Visit my Etsy Shop!

1 March 2017

Hello there - 6 or 7 months of photos etc here, so will try and keep it short and snappy! Not in chronological order. Usual eventful time here on the farm including a 4 week visit from my Mum (from the UK) over the summer hols, which was lovely.

Misty mountain scene from our rough area at bottom of our land

I had to dig up our waste water pipes owing to a leak. Followed a tunnel through the ground for about a
metre before finding the hole, which had clearly been gnawed by a rat. Just noticed there is a leak coming
out of the ground somewhere else now.

On Luke's 12th birthday, I made an impulsive purchase of a 'house' rabbit - Bobs. Bobs
was (is) very sweet but there were various drawbacks, not least of which was that he wanted
to dig and chew everything. Several cables were sliced including the telephone, Luke's tablet
charger and a computer mouse. All architraves and door frames likewise chewed, plus several
jumpers, blankets and the carpet. Covered all the cables with protective tubing, but he started to
work his way through that as well. In the end the extent of damage meant he had to go outside
and that was the start of a rabbit population explosion (see below). He did - sort of - make
friends with Murphy-Cat, although his feelings went unrequited. Murphy viewed him as a bit
of a nuisance that he had to endure.

In the early part of summer it was difficult to keep on top of the mowing around the
house so I had the bright idea of using the our two big (huge) fat white rabbits as mowing
machines. I put anti-quoll wire around Luke's old climbing frame which had been used as
a veggie cover last year and slid it to a new position each day. Trouble is they ate too
quickly and left bald patches on the grass. Had better results in really thick long grass on
one of our rough slopes that has to be brush-cut. They did a fantastic job with that.
Cute batch of ducklings. Unlike the first lot, these guys didn't get eaten by devils. However
a quoll turned out to be living in the 'quoll-proof' duck/ rabbit run and we lost 3 of the 8 when
they went back outside. In the end managed to catch the quoll with a combination of hosing
water down his hole and flushing him out with the dogs and finally getting him in the possum trap.

We had a community garage sale at a neighbour's place, as part of the national garage
sale trail. This is my 'store'. As usual made very little from the whole affair but managed to
get rid of most of Luke's old toys, several bags of home made bread, a plate of home made
brownies, some of our own pepperberries and a few other bits. Picture below is Rosie making
herself comfortable on garage sale items on the back seat of the ute.

Had a good crop of baby goats again in September as reported in last post. This is little
Custard snuggled up with Mum Dusty, one of the oldest of my does. 

Couple of last year's babies. Really handsome goats.

Goat meat mincing

Hakea in full bloom. One of the natives we planted when we arrived here.

We lost several hens and a rooster over a couple of nights to a wretched Tassie devil. It
pushed under the wire and nabbed the poor old hens while they were sleeping. The second night
we heard a terrific commotion in the middle of the night. We shone a torch down into the hen run
from our bedroom deck and I could see the devil in the run with a hen in its mouth! While I yelled, Bronte
jumped over the railings and ran down there in bare feet and just his undies! The devil pushed back out
and ran off in typical clumsy rocking horse fashion. In a bid to stop further predations I had to fit
higher grade wire mesh around the bottom, nail it to the base boards and peg it to the ground. It seems to
have worked thank goodness.

I entered a few of my latest crochet things in the Huon Show (
and a couple of jellies. Won quite a few prizes (but no cash).

On my birthday we went over to New Norfolk to the Willow Court complex which has a great
antique centre. Even Luke likes poking about in there. I bought a couple of throws pretty cheaply which
I've put down as rugs in one of the Airbnb rooms - it's really brightened things up in there. Afterwards we went to
the Lego exhibition in Hobart. These were some of the creations. There were several pictures like the James
Bond one, made from the smallest lego bricks.

Birthday boy! 12 years' old. He got a lot of nice things, including Bobs the rabbit (pics above).

Conqueror of the veggie patch! It had got horribly overgrown over winter when
I didn't have much growing. After Luke mowed it, I laid weed mat over the top. It's worked a treat.
I plant seeds and seedlings through the mat and they stay lovely and clean and no weeds come
up through it - or very few. The mat is UV proof and lets water through.

Above and below: a couple of end of year (and school) events to mark the transition from primary
to secondary school. Luke is playing guitar in the group above. Unfortunately, he's decided not to continue
with guitar. We were quite disappointed and he may live to regret it, but we can hardly blame him when
neither of us is the least bit musical. Shame really, because he learnt to read music easily and quickly and
had quite a repertoire of good stuff. Oh well, it was a good experience for him while it lasted.

Luke perched on top of a blackwood tree that I brutalised. It was growing into a neighbour's power line
and the foliage came in pretty handy for feeding the goats.

The next few photos are from a walk that Luke and I did during one school break up to Mount
Misery. Dreadful name I know! But a really beautiful walk which has been created thanks to the owners of
Huon Bush Retreats who have created the path and negotiated with private owners to make it possible for
members of the public to use.

Weird rock formations on the top of Mount Misery - like a pile of pancakes!

Yay, we did it! The second photo is a strangely pocked small cave formation right at
the summit.

Great tree on the way up.

I used the big white rabbit does as lawn mowers for a time over Spring and Summer on a
dreadful steep bank full of pot holes which it is really difficult to mow. They did a great job. I just
dragged the 'dome' along each day. Rosie and Bruce spent a lot of time just gazing at them hungrily.

In the lead-up to Christmas I made a load of these lace crochet snowflakes. Eight in total I think. It was
quite fun making them. I put them on Etsy but I've still got them! I hung them in the Airbnb rooms over
Christmas, they looked a treat. They are starched and sprayed with glitter hairspray and have sequins stuck on.

Blue tongue lizard that Rosie found and I rescued. What a beauty!

Echidnas were fossicking about all summer. We saw a large one (above) and a young
one was a regular visitor up and down the drive, where it was digging for ants in the bank.

Wally footprints in the mud.

We all took part in a working bee (I belong to the Russell Ridge Conservation Area Landcare Group and
the Friends of Billy Browns Falls Wildcare Group) to erect a sign on the way up to the falls and a bench on the ridge
half way up on the walking track. Bronte and I carried the heavy plant which was the seat of the bench. Bit of a
nightmare carting that up there. I was at the back with it balanced on my shoulders and Bronte kept wrapping
 me around trees. The amazing park rangers carried 20kg bags of quick-set concrete up there in their backpacks! As well
as chainsaws and other tools for clearing the track as we went. It was a satisfying half day. Just showing that someone
cares should help deter Bogan four-wheel drivers a bit.

This litter of tiddlers was born to one of the rescue rabbits we bought to keep Bobs the birthday bunny
company. It turned out that they were both pregnant when we got them and then the first one to give birth, had
another litter from Bobs! Couldn't believe it could all happen so quick. It appears that rabbits have a gestation period
of just 30 days and can fall pregnant again pretty much the day of giving birth. She had 6 babies the second time
but was obviously trying to do away with them because in boiling hot weather I kept finding them under huge piles of
hay. In the end only 3 survived this treatment. Mum was clearly protecting herself from too much stress poor old thing.
I then had Bobs in the dome outside within the run with the white rabbits, so he could see them but not get at them.
Unfortunately, he managed to dig out despite my precautions and we couldn't get him again .. so at least one of
the white ones is now pregnant. Sigh.

Above and below: We took Mum to Blundstone Arena to see a Big Bash League cricket match between The
Hurricanes (Hobart) and the Adelaide Strikers. The Hurricanes won by miles which was rather fun. The format is
good because it's just 2-3 hours of quick-fire cricket with lots of 6's being scored and a good atmosphere.

Bobs chewing and licking Luke's head! When Mum was here, we moved Luke temporarily onto a mattress in the
office so we could continue to have Airbnb guests downstairs. It was December and January so prime tourist season. We had
heaps of people staying such that I blocked off a lot of days so we could spend more time touring around.

When I took Mum down to the waterfront, we saw the bridge being lifted between two parts
of the harbour to let in one of the Sydney to Hobart yachts that was just finishing. It was rather exciting - I'd
never seen it raised before. It was all very yachtie with lots of bluff types and champagne being sloshed. The
Super-Maxis have 100ft masts and are just huge.

View of Hobart waterfront with some of the Sydney to Hobart yachts present.

Bronte and Luke disappearing (very slowly) into the distance on a pedalo on the Huon River. Think they
were jealous that me and Mum went on the jet boat a couple of days after Christmas when they'd cleared off and
left us to go to Adelaide. Me and Mum stayed in the cafe in comfort while they pedalled furiously!

The photo above and the serious below are of a day trip to Bruny Island. It really is a very pretty place. Luke and
I swam in a beautiful bay and had enormous fun jumping into huge breakers. We saw lots of fairy penguin burrows.

This is the isthmus separating north and south Bruny. It is a favourite area for the penguins.

Buzzy ball made by Luke, Josh and Josh's brother Zach. Buzzies are the most annoying plant on earth.
They grow low to the ground and creep great distances creating huge mats before shooting up horrible little burrs (buzzies)
which are the bane of our lives (and particularly that of Bruce our old dog) in summer. This year I tried to spray them
(the only way we could feasibly attempt to get rid of them) and was partially successful in some areas. They are
apparently very difficult to kill. In the process I managed to kill all our lovely nerimes near the front gate. The
biggest vector in their spread are the pademelons to whose coats the buzzie seeds stick.

I rashly agreed to take Luke and his mate Josh on a big walk up to Cathedral Rock. This is at the start when
we were still full of beans. What a walk that was! It was a terrifically sleep slog with a major scramble, almost a real climb
right at the top. However, once we got up there the views were quite amazing. Not sure I'll be repeating it in a
hurry though. It even dampened the kids and to my surprise I was able to keep up with them. A few times they
claimed they had stopped to wait for me, when they were clearly whacked out!

This was MUCH steeper than it looks!

Various views (above and below) from the top.

Panoramic view from the top.

Weary but not disheartened, back at the car.

Luke and Josh triumphant.

This photo and the following series are all from a trip we made late in the summer holidays, down to Cockle Creek.
That is the southernmost part of Tassie that's accessible by car. It's the first time we'd made it down there. It was
quite a trek but definitely worth it. The odd thing was that there were a number of people camping, but the beaches
were completely empty! What were the campers doing apart from tinkering with their BBQs and inverters?
We went on a couple of short walks, including to whale point and across the tip of the peninsula to another bay. The
scenery was that of a tropical island although the day itself was quite chilly. Luke and I braved the water for a time
despite the cold and the boys played beach cricket.

Anemones exposed at high tide - lookly eerily spaceman-like!

Now I see why it's called 'Cockle Creek'.

Rosie, sea-dog.

Whale Point.

CSIRO ship, the Investigator, moored at its home port in Hobart. It's quite an
impressive ship,

Dead crow (well forest raven actually) hung as a warning to the ugly cawing
crowds of its brethren who keep eating the bunny and duck food and terrorising all the other
local birds.

Poor tiny silvereye found dead in the garage. It turned out that they were nesting in there. I went
in one day and about 5 were calling and flitting from beam to beam, seemingly confused about how to get out
(despite the open doors). Found another dead near the house, so I'm not sure the garage was the best
place for them. It meant the fledgelings had to find their way out over the roller doors when we weren't around.

Duckling brood outside in their new home. We started with 8 and ended up with just 5.
Never did find any trace of the ones that disappeared. Think they fell foul of the the rotten little
quoll that I found living in their run - which I'd thought to be quoll-proof. Since then I've filled in the giant
excavations made by the rabbits under their hut. Our local DIY shop had 6 bags of pre-mix concrete they were
selling off cheap as they were split. I put those in there, together with big rocks and then sprayed water on top.
It is impervious to rabbit paws now.

A huge limb dropped from a big blackwood tree near our gate over summer. This is Luke and Josh armed
with bow-saws retrieving branches for the goats. It was awkward owing to the sleep slope on which it had fell. I never did
manage to retrieve all of the branches before the leaves shrivelled and dried in the hot sun.

I had a major fertilising pre hay-cutting season, with the aim of stimulating grass growth and deterring
the rotten pademelons which were eating everything. Because my fertiliser has a fair bit of blood and bone (waste
products from producing our meat for instance) I expected it to have a deterrent effect. Actually distributing the
semi-liquid fertiliser though is a massive and pungent affair. I did several loads like the above, parking and
hurling the noisome stuff out with a bucket. It certainly did help the grass but the coverage was still
pretty small. Really need some sort of mechanised approach. I have several 44 gallon drums into which I put any
waste bits of animals including bones from roasts, feathers etc, plus nettles, tea-bags, used cat litter - basically
anything organic which can't be eaten. I let it rot down anerobically, add water and distribute. 

I still do the occasional bit of gardening for my two old pensioners in Grove. One has this lovely topiary
which I trim from time to time. Above is 'before', below is 'after'. Pretty good eh? Unfortunately, just as I was
about to embark on the 3rd, I cut through the electric cable!

Goats confined to the weaning pen after misbehaving and breaking out of my electric fences. The braid is
just about at the end of its tether and the wallabies wreck it and then the goats just walk through. I've reinforced the
weaning pen with good grade ringlock fencing (acquired through various trips to the tip shop) and electrified it! Ha ha, thats
 certainly put them off. They can't just push through like they can the braid and if they try they get a good zap of around
8,000 volts.

Haymaking selfie! Mum drove the ute for us which was a great help. I wore a mask this year and it
really stopped me getting the horrible asthma and dryness I've got in previous years. The fact that it wasn't
boiling hot made wearing it bearable.

Dad sent me a number of hoes and hoe bits in the post from England! I couldn't get that style here and
in fact it was almost impossible trying to get any sort of hand hoe. The little hand hoe I use constantly and Bronte fitted up
one of the big hoes for me. It's great for weeds that are not too woody. The enormous thistles I have to tackle with the
heavy Dutch hoe however.

Poor old Murphy cat had to be put down much to our united distress. Luke and I were worst with days when
poor Luke was inconsolable. He was very dependent on Murphy and took great comfort from him. And Murphy was
just such a darling he put up with anything. In the end his stomach swelled and he was diagnosed with liver cancer. We (well I) decided to have him put down just a few days later as he was clearly unhappy. It was much the best decision as it gave us a chance to grieve rather than continuing to feel so miserable and it meant Murphy didn't have to suffer. Coincidentally that week I'd seen an ad in the Huon News about the Southern Cat Rescue organisation (which I hand't known even existed). I
sent them a note asking them what animals they had and they replied almost immediately. We went to see a foster carer who was looking after about 8 rescue kittens. We all got adopted by a different cat and ended up getting 3! We weren't supposed to
take them straightaway as they can't be adopted until after their vaccinations, de-sexing and microchipping. So we just
fostered them in the meantime. No way we were going to be able to wait another two weeks before taking them home!
Above is Barry the black one and Ed the stripey supermodel, within a couple of days of arrival.

This one was called Lucky when we got her, but Bronte renamed her Scorch. They really are lucky little mites, all
having had dreadful starts in life. Barry was found in a sack which had been thrown over a fence, Scorch was found in the
middle of a road almost starved, and little Ed was born to a feral Mum on Bruny Island.

Luke on the Kaoota Tramway. We biked this track recently, it's only about 6km each way, but is
fairly rough. I certainly felt it on my old boneshaker. No dual suspension for me unfortunately. Luke
disgraced himself by tearing ahead so far that we nearly went bonkers trying to track him down.

Second Airbnb room with the colourful rugs bougtht at Willow Court. I've reorganised
again since them and included a TV and fridge.

Luke's room with the furniture I restored for him. Both the desk and chest of drawers were bought
for $50 and were in a dreadful state. I worked hard to get them ready for Mum's arrival as she used Luke's room.
The desk is sturdy oak, which I sanded and varnished. The chest of drawers needed a large amount of repair and
rather than trying to sand the veneer I painted it. I laid down an orange emulsion and varnished it on top so it
looks very much like cedar, which seems to be the base wood. I was pretty chuffed with how well they both
turned out. Also managed to track down the orange office chair and a big anglepoise lamp (can't see it for the
glare on the desk) second hand on Gumtree.

There is no wardrobe in Luke's room and Mum (and Luke) needed somewhere to hang clothes. I couldn't
find a clothes rail that fitted the space available and Bronte offered to make one. However, it made it absolutely huge
and it was twisted. So I had to take it apart and cut all the pieces down before reassembling and painting it. I also
replaced the hanging rail (which was wood) with a piece of aluminium tubing. It looks really good now. It was still a bit
tacky when Mum arrived! The day I was due to pick Mum up from the airport our neighbour Annette kindly came and helped
me bring all the newly restored furniture over from the tractor shed and install it in the bedroom. I would never have
managed it on my own.

Luke's old chest of drawers (which I'd painted years ago, fits lovely into his bathroom and is a splash of
colour in a dull corner. It's also some handy extra storage. The narrow dark wood cupboard that was in this space, is now Luke's bedside table. 

Above and below: we had an outing to the Margate Train with Mum.

Trip to Mona. Bronte and I left Mum and Luke there to explore while we went off to do some stuff in town.

Steps down to the wharf.

Waiting for the ferry.

The 'Mona Roma' ferry that Mum, me and Luke took back to Hobart. It was quite fun
cruising back down the Derwent.

On the ferry.

A few pics of dear old Murphy cat.

The day before he went to the vets for the last time. Poor sweetie.

Christmas Day - above and below.

Above and below: me and Mum on the jet boat a couple of days after Christmas. It was a bit of an
impulse decision because almost nothing else was open. I sat at the back and got well and truly soaked!
I was worried Mum would hate it or be seasick but she loved it!

I managed to back the Suzuki into a bog and Mum had to steer it out while I towed it with the ute.

Bronte's leaving gift from Hobart City Council was a gift certificate for a swanky restaurant in
Hobart. It was a pleasant meal. Bronte left Hobart City Council at the end of last year and has started in a
very similar position at Kingborough Council. It's so much better for him being closer to home with no
parking problems. As Luke has also now started at Kingston High School (we were worried he wouldn't
thrive at Huonville High as there are a lot of disruptive kids and its last but one in the Tassie league tables), Bronte
can drop him off on his way to work, which is great for both of them. Luke comes home on the bus and I pick him up
from the Grove Shop which is just 7kms away.

One of Luke's odd little Christmas gifts was a pirate egg! You put it in water and watch for the pirate to hatch
and grow. It did work but the pirate was rather oddly deformed with a wonky leg. When we left him to dry he shrunk
back to minute proportions.

Rosie, me and Mum outside the Local cafe in Huonville. Rosie is such a cheeky monkey - any
chance she can gets on someone's lap.

These girls were a scream at Salamanca Market - I was entranced!


Native blueberries (a type of vine). We have a few plants around the plot.

I had 3 feral sheep in the back pen and needed to move them. Since they run headlong into
fences I had to reinforce this central area then trap them with a spare gate. One of them has already
been eaten and the fleece is being salted.

Mack dog on the front of the little Suzuki.

Swallow family on the deck. They make Bronte cross because they poo on all the decks.

We went on a long day trip with Mum down to the Tasman Pensinsula. I remembered it for all the
amazing coastal formations. It has some of the highest cliffs in the southern hemisphere, great climbing
pitches and one of the best surfing spots in the world at Shipstern's Bluff. This is the Tesselated Pavement.
Mum and I watched from above while Bronte and Luke ran down to poke around.

The Tasman Arch.

Old Aston parked alongside the Tasman Arch. Oddly it was one of 3 Astons we saw
that day - not a brand you normally see in Tassie!

Devil's Cauldron.

Mum in her florals.

Port Arthur penitentiary. Bronte and Luke did the whole tour while Mum and I listened to the
guided talk and then pottered locally. It was too much for Mum to walk around the whole site.

Part of the gardens at Port Arthur. The gardens were for the wives and families of the officers.

Jetty to the Island of the Dead, where they buried all those who died at Port Arthur.

We crossed a section of the peninsular following signs to Remarkable Cave, to a whole different world.
Suddenly we were faced with the Southern Ocean and huge waves and fantastic coastal scenery. My little camera is
completely unable to do it justice.

Bronte, Luke and I climbed down into Remarkable Cave and Bronte and Luke jumped down
and through the tunnel out to the beach. Lots of surfers were doing the same although it clearly
wasn't intended as there was no ready access off the walkway. We happened upon a YouTube video
shortly after this, where the sea surged through the tunnel in this photo and rose to above this
interpretive sign.

Looking up at the cliffs above Remarkable Cave.

At the Taste of Tasmania with Mum.

We went thistle-chopping on the big 27 acre plot we are trying to sell having finally completed
the boundary adjustments that have been pending for the 3 years since we first bought an extra 65 acres.
These pictures show before and after pictures of a huge thistle clump - a huge clump and huge thistles. Luke
is standing triumphant but actually he was about had it at that point and I did most of it, with Bronte joining
in to help defeat the last few. We have now extended our own title to the roads to the west and south thereby adding
about 9 kms and a big creek to our land. The other two titles are similarly bounded by roads and are 25 and 27 acres
respectively. We've already managed to sell one, although we think we didn't get the best price for it and the other
is expected to sell soon. We've cleared the mortgage we took out to buy the land thank goodness which has taken
the pressure off somewhat. Now we should get back the money we put into the land with a little left over -
although not nearly as much as we hoped! The surveyors cost a fortune, plus solicitors, Council and Land Title
fees. Seems such a nonsense when in effect all that was happening were lines being redrawn on a map.

Start of my new little veggie patch with weed mat and heaps of goat poo and rotted hay.

Several photos below of a lovely, if very long walk that me, Luke and Josh did from our house. To make it a little less of a slog, we left the ute at the bottom of our road and then took the Suzuki as far as we could up the 4WD track that goes up from our house. We walked from there on a big loop through the forest on tracks and old logging roads, back to the ute. About 500m from the ute my knee gave in and I had to get a lift from an obliging neighbour back to the ute! I then drove us back up to the Suzuki and Luke did his first bit of 4-wheel driving following me back to the house driving the Suzuki. It was a tricky descent and he did well.

Above and below, Luke at Willow Court antiques centre on my birthday. 

Luke in his new school uniform. What a smart boy!