The ongoing Fluffy intrigue with the new (second hand) sheepskin bedding, has been fascinating to observe. Based on who dominates the sheepskin, Dame Plum is clearly Boss Dog. Spare a moment for the hapless Ruby, who foolishly displayed her initial misgivings and believed that the replacement sheepskin was some sort of mischievous plot against her. The other two dogs had no such issues and took to the comfort and warmth like ducks to water. Ruby slowly come around to their way of thinking.
Sleep is one of those skills I’ve been mostly good at. If you want to look after your mental health, a good nights sleep does wonders. On the other hand, it was hard to avoid using the word ‘mostly’ to describe my history of sleep. When working at the top end of town, the constant emotional load, bickering and outright Machiavellian manoeuvres required to survive in such an environment, eventually wore me down. It’s funny to realise that you can do a job, but not handle the emotional load required to do the job. After a couple of years, my sleep became affected.
Take a break, sort out my sleep issues, then move on to a new job where people didn’t know how to push me, whilst implementing hard won lessons, was the short term solution. The longer term solution was to quit working for the top end of town. Small business was the better option. The difference between the two, was that in the top end there are enough spare resources for people to muck around and cause mischief. People trying that trick in small business tend to go out of business, or experience a lot of troubles. You don’t have to wonder why war bands have been the go-to mode of organisation during dark ages – those groups just have to work, or else.
Along that work journey I met Sandra. We were young and had a rough time of it during the recession-that-we-had-to-have (as it was described at the time). Sandra’s house was unheated, and I can’t recall that there was even a heater, anywhere. And her and her house mates left the doors and windows open, all the time. Winters were cold there, but the electricity bills sure were cheap.
From a position of hindsight, and having adapted to living up in the cold mountains for well over a decade, the share house probably wasn’t all that cold. But at the time, it was. As an early birthday present, I purchased her a thick doona filled with down feathers. It was toasty warm under the doona on those cold winter nights when the windows were open to the chilly night air.
The doona followed us around over the years from house to house. Some houses were colder than others. And there was that time when upon awakening, we discovered a light layer of frost on the cover. Probably it was a bad idea keeping the window open that night, and also proves that paying more attention to the weather forecast is time well spent.
Winters may be cold, but summers can be hot. A thick doona is not appropriate for such times, even with the window open. The thing is, it’s not hot all the time during summer. Sure, some nights can be a minimum of 29’C / 84’F, but other nights can be as cold as 5’C / 41’F. Variability in climate is the norm here all year round.
The problem is, if I get too hot at night, my sleep is impacted. Alternatively, if I get too cold, it’s the same consequence. It’s no good and there’s a balance in there, somewhere. So accepting the reality of climate variability, many years ago now, we ditched the doona for layers of pure woollen blankets instead. Nights get rated by the number of blankets required to sleep comfortably. You just know a five blanket night will strike fear into softer people.
Over the past two weeks, the shed extension project has required me to push over 500 self drilling screws through sheet metal, not to mention all of the other tasks required to get the job done. It’s hard work, and at night my arms and upper body have recently felt much warmer than the rest of me does, even with the window open. That feeling of heat is your body going into some sort of repair mode. With that feeling and using blankets, you can chuck five blankets on your feet, and leave only one on your torso – and sleep deeply. Easy.
Its been such a long time since we ditched the doona in favour of pure woollen blankets. They’re a really useful technology. And best of all, you get a good nights sleep. After watching the machinations and desirability of the new sheepskin, I’m sure the fluffies would agree.
Following on from last weeks bonkers wet weather, this week the sun shone for a few days. And it almost felt warm, sort of, well, for a few hours around midday at least. We installed the corrugated steel sheets on either side of the shed extension project.
Another day was spent doing the carpentry for the front of the shed. It was a great sense of relief when the existing doors hung correctly on the new frame.
Once the doors were in place, we spent the remainder of the long work day removing the sheets from the old front of the shed, then re-installing them on the new front of the shed.
The guttering at either side of the shed roof was also extended. The sheer length of those gutters made it feel a bit like handling a live snake. But by the second gutter we had the knack of working with the material. As the sun was beginning to set, the job was completed.
The construction may be done, but crushed rock with lime needs to be added to the surface in order to level it out. Some ground water drains need to be installed, and a couple of extra water tanks and associated drains are yet to be added. Those are all jobs which can be done over the next few weeks.
The garden hasn’t been neglected, and during the week we pruned the asparagus plants back to ground level. The crowns happily over winter protected in the warmth of the soil, but the foliage dies back. And cutting them back gives us the chance to weed those beds, and salt and feed the soil.
Kiwi fruit vines produce really well here. The leaves have now completely fallen from the vines and there are hundreds of fruit to pick. We’re still not entirely certain as to when it is optimal to pick the fruit, but it’s something we’re keeping a close eye upon and testing. The fruits get used to make jam and also a very mild tasting wine.
The chilli plants in the greenhouse continue to amaze. We’re now at the point where chilli’s have replaced capsicum (known as peppers in the US) in our diet. All but one plant we grew are very mild varieties and so they give a zing, but don’t set fire to your mouth, or rear end.
The tomato vines died weeks ago, but we hung the vines upside down in the greenhouse. The roots were cleaned, and all leaves were removed. And the fruit continues to slowly ripen. It’s not natural to be enjoying freshly grown tomatoes less than a week out from the winter solstice, but it sure is good.
The fruits on the now large Babaco (a cool tolerant papaya) are yet to turn yellow which apparently they do slowly. We’re hopeful that they’ll eventually ripen.
There are many birds which call the farm home, and the family of magpies are the best of the lot. And probably the smartest.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 9am is 3’C (37’F). So far this year there has been 450.8mm (17.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 435.4mm (17.1 inches)