Wednesday, January 12, 2011

recycling...with grout

The local recycling centre/rubbish dump down the road has a shop which sells other people's cast-offs and junk, and Ness has become very adept at spending a few dollars and revamping furniture items.

This week has been spent in the grouting/tiling outdoor workshop dabbling with mosaics. I think the bit she enjoyed best was smashing the tiles to pieces with a large hammer, although getting covered with grout came a close second.

From Protea Farm 1

We now have 3 outdoor tables created for under $20.

The one below has been named 'the exploding hamster'

From Protea Farm 1

...and this is a lonesome land-locked seascape

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1

The design for the mosaic was by Ness's 11 year old niece

Monday, January 10, 2011

down on the farm

The time had come to get the alpacas sheared. We have been putting it off because last year poor Mick the sheep-shearer discovered that alpaca restraint is tricky and alpaca wool and sheep clippers do not get along. It took several attempts, many hours and several extra pairs of hands.

So this year Mike the alpaca man came to visit. Within minutes 1 end of the alpaca was tied to his ute, the other end to a post in the ground, and it took less than 10 minutes to get each one done.

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1

Below Moon and Shadow ( our neighbour's alpacas ) await their turn....

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1

With all the rain we have discovered that pasture management requires a little more than sticking a few hungry ruminants in the field, so 'ladies with powers tools' was taken to a higher level when I borrowed Lynn & Peter's tractor and slashed the paddocks

From Protea Farm 1

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

gardening woes

Thanks to all who have expressed concern re the dreadful flooding in QLD, but we are around 1,000 km south of the devastation and the weather here has not changed from annoyingly damp with mild flooding. Obviously when the first settlers arrived here it was during a similar weather cycle and the state was called New South Wales because the climate was identical to a grey and wet spring day in Cardiff.

The business will need a new name soon though- after 18 months of treating our poor sick Proteas for phytophthora ( an insidious root fungus ) and getting stunning rejuvenation, they have started to curl up their toes as they cannot tolerate standing in water. One has been felled, many more to follow.' Farm Sans Protea'

When I discussed our gardening dilemmas in the past I thought we had managed to find the ideal plants- those which are tolerant of prolonged drought and temps of over 40 degrees, and also frosts as low as - 8 degrees. I can now report that these amazing plants cannot cope with being under water.Other casualties include established olive trees, rosemary, lavender, and even 2 large gum trees have given up the ghost ( not including those submerged in Lake Protea ). this going to be the norm for the next decade and do we replant accordingly, or will next year be as dry as the desert?

Meanwhile despite warnings about the perils of open compost bins, Ness dug over the bin before Xmas and unearthed a king brown snake nest and had to deal with 6 of the damned things. The soil was fantastic, but the composter has now been dismantled and replaced with a puny plastic one with a snake-proof lid!

We did have one interesting flood last week....our solar hot water panels and 300 L water tank are situated on the roof. There is a cut off valve which stops the water temperature exceeding 70 degrees, and it is pretty dramatic when said valve malfunctions, with a waterfall of near boiling water pouring down the roof. The hapless pot plant which was sitting on the verandah suffered third degree burns, as did the lawn. Cordylines may be heat tolerant, but cannot be boiled. This being New Year's Day in rural Australia the emergency plumber was at the cinema in Sydney, so it took 3 days to get the leak repaired and hot water restored. At least it did not come in through the ceiling, or scald an unfortunate guest.

This video link is worth a look - good old BBC. Look out for the pugnacious brown snakes going for a swim, the typical Aussie bloke abandoning his flooded house carrying his crate of 4X Gold and a bag of ice while his wife carries her shoes and the less important stuff, and the voice-over of a chap with  an outstandingly unAustralian Mancunian accent!  With a Kylie backing track of course.

BBC floods QLD