New Tools

Well it was a very dry winter in Tassie this year.  Our western lake didn’t get much more than a puddle in the bottom, and everyone seems to be predicting a hot dry summer.  I don’t even want to know how much hay is going to cost this coming year!
We have been preparing our middle paddock to plant pasture, despite various setbacks, and we are hoping to have it happening early Autumn so we can get some grass growing before winter.  We were thinking of organising it for a spring planting, but things never seem to quite go to plan.  🙂  We were pretty chuffed when we bought a rotary hoe for our tractor at a bargain price of $350, with another $150 spent on repairs it was still a fantastic price and will be a great asset to us when it comes to preparing the ground for planting.  We hooked it up to the tractor to try it out and it seemed to work just fine – until we actually put any load on it – then sadly the power take off on the tractor (which is what drives the rotary hoe) just stopped.  The power take off (or PTO) has a clutch which we assume is almost worn out.  Kim is now in the process of working out how best to adjust or fix it so we can get back to work.  Most of our tractor implements do not use the PTO so it hasn’t been something we realised didn’t work before.
Tractor with Rotary Hoe attached

Tractor with Rotary Hoe attached

Having an ancient tractor is a bit of an exercise in patience and continual restoration, but we can’t afford a nice new one and certainly having something is usually better than nothing – although Kim as the resident mechanic does not always agree.  The other thing about having a tractor is that you then just can’t seem to help collecting implements for them, and there is a certain amount of fun in getting them at a great price.  Our tractor arrived with no implements whatsoever.  We now have a crane, a hay spike, a carry all, a set of discs, a single furrow plough, a 3 furrow mouldboard plough, a post hole digger (also uses the PTO), the rotary hoe and our latest purchase just yesterday was of a loader bucket.  Tractor hydraulics are a wonderful labour saving invention.  If the PTO gets fixed we also dream of buying a slasher, and we want some grass harrows too and, and, and….
Kim on Tractor with loader bucket

Kim on Tractor with loader bucket

When not working on cars or tractors or being sick after becoming allergic to leach bites, Kim has been enjoying taking photos.
Superb Fairwren (Malurus Cyaneus) Male

Superb Fairwren (Malurus Cyaneus) Male

Superb Fairwren (Malurus Cyaneus) Male

Showing the detail – Superb Fairwren (Malurus Cyaneus) Male

Richmond Bridge

Richmond Bridge

Silvereye (Zosterops Lateralis)

Silvereye (Zosterops Lateralis)

Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)

He is president of the local photography club this year and has been printing some of his pictures out in preparation for the exhibition they have each year.  One major expense after the printing is the framing, and so Kim has invested in a matt cutter and some matt so that he can do a lot of that himself as well.  Since space is always at a premium at our place he has set himself up in one of Paul’s sheds to do this, and he does a nice professional job if I say so myself.  The right tools for the job really help too.

The framing room at Paul's

The framing room at Paul’s

Speaking of Paul’s place, we have been working on an aquaponics set up there.  Aquaponics is a system where plants are in a rocky grow bed which is regularly flooded and drained with water from a fish tank.  The idea is that the plants get nutrients from the fish waste and the fish have their water cleaned and aerated as it goes through the grow bed.  Lydia tried it out at home a year or so ago, but we bought some river rocks for the grow bed which turned out to leech lime badly, so it was not a success as the water turned alkaline and killed the fish.  Paul has a large fish pond in his yard and he was keen to give the system a go, as it seems like it would be good for his fish pond and be a easy vegetable growing system requiring little work.  We have used the tub, syphon and pump from Lydia’s set up and found a shop selling a fancy grow bed media called Hydroton which is guaranteed to be pH stable.  We rebuilt the shelf in Paul’s greenhouse so it could handle the weight and have set it all up as a trial.  It looks good so far with some tomatoes, capsicum, chilli and lettuce planted, and the pond is already looking better for the constant aerating as the water drains back into it.  If it works well this season we can expand it in the future.
Aquaponics

Aquaponics

Aquaponics

Aquaponics

Meanwhile at home I have been enjoying a Kenwood Chef that I bought second hand with a bunch of attachments.  I am finding it absolutely wonderful as I make a lot of our own food these days in order to fit in with various dietary constraints.  It certainly makes whipping cream for our ice cream and mixing biscuit dough etc a heap easier.  The mincer attachment does a good job of mincing meat too and the sieve is invaluable for sieving my homemade tomato sauce.  However I would say the very best part is the pasta maker which is SO much better than a manual one that I can’t believe you can’t buy one on it’s own.  We have had lasagne every week since I bought the machine!  (Incidentally the flowers you can see in the vase are some Calla Lillies from Lydia’s work.)

Kenwood Chef with attachments

Kenwood Chef with attachments

I also have tried out a dehydrator that I got from a garage sale to dry some rosemary from Paul’s garden.  It worked a treat, so I will have to see what else would be good to dry and store.
Dehydrator

Dehydrator

We recently sold our old international truck that was buried under a collapsed shed on the property when we arrived.
International AS-110 Truck

International AS-110 Truck

The chap who bought it plans to restore it and use it to market his business.  We figured that we were never going to get around to fixing it ourselves, so it was good to see it going somewhere it would be worked on.  Amazingly enough the tyres held pressure and it rolled onto the trailer with only one wheel refusing to turn.
OldTruckLeaving
Lydia has been taking advantage of the longer days to get in some work with her pony Silk, including doing some riding.  Silk copes with Lyd’s weight just fine and it looks like she is going to work out well.
Lydia long reining Silk

Lydia long reining Silk

SONY DSC

Lydia riding Silk

We had a farewell service at church recently as our overseeing pastor took his final service there.  He is retiring due to health problems and moving over to the mainland.  We will greatly miss him and his guidance.  The future of our little church fellowship is in some doubt, but we will just have to wait and see what is in store for us all.
Kim was excited to spot this little pardalote in our front yard the other day.  It looked like a pair of them were setting up a nest in the side of the ditch we had dug for our drain, and Kim was keen to think he could take lots of photos of them there.  (I was a little more reserved as I had been hoping to finish covering the drain soon.)  An interesting fact about some pardalotes is that apparently they migrate from Tasmania to the mainland before winter each year, coming back to breed the following season.  They are such tiny birds it seems amazing that they could fly some 300km over the sea!
Spotted Pardalote (Pardalotus Punctatus) Male

Spotted Pardalote (Pardalotus Punctatus) Male

However a couple of days later we saw this fellow meandering through the yard in the late afternoon.  No less than a spotted tailed quoll, rather a fierce hunter who can take down a turkey if it wants to, and who would no doubt enjoy an appetiser of pardalote!  Unsurprisingly we haven’t seen those pardalotes again.  I’m hoping they moved, rather than got eaten but I can’t be sure.
Spotted-tail Quoll (Dasyurus Maculatus)

Spotted-tail Quoll (Dasyurus Maculatus)

Well, I think that is most of our news for the moment.  Take care and keep in touch!
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