Archive for the ‘Paddocks’ Category

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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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!

 

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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!

 

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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!

Growing Grass

March 13, 2016

We have been working steadily for quite a few months now, to get our middle 2.5 acre paddock ready to grow some good grass for the stock.  There was more work involved than I had realised, and it was definitely a learning experience!

Firstly Josiah and I steadily worked our way through the paddock with a brush cutter, slowly cutting back the sedges that were quite thick and tall in places.
Cathy brush cutting middle paddock
Then we paid a local company to come and spread lime.
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Kim spent many hours on the tractor, getting all the 50 year old parts to adjust as they were supposed to – no easy task.  When that was done we set about the task of ploughing.  It was a slow job, with numerous stops when the shear pins broke because of underground obstructions, but we worked our way through it.
Ploughing the middle paddock
The plough digs under the dirt and turns it over.
Ploughing the middle paddock
Ploughing the middle paddock
Once the ploughing was finished, Kim ran over the paddock with our old discs, to break up the clumps of dirt and roots.
Discing the middle paddock
Then it was back to work on the tractor again to get the power take off to work.  We needed the PTO working so that the rotary hoe would function as it should.
It was about this time that the bush fires took off in Tassie, which fairly hampered our progress.
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It was hard to focus on projects when we were constantly surrounded by smoke, watching the fire website and being half packed ready to evacuate if the fires threatened.  It was a very unsettling time, and we were glad to have the ploughed paddock that we could put the pony and cattle in when we did evacuate one night.
Silk in the plowed paddock with smoke
They were constantly telling us that embers travelling in the wind might take off ahead of the main fire front in Tasmania’s unusually dry conditions.  Thankfully the wind died down most evenings and the fire never came through our place.
Twinkles with her calf in the ploughed paddock
Mole Creek turned into a fire fighter focus point.  They set up a camp in a paddock, had the helicopters on the footy oval and used the hall for co-ordinating.
Firefighers (1)
We were so relieved when we finally had some decent rain – we had been praying hard for it!  We had 220mm on our property and 150mm in Mole Creek town over a 24 hour period.  Tassie had drought, fire and flood all on the same day!  It didn’t completely stop all the fires but it certainly helped, and some follow up showers and lots of hard work from the fire fighters has finally gotten the bush fires all pretty much under control now.  In fact the camp was packed up last week and most of the interstate firies have gone home.
But back to the paddock!
Kim ran over it twice with the rotary hoe to further break up the clods of dirt and roots before the rain came.  We really wanted to get the roots of the sedges exposed over summer so that the old plants would die, leaving the ground ready for our chosen grass seed.
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The first couple of times Kim did the hoeing, it was very dry and dusty – this is what he looked like when he stopped.  🙂
Kim covered in dust after rotary hoeing paddock
We had been advised to sow the seed at the beginning of March, so we did one more run over with the rotary hoe to loosen up the soil again last week.  It was after the rain and not so dusty, for which Kim was very thankful.  Then we got all hands on deck to hand sow the seed.
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We put in a mix of rye grass, cox foot and white clover.  Even the dogs got in on the action.
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Then the final task was to run over it with the harrows, which covers up most of the seed and just generally smooths it all over.
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After that all we could do was wait.  And it is wonderful to see the grass coming up now!
Grass growing in the new paddock
I think I will leave our other news for another email – this one has become rather large!