Here’s a last minute post

Hi All

I just got my 10th follower to our blog! Thanks Harvey. It’s all thanks to you that we have this blog as it is. We had been procrastinating forever about starting a blog and had been putting it in the ‘too hard’ basket for quite some time. I really love to share what I learn with people. I think that the internet is an amazing resource to find all sorts of obscure free stuff and I am like a magpie when it comes to free stuff, the shinier it is, the more I collect it! Steve and I spent the morning surveying our friend Jenny’s place for our final unit of our diploma. We had to do spot levels and after clarifying what we needed to do with my daughter Madeline (who worked as a draftsman for a few years and who has a brain like a machine when it comes to those sort of logical processes), we took 26 spot level readings so as to make sure that sensei Nick is satisfied. He is very hard to satisfy people and you really have to do your best to keep him that way. The good thing about that is that when you DO make him satisfied, you can be sure that you did a good job. We also collected some wood from Jenny’s place. She was a bit dazed when we talked to her because she had just spent the better part of all night and most of the early morning till 4am with her daughter Tash who just had a baby boy last night. Jenny is such a lovely person that she then dragged her sorry carcass into work at 8am for someone that couldn’t make it to work. Now THAT is dedication!

Our lovely wood stove is probably one of our most precious assets. The only down side is that we need to keep feeding it with wood. I think that I am going to have to name it “Audrey”. I must admit it uses a whole lot less than I thought that it would but still enough to make us have to chop a barrow load a day. Jenny has a large 40 acre property of bushland and there are lots of dead trees. They live off the grid and are on solar power for all of their electricity, tank water and a septic tank. They can’t even get the phone on and rely on mobile phones. They use their wood stove for their hot water and they use large logs in their wood heater and don’t need the limb wood which is our most desired wood as it fits into our wood stove easily with minimal chopping so we remove it (along with the fire hazard that it construes) and they allow us to. Thanks guys, we owe you! We now have 14 chicks. I thought that we had 16 but counted the eggs incorrectly (which is hardly surprising with my pathetic mathematical ability or lack therein…) and the chick that was semi-hatched, didn’t hatch sadly. We buried the remaining eggs in the garden, but 14 chicks from 20 eggs aren’t bad. We need to get some more chicken feed tomorrow because the broodies have been showing the babies how to eat. Its most interesting to watch them picking food up in their beaks and dropping it gently for the chicks to peck at. They do the same thing with water. They go over to the shallow chick water bowl that we put in and peck at it and all the little chicks come running to see what they are doing. I think that everyone who has room should get a few chooks, they are amazing pets, provide something towards their upkeep (eggs or meat if you are that way inclined…we are NOT) and peck lots of insects from your garden including slugs and snails, the bane of every gardener I know.

We have been giving our neighbour Glad, bunches of asparagus. I love the stuff but also love sharing with other people and so Glad gets the odd bunch that she enjoys immensely. Her daughter Wendy braved El Chupacabra barking maniacally at her and walked up to the fence to give Steve a small pot of heritage Scarlet Runner Bean seeds from her crop last year. Wendy has 2 hazelnut trees that she gave us a large amount of fresh hazelnuts from this year. We stratified some and had some success. Not as much success as our sweet chestnuts. If anyone wants some sweet chestnuts (regular eating chestnuts) please let us know as we have more than we know what to do with! They are only small at the moment but grow quite quickly.

We are in the process of trying to sort out the garden area under the deck so that we can plant out some of our dwarf conifers and some of our lovely weeping Japanese maples. We bought a lot of bags of horse manure. I know that the Old Italian gardeners in Western Australia used to get horse manure by the trailer load for their gardens and you never saw anything as prolific as Italian gardens. They had fruit, veggies and chooks, sheep, whatever they could fit on usually an acre block. Very productive people and if they say to use horse manure I will use it! We also need to pick up some mulch as that area out the front gets full sun. It’s a fantastic raised bed for the dwarf conifers but as El Chupacabra ate most of their tags (along with some of their compatriots) we are going to have to pull out the conifer books to check out just what we need to plant where and just how high they grow. We know about ‘dwarf’ conifers. We had to dig a dwarf Sequoia sempervirens “Adpressa” from a lovely garden in Wellman Street in Launceston last year. The owner had discovered that this “dwarf” Sequoia, grew to 30 metres tall and her garden was teeny. We dug it up and took some cuttings of it and had 2 strike. It’s a really lovely variety of Sequoia (giant redwood) with yellow tips as it grows. We both love trees. It’s our passion and it’s great that we can share it. It’s difficult if your partner isn’t in the least interested in what you’re most passionate about. They don’t understand why you absolutely positively HAVE to buy that little mangy green plant for $80!! It’s just a bloody plant! Steve and I would hate to think about how much money we have spent initially on plants. We say “initially” as we now know better and know where to get the best plants at the best prices. A little tip is to visit Red Dragon nursery. It’s an amazing nursery run by an amazing man. What he doesn’t know about what he sells isn’t worth knowing to be honest. He charges very little for the special plants that he sells and when he has sales (usually twice a year) most of his plants are so lowly priced that you wonder how he can afford to stay in business. His plants are healthy, well grown and most likely to survive anything that you can throw at them.

We are still waiting on our special Illusion collars from Cesar Milan’s website. We are very non-commercial people but this should tell you just how desperate we are to get El Chupacabra and Emo Dog walking nicely beside us, rather than pulling to the front and dragging to the back (or worse, careening out the side…). These collars are supposed to be excellent for training strong willed, bull necked dogs like ours. The biggest problem with our boys is that they are strong, big and clever and they know how to push our buttons. Whenever we shut them inside the compound area of the house to go out amongst the chooks and other beasts, they used to play up. Earl would start wagging his tail maniacally and you would know that it was ‘game on’. Emo dog sulks badly and would take offense at Earl putting his paws on him and it would be on…barking, fighting (not bad, but noisy) and we would come back to chastise them, not realising that we were actually rewarding them for playing up by coming back to check that they weren’t killing each other…so they did it over, and over, and over again. We had enough of it and so Steve put the hose onto the pair of them yesterday. Today he used a glass of water and at the first sign of either of us approaching them when they are playing up, now results in the pair of them pelting off in all directions. Needless to say, they are not bathed very often! I must add something there. From the moment that we picked Earl up from the plane when we imported him from South Australia, he has always had a curious smell. Emo dog (Bezial) smells like fresh hay. It’s a nice smell. Earl smells like cooked pork. A very weird thing for a dog to smell like. I initially thought that it was something that he had eaten as a pup. We had our suspicions that he hadn’t been treated all that well as he had a few scars and cuts when we got him as a pup from being put in with the larger male dogs. He has steadily maintained his porcine aroma and we are starting to think that it’s just part of what makes Earl, Earl. He is a conundrum and they certainly broke the mould when Earl was born. Thank goodness for that, as I don’t think that the world would be able to handle 2 of him. It would be like crossing the streams on Ghost busters…

The weep-weep bird is in fine fettle tonight. He knows that it’s just about my bed time. We get up at 6am and walk the boys and it’s just on 11 now. I am usually in bed earlier than this and I am guessing that is why he is going crazy about now as he thinks that I am safely ensconced in bed and it’s time to party. I have NO idea why this bird has targeted our house to spend its days and nights calling out. My mother suggested that it may have lost its mate. That’s a sad proposition, but I am leaning on the side of it just being a most annoying bird who just wants to express itself every 4 seconds right outside our bedroom window. It is very hard to ignore as it’s quite shrill and it’s the only sound around out here so it looks like it’s the pillow over the head again. Steve doesn’t hear it much as he is too busy snoring, Earl doesn’t hear it much (same reason) but once the snoring wakes me up, I lay awake listening to the weep-weep bird and no amount of telling myself that he is “pining for the fjords” allows me to remain calm!

I guess I should finish up here. I wasn’t going to post today but was just about to go to bed when I noticed that I had an email notifying me that Harvey had subscribed to my blog. Thank you for that Harvey. I really enjoy your blog and know that you are at the stressful end of your course at the moment. I hope that all of the Certificate 2 and 3 students manage to get their work sorted out and submitted. James and Nat are very lucky this year as they have both had amazing classes. I guess you have had your good classes for the decade and its back to classes like you had with us from now on (in other words, it’s all downhill from here Nat! :o). We get to sleep in tomorrow (till 7am) before walking the boys and we are going to spend the weekend working in the garden. We are building raised veggie beds and need to put a rock wall up next to our spud bed as the chooks are scratching the bed to bits. I hope that you all have a lovely weekend and when you are all laying in your beds enjoying your sloth, think of us being dragged behind El Chupacabra and Emo dog and smile because it’s not you :o) See? There is ALWAYS a silver lining…


5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mum.
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 00:52:34

    You are making me drool over that asparagus Pen! That must be a night bird, to call all night like that. Must be annoying.Might want the light left on, to stop being scared of the dark! Sick Jacko onto it! Enjoy the weekend.


  2. Kreebard
    Oct 22, 2011 @ 13:04:17

    Is that Harvey the rabbit? Is he a very good friend of yours?


    • narf77
      Oct 22, 2011 @ 13:33:31

      Yes, Harvey is a good friend even though we have never met. He isn’t a rabbit per-se, he is a Certificate 2 student of Horticulture at Alanvale Polytechic, but if it makes you happy to see him as “Harvey the rabbit” I am sure that he won’t mind you doing so! :o)


  3. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 01:51:44

    We have some Japanese Maples around our deck, they have done well, thus far.


    • narf77
      Apr 08, 2013 @ 04:37:05

      Japanese maples are gorgeous and incredibly hardy. They don’t need a lot of depth of soil to grow in either because they are an understory small tree in Japanese forests and their root systems run wide rather than deep. Our big one alongside the deck stairs is right next to an enormous eucalyptus but it survives amazingly well and they are incredibly water hardy 🙂


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