Archive for the ‘Fencing’ Category

Still here!

November 6, 2019

Hello!

It seems like it has been quite a while since I last emailed.  Life rolls on here in Tassie.  We have had a relatively dry winter, without the flooding of certain areas on the property that we like to see most years as it indicates good ground water levels.  Now the weather is alternating between cool and warm every couple of days.  It seems like it can’t make up it’s mind, but that is a fairly normal state of affairs here.  It is not unusual to have sunshine, wind and rain alternating numerous times over a single day.  If you don’t like the weather – just wait half and hour.
I have not had the greatest of health, and nor has Kim, which has meant we haven’t achieved as much as we would have liked over winter.  I actually had a great deal of muscle and joint pain which limited me a great deal, enough to make me actually go to the doctor!  The problem turned out to have been caused by very low Vitamin D levels.  I have been slowly improving over the last few weeks as I am now taking supplements.  That time was a definite wake up call as to how much I will be physically able to do as I get older!  We are trying to come up with plans for the property that give us options of reducing the work load when we need to.  Our current lifestyle is nicely low cost, but the flip side of that is that it requires a fairly high labour input.  As an example in order to heat our water we have a solar water setup, which is connected to the slow combustion stove.  If the sun does not warm the water enough then we need to light the kitchen fire to raise the water temperature.  Wood fires are great, and we have plenty of wood on the property, but to turn it into firewood is quite time intensive – cut down a tree, cut it into rounds, split it into pieces, stack and store it in the container to dry, move it to the house, start the fire and keep it going.  It all takes time and energy.  To give us an alternative Kim is now going to add a gas HWS booster into the system, which will mean that we can choose to use that if we would like to.  It will cost more to run in dollars, but less in daily effort and will just give us options.  Meanwhile, we continue to work on preparing firewood for next winter.
FirewoodProduction
Josiah did a solid 2 months in his new job, before being made redundant when they decided to employ a full time cook and no longer needed a kitchen hand/counter sales trainee as a result.  He was quite disappointed and is back to job seeking now, with no success so far.  Caleb and Sam continue to have chronic health problems that severely limit their ability to work anything like regular hours, but we were thrilled when Sam got his drivers licence recently.  It shows how much better he is handling his anxiety problems at the moment.
Sam wtih Ps
Lydia continues to work hard at the flower farm.  Her work is getting busy at this time of year, and with the weather warming up she appreciates the times she does the packing in the cool room.  She is enjoying sleeping in her bus and recently fenced in an area outside so that her cat can enjoy the big wide outdoors.  She has also been adding a variety of pots and filling them with whatever seeds came up from the latest Woolworths promotion, so is developing a bit of a garden in there.
CatInRun
I have been unable to find any paid work this year, despite looking hard.  I became involved in a trial program that offers extra support to help resolve issues that limit people’s employability.  My issues are my age (not much I can do about that) and how long I have been out of the workforce.  As a result of advice from mentors in the program I enrolled in a TAFE computing course to update myself with the latest Windows and Office versions.  I quite enjoyed doing the course, especially as I could do most of it from home.  The co-ordinators have also been trying to get me a couple of weeks work experience with a local company, which I hope will happen later this month although we may have struck a hitch with insurance not being available unless they guarantee me a job – which is not going to happen.  I will probably offer to sign a waiver of liability or something as I think it would be a good experience for me and may well lead to some holiday and sick relief work.
We have run a new paddock for Lydia’s ponies up close to the house.  The area does not have much grass, which is actually what one pony needs to stop her getting laminitis.
HousePonyPaddock
We have also been making the ponies a hay feeder so that we don’t have to feed the hay by hand every day.  Lydia and I knocked up a wooden trial version last year from bits and pieces on the property, and liked it so much we have decided to make a larger more permanent version.  The feeder gets lifted over the top of a roll of hay and should mean less wastage as well as less labour.  I just had to finish adapting the bed ends to be a grid the ponies can feed through after this photo was taken, and then it was done.
PonyFeederAlmostDone
I wouldn’t mind getting some sort of hay feeder for Twinkles the cow one day too, but it would have to be a bit different as the cattle are quite a bit rougher on things in their paddock than the ponies seem to be.  Twinkles is on her own again at the moment as her last boy is now in the freezer and her new calf is not due until January.  We used a different mobile butcher this time as our original man is wanting to cut back on what he does (he is getting older too!).  The new guy was probably not quite as good and cost more, but using him certainly meant we did a lot less of the work ourselves which made it worthwhile.  He also has a mobile cool room so that we could hang the carcass safely before the butchering was done, and the meat has all been delicious and tender.
TwinklesInCalf
I started some tomatoes from seed in the caravan this year as Kim was keeping it nice and warm for us and it seemed a shame not to make some extra use of the heat.  They are doing well and I hope to get them planted out soon, but first I have to do some renovation work on my gardens to ensure the chooks cannot get in.  We had been considering making a new garden area in a year or two as our current areas are getting a bit old, and we could think of a few improvements to make on the original plan, but we are now thinking about changing our plans to raised garden beds instead.  Again trying to think ahead to how much we will be able to do in 10 years or so.  We have also been working on plans for redoing our fences.  We put the fences in 10-12 years ago using bush poles and most of them are rotting away now.  We also need the fences to do different things now than we did back then.  So the current plan is to have a 3 or 4 wire electric fence around the edge and to make divisions with poly wire.  We will also move a couple of the fence lines to avoid areas that flood, and will have an electric mesh fence around the chook area to keep that safe from quolls.
Tomatoes
The corgis have still not won any shows, possibly as much to do with our ability at presenting them as anything to do with them.  Our last show was a Welsh Corgi specialty show, which is quite a friendly show where we received some good advice on showing and grooming.  We also managed to buy a second hand show trolley locally, which has made going to shows much more manageable.
Show trolley
Sadly our two corgis do not always get along and we have had some fighting at times.  Most of the time they get along well, but then something will set the new girl Haru off, and she will attack Willow – and Willow might not start the fight, but she is more than willing to finish it!  We end up having to drag them apart or they just won’t stop.  We have had torn ears, bloody faces and sore paws so it is not just noise and motion.  We have been trying to identify what triggers Haru, and have had some success with avoiding those situations, but in the end we have decided that we are safer to only have one of them out at a time.  We never have any trouble with the German Shepherd, thankfully, so they can both still play with her.  We now have a dog pen set up in the verandah room,
WillowInPen
as well as turning Josiah’s old cabin into a rather comfy dog house with a run.  They get a bit yappy at times and give us sad looks but it is the only safe way.
HaruInCabin
Kim has been keeping busy planning our driving trip around the UK in March.  It has taken an enormous amount of his time in researching it all and booking flights, cars and accomodation, and he is not finished yet!  I think he has organised the first two weeks, so there is just another two weeks to go.  I have also booked a super short trip to Perth in early January for my Dad’s 90th birthday (hoping the cow will not produce her calf until I return!)  Dad had a bit of an episode in hospital in September with fluid around his heart, but they managed to stabilise everything again and send him home, which we were all exceedingly pleased about.  🙂
We currently have a pair of little Tasmanian Thornbills nesting outside our lounge room window.  They are kept busy every day feeding the new arrivals and we have our fingers crossed that they will safely raise them.  The last time we had birds nesting there it was a pair of Grey Fantails and much to our horror the babies disappeared one morning.  We think a Black Currawong was the culprit, and so we are hoping that we don’t have a repeat of that this year, especially since Kim has quite a soft spot for Tassie Thornbills.
Tasmanian Thornbill (Acanthiza Ewingii)
And I think that is most of my news for now.  Best wishes.

Drying Out

October 11, 2009

I am amazed at how quickly things are drying out on the block.  Dry ground is appearing, the driveway is passable and we are even able to start to run the final fenceline at the front of the block now.  One lake is still pretty full but the other one is definitely drying out.  Yesterday I saw a Black duck with her brood of ducklings swimming around on it, so it will obviously take more time before all that water is gone.  I hope to get a photo of them sometime soon but the ducks all keep their distance pretty carefully.

DucksOnLake

Daylight saving has begun again over here.  It is a funny thing because although I REALLY hated it in WA, I don’t find it a problem at all over here.  Perhaps it is because the children are mostly older and since we homeschool we can be flexible with time, but I think it is more likely to be because we don’t have those oven like weeks of hot temperatures that you get in Perth where early morning is the only time you can sleep.  Also here I have to get up at dawn to let the turkeys out and somehow it feels better to do that when the clock says 6:20am rather than 5:20am.  🙂

Speaking of turkeys our first broody hen has hatched her eggs.  Pancake had 6 poults although one died the first night so she now has 5.  So far she is proving to be a good mum and is free ranging around the block for a few hours a day.  Meanwhile we have another two turkey hens that have gone broody and are due to hatch in about 2 weeks.  When Pancake went broody I managed to get her to move into the turkey house where she was safe at nights, but I have been unable to move the other girls so they are staying out in the bush and taking their chances.  I would have preferred to keep them more restrained but since our planned turkey run is still under construction that is going to have to wait.  So far they are doing okay.  One of them, “Icy”, is pretty tough, I don’t dare go near her myself!

Those of you who are on my Facebook will have seen the turkey photos but I can’t resist sending them to everyone.  You can get a good idea of the size difference between the adult and the newly hatched bird in this shot.

PancakeAndPoult1

The babies are really sweet!

PancakesPoult

Look mum, this egg hasn’t hatched.

ThisEggStillToGoMum

Deep and meaningful conversation.

MumAndBub

Josiah is totally thrilled to have poults again and Pancake is pretty tame so she lets us handle them without getting upset.

JosiahAndPoults

This is the start of our turkey run.  1.8m high posts to enclose an area of 560sqm.  It will have mesh around it with a couple of electric wires to discourage climbers.  It will need internal divisions too when the hens are rearing their young or else they will fight.

TurkeyRunStart

I decided to have a go at making butter this week and was very pleased with the result.  Since we don’t buy that poor beat up homogenised milk, but drink “real” milk instead I was able to skim the cream from the top of our milk.  I confess I did cheat by beating it in our electric mixer instead of churning it properly, but that is only because I don’t have a milk churn to use.  I remember that there used to be a butter churn in the old house we lived in in Kelmscott, but I think it was sold at the same time as the house.  Such a shame that I didn’t realise that I would need it one day, it would have been useful and held sentimental value at the same time since it was used by my forebears.  Anyway I am promising myself that I will have an attempt at making cheese soon.  I have been reading books on the subject.

Butter

Ill health continues to dog the heels of Kim and the older boys but Lydia and I keep the household running.  The Saturday before last I went for the day to a Presbyterian ladies camp.  It was nice to meet a bunch of other ladies and to study and chat together.  I actually found it a bit amusing because they said they had never had anyone from Mole Creek church at the camp before and made me stand up and introduce myself.  Then whenever I spoke to anyone they would say “OOHH, you’re the lady from Mole Creek!”  I don’t think most of them had even realised that there WAS a church in Mole Creek before.  I felt almost famous.

I am afraid that I don’t seem have a lot to show this time.  With all the health issues there has been less work done on the projects than there would have been otherwise.  Still, I guess we have the rest of our lives to get these things done.  Plenty of time – God willing.  Oh, I should also report that Kim has finally come to the end of his gun license process.  A policewoman came to inspect our gun cabinet and he has now received both of his permits to purchase the guns we are getting.  Actually getting the gun cabinet inspected took a little while.  The first time the police were coming it was wet and in the evening and they were coming in a Holden sedan.  We had to warn them that the car was unlikely to make it up the driveway and that if they walked at night it would be 400 slippery meters to the house.  They wisely decided to come at a later time, but then were delayed because of a savage storm that left trees and powerlines down all over the place.  Some people were without power for almost a week after that.  They finally managed to come on a sunny day in a 4WD.  🙂  Anyway we collected one gun on Saturday and should be getting the second on next week.  It will mean that if we have any injured animals or wish to slaughter another pig then we can deal with it ourselves.

Spring at Milkenunny

October 25, 2008

Well it’s been a while since I have written a newsy email so I guess you’ll be wondering what the Howe menagerie have been up to for the last month or so.

Firstly we had decided to put 2 permanent dividers in our little one acre paddock, so we had to go through the whole clearing, running a line, cutting up posts, digging them in, attaching insulators, running wire and so on.  I could just say we put in fence divisions but it makes the process sound much too quick!  Anyway when we ran the wires on the first dividing fence we managed to mess up in most every way possible.  I’m not sure what we did with our brains on that day, but they sure weren’t working at their best.  Firstly the person running the top wire managed to drop it half way along and unknown to them it got hooked under the wire below so when it was finished and we stood up to admire it we had a lovely cross in the middle of the fence.  Then when we sorted that out we discovered that we had hooked one of the wires around the outside of our strainer post wire so when it was tensioned up it very effectively shorted the fence out.  Sigh.  We fixed that only to discover that the fence was still shorting out.  On examination we found that we had incorrectly attached two end insulators.  To explain for those not “in the know”, an electric fence insulator has two holes for wire to go through, so that the wires are kept apart.  The wire that attaches the insulator to the fence goes through one hole, and the live electric wire goes through the other hole.  They are definitely not meant to go through the same hole.  Finally, finally we got the job done and were all very relieved to find that it worked!  The second division caused no such problems, thankfully.

So the paddock is now divided into 3 parts.  Our original 3 pigs are in the middle section.  They have adopted my greenhouse dome as a shelter and remain as friendly as always.  They disappear in the scrub and have a ball in there.

Sweetie finally got out of her small area and is currently enjoying wandering through one end of the paddock which she has mostly to herself, with a couple of exceptions.

In the small section of about 330sqm that Sweetie has now vacated, and which she very thoroughly ploughed up for us, we have been planting potatoes, sunflowers, swedes and other assorted seedlings that I wanted to remove from my greenhouse and had no room for anywhere else.  I must say that while the pigs do a great job of ploughing I have yet to work out how to get them to level it when they are done.  So we had the fun of doing the leveling by hand, as well as digging the trenches and all.

 If only we could put a pig on a leash and get them to dig along a line drawn on the ground.  Ah well.

We’re looking forward to seeing things grow.

Another little piece has been cut out of Sweeties paddock for 3 piglets.  Yes, more pigs!  Caleb is thrilled.  These 3 are Berkshires, another rare breed.  They are all boys and only one will be kept for breeding.

The decision on who to keep has not yet been made.  My favourite does not have the classic Berkshire markings, but he is the sweetest.

The other end of the paddock is set apart for the chook domes and vege gardens.  Definitely no pigs allowed!

The gardens have started to get a bit more vigorous recently with the warmer weather, but just this Wednesday we had a frost which knocked off the tomato seedlings I had put out, as well as affecting the early potatoes and some of our sunflowers.  I thought that I had protected them all well enough but I was wrong, this frost stuff is very wierd.  I have since replaced the tomatoes and have put out my corn too so I feel like I am living life dangerously now.  You never know when you are going to get a frost over here – living life on the edge.  🙂

The chicks that Lyd incubated are down in the gardens now and are continuing to grow at a rate, although they still cheep rather than cluck.  Our guess so far is that 6 or 7 of them will be roosters, with only 2 or 3 hens.  They are all good big birds so I guess they should make good eating, though we were hoping for a few more hens in the mix.  Still, we like eating chicken too.  It’s just the killing, plucking and dressing part that is a bit of a drawback – although we are getting more experienced at that since a few people have given us some roosters for eating purposes.  At least Lydia’s favourite chick, affectionately known as Bruiser, looks like being a hen.

Speaking of chooks, Marigold who is one of Lydia’s little bantams, went broody a few weeks back and we put some of our own eggs under her and gave her her very own mini dome to sit in.  Just today she hatched out 3 adorable little chicks.  Two purebred Barnevelders and 1 cross bred Australorp.  She has 3 more eggs but if they have not hatched by tomorrow I doubt that they will.  Broody hens seems a lot more fun than incubators to me.

Now two of Lyd’s other hens have gone broody and we set some eggs under them today.  They peek out from under the curtains at us which is kind of funny.  We’ll see what happens this time!  Maybe soon there will be even more cheeping of little chicks.

And talking of broody poultry, our turkeys have gone broody.  Of course when I made the double nesting box for the turkeys I only expected the hens to go broody.  However the gobbler had ideas of his own and so he sits on one nest while Beauty, the brown hen, is on the nest next door.  Personally I blame the white hen.  She went broody first on a nest of her own making out in the bush.  We tried to move her into the nesting box at night, along with all her eggs, but she promptly refused to sit any longer after that.  This meant that we had a nest with eggs and no hen so the gobbler decided to take up the sitting duties himself.

I think he may well have ruined all the eggs since he was up and down quite a bit at first, and couldn’t decide which nest he liked best.  All the turkeys have been somewhat unreliable, and I will be surprised if we get any poults out of them.  In retrospect I should have removed most of the eggs as they were laid and only put them back when the girls were sitting properly, but we live and learn and I figure that we’ll let them try and see what happens.  The white hen began to sit again in her outside nest so we rigged up a fence around her this time and let her be.  Time will tell if any of this was worth the effort.  I guess if nothing else we can chalk it up to experience.

Both lakes that I sent pictures of before are completely dry now.  All that is left is a few tadpoles that we caught for Josiah to watch grow.  We could really do with more rain, we’ve had very little this month, well below drought levels.  We’ve been praying for more!

Just to ensure we don’t get bored we picked up another project recently in the form of a slow combustion stove.  It needs some restoration but will be great if we can get it going, especially in winter.  Kim hopes to get the hot water working from it sometime too.

The next project is to fence the 4 acres in front of our little paddock.  Then we can maybe get a house cow!   Sam is keen on that idea as he wants an animal to be responsible for too.  So if anyone feels like cutting down trees, digging holes, nailing in insulators…..

The wildlife continues to abound around here, although I feel like I’ve been too busy to enjoy it as much this year.  However I found the time to go out with the camera the other day and saw this little robin having a feast!

Kim has been not very healthy since he came back from Perth.  He’s even had some signs of the dreaded CFS again, although not too bad yet.  He is also suffering with back and ankle pain, but so far refuses to go to the doctors about it.  If I’m going to discuss health then I should report that Sam still gets bouts of nausea, Caleb suffers from stomach ailments off and on and I still get my occasional migraines.  Lydia, who usually has no problems at all, has been up and down to Devonport with toothache.  A filling did not fix the tooth and they were talking about a root canal but Lyd has decided that they should just take the tooth out instead.  It is still a work in progress at the moment.  Even Josiah has had a woozy stomach a couple of times, although I wonder if it is just that he felt left out.  However, apart from that we are all just fine.  🙂

We’ve had all the cars playing up again lately.  Truly I wish we didn’t need them.  Lydia’s idea of a horse and cart sounds very enticing at times.  Thankfully Kim manages to keep us getting out and about when we need to so we can’t complain.  He is a most useful fellow that Kim.

Caleb spent a week in Perth recently for his friend Judson’s wedding.  He was trilled to be able to catch up with friends and spent a very busy few days socialising.  Sam’s friend Mitchell (Judson’s brother in fact) was recently over in Tassie on a school tour.  They managed to catch up together while the school was doing some touristy visits nearby and I believe that they talked constantly the whole time!