Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Chores of a Toddler Farmer

It's a hard life, being two on a little farm. You're expected to be your Dad's apprentice. 

You're expected to give the lambs their bottles.

You better not forget their grain, either.

Then, there's two hungry dogs waiting their turn. 

Finally, your Mum puts you on dish duty. 

 No wonder she sleeps well at night.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Stripped and Stacked

Have you ever stopped to question what it is that decides the value of a house? I mean monetary value, not sentimental. I mean the actual dollar figure put on the homes we buy. 

How do those numbers come to be?

I mean, I do understand the concepts of land values and location and desirability and northern aspects and a new roof. 

Really, I do. Mostly. 

I understand that, like with cars, many people are willing to pay a premium for something NEW because it will give them less trouble and it's easier and cleaner and you don't have to live with the legacy of former owners and their wear and tear.

I understand that more people want to live in Fortitude Valley than the Lockyer Valley and I understand that means the timber and bricks in their houses are somehow more valuable than the timber and bricks in our houses. 

At the core, though, houses are just the sum of their parts.

Right now, poor Big House is looking so severely pulled apart that it almost hurts to go in there. Most of her walls and big parts of her floors are reduced to piles of timber, lying on the floor and waiting to be put back into a new, improved order.

Parts. All just parts. A pile of timber and not much more. Why do we invest so much of ourselves and our income and our energy and our emotion in piles of building materials, nailed together in certain ways?

At this stage, we're reduced to reassuring ourselves and each other with statements like 'at least it's good timber' or 'she'll still be standing in another 100 years' or 'they just don't build houses like this anymore'.

One day, it'll be nice enough in there that I'll forget this stage and how sad the house looks with all her insides stripped and stacked.

Right now, though, it's a little hard to watch.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Bits and Pieces

It's been the most gorgeous day here today. I love Winter in Queensland, snuggling under the doona at night and enjoying the sun during the day.

Lu's had a promotion to a new toddler bed, snuggly tucked behind a big room divider into the corner of Little House's one and only bedroom... 

Sheepy has a new friend, now named Roger Ramjet... You may notice the fancy fence they are standing behind, which our neighbour has just finished constructing for us. They have a large paddock and some old pig pens they can shelter in, too. Lucky Sheep.

There's big plans for Big House this week, Dan has some time up his sleeve to get in there and really get working on the place.  I'm hoping to devote some time to plugging the gaps in the floor boards at Little House.

Speaking of Little House, my, we've settled in well. It's a very comfortable, inviting space, with a nice view of the hills behind our property, lots of natural light and, of course, the front and back verandahs to relax on. I'm very happy and keep pottering around cleaning it and sorting things out.

Onward and Upward.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Little House, Our New House.

I am happy to report that we have moved into the Little House, where we are now comfortably settled in and are very much enjoying the luxuries of having a functional kitchen and bathroom.

Little House still needs plenty of work. Only half the interior wall cladding has been replaced (you can see the retro wood grain, which is still in place down the living room end), the roof needs to be done and there are some BIG gaps between the floorboards that have been worrying me a little.

I mean, I'm sure if a snake really wanted to get into this place, it could (they did in the other house after all, and that's about 2 metres off the ground). But I don't really like making it so easy for them. We've got a bit of a solution, which I'll come back to soon.

Meanwhile, the afternoon light on the back verandah at Little House is quite spectacular.

Sheepy has been taking full advantage of the fact we're no longer up the stairs and behind a baby gate and keeps trying to get into the house.

And Lu is also enjoying the easier access to the outdoors, even taking off without her boots on to explore, a cardinal sin in my books.

And the best part of all? We can see through the rest of Winter with a nice, new bathtub and gas hot water. 

Once you've lived in a building site a while, the littlest things seems like the greatest amount of luxury.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Snap Happy

Some of you who've been reading this awhile may remember me mentioning Joyce. 

For those who don't recall, Joyce grew up in our little valley and remembers our place as it looked back when it looked nice. I emailed her shortly after we made an offer on our house, after finding her email address in an online piece talking about the local history of the area.

Anyway, Joyce is particularly wonderful, and is also a great local historian. She's sent me a couple of photos.

The first is her brother, Len, circa 1955, at their place, in a photo I just love. Doesn't he look happy?

Our house would be one of the two little white blobs on the right in the background there, although I can't quite work out which but most probably the one on the far right. 

What strikes me most is how cleared that hill was then. It's not now. This is a picture taken yesterday of Lucinda climbing that hill in the background, although it doesn't do the regrowth justice because it really only shows a few trees and some lantana, but perhaps you can just believe me and appreciate the photo anyway because it's cute and she insisted on dragging those sticks all the way to the top while complaining how heavy they were and looking like Jon Bon Jovi (the house behind her is our neighbour's place).

Now, this is a photo that shows some fairly surly looking children, and - drumroll - Little House. Back when Little House was a school and situated further up the road from where she sits now on our block. This photo is circa 1905. 

Some of the descendants of these kids still live on our road. In fact, the caption with their names reads remarkably similar to the local Street Directory as many of the roads around here are named after local families. 

So, there you go. Some more local history and some great old photos to boot. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Life near Laidley

I thought I might do a post briefly touching on our adjustment to our new lives as part of the larger Laidley community.

It's funny, we picked this place - the hills near Laidley - because we knew it would take us no more than an hour to get back to Brisbane to see our friends and family, or 45 minutes to get to our friends up the range in Toowoomba.

We assumed whenever we wanted a social hit, we'd get on the highway and off we'd go.

We still do that. But, we've also rapidly gotten to know people out this way too. It's amazing, in a small town, how easy it can be to plug in and meet people if you make a little effort.

But, when I'm not down in town, I'm at home in our little valley. And here, too, the friendships have been easy to make. It's not what we expected, but it's a nice surprise.

I'm not going to launch into a big 'city vs country' comparison because, truthfully, we knew our neighbours in town and used to have play dates and card nights and other meet-ups with them, too.

But, I think it's all the more important in a little community like this to make the effort to be involved. I've started a book club with some new friends I've met from around the area, even though none of us really has time to read a book every month... But, it's making the effort to be there that matters.

I'm also starting to do a bit of horse riding, because that's what everyone around here does and it's good to be involved. Seeing the neighbourhood from the back of a horse is pretty addictive, too.

Me, on my neighbour's horse Fred.

One of the things we started early on in the piece was prioritising tradesmen that lived in our neighbourhood too, which is part of the reason we have so far met the occupants of about 15 households along our road. 

Finally, I've had an idea for Spring - a local movie night. See, my closest neighbour and I have a cracking construction project schedule we keep during the day while our toddlers bounce on the trampoline and play in the sandpit. 

We're currently putting together an aviary for me and just finished a horse jump for her and next - an outdoor movie screen for the first annual "xxx(insert suburb here) Movies Under The Stars Night"

I will keep you posted on our progress.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Little House

The countdown is on and the move to Little House is imminent. 

She may not look like much, oh no, but to me she represents something huge because the moment our essential items and furniture are moved in here represents the end of me and living in unrenovated interiors. FOREVER.

I'm done. I'm 100 percent done. Adventure over, closed for business, DONE.

Once I'm in this cottage, you're not getting me out of here again unless it's to move into something wonderful and renovated and FINISHED. Like, for example, the Big House, down the track.

So, we're enjoying (or trying to) our last moments in the pre-renovation Big House while I mentally start to work through our possessions and decide what comes to Little House and what stays over here under dust sheets and in boxes.

It's a great feeling. I feel a sense of accomplishment that we did this - we survived in this house for seven months, with its armies of spiders and occasional snake visitors and big gaps in the boards that the winter frost climbs up through. We've lived in it long enough to see it start to become something beautiful, but there's still a long way to go.

I will watch the rest of this adventure from the other side of the driveway, and when I've had enough, I will retreat to a hot bath in a newly-renovated bathroom and thank the universe for the Little House.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Big News!

I don't think it's any big secret I haven't been posting with quite the same frequency here lately.

There are several reasons, but the main is really that all my computer time and work brain has been diverted into, well, WORK. Which seems a good place to divert it, really.

I've been doing more freelance writing and public relations work lately and also, drumroll,  getting this off the ground:

Basically, I wanted a little 'shopfront' to provide a consistent brand under which to do my public relations and writing work. 

So here it is. You can check out the website here or the Facebook page here.

And if you know anyone looking to get some advice on building their profile, or their business's profile, through free or social media, send them my way!