Sunday, 28 July 2013

Babetto Finito

As I sit, eating a lovely breakfast of homemade muesli (new batch minus the overkill of fennel!), homemade yogurt, homemade apple butter and slices of banana (yum eh!), I am looking out the window at the slight drizzle of rain in the still air, grateful that we escaped the wrath of the big storms over the last few days.  The kangaroos are much happier now that the wind has dropped, they don't like wind.  Here is little Dyna and her mother Lucy.  Lucy is so named as she has the most magnificent set of eyelashes, akin to Lucille Ball.  And Dyna is thus named because she eats at a vast rate of knots, which reminds me of, well, me! :-)
I wish to announce, after picking up my crochet hook back in 2009, that my Babette blanket is finished - ta-da!  After a trillion colour changes in the 160 odd squares, weaving in the many many loose ends, crocheting all the squares together, and hating the blanket most of the time during construction, I am so relieved that it is finally done. 
It measures about a metre square, the perfect size for a little leg blankie whilst snuggled up watching tv or reading.  It is very warm as it is made entirely from merino wool.  I never would have added a bright red border to it, but since we've got our red Jason rocking chairs, it seemed appropriate.  I look at it now and wish I had made a few different colour choices (and one day I will learn that I don't have to use EVERY single colour I own in the one piece!), but I am grateful that it is finally finished and am enjoying using it.  We had the pleasure of the company of dear daughter Michelle this week, and she announced it a very nice blanket and great for use whilst reading.
Speaking of Michelle, while she was staying, she used her hair straightener on me.  Those who know me are well aware that I own an unruly mop of fluffy, curly hair, and as I have never seen myself with straight hair I was curious.  I was shocked that a) it actually went straight, and b) how different it made me look.  I became somewhat narcassistic, staring at myself in the mirror whenever I got the opportunity!  The second photo I took this morning, after washing my hair, glad to see it has returned to normal.  My curls irritate me for the most part, but I have to say, for some strange reason, that I was pleased to have them back.  Mum, that second photo is for you, just so you know the curls are back.  xx
Work on Chateau Poulet came to a standstill whilst we had a visitor, but this is an updated photo.  The external walls are all but finished and Steve has started on the roof timbers.  Isn't it the cutest thing you've ever seen!
Our winter vegies are growing well once again.  This is the brassica bed, we've eaten heaps of broccoli and broccolini, it's been delicious.  The cabbages are pretty much ready to cut, this variety is Sugarloaf cabbage, they are tightly formed with a pointy top, and they are yummy!  
The broccolini is pretty much finished, moving into flowering now.  The bees absolutely love it!
The sugar snap peas are now in abundance, one of my favourite things to eat, straight off the plant.  Steve calls me The Giant Rabbit :-)  This year Steve planted a row of turnips and parsnips at the base of the pea plants.  They seem to be growing well albeit a little slow, so it will be interesting to see the result.
We have been harvesting many kilos of potatoes, don't you just love a potato straight out of the ground, delicious!   Potatoes are the only thing we are growing outside the well fenced vegetable garden, as nothing seems to bother them.  I guess having poisonous leaves is an advantage in that regard!  But look at this, can you see all those holes in between the two rows of potato plants that have died back, awaiting harvest?  Bloody rabbits!  At the moment rabbits are digging holes like crazy things, all over the place.  And whilst they have started digging in the potato beds, oddly they are not eating the potatoes.  There are a few potatoes actually sitting on the surface that we have left there due to damage, and they don't touch them.  So I don't know what they are digging for, maybe they eat the roots?
I think I can safely announce that our lime tree has settled in, is happy, and is growing well.  We put 6 citrus in and then had all sorts of trouble with rabbits eating the bark at the base of the trees, and stripping the lower leaves.  After hastily adding a ring of chook wire around each plant, we have watched to see if they will survive.  The lime looks good, the mandarin looks okay although seems to have some leaf curl, the navel orange looks okay although half of it died off, and the eureka lemon is touch and go, growing leaves then dropping them again.
This sad specimen is the valencia orange, I think it is stuffed.  And the meyer lemon is definitely stuffed, just 4 little stick branches.  Regardless, we'll leave them in until the weather warms up a bit and see if miracles occur, otherwise out they will come and we'll buy replacements.  You live and learn!
 I love our north-west facing sky view, it is always so interesting.  I just loved this, an incoming rain storm with the sun defiantly blasting its rays through the gaps in the clouds, just beautiful.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Chateau Poulet Progresses

As the chill of winter sets in, we decided to put a settee undercover by the front door and it is rather nice to take advantage of the occasional sunny late afternoon, sitting in a sun drenched stupor, surveying the world.
I have a collection of pot plants near the front door, in lieu of the house garden that we have yet to start and I have thoroughly enjoyed the camellia flowers that have burst forth into pink glory over the last couple of weeks.  I have two camellia plants and they are very special.  They were a farewell gift from a couple of dear patients from the surgery I worked at in Perth, and the elderly gentleman is a retired horticulturalist and he actually bred these two camellias himself, naming this one after his wife.  Lovely eh.
The other scene from the sun drenched settee is of course our visiting roos, they look just like a flock of grazing sheep in this photo I think.  We have about ten regulars and have counted up to 19 at times.
They like to come in and sunbathe on the west side of our driveway in the mornings, lying around for hours having a lovely time.
In the meantime, work continues on Chateau Poulet.  Here is Steve levelling the sand ready for the concrete floor.
What a job that was!  We needed about 250kg of concrete so we mixed it by hand on the ground in 5 separate piles, churning over the mix of sand, cement, gravel and water with our rubber gloved hands, like mixing a giant cake mix.  With hindsight, rubber gloves was a stupid idea of mine as the finger tips were all shredded to bits by the rough mix so we had concreted fingers that went all rough and horrible.  No matter, all good now.  Anyway, da-dum, here we have one spiffy, broom finish, 50mm concrete floor. 
Whilst it rained, Steve busied himself in the shed making a couple of nest boxes.  He copied a plan from off the Internet, which suggested having a sloping roof on it so the chooks don't sit on the top and poo everywhere, fair enough.  The lip along the front is only about 8 cm high, which, when straw has been added inside, may not be high enough, but that is easy enough to add another lip of wood to make it higher.  Hard to know what chooks like, it will be a case of wait and see.
 Here is the man himself, busy adding the hardie board for the outside walls.  It's looking pretty good eh!  They even have a window!  Our neighbour gave it to us, she was cleaning out her shed.  It's an old four paned wooden window, but the two end panes are broken.  We've decided to have glass only in the two middle frames for light, and Steve will attach mesh to the top and bottom gaps then hinge on a couple of wooden shutters, so we can open or close them as the weather suggests.  There is even a question about whether to have a curtain inside ha ha ha. 
 Isn't it the most gorgeous little chook house!
 In the background you can see the Management Committee, hard at work surveying the scene.
The wildlife around here has taken a keen interest in proceedings, here you can see Steve busy building, being watched by two kookaburras on the highest branch, two galahs two branches down, and numerous sleepy kangaroos in the background on the right.
On a final note, we had another weird moon the other night, I call it the Cheshire Cat moon.  Isn't the crescent shape normally at the side?  We thought it strange to see the crescent at the bottom.  Anyway, it was very beautiful.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Of Frameworks and Pie Wedges

See this happy, smiling face?  This is the face of a hardworking lad who has been squirreled away in his shed for the last few weeks, prefabricating the framework of the wall of the Chook Mansion Extraordinaire.  The prefab is done and we are just about to start carrying the frames down to the site.
Slowly the frames are put into place, with lengths of wood jammed into the ground and clamped to the frames to stop them falling over, they are heavy!  The chook yard is positioned downhill of the vegie patch, with one shared fence.  Eventually, downhill from the chooks will be the orchard, all nearby so we can plonk the chooks into areas to free range, when we want them to.  They have a very spacious yard though, about 8 metres by 4 metres, and the house is in one corner of the yard, about 2.4 metres by 2 metres.
Much measuring, right angle checking and eyeballing of lines ensued.  Beyond the house frame is the chook yard fence, made from sturdy small gauge aviary wire to (finger crossed) keep out foxes, snakes, rats and mice.  We will be digging in a depth of either leftover colorbond or wire underground around the perimeter to stop any enterprising fox from tunnelling in.

The four corner posts have been cemented in and today we popped into Bunnings and bought bags of cement for the Chook Mansion Extraordinaire floor.  The weather has become sodden so that will have to wait.  The building inspectors are seen in this photo examining the progress, they are very nosy!

This photo is taken from just out from our front door and gives an idea of where the chook abode is situated.  From the house they will be behind my fenced garden so we will be able to see glimpses of them and hear the odd cluck, but hopefully they will be far enough away that the chook aroma will not bother us.  So, in the photo on the other side of the driveway is, native garden in front, vegies behind that and to the left, and chook yard behind the natives, to the right.


Meanwhile, inside the sewing room, I've been making an Amish Puzzle Ball.  Not a puzzle to deconstruct or anything, just an interesting shape with lots of handholds for a baby.  First step is the cutting out of half circles and elipses in bright, interesting fabric.
Then the elipses are pinned then stitched to the half circles, then those are stuffed, to make little fat pie slice shapes.
Then the little fat pie slices are pinned together to make up the shape of the puzzle ball.  Then, with thick embroidery thread, the ends of the pie slices are sewn together.

 Until finally you end up with an Amish Puzzle Ball!

And the reason for making this was as a gift for a little baby girl who is due to come into the world in September.  Her lovely parents Jamie and Josh came for a visit recently.  Jamie used to work with Steve.  We had a terrific day.  Can't wait to see Olivia's first baby photo!

To finish up, a shot of the almost night sky with the tiniest sliver of moon alongside a big, bright ?planet.... I should be good and go and look up which one it is, to sound incredibly wise, however I can't be stuffed.  :-)