Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Chook hospital!

You might remember Princess Fiona was subjected (hah!) to a bath last year.  It is a suggested treatment for an egg-bound chook. 

In organising the girls' new chicken feeder, Jo was observed to be not quite herself.  I watched her while I was doing the washing and called Erin to conduct an examination. 

Jo's much larger tummy was compared to Judge Judy's and a bath was suggested.

A warm bath was run in the laundry sink and Jo seemed quite happy to sit in the water. She was then dried off with a towel and settled in a box by the fire.

Our chook obviously felt a lot better post-bath. She tried to climb out of the box, so has been tucked up for bed- with a light washing basket cover (and towel) over her temporary bed!

PVC Chicken Feeder!

I had an afternoon nap today and was woken by construction noise.

When I roused myself to investigate, Nick had just finished mounting this set of PVC tubes to the old aviary inside the chook yard.

There is talk of using a deeper container at the bottom but the prototype seems to be working well.  As you can see, the girls were quick to investigate their new feed station.

The ice-cream container at the top should stop water entering the pipes but the bowl needed shelter. Nick found a sheet of corrugated iron and leaned it against the aviary. It's being held in place with a couple of "Lightning Ridge nails" (aka bricks)!

We visited Lightning Ridge in 2011 and were amused by some shacks that had rocks to hold down their roofing!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Tarp de - um - clothesline!

We thoroughly enjoyed a beautiful day of continued sunshine today. It was lovely!

The weather is definitely variable here. It doesn't just change once but can vary many times in the space of a day - and that's probably one of the trickiest things we've had to adjust to since relocating South. 

I'm still coming to terms with the cold - and the changeable climate. It's quite tricky. We've had some memorable outings this winter.  There was our misty Mount Macedon picnic and some geocaching in gale-force winds!  Those are extreme examples but we had a number of cold-weather picnics too, where we were very glad of our thermoses.  As I've said quite a few times lately, if we sat around waiting for perfect conditions, we mightn't go anywhere at all!

Of course, the constantly changing conditions play havoc with the more mundane missions also - particularly drying our washing.  When we first moved in to Hamby Home(in)stead we were hit with a horrendous electricity bill.  I was absolutely stunned when I read the figures.  We've since paid that off, double-checked all settings on the meter and changed electricity provider.  Even so, we are still not tempted to turn on the under-floor heating, stopped using the dishwasher soon after arrival (due to tank water restrictions) and limit our use of the clothes-dryer. 

Last winter we had clothes-airers set up permanently in the lounge-room.  Obviously that wasn't an ideal solution - and I scorched one of Vaughan's school jumpers when trying to fast-track it's drying!

There is very little outside covered area at Hamby Home(in)stead but I've found space for one airer in a lean-to area outside the laundry door.  I started pondering other possibilities and remembered that a previous neighbour (back in New South Wales) had a clothes-line cover.  It was something like this.  They cost about $200.00.  I suggested to Nick that a tarp might do the same job. Nick agreed and we bought a 12-foot square heavy duty version from the local camping shop. $40.00 total! 

Nick rigged the tarp over the line a few weeks back.  It's obviously not as neat as the commercial cover but works well.  Heavy rain pools in one area, so we need to tip that off from time to time but otherwise all is fine (hah)! 

Saturday swap!

We shifted the Fox-proof Fowl Fort to surround a tree last December.  Our two original girls used the area from then to the end of February.  While we were away, they enjoyed a holiday with our landlady.

Judge Judy and Jo arrived home in early May and had the fort to themselves till late July, when we recruited four new chookies.

As the yard has well and truly been scratched over, it was time for a new location.  Shifting the fort is a larger job.  (The move was on the agenda for last weekend but put back due to Oscar's funeral).

Nick and I chose the new location a few weeks back. By using the back wall of the house as part of the yard boundary, we were able to increase the overall area - so our six girls will have more space for scratching.

Our landlady has given permission for us to use the existing aviary as a chook-house. It would need some modification though, which we are pondering. For now the girls will continue to roost in their usual wooden house. They have to snuggle in quite cosily together but as it's still cold overnight, I expect they appreciate the extra insulation!

It took about two hours to shift all the fencing panels from one place to another.  As before, we kept them in two-panel sections.  Nick and worked together to drag the pieces across, then re-assemble the enclosure with new cable ties.  While we were doing that, the girls spent some time in Tea's old yard, slowly preparing it for use as another garden area. 

I'm still getting used to looking out from the kitchen window and not seeing our chooks.  However Erin has mentioned that each time she walked out to the clothesline today, she was closely supervised by all the girls! 

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Oscar's obituary ...

At around the time of Sunny's death last year, Oscar was diagnosed with an over-active thyroid. He needed medication for that and took other tablets at the same time, to support his kidneys (which would be under greater strain once his thyroid started functioning).

He was prescribed a special renal diet, which presented the greatest shock to him - as the serving size was just a quarter cup of kibble per day! These heavily reduced quantities did not impress our food-focussed feline at all!

In those early days he would wake us during the night to protest the emptiness of his food bowl. He was also known to rummage for the tablets he did like and try to take extra!  (The disliked tablets were regularly spat out when he thought no-one was looking)!

Oscar was definitely a character.  When I met Nick, he and Oscar lived in a tiny fibro cottage by the river.  Oscar wore a belled collar, to try and afford the resident wildlife some warning of his presence.  Oscar would ring his bell at the front door to be let in, saunter the few metres to the back door and ring again to be let out!

Nick and I joined households in early December 2004.  Oscar arrived later in the month, on Christmas Eve (which caused a lot of merriment at the time).  He and Sunny initially had a few altercations but generally existed happily after that, though they preferred to pretend they didn't like each other (and would look guilty if sprung together)!

Oscar's had a few close-calls during his life.  We kept him confined following removal of a large tick, not really expecting him to survive the poison.  After a week of isolation, he staggered out of the upstairs bathroom and made his way onto the first-floor balcony, before jumping down to the ground!  So much for keeping him resting quietly!  (He later survived two dog attacks in 2008 - the second on Christmas Eve). 

No doubt his determined spirit helped him adjust to our many addresses, including relocation to Victoria in December 2012.  (On looking back in seems Oscar experienced quite a few significant events in December of various years).  During our first few months as Victorians, both cats stayed with family and were quite spoiled!  Our cats later moved with us to Hamby Home(in)stead in early March last year.  In his younger days Oscar was a very large cat and his spirit remained so - as he wasn't at all shy of taking on Tea when he felt she was being too forward!

Possibly Oscar's biggest adventure was coming with us to Yowah for our ten-week holiday earlier this year.  He was given some cat-harness revision in preparation, then travelled in a small cat-box, stacked under Keegan - with frequent rest breaks. Oscar really seemed to enjoy camping at Cobar and generally behaved as a much younger cat while away.  He chased bugs and grasshoppers and appreciated the warmer climate.  He must have really felt better because he even washed his face!

We've been home since early May.  Oscar has had several trips to the vet during those months.  His medication was increased but his condition continued to fail.  A few days ago he stopped taking his medication, even the tablets he liked.  I'm glad Nick and Vaughan were with him as he finally faded away. 

We buried Oscar this afternoon, next to Sunny (but not too close)!  In time we'll build a rock stack as their memorial. 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Assistant Gardeners!

Tea's enclosure has remained empty since she became fully weaned last October.  Up until February, we stored straw near our front door (in the small amount of shelter there).

Given the proximity of various fires at the beginning of the year, we shifted the remainder of the bale inside Tea's small house. It's proved quite useful to have it close to the Fox-proof Fowl Fort when we need to change the chookies nesting material.

I've been eyeing off the enclosure for a while now, considering it's potential as a small fenced garden for corn or a spreading crop. 

The FpFF needs moving to new ground but we'll do that next weekend.  In the meantime the girls can enjoy supervised scratching sessions in Tea's former yard, preparing it for my next growing endeavour!
Shifting the girls back and forth between enclosures was a funny exercise.  Judge Judy and Jo are used to being handled, so were easy to catch.  The "new girls" weren't greatly keen to be rounded up and presented some challenges to the chook-wranglers! 

All our girls seemed to like their change of scene.  By early afternoon they had trampled down several paths through the greenery and done other good work too.  I put a small box in the enclosure with some straw this morning, hoping the chookies would see it as a temporary nesting box.  Instead, they scratched all the straw from it and by mid afternoon several girls were pacing up and down the fence-line.  I called Vaughan to catch them.  In the process, he startled a small rabbit hiding in the green patch and it bolted under the orange plastic and away across the front paddock!  The chookies were quite startled by our cackling! 

Obsidian, Judge Judy and Mrs Floosit were caught first and returned to their usual abode.  Jo, Pooh II and Shadow followed.  Three eggs were gifted in quick succession (from Obsidian, Judge Judy and Jo) soon after the girls returned home!

Friday, 15 August 2014

Broadening beans and rapid radishes!

It's a beautiful sunny day, though there was frost overnight - and I've been going outside every so often to soak up some sunshine!

I also checked on my garden a little while ago.

Surprisingly, my snap frozen vegies are doing well! At this stage, there is still no action from some seeds that were planted back in June but I discovered something very funny.  You see, not only do radishes have an easy (to grow!) reputation - they are also said to produce very quickly. I've kept a watchful eye on my patch of "radishes", thinking they haven't done much and muttering about their ill-deserved fame as fast growers.  Hah!  It seems what I assumed were "radishes" are not - cos it's the plants next-door that have sprouted red globes!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Scrambling the eggs!

We thoroughly enjoyed our lovely cooked breakfast on Sunday, particularly the vibrant yellow eggs from our girls. So beautiful!

Vaughan had more Hamby Home(in)stead eggs for breakfast yesterday.  You can see that they were just about the same colour as his gold school skivvy! 

The Young Master requested eggs for breakfast again this morning and I said he would need to have bought eggs. He wasn't greatly enthused by that news and I was asked to wait while he dashed outside to check for any gifts from the girls!

Poor kid was out of luck and you can see the result.  Not only are the bought eggs much paler, they obviously don't taste as good!

Our girls laid 10 eggs last week, great work for their off-season!

Feathering the nest(box)!

Erin called me out last night to see how the chookies had arranged themselves at bedtime.  The new girls have been with us just over a week now.  Judge Judy and Jo are the bosses but there is more integration between both factions and night-time roosting is now happening fairly smoothly.  Hooray!

On the first night, all the new girls were outside, perched on the nesting boxes cos the red chooks had banned entry to the coop!  We thought there had been similar shenanigans another night when the four new girls were again outside, in the rain, on top of the nesting boxes - though one red chook was underneath, a bit more sheltered from the weather.  However, the coop door had blown shut in the wind, so we gave the inside red chook the benefit of the doubt!

For the past few nights two chooks have cosied up together in one of the nest boxes.  It's not always the same two chooks and we have spotted a red chook with a black chook.  (It's harder to distinguish who is who by torchlight).  Our white girls are quite large, with Pooh II being the biggest of all.  We were therefore surprised to see both of them and a black chookie all squashed together in one nesting box - and have no idea why the other box was so unpopular!

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Major Myna Problem!

Nick doesn't look much like Wile E Coyote but he's hatched a cunning plan and today crafted a trap that certainly looks as if it should have ACME stamped on it!

The myna birds descend on the chookie pen en masse, scoff the girls' food and generally make a huge nuisance of themselves. 

I wasn't surprised to read that in 2005 they were voted Australia's most unpopular feral animal (above cane toads and foxes, which is saying something)!  In 2010 they achieved further notoriety by making the top-100 list of the world's most invasive species.

I'm not expecting the trap to be successful.  So far the would-be quarry have completely avoided the area.  They aren't keen to sample Nick's bait, instead preferring to scoff chook pellets as usual!

Super scrambled eggs!

I reckon even Peter T Hooper (of Dr Seuss's "Scrambled Eggs Super") would be quite envious of our breakfast this morning. Just look at the colour of those eggs - wow!

The girls gifted us ten eggs through the week. (Vaughan ate two for breakfast one morning).  I used eight today.  They were so vibrant - a huge contrast to those that we've bought recently.

Snap frozen?!

We were very glad of all our wood-stacking efforts last night. The temperature was -1 at 9:00pm and obviously dropped further over-night as there was frost this morning.

At 7:30am, the reading was -4 degrees! I considered taking some photos but decided bed was the better option. When I did rouse myself an hour or so later, the world had "warmed" to -2 degrees.

I checked on my plants.  I've been very pleased with the growth of my broad beans.  I was even starting to look at recipes (cos I have no idea what to do with them when they are ready), so hope they survive their icy morning. The very clever Nammo (who is an accomplished gardener and even more greatly accomplished photographer) commented how awesome it is that I can grow snap-frozen veg, all ready for the freezer!  I guess that might work for the rainbow chard?!

We've had some frost this season, though perhaps not as much as last year. It's hard to keep track as I don't keep an ongoing record of temperatures/conditions. 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Team effort!

Nick's beautiful chainsaw developed a fault a few weeks ago. Luckily we were not out of pocket for the repair, as it was fixed under warranty. There were difficulties getting the part though and our wood stockpile was virtually non-existent by the time we collected the repaired saw.

Nick spent a couple of hours cutting wood yesterday (in the freezing cold) and another hour or so this morning, before calling for assistants to load his good work into Elmer.

We made three trips across the paddocks - stacking as much wood as we could in the small sheltered area near the house.  (The bottom pic shows the volume of wood after the first load was unpacked).

What we couldn't fit under the table was stacked further up the back yard.

Singing the girls praises!

I've watched a fair bit of Play School over the years and lately have "The Egg Song" running in my head when I admire our chookie's efforts.   Do you know "The Egg Song"?! 

"They're round all around and they're bigger on the bottom; Smaller round the top and we're glad we've got 'em!  And they're egg shaped, coz they're eggs. Every bird you ever heard - lays eggs!"

Singing aside, I do like all the colour variations of our recent eggs.  So far, we've accurately identified eggs from Obsidian, Pooh II and Mrs Floosit.  We think the very pale, small egg may be Shadow's but can't be certain!  Pooh II's eggs are large and brown.  (Judge Judy and Jo also lay brown eggs, though theirs don't seem as large as Pooh II's).

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Blown away?!

It's been very windy here today. Nick and I went into town and I was blown off course when I rounded a corner of the footpath. Not only was I buffeted by the wind - it inflated my plastic shopping bags for added pulling/pushing power!

As we drove home we noted capsized street signs and fences. Our rubbish bins were laying on the ground and as passed the Fox-proof Fowl Fort, we saw that the girls' house was upended! I really hope no-one was inside when that happened!

I righted the house and started putting the nesting box back together where the floor pieces had fallen out.  It seemed a good opportunity for a thorough clean, so I tossed the old straw onto the ground.  The girls enjoyed scratching through and pecking for slaters etc too.  Nick sorted out their water and got some new straw, while I removed the tray-floor (from beneath the roosting area) and scraped the muck into our compost bin. 

The chookies will definitely appreciate their cosy, clean house tonight.  In the past hour the temperature has dropped from an amazing (unheard of?!) 18 degrees to just 8!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Hen-tirely comfortable!

When talking with Madelaine yesterday, I asked why she had chosen her particular breed of chooks. She replied that most people prefer brown eggs.

We were a bit surprised by her answer.  Even though we'd requested white and black girls, it hadn't occurred to us that they could or would lay different coloured eggs!  Of course, we asked what colour eggs we'd get - and it seemed there was a range of possibilities, including creamy pink and brown speckled!

I heard cackling this morning. When I went to investigate, Pooh II was inside the chook house, nestled over a warm brown egg. 

Later in the day I spotted Obsidian making herself quite comfortable in one of the nest boxes. A while afterwards I found a lovely pinkish egg! 

Although Judge Judy and Jo are keeping themselves mostly separate from the Hollyburton girls, there are no squabbles - and it's good to see that two of our new chookies are already feeling comfortable enough to lay.

Monday, 28 July 2014

New girls!

Our original four girls were gifts, retirees from Seven Hills Organic Farm.  Prior to moving here they lived on a five-acre lot with fox-proof fence and a guard dog.  It was definitely chook heaven!

We weren't able to match that standard of accommodation but our chookies are/were definitely well-loved.  (Sadly, late last year Pooh Chicken and Princess Fiona died, both of natural causes). 

We talked about getting more company for Jo and Judge Judy but there didn't seem much point doing so before our extended Yowah holiday.  We've been home since May though and it's definitely colder, so I wondered if they would appreciate extra friends to huddle with at night.

I was scrolling through my FaceBook newsfeed on Sunday night and spotted a photo post from Hollyburton Farm - "Got some sweet old girls that need to be moved on to retirement homes they will lay all spring but they are only laying a little at the moment. Anyone keen? $5 each to good homes!

Not surprisingly the troops were keen, so I sent a FB message and followed up with a phone call this morning.  I requested three chooks and asked for black and white when offered a colour choice.

We collected our new girls after school.  At some point in the afternoon, I decided two black and two white chooks would be a better option - and then we could have nicely organised colours!

Madelaine was happy to round up an extra retiree and showed us the area where one of her huge flocks roam, watched over her Maremma sheepdog, Billy.

It was late afternoon when we unpacked the new arrivals into the yard with Judge Judy and Jo.  Our original girls were not impressed and it is fair to say there were some ruffled feathers!  A pecking order was quickly established and though there was a bit of a stand-off at bedtime, all seemed reasonably happy to be at fairly close quarters in the roosting area (after some prompting)!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

From little things ...

At the time of making our loo more cosy, I didn't give much thought to similar bathroom insulation - even though the larger room was equally in need of help! 

Instead I made a terrarium, having been inspired by this story that was doing the rounds on Facebook.  I didn't have a lidded vessel, so used this large jar - and put a tiny frog in with the ferns.

That one small frog prompted me to gather many of my other frogs, to live along the bathroom bench.

It was then that I looked at the window and opted to give it a make-over. 

After rummaging in the storage container, I discovered the other green mattress cover as well as some froggy fleece originally bought to make jumpers for the girls, many years ago!

The first green mattress cover works well on our kitchen window - and I really like the chook bunting.  The bathroom window is a bit taller, so I added an extension for more coverage.  I was tricky and included narrow ribbon ties, so the extension can be rolled up during the day, if desired.  The frog bunting matches and I'm quite pleased with the overall look. 

You might notice the fly-screen was revamped also.  I found a lace remnant in the stash (leftover from my first wedding dress)!  It was just the right size for the frame and Nick did good work fitting it securely.  The lace is much prettier than the worn-out fly-mesh and the pale green works well with all the frogs.  The frog button on the basket bow isn't quite as old as the lace - it was originally on one of the matching frog dresses I made for my girls when they were quite young!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Garden Masters?!

Erin constructed several self-watering tubs last year. She planted them out carefully - and then Tea ate their contents during her "don't fence me in" period!  The tubs have been empty since. 

During the week Erin, Vaughan and I visited our local, new-ish Masters store.  My main aim was purchasing ferns for my terrarium project (more on that later) and some extra 3M picture hanging strips for my various decorating projects.  I'd seen some 75% discount plants in the gardening section but was side-tracked by the ferns, so only remembered the bargains as we were exited the carpark.  I re-parked the car and went back into the store for a better look at the sale table.  I made my selection of a flowering succulent for the bathroom - and the saleslady helpfully pointed out two more stands of plants. There were a few vegetables so I picked several of those also.  What a bargain!  10 seedlings for $5.86!

I'd already planted my raised bed but Erin had room in her tubs for these new arrivals.  We planted them today.  I helped a bit, though probably was more photographer than gardener! 

Hopefully our bargains will like their new home.  We have kale, bunching broccoli, standard broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and romanesco.  I'd never heard of romanesco but am really looking forward to seeing it grow - how funky is it?!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Bright idea!

Our insulation efforts are proving very effective - and we certainly notice a difference if venturing from any of the front areas to the smallest room in the house!

There was no toilet window curtain when we moved in.  I found an odd double-layer lace item at an op-shop.  It may have been a dressing table skirt.

Whatever it's previous use, the length of lace was cheap at a dollar and till now has afforded good privacy. Of course, lace doesn't offer any insulation in winter! I found a warmer window covering today in the form of a small, lighter-weight quilt. I hung it over the curtain rod, then folded the edges under (to adjust the width) and pinned them in place.

The bright colours prompted a mini makeover, which included hanging some more of Vaughan's artwork.  I found a new tapestry frame at an op-shop today.  It was $5.00 (though still had it's ancient $25.00 original price tag).  Seemingly tapestry frames don't have glass, which I didn't notice till I unwrapped the packaging at home. Oh, well - I'm sure Vaughan's ladybugs don't mind!

The ladybugs and frog mask have been hung opposite the now-quilted window. I've had the frog prints for many years.  They were my two favourites from an old calendar, so I had them professionally framed, way back in 1997 - and yes, I still like them!

I'm hoping the window quilt causes a dramatic improvement to the temperature of the room.  Fingers crossed for frog-tastic results!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Garden babies!

My garden has babies!

The peas I planted on 13 June have sprouted and look like tiny green butterflies! Aren't they lovely?!

On very close inspection I can see a few bok choi just poking through also. How neat is that?!  As far as I can see (and I peered quite intently), there's no other action yet but I'll keep looking!

Monday, 23 June 2014

The foul weather fowl!

I was admiring my windowsill chookies this morning and decided they really needed some offspring. So I made spring chickens - hah! The original trio (two yellow floral and one pale green) were fairly cute but I wasn't entirely satisfied with them. They seemed to be lacking ... something.

We accomplished a few missions in town this afternoon.  Erin had a bag of donations for the op-shop and I looked there for a frame, without success.

The dump shop yielded some good loot - five items for $10.  I only wanted my frame, so reimbursed Erin $2.  Of course, I thought the frame was pretty much the size I needed for Vaughan's chook picture.  It wasn't and the young artist didn't wish his work to be extensively trimmed. 

I asked him to bring out his art folder and we spotted this black chook, which fit the frame better.  You might notice the chook is carrying an umbrella.  I asked Vaughan about it and he said they had done the art at school "after reading some book", though further explanation wasn't forthcoming!  I'll just assume it is foul weather fowl (from Melbourne)!

I put up another hook for the newly framed fowl and then stuck a third hook higher up for the original artwork, still on it's temporary hanger.  I'll measure that picture before setting out again to find a suitable frame!

You can see the $2 frame with it's original print at the bottom of the second collage.  It was a bit grubby and took a lot of encouragement to yield the unwanted contents.  I used a lot of goo remover to clean off the old sticky tape and washed the frame, glass and cord thoroughly.  Nick put some superglue in the joints.  I reckon it's come up wonderfully - and much prefer Vaughan's art to the photographic print it came with!

After framing the black chook, I made another windowsill chick with some brown velvet.  This one has a small comb and is my favourite of today's four, so he'll be staying with the bigger chookies.  I might "hatch" some siblings for him later.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Kitchen chooks ...

I did a bit more work in the kitchen today, using my chookie bunting as a cue for further interior decorating.

Vaughan created a fantastic chook picture last year and was happy to have it on display.  I'm pondering a more permanent frame - hopefully the dump shop will have the right size!

I also fabricated (hah!) a couple of windowsill chookies this afternoon.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

My window views!

You might be wondering at the current window insulation focus. I mentioned the fact that we have big windows here but I can't see (hah!) that I've shared any photos of the kitchen, dining and lounge areas.

As I write this post at 10:00am, it is currently 5 degrees outside.  It was similarly cold last night when we were all listening to stories in the lounge room.

As you can see this end of the house is open-plan with a high raked ceiling.   We use our fire constantly and it puts out wonderful heat but even so it's a big ask for it to fully heat the area, particularly with so many huge windows.

We didn't have any insulation last year, relying only upon the basic (and on some windows, ill-fitting) curtains. As we head further into winter though, the memory of Vaughan and I last year, snuggled on the lounge in our sleeping bag nest, is becoming increasingly clearer!

I haven't tackled that window yet.  It's the largest of all but it's curtains are open during the day and I don't want to block the view by my insulation method. 

I'm also conscious that I may need to use (more) blankets for coverage and their weight might be an issue across the longer width.  Another factor to consider is the volume of condensation that accumulates overnight - Oscar can only consume so much! Therefore there's a good chance whatever I use will become damp (or wet) and needs to be fairly easy to clean at the end of winter.  I'll keep pondering the last window but we've all definitely noticed a marked improvement in temperature since the others have been "dressed"!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Window dressing ...

I've been pleasantly surprised by how much difference my kitchen window solution has made to our inside comfort level.

I was on a mission to achieve more window dressing today and enlisted Nick's aid.

The air conditioner window was first on our list.  In recent weeks one curtain has stayed open, leaving the panels above and below the air conditioner exposed.

Nick tacked some of our carpet tiles in place so they covered the small glass panel.  A piece of pre-quilted fabric was strung to cover the other glass panels (beside the air conditioner).  The smaller photo shows the view from outside.

The dining area window was next - shown in the second photo collage.

This took quite a while, mainly because I wanted to be able to open and close the insulating "curtains". I made them from a cotton weave blanket, which was purchased new for Erin's baby bed!

While out this afternoon, we got some hooks. I'll get Nick to install them tomorrow, so I can create curtain tie-backs to hold the blanketing aside during the day.

I've been pondering our entry sliding door for a few weeks. I can't find the old blanket I had intended to use so decided to hang this one instead. It's a bit flasher than the MIA cheapie - but it's important to create a good first (door) impression!

Monday, 16 June 2014

Kitchen cover-up!

I slept in yesterday. It's a rarity, so I made the most of the opportunity! Nick worked outside but each time he came back in, he had dragon breath so I didn't venture out. Slack, I know!

Well, slack as far as further seed planting was concerned.  I made soup, focaccia, cheffed proper baked beans and solved my kitchen window issue - so was fairly productive in the scheme of things.

Hamby Home(in)stead has a lot of windows.  Big windows.  They are great for admiring the view.  Not so great for keeping the house warm in winter.  I'm on a mission to create extra insulation behind the curtains, where there are curtains.  When we moved in there were a few bare windows.  I left the kitchen one as it was because I liked looking out.  (You might remember at one stage last year the chookies liked looking in)!  It stayed bare last winter but tis now fixed.

As part of my window insulation research, I discovered the existence of window quilts.  They seemed like a good idea, though required a bit more effort than I was willing to expend.  I did have a piece of pre-quilted fabric though and we purchased curtain rods and the necessary hardware (from the dump shop, of course)!  Nick installed the first curtain rod and was considering the best way of fixing the second. 

I played around with other options last night and discovered that one of the fleece covers I made for our camping air mattresses was just the right length to slide over the curtain rod.  Too easy!  It didn't look all that inspiring but noticeably improved the temperature in the kitchen area. 

Obviously there is a bit of a gap between the bottom of the cover and the window sill.  That's fine as I still want to look out and quite often the dishes stack up fairly high in the dish drainer so a longer curtain (or equivalent) would be in the way. 

I wasn't quite sure how to make the fleece cover more appealing then remembered that bunting is a big thing at the moment, or seems to be according to various craft tutorials.  I decided to make some using materials on hand.  (You might have gathered there is a huge amount of material on hand)!  I'm quite pleased with how it turned out.  Tis important for the kitchen sink to be cheerful!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Lettuce begin again!

We started our raised garden bed last September with high hopes - and there was some success. 

Vaughan ate many carrots and our corn grew but proved too much temptation for Tea.  Our rainbow chard was one of the best crops and it was still kicking along when we returned from Yowah!

Overall all though, my first foray into vegetable gardening was somewhat disappointing.  It had been difficult to maintain enthusiasm when Tea was such a menace and I pretty much gave up on the exercise.  Now that the horrible heifer has been confined to quarters for well over a month, I'm daring to garden again and decided today was the day to start.  Let's hope Friday the 13th is a lucky day for gardens (and gardeners)!

Armed with the "Home Harvest" publication distributed by our local councils, I rummaged through my box of seed packets and chose according to the annual planting guide on page 43!  I planted peas, lettuce and radish (with Vaughan's assistance). 

I bought a few more seeds from The Reject Shop this afternoon, taking advantage of our family discount - thanks Nissa!  The growing advice on the packets differs from what I remembered of the planting guide information in my booklet (which I left at home), so after much deliberation I purchased broad beans, broccoli, rocket and spinach.  I'll try to plant them tomorrow.

Friday, 6 June 2014

Tea Gate!

We were chatting with our landlady today, talking of fences and how wonderfully Tea is behaving now that she's learned to respect the electric fence.  (She's stayed in her paddock for nearly four weeks - a record)!

As we stood looking over at Tea, Nick commented that the only weak link of the large paddock is the gate.

It wasn't long after that conversation that I looked out the window and spotted our cow on her knees, attempting to wriggle through the gap between the gate and fencepost!

She was so determined that the fencepost was moving and looked as if it were being lifted out of the ground. 

I ran from the house to shout sternly at Tea. 

She retreated quickly, looking very guilty!

Nick grabbed some pliers and effected a modification to the gate, running a strand of electric fencing tape along the opening.  As you can see, his efforts were closely supervised by our would-be escapee. 

The large bow in the gate isn't Tea's doing.  One of the visiting bulls enjoyed rubbing against the mesh - and the gate wasn't up to his one-tonne attention!  Tea pushes on the gate too but isn't anywhere near as heavy as him - yet!

I'm not sure how much Tea weighs but I did measure her while Nick was fixing the gate.  Last June she measured 75cm to the top of her shoulder and now she is 118cm.  That's an increase of 43cm in just one year!  I measured Vaughan last night and in the same period he has grown 4cm, so is currently 138cm tall - which gives him a little clearance over Tea. 

(It seems I also measured Tea in August last year.  She was 90cm then, a height increase of 15cm in 11 weeks.  Not quite ten months down the track, she's achieved another 28cm).

Sunday, 18 May 2014


We've had a lovely weekend of good food and good times.  We enjoyed some outings and achieved a few missions also. 

I've just finished putting together a small hamper as a thank you gift, which was on my to-do list for this week.

I made a larger basket last year. It was all our produce or items made from home-grown ingredients.

I've "cheated" a bit today as the shortbread is made from purchased flour, sugar and butter!

Not long after moving into Hamby Home(in)stead I drove to a nearby small town and while exploring their shopping centre, I picked up a stack of these presentation boxes - for 10 cents each!  What a bargain!  They are a great size and I've used several so far, stuffed with nicely arranged home-made goodies.  This one has shortbread, a jar of fruity chutney and two packets of fig paste.  We'll deliver our Hamby Hamper tomorrow with a large tub of Paroo honey.

Nick and I were quite broke when we first got together.  "Hamby Hampers" was devised during one of our early Christmases, when we were expected to purchase gifts for a large family gathering.  Back then, I did the labelling with clip art and our home printer.  These days I take advantage of Vistaprint's excellent service (and specials) for more schmick presentation!