Archive for the ‘Paddocks’ 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.

Wattles weather the wind – or not!

July 9, 2018
We had a bit of a localised wind storm on Sunday which had Wattle trees falling down all over the place on our property.  It was so bad we didn’t even get to go to church, as there were very very low power lines over the road nearby.
TreeLifting

 

The cow and pony moved down to our lower paddock, which has fewer large wattles and a lot of scrubby tea trees for shelter.  We were glad they did as most of the more dangerous trees that split or fell down were in the upper paddocks.”

Kaplunk

One of our division fences is completely flattened, with no less than 3 trees falling on it.  See the poor star picket in there?

FindTheFence

I do hate the wind when it gets gusting up to 100km or more!  I tend to cringe whenever I hear it roaring past, tugging at the building and tearing through the trees.  I always have to remind myself that everything is in God’s hands – pleasant or not – and I should just trust Him with whatever happens.  Mind you I was very thankful that the wind started to settle down about 9pm last night, otherwise I doubt I would have gotten much sleep.  Lots of homes in the area lost power, so being off grid was a definite advantage for us last night.

 

It has been a busy time starting to clean up today, and it helped a lot that Lydia stayed home from work.  The road to the north was closed with trees down and the road to the south had the power lines low over it, so we were not going anywhere this morning, at least not safely.  Lydia should be right to make it back to work tomorrow though, as they have cleared things up a lot during the day.  Kim and Josiah were quite sick today (we have all had a nasty cold lately) and Caleb and Sam had to go to Launceston in the afternoon for some medical appointments and to collect some car parts we needed, so most of today’s clearing up at home was up to Lydia and myself.

We focussed on making sure the damaged fencing was good enough to keep the animals safe overnight.  We ran our roll of portable electric mesh fencing around the chook yards, patched a hole in the back of the winter garden and found and fixed a spot where the fence was shorting out badly.  We also cut a fallen tree off one of the external fence lines and have changed that particular fence to being mostly poly wire instead of the normal metal fencing wire.  That meant we could have it back up and running by tonight.

GardenHole

There is still plenty more clearing up to do this week, with a small tree down over the compost bins as well as one on the old workshop roof,”

TreeOverCompostBins

and a hole in the carport roof from one branch that must have come down with a fair bit of force!  I’m glad that it hit the roof and not one of us.”

BranchThroughRoof

We also have two trees with nasty half broken branches over the neighbour’s fence line that we will need to help clear up.  They look a bit dangerous to me though it is hard to see from the photo, so I am not looking forward to that job.”

TreesDownOverFence

This poor tree pretty much just seems to have shredded.”

ShreddedTree

Anyway, I don’t think we will have to look far to find what work should take priority for the next little while!
In other news Kim has been progressing with the mechanical work on his to-do list, which is great.  Lydia’s new car has been getting a new timing belt fitted this weekend and is also having engine and transmission oil changes and new filters fitted as well.  Hopefully it will go into service on a regular basis for us later this week.  I think it will be a popular car for us to take when there are a few people going out, as it has lots of space in the back.
Enough for now.  I hope you are all going well!

Wet Winter coming to an end

August 21, 2016

It has been a lovely wet winter this year in Tassie.  Yes, I am not even complaining about all the flooding!  After having hardly any rain last winter, we are appreciating seeing the ground wet and our western lake filled again.  The lake would be about 4m deep in the middle at the moment whereas last year all we had was a puddle a couple of metres wide.  This is a seasonal lake, possibly actually a large sinkhole, as it starts to fill a day or two after rain.  This year it is as full as we have ever seen it.  Too much more and it would start to overtake the driveway – which would not be so good!

The Western Lake

 

Some ducks have moved in and are appreciating it too.  🙂

A duck swimming away on the Western Lake

 

On the eastern side of the driveway we have the paddock that we ploughed and seeded last spring.  It used to get flooded with rain runoff, but the drain that we put in a few years back has been effective in keeping the water level low.  Some water still stays after rain though, and the ducks like to play in it.  The grass seems to have established pretty well. We are hoping it will grow more vigorously once the weather warms up and the paddock dries out a bit more.

Australian shelduck (Tadorna Tadornoides)

Australian shelduck (Tadorna Tadornoides)

In preparation for spring I have been doing an trial to see how much better seedlings grow in a warmer environment than my greenhouse.  We had a refrigerated cabinet that does not work, and set it up as a warm environment for seed raising instead.  (Using an old waterbed mattress and heater – gotta use what you have!)  It has been keeping the temperature at about 18°C overnight and getting up to 22-24°C on the cooler days and if I am not careful it gets up to 30°C on the sunny days.  Obviously the temperature would need better regulation to work properly, but I thought it would give a bit of an idea.

 

SONY DSC

 

I planted two trays, one for the cabinet and one for the greenhouse, with some cabbage, broccoli and lettuce 8 days ago and you can see the difference below.  One tray is from the warming cabinet and the other is from the greenhouse.  The back of each tray is in Yates seed raising mix and the front half is in a home made seed raising mix and the results are quite clear – they like to be warm!  The only thing up from the greenhouse is the lettuce and they only just came up in the last couple of days.  The cabinet tray has had pretty much everything come up now.  My biggest problem has been keeping the cabinet from getting too hot, and making sure I remember to water them properly.  Next I am going to set up a solar operated fan to see if that helps them to grow nice and strong.  I do love growing vegetables!

 

SONY DSC

 

And while I am on the subject of growing things, I found an old non functioning display fridge that I plan to use to grow fodder for the cow and pony once the weather warms.  I should be able to grow 3 trays per day once I get it set up, I hope.  The animals do enjoy eating the fodder, which is just wheat or barley grown to about 10cm height and fed with the matted roots and all.  I need a fridge like this so that I can keep the possums and wallabies out.

 

SONY DSC

 

My old fridge that I set up as a trial for fodder growing has now been turned into a painting dryer.  🙂  I have recently taken up painting for fun, my dad got me into it.  I’m not terribly good but do enjoy doing it.  There is lots to learn.  I have been using water based oil paint, as Kim was allergic to the acrylics that I tried first, and they take a few days to dry, and since our little shack has no spare space to speak of I needed somewhere safe to stick them to dry.  As I said before, you have to use what you have!

 

SONY DSC

And once they are dry I have been sticking them on the one free wall of my pantry, because I don’t really have anywhere to store them either!

 

pantrypaintings

We have been given notice that our condemned power pole will have to be taken down soon.  We are actually surprised we have had it so long.  Kim has been researching, sourcing and pricing batteries, solar panels, controllers and inverters and we want to triple our solar system as soon as possible.  We still want to get some micro hydro working in the future, but that will take quite a bit of time to organise so we are going to do the solar upgrade first.  We still have our generator as a backup and Kim has a plan to use a car alternator to charge the batteries when needed for sunless periods.  It is a bit scary to be going totally off grid at last, but it has been the intention for a while now so it is probably just as well to be forced into finally doing it.  Hopefully the cars will behave and not require any work for a while so Kim can concentrate on this job with no interruptions. With all the miles that we do taking Lydia to and from work, the cars are probably justified in demanding work, but it can take up a lot of time to maintain them and fix their problems.

In other news: Lydia has taken some time off work and is currently in WA.  She went back to Albany to be at her friend’s wedding, and is coming back home on Wednesday after catching up with some family and a few friends.  Caleb and Sam continue to have health problems that seriously limit the things they can do, while Josiah is still home schooling.  Kim’s brother Paul seems to enjoy living in Mole Creek and we appreciate having him near.  Our little church is going well, and our part time pastor is very encouraging and helpful.

And that is all for now. Take care all!