Friday, January 31, 2014

Gloria and Eunice

Scooby the pony has been trying to make friends with some of the wallabies that come and share his space in the early mornings.

He's not having much luck, poor old Scooby. Wallabies are pretty haughty souls.

We see a lot of wallabies around here. The road we take into Laidley usually has at least four or five on it. The other morning, on an earlier-than-usual dash down into town, I counted about 30. 

This one even posed for a photo.

They look sweet, but they have terrible road sense. Lu calls them 'karooms' (for kangaroo) and gets very upset when they try and throw themselves under the car.

Meanwhile, after a few last minute additions to the yard yesterday, Lu and I drove up to our neighbour's and picked up a couple of chickens.

This is Eunice. Or Gloria. I can't tell the difference yet. Maybe I never will be able to? They look very similar. 

They're pretty skittish, but I can't say I blame them. Pepper, our fox terrier, has been trying to work out a way into the pen since they arrived. Maisie, the border collie, would be of equal threat but luckily hasn't worked out that the electric dog fence that usually keeps both dogs in the house yard has been down for a couple of weeks. 

The cable is buried underground and the fault could be in a couple of places, so there's another fun job for Dan to sort out in the next couple of weeks.

Maisie now just stands at the boundary and barks like a maniac while Pepper does the canine equivalent of rolling her eyes at her pal's stupidity before taking off down the back paddock to eyeball the cows.

The sheep, whose sleeping quarters (do we have spoiled sheep or what?) are right next door to Eunice and Gloria, were mildly curious about their new neighbours at first, but I think it was more directed at their grain supply than the birds themselves.

So basically, as long as Pepper doesn't find a way into that yard before Dan can fix the dog fence, they're one big happy animal family at the moment.

I'll keep my fingers crossed.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Finished Ceiling and Getting Ready For New Arrivals

When I drove in the gate of our place the other night, I was met with the aftermath of 10 days of rain and no mowing. The whole place looked amazingly overgrown and a little wild again and - exhausted from a day's travel with an even more exhausted toddler - I admit it, I felt totally defeated*.

Luckily, I was met at the front gate by my wonderful neighbour who took one look at my face and announced she'd be back the next morning with her fencing supplies. 

"We're going to extend your sheep's paddock so you don't have to mow so much," she said.

(This is why I love living here, folks)

True to form, she was here the next morning with her son and the four of us got to work. 

A few hours later, and the sheep had doubled their living quarters, I've shaved a large chunk of weekly mowing time out, and we're all happy. Well, they're not loving the new electric fence, but they'll get used to it.

My neighbour - I will call her T -  is wonderful at firing me up when it's all getting on top of me.  In fact, she fired me up so much that I called her the next day. 

"I've finally bought a little coop, Lucinda's asleep and I'm going to PUT IT UP."

"You've noticed it's raining, right?" She said. 

I had not. 

I did not care. 

I sat out in a cool drizzle with Dan's drill and built my coop.

When Lucinda woke, she came and inspected and declared herself happy.

And then a lovely afternoon was had chatting with animals, weeding and generally enjoying our lovely property.

And it was good to be home again.

We're going up to another neighbour's tomorrow to pick out some chickens. I'll be sure to introduce you.

PS. Remember that ceiling I've talked about so much? Yeah, that one. Dan finished it. Isn't he clever?

*PPS. It just occurred to me that, with so many people in Queensland suffering under a really nasty drought, whinging about how much rain we've had is a little insensitive... I hope some of it heads inland soon.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Tasmania, Be Tempted


I've been away. 

I've been back in my home state of Tasmania, catching up with family and friends in some of the lovely settings Tassie does so well.

I've been putting my feet up at my Mother's house...

and enjoying the luxury of turfing my child out into the backyard without obsessively checking for snakes first (I know you all think I'm paranoid - but we had a meeting with a large snake shortly before leaving Queensland. It was right next to Lucinda's play things. Lesson for the day - just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you)

And above all, we enjoyed some cracking Tassie weather, a friend's wedding, some excellent food and wine and some serious boat-observing. 

Regular programming is due to resume shortly, once I get through the mountain of laundry and my currently flat post-holiday mood, that is. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sikaflexing The Storms Away

In a turn of events that can only be described as a very happy accident, Dan finally got to doing an overdue Big House-waterproofing job that has been top of the to-do list the day before this storm hit:

Yup, the storm was every bit as powerful as it looked here.

As you may know or notice, Big House's exterior is unfortunately clad in aluminium not timber (why, people of the 70s, why...)

Aluminium deteriorates quickly, it's completely inflexible and - when you replace windows as we're doing - you pretty much have to replace the whole exterior of your home's cladding too. 

Take THAT, landfill. 

We aren't replacing the cladding just yet, so for now the exterior of our house continues to take on a patchy, ramshackle, hillbilly-compound look that increasingly bemuses our curious neighbours. They're a forgiving lot, luckily.

This is the kitchen end of Big House at the moment.

Classy, no? I think the wonky hills hoist really completes the look. 

Until we can pull all the cladding off and replace it with weatherboards, we just patch and repair as best we can. 

We'd had some water coming in the sides of the new timber windows, Dan's dodgy temporary cladding patches above clearly weren't holding up. So, on Sunday, he got up there on the trestles and filled in the gaps down the side of the windows with Sikaflex-PRO.

He snapped these photos while he was up there. They show what a mess the exterior is at the moment. 

Here, you can see the crappy aluminium cladding and the VJ lining of the pantry on the other side. 

This product was actually donated to us about six months ago by Sika to block the gaps in the Little House floors. 

The colour (Redwood) was picked to match those floors, but the job kept getting put off because all our renovating time really goes into the Big House (and has to, if we ever want to move in there again).

After the big storm came through on Monday, I went and did a pretty thorough check of every last nook and cranny for water entry points.

The entire house, verandahs and all was BONE DRY. No water in the kitchen, pantry or study.

So for now, at least, we can continue forging ahead on the inside, happy in the knowledge our externally-ugly duckling is finally watertight.

The Sikaflex-PRO featured here was donated by the good people at Sika Australia

Monday, January 6, 2014

Getting On Top Of Benchtops

When we ordered our kitchen through Freedom, we decided to skip their benchtop options and do our own thing. Their options, from memory, were stone and laminate. 

We wanted timber benchtops but, with champagne tastes on a beer budget, had to be a little creative.

For Little House, we had used bamboo benchtops from Bunnings Kaboodle range and we decided to get the same ones for Big House.

Dan has fitted them over the last week and I'm pretty happy with how they look. He also laid out some of the splashback tiles and put in the sink, so we can get more of an idea of the finished kitchen.

Then, he did exactly what we did in Little House and using a hard-wearing two-pack floor product to give them maximum strength.

The finished product is hard-wearing and glossy and came in at a fraction of the price of traditional timber or stone benchtops. 

As you can see above, Dan has also put in the backing board for the tiled areas and has tiling the kitchen in his sights soon. He's also been busy framing, insulating, lining and plastering the ceilings in the study and pantry. 

Even with the speed he's going, we've had to revise our plans to move back in early this year. We're now aiming to be in by Winter which gives us a little time to get more money together (saving time again!) and finish painting this area. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Highs and Lows Of It

In January last year, this is what our place looked like. 

Heavy rain brought more flooding to the Lockyer Valley and our paddock went under. We'd only been here a few weeks and, while our houses will always be above the flood level,  it was pretty confronting watching the water take over the lower areas of our property and valley.

This is what our back paddock looks like this year - dry, brown and thankfully a little less weedy.

We've had a few storms come through. This one looked pretty spectacular but did little in the way of rainfall.

It came after Lucinda's bath and I wrapped her in a towel and took her out onto the verandah to watch the lightning.

There, listening to distant thunder rumbling and with the ever-present background hum of our industrial-size fan, she quickly fell asleep on my lap.

We all grow up with associations from childhood summers. Hers, I suspect, will involve the constant hum of fans.

It will be memories of intensely hot days (it got to nearly 45 today) and regular rolling thunder. It will be going outside, as we did this morning, to find a fallen tree has brought a fence down.

It will be ice blocks and playing under the sprinkler.

And, hopefully, it will involve going outside with her Mother after 6pm when the weather has relented to water the plants, check the animals and, some days, watch the sunset.