Autocad and how to save a life…

Hi All

We have had a busy day today. I figured that yesterday was Sunday and as such, had it as a day of rest so no post from me, however today we have a bit more to blog about. We spent the morning finishing off our concept plan for our final Diploma unit. We are helping a friend design an area on her property so that she can entertain in the summer out of doors. She loves the “Shabby Chic” look and the formal Potager garden style. She is off the grid and as such has to rely on Dam, Tank and Bore water to water her plants. We were told about a very useful watering system made by Toro that is portable, battery operated and runs from a solenoid meaning that our friend will be able to irrigate this area that is some distance from her house. She loves formal gardens, topiaries etc., but her property is out in the bush and as such, is overrun by hungry critters all wanting to scoff anything that she plants so we had to factor this into our design as well. We needed to look at xeriscape plants (plants that for one reason or other need very little water to survive or are drought tolerant) because these plants need to be tough. We also needed to put in a low hedge and to relocate a gazebo as the centre piece of this design. It’s been a challenge, but we think that we have come up with a good idea…

We were initially going to run with xeriscape native grasses. Our first choice was Dianella and a low variety of lomandra to border the path. This would have been very hardy, incredibly water wise (because these plants are endemic to our area) and low cost. The only problem was that they would not have a lot of height which when you are trying to delineate an area, you really need at least half a metre height. We were driving to take our dogs for a walk this morning and noticed a garden being designed in very similar bent (French Provencal/Shabby Chic) using lots of lavenders. Our friend isn’t a fan of lavender because she has a bit of a twitch grass problem on her property and the lavender harbours it. We then thought that as she loves the blue and purple colour scheme, that we might be able to find another Mediterranean water wise plant that would clip into a nice medium sized dense hedge and came up with rosemary. We have rosemary plants on the property growing in almost desert like conditions so rosemary would be a good choice as well as being something good to “throw on the barbie” when having guests over (preferably with a nice butterflied leg of lamb). We then remembered good old “Aggies”. Agapanthuses have taken some very bad publicity of late because of their ability to profligate and fill an entire area in a relatively short amount of time. Besides this most admirable survival trait, they are incredibly hardy and able to survive droughts making them a strappy, dark green, blue flowering plant smack bang in our demographic for xeriscape plants for our friend’s property. Apart from that, they are cheap, so cheap in fact; that you could go to the tip and get them for free because they seem to be suffering plant ethnic cleansing at the moment (along with the old garden staple diosma).

This is the sort of effect that we are looking for (with a single hedge) in our design to enclose the entertainment area using rosemary and santolina…

and although this isn’t the gazebo, this is the effect that our friend wants from it…

Our friend likes to entertain a lot and standing around a fire is a predominate part of this so we are going to build her a fire pit so that the fire can be contained and will be a focal point of this entertaining area…

And here is the gorgeous “blushing Pierre de Ronsard” rose that she would like to have trailing over the gazebo…

Who wouldn’t want something as gorgeous as this all around them, sipping a coffee on a gorgeous summers day in your gazebo?

There is so much more to designing a garden than what is aesthetically pleasing. One of the more challenging problems for me has been learning how to use Autocad, a computerised program used predominately by architects, engineers and others to design 2d and 3d pictures for use within their industries. It’s not an easy program to learn to use and with my mathematically challenged brain, I have had to really apply myself to this task. It’s not been easy, but forcing myself out of my comfort zone has allowed me to become reasonably ‘able’ with this program. I am nowhere NEAR as confident as Steve and my daughter Madeline is heads and shoulders above that level, but for someone who avoids anything mathematical like the plague previous to this, I don’t think that I am doing too badly. Autocad has some limitations and for landscape designers, it is difficult to render good quality plant symbols and even harder to pinch them online (my magpie tendencies are always latently waiting to emerge!). We have had to make most of our own plant symbols ourselves. There is a market out there by the way, we were looking for a ‘climber’ to represent a climbing Pierre de Ronsard rose and a Clematis in our design and apart from finding NOTHING for free, we couldn’t even find a block on the sites where you had to pay. I wasn’t going to pay for anything! I would have had a good look at it and rendered it myself. I noticed that some small groups of blocks were being sold for $99 and it’s no wonder landscape designer’s keep their blocks close to their chests!

We have worked very hard on this final unit over the past 2 days and that’s the main reason why I didn’t post yesterday. There is something about using your mind that makes you tireder than if you had been out doing hard physical labour. I remember coming home after a hard days “think” at Polytechnic and feeling like I had done 10 rounds with Mike Tyson. We will have something to show our sensei tomorrow at our meeting and hopefully by the meeting after that, we will have everything done and dusted and ready to hand in to be marked. We had a minor crisis here early this afternoon. We had just finished our studies for the day and were just on our way out to take the dogs for their second walk of the day when for some reason, Steve decided to show Bezial the chickens. It was really lucky that he did as we discovered a tiny little chick on its last legs laying on the ground looking dead. I hurried in to the cage to discover the little chick that Steve had named “Pingu” who was effectively the runt of the litter, almost dead. He was only barely breathing and we figured that his number was up. We decided to hold him until he died as no-one deserves to die alone and crumpled on the ground. He really didn’t look like he much longer to live and wasn’t even moving. We have had a lot of experience with baby birds being tossed out of the nest and not making it so we were not holding out any hopes. He was unwanted by the hens and had been rejected several times over his tiny life. We carried him inside and warmed him up by the wood stove and slowly he started to recover!

First he started to chirp quietly, and then he started to move a bit. The tiny chick that not 30 minutes before appeared next to dead, was chirping and standing on his own two feet. It’s been about 2 hours now and we can hear him chirping manically on the hot water bottle that we put under him. We gave him water from a syringe and have made him a little enclosure to live in until we can pick up a cage from our daughters place in town from the shed. Steve is hand feeding him now and he is drinking water so the chances are that he is going to be alright. We are going to have to hand raise him and look after him/her until they get big enough to look after themselves. The good thing is that Pingu is one of the Plymouth Rock chicks that hatched out and Steve is more than happy to be a surrogate dad until Pingu is able to look after him/herself. We have been trying to get the chick to take food but it hasn’t eaten anything so far. This chick was born 4 days ago and hasn’t grown like the others. I feel so sorry for it. I know that in nature, this chick would be doomed, in fact, if Steve hadn’t gone outside when he did, this chick would be under a shrub in the ground right about now so he must have a fierce will to live to make it so far. I hope that he/she lives through the night as that is the first hurdle. I will keep you all posted about how Pingu goes. If he does make it through the night, he then has to make it to adulthood living in this house with “The Boys”…not an easy task! Emo dog was caught (when he was younger and a whole lot more agile) with a sparrow in his mouth. He didn’t want to kill it; he was taking it to play with and after a long chase around the garden (and watching the sparrow peeking out from between his canine teeth) we freed the sparrow and it ran off underneath a gas bottle to soothe its battered ego. Earl, on the other hand would scoff it in an instant! Forget playing, it would be an entrée, so we have to make sure to keep the chick safe at all times. Earl is a door opener, but we can foil that by putting the chick up on the pot rack beside the wood stove. It’s lucky that it’s cool at the moment so we have the stove on and it will keep the chick in the low 30C range that is apparently optimum for its survival. Bezial is lying next to the door listening to it chirp (most loudly for something that only a few hours ago was pretty much cactus…). We are just going to have to work out how to get it eating to make sure that it survives.

Here he is, living in a camoflage beanie that my mum gave me (and I promptly forgot all about…sorry mum!) that is perfect, warm, dark and somewhat like a pseudomum for him to cuddle up in on his hot water bottle in his shoebox. He seems to like it in there and is lovely and warm. This is Pingu belting out a chirp before he went to bed after his last drink of water…

I just gave up watching “It’s a dirty job” with Mike Rowe for you guys…that must mean that I like you as I really like watching that show. I am back to tell you that Pingu is still going strong. He is asleep at the moment, but he is standing on his own, chirping like the weep-weep bird and had a drink of water. He still hasn’t eaten yet, but he is looking a lot healthier than he was. We are just about to make him another hot water bottle to keep him at the right temperature and see if he wants some more water. It’s like having a baby without all the hassle as baby chickens sleep through the night. We are off to see sensei Nick tomorrow in the afternoon. He is a busy man and we are not so he gets to choose when he wants to see us. It’s not so bad going in at that time. We will have walked the boys twice so they will be somewhat better behaved when they have to stay with “Aunty Madeline” and “Aunty Beenz” and said “Auntie’s” should be out of bed by 2pm, so we won’t be greeted by bleary eyed mutterings. We hope to get out of our meeting pretty soon as we only have a few questions and get home before dark. We might have Subway tomorrow night for our dinner on the way home. Either that or pizza. It’s a real treat to get something like that now where it used to just be ‘meh’. I guess junk food becomes something that you get when you go to “The big smoke”. I think that we are out in the Ozarks now and its lucky that I am a vegetarian as that road kill is starting to look mighty tempting…its late and I am off to watch “My name is Earl”. I got the entire boxed set and am working my way through watching them with Steve every night. Quality time :o)


10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. mum
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 21:17:37

    I bet that chic is a rooster Pen! I do like your plans for Jennies place, & you will make a name for yourself doing that. The rose is supurb, absolutely breautiful. You will probably be having this heavy rain over there before long, it has sure made up for winter. The shearers will be off work now I know, & I sure don’t miss that lot! Still got the peep bird at night?


    • narf77
      Oct 26, 2011 @ 08:02:52

      The weep weep bird is still around but it sounds like there are 2 of them now and it has moved further away from the house. Pingu is up and peeping for the queen this morning and just ate something so it looks like we have a ‘house chicken’ for a bit till its old enough to be integrated with the rest. We almost roasted last night after pumping up the wood stove to keep him warm (as well as his hot water bottle)…


  2. Kreebard
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 21:26:00

    Yeah, that’s all fantastic, but yesterday was MONDAY.
    Just so you know.



  3. pfundtie
    Oct 25, 2011 @ 21:28:57

    Oh, alright, I’ll wake up earlier and then I shall attain spiritual fulfilment.
    My life will regain its meaning!

    I’m being sarcastic by the way, I’m not adopting your yuppie lettuce lifestyle.


    • narf77
      Oct 26, 2011 @ 08:07:47

      DUH! You are talking to the woman that taught you the value of sarcasm there… I take offense at the “Yuppie”…we are “Hill Williams” thankyou VERY much and reject everything that yuppies stand for (check out the meaning of “Yuppie”) and while I am correcting your english, you might want to learn how to spell the word “fulfillment”! (and I can’t spell!!!!!)


  4. pfundtie
    Oct 26, 2011 @ 10:04:11

    Uh, mum?
    That’s not how you spell fulfilment…


    • narf77
      Oct 26, 2011 @ 10:17:59

      Thats why, at 7am, when you have just come back from being dragged all over Sidmouth you should NEVER TRUST WIKIPEDIA!….sigh…. (Fulfillment with a double “l” is a company…..mutter…mutter….). We just saved ANOTHER chicken. It was on its last float around a bucket of water…thats 2 in 2 days. We NEED SOME SLEEP POWERS THAT BE!….


  5. athursdayschild has a long way to go and much to be thankful for.
    Apr 08, 2013 @ 05:11:08

    It would be so great to live off the grid. We have two wood burning stoves in the house, and that was our only source of heat for twenty years. We still use them. We have two cisterns, and that was also our only source of water for the same time period. Now we have city water as well, which I use in the kitchen. I hope there will be a picture of your finished design in an upcoming blog. Personally, I love lavender.


    • narf77
      Apr 08, 2013 @ 05:13:17

      I can’t remember if we posted the design…it was last year but I thinkwe were proud enough of it to post. If we didn’t let me know and I can send it to you in an email 🙂


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