|Native tree on our boundary alongside the creek, in full flower. Unfortunately I don't|
know the name of it.
|Jonquils in flower under blackwoods we planted on arrival, by our front gate.|
|Mist in the valley|
|Me laying old concrete blocks in holes in farm track|
|Rainbow over hills to east of house|
I certainly know how to create a rod for my own back. Every week seems to be busier than the last. I'm always dreaming up some new scheme or acquiring a new animals, without shedding any old schemes or removing many of the animals. These last months have been made worse by the 'drought' gripping Tasmania and by what appears to be an even greater increase in the onslaught of browsing native animals, mostly pademelons (little wallabies). Of course, summer is our busiest time any year, with all the babies appearing on the farm, weeds rampaging through the paddocks and the need to be carting water for animals and plants. In addition, we have begun growing veggies, making liquid fertiliser and letting out a suite of rooms on AirBnB. The long warm evenings encourage you to work all hours, as to come inside and relax seems the height of laziness when there is so much that needs attending to outside. To cap it all I heard just today that my operation has finally come through (for endometriosis) and will take place next week (apparently there is no such thing as getting decent notice in the Tassie healthcare system). There is never a convenient time on a farm and with a school-age child, to be out of action following surgery, but just a week ago when both Bronte and Luke were at home on holiday, would have been distinctly better timing! However, we shall just have to try and make it work somehow.
|This is Sooty, our new buck rabbit, when newly acquired. He's a darling, a real softy who loves|
cuddles and throws strops when being ignored. Sometimes he runs around his hutch with his food bowl in his mouth.
|Outbreak of unexpected baby bunnies|
|This calf had been running with our neighbour's cows that are agisted on our land. I found out|
it belonged to another neighbour who'd sold its Mum and had run out of feed on their land. We offered
to give it a home so here it is!
The neighbour who had owned her kindly lent us halters and a stiff rope. We managed to get her lassoed and half coaxed, half towed her into our stock yard and tied her there with food and water. I forgot what was going on but there was a reason we couldn't take her all the way home that day. The next day, she'd escaped from the yard and was roaming the roads. After what seemed an age we managed to lasso her again and Luke and I towed her home (by hand), with Bronte coming up behind with the Suzuki to give her a little nudge when necessary. I tethered her in the paddock recently vacated by Toby (our goat buck) and Tree (our doe that never falls pregnant) but daren't let her roam in there because she'd not been trained on electric fences and indeed in her short life had proven to be something of an escape artist.
That's worked well except for one occasion when the tether came apart from where I'd tied her and Bronte had left the gate open (!), and she wandered off again. I found her pretty promptly, down in another neighbour's property (a mad neighbour with whom I'd had previous run-ins). I straightaway asked if Jet had caused any damage and he started on me immediately. Feeling tired and fed-up I lost my temper, shouted at him and then burst into tears! Not very dignified. Anyhow, she's back in the pen and Toby and Tree are now back with her, because we finally got some rain after weeks of drought and I didn't want them staying out all night without shelter. Still got her tethered though, sigh, because I still haven't found time to tidy the grass which has grown through the electric fence and get her trained on it. Thought I'd tether her close to it for starters, so if she wandered into it, she'd get zapped (but without being able to escape).
She pulled me over the other day. I picked up the tether and she suddenly ran and swept me off my feet. I fell heavily onto shoulder and hip where I have lovely great bruises.
|Rosie, flat dog|
Bruce had one of his irregular tidies. If I don't trim his fur, it can reach almost to the ground under his belly. His fur is ridiculously thick and long such that no ordinary electric clippers will work on him. He hates the hot weather, which we've been having rather a lot of recently, so I try to keep his fur as short as possible. I really need a pair of sheep shears. I noticed that they still sell the old-fashioned hand clippers for sheep in the local ag-store, but they were around $60. Above I am actually bathing him after his trim, much to his annoyance. It was sufficient indignity for him to be trimmed with scissors - he shows his displeasure by snapping at me during the procedure. Below his is both trimmed and clean. Unfortunately, now he is mostly covered in horrid buzzies (some sort of acaena). I've given up trying to get them off him because he makes such a fuss. Instead he pulls off the ones he can reach and spits them out all over the laundry floor overnight.
|A tasty cooked treat for the goats. We get the scraps from a local cafe which makes|
waffles and other sticky treats. The goats and birds love their cooked stews.
I used a right mish-mash of techniques as you can see below. I'd crocheted and netted a fair few metres of baling twine fence so I installed that. Elsewhere I just added three more live wires to the 5-strand fence. In some places I strung wire mesh from the insulators and electrified that along with the braid strands. Lastly, I fixed one section using plastic orange barrier mesh that I'd picked up from the Hobart Tip Shop. It looks a little like someone has been yarn-bombing the fence. It may not be pretty but it's worked to keep the little horrors (well not so little any more) in. Trouble is that because they are in such a relatively small area, coupled with the very dry spring and summer we've experienced, it's been a full-time job keeping them fed. I have to cut browse for them two or three times a week, hence the build-up of enormous piles of sticks in the paddock. They also get barley and molasses and any scraps I can scrounge, including rather a lot of out-of-date milk. Kids can be fed with cow's milk, so it's perfectly OK for them to drink these left-overs, although the books say nothing about banana milk-shake or iced coffee...
I've sourced barley from north Hobart. I buy about 250kg at a time, making it far cheaper than bags of goat pellets or meal. I add the molasses, make sure they have a good calcium intake and provide them with mineral and salt licks. It seems to be suiting them.
The photos below show some of the goat mums and babies soon after birth in October last year. All the Mums had twins or triplets, apart from horrible Tree who was barren as usual. She's lucky I needed a companion for Toby otherwise I'd have turned her into mincemeat after two years of no babies!
|Milly with her triplets Gilly, Jilly and Dilly (very original I know!). Luckily|
Milly has four working teats and she's a big strong goat, so she has raised them very
successfully. They seem not to have suffered at all.
|Nan with her very pretty babies, Dan and Gran. We named the latter in honour|
of Nan's late Mum, who'd died a month or two earlier. She was the old matriarch
of the herd.
|Super-White with Snowball and Custard. Super is aptly named. She eats anything|
and everything and unlike the other goats, lost no condition when feeding her twins. Her
feet are great, hooves hardly need clipping. Never gets sick.
|Luke holding baby captive while it awaits vaccination.|
|Luke with little Cutie-Pie, one of Dusty's babies. She's the only one of the|
kids that shows a bit of Toby's Anglo-Nubian domed head.
|Dan posing for his Gumtree advertisement photograph!|
|Dan and Gilly off on their travels to a new home.|
|Happy sheep in long grass at the beginning of summer. Same area now brown|
and largely burnt to a crisp. Just a few green sprouts.
|Very laid-back chick taking his chances with Rosie and Luke.|
|Same chick chilling.|
|Collection of peacock and guinea eggs ready for incubation.|
|Mr Peacock in full plumage.|
|When Mrs Duck was sitting on eggs, she would come to visit me in the garage|
each day for a feed of wheat.
|10 ducklings! So sweet. We let Mrs Duck hatch them and then bring them into the garage|
for a couple of weeks until they are strong enough to find their food and water in the larger
pen that the ducks share with the bunnies.
Above and below: Ducklings in covered pen near peacocks. I didn't put them back with Mr Duck and the bunnies because we were fearful of goshawks which were menacing the area. Unfortunately this turned out not to be such a good choice. When the ducklings were half grown and still completely helpless (their wings take a long while to catch up with the rest of them), a Tasmanian Devil chewed a couple of big holes in the wire and took the lot overnight. I was gutted. They really would have been 'sitting ducks'.
Just before Christmas I speculatively put us on AirBnB, not expecting an immediate response. We got 2 bookings almost immediately. The first people booked to arrive at 8pm on Christmas Day. I had to have a mad couple of days trying to get everything ready. It involved moving Luke and his bed and essentials into the spare room upstairs. He's got the best room in the house how. It's above the one shown immediately below so has that lovely corner picture window and also has an opening window to the west so he can see up the drive, almost to the gate.
We sorted all his books, toys and clothes and amassed a mammoth Vinnie's donation. We took this to Vinnies and came home with a bureau, large coffee table, 2 painted chairs and a pair of small red tables - all Ikea seconds in our new local second-hand furniture shop (and a good bargain). We converted Luke's old room to a sort of kids room-come-lounge and tea/ coffee area and tidied up the WWOOF room to be a main double. Had to pull out all the old WWOOF clothes and boots and scrub everything. Luke and I had to do a quick sortie to buy a used single bed off Gumtree, for the next booking, which included kids. The second single is a foam mattress on the floor which we can put away if not required. There is barely room for 2 beds in that room, with the bureau etc in there. I wanted the bureau so people would have somewhere comfortable to sit to use their laptops (if people still have such things) or write letters (ha-ha).
I took the impulsive decision to go on AirBnB because we'd had almost no WWOOFer enquiries this summer. The government has changed the working criteria to enable qualification for a 2nd-year working visa, to make voluntary work (and specifically WWOOFing) inapplicable. So the enquiries have just disappeared. We've had one set of WWOOFs so far (see below) and hopefully have another couple coming for a few days later in Feb and a Japanese girl who has booked for 2 weeks in late March. I've blocked off the rest of February on AirBnB, given my imminent surgery.
|Main double room|
|Main double room (walls are as above photo, not this weird pink that's come|
out in this photo.)
|Bathroom dedicated to AirBnB guests.|
The funny thing about our experience is that several groups have expected to be able to cook in the evenings in our kitchen. With one group (chap and his two nice but manic boys), we actually came to an arrangement whereby he did the cooking for all of us and I did all the clearing up and contributed to the food! It worked OK for us and I hope it did for him! Anyhow we have only had positive reviews so far. I do provide a good breakfast, various home-made breads toasted, home-made yoghurt, loads of spreads, fruit and home-produced eggs cooked however people want them. Pretty substantial! I've tried to make it clear on the site that we are not self-catering, although we are perfectly happy for people to make a sandwich, heat something up etc, just not a full-blown cooked meal.
|Last lace doily I had on Etsy was sold. Here it has been washed and pinned out|
for ironing and shaping (called 'blocking').
|I sold a couple of these gift boxes off Etsy for Christmas. They contain blackberry|
liqueur, Happy Pig Soap, pepperberries and lip balm. The boxes are decorated with
Xmas colours and themes via decoupage. What a time that took!
We went to a Big Bash League cricket match at the Blundstone Arena to see the Hobart Hurricanes, get rather thrashed! Pity really because they had won the previous home game. They started off the season quite well, but faded rather quickly! Big Bash is quite entertaining because they only play 20 over innings and slog a lot of 4s and 6s. There is also a bit of crowd entertainment and razzmatazz with fire blasters and fireworks. Me and Bronte are a bit old school and grumble about the loud music, awful emcees and the constant adverts on big screens. The thing that I hate most though are the awful mascots. Some poor sod dressed up in purple with a lightning bolt coming out of his shoulder making him look like a hunchback.
The following photos are of my revoltingly smelly home-made liquid fertiliser. In 44 gallon drums I'm putting nettles, used tea-bags, left-over bones/ carcasses, dolomite or lime, wood ashes and heaps of disgusting poultry and rabbit poo. I then top it right up with water and leave it to fester. I've tried various methods of extracting it and applying it to the ground. I first tried to filter it, firstly with aviary mesh and then through straw. Also tried old t-shirts and other bits of material. The mesh worked a treat and took out all the big lumps. However, I had in my head that I'd be able to use the sprayer to distribute the diluted results, which meant I had to get all the little bits out. It was hideously slow trying to get it through straw or material and then when I put it in the sprayer the nozzle constantly blocked up. I removed the nozzle and just let it flow out, but then I had to refill the sprayer every 5 minutes. It clearly wasn't a practical way forward. So now I just stick with the mesh, push it right down into the drum and scoop out the liquid with a bucket. To get it onto the paddocks I've been filling all the buckets and containers we've got with dilute fertiliser and then just tipping them out on the top of slopes. Impossible to know if its made any difference this year, because it's been so dry.
|Creek along boundary of above property.|
|Friendly pussy cat and dog at one of the houses I've worked at recently. I've done the garden a couple|
of times, cleaned all the windows and cleaned the entire house on the day the lady moved out.
|A massively windy night resulted in the gutter falling off the tractor shed.|
|Selfie of me in spraying mode.|
Pictures above and below are of hay-making. What a job! I spent countless hours in the weeks leading up mowing time, cleaning all the paddocks of buzzies, thistles, bracken and sedge. What a complete nightmare. I started by cutting and pasting sedge - ie using secateurs to cut the sedge and quickly painting the cut stems with strong glyphosate. After a while it was clear I would never get done at that rate. The plan was to try and open up new paddocks that we'd never cut for hay before, because the grass yield was very low compared to previous years. The drought had a huge effect despite us getting higher rainfall than in the valley. But the predations by the pademelons had the biggest impact. Great patches of grass were reduced to moss level. We were determined to cut as much as we could as hay was terribly scarce and prices were going through the roof. We heard stories of bales going for $20 each! In all past years we sold our surplus bales for $5.
This year we sold for $8 and $10 (for the very best quality). People down the road sold for $14, but we didn't want to rip people off. The bales were drier and lighter than prior years so it seemed fair not to take advantage. This year we had the sense to sell out of the paddock. Last year we carted 850 bales ourselves and then sold out of the sheds. This year we took 972 bales, making all my weeding efforts worthwhile. Luke and Bronte did a fair bit of weeding at various times as well. Selling out of the paddock was great except for one daft lot who managed to back through one of my fences (a double one with chicken wire and internal electric fence). I've been trying to fix it up but would have been quicker to rip it out and start again.
Despite the greater number of bales this year, I'm still concerned that we won't have enough for ourselves. Trouble is I've been feeding hay out at a much faster rate than I anticipated. Partly because the goats were shut in a small paddock for while because of their tree-eating naughtiness and partly because each bale had less substance than usual.
All the following photos were taken at the Hobart Show. We took Luke's chum Josh with us, so Luke didn't just have us to trail around with.
|Cute Bengal cat in the cat pavilion (my favourite).|
|Luke and Josh in inflated balls.|
|Luke on the dodgems. Josh was in a separate car.|
|Luke and Josh (and me) were fascinated by the decorated cakes.|
|We all made creatures out of vegetables.|
|Random picture of me on the deck.|
|Luke (far left) doing a guitar performance at school. The teacher does|
tend to hog the limelight in these performances. She uses a loud electric guitar so
we can barely hear the acoustic performers!
|We took him and some chums bowling during Luke's birthday weekend and|
went to the really daggy Pizza Hut afterwards in North Hobart. The kids were happy
and chomped through tons of pizza, cake and ice cream.
|On Luke's actual birthday we had to go to school. I'm afraid I hadn't made a posh|
themed cake so had to hurriedly buy a cake (well half of one) and stick some candles in.
|We seemed to spend much of the first half of the summer mowing. I was constantly mowing -|
either at clients' properties, or at home.
|Laying concrete blocks.|
|Had to take this picture even though it hasn't come out clearly. Inside the wire the grass|
is lush, long and green. Outside there is just moss.
|Late snow. Bronte took Luke and Josh to the top of Mount Wellington to throw|
snowballs at each other.
|Before the start.|
Rather rashly, we all took part in this year's Hobart Point to Pinnacle half-marathon. The route goes from Wrest Point Casino on the waterfront up to the top of Mount Wellington, at around 1200m, over 20 or so kilometres. Last year Bronte took part in the walking race and his brother Glen did the run (very brave of him). Last time Bronte did a load of training but none of us did any training this year! We were doing the walking race and felt fit (ish). We had to ignore the fact that under-14s aren't meant to take part (Luke is 11). We were fairly sure he'd be fine, but decided that we'd stop at The Springs (half way up the mountain) if there were any problems. As it was I was perfectly happy up to the bottom of the mountain and from then on found it an almighty struggle. Luke was way ahead, he finished 10 minutes ahead of Bronte and 38 minutes ahead of me! I could hardly move the following day, although Luke and Bronte were reasonably OK. None of us got blisters. I was the only person in the race to wear a skirt. I couldn't face doing it in Lycra and had no intention of exposing my legs in shorts! It was a great choice - cool and comfortable.
|At the start.|
|Bronte and Luke already getting ahead of me!|
|Piper and good reception for the walkers at Fern Tree.|
|Turning to The Pinnacle.|
|Me at the finish! Made it, yay!|
|Pig-face flowering on our clay banks by the front door.|
|'Regatta' that Luke and a few of his class mates took part in at Franklin. They came' last|
in everything but it was a laugh! We then had a mixed team of me and Bronte, Luke and one of
his tough chums and raced the pants off all the other mixed teams!
|After the races.|
|Bronte's Dad and Luke.|
|Luke on the dunes.|
|Which one's Luke?|
|Mighty tortoise! I should have loved to see this.|
|Luke's chum 'Joe' kipping on the rocks. Luckily Bronte dissuaded Luke|
from stroking it!
|Luke with Giant Panda!|
Photos above and below are of Bronte's greenhouse. A jungle of tomatoes, spinach, herbs and trees. We've had kgs of tomatoes off these plants.
Below are beds that I hurriedly made on the 'veggie' patch in order plant out some of Bronte's seedlings from the greenhouse. It was never going to be feasible to finish the whole veggie cage in time, so this seemed a stop-gap solution. I made 3 beds in the end and planted out all manner of stuff including carrots, beetroot, peas, lettuce, sweetcorn, zucchini, onions, red cabbage, coriander and strawberries, most of which we'd grown from seed. Was pretty chuffed with the results. We have had huge success with the zucchinis which I planted out early under cloches. The most painstaking job was dibbing out onion seedlings - what a nightmare. We'll know to seed most of these straight into the ground another year.
|Some of our produce above.|
|Echidna who hung round the house for a few weeks. Such clumsy, oddball little creatures.|
|Rare sighting of froglet.|
|Plover eggs on ground.|
|Tadpoles (and my shadow... ) in goat's water trough. Think they all eventually|
turned into little froggies though how they got out I can't imagine.
|Hole in trap! How the heck? Caused by a devil which had somehow managed to|
break and bend heavy gauge wire. Just hope it didn't hurt its mouth and teeth too much in
Very few WWOOFer applications this year owing to the change in the visa regs as previously mentioned. Jarv and Michelle (who I stupidly didn't take a photo of) brought their own accommodation and pet with them! Dennis the Cat seen below with harness and lead - such a little sweetie! They were a great help on the farm and did a lot of the regular animal stuff, mostly while I gardened for other people.
|Not sure why I took this pics except that Bronte's shirts and all Luke's bedlinen|
just looked nice blowing in the breeze in the bright sun against the green backdrop!