Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Grey Foggy Day

Today the fog is hanging around, it doesn't seem to want to go away. The kids walked to the bus stop in the fog and drizzle. The dogs weren't too keen to go outside from their nice warm laundry and I didn't blame them. I've lit the fire the early today as it is rather chilly. Normally I don't light it until the afternoon to save on firewood. If I'm home on my own I just put on another jumper and brave the cold. The fire is lit mid afternoon so the house is warm when the kids come home.

Back in the days when we had central heating, the heating would be on all day during autumn and winter. For the last 10 years we have lived in a house with only wood heating. It is amazing how much more conservative with resources you are when you have to collect the wood, split it, stack it and light the fire yourself. Days that are just a bit chilly just don't seem worth the effort of lighting the fire, we put on extra clothes, snuggle under a blanket or go outside and do something active.

If we do light the fire early I try and make the most of the heat and dry the washing in front of the fire. Today I'll do loads of washing to make good use of the fire, its also a good excuse to stand in front of the fire as I hang the washing out.

Using wood heating is certainly more work than gas or electric heating but it does have some benefits. You are much more conservative with your resources, you get exercise from stacking and splitting firewood (much cheaper than a gym membership), a fire is friendly, wood is renewable and we seem to suffer from far fewer colds and sore throats now we don't have central heating. There are disadvantages too: it takes longer to heat the house, coming home on a cold, wet night and knowing you have to light the fire to get warmth is not fun; it takes time to source the firewood, split and stack it; fires are messy; and chimneys must be cleaned annually.

All things considered I like the fire. It suits us at the moment but that may change as time goes on. Our son is happy to split the wood for us at the moment and we live in an area where there are often fallen trees that need to be cleared or branches pruned so wood can be collected easily. We also have enough room to store firewood.

The rain has just started so its definitely a day for staying indoors - lucky I stacked the wood box yesterday!
The wood pile waiting to be split and stacked.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Good Intentions

Yesterday I had good intentions of getting lots done in the garden but somehow things took longer to do than I had planned. It seems to happen a lot.

Last summer I created a 'cage' from an old swing set to grow some vegies in. It seemed to be the only way to stop all the local wildlife from helping themselves to my fresh vegies. It is a small area, about 3 metres by 1.5 metres but was very intensively planted. Green beans wound their way up the walls and out through the roof, cucumbers grew under the beans and wound their way out of the cage and onto the path, tomatoes and sweet corn grew together down one end and parsnips popped up where ever they found room.

Today I cleared all the old vines and dug up the last of the parsnips. Some the parsnips were huge but had gone a little woody, some were small and sweet - perfect for roasting. The older parsnips were grated and used in the dog food I made tonight. There were a number of seedlings sitting on the back verandah waiting for a new home so they were all planted in the cage - spinach, broccoli, leeks and a few kale seedlings. Hopefully they will be protected by the cage and will grow well.

The main job I was hoping to do today was fencing the new vegie garden. I got a little bit done but not as much as I would like. I'm sinking the wire mesh for the fence into the ground to try and stop the rabbits and wombats from going under the fence. Wombats can be very persistent about getting through fences so I'm putting old roof tiles along the bottom of the fence as well. When its all finished it should be like a much larger version of my swing set cage.

Maybe tomorrow I will get more done.


The beginnings of my new animal proof garden.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A Day in the Garden

Today promises to be sunny and warm, a perfect day for the garden. The early morning fog has burnt off and the sun is peeping through.

I've got a few morning chores to do and then, all going well, its time for the garden. We have a reasonably large garden and its in dire need of some work. I've had a vegetable garden for some time and have had varying degrees of success with it. Late last year I finally got tired of everything but me eating the vegies. The rabbits came in for a nibble as did the possums, the wallaby, and the birds. The local echidna would come in and rearrange the garden while hunting out the ants. I don't mind sharing but this was getting ridiculous.

When something came in and ate all the onion tops and the hearts of out the cabbages that was the final straw. Something had to be done. It was true that the fence was getting a bit old and wobbly and there was the odd hole where something had dug under but a new fence wasn't going to stop all the free loaders helping themselves.

Then I read an article about a fully enclosed vegie garden using polypipe arches and it seemed perfect. I had dreams of a new garden by Christmas. Work began, the old fence was pushed over, the area cleared and the new area measured out. The article said they completed their garden in 6 half days - I could do this. What it didn't mention is that your ground has to be flat or things just don't work. My ground is definitely not flat. After making a mess and ending up with very unsymmetrical arches I was feeling very disheartened. My son came to the rescue and helped me find the levels and with a bit of creativity we got those arches looking good.

Christmas came and went and the hot weather set in. Life became busy and the garden just sat. Now the weather has cooled down its time to get back outside and into the garden - at least that is the plan.
Leeks growing in the new garden.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dog Blankets

The addition of a new dog to the family meant a new dog blanket was needed because our old dog certainly wasn't going to share hers! I do own a sewing machine although it does spend a lot more time in the cupboard than out being used. Actually it spends a great deal of its time in the cupboard. Sewing isn't really my thing.

I found a couple of very old quilts in the linen cupboard. They were inherited by my husband when he left home and they were old and past their use by date then. We used them for camping for a number of years until they started to fall apart so they were shoved to the back of the cupboard and left to retire. They came to light a few months ago when I cleaned the linen cupboard out - it was a necessity, we couldn't shut the door.

I cut the quilts in half and as one was in reasonable condition simply bound the cut edge and that was that. The other had a few rips and tears so I cut up an old sheet that was quite thick but rather stained and used that to make a new cover for the old quilt. The result was four soft and warm blankets for the dogs to sleep on. As a bonus the blankets are easy to wash and dry quickly. Not bad for $2.00 (the cost of the bias binding) we now have four blankets which should serve well for quite some time (if the dogs don't eat them).

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Meet Daisy


Our family grew on Sunday - Daisy the dog came to live with us. Daisy had to find a new home as her family was moving. Daisy is a bundle of energy and wants to play all day. She will be living with our old dog and the chooks. Daisy is used to living with an older dog so hopefully she will settle in well. She has never seen chooks before or come into contact with other small animals so we are hoping she will be alright with the chooks and not see them as meals on legs. The chooks have been locked up for a few days while Daisy gets used to them. We will gradually let them spend some time together and see how things go.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

An Inside Day

More rain today. This is a good thing as we really need the rain, days of it actually, and it gives me an' inside day'. I can happily do inside jobs today and not feel too guilty about the garden.

I've been out this morning and done a few jobs locally- picked up the mail, been to the local shops and called in the community center to pick up items we will need for this weekend's fete. In an effort to cut down on the use of the car I do what I can locally and combine trips. I also park the car centrally and walk to the various places I need to go: the shops, library, post office and where ever else I need to go. Cutting down on the use of the car saves money, is good for the environment and gives me some exercise.

Hopefully today I'll get through a couple of hours of work (I work from home on a part time basis), clean up the house a bit and get some sewing done. I need to sew a banner for the fete on the weekend and make a warm blanket for the dog to sleep on as the weather is getting cold. I have an old quilt I am going to cut up and edge for the dog. She is 15 years old and really feeling the cold this winter. The quilt will be warm for her to sleep on and provide a bit of padding which will be softer than sleeping on the hard floor. Last winter I made her a new coat which she loves so I might even get industrious and make her a new coat as well. At her age she deserves a bit of pampering.

I had better get moving or nothing will get done.