-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

email minutiae: the chook debarcle

Mum's email talking about the visit on my birthday - 10th April 2004

Hello Lyn and Dave

Just filling you in on the latest news re Amherst, which we visited yesterday = Friday9th. Your birthday Lyn - hope you had a nice time.

We left here about 1.20pm - Dad was late as he had to get some sleep after finishing night shift at 7.30am. Trailer was loaded with windows and things like BBQ - and we went via my new workplace out by airport. All that meant we did not arrive until about 5.30, 6pm. First thing we saw was chooks and ducks in the paddock where horses used to be. Dad stopped there and went to talk to the lady - I walked up the hill. The result was, she refused to consider putting them in shed before they wandered into it of their own free will when dark (only 30 minutes away) and said if the dogs got onto her land she would shoot them. Further said if the other neighbour (seems from that they do not own the long paddock out the back of their place; and it has never had anything on it when we see it) sees any dog on his land he shoots it on sight. They just have to be there it seems, not actually doing anything. We kept dogs tied on leads after that and will not take them again.

We spied out the land and have put a few piles of stone in the corners of the room, maybe. Up almost at top of west ridge. Big stones and rocks there. Good for gravity feed for water for house. Then unloaded trailer in a hurry as a fire several paddocks away got a big flare up and was coming towards us fast. We found the front door of house open, with a brick in front of it to keep it that way - and carpet and bricks arranged in one room inside which I am sure was not like that when we were last there - and I wedged door shut when we left that time. Dad has tied it shut now but I think someone has been in there maybe camping... And I think maybe another weatherboard or two has been removed. I cannot be sure but I think so.

The fire was about out as we left - no need for worry as it turned out. We had seen it as we went past on the way along Lillicur Rd - only a few men there, but water tanker at the ready - burning around the fences. We think now they let it rip in the centre of paddock deliberately and it had nowhere to go then so burnt out. It was so dark when we left we had problems finding the right way to drive - we knew the direction but could not see the faint marks we always drive along and ended up in some slightly longer grass and heading for the dam! The headlights even on high beam were useless for finding the way. We were glad to leave. Consider getting that drive defined by some white stones maybe.

It was nice to see the lights of the few houses in Amherst as we went by. (About 5 - 8 total.) And then Talbot - for the first time we went through the down town area and I really thought Great Great Gran could easily have walked out of any of the shops there. None operating, and only one, a modern milkbar not in main street, open. Pub had a sign saying meals $5 but we did not go in. Next Sunday I will have time to really explore it. But it is a lovely place. If ever you ended up living at Amherst, then I might possibly consider living in Talbot or Clunes if here gets too expensive. I can't see the housing in Talbot would be hugely expensive - yet, anyway. Clunes is bigger but same style. I think it even has a bus to Ballarat!!! And a nursing home. A thriving metropolis, no less.

On the way in along Lillicur Rd, after passing the burn off, we saw on one of the paddocks three kangaroos. Must have been big ones to be so easily seen from the road when they were at the back of the blocks. The way they bounced made them obviously not a cow, amongst which they were hopping. There were fresh roo or wallaby droppings on the track I walked up from your dam to house, too.

Dad and I are concerned about people getting in to your place and stealing things if not damaging it more or setting fire to it. He is wondering about spending a few days there, demolishing the back lean to and using the boards from it to repair the house itself - and glazing windows, and then putting something over them to stop breakage of glass. And sealing up one room, locking it.. In other words, making it as secure as we can. But we know you do not like the boarded up look. You will need to talk to Dad on that.

Peter has got about 300 bricks free for you - that will do for the cabin room which will have an open air cook place = BBQ beside it. Dad is saying a 12ft square room with about 6 ft veranda out front and about 8 ft on south side at the front end of which will be "stove " = BBQ woodfired, and at the back of which will be the tanks and a bit further up the dunny or whatever. Fire can't be at back as planned as trees in the way. Also want the place in trees not open and not sticking out like a sore thumb from your place. So it can be seen, your place from this site, but this place will not be obvious. Dad said if he used palings on the outside, treated and stained that dark colour it should blend in with the trees and used the local stones as the visible brick bits of the open air kitchen then it would be OK. You will need to talk to him though as he was not definite.

my reply - 13th April 2004

Thanks for taking all that stuff up to Amherst. Dave has left a message for the planning guy, but hasn't managed to speak to him again yet. So, tell Dad not to do any building until we have spoken to the planning guy to confirm it's OK - unless he's prepared to take the chance that we may need to change things. I figure it will be OK but it's important we do things by the book, this early on anyway. At least Dad's been able to clear out some things from his house anyway.

Please thank Pete for the bricks.

I'm sorry to hear about the dogs. I hope you didn't get too angry at the neighbour; perhaps they have had a bad experience with dogs previously? I wouldn't be surprised if there are wild dogs that live in the State Forest. It would be very distressing if you had chickens and ducks as pets (which it seems like she does) to have them attacked by dogs. Also, I can understand why she would be irritated by her pets being asked to suffer and miss out on some of their time outside (not to mention the added hassle for her of having to round them up) just so some "stranger" dogs could go running off a lead.

I don't suppose you got the name / address of the neighbours yet? We would like to write them a letter and send it from here , just to introduce ourselves and say hello, to start things off on the right foot. The real estate agent didn't know and we couldn't find any listings in the phone book. We're going to ask the planning guy if he can help, at least in terms of addresses, but I'm not even sure if they have postal deliveries to the houses out there or whether everything is PO Box in the town. Anyway, if you could ask them when you go up next week, that would be nice.

Dave says that threatening to shoot dogs that are treespassing is fairly common practice in the country in his experience, in the sense that farmers don't like to have their animals terrorised and lambs/etc murdered by runaway dogs so they don't take any chances. In practice however I'd imagine they would shoot first to attempt to scare off the dog rather than at it to kill, unless of course the dog was hurting one of their animals. Why can't the dogs be tied up to a big central post while they're up there and not being walked? They could be on long long tethers, they'd still have a good time and it's not like there's any trees etc for them to get tangled up in.

If someone is camping in the house then I figure there's not much we can do to prevent it. I doubt they would be taking the weatherboards off if they were camping there; it defeats the purpose. It could always be that the previous owners came back to clear out some of the things they had left there, and had wedged the door open to make it easier while carrying things out. Was the old futon still there? That was in the pictures you sent me; I thought it was odd they left it. Even if it is people camping, the harder we make it for them to get in, the more likely they are to do damage. If they're not hurting anything then I don't mind. Perhaps next time if you think someone has been there you can leave a note... not saying that they can't use it but just asking them to look after it? We will talk to Dad. I figure, the house has survived for the past 20 years as it is; so it's not likely to be torched in the next 10 years unless we do something to antagonise the people who used to visit it. I'd prefer they didn't come but as I can't afford a full time security guard, or to pay for the insurance on an unoccupied property, perhaps it's better just to attempt to make it watertight, but not to lock the door. If someone is visiting it for camping, I doubt they'd smash the glazing if they were able to open a window? We will try and talk to Dad in the next few days anyway.

No comments: