Saturday, August 29, 2009

mudgee is ambridge NSW

Listening to the Archers podcast today and the parallels between Ambridge and Mudgee living are becoming compounded. James has been living Tom Archer's life for some time, farming free range pigs and producing quality sausages. Even the story-lines about organising portable runs for weighing the weaners, pigs escaping etc seem to run in tandem with real time dramas over here.

Since we got the alpacas and started running holiday lets there have been worrying similarities between ourselves and Linda Snell. This week Linda and Roger embarked on a seaside holiday in a Winnebago, so it is now official. I am Linda Snell.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


We finally tackled phase 2 of the fencing project, and despite being armed with Wizard wire strainers, Wedgegrip clamps and T-gripples ( Hey, I speak fencing ) the tensioning of the fence was not anything like as easy as the man who did the demonstration at the Small Farm Field Day made it look.

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1

The kangaroos appeared in the late afternoon with an advanced reconnaissance party to voice their discontent because we have restricted access to their grazing paddock.

From Protea Farm 1

I am sure that as I type this they are all testing the tension and durability by bouncing against it at speed. Hopefully they will ricochet with a satisfying twang.

Monday, August 24, 2009

first snake of spring

Unseasonably warm for August here, the fruit trees are all in blossom ( so soon we will hopefully be able to identify what is what ) and my newly planted tree peonies are sprouting. No rain for weeks, so the dam level getting lower and lower as we water things manually.

I sneaked off to Kurrajong to visit M & N at the weekend leaving Ness home with the guests, so of course a red-bellied black appeared in her shade house and hid itself in a large empty planter, leaving her a gibbering wreck- the guests with 2 boisterous labradors were in the car and off like a shot once the reptilian sighting was reported. Maybe we should avoid canine guests in the summer.

Claudia has contributed to our chicken population with a donation of 2 cute Japanese bantam hens and a rooster. Said rooster was crowing at 5 am this morning, so I fear he may accidentally get lost very soon.

From Protea Farm 1

The Wailers are looking more pregnant, so the half completed fencing project must be finished soon, and we will have to erect the woodsheds this week before snakes start lurking in the 15 tonnes of newly felled wood scattered around the place.

From Protea Farm 1

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

women with 3 sheds

The logistics of providing firewood for 3 cottages for the winter season proved rather tiresome as the guests were insistent on burning large quantities of the stuff, so we are determined to be more prepared next year. That in mind, we have had someone working all week felling all the accessible dead trees on the property before the bush-fire season. We now have several tonnes of wood in a massive heap in one of the paddocks.

After the snake in the wood pile incident a decision was made and today we purchased 2 woodsheds ( 1 for the furthest cottage, 1 for the lower ones). Knowing how the ownership of a minimum of 1 shed is mandatory for all Australians I am rather hoping that owning 3 sheds in total will qualify me for instant citizenship without having to take the exam.

The garden transformation continues, with more steel cutting and assembly of garden beds. Note the sexy hat to avoid further head burning incidents.

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1

Sunday, August 16, 2009

gardening dilemmas

It is proving a challenge when considering what plants to incorporate into our new habitat. The first thing we have to do is disregard and unlearn all that we knew about gardening in the UK. The problem we have is to find attractive plant species that fit all the following criteria:

  1. can tolerate winter frosts of at least minus 8 degrees
  2. can withstand summer temperatures of over 40 degrees
  3. need little or no water
  4. can grow in minimal soil of extreme acidity
  5. can withstand high winds
.....and that leaves us with wattles, wattles, proteas, wattles, rosemary, wattles, succulents and lavender.

Of course in reality the minor environmental drawbacks are not going to stop us, so we spent the last few days digging up huge mats of nasty spiky aloe vera type succulents in order to produce a border for paeonies. Large quantities of lime have been added, irrigation installed, and many prayers sent up.

From Protea Farm 1
The metal has arrived for our new industrial looking termite proof raised bed edges, so today we unpacked the newly purchased angle grinder and set to work. It is surprisingly easy, when using said angle grinder, to set fire to your head. I now have a very interesting fringe.

The beds will soon be transformed from this........

From Protea Farm 1 this

From Protea Farm 1
The rockery has been graveled, and although it still has the homemade in the 70's look about it, the overall effect ( combined with the chain-sawing and removal of dead trees) is much improved.

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1

Friday, August 7, 2009

neglected blog

It has been ages since I took time out to update the blog, primarily because there are no dramas to report. All ticking over very well, guests happy and abundant, and despite it being August the sun has been shining- the daffodils are blooming and the nights frosty.

Ness has been busy in the garden hacking and chopping- the theory is that we remove all the potentially snakey areas before the slithering creatures reappear.The rockery is being graveled ( allegedly the slitherers do not like the feel of sharp gravel on their bellies, though I suspect this is an old wife's tale), the proteas have been pruned ( lots of dead flowers this year, probably due to something we did wrong ) , new proteas have been purchased as part of our proposed spring restocking programme, garlic, potatoes and broad beans are growing.

The termite riddled sleepers are being slowly removed in the garden and we are replacing the raised bed borders with metal ones plagiarised from a design conceived by a local fencing chap. James made us 3 prototypes from recycled old fencing that he has removed ( he is in the middle of a massive re fencing project at Ormiston) and Ness has had 20 x 6 metre lengths delivered so we are going to learn the art of metal bending using an angle-grinder.

The problem with using wood as a replacement is the expense and the fact that termite-proof wood is impregnated with arsenic making it far from touchy-feely organic when used as a surround for vegetable patches. We sourced plastic sleepers made from 100% recycled plastic bags, which are light and look fab but the numbers involved made the cost prohibitive. So we are going for a new look which we are calling rustic/industrial chic.

From Protea Farm 1

A little imagination is required to picture the above frames in situ, but I am sure they will look pretty good.

Alpacas are happy and skippy, and the Wailers are starting to look pregnant so the clock is ticking for the as yet unstarted fencing project.