Archive for the ‘Horse’ 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.
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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.
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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.

Another email from the Howes

June 11, 2019

We spent most of yesterday looking out at the rain bucketing down!  According to the new weather station that Kim set up in the front yard we had 88.7mm over the day.  It finally cleared up in the afternoon, but is still pretty soggy outside.  It seemed like a good day to start an email!

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So how are the Howes?  Up and down somewhat would be the best answer I guess.  Caleb and Sam’s health has been very poor since their return from Japan, but they struggle on.  Sam is also changing medication which isn’t helping.  Lydia is enjoying having her own space in her bus and is slowly upgrading bits and pieces in it.  She is not so busy at work at the moment with the chilly weather slowing the flowers’ growth down, and she doesn’t mind at all if she gets to come home early sometimes.  Josiah and I have been unable to obtain any work as yet, but we continue to search.  Kim has been struggling with his health too and is not getting as much done as he would like to, but is always kept busy working on keeping our fleet of cars mostly on the road.

I mentioned a few months ago that Lydia had bought a mini pony, Penny, as a companion for her riding pony.  The pony was a real cutie and we liked her, but she had one major flaw that made us decide we had to on-sell her.  She hated having dogs in her paddock and would chase them out with her ears back and her mouth open to bite!  Our German Shepherd thought it was a great game, but the Corgis were not too happy about it and, since we want to breed the corgis, we thought it best to move her on.  We found her a good home nearby and Lydia has since bought another companion pony to take her place.  The new pony, Annie, is settling in well and has been much better behaved with the dogs!

Silk and Annie

Silk and Annie

Kim and I travelled over to Perth to visit my parents a couple of weeks ago.  We would have loved to get back down to Albany again, but were not able to manage it this trip.  We were there for Mother’s Day and my sister’s 60th birthday and enjoyed a high tea at my nephew’s home.  His wife put on a splendid spread!

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We also caught up with my niece who came to visit from Sydney with excellent timing!  It was really great to just spend time with Mum and Dad who are doing so well to still be in their own home at 87 and 89 respectively!

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While we were in Perth it was the A League Grand Final at the Optus Stadium, and Kim managed to score a reasonably priced ticket and go along.  It is quite the stadium and, with about 56,000 people there, it was rather a different experience to being at home and he quite enjoyed himself.

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Back at home our newest corgi pup is growing nicely and is a lovely girl.  We haven’t managed to take her to any shows yet as there have not been any on – except in Hobart, and we didn’t want to go that far.  I think many events slow down for winter here as the days are so very short.  However we are booked into a show not too far away in July so will take both dogs along then.

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We finally bought some Seetroen glasses that we have been trying to get for about a year now.  The Citroen online store kept going out of stock and anyway they would not send them to Australia, but a wonderful friend knew some people in France and we managed to buy the glasses and get them delivered via them.  Kim was even brave enough to wear them on the flights to and from Perth.  They look pretty ridiculous but are meant to be 95% effective at preventing and curing motion sickness.  Kim and Sam have both found them to be very effective so far, and Kim was thrilled with how he felt on the flight.  I was even hoping that they might help with Sam’s normal chronic nausea, but that was too much to expect.

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Otherwise life just goes on with the routine things that happen at this time of year.  Our “to-do” lists seem to be never ending and I think we must be moving slower these days than we used to.  We have been lighting up burn piles and slashing fence lines, processing roosters, moving hay to feed stock and chopping wood to light the fires.  It all seems to take a lot of time!  Kim and I have also been sorting through cupboards etc in the caravan and annexe since it is all ours now that Lydia has moved to her bus.  Kim has been collecting cheap or free old macintosh computers lately, and the caravan seems to be filling up with them at a startling rate, so if I want to move in a spinning wheel or my painting gear I better move fast before all the space is gone.  🙂

Our current project is the 40ft container.  We want to put in some windows and a sliding door and to line and insulate it.  Then we will add some benches, cupboards and shelves and install an old fireplace that we have.  The plan is for Kim to have a nice workshop for all the mechanical and the electrical work that he does for us.  It will be great to have the tools readily accessible.  He will probably eventually set up a retro computer corner in there too, which will free up the caravan somewhat.  The old workshop that everything is squished into at the moment can afterwards be used to store car parts and the like.

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So, that is most of our news for the moment.  Kim is, however, seriously considering dragging me on a trip to the UK in March.  If anyone has any helpful tips on overseas travel we would be interested to hear them.  Kim’s tentative plan is to fly in to Dublin and drive through Ireland for a few days before taking a ferry to Scotland, have a little look around there and then take the train down to England for a look see.  It would be nice to make it to Wales too if possible before heading back home, having been away about 4 weeks all up.  It is still in the planning and assessing stages at the moment.  🙂

Best wishes to you all

Christmas Greetings

December 24, 2018

Christmas Greetings 

Wishing you peace and joy over Christmas and in the New Year

from the Howe family

This year our Christmas hat is modelled by Willow, the new corgi pup.  

Willow in the Christmas Hat

She wasn’t keen on wearing it at all, and was much happier chewing  it up!

Willow in the Christmas Hat

It is a while since I wrote so I thought perhaps a very quick update is in order.  Life seemed to slow to a grinding halt for all of us as we struggled with a nasty flu which knocked us out for about 3 weeks each.  It was wonderful to recover some health and get back to doing things again, and we have managed a few improvements.  One was to add a kitchenette to Caleb and Sam’s cabin.  They also have running water connected now, and often have a cup of tea before bed.

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We have also been working on the main area of the old bus.  The south wall is insulated and lined and just needs some trim,

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and the north wall has had a replacement window installed, but still needs the back door area filled in before we put in the insulation and line it also.

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Lydia’s pony got laminitis again this year, despite me making sure she wasn’t overweight.  It seems that our paddocks have improved enough that the spring grass growth will cause her problems every year, so we are now setting her up in a separate paddock system from the cow.  She will be up in the bush where the grass is pretty minimal.  Horses being herd animals we decided that she needed a companion and Lydia bought a miniature pony filly to fill that role.  They are getting along well together.  The cow has her calf to keep her company at the moment, so she is happy enough too.

SilkAndPenny

I organised a gingerbread house making event as the final meeting for the local church’s craft group.  It was pretty well attended and everyone had a lot of fun.

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And that will do for news for now.

Blessings to you all