Archive for the ‘Trees and Wood’ Category

Still here!

November 6, 2019


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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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.


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.”


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


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.


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,”


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.”


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.”


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


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!

Summary of Summer

March 15, 2014

Hello again.

Summer is over now and we are keenly waiting for some rain to moisten the ground and let the grass grow a bit before winter arrives.  It has been a dry summer for Tasmania, though nothing compared to WA, but still not what is normal for us.  So, what have we been up to this Summer?  Well, mostly we have been working on getting lots of firewood split and drying for winter.  We never have as much as we would like but we are doing better this year than any previous year.  This plastic carport is almost full and we plan on getting more into another carport before the end of autumn.


Our good neighbour gave us a frame full of his honey.  We had given him all our honey working equipment a few years back and his bees are producing well enough this year that he was able to share the harvest.


We have purchased a 7 seater 1986 VW Caravelle GL to replace our old rusty kombi – and we LOVE it.


It feels like a luxury vehicle to us and there is just so much space to spread out but it can still be used for farm work such as collecting grain and hay, so it is very useful as well as being comfortable.  The boys like to sit in it just to get out of the house.  🙂


Our new fleet is a bit more modern than before – but not too much.  We are currently looking to sell the old orange VW Wagon, so that Kim does not have too many cars to look after, but the Beetle stays!!!


We got another 3 solar panels to add to our system but before we could mount them on the roof we first we had to fix up our poor wobbly carport.  Can you see the slope on the roof at the end?


Also we had the 3 large white gums on the right of the above picture brought down too.  So that gave us even more trees to cut up for firewood – it never ends!


We also decided to clear up the area between the shack and the caravan which meant there was plenty of room to bring down a multi branched wattle that was leaning over the greenhouse.  It became a point of pride that none of it should fall on either the greenhouse to one side or the little nectarine on the other.


There was a lot of mess for a while before we managed to work our way through it all.  Thank goodness for chainsaws and block splitters!


Using our post hole digger on the tractor and a new (actually second hand of course) Paslode impulse nail gun that Kim is pretty chuffed with we installed two nice new posts on the carport so that the roof was strong and straight and we could mount the next 3 solar panels.  Kim is now working on running the wires through to the house and connecting it all up via circuit breakers etc.


Josiah helped put all the palings on the carport wall.  I think he is learning to appreciate power tools.


We took our new van to Launceston one weekend recently and went to some garage sales where we bought a nice big mincer very cheaply, which will be a great boon when we do our next pig.  I had been hoping to get a big mincer, although this was a bit bigger than I had been thinking of, but the price was just too attractive to pass up and it seems to work very well.  We also have a large slicer which is good for when we do our own hams.  It certainly makes the work easier when you have the right tools for the job.


Lydia’s pademelon joey is weaned and now wanders freely around the block.  For a couple of weeks he was coming back each day for a drink of milk, but now he doesn’t bother.  We see him sometimes and he seems to be doing just fine.


I’m sorry to say that we lost 9 chooks and a turkey hen to a spotted tail quoll again recently.  The wretched thing got through the electric fence as well as a mesh fence to get to the poor poultry.  We were most upset because one of the hens was “Platinum” our lovely Silver laced Wyandotte.  We believe that we have sorted the problem out now though, and hopefully they will be safe again.  It’s the first time we’ve had a quoll get through the fence when it was working properly so we hope they don’t make a habit of it.

Our poor potato crop has been ravaged by wallabies this year.  I think it is because it has been so dry that the wallabies have made the effort to bust through the electric fence to get at the spuds just because they were green.  I have managed to salvage some by running the electric mesh fence around them, but it is disappointing to have all the work we did planting spuds just go to feeding the wildlife. Personally I think they should be able to make do with what is outside the fence!

We were blessed to have Kim and Paul’s auntie and uncle come to visit this week.  It was wonderful to see them again and to catch up on some family news.  They were also kind enough to bring me the milk separator that they used on their farm 30 years ago.  SO generous!  The separator is in wonderful condition and I can’t wait to try it out – however Twinkles is “dried up” at the moment in preparation for her second calf that is expected at the end of April.  Still, that should give me enough time to work out where to mount and keep it so that it is convenient to use. I think it should build up our arm muscles – winding it at the right speed to make it work correctly.  Sounds like a job for Josiah.


I was relieved when Aurora finally came and installed another power pole to raise up the high voltage power lines alongside our driveway.  It took me chasing them up a couple more times but eventually they got the job done.  I think it was when I said that if someone stood under the lowest point and put their arms up in the air they would die, that made them finally take it seriously.  The men who came (the very next day) to install the pole said that they had never seen high voltage lines so low, and they put it through as an emergency job.  It makes me feel good every day when I walk down the driveway and see the lines way up in the air.

Kim couldn’t resist taking some photos of some yellow tailed black cockatoos today when they were hanging around the shack.  They are such beautiful big birds, and we are hopeful that they really are flying before the rain like my Mum used to say they did.


I think that is all our news for now.  I hope you don’t mind all the photos – I get a bit carried away sometimes.