Archive for February, 2015

Catching up again

February 14, 2015
Summer has been mild over here this year, though it has been very dry since Christmas.  It is starting to look like the mainland with all the dead grass, though the 30mm of rain we had today should hopefully help things to start to revive.  So what have we been up to since I last wrote?
Well, my Christmas present to myself was a 4 shaft weaving loom that we bought from a charity shop in Launceston.  Lydia and I have enjoyed learning how to set up the loom, winding the warp and threading it onto the machine, and then doing the weaving itself.

Slaying the reed

So far we have made a couple of woollen scarves and a cotton tea towel, the one in the picture below was our first scarf and the weft wool we used was my homespun alpaca.  We alternated patterns with plain weave as we went and it ended up looking quite nice and rustic.

Kim continues to enjoy getting back into photography.  He particularly loves photographing the small splendid wrens that we share our property with, and any other birds he can find.
Superb Fairywren (Malurus Cyaneus)
And every now and then he takes off somewhere to take some scenic shots, in this case Lydia went too and they did the Dove Lake walk at Cradle Mountain.
Lydia sketching at Cradle Mountain
Speaking of Lydia, she has been working hard at the honey farm in Sheffield, doing a couple of 10 hour days most weeks extracting honey.  We also had one our our pigeon squabs missing out on his full quota of feed from his parents, so she was supplementing his meals every day with some sloppy egg and breadcrumb mix.  He (or she) is all grown up now and doing fine on his own.
Feeding the squab
Lydia also decided that she should sell her pony as he was never going to be big enough for her to ride, although it was a hard decision as he was a lovely natured little fellow.  A man from Westbury bought him to train up for his granddaughter to ride.  This photo is of Lyd catching Shasta just as the buyer is driving up the driveway with his float.

Lydia putting the halter on Shasta as the horse float arrives
And loading onto the float to leave.
Shasta going onto the float
So then we got to go out pony shopping for a replacement, which was an interesting experience.  The new pony that she decided on is a 4 year old Welsh B mare called Silk.  She is still small, but larger than Shasta and should be fine for the amount Lydia wants to ride.  She still needs some training, but Lydia enjoys doing that.
Lydia with Silk and Zorro
Lydia with Silk
Meanwhile my garden cages have been going well.  The peas and lettuce went well, and the tomatoes have grown better than every before.  Of course they are still all green, and everyone in town is waiting with bated breath to see if the weather stays warm long enough for our tomatoes to ripen this year.  It is an annual event, and everyone always asks “how are your tomatoes going?” at this time of year.  🙂
Main veggie garden
Gardens - Raspberries, Tomatoes, Cathy
My potatoes have outdone themselves and are crowded together in their own cage/garden.  I am hoping that they set spuds and don’t spend all their energy just on all that green growth.
Gardens - Potatoes
It is a general family consensus that the best $600 we have ever spent went on buying and installing this second hand Daikin air conditioner as it has kept our home lovely and cool this summer.  (Yes, even 25° feels warm when you have acclimatised to Tasmanian weather.)  We saw it on gumtree during a particularly hot and humid week, and the guy selling it had a sparky friend who offered to install it, so we had it working in just a few days which was great, and we have not regretted it.  It’s power consumption is nice and low so it runs readily off our little solar system and it makes our home refreshing to walk into after being out working in the warm weather.  Of course it can heat too, so it can be used during cooler weather too if we have the power available.
One project Lydia recently undertook was to set up a small aquaponics system to try out.  She cut the top off a blue plastic 200L drum and filled it with rocks.  Underneath this is the larger part of the drum which has fish in it.  A pump runs water from the fish area up to the rock and plant area and when the water is 1” lower than the rocks a syphon operates automatically to drain all the water back down into the base which aerates the water nicely for the fish.  The idea is that the plants are fed from the waste products of the fish and the flood and drain system means the plants get sufficient water and oxygen too.  We have only had it running for a week or so at this stage, we caught some goldfish from Paul’s large pond in his back yard and the plants were just some that we pulled out of the greenhouse, but all seems to be working well.  It was weird to plant the plants into straight rock though, it just felt wrong somehow.
The water pickup area in our little creek has been getting really shallow over summer, and Kim decided the best way we could cheaply and easily make it deeper was to make a mini dam out of sandbags.  Accordingly we filled a bunch of sandbags with the dirt that had been  piled up when they dug the drain through the cow paddock last year, and loaded them all onto the tractor.  The cows thought the whole process was really fascinating.  D’artagnan kept trying to scratch himself behind his horns on the filled bags, and he even managed to hook one over his horn and carry it about for a while.  Twinkles wanted to try eating the bags, and failing that was going to try out the hoses on the tractor, all of which made the job take a bit longer than it might have otherwise!
But as you can see we finally got the sandbags in the creek.  Hopefully you can make out the bags in place at the very bottom of the picture, though it may be hard to differentiate them in the photo from the bank which is still about 2 feet higher than the top of the mini dam.  Kim had to push the sanbags way under the banks on both sides as the water had undermined them a lot.  You can see how deep the creek is now – almost up to Kim’s knees (hee hee), which was a lot better than it had been.  I had been digging a hole in the creek bed to keep the pickup pipe under water for the last month.  It is definitely not a perfect job, but it really does help.  Hopefully it will last a while too.
Caleb and Sam still struggle with their health.  Caleb is continuing with his online Uni course in Japanese.  Sam is looking forward to a trip this Wednesday to Hobart for a “Third Day” concert.  All going well Kim will be driving him down and they plan to stay the night and return the next day.  Josiah is still homeschooling, he is in year 9 this year and is doing the usual English, Mathematics, Science, History core subjects as well as Japanese and Programming and some work studies too.  Here he is learning to solder last week.
Josiah learning soldering
We took the month of January off from our little church this year, and spent the Sundays visiting some other churches.  It was lovely to meet some new folk and renew friendships with others, and just not having to be responsible for setting up for the services ourselves made for a pleasant change.  We have returned to our own Mole Creek fellowship again now though.