Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A crazy few days

What a crazy few days it has been. On the one hand, it was excellent to see our place after such heavy rain - to see how it handled flooding and where the water ran.

On the other hand, Laidley - our nearest town and the place Lucinda and I have spent a lot of our time since moving here - was hit extremely hard. All the shops we've been frequenting went under, the pool we've been doing her lessons in is now closed, the library where we were due to start reading group this week will be closed for now.

One of the things I still haven't quite gotten used to about Queensland since moving here from Tasmania, is the extremes of weather here. One day it'll be dry beyond belief, the next it rains a little and you feel relieved and the day after that, your entire local area is under water. Just like that.

We were spared anything serious at our place. The photo I posted last of the creek was the highest the water got and still a fair distance from the house block.

Some of the neighbour's cattle did take advantage of a fallen fence to come and visit our garden though.

Some unexpected guests in the garden today- the flood brought down a few fences.

This photo was taken near our place yesterday, showing how quickly the raging torrent that was the creek dissipated. According to the news, the flooding in Ipswich and Brisbane was due to runoff 'swollen creeks in the Lockyer'. Guilty. There was a LOT of water on our property and, just like that, it was gone. 

  The extent of flooding in our area.

The wet weather gave us a chance to focus on a couple of inside jobs. Dan has started working on stripping carpet glue and cleaning the third bedroom, and I even ventured into the pantry to look at what lay beneath the old lino. More lino, with a very retro pattern, and then solid floorboards beneath it. One of our next jobs is to strip this room out and start to try and get it functional again.

We've kept the pantry locked off since arriving here. Today, I ventured in to check what lay beneath the layers of old Lino. Solid floorboards, not verandah boards. #win

Digging around in this house is like being an archaeologist. There's all sorts of little treasures to find, even if your definition of treasure is just a fun pattern on some very aged lino.

Saturday, January 26, 2013


After several days of heavy rain, our back paddock is now effectively an inland sea. It's pretty spectacular to see. The houses are raised from these water levels by about 10 meters and the big house is on stilts, so flooding is unlikely to ever be a problem in the houses, unless we see something of biblical proportions. In fact, the fact that our property diverts all the water down into the creek has kept the house block relatively dry. I hope everyone reading is faring well too. Between floods and tornados an gale force winds it's pretty wild out there. Queensland - never a dull moment.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A photo of the little house

I'm back at my old haunt, Hungry Jacks, soaking up some wifi. On my last video post, Susan requested a look at the front of the little house. So, here it is:

  The little house is looking overgrown and unloved already.

She already looks a bit overgrown and unloved. The old owner actually lived in this house and rented the big one out to family and the garden was kept relatively neat. We've let it get a bit wild.

Anyway, as I mentioned in the video, we've decided to divert our attention to this house as soon as the last of the urgent repairs on the big house are finished. (Dan came home with a ute full of ceiling insulation yesterday for the big house - oh happy day!)

We've been told that a number of the vet students at USQ at Gatton have horses and want to find homes they can rent where they can keep their animals with them.

Enter our cottage! It solves the problem of what to do with our large horse paddock for the next year or two until we're in a position to look at animals of our own. I didn't fancy going around it on the ride-on mower too often.

It also creates an ongoing income that we can use to pump back into repairs on the big house.

As for our back paddocks, our neighbour has almost finished fixing up our fences there for us. He will then be opening the gate between our properties and sending his cattle up there for the foreseeable future. Again, we don't need them yet - this way the cattle can keep the weeds down and our fences are fixed for us.

Our main priority, outdoors wide, is weeding the section of the grounds where we plan to put the chickens and veggie gardens and getting a coop in.

So, plenty to do, as always. At least we've had some solid rain over the last couple of days and discovered our horribly buckled roof is actually a little more watertight than we thought. Amazing what patch jobs with silicon can do.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

An outside tour

Morning! I did a quick video tour of the exterior of the property that also includes some talk about our latest plans here. 

Yay, as Lucinda might say.

Monday, January 21, 2013


We got another dog! She's a miniature fox terrier and so far she's been settling in...OK. We found her on Gumtree and she is a year old but has had pretty minimal training as far as we can tell. She can sit on demand but mostly chooses not to. She is also not properly house trained and seems to be completely unphased by our dislike of her using the bathroom as a loo.

She is an outside dog now and I know I've got an uphill battle training her.

We've recently had a system called the Hidden Fence installed. Both dogs now wear collars that administer zaps when they try to go past the perimeter fence of the house block. Maisie, being the canine equivalent of Eeyore, has had two zaps and now refuses to go anywhere near the flags that mark the boundary. She has at least stopped sulking mournfully under the house though and come to terms with the end of her daily sightseeing ventures around the neighbourhood.

Pepper, being more of a determined, gutsy young soul, has worked out if she runs and leaps at the fence, she'll get the shock but she'll also get to the other side. She's still on the lowest setting of the system, as she's still in the training phase. I will have to turn her collar up tonight to try and deter her.

I definitely like the fence system so far. It's awful watching the dogs get the zaps but not as awful as keeping them locked up in a laundry all day because they escape so easily. With livestock all around, many people don't take so kindly to wandering dogs around here.

While I'm on the subject of training, I've been working with Lucinda and a rubber snake to try and teach her wariness. She can now say 'nik' (snake) and knows to give that ever present rubber snake a wide berth. I just hope she doesn't think all 'niks' come with orange and red stripes!

Friday, January 18, 2013

A month in!

Today marks the one month anniversary of getting the keys to this house. A month since bizarre accusations of stealing and tummy bugs and homelessness and all the rest of our drama-filled beginning.I'm happy to say things have been smoother sailing since.

We've achieved a lot in a month. Almost all the rooms in the house, save the third bedroom and the pantry are now clean and in use. The grounds have been cleaned up and the massive process of weeding begun. Tanks have been cleaned, plumbing fixed, smoke detectors got back to a functioning state. This week, I painted the bathroom floor a gloss white to try and disguise the terrible old boards on the floor there.

Dan also picked up some French doors to match the existing ones from a salvage yard. They will be installed where the internal window is, so we can begin the process of securing the house from the verandah and then begin to take off that verandah cladding. There is a floor plan up top under 'architectural tidbits' if you're curious - it might help make more sense of what I'm saying.

I think the best thing we'e achieved in the last month - and certainly the biggest surprise- has been getting to know so many of the neighbours. Not just a few chats over fences but playdates and house visits and numbers exchanged. One neighbour is determined to get Lucinda on a pony, something she has so far resisted. Everyone has been welcoming and told us how happy they are that 'the ferals' have left the area.

Thanks to people reading for your kind messages over the last month. I have been hopeless at responding to most, or visiting any other blogs, as Internet is still difficult to access. Not much longer! Our dish is on its way.

Finally, I have done another video tour showing the outside of the property. As soon as i can upload it to You Tube I will do so!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Goodbye Verandah Partition

It was incredibly hot this weekend, so we had to take it easy on the house.

Some light cleaning, weed removal and the removal of the partitioning wall that had been constructed halfway along the front verandah was all we got to do before the house turned into a furnace and we fled for air conditioned shops.

We pulled the partition down out of desperation - trying to get some breeze into the house. It didn't make a big difference so we're both pretty keen to get the front verandah opened up ASAP.

Have I mentioned that the entire exterior of our house is clad is uninsulated aluminium cladding from the 70s? You can just imagine how that feels when it's 39 degrees and there's no breeze. Why anyone ever thought closing in a verandah with unlined aluminium was going to be a good idea is beyond me, but there you go.

Sadly, though, while we'd just like to get in with a saw and get the cladding off, there are only so many hours in a day. And, with a toddler on the loose, we can't just go pulling off verandah railings until we're ready to get a new balustrade in straight after.

So, for now, we'll keep sweating it out in this hot box and hope today's cooler change lasts.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hot Days

I am back at Hungry Jacks again for a coffee and a bit of internet. Telstra has now confirmed, once and for all, that ADSL is a no-go so we're waiting for the paperwork to get satellite services connected. 

Dan has gone back to work, so work around the house has slowed a little. Lucinda and I spend our days looking for the best ways to beat the heat. The house is completely uninsulated and has been pretty unbearable during the day, so we've been escaping to the front lawn, shops or to visit friends where necessary.

Later in the day, the front veranda - which faces East - is the best place to be, when all the windows are open, anyway.

Veranda play.

Yesterday, this pine tree came down. I am sure I don't need to explain why we felt the need to get rid of it! It was half eaten out by borers around the base and leaning precariously over our roof. Every time a storm came in, Dan and I would cross our fingers and hope for the best.

I feel a lot safer now it's gone.

Our place from the back. The pine comes down tomorrow. It is half eaten out by borers and dangerous as hell.

Lucinda and I found this little cabinet in an op shop for $5. She was very helpful in getting it cleaned up.

Saw this cabinet at the op shop for $5. It's like it was made for this house. Lucinda has been scrubbing it for about 20 mins.

It fits perfectly in our shabby bathroom.

Happy in its new home in our shabby bathroom.

In other news around the place, I've got an envelope in my bag containing what I think may be a fire ant. These ants are incredibly dangerous and the Queensland Government is working hard to eradicate them. We're in a  'high risk' area and have seen crews working to find nests on nearby properties in recent weeks. Today, I was at the compost bin and spotted what looked suspiciously like one.  I caught it and popped it in the sample bag provided by Biosecurity Queensland. Fingers crossed that it turns out to be a harmless native ant instead.

This weekend, we're working on getting moved into the master bedroom as we're still sleeping in the sitting room.

She matches her house today. #Fiftyshadesofgreen

We're also planning to sit down, look hard at our budget and work out what jobs to prioritise. There is literally so much to do around the place, it's hard to know where to start.  Roof repairs are top of the list, and insulation, and getting either the future ensuite or family bathroom done.

In the meantime, we're set up and reasonably comfortable (albeit in a rustic kind of way) in the house now.

My beloved couch and the dining room table got moved inside yesterday. If I'm selective with my angles it almost looks like a normal house.

Here's a few glimpses from around the property. You can see we have a slight problem with weeds currently (!) but at least we get some friendly visitors.

This little fella was outside the kitchen this morning. He must have wanted a coffee. #kangaroo

Here's a look from the veranda at the horses in the paddock opposite us.

I still haven't got used to how much I prefer this view. #horsesnothouses

For all the challenges the house is already throwing at us, knowing that we'll eventually have a wrap-around veranda looking out at this makes it all worthwhile.

A functional bathroom would be damn nice, though.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Family Portrait

Not really a renovation related post today!

Dan's mother came to stay with us for a few days this week, helping care for Lucinda while we got some hard work done. It was fantastic to actually be able to work on things at the house, rather than the way I usually spend my days which is chasing around after Lu while Dan does all the work.

She also took a few family portraits of us in our new home. I think this is my favourite. Even the dog sat still, momentarily.

Cheesy family portrait day here at #theoldpostoffice.

I know one day we'll look back on this crazy project and wonder what, exactly, we were thinking when we took it on. But, at least we now have a few photos of us at the beginning to look back on.

In other news, we met our first snake yesterday. A large red belly black snake, under the house. Country living, we have arrived!

Now, bring on my snake fencing project.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Family/Dining Room

I am back at the local Hungry Jacks making the most of my half hour of free wi-fi. For the price of a small flat white coffee, it seems a pretty economical way to get an internet hit every couple of days.

I thought I'd give an overview of the progress we've made on the dining room and kitchen. That's where most of the 'permanent' work has taken place so far.

First up, the pressed metal ceilings.

  The pressed metal is coming up a treat. #theoldpostoffice

Dan used a product called Peel Away to start stripping the paint off. I believe it's an Australian product and it did a pretty good job of sealing and containing the paint. 

Even so, it was a huge job. It took him three days just to get most of the crumbling paint from the kitchen ceiling and he had to bring in the Gerni to get the last of it off the roof.

He's going to do some test patches just painting over the less crumbly paint in the dining room to see if he can get away with not stripping it all off because it's incredibly messy and labour intensive, particularly in such a large room.

Next up, we decided we wanted a more open plan layout between the kitchen (through the door below) and the dining room.

Bye bye lino and fluorescent lights. I'm thinking chandeliers in here. Oh yes, I am.

We couldn't take the wall out altogether due to the way the two nearest doors open across the space. The original plan was to put a decorative archway in, which is a more traditional Queenslander room dividing style.

But, when we discovered the pressed metal ceilings were continuous, an executive decision was taken simply to open this wall up all the way to the roof. 

Soon, decorative cornices will be added to dress it up a little but already the increased light flow through from the large kitchen window to the dining room has made a huge difference.

Wall = gone. Mostly.

This room is about to get scrubbed and furnished. Painting comes later.

Another little quirk can be seen above. It seems when the house was built, a last minute decision to move the wall behind Lucinda was made. As a result, the decking boards from the open breezeway outside the door continue about a quarter of the way into the dining room. 

A hearth for a new wood heater will soon be built in one corner, the rest of the boards will eventually be replaced with pine ones matching the rest of the room.

Yesterday, we started moving furniture in. We got this large dresser as a gift from Dan's mum and it fits perfectly in the space and is incredibly useful in a house with no cupboards anywhere.

This pine dresser was a hand me down. Incredibly useful in a house with no cupboards.

We're waiting for friends to come by this weekend and help us lift a few heavier items, like our couch and the dining table inside and then I'll show some photos of the 'finished' (for now) space. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone!

It seems an eternity since posting last and plenty has been happening. We're still struggling to get internet.

Telstra has given some fairly contradictory advice along the way as to whether or not we'll ever be able to get it short of satellite (!). Their latest advice is that it looks OK and we should be online on the 9th. I'm keeping everything crossed. Rundown houses I can do but deny me Internet and I really struggle!

I have so many pictures showing our progress to upload when I do get back online properly. We've been working incredibly long days just cleaning and trying to get the place functioning as a home - albeit one with plenty of temporary fittings.

My man loves to clean.  #theoldpostoffice

This room is about to get scrubbed and furnished. Painting comes later.
Shower curtains have proved invaluable to block off the dodgy internal cladding off the walls, at least until we can put in a more permanent fixture.

Dodgy shower curtain cladding. Temporary solution on the way. #theoldpostoffice

Mostly though, the last week or so has been about learning to love our new home.

And, we do. We love the house and all its quirks and cobwebs and tumbling down bits.

Every day is an adventure in this house. Nothing is easy, nothing is taken for granted. When I walk into a room and don't encounter a huge spider, I feel elated. When I turn on the shower and hot water actually comes out, I'm over the moon.

We even like how the lack of insulation pushes us out to under the tree in the afternoons, filling Lucinda's paddling pool for her daily bubble bath.

href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/maisieandmore/8339368289/" title="Bathtime. by WeekendIsland, on Flickr">Bathtime.

It's incredibly hard work, living in a house like this. All the tradies we need are still on holidays so we just make do for now.

Even washing the dishes every night takes considerable planning. I start boiling kettles in the morning and filling a basin to make sure I have enough clean, warm water at night to clean everything down.

Soon, the tanks will be flushed clean and we won't have to worry.

For now though, our life is glorified camping and - at least until the novelty wears off - we're having a ball.

Our next job cleaning up the master bedroom enough to move in.

Beyond that, we need to get our veranda and bathroom clad.

Then, we need to move out into the yard to get the weeds under control before we can start seriously looking at getting some animals agisted on our land.

So much work. But so much reward, too.