah to call his own.  The soil looks better there than where we have the chooks, but the theory is that the chook dome gardens should improve with use as the hens dig in mulch and fertilize the plots regularly.
Josiah celebrated his 7th birthday on Saturday.  He had a big family party with a pokemon theme and had a blast, despite overdosing on excitement.  I think he wishes he could have that much attention every day.  He is now enjoying his new bike bell, cash register, Lego and pokemon trading cards and has $10 to spend!
Lydia and I recently went to a Gingerbread night.  It was an outreach event run by the Branch and we had a good time there chatting to others at our table, viewing other people’s creativity, working together to assemble and decorate our own gingerbread house and hearing a gospel message.  Our house was personalised with 3 dome vege patches in the front yard, one with 2 chooks in it, 3 green trees down the side – one of which has been cut down by dad, and a spotted quoll face peeking from under the house.  🙂  It was a fun evening.
Speaking of quolls, our baby is still living under the lounge room and raiding our rubbish.  I thought I had thwarted him by putting the rubbish bags in an old bathtub and covering it with tin, but when the dog was snuffling vigourously around the bath the other morning I decided to investigate.  I tossed off the tin to find him sleeping in a rubbish bag!  So of course there was nothing to be done but to take a photo before he took off back under the house.  🙂  Mostly we don’t notice him too much except for the odd thump and bang at night or when the dog suddenly barks while snuffling at the floor, although Caleb did see him half way up a tree the other night.  The other sadder reality is that our nesting fantails are no longer nesting and the nests are empty, I rather think our quoll is likely to be responsible.
We also had a brush tail possum just out the front the other night who was down quite low and so we had to take a photo of that to share with you too.  The last time we saw possums out the front it was some ringtails instead.
Kim has been asked to take the service this coming Sunday at our tiny church.  He had offered to help out if ever someone could not come and they took him up on the offer.  He has been preparing a sermon on John 1 and would appreciate your prayers about that as he has only preached once before in his life, and here he will be leading the service as well.  Hopefully we will have a full church of 6 plus our own family.  🙂  The church is going much the same, we are very slowly starting to get to know the few people there.  I have asked to be included in the church cleaning roster, which apparently means that Beth and I will take turns, and I will be going along this Saturday to learn what is normally done.  I am hoping that Lydia will help me and that the boys can help Tory with keeping the outside of the premises tidy.  I think it is good for them to learn to be involved in practical ways.  However from what the Presbyterian preacher said last time he was visiting it sounds like it is on the cards that the church will be closed down at the end of this year, and if it is not then quite possibly our presence is largely responsible for them keeping it going.  I would really like to see it grow rather than fold.
There is a combined church event on this coming Sunday at 4pm in the Mole Creek Hall.  They invite the whole community and do a lot of Fusion type family games and events, have a free BBQ and sing Christmas carols and hopefully have some kind of message.  I believe there will even be camels!  We are getting involved as a family in supporting the event and will let you know what it is like.  As far as we know Kim will be cooking sausages, the boys will be supervising the wind tunnel and getting involved with the games, Lydia will be making balloon sculptures for the little kids and I may be trying my hand at face painting.
I am looking forward to school finishing in a weeks time.  It will mean we can get everyone working on the block instead – surely the kids won’t expect holidays to be doing no work will they?  Sam is still undecided whether to continue studying for another year, which he is entitled to do in Tassie and which would certainly be justified since his health has limited his time at school over the last few years, or to go to TAFE and perhaps do a librarian course or to try to get some work.  Caleb will probably do more units at TAFE unless a job opportunity arises while Lydia will continue her schooling at home and get practically involved in the gardening while researching other agriculture as well.  At least that is the plans so far.
Well, I think you’ve read enough for now and I better go.  I fear I am not going to get any Christmas cards out this year, but please accept our best wishes to you and your families for the coming Christmas season.  May God bless you in the year to come and may He be glorified in all you do.