Sunday, 12 August 2018

windows and wombats

With teaching and a general lack of enthusiasm progress continues to be slow.

We are having a drought in this neck of the woods - and as a result (almost no grass and more kangaroos than I've ever seen before) my nemesis - saffron thistle, raised its ugly head. Sprouting up in huge numbers in areas not seen in for 3 years. So that took some of my time up, as did the winter veggie garden. (Broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, red onions and rhubarb.)

I've also been planting a lot more trees and shrubs. (You may see a procrastination tactic here!!)

Anyway - the little bit of house progress is as follows:






See right through now!


It's great to finally have these installed after sitting around inside forever. The difference inside is amazing.
Even a month after the shortest day, the sun still comes in a long way.


And despite freezing conditions (we hit minus 9.1 at 06.30 this morning) it has been warm enough to work inside in a T-shirt.

Once the windows were in I could frame up the hall cupboard and bedroom wall/door:


I have also begun to seal the container floors. The timber in them is saturated in pesticides from years of spraying. This can lead to off-gassing, or the release of noxious fumes into the house over time.
So I have been covering them with a layer of epoxy resin. This forces any fumes to escape below into the sub floor cavity. This has the added effect of deterring any insect from eating their way into the floor from below.

Cleared and mopped:

 And sealed:



Looking from the main bedroom through the 'reading corner' out the window:


I was able to move everything out of the three containers into the one I had already sealed. I could then clean and seal these ones.



One advantage of the new windows is to watch the locals unseen!


A wombat has been making an appearance during the day. It seems to be an adolescent and is scratching a lot which means it has mange.

I called WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service) and they sent a guy out to check it out. He wanted us to catch it so he could weigh it. If it was under 20kgs he would take it to a Wombat refuge. But the little bugger was too wily and quick for us and he got away!

I will have to keep trying to catch it on my own. Without treatment for mange his/her prospects are not good.

Drinking at my dam:



Chasing wombats was an unexpected aspect of moving to the country!!

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

autumn addition

Spent the last few days working on framing up the verandah facade.


Haven't worked out yet whether to face it first with ply and then another skin of some sort - or find a material I can use on its own. I feel some research coming on.

Spending a bit of time on the veggie garden. The winds down this way can get quite severe and i have often been concerned about the damage it can do to the veggies.

So I have planted a row of small grevilleas (1.5M x 1.5M) to create a low hedge that will act as a wind break along the edge of the garden that gets most of the wind.


Where is the rain????

Sunday, 15 April 2018

where did that go?

Well I can't believe it has been almost exactly a year since my last post. So much and yet so little has happened.

Apart from 6 weeks overseas to Tajikistan etc, plus another couple of weeks on a spontaneous trip to Norway to celebrate an old friends birthday last November, plus 5 days a month out of town - I have also been teaching almost full time.

Then at the beginning of December I had a major medical crisis which had me in hospital for a month followed by 12 weeks recuperation with very little physical activity.

And then the teaching began again!!

So unfortunately very little has happened on the house front.

The summer veggie garden suffered badly from my absence in hospital etc, with no one to water it and almost no rainfall. I managed to rescue a dozen or so eggplants, a couple of buckets of capsicums, all of the 80-90 red onions survived, the rhubarb survived by the skin of its teeth.

The pumpkins were miraculously still alive but they threw out 20 or so small pumpkins early and then much later when I was back watering regularly again, many more new pumpkins formed but it was too late in the season for them all to ripen. Still - I've ended up with around 40 butternuts this year - though not as large as last years.

Rhubarb and pumpkin patch when I returned to the land:



My friend Jana watering them a few weeks later:


But a few small things, and one big one, have happened.

I framed up around the 4 large windows at the front of the house - and the windows themselves will be installed very soon.

I cut around the steel first leaving a few small tabs of steel to hold the container walls in place. This will make it easy to open the holes for the windows when the installers arrive.



I did the same with the exterior doors.



I used steel offcuts to skirt around the base of the house so that later I can back fill the land to the top of the concrete piers so the house will look as if it is sitting on the ground rather than perched on piers.


Another small job ticked off was bracing the roof trusses.



I also placed ply boards around the roof trusses so that when the roof tin goes on the strong winds that I get down this way will not blow around the insulation batts or risk lifting the tin (think occasional wind gusts over 90kmh)


Originally I had booked a roofer to put the tin down (I wasn't prepared to juggle 15M lengths of roofing iron on my own) and I was going to lay the insulation in tandem with him. Unfortunately my hospital stay threatened to derail this plan for 4 months or more so I asked him if he could do the insulation as well.

So in early February I got myself a roof! Huzzah!!





And more recently I have been spending countless hours traipsing around the acres collecting thistles. They were too far gone for spraying and the seed heads had already formed. So I went around with secateurs and deheaded hundreds of the rotten things and then uprooted the rest of the plant. There were also hundreds of mullein I needed to rip up as well.

Mullein - a noxious pest down this way!


The last couple of weeks I have begun planting some winter crops. Broccoli, spring onions, red onions, and bok choy. I am also going to try cauliflower this winter too and I've just put in about 20 plants.

Broccoli:


Bok Choy:



Tuesday, 18 April 2017

odd jobs

Things have slowed again. Once school started I began getting quite a lot of teaching (unusual for term 1) which put the brakes on the build somewhat. I need the extra work as at the end of June I am heading off on another overseas trip.

This one is 8 days hiking through the Fann Mountains in Western Tajikistan followed by a 2 week 4 wheel drive across Tajikistan and the Wakhan Corridor (Afghan border) into Kygyzstan. Then I am flying to Azerbaijan travelling up through the country into and around Georgia and then journeying down into Armenia. 6 weeks altogether and I can't wait!

I had an issue with the glass sliding doors. There were no instructions on how to turn them from a left hand opening to a right hand opening. I had put them in temporarily but the primary door should have been on the inside but was on the outside. I couldn't find anyone who could tell me what needed to be done. Even the Bunnings where I bought them from couldn't help.

I had an idea that I needed to invert the doors which would mean re-positioning the casters. It took me two weeks to get a hold of the person responsible at the company that made the doors. They were able to tell me that, yes, I do need to turn the doors upside down and move the casters. This was a bit of a struggle as the double glazed doors are pretty heavy and getting them on a trestle by myself was a challenge.

Another task concerned the ceiling PFC (steel roof beam) that crosses the kitchen and forms the top of the "T" beams that I put in a few months ago. I was always a little concerned, despite the engineers instructions, as to the strength of this beam to support the weight of the roof. My paranoia led me to believe I could see a slump starting to occur.

I put a straight edge along this beam and found there was indeed a slump of about 10mm over its 4.5m length. So to put my mind at rest I decided to put a second beam under the first.


It is placed a little off centre to the one above - this is so that it also catches the end of the perpendicular beam and provides extra support there too.


It will mean that the kitchen bulkhead will be 100mm lower but that will not bother me as the beam covers are meant to be a bit of a feature to break up the ceiling space.


A spare length of tubing and my car bottle jack helped raise the two beams 10mm while I fitted the extra vertical supports either end.




I also moved the door framing in the second bedroom due to the fact that when I moved the bathroom wall to make more room for the loo - it shortened the distance between the door frame and the bathroom wall and I was worried the door handle would hit the wall.

Otherwise the rest of my time has been spent with weed control and in the veggie garden. Despite the long hot summer I have reaped considerable produce. This is my first time growing eggplants and I have to say they have been very successful.

This is one of several baskets full:


There are several capsicums in there too - and you may notice a couple are purple. I'd never seen them this colour before - and they came from a packet of green capsicum seeds. I am going to keep seeds from these and grow them again.

Below are some of the 65 butternut pumpkins from this years patch:


The day before yesterday I ripped out the pumpkin vines and the eggplants and mulched them for my compost. And then I neatened up the garden, put down fresh compost and mowed around the veggie garden:



Today I decided to plant some trees and shrubs to act as a windbreak for the deck. Some of the worst winds come from the west and will blow straight down the deck.

I bought 5 Grevilleas and 5 Banksias and planted them close together.

I haven't had a lot of success with maintaining tree guards - most of the ones I've put in last less than 2 years. Strong winds and clumsy roos have taken most of them out. The roos also seem to like to trash trees for some reason:


Above is a naturally seeded Acacia (Wattle) - one of a great many that pop up on my property. This is the damage roos do to them.

So for these new trees I decided to try a new approach and make one huge tree guard using some old fencing wire and fence posts.



We'll see how it goes!