Archive for the ‘Horse’ Category

Kitchen Improvements

April 7, 2016

Hi Again

Today we celebrated, not just because it was Kim’s birthday, but also because we finished installing our Rayburn wood stove.  Some jobs seem to take a long time, and this was one of those jobs!

Firstly we had to clear a path for the tractor to get to the side of the shack, pull down the old flue and remove all the lining from the area behind the old stove.  Then Kim carefully edged the tractor backwards to the kitchen wall – with about 5cm to spare on one side to the outside of the walk in pantry and on the other side to the solar hot water system.  We then winched the old stove out onto the carry all and took it away.

The Everhot Stove leaves to make way for the new Rayburn.

Everhot Stove on the tractor carryall

Then he had to repeat the process to bring the new stove into the kitchen.

The new Rayburn stove in the kitchen on it's platform awaiting installation

We decided that rather than re-lining the wall, we would install a window into the gap instead.  We also replaced our small caravan gas stove with a full size Chef gas oven.  The gas bottle will be moved outside through the wall.

New window in kitchen

We made a nice level hearth for the Rayburn and then Kim hooked the boiler up to the solar hot water system tank.  Then it was up onto the roof to put the flue down through the newly cut hole, making sure it was all sealed up securely.

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Finally today he replaced the worn fire bricks and installed a new grate.

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And then we could fire it up and check it all worked – and it worked a treat!  It did a good job of cooking tea and heating the water.  The boiler is a big one and it should produce a lot more hot water than the Everhot did.  In fact after 4 of us have had showers tonight the water temperature still reads at 72°C.  We should even be able to run a couple of radiators from it in the long run if we want to.

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With two good stoves and the walk in pantry, my kitchen is much nicer and better to work in these days.  I plan to paint the new window frame and the hearth and the job will be done.  Actually I may paint the flue black too.

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Lydia’s work has not been busy lately and she has been getting some extra days off.  She has used her free time to get more work done on her pony.  She got a riding lesson and some advice …

Lydia riding lesson

… and then got back into riding Silk again.

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After getting her going nicely in the paddock, she then started riding through the tracks up the back of our property.  Usually the puppy and I have been going with them.  I think I am a sort of two legged, mobile security blanket.  🙂

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Funnily enough, after being concerned the pony would startle and bolt or buck when on her own, Lydia’s most recent problem was that she stopped on the track and refused to move on until Okami and I caught up!

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Speaking of the puppy, she has been growing at a rate!  Okami is now 6 months old and loves life.  She adores old Lupo and has even managed to get her playing with her, in a bitey, non energetic sort of way.

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They are pretty good mates now.  It is quite different when Okami’s friend, a 6 month old staffy called Coco, comes to visit.  They tear around like mad things and totally exhaust themselves.

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We had a great year in the vegetable garden this year, with the best ever crops of tomatoes, corn and cucumbers.

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I bottled SO many tomatoes, it was fantastic.  Sam overdosed on cucumbers and we all enjoyed the fresh sweet corn with tea.

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One downside of our dry winter and long warm summer is that the rabbits have been breeding up.  We don’t usually have them on our property, but they are here this year.  Hopefully a wet winter will send them elsewhere.

Rabbit at rabbit hole

Lately I have been trying my hand at growing some fodder.  Germinated grain apparently has higher digestibility and better nutrition.  I feed it just germinated to the chooks, who happily eat it.  I also grew some longer for the cow and pony to see if they liked it too.

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The answer was a definite “Yes” from the cow, and the pony seemed to like it too.

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Howdy from the Howes

November 18, 2015
Just thought I would share a few photos about things we are up to at the moment.
Firstly, Kim enjoyed participating in his first photographic exhibition with the local club.  It was great to see a bunch of his photos printed out nice and large, along with the other people’s photos too.
Mole Creek Photography Exhibition

Mole Creek Photography Exhibition

He continues to enjoy getting out and taking pictures of all sorts of things.  He took this one of the tulips in Paul’s garden.
Tulips

Tulips

And saw this echidna on our block one morning.
Echidna (Tachyglossus Aculeatus)

Echidna (Tachyglossus Aculeatus)

We have a good crop of tomatoes coming up this year.  We now plant seedlings in our cages under a cloth grow tunnel to protect them from the frosts in October and early November.  Then they seem to be better established when the warmer weather kicks in and they take off nicely.  Of course they enjoy the compost and chook manure that we have in the cages too, and the netting probably keeps them all a bit warmer as well.
Gardens

Gardens

We decided to let a couple of hens raise some chicks again this year.  This is one of our old Wyandottes who is a very good mum.  I do love watching hens with their chicks as they scratch for food.  The chicks are so responsive when the hen clucks for them.  While most of our chooks free range during the day, we keep the hens with chicks in the area between our pigeon run and the garden cages.  It is covered with bird netting to hopefully keep out birds of prey.  One of our turkey hens is nesting in there too, and just today I saw a poult had hatched!  I love the poults, but they do not survive as well as chicks.  Sadly our gobbler was attacked last week, presumably by a quoll.  He survived the attack, but we had to put him down as he was not eating or drinking.
"Pea" with her chicks

“Pea” with her chicks

We bought ourselves a new wood stove this week.  It is a 90s model Rayburn, in much better condition than the 45+ year old Everhot that we pieced together out of two stoves some years back.  We had some problems with the Everhot this year and decided we would keep our eyes out for a replacement.  Kim finally found this one in Hobart.  The hot water system in it is 4.7kW, almost twice the heat of our old one, and it has enough power to run some radiators as well as heat water.  We also like the flue going straight up instead of out the back.  The colour even matches my kitchen benches!  Kim is going with a friend to collect it this Friday, and it will be quite a job to remove it from the house it is in, down some steps and onto a trailer before the 4 hour drive home!
Rayburn
However that job pales into insignificance compared with the task of bringing home our bus!  It is an 8 tonne electric bus that has been used for camping for many years and is in a paddock just around the corner from us.  We have been given it for free and were hoping we could just tow it home, but it turns out that one of the wheels will not move so we are now looking at having to get it onto a truck somehow and carried home.  Our plan is to renovate it, hopefully partly as a schooling project with Josiah, and to cut the front off and attach it to the back of our shack as a couple of extra rooms.  It is 10m long and in better condition than it appears from the photo.  🙂
Old Buses

Old Buses

We are expecting the lime spreaders to come this week or next to put lime on our middle paddock.  That will help the grass to grow well after we get the paddock all ploughed up.
We also found a lovely new home for Zorro, Lydia’s ex pacer, who was wasting away in the paddock.  He is still here at the moment, as his new owners need to get their fences sorted out before he moves.  He is actually not going very far, just over the hill in fact, but I am sure he will enjoy being somewhere where he gets a bit more attention.  Lydia’s pony will miss him no doubt, but she will still have my cow for company.
Josiah has started playing futsal (a sort of indoor soccer) recently and enjoys it a lot.  It means even more driving each week as the games are played in Ulverstone, a one hours drive from here, but I think it is worth it for him to be involved in a team sport.  Caleb and Sam both played futsal when they were healthier, and they loved it too.
Well, I think that is enough news from me for now!  Take care.

New Tools

October 12, 2015
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

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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!