Archive for April, 2008

Map

April 25, 2008

We just recently found out that the Google earth image has been updated recently.  You can now see a bit more, including the carport out the front of our house, the cars all lined up in the “parking area” and even a chook dome in the vege area.  I updated an overlaid map I did to show my dad where everything was on the block, so thought I would include that to you all as well.

Rallys and Fences

April 24, 2008

Well, here I am stuck inside while everyone else is outside moving the pigs.  I managed to “twang” my back this morning whilst feeding the chooks, its an old injury which recurs every now and then.  Hopefully I will be back on deck again in a day or two.  In the meantime it makes me feel rather unproductive, so I thought I would make use of the enforced immobility to catch up on our news.

We had our road closed one day last week when the Targa Tasmania car rally raced through the Gog range to Paradise.  We decided to watch it so took a picnic lunch down the end of our road, climbed into the paddock and saw them come over the bridge and race away up the hill.  Caleb and Kim who are our family’s car enthusiasts stayed for it all and enjoyed identifying all the cars.

I am told that this is a Porsche 924 GTS – one of only 59 in the world.

This 1958 Austin Healey Sprite stalled when coming over the bridge and the guys spent ages pulling it apart to fix it.  In the end they asked if we had any wire, so I nipped home and brought them back some fencing wire which they used to help clear a fuel line before heading back into the race.  They lost a lot of time but still finished ahead of several others.

We have had another set of visitors from Albany since I last wrote, this time Randall who I worked with at the uni and his wife.  They camped overnight in a van before heading off the next day.  I think we have more visitors here than I ever had anywhere else before – it is good fun.

It is funny how you never notice some things, at least not in any detail, until you get involved with them for yourself.  I have been taking a sudden interest in farm fences since we began to build our own.  The ones around here are all a bit intensive to my mind and I don’t recall ever seeing any quite like them in WA.

The common fence around here is like those in the picture above.  It  has posts dug in every 4 to 5 metres or so but in between there are numerous “droppers” which are usually thinner wood pieces which are not dug into the ground but just attached to the wires.  They tend to be placed about 1 metre apart.  I guess they stop the wires from separating or something – although that does not explain why you often get them on ringlock mesh fences as well.  All the advice we got from people in the local rural supply shops was to use droppers in the same way.  However when Kim read up in the manufacturers manuals they don’t suggest anything like it, so we have decided to go with their recommendations instead.  Their methods take less work, are cheaper and appeal to the intellect as well, so win out on all counts.  🙂

Accordingly we have finished putting up our first fence line.  Yay!  We have the strainer posts up for the next line now, and we are working on putting the posts in.  After that we will need to cut and de-bark more posts for the final two fence lines.  It will be really nice to actually have a whole paddock fenced!  Lydia and Josiah and myself have been doing most of the bark removal of our posts.

While Caleb and Sam have been doing the majority of the digging.  Kim is our manager, doing all the research and planning and directing our progress.  He also put on the insulators and did most of the running of the wires.

Lyd has been enjoying watching her chicks grow.  They are pretty fearless these days and will eat out of her hands quite happily – although they do not enjoy a cuddle.

Her Australorp cockerel has settled in now and is growing well.  We have still not settled on a name for him.  For the first week he was being called “Henpecked” since the others were giving him a hard time as chooks do.  However thankfully that does not suit anymore so we are trying to find something appropriate.  Any suggestions?

Well, I just went down to see the pigs installed in their new area.  Lifting the cement trough and villa over the fence took a few muscles!

The pigs seem thrilled to have a new plot to dig up and were running around hunting down delicacies when we left them to it.

Family Visit

April 9, 2008

We have spent the last week with most of us snuffling, sneezing and coughing and it is still not over, but otherwise things are going well.

We had another visit from some Albany-ites recently.  Sharron and Graeme Wise dropped in one afternoon.  They were travelling in a campervan around the state.  It was good to hear some news from them, and to see some familiar faces.

We really enjoyed having my mum and dad over for two and a half weeks, although the poor things had quite an adventure getting here with various delays over flights.  They were sent home from the airport the first night and Qantas put them up in Melbourne the second night before they finally arrived.  We showed them around a number of places in the north west.  Went to Devonport, Sheffield, Cradle Mountain, Boat Harbour (where the boys had a swim), Stanley and the nut, Cataract Gorge and City Park in Launceston.

The folks visited the local caves and honey shop.  We also all went to the local wildlife park where we got to feed some kangaroos, stroke a koala, hold a baby wombat and get up close to some devils.

We have been seeing a bit more wildlife on the block too.  There was a tawny frogmouth who decided outside our house was a good place to watch for prey for a while.  He would let us get very close before moving off.

Then one night as I was trying to get to sleep I heard a ‘plop’ next to my pillow.  When I turned on the light to see what it was I found a bat.  What else could I do but get the camera and take some photos?  This one is a Chocolate Wattled Bat, different to the one that flies around in the boys building.  We wondered if it was the very same bat that we woke from it’s hibernation when we were lining the building.  Perhaps it came back to see if it could go back to it’s old hideout.  It just lay there and chattered at us a bit while we took the photo.  Then we opened the window and placed it outside on the roof and it flew merrily off and we haven’t seen it since.

Lydia was given a hen with 5 half grown chicks and another hen and a bantam rooster recently.  They have a dome of their own and she plans to breed some chicks later this year.  She loved having them and was letting them out to free range some days until we had a sad encounter with a bird of prey, and the rooster is no more.  All the birds were hiding and my mob were cowering in the back of their dome too when she went down to check on them.  We were relieved to find all the chicks and hens were okay when we finally got them safely back into their dome at dusk.  Last weekend Lydia got an Australorp cockerel to replace the lost rooster.  He is HUGE compared to the last fellow.

The bird who took our mini rooster was a White Goshawk, and was actually a very beautiful bird in a cruel kind of way.  The claws on her were huge and dangerous looking.  It was surprising how hard she was to see considering how bright and white she was.  The kookaburras didn’t like having her around and kept chasing her about.

Farming wise we have started work on our permanent fencing.  We have been cutting down some trees and making posts.  Our first post hole is dug now (900mm deep, no mean feat in our clay/rocky soil).  However everyone’s health problems have slowed us down a bit.  We have also built a composting area using our own trees as poles.  My dad was very helpful in teaching us how to dig pole holes.  We were not getting very far until he got us into using a big crow bar to break up the clay/rock which made an impossible job much more manageable.

I am pleased to report that the new electric fence energiser is restraining the piglets well.  They are doing a good job of ploughing up their new section.  We plan to move them again soon so they can work over another area, and we’ll probably plant some wheat or barley in behind them.

The grasshoppers seem to have slowed down recently so I have been planting seedlings into my garden plots again.  We have one garden with some frost sensitive plants in that we use our hothouse dome to protect whenever the nights are cold.  Otherwise everything else is supposed to cope with the cold.  We’ll see.  It’s a bit of trial and error.  Kim has been making plans for a hot house near the house where I can raise my seedlings.

I have had fun doing lots of bottling.  I have bottled plums, nectarines, apples and tomatoes and am now working on pears.  I’ve also made up and bottled some chasseur sauce and some bolognaise sauce.  Finding the space to store them is the latest challenge.  Still at least they are safe from possums in the jars so far.  We were keeping our stockpile of fresh apples in an old fridge outside, but a falling tree put a dent in the fridge (better than a dent in my head anyway) and it made the door not shut properly anymore so the possums have been feasting on apples for a few days.

We have had some good rains lately which is great as our creek was getting ever slower.  God willing we should be fine for our water supply now for the rest of the year.  The weather can change so quickly.  We went from having 30 degrees one day to lighting the fire in the mornings two days later.  The other day we even had some snow on the tiers in the morning.

The Targa Tasmania is on soon and in a weeks time and we will be stuck at home for a day when the Paradise section is being run.  The road at the end of our gravel road is part of the race.  Having travelled the bends along that road regularly I think that the rally racers will have their work cut out for them.  I imagine they will find it great fun.

We are greatly enjoying having our Audi back on the road.  My folks kindly paid for us to get the car fixed rather than paying to hire a car while they were here.  It meant that they could use the Audi while they were here, and now we can drive in comfort again.  It was very clever of them to think of that, and much appreciated.

In church news our secretary/treasurer had a fall the other week and broke his hip.  At 87 I thought he would be in hospital for months but when we visited him he was already walking around, so I guess the break was not too serious, just hairline or something.  He hopes to be home soon.

When we went to the community tea on Monday night we were talking to a couple, Simon and Marie, who are new to town.  They have just moved into Chudleigh (the neighbouring town to Mole Creek) from Albany.  Funnily enough Marie and I used to be in the same dog training class in Albany.  Its a small world.  Especially since I know another lady from dog training who also bought a property in Tasmania, although further up north.