Monday, 17 August 2009

Miniature Monolith & Rabbit Stew

The weekend began with a trip out to the block to do some more work on the fence for the orchard area. I had thought there were only two posts available from the cattle yard demolition I'd done some time back, but upon arriving out there and surveying the materials stockpile I discovered the third necessary element for the fence. Fantastic news as I now had enough to get straight on with the job, no money needed!

I completed the first two posts before lunch, one next to the concrete post to hang the gate off, and the other further down the hill to form the south-eastern corner of the interim fence. Later on we will have another gate there to let us into what will be the lower front paddock, but at this stage we can just drive around it, so there is no need to expend the extra resources to put in the extra gate.

House Yard Plan. Orchard to the right, with three vege yards for rotating, chooks digging in between. Combined glasshouse/chookhouse planned as well. The gateway in the pictures below is just above the three rectangular yards, on the left.

The new fenceline will enclose the existing route of the "road" from the front gate, so we're shifting that so it runs along the new fenceline. One problem this created was that it ran straight over the top of an outcrop of rather large stones. After some lunch I thought I'd take a break from digging post holes and got stuck into digging out these obstructions, optimistically expecting that it would only take a short while to clear the taller ones out of the way.

Course of the new roadway looking roughly south from the front gate, the white tape is the fenceline and you can see the gateway-to-be down the end.

Sadly it wasn't to be so easy, and three hours later I'd evicted a sizable boulder from the roadway's course. According to some rough calculations it's about 300kg, which is rather heavy. Once I had it out of it's hole I shifted it back up the hill a bit and decided, rather foolishly, to stand it upright as a feature stone in what will one day be the front yard.

The monolith and attendants

Needless to say, once this was done I had serious second thoughts about setting to digging the third post hole needed to finish up the orchard fence outline. Bravery, or more foolhardiness, overcame me and I began digging, to find that the ground in the spot that had been chosen (on a map drawn about 70km away in the comfort of home) was soft and easy to dig, and right on top of the remains of an older fence post. Where the other posts had taken about an hour each, this one was planted within half an hour. The gods were certainly looking after me!

I took a quick wander around to see if I could bag a bunny for some stew before heading home, and got lucky again. We'd discussed it that morning and wanted to show the lads how a rabbit is skinned and prepared for the pot, so the unlucky bunny was loaded into the truck for the journey home.

Sunday had been selected as a day to be spent at home on the farmlet, catching up on some of the myriad jobs neglected in the drive to get some things done at the new place. A bit of maintenance fixing the laundry flyscreen door to ensure it latches properly, replacing washers in the bathroom (including an educational exercise for the lads and lots of willing assistance) and then it was out into the yard to skin the rabbit which had been hanging overnight. Eldest turned a bit green and headed off to engage in other pursuits, but mid-twin kept up the questions and was most interested to see what went on inside a rabbit.

Once that was done it was time to tackle the machinery crisis we are facing. Our push mower threw a vital component some time ago, taking with it some other vital components, and was considered well and truly dead. We'd borrowed and picked up a couple of other non-functional mowers that I was sure could be restored to working order. I concentrated on yellow Victa, a stylish, fairly recent (10 years or so?!), model that had all it's parts. After cleaning carbies, spark plugs and flushing fuel tanks the problem was isolated to a blocked muffler. Much banging and soaking and blowing later I was able to get it started and running. I promptly re-assembled all the protective and dress cowlings, and then attempted to start it again, without success. Aaaaaarghh! I'd had enough for the day, so it was relegated to the to-do list, once again.

We sampled the rabbit stew, and it was promptly consigned to the category of dog food. The flavours were interesting enough, but after chewing on the same small piece for a good five minutes and not having any impact upon it it was decided that actually consuming it might turn the kids off rabbit stew for life. Next time we'll have to let the creature rest for a few days perhaps? Might have to do a bit of research into preparing rabbits for the pot, something I should have done it prior to starting out! Needless to say, the bolognaise we had in it's place was very nice...

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Rough Outlines

If you've ever spent time at the drawing board you'll realise that you start with the rough outlines, and then progress to add in the details. It doesn't matter how many times you're starting over, the process is still roughly the same. We've heard from our certifier, and he's still waiting on a response over the issue of legal access from a planning friend of his, but otherwise the news is good. We can surrender the development consent and get rid of the new conditions, and they can't modify the house consent conditions to add on the things they have put onto the shed.

As long as we can proceed with building the shed under exempt development we can take this course of action. Once again it's back to the intersection and stock grids, but that's better than the alternative. We've gone to the Ombudsman as well, following on from the suggestion from Andrew and Heather of Tenderbreak Permaculture Farm. We haven't heard back from them yet, I imagine the wheels of power turn at about the same pace no matter where up the ladder they are situated, and I don't hold out a lot of hope, but it's a good feeling all the same, to know that we've told someone in power about the kind of professionalism that comes out of our Council.

This weekend just gone I actually got to spend two whole days out at the block. It was beautiful. Satuday was spent felling a rather large dead tree that was situated smack bang in the middle of the future orchard, and because the rest of the family was there as well we all went for a walk down to the creek, then up the rocky hill and back towards home base.

On the way back there was a little experience that just goes to prove that you're never too old to lack common sense. We found an old wheel laying in the grass up the top of the hill, the tyre still in serviceable condition, so it occurred to me that it would be wonderfully amusing to show the kids how it rolled down the hill. Once everyone was suitably gathered and attentive the wheel was set free. It rolled off with enthusiasm, and about 50m into it's journey I took the time to consider where it was headed, with some prompting from the DW. Straight toward the boundary fence with the neighbour, a creaky old thing of wooden posts and rusting wire.

Needless to say, I watched in horror (and I must admit a great measure of excitement) as the wheel gained speed on it's journey toward the inevitable collision. It struck and lifted two of the large wooden posts out of the ground as the netting bowed inward, before propelling the wheel back. We watched from the top of the hill as it curved off down toward the creek, completing it's journey in a slow spiral in the flat above the empty dam. Quite a momentous journey, and the kids absolutely loved it, funniest thing they'd seen all week!

The big strainer, and remains of the big tree

They all departed about 3pm, leaving me to finish up a bit of wood cutting, and to put in the big concrete strainer post that was going to help form up the orchard fence. That was a mighty traumatic job, luckily the neighbour came by and lent me a hand getting it up and into the hole. After that it was getting dark, so off home.

The next day started with a trip to the FIL's to pick up some old apple bins, as I'd packed the four remaining oak trees in the truck and intended to finish planting them out. With 6 bins loaded up I headed back out to the block, and started the day with some tree planting. The afternoon was then spent chopping up more of the newly felled tree, and after struggling to drag the wire rope back up the hill to pack it away I was well and truly done for the day.

The Oak Grove, with 5 oaks in bins

Back on the farmlet, our neighbours had acquired a couple of ducks that they then discovered were a bit large to be pets for their grandson, so we were called up and asked whether we wanted them. The DW was very enthusiastic and the appropriate arrangements were made. Yesterday we became the proud owners of a breeding pair of Indian Runner ducks!