Despite the computer and the usual farm work, we’ve had some excitements recently. It was my birthday a couple of Sundays ago – the weather being dodgy we opted to visit MONA rather than the Spring Fair at the Botanical Gardens. It certainly lived up to expectations and the more ‘fringe’ items failed to shock us. Apart from one notable exception (a video installation) these did not seem gratuitous and appeared to have artistic merit. There were some weird juxtapositions of exquisite ancient pieces displayed alongside flamboyant modern works. We started at the bottom & worked our way up (all of MONA is underground – much of it hewn from the rock) and by the time we reached the top and third floor, we were museumed out & failed to give it justice. We took Luke through the parental guidance areas and had no need to worry since he was transfixed by the hand-held gismo handed out to patrons in order to look up info on the displays. Afterwards we had a pleasant lunch at the Hogs Breath Café and went home replete. Bront brought me a directional electric fence tester and fault-finder which has already proven very useful!
Three days later it was Luke’s 7th birthday. We made a fuss of him on the day & I made a load of little chocolate cakes and took them to school for his classmates. I made gigantic profiteroles for pudding in the evening which we managed to scoff in two days. We arranged a party for Luke on the Saturday afternoon but for some reason he only invited three friends. As it transpired, that was quite enough and the assembly hovered on the verge of chaos for the three hours everyone was here. It poured with rain, so most of the outdoor activities we’d planned had to be abandoned in favour of indoor archery (arrows with suckers which stuck to the windows – Bronte drew a T-Rex as a target), 'pin the tail on the pterosaur' and 'hide and seek'. Another load of baking was required to produce an orange-flavoured birthday cake (delicious), ginger biscuits (odd) and brownies (yum). One of the lads was still sitting there eating long after the others had moved onto another game. We did get outside in the end & the kids smashed the piñata, cuddled the chicks and goslings and had a few rides in the go-kart (we couldn’t start the one with the engine so had to stick with gravity-assist only). We heaved a great sigh of relief once everyone had gone!
We had a further good family day out at the Hobart Show last week. Strangely, there is a public holiday for the show on Thursday and then people are expected to go back to work on the Friday or take a day off. I’ve always found the show more of an endurance test than fun, so this year we researched a bit and discovered that Wednesday was farm day. Bronte took the afternoon off & we kept Luke home from school and had a great afternoon. The weather topped 29°C – the hottest October day for several years – there were few people there and we saw all the animals and events we’d looked forward to and had several rides in the fairground section. The first event was the Braap and BMX demo which was a favourite for Luke & Bronte. We were also there in time to see the ‘largest bullock team in Australia’, and it truly was large in every sense – tremendous horned animals yoked together to pull a wooden cart. We watched the pig racing display which included two pigs diving into a pool of water and Luke had a go on the climbing wall. Luke and I went on some sort of bungee contraption and I had to get off early as it was so knackering. I took Luke on a few rides including a scary underwater simulator where we were attacked by a mock great white! Poor Luke was terrified. We bumped each other on the dodgems and then Bronte bravely announced he would take Luke on a ride called the Hurricane – he got off looking exceedingly pale and had to sit down in the CWA tent to recover!
As you’ll note the weather has been very changeable. We’ve had a few fine days and some pleasant temperatures but inbetween we’ve continued to get heavy bouts of rain and cold spells. Today I waited until the weather had cleared a bit before venturing outside, at which point it started hailing horizontally.
The following day Bronte & Luke checked for eggs & found Boris bunny with his toes up in one of the hen houses. He’d been hale & hearty the previous day, bouncing around and chasing the hens. There was no sign of injury and he was in good condition, so his demise remains a mystery. Then today I found one of the youngest goslings dead in the goose run. Again there was no sign of injury but a little earlier I’d seen the geese chase off a horrible craven (forest raven). The cravens are getting bolder now they presumably have young. A wedgie (wedge-tailed eagle) soared very low over all the bird pens this afternoon so he must also be looking for food for young. Much as I admire the wedgies I’ve no intention of feeding them with our young birds.
A week last Sunday was a horrible day, with squally rain and even snow on the mountain flanks. Despite this, some of our hardy neighbours turned up keen to go fishing in the dam. We’ve had no luck recently at catching the trout we put in there as tiny troutlets a couple of years ago. However, our neighbours are clearly much more experienced fishermen as they quickly caught four and were going to throw them back until Bronte, alarmed, shouted not to. They took a couple and we kept a couple and it was a real treat having trout for a couple of evenings. The fish looked in great condition and weighed a little under 2kg each. I’ve been scheming about ways of catching them and plan to put a string on pulleys across the dam with removable lines hanging down from that. I thought we could set it up early morning or twilight and haul it in half an hour later, rather than standing there casting and re-casting for hours on end.
It has definitely felt like spring here recently despite the variable weather. One of the more noticeable signs is the cacophony of bird noise, especially in the mornings. The native hens scream and carry on at the least sign of danger, setting off the currawongs and the geese, the pair of ducks that have set up camp locally, various other unrecognisable creatures in the bush, the turkeys, then finally the peacocks, whose terrific wail tends to silence the rest and bring a temporary end to the commotion. Annoyingly, I’ve noticed that the two youngest peacocks that I’d thought were girls, are in fact boys. We'll have to advertise them because it wouldn’t do to keep more than one male with our two peahens.