Settling in

Well, we are moved in. We have our beds, most of our clothes, half of the kitchen and little else in the way of furniture but we are now officially residing in Ballan. 😀 We are still lacking things like mail redirection, internet access (pre-paid wireless thingies or over our phones at the moment and I’ve blown my bandwidth allocation in 5 days L ) and we have yet to get a home phone too but hey, these things will come.

I wouldn’t say we are properly moved in yet, not by a long shot, but things are starting slowly to resume normality. Our tiles are nearly complete with 1-2 days more work to finish laying and then grout them and then we can look at bringing up the rest of our furniture. Oh to be able to sit on a couch and put my feet up, even if only for 5 minutes! We now have a completed shower which is making life a lot easier. Baths are very well and good but they do take more time and there is something wasteful about running a bath, hopping in for a quick splash and getting back out again. Baths sort of demand that you soak in them, something I have neither the time nor the inclination to do. Along with the shower screen installation we had the broken windows repaired. The kitchen now has so much more light during the day and more of the wonderful view too. Aside from that, not much else has changed except for Martin just about finished setting up the cubby house and I’ve got a few bits of the greenhouse put together. Now THAT is a fiddly job!

Today was a day of time off for me too. Martin has had a busy few weeks with Christmas parties for work and the afternoons cooped up inside a house with greatly restricted access (can’t walk on the tiles for 12 hours after they’re laid) had taken its toll. I was a cranky Mummy. 😦 I took myself off yesterday morning for some op shopping as there are 2 wonderful op shops in town and I have scored some fantastic bargains. Gumboots for Allegra and Orik, a top for Allegra, shorts and shirts and trousers for each of them, 2 shirts for me, a shirt for Martin, 3 lovely little cups for the kids (matching hot chocolates 😀 ), a few kids books and best of all, a young adults novel I have been wanting for over 20 years as it’s the sequel to a much loved story I have! 😀 STOKED! I came home much happier than I had left.

Waking up on a misty drizzly wet old morning.

Waking up on a misty drizzly wet old morning.

Today’s plans went awry again, thanks to the weather. Yesterday drizzled constantly, with barely a break all day. I noticed this evening that one of my pumpkins has put out a shoot that’s nearly 2 inches since yesterday when I had 5 dry minutes to mulch them. Nothing like rain on the veggie garden! Anyway, today there was a huge band of rain and storms that meant once again our outing to Anakie was postponed. I had planned to head up to the Trentham Farmers Market for a quick shop before we headed off but I ended up having a blissful 4 hour reprieve that included iced chocolate, cherry ripe slice (I know I shouldn’t but YUM) and lots of giggles, chatter and of course, shopping! I hate wandering a shopping centre and all that commercial shopping but given the opportunity to shop at Farmers Markets, well, I love it! I bought a lovely big cauliflower, some potatoes, asparagus, peanut butter (it’s delicious) and some organic white peaches. The best bit though was spending time with my best friend uninterrupted by little people wanting something. It’s a rare thing we get uninterrupted conversation!

This afternoon Martin went to help a friend pull apart a shed he no longer wants and has kindly gifted to us. Looking forward to getting it set up so that Trevor no longer has to cower under a tarp when it rains. Whilst he was out and the kids were playing quietly I had a think about my tomatoes. After seeing pictures of your tomato plants Fran, I decided I would try digging one up and see how the newspaper pots had rotted. They hadn’t! L Explains why my tomatoes were looking very stunted. So, off I set, digging them all up and liberating their roots. They’re all replanted and hopefully, in the compost-rich soil they will get themselves into gear. The good news is that there were a couple of flowers evident so there is hope. 🙂

Happy belated birthday Allegra. Although you had a little party on the day, it took until now to get the cake made. Mind you, 2 parties is always a good thing. :)

Happy belated birthday Allegra. Although you had a little party on the day, it took until now to get the cake made. Mind you, 2 parties is always a good thing. 🙂

I had another go at sourdough chocolate cake earlier in the week and was less than impressed so I decided to try it again, but measuring closely. THIS time it worked! I iced it with chocolate cream-cheese icing (decadence) and I have to say it’s a success. 😀 It is so wonderful being able to have my cake and eat it too with no repercussions! I’ve baked several loaves of bread too so my house is awash in the heavenly aroma of fresh sourdough. J I feel like I’m truly immersing myself into our wonderful new life now. We worked late last night felling trees and cleaning up the branches and I spent a good hour today pruning more branches, chopping up the fallen ones and piling them up. The chooks and ducks chatted to me and the Dorkings follow me along the fence line begging for scraps. We lob bits and pieces in to them and watch the mad scramble. The ducks and Dorkings are in there for young and old then pegging it off across the pen with their spoils. The Pekins just amble up looking fat, fluffy and mean and take what they want after a few vicious pecks at the current owner of the bounty who usually relinquishes it with a squawk! Our cats are still in quarantine in the laundry, although they have been allowed a few forays into the rest of the house. We’re taking it slowly with our furry boys. In revenge they have destroyed the door stops in both the bathroom and the laundry. Lol 😛 As much as I hate keeping them confined, I hate the thought of losing them so much more. They’re out on parole, meowing around my ankles and purring.

Anyway, I am beginning to really ramble. I’m exhausted (surprise surprise) and ready for bed. Hopefully soon I will have something new to report other than just commuting and moving.

Home sweet home

I received a message this morning from a friend whom I met through this blog and who is now a neighbour, which said “welcome home”. 😀 It IS welcome home too and that was something that has sat so profoundly right in my heart all day today. We are home. We truly are home. 🙂

The kids and I spent our first night here last night. Martin has slept here twice but tonight is the first night our entire family will be sleeping under our new roof. The cats, Maxxie and Minnie aren’t so impressed by their new location, but that probably has more to do with the fact that they’ve been confined to quarters since arriving. They’re in the bathroom at the moment but as soon as the chicks can be ensconced somewhere else safely, my furry boys will move into the laundry. Just for long enough to get them used to it all at least.

The chicks have transitioned well although their peeping woke me more than once last night. For such small creatures they sure can make a loud noise. Their antics, particularly when I refill their food has me giggling every time. It’s a melee! 😀

There isn’t much other animal news. The chickens have settled in well and we have had 3 of the 10 nesting boxes graced with an egg. Higgy sang her heart out today announcing her warm white deposit. I anticipate having to encourage the chicks to perch rather than hiding out in a tyre again tonight though. I’m hoping it sinks in sokn where they need to sleep although 9 not that small dorkings all jammed like sardines into a tyre is pretty funny. A friend told me how to tell the roosters from the hens too. The hens retain their brown breast feathers whereas the roosters lose the brown and get black and white speckles. Looks like we have 4 hens, possibly a 5th from 9 which works well as 3-4 hens are all we need for eggs. We’ve got our pekin bantams and we will also have the ducks later when they begin to lay too. Lots of eggs to come! And our 9 chicks appear to be a 6-3 in favour of the hens. Time will tell if I’m right but I’m keen to try putting a ring around their legs to mark them as to which to see if I’m right.

But the most exciting parts of my day today were mostly the mundane. I had a lovely time standing in the dappled shade, hanging out the washing on my new (2nd hand but new to me) clothesline and I’ve got 2 loaves of bread rising on the bench. That was a little trickier than normal, adjusting to a new bench location as well as not being able to stand on the freshly filled grout lines on the tiles. But my sourdough starter was demanding attention and I can’t go another day without my bread. I’ve fired the oven up to clean out the nasties so I can bake them soon. Fresh bread for breakfast and I’ve got orange blossom honey to go on it. Nom Nom Nom! 😀

But most excitingly of all our cooker/heater arrived. My Thermalux Gourmet Cooker is a heater with cooktop, hot water heater and oven! :oD it weighs an absolute tonne! Took 3 men to haul it in (and that was no easy task either) and then the plumbers got to hooking it all up whilst John our builder tiled, put up blinds, grouted and other stuff. I believe the cooker is ready to go! Pity it’s going to be high 20’s tomorrow. I want to build a fire! 😦 It’s all connected to the solar hot water too. So we are heating our water as we speak, nearly entirely off grid. It will work like this. Solar is first, (which is what we have running now) and will contribute, even if only a little, on cold days too. Secondly is the wood fired heater which in winter will serve many purposes. If the water is not hot enough (50*C I believe) then the gas booster will kick in. Currently we are trying to sort out gas (mains or bottle) so the fourth and final water heating option will come in handy for now – electric. It won’t kick in unless there is no sun, no wood heater and no gas so it’s unlikely to be used beyond the next little while until we get gas. And with the low temperature setting, we will use even less. We already have luke warm water thanks to a lovely warm day. 🙂 Next part to that equation will be our water tank but one step at a time. 🙂

Sadly we didn’t realise our plans to visit Fairy Park for Allegra’s party as returning the van turned into a bit of a pain but we celebrated her birthday none the less. Happy 3rd birthday my princess. Love you to bits! 🙂

So, as I lie here taking a much needed (and deserved) break, all I can hear is the fan on my oven fan as it cooks off whatever horrid chemical they coat it with, the sounds of my tireless husband bringing in boxes we hadn’t found time to move in earlier, the sound of the birds (sparrows, passing sulphur-crested cockatoos and one small black bird that sings its glorious little heart out), and the deafening sound of silence! A silence so profound we will most likely hear the chorus of the stars tonight. 🙂 My children fell deeply asleep within minutes of their heads hitting the pillow and I suspect I will too when bed time rolls around. In the mean time I had better get my backside back into gear. So much yet to do.

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Today

Today is moving day! Yippee and about time I tell you! Martin is off sourcing a truck and I am supposed to be packing and getting things ready but I’m procrastinating again. I hate packing! But, the main things we need for tonight are ready to go so it isn’t all bad. 🙂

We had a call from the plumber this morning to discuss the installation of the heater. As Martin was following up the heater, it arrived at the shop on the back of a truck! Talk about timing. Even better, it’s to be installed today! Woo hoo! 😀

We got a few bits and pieces moved up yesterday – our bed frame is set up and waiting for a mattress and the kids drawers are up as well as the deep freeze which came up Saturday as my local informal co-op had their organic lamb delivered yesterday. I am looking forward to getting into my kitchen and cooking something but sadly that won’t be for the next couple of days. I really should let John finish tiling first I reckon.

Our chooks and ducks are settling nicely into their new home, although the old pecking order has moved along with the chooks sadly. Higgy, our little black pekin bantam is a vicious little thing and has been pulling out the passing tails of anyone she can reach. Nasty little thing. 😦 Our baby chicks are doing well too. I haven’t killed any of them (to my utter relief) and they are as funny as pie to watch (is pie ever actually funny?). When I put in some oats of chicken crumbles for them they all dive on the tiny ramekin and all want to hop in and have a scratch. I mean, they are small and all but so is the food container so it’s quite a bun fight of tiny fluffies all scratching food all over the place. I’m looking forward to moving them up though as I’m tired of the light shining in our bedroom (the only place we can put them safely is right near our front door, just outside our room). It will be the laundry for the cats and bathroom for the chicks. 🙂

Well, I’d better go get some more stuff sorted before my husband arrives home… Oops… Too late. 😉

Operation Homestead: Day 1

First full day of access to our new house. Still sinking in that it really is ours and that we will be moving to the country to live the dream! I’ve dreamed of this day for 15 or more years so it’s taking a LONG time time really sink in.

I am beyond tired tonight so this is more photos that post. My arms ache, my legs are doing jelly wobbles and I am ready for bed but it’s just gone 8:30pm! Need to stay up a little longer. 😦

We arrived at 11 (ish) for a chat with another bloke to help us with our reno’s. He seems promising. 🙂 On the way we swung into Bunnings to grab me some steel capped gumboots (or wellies as my dear British husband insists on calling them). Weather has been alternating between pouring rain and pouring sunshine today and we have learned a few things. There is a LOT of water on the block and several areas where drainage needs to be addressed. The weather can change very abruptly in Ballan. It’s VERY cold!

After lunch we got enough of a break in the weather to get the crates into place. I picked up 3 apple crates for $40 each from Dellios Apples in Bacchus Marsh for growing spuds in. I got the sort of ground leveled out and got them in place and laid down the first lot of lucerne mulch ready for the soil to go in on top. The weather turned nasty a few times in between so that took the arvo. We also mopped the floors in the house, gave the kitchen a clean, set up a few bits of furniture – portacot, trestle table and chairs – and generally reveled in the feeling of it already being home.

Anyway, here’s some photos.

The final countdown.

Nothing like a post named after a classic 80’s song! As I listen to the lyrics it gets me thinking. We have only one planet. If we screw it up beyond its ability to support life what are we going to do? Venus, the moon, Mars and all the other theoretical colonisation planets and satellites are just that, theoretical only. Dreams of “maybe one day” but not even close to reality as far as I know. So, even if it isn’t the final countdown to blast off into outer space and planetary colonisation, it is the final countdown for the health of our planet. We, all of us, really need to change our thinking, focus on a sustainable lifestyle that doesn’t use up all our resources. If we use up all the oil resources today what will happen if we really do NEED it? And I mean must have it or face extinction level of need. Hmmm. I don’t think we’re verging on extinction of our species quite yet but it would be nice to know there is still some fossil fuels left in case of emergency.

Anyway, I digress. The final countdown in this instance referred to the countdown counter on the left of the page. Counting down until auction day. And we are not just into single digits either. We are into the final week! 6 sleeps! I feel like I used to feel when I was a child counting down until Christmas! And even our children are excited. Jasper keeps asking when we are moving to “Balland” and loves going in the “Balland house” as he calls it. Allegra is just as excited and talking about “Bee-And” often. And Martin and I are planning, discussing, working out and figuring in all we need to for the move and necessary repairs, renovations, additions and general logistics. You would think it was a sure thing the way we are planning.

I am ready and rearing to install my garden beds and have made several improvements to the plain 6 or 7 raised beds I had planned. I think I am now up to 10 beds and a pallet retaining wall planted with strawberries and herbs to surround it and keep out marauding children and chickens. The chicken pen has been mentally upgraded at least once too and we are knee deep in discussions of sheds, fences, paint, kitchen designs (I have never been in a position to plan an entire kitchen), wardrobes, floors and numerous other bits and bobs. It’s a good thing Ballan is an hours drive away as when we drive up and back on the weekends we have had a tonne of time to plan, discuss and work out what’s happening. Exciting times.

And in order to be ready to plant out as soon as the beds are ready and compost delivered, we planted some more seeds this morning. This time we tried a nifty variation on the milk cartons we have been using that came up in my Pinterest feed this morning. The link had referenced 2 other links which are here and here. And since I had about 10 milk and orange juice bottles waiting on the bench I figured it was a sign that we needed to sow some more seeds. This time we planted red cabbages, hyssop, more tomatoes (I FINALLY have one sprouting from the first planting too), some more radishes and some chives, the last 2 being the seeds given to Jasper for his birthday. He was really excited to see the radishes that had sprouted too. And I’m excited by the carpet of rocket seedlings which I sowed thickly as I didn’t expect much to happen with the seeds being so past their best before date (about 8 or 9 years I think). We will be rolling in rocket in a month or so I think. So excited to be seeing results in our improvised little nursery. 😀

Speaking of results, I am seeing bubbles in my sourdough starters too. I fed them both yesterday which means I made a paste of 1 1/2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of filtered water (needs to be free of chlorine) and then add 1 1/2 cups of the original starter (or whichever quantities you use but keep them equal portions) so they are happy little wild yeasts. More feeding tonight and then again tomorrow and hopefully I can bake on Wednesday or Thursday. Excited much?!

It’s been such an exciting time in the lead up to the auction, the preparations, the learning, the reading (more on that next post) and discussions with like-minded friends like Corrie-Lyn over at Homesteading on a one dollar dream but I am so ready to get out there, get moved in and get homesteading!