Archive for the ‘Cars’ Category

Winter News

June 23, 2018

It has been 2 months since I last emailed, so I assume we should have some more news to share.  🙂   We have been doing more upgrades on the manor where our eldest two boys sleep.  Firstly we used our new platform arrangement on the tractor to put the flue up for the replacement wood heater that we installed.  Those flues go really high!

ManorWoodfire copy

Then we put in some second hand floating flooring which I had found on Gumtree. It looks quite nice and should be tougher than the yellow tongue flooring we put in earlier. Also, since it has underlay underneath which should help to insulate the building as well.

MoreManorUpgrades2

We still have to do the area under the beds, but apparently we took too much power out of the manor’s batteries using the power saw so we will have to wait a bit before finishing the job. Everyone came up to admire the progress though. 🙂

MoreManorUpgrades

I also did some more experimenting with cheese making while Twinkles was giving us 5L a day. (She is down to 3L a day now, so the cheesemaking has come to a halt again.) The red waxed one is a parmesan, but the other two were made using a fairly basic recipe from my favourite house cow book. I even made my own culture from Kim’s favourite cheese, and I think the flavour was better as a result.

Home made cheeses

After that Kim and I took off for two weeks away in sunny Perth. The timing was organised so that we could attend my nephew’s wedding. It was a lovely wedding held in a beautiful garden in Swan Valley, and the weather was perfect too.

Wedding

We had a lot of precious family time while we were there, especially with my parents and both of my sisters. My uncle also had his 80th birthday celebration while we were there and so we got to catch up with a lot of my extended family as well, with some folk coming from as far away as New Zealand.

Trevor Banyard's 80th Birthday

Kim tried to reconnect with his father’s side of the family as well, but he had no success. It looks like it might take a bit more chasing around to find any other Howe’s. However he did catch up with one school friend (when did they get so grey haired???) …

Kim with Robert Keller

… and got to go out and take some photos with another good friend who shares his passion for bird photography.

Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)

We were blessed to find the time to have a quick peek at the progress our good friends have made on their straw bale house. They are doing a truly amazing job!

StrawbaleProgress

And we shared a meal and good conversation with some other good friends. Sadly we didn’t get to travel down to Albany this time, but the focus of the visit was my immediate family and we got a lot of lovely time with them.

CookingTogether

When we got back home Kim took the bus down to Hobart to look at an automatic car for Lydia. Lydia only drives automatics and unfortunately the one that we have keeps having minor problems which mean she cannot take her driving test in it, so we decided a second one might be a good idea. After looking at the car Kim decided that it needed more work done than he really wanted to do so he said he would not buy it. However it turned out that the guy selling it was pretty desperate to get the sale and the long and the short of it was that he talked Kim into buying it at a good enough price that it was worth doing the work on it. They got the paperwork done and Kim filled the car up ready to drive home, then he jumped in and turned the key and the car went “click” and just would not go! A few hours later the RACT gave up trying to get it going too, and they hired Kim a car to drive home in and organised to tow the new car up the following week. We really got our money’s worth on the ultimate roadside assistance this year! On the way home in the hire car Kim stopped by and took a night shot of Richmond Bridge.

BridgeAtNight

Since then Kim has replaced the starter motor and the car is now going again. It is a 2007 V6 3L Citroen C5, which makes it our most up to date car yet. The other required parts, a steering tie rod end and timing belt kit, arrived this week so now the work can be done. Kim is not looking forward to doing the timing belt as it requires special tools and is rather complicated, so he plans to do it with the help of his Citroen mechanic friend who now conveniently lives just over the mountain and has a nice new cement floored shed with a hoist! We are looking forward to having this car on the road as it has lots of safety equipment, plenty of power and headlights that turn with the steering. The headlights are really brilliant for driving through the twisty mountain pass in the dark, which Lydia has to do twice a day at this time of year.

BlackC5

The last car we bought was also a Citroen. We very much like the hydraulic suspension. We were buying it as a spare parts car for Kim’s Xantia as it was so cheap ($350), but in the end we decided it was too good for that so we fitted it with a new set of suspension spheres and it is now a daily driver for us. I really like it!

WhiteXantia

The major activity for this last week was turning Twinkle’s last calf, now a 14 month old bull, into beef in the freezer. It is always an ‘all hands on deck’ job despite our local dairy farmer doing the slaughtering, dressing and butchering. He is trying to get us more involved in the process these days so that he can go home earlier. As a result we ended up cutting a lot of the steaks ourselves and did all the mincing with our own machine as well. Then there are the fatty offcuts to trim dog food from, the bones to select for dogs, soup bones or burying, the fat to turn into tallow and everything to clean up after the work is done. It generally takes us a few days before everything is sorted. We filled our freezer as well as Paul’s after putting everything into meal sized portions. It is delicious to have some cuts of meat, like eye fillet, that we would never normally buy for ourselves. We got about $2,500 worth of meat at supermarket prices this time so it makes rearing the calf, which is really just a byproduct of having a milking cow, feel worth the effort. If we had more pasture and didn’t have to buy so much hay it would be even more profitable.

BeefInFreezer

We have given up on doing more to micro hydro for now until the warmer weather arrives.  Kim has heaps of mechanical work to do which is taking priority, and it is often just too cold to work outside for more than a few hours each day at this time of year.  The heated workshop that Kim has planned will definitely come in handy when we get it done!  Maybe next year?

Well, that is all the news I can think of at the moment.  Wishing you all the best.

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New Year Happenings

January 5, 2018

Hello and welcome to the new year!

Kim’s brother Paul gave us a scare when he rolled his car one morning in the Gog Pass, between our place and Sheffield.  It was just one of those errors in judgement of speed when coming suddenly upon a wet and slippery part of the road with gravel on it at a particularly nasty set of bends.  He fishtailed for a bit, almost had it under control but then had to take another sharp bend which was just too much, whereupon he went up the bank, slid along it for a way and then slowly rolled all the way over, somehow managing to miss all the trees.  The car is a write off but thankfully Paul walked away with just a scratch, for which we are all thanking God.
Rolled Audi
The car was towed back here to be added to our personal wrecking yard which is hidden away up in the bush.  We then decided that we needed to make this dead car area a bit more useful, so spent a few days removing some of the smaller trees and running the grader blade around to clear some good paths and parking areas, then we moved all the cars into accessible spots. (Tractors are wonderful things!)  The result is quite good, and has made for a wrecking yard that will be far more useful for Kim.  We do use parts from the old cars so it is good to have it done.
Wrecking Yard
Lydia’s pony Silk has been a cause for concern too, as she suddenly became lame with the onset of laminitis.  Ponies are commonly susceptible to laminitis from good feed, but Silk had never shown any signs of problems before.  We have been steadily working on improving our paddocks, so I guess they finally have reached a stage where the spring growth can cause her some issues.  It has meant that we have had to isolate her in a “starvation” pen, where all she is allowed to eat is hay that has been soaked in water to remove a lot of the sugars from it.  She is not overly impressed with her new diet, but is steadily improving which is the main thing.
Silk in Pen
Meanwhile the vegetable gardens are coming along with the promise of a good harvest of peas, cabbage, lettuce, celery, beetroot, carrots, onions, tomatoes, cucumber and corn.
VeggieGarden3
VeggieGarden2
I even risked trying a quick growing melon this year.  Now if it can all just ripen before the first frost of the new year….  One has to be very patient with vegetable gardening in Mole Creek!
VeggieGarden1
We have been doing well with raspberries this year.  Locking the chooks out early was the trick I think, plus lots of water.
Raspberries
We have a friend from church who had a lot of gear and urgently needed a place to store it, so we suggested he could put a plastic carport up and keep it here.  If nothing else we do have space!  All the gear arrived last week on the back of a truck and we spent the next morning shifting it all into place with the tractor and setting up the carport over the top.  Hopefully we have selected a nice sheltered place so that the carport will last.  Wind storms will be the challenge, but we have used these carports quite a bit and have some spare parts available if anything does go wrong.  I dream of large sheds and lots of undercover areas.  🙂
JDs Carport
I extended the ramp up to the main building yesterday, to make the slope less severe for Lupo, the old dog.  We put carpet on it too which seems to have made it a lot better for her wobbly old legs.  I have to admit it has made it a lot easier for my old legs too!
Ramp
The kids are looking forward to seeing some friends who will be holidaying nearby soon.  We have loaned them our little Peugeot for their visit (and are missing it’s lovely air conditioner).  🙂  However Lydia has organised a couple of weeks off so we shouldn’t need to be driving so much for the time being.
I was wondering if anyone could help me to identify a couple of plants in our yard?  The first one is a bush which can reach a height of about 2m.  It has stalk with segments which are hollow like bamboo
Bamboo Type Plant
and it has pretty dangly flowers.  It seems to be spreading slowly around the yard, which is quite nice.
Bamboo Flowers
The second plant I only discovered this year in a bit of a hidden area.  It is also quite pleasant so I wouldn’t mind encouraging it to spread a bit more.
Yellow Flowers
Well, that is all for now.  Best wishes to you for the New Year.
Cathy

Conglomeration of Car Complaints

July 28, 2017

Well, July has been (and continues to be) a difficult month!  Kim’s health has been very poor and his Chronic Fatigue has been greatly exacerbated by various wogs and also kidney stones. What he needed to recover properly was rest and a lack of stress, but that has not been easy to come by.

Firstly our brand new and very expensive fridge has been playing up – it just stops cooling every now and then despite the fan going and the lights being on.  Kim thinks it is a computer fault as if you turn it off for 10 minutes and then turn it back on it starts to work again.  It has had one part replaced but the fault continues!
Then we had our steer, Stu – the big brown and white boy, butchered at home which is a full hands on event for everyone, and of course half of us were sick and miserable at the time.  We managed to get the job done though with the help of extended family and friends – who were paid for their efforts in delicious fresh beef!  It is lovely to have such a variety of cuts of meat to use again, and it tastes wonderful.

Smokey, Twindles and Straight-Line-Stu

Lydia booked her cat in for sterilising the other week, only to have her come on heat before we could take her in.  Now we have to put up with yowling and crazy cat antics for a week or so until she can get taken safely to the vets.  We are very glad that Lydia bought a huge cage for her as it means we do not have to have her loose in our sleeping quarters – instead she gets evicted into the cage on the veranda each evening.

The main issue of the month has been cars!  You would think that with 6 cars we should be able to keep on the road quite easily, but we do a huge number of kilometres each week and it has been a constant challenge to keep the cars going for the last couple of weeks.  Poor Kim has already been struggling to just get by with his shocking health, and he really isn’t helped by all this urgent mechanical work which often only he can deal with.  Firstly the two Citroens had their alternators fail within 2 days of each other.  The Xantia stopped when it’s battery went flat in the dark in the mountain range near home and Lyd had to walk up to the top of the pass to get enough phone service to call for help.  Kim took a battery out of another car which managed to give it enough power to drive it home that night.  We took the Xantia to an auto electrician a couple of days later and he fixed the alternator but reported that the cause of the problem was a leaking pump situated directly above the alternator and which had filled it with oil and gunk!  The leaking pump is still awaiting fixing as it requires various parts to come from an online order.

Kim had a spare alternator for the C5 and he managed to put new bushes into that and installed it himself.  That got the C5 going for a week or two until Muggins here (yes, me), thick headed and in recovery from 2 nights of toothache agony without sleep followed shortly after by a tooth extraction, filled the car up with unleaded instead of diesel!!  It got towed home by the RACT the night before last and is awaiting repair.  That means pumping out 60L of mixed fuel and then flushing diesel through it all and hoping no permanent damage was done to the injection pump.  At least we do have access to second hand parts if needed.

Sam’s lovely new little convertible was going well until it’s accelerator cable broke.  Kim, our hero, managed to drive it home through the mountain pass just by adjusting the idle speed.  Our mechanic advised that we should just remove a cable from one of our spare parts cars – but two cable removals later we find that they don’t fit, so now we have to order a part online and wait for delivery.  Kim attempted to get creative this morning by joining two separate cables, but the attempt failed as the join interfered with the proper working of the cable.
Our lovely old Caravelle got pressed into action, but shortly afterwards it started to fill with steam.  Looking at it this morning we discovered a coolant leak dripping onto the heater core.  It looks like we need to source a new O ring  to stop the leak – hopefully that is all!
The good old reliable Peugeot 206 GTI has been the mainstay of our fleet, however even it has not been trouble free.  One morning when Kim had taken Lydia to work the exhaust fell down.  Thankfully Kim heard it hit the ground and stopped immediately.  With the help of a friendly passer by he managed to jury rig it back up and drove straight to a workshop to get fresh mounts put on.  After that I sadly hit a wallaby one morning on the way to Lydia’s work, that broke one of the fog lights and/or its mount.  Then yesterday Kim thought the power steering was not working as well as it should and when he went to check the power steering level this morning he found that it was just fine – but the alternator belt was only half the width it should be.  We assume something got tangled in it and caused it to fray and it must have been slipping sometimes.  He is worried that if we use the car then the belt will break, so it is best if we do not use that either.  He picked up a new belt this afternoon when he collected Lydia from work.

So, to pick up Lydia from work today – out came the old VW beetle!  Even it is not without issues as it has been waiting for it’s brakes to be done up for months, Kim tells me they are worn down but still working.  Perhaps fixing it will become more of a priority now!  Of course tomorrow is forecast for pouring rain, so I don’t see us fixing anything then.  Good grief!  It has got to the point where the multiple car problems have actually started to become a cause of amusement in the family now.  🙂

The good news for the month is that we did manage to find, purchase and get delivered (just yesterday) a bunch of 9m long 5” aluminium irrigation pipe, 57 of them in fact.  $5,200 worth!  This will be the piping for the micro hydro system.  We will need to get a couple of fittings and a few replacement seals but then should be able to start running the pipe down in the pre dug ditch.  It is very exciting, but I am sure is going to take us many months to do.  🙂
At the end of June we fitted more solar panels to the roof of the caravan’s annexe.  The fork lift on the tractor was a wonderful help!

Solar Panels being lifted onto the Annexe roof by MB Trac

Cathy fitting solar panels to the annexe roof

Solar panels on annexe roof

Despite taking care to use seals etc, we found that the ceiling was leaking after rain.  It always has leaked to some extent because of the poor design of the annexe which has a flat roof and water often pools on it and finds its way inside instead of running off, but now it was even worse.  The best solutions would all take lots of time and money and were not feasible in the middle of winter with rain forecast in the near future.  However, we have temporarily solved the problem by making a sloping raincoat of greenhouse plastic.  It is great to lie in bed hearing the rain and look up at the dry ceiling.  Amazing how little things can give a lot of pleasure.  🙂
Lydia had her birthday this month.  She organised the day off and spent many hours making sausages!  She made some basic beef ones and also an adjusted recipe of kase krainer sausages which had different spices and chunks of cheese in them – she smoked those ones the following day.  We learnt a lot in the process and will probably do better next time – but it was a VERY time consuming job.
Anyway, I best move on.  I am currently suffering from a mild stomach wog, caught no doubt at the hospital where I went on the weekend in desperation for some pain relief from the toothache.  In the end I found the most effective thing to be keeping my mouth cold by constantly sipping iced water.  Didn’t get much sleep though!  I’m very glad that is over.
*****ADDENDUM Monday 31/7/17******
I am pleased to report that the rain held off the following day (Saturday) until the afternoon and Kim managed to find a new way to join the convertible’s accelerator cable, which worked, and Caleb got the 206 most of the way through changing the frayed belt.  So things were looking up.  Then on Monday Caleb finished repairing the 206 and Kim managed to flush the fuel out of the tank of the C5, started it up and it worked just fine!  Every time one of the cars has an issue now we all start to giggle – somewhat maniacally perhaps – but we find it funny none the less!