Archive for the ‘Trees and Wood’ Category

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.

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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.

Honey

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

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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.  🙂

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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!!!

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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?

CarportBefore

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!

MoreTrees

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.

Branches

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!

SpaceAgain

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.

CarportDone

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

PalingCarport

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.

MincerEtc

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.

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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.

CreamSeparator

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.

YellowTailedCocky

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.

Moooving right along

March 8, 2013

I am pleased to report that our milking is going well.  We started locking the calf up overnight in our electromesh fence a couple of weeks ago, and have been getting 4 to 5 litres of milk every morning since.  That is just perfect for our needs!  It even means we can have some extra milk to try cheese making, or we can take a day off sometimes and let the calf have the morning milk instead.  What a blessing from God!

MorningMilking1

Twinks has become a lovely placid girl to milk, especially as she has become more used to the whole process.  Sam does most of the milking, and he is much faster than me despite the fact that he prefers to milk one handed into a bowl rather than two handed directly into a bucket.  I get to catch Twinkles and tie her up, then cuddle her during the milking.  🙂  I am trying my hand at making some farmhouse cheddar cheese at the moment, with my first attempt currently being pressed at 20kg pressure overnight.  The particular recipe I am following only needs to mature for 4 weeks before we can try it.  I hope it works okay.

We have had a couple of visitors lately.  Kim’s brother, Paul, came to stay for two weeks, and it was great to catch up with him again.  He fitted right in, and is even thinking of coming to Tassie to live now!  It would be lovely to have family nearby.  We also had some folk from WA come for a quick visit this week, and we enjoyed showing them around the place and sharing with them some of our experiences and plans.

Kim has been working on getting a motor into our old VW station wagon, and just got it bolted in today.  The car has been sitting for about 5 years so it needs more work done on it before it will be back on the road, but it is a good start.  It has been much too hot for us here lately, getting up to 28 to 30 degrees C most days for the last couple of weeks.  We are dreaming of a cool change as we find the heat rather draining and it limits the amount of work that is getting done outside.

We have been working hard at getting lots of firewood for winter.  (Roll on winter!)  Kim is appreciating the tractor as he is dragging logs up to the house and propping them off the ground to saw them into rounds.  Then we move in the block splitter and split them up before stacking them.  Our carport is now full and we have started to stack split wood on some pallets instead.

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I have recently had a run of bad health with a nasty cold which was followed by a bad back and then finished up with a bout of gastro.  It makes me appreciate what the chronically unwell folk of the family have to deal with.  Thankfully I am feeling better now.  Kim has actually been doing really well for a few weeks, for about as long as we have been milking the cow, though we are not sure if it is related.  When the whole family was sick with the cold, surprisingly Kim didn’t get it!  He was actually the healthiest person in the family at that time – a novel experience for him!  Josiah managed to sprain his ankle earlier this week when his foot slipped between two planks of a pallet, and he fell over sideways.  I was worried that he might have broken the ankle, but thankfully that was not the case.  Last night Sam tried to better that by managing to skewer his foot with, of all things, a knitting needle!  I pulled it straight out, surprised at myself a little, and hopefully that will heal quickly too.  I tried to get Sam to go to the doctors today, but he couldn’t get an appointment for a week.  A definite downside of Tasmania!

Meet Red

November 3, 2012
Meet “Red”, my new buddy.  We have plans to spend many many productive hours together!
Gotta love hydraulics!  Red only arrived on Monday evening and already we have split up all the blocks from one good sized gum tree into strips that can now begin to dry, and which are easily chopped from there into whatever sized firewood we want to use.
We have been saving up for a long time to get a block splitter, and I am so excited that we finally have one!  Harvesting our trees into firewood is an ongoing chore and one that gets much harder when the men of the family are all unwell.  This machine should make the job much more achievable for we womenfolk with help from Josiah.  Most of our first pile of wood was done with myself positioning the wood and Josiah operating the blade.  Together we made a good team.  🙂
There is another big pile of silver wattle rounds behind the house to split, but I can’t get to them at the moment as we brought another two dangerous wattles down recently which are in the way.  Hopefully Kim will be up to cutting them up sometime soon, but he is having some trouble with his back lately which does not help.   However there is one more gum up the back and another wattle hidden in the bush up there too that I can work on.   We can never have enough firewood!