Sunday, March 29, 2009


The last few days have been spent learning the ropes from Barb and Clive before we officially become landladies. They are being extremely helpful and we are trying hard not to be overwhelmed.

As we will move in a few weeks before our furniture reaches these shores, we have had to go on a shopping spree to buy mattresses, fridge, washing machine, kettle, vacuum cleaner etc- the fact that these will all be business expenses softens the blow a little but the bank balance is looking rather depleted.

Barb has done a good job with advanced bookings, and there will be guests in situ when we move in.The only potential crisis is a booking in early July for all 3 cottages, so this is dependent on the ship not sinking or Pickfords not losing all our stuff- the guests will have very minimal decor if there are delays.

Sad news about Serena bird- he/she was becoming a liability at base camp, and last week her stealing became dangerous when she ambushed me as I was about to drink my first coffee and have my first nicotine fix of the day. It is not funny having to chase a chicken with a lighted cigarette in her beak especially when the wretched bird decided to smoke it directly under the engine. The insurance claim when the Winnebago went up in flames would have made interesting reading.

So, she had to go and live with the Ormiston chickens. He/she was an outcast and refused to mix with feathered friends, and obviously did not realise that there is safety in numbers. Ness found her mortal remains after a bold fox managed a mid-morning snack. I was a lot more distressed about this than I should have been, and realise that rearing any creature with a view to eating it will be a challenge.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

just hanging around

Time is dragging at the moment with the frustration of waiting for the move. This is interspersed with periods of wild panic as we start to analyse what we are about to embark upon, and doubt creeps up on us. It is never good to have too much time on your hands.

Next week the current Protea incumbents will be back from their house-hunting trip, and I am sure that once we start learning the ropes the misgivings will disperse. Our worldly possessions are now on a ship bound for Sydney, so soon we will have a container load of furniture and random stuff that we have not set eyes on for 2 years- quite honestly we cannot remember what most of it is, and as 2 out of the 3 houses are fully furnished we have no idea what we are going to do with it all or where we will put it. Having come from a large house I suspect that most of it will be too big to put in the manager's cottage anyway.

Base Camp Ormiston is suffering from a plague of small frogs, so the batrachophobic Ness is constantly in a state of high anxiety. I have to don the gardening gloves and relocate the beasties- I am also doing all the cooking since we discovered 2 of them happily living in our barbecue. We may accidentally be serving frog fricassee if they continue to loiter in all the nooks and crannies.

Serena is undoubtedly a rooster- 'she' has male plumage and small buds are appearing on her legs which look like spurs. What we are planning to do with a large rooster with a penchant for sitting on your lap and an innate mistrust of any other creature with feathers I am not sure, but despite Ness's talk of casseroles I am sticking to my policy of never eating something that I am on first name terms with.

Having a chicken pen next to the van has attracted a resident population of mice, so now we are camping in the middle of the bush surrounded by snake food. Since the large pugnacious brown snake incident I am pretty sure that this is not a very good idea.

To pass the time I have acquired my book on 'Becoming an Australian Citizen' and need to learn the contents before I sit my citizenship exam. Useful stuff like Don Bradman's batting average ( 98.66) and the words of the Australia National Anthem ( 'Advance Australia Fair').

The foxes at Ormiston are getting bolder. Poor Georgie was gutted when her new gander became breakfast last weekend. I am now paranoid about having any free range poultry and Ness is planning a state of the art chicken emporium for our ladies when we move. She is also going to get a gun license and when I see the look in her eye when she talks about hunting foxes and rabbits I know for certain that she has metamorphosed into a rural Aussie and there is no going back.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

king brown snake

There have been several sightings of a brown snake near the bottom of the driveway, but we were all horrified when a neighbour popped round with one he had accidentally run over by the farm gate.

From Drop Box
That is one extremely large and highly venomous snake- they are apparently 'very pugnacious when provoked'. Please God we never encounter a live one, I will be straight off to Sydney airport for a flight back to the UK.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

april 16th

We finally have a settlement date of April 16th. The owners are away house-hunting, and we will get together with them at the end of March for a crash course in running a tourist business.

Meanwhile Pickfords are not inspiring us with confidence regarding our gear in storage in the UK, but fingers crossed a shipment of good should be dispatched shortly so in 13 weeks or so a container full of random broken goods, some of which may belong to us, should be docking in Sydney.

Ness has some very complicated plans to improve the soil and pasture quality ( it is pretty dry and barren out there ) involving enormous quantities of mulch and serious irrigation. We are lucky to have a bore of good quality water for irrigation, but need to terrace the land to stop the rains washing away the thin layer of subsoil. I fear manual labour may be involved.

We have sourced a breeder of splendid red dexter cows and will be choosing a couple of heifers, and we are inheriting 3 isa brown chooks for eggs. Serena is starting to look very manly and may well become the father of the next generation of Protea fowl. Once the luxury chook shed has been constructed we intend to get some guinea fowl.

Protea Farm is flagged on google earth, so take a look at Carara Road Mudgee and you will be able to see the lie of the land.

We just hope that the next 4 weeks are not too interminably slow, we are very keen to get started.

Monday, March 2, 2009

autumn approaches

There has been a noticeable change in the weather over the last week. Although in the mid 20's during the day the nights are much cooler and the extra blankets are needed when sleeping in the van. There are not many deciduous trees so there are no overt signs of autumn but you can feel it approaching. This will be our first winter in Mudgee.

The autumn/winter is the busy time for tourists- summer is too hot and people tend to go to the coast instead.We will hit the ground running when we take over the Protea Farm. Contracts have been signed and the deposit paid so there is no going back now. There was yet another last minute crisis when the solicitor discovered that one of the prohibitions on the contract was 'use of properties as tourist lodgings' but a letter of approval from 1999 was unearthed last week.

This month will be a long one while we wait for a moving-in date but we will spend the time picking the previous owner's brains on how the whole business works. We are now a registered business and Ness is itching to get hold of the business cheque book so that she can start buying stuff for the gardens ( including 2 dexter cows, some chooks for Serena to bully, and some dorper lambs).

Our biggest initial expense will be fencing so said creatures can be accommodated. Having spoken to ' Peter the Fence' yesterday it looks like we will be doing the bulk of the work ourselves to keep costs down.

We also have to dismantle the lovely vegetable gardens because all the wooden sleepers have white ants ( termites ) which are dangerously close to the houses. Galvanised steel edging seems to be the way to go but may be prohibitive due to cost.

We will also be doing a major clear out of 12.5 acres of dead wood to reduce the fire hazard and also provide firewood for the cottages ( wood burning heaters in all 3 ). Needless to say we are extremely keen to get in there and get started.

James dog is feeling highly aggrieved this week because she is being regularly chastised for chasing the ugly chicken- it was only yesterday that we discovered that Serena is ambushing her from under the van and pecking her backside viciously.

Even worse for the ginger dog the chook has now learned how to fly, so no there is nowhere to hide.

From Blogger Pictures