Friday, November 27, 2009

......we get some rain

After spending a week driving into town every day with a 1000 litre water container on the trailer to collect town water in a frantic attempt to keep a crispy garden alive we managed 7mm of rain on Thursday- a piddling amount, but the shrubs and trees have gained a little respite.

With a full complement of guests we also had to get 'Graham the tanker' to deliver us 26,000 litres of drinking water, so now we can flush the toilets and shower daily which is a treat.

Our next project is the installation of solar water heating in the 2 cottages which are still using fossil fuel mains electricity, so the panels and tanks are on order. The water situation is ongoing, but the bore pumps are being overhauled with a view to installing a holding tank for the bore water ( slightly salty, but should be OK for stock) and the grand plan will be a mix of grey and bore water for garden relief.

Obviously all this green Save the Planet stuff means that we will no longer be able to afford to eat, but we will have freshly grown vegetables and cheap local wine so all is not lost.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

game, set and match

There was an emergency meeting at Mudgee tennis club last week, and the ladies of Division 1 decided that the overwhelming heat meant that the tennis finals should be postponed. The Division 2 ladies are made of sterner stuff ( allegedly ) and elected to play regardless. This turned out to be great sport for the hardened Aussies watching an unfit, unacclimatised, overweight Pom struggle to the point of double vision and nausea! So, we managed a commendable second place due to my weedy northern hemisphere constitution- and the opposition were better players which helped.

The club is an interesting hotbed of politics and undercurrents of discontent. The Div 1 ladies appear to have total control of the place, and entry into the inner circle is based on ability, social standing, and whether your bum looks good in a pink skirt. I think on a points system those 3 parameters will ensure that I remain with the gang of outcasts in Div 2 in perpetuity.

heat stroke, bush fires and record temperatures

It has been an action packed week in deepest NSW. We are currently experiencing the hottest November for decades, with temps in excess of 40 C for over a week with strong and horrendously hot winds blowing in from the west. The weekend was particularly alarming as we became surrounded by bush fires, a couple way too close for comfort. Last night Mudgee set up a temporary accommodation centre for people in a neighbouring town who were advised to evacuate by the rural fire service who were unable to contain the closest fire.

We have no water here , so our bush fire survival plan is now to elect not to protect the property and to pack up the dog, release the chooks and stock, and leave.

The garden has been fried despite our efforts to drive into town daily to fill a large water container and use it on the critical plants- too many casualties, not enough water. Today the needs of the guests take priority and we have ordered a delivery of 3000 gallons of water to top up the tanks.

It is cooler today, and showers have been forecast, but outside there is a haze over the hills and an overwhelming smell of smoke.

Exciting times.

Monday, November 16, 2009

tennis update

We found an eligible player last week ( good old Bev ) so we have advanced to the grand final on Thursday. Temperatures are now 40 C ( 104 F ) so the match should boil down ( pardon the pun ) to the last person still alive on court wins.

There is apparently a club rule banning play once temps exceed 40 C so the match has been scheduled to start at 8.30 am. Anyone who knows me well will realise that I am a non-functioning being at that time in the morning, so unless I am supplied with large doses of caffeine at each end change I suspect the result is a foregone conclusion.

Ness has been getting up at 5.30 am to dig fence posts before it gets too hot for any outdoor activity, and then has an afternoon siesta. Just looking at yet another mountain of topsoil that was delivered today makes me feel exhausted, but as I type this she is digging, potting and pottering outside. Mad dogs and kiwis!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

pretty flowers

Another busy week has passed us by, but not a lot to report. Temperatures now in the mid 30's and all creatures and plants alike are wilting. 'The boys' are appreciating their radical hair cuts, no sign of a lamb from Lilian, and little Wooley is sprouting cute baby horns.

Ness is just about managing to keep the garden alive with a water butt to collect grey water from washing machine, and we are looking into installing a complete grey water system to harvest all water from sinks/baths etc.

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1

The alpaca wool is being put to good use. We are saving Marley's because it is quite good quality and could be utilised in some handicraft sort of a fashion, but poor old Alan has hideous elderly animal skin and dermatitis, so his wool is full of scabs, skin flakes and assorted bits of crusty camelid.

It does however make a fine mulch, so the cucumbers, pumpkins and squashes are growing happily in their snuggly duvet.

From Protea Farm 1

The large resident flock of choughs are also enthusiastically sorting through it for nesting material, so alpaca nests are the 'new look' in avian interior design this season.

Monday, November 2, 2009

alpaca shearing

The boys have been feeling the heat so yesterday Ness took them over Ormiston because Mick had offered to shear them while he was shearing the merinos. I suspect that it is an offer he will not make again under any circumstances-there were major clipper issues, alpaca wool being very different from sheep wool. Clipper blades were sourced, sharpened, altered, re-sharpened, replaced, and there was much cursing.

Then the matter of alpaca restraint came in to play-Alan is an old hand, but Marley was singularly unimpressed with being tipped on his side and restrained while the clipper chewed through his coat. In the end Donny ( an expert in all things alpaca ) was called in to assist, and with a combination of hand shears and clippers they have rendered the comedy animals even more ridiculous.

From Drop Box

From Drop Box

From Drop Box

From Drop Box

From Protea Farm 1

Thank heavens for self-shedding sheep.

From Protea Farm 1