4 whole days!

We’ve been cursed blessed with a 4 day weekend. The first Tuesday in November is the Melbourne Cup and the Race-that-stops-a-nation stops many businesses on this first Tuesday with a public holiday. It often cripples these same businesses for the whole week too. Monday, because everyone wants a long weekend and takes it with either a holiday or a sickie (holiday day booked for us), Wednesday due to the hangovers for those that imbibed a little too much on Tuesday, Thursday due to Oaks Day AKA Ladies Day at the races (further holidays or sickies) and Friday for the same reasons as Wednesday. I’ve never been to the races I must say, although I do usually watch it on the telly. It’s just not my thing.

A public holiday is most definitely my thing though. ๐Ÿ˜€

So, with a four day weekend at our fingertips, you can imagine all we were able to achieve.

Firstly, our house is ready for its bathroom vanity, some suede paint sanding back and then it’s time for painting. ๐Ÿ˜€ Tiles will be ordered this week and hopefully will be ready for laying next week.

Pretty flowering Hawthorn

With vicious thorns

The garden though has been our domain. Yesterday we were very blessed to be able to borrow a post hole digger so my wonderful hubby dug 14 holes for me. 13 plus an oops. Today we got busy with poles and concrete. I hate the idea of using concrete but the other option, rammed earth, really isn’t practical for us in a time sense. It was one of those kinda hafta times. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ We did recycle fence posts wherever possible though so my chook pen will have a swish green entrance. We also had to decide where we were going to build our bridge over the creek to the rest of our block which is currently a tangle of towering poplar trees, vicious Hawthorns and a tonne of long grass, forget-me-knots and sticky weed. Clearing it is a task for next year, but we need to do a little planning at least. And we DO have to clear this side of the creek this year. So, in our search for the easiest place to build a bridge we got stuck into hacking back the hawthorn. Out came the chainsaw and whilst the kids amused themselves playing in the water in the wine barrel bath, we started hacking back this beautiful beautiful plant. And then it BIT us! The wretched things have inch long thorns at the base of every set of leaves. I jammed one of the thorns deep into the pad of my left hand and the tip broke off in there. Over the day it got more and more painful. Sore, inflamed and so so tender that driving was hard, let alone picking up the kids. I attacked it several times with tweezers and a needle and FINALLY managed to extract nearly 3mm of thorn that had been stuck in there. Not nice no matter how pretty they are when in bloom. Their days are numbered… I’m thinking wattle might be a pretty replacement.

Chicken run posts.

The results of getting the posts concreted in is huge though. We have 2 more to go (ran out of concrete) but we can start with the ringlock fencing wire now and I can get to digging the trenches between the poles for burying the chicken wire (fox prevention) and start enclosing the chicken run. We’re on very borrowed time now as the temporary housing for the chicks and our existing chickens will fast become crowded.

Digging holes and boys toys all in one.

I had 3 butternut pumpkin seedlings in desperate need of planting too but nowhere left to plant them. I decided upon a temporary garden bed which, since pumpkins do nothing more than put down their roots before heading off to take over the garden, will do just fine for this year. I dug out a small area, lined it with newspaper and filled it with soil and compost and planted in the butternuts. In other seedling news, my tomatoes have absolutely thrived. Some of them were VERY small when they went in on Friday but I swear they have all grown another set of leaves in the 5 days since then! :O You were so right Ingrid and I will be planting out the rest of my baby marties as soon as they show something more than just cotyledon leaves. The capsicums are looking good too, as are the corn and zucchinis I planted on Saturday. The onions planted last week seem to have been hit or miss though. Some are looking very healthy, others I can’t find. Time will tell how they go, and if you’re into moon gardening, the waning moon should help them being root plants. My watermelons are not loving me at all though sadly. 1 looks like it will not last out the week although the other 2 appear that they may just make it. Here’s hoping at least one makes it.

Other achievements involved getting the water tank for the chooks in place, picking up our 9 silver dorking 6 week old chicks yesterday (there is a little expected friction between the older girls who are locked out to free-range during the day as the little girls are locked in), jet washing off more of the side decking area, unpacking my pressure canner and some more preserving jars, chucking a load of washing in the machine (sadly the household chores don’t stop whilst we play up at Ballan), pruning (very carefully) the hawthorn back so we can access more area to mow and chainsaw, pruning the poplars to allow more access into the shady areas, finishing off a portion of the veggie garden fence and of course, time spent with the kids. Today was time for crayon graffiti on an old wardrobe door brought outside as well as heaps of help from them too (Jas moved a heap of chopped up branches for us and they both pitch in with digging). It’s been a crazy 4 days and the best news is we get to do another 2 days of it all in only 3 more sleeps. Yay. (insert enthusiasm tinged with just a little sarcasm).

A few more pictures…

Cleared to the creek. So beautiful

We can see through the trees now yay

Not yet sure what this tree/shrub is but it’s beautiful (not a blackberry I do know that at least)

Found some beautiful lichen but a photographer I am not.

Operation Homestead: Day 8 AKA Well that didn’t quite go to plan

Melbourne, in fact Victoria and probably most of the southern east coast of Australia had sensational weather last week. Sunny day after sunny day and Melbourne even achieved a top of 31 on Thursday. It’s only early spring and it’s one of the hottest early October days I can remember. It was hot enough to have a fair go at convincing climate change skeptics and hot enough to bring out the snakes. Today however? My car proudly announced in lights that it was a balmy 5 degrees Celcius. What happened to the other 26 degrees in 2 days? As today was Saturday it is needless to say we had big plans for house and garden.

We started the day off with our alarm clock aka Allegra waking us all up at 5:45am with a rousing rendition of “DADDY! DADDY! DADDY!” which was continued until said Daddy dragged his exhausted from the week at work backside out of bed to silence aforementioned alarm clock. As per usual, said alarm clock refused to be silenced and cheerfully announced “It’s sunny Daddy. Time to get up.” Orik, to my surprise, slept through this so I had the wonder of another 45 minutes of sleep snuggled up in ed with my littlest man. Daddy had the 2 older ones up. This has to be the first time EVER I have eagerly anticipated the start of daylight savings.ย After pancakes for breakfast we loaded everything needed into the car and headed off. Only 18 minutes later than planned. Nearly a miracle. ๐Ÿ˜€

First stop, Altona for several boxes of newspapers that I was given via a freecycle advert. Then on to Bacchus Marsh to get compost. Puzzlingly, our compost man was nowhere to be seen so after a few minutes looking around for him we shrugged the shoulders and hit the road again for Ballan.ย By this stage we are running about 45 minutes late. Go figure.

Upon arrival in Ballan we unload trailer, children, food supplies and tools and then Orik and I headed off to pick up a friend and head off to the Ballarat Community Gardens Local Produce Swap. As luck would have it, 2 baby boys needed feeding and by the time we hit the road again we were close to 90 minutes late. So, sadly we arrived just as people were leaving and going home. Still, I still managed to swap egg cartons, sourdough starter, strawberry jam and 2 different lots of pumpkin seeds and I came home with 2 different lots of marmalade, some fresh lettuce, preserved lemons, a dozen eggs,a pot of parsley and 4 pyrethrum plants. Best of all I made a new friend who is into breeding and raising Silver grey Dorking chickens, the same breed as our now 2-3 day old chicks. Yay! ๐Ÿ˜€

When I got back to the house I found my poor long suffering husband had been dealing with 2 preschoolers who were both having meltdowns. Jasper was wandering around in Daddy’s jumper but refused to wear his own jacket and Allegra was also refusing her jacket. It was also raining so it was preventing Martin from getting the nearly foot high grass mowed or the trampoline set up. Lunch seemed to settle the troops for about 30 minutes but sadly we ended up with 3 melting down about an hour later so called it a day.

Here’s hoping for a productive and warmer day tomorrow.