On a dreary spring day, with rain sweeping across the mountain range, Sandra and I were in the shed looking at the partially disassembled chainsaw. I may have remarked that the clutch we’d ordered, didn’t look anything like what was facing us in the machine. The videos on the interweb made the job look super easy, except with a gruntier and biggerer chainsaw there were a whole lot more components. Who knew? A few ungentlemanly words may have escaped my mouth. We downed tools and went off to lunch.
With a tasty Bánh mì and coffee up my guts, the world suddenly seemed clearer and nicer somehow. Food is a wonderful cure-all, and just the thing when you’re faced with a super-horrid machine problem. So we went back and had a second look. We’d been almost at the giving up stage and sending the thing off for repair, when inspiration struck. Even more components were removed from the chainsaw, and there it was, the clutch was hidden away. The original part was stuffed. That’s the technical term for not working properly.
The new clutch fitted straight in, then we put everything back together again. Fortunately there were no left over parts. Always something of a worry. And bam, the machine fired up first time, and even better, it now worked properly. Three issues with the saw that were fixed that day. A happy dance ensued!
The farm machine repair boss died almost a year ago today. He was a good bloke, and we had many a good chat over the past fourteen years. He sold us quite a bit of machinery over that time too. And now he’s gone, we repair most of the machines ourselves. Life is kind of like that sometimes.
He’s particularly associated in my mind with the scary old second hand wood chipper he sold me. Two years ago, I’d been thinking about getting a chipper. The farm machine bloke sold some decent brand new machines. I asked him about them, and instead he shows me this crusty old 8hp unit and said it’s better than the new machines. Then he trusts me enough to send me off with the thing to use for a week or two before making a decision on the purchase. Turns out, the scary old machine is a little ripper. He was right, and nowadays without his guidance, we have to learn all this stuff for ourselves. However, it’s amazing what you can learn if you put your mind to it and just give things a go.
It’s been something of a week of anniversaries. We’ve been living in this house for almost thirteen years to the day. As someone who grew up in a less than optimal home situation, living in the same place for thirteen years is quite the achievement. Stability is good, yeah.
But far out, we’ve had to learn some things over the years, and not just on the farm. With the last house in the inner suburbs of the big smoke, in order to get the permit to do the work, the neighbour insisted on us using brick. I’d never used bricks in construction before, but then why not, the builder would sort it all out.
Except it turned out that site access was so bad that nobody wanted to touch the job, at any price. And then the neighbour sold their house, and the permit meant we were committed to brick. Oh well, we’d just have to give it a go ourselves. The five foot deep and very long trench for the concrete foundations had to be dug by hand. By that stage realisation dawned on me as to why nobody wanted to touch the job. Anywhoo, the trench got dug and backfilled with concrete. Lot’s of concrete, all which had to be moved by hand – those site access issues and stuff again. Tell ya what though, that house isn’t going anywhere – ever.
Century old recycled red bricks look great, but every single one of them is ever so slightly different. They all require a bit more care and attention than simply plonking in brand new bricks. And whilst they were solid, they showed their age, so you’d have to examine each of them and pick the best facing side, which faced the new neighbours kitchen and living room windows. I reckon the finished brick wall looked awesome, however the new neighbour absolutely hated my guts because I was totally invading their privacy. But having to do everything by hand, all I could lay was a couple of hundred bricks a day. And there were thousands of these things to lay. That wall took about a month to complete, and every day the neighbour glared at me. Fortunately for me, looks can’t kill, or I wouldn’t be here today!
Getting the permit for this house on the farm was no easy process either. I had to run the gauntlet with the permit application process every step of the way. This time around, we probably could have got a builder to construct the house, we just couldn’t afford it. The bushfire building regulations introducing during the permit application process were both unexpected and eye wateringly expensive. And nobody really knows whether or not the bushfire requirements will be effective when put to the ultimate test. To this day there are articles in the newspaper recounting the economic horror people experience when faced with those bushfire building regulations. It’s not just horror movies that can be scary.
To some folks, all that may sound like hardship. In reality, they’re all just things to be tried. Life is pretty comfortable in the big city, unless maybe your neighbour is inadvertently invading your privacy for a month. Comfort however, is not what I seek, and now I couldn’t see myself living anywhere else.
Yet again, it was a real mixed bag of weather this week. Earlier in the week was sunny and cool, whilst the latter half was wet and cool. Fortunately it didn’t rain as much as last week, but all the same, it is very damp about the property.
Usually at this time of year, having a burn off is a risky proposition. However, with it currently being so damp about the property, the chance of a fire getting away from us was quite low. In other words, nature was telling us to clean up the property by giving us the right conditions to do so. We collected a huge amount of fallen forest materials and burned them off. Trees do burn during a bushfire, but the aged and dry materials on the ground is what drives the intensity of a bushfire.
During the clean up work, we recovered a lot of rocks. Those rocks generally stick out of the ground and are a mow hazard. Steel blades hitting a rock can cause sparks which in drier conditions can ignite a fire very quickly. Best if the rocks are removed, and we need lots of rocks for the various projects around the farm.
There are now piles of rocks all about the area waiting to be relocated. Where they get used, depends on the size of the rock. And there are still plenty more rocks in the ground in that area, although all the easy to extract rocks have been removed. The ones left will need to be drilled and split, but that’s work for another week.
A number of seedlings were planted out, and even with the cooler conditions this week, they’ve grown. We’re trialling a variety of radish ‘Pink Lady Slipper’ and it’s growing very fast, as is the zucchini. Both have almost doubled in size this week. The bulk of the radishes are grown in a garden row on the terraces, but we keep one or two near to the kitchen in a raised bed so as to observe the plant.
The previous three growing seasons yielded almost no apricots. This year, so far, has been kinder weather wise, and it may be a bumper crop.
We ran a trial test of Alpine strawberries, and despite them being seeder, they outperform the more usually expected strawberry varieties. The plants have even begun to produce some tiny new self seeded plants.
The Meyer Lemon is producing a substantial quantity of fruit. It seems hard to believe that it wasn’t all that long ago that the tree had been succumbing to a disease. You wouldn’t know it now, although the recovery has required a lot of care and attention on my part.
Whilst we were working on repairs to the chainsaw, Sandra happened to notice that there was a very large grey kangaroo in the orchard. He’s a big fella. We left him alone. Usually Kangaroos live in mobs, but this one may have been ousted by a younger bull.
I don’t mind the Kangaroos because they’ll happily consume the grass, and there’s plenty of it for them. Their cousins, the slightly smaller Wallabies on the other hand are foragers, and vandals. They’re tolerated. The Wallabies have been again ripping fronds off the new Tree Fern we planted during winter in the drainage basin. I’m not entirely sure how much damage the Tree Fern can cope with, so we chucked a couple of tree cages around the base of the fern. Hopefully the cages keep the wallabies at a bit of a distance from the developing fronds. We’ll see.
Onto the flowers:
The temperature outside now at about 8am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 743.2mm (29.3 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 731.0mm (28.8 inches)