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

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ebay wins: lining boards; stained glass

So it's been a little bit of an expensive week on Ebay... but worth it I think.

First up I have bought a giant pile of wood. Old timber tongue & grooved lining boards to be precise. They're in various sizes but basically there are LOTS of them.


I'm hoping they'll be useful for lining the inside of the verandah roof on the old house. Also could be useful for going on the wall, up to the dado rail (or whatever that thing that goes round at waistheight is called).


Here's the description:

This large pile of original timber lining boards are now excess to my needs...So if you have a place that requires a dado panel up the wall or if you want to add or repair walls then here is a supply you cant go past..it's going cheap..believe me it wasn't cheap when I bought it...try getting a quote from the demo yards...knock your socks off

this pile that I have up for sale is dry and of varrious lengths..there is approx:

280 lengths @ 1.2 m and 150 wide
380 @ 1.3 m length and 100 mil wide
50 @ 2.6 m length and 110 mil wide
90 @ 2.5 m length
360 @ 1.8 m lengths and 150 wide
20 @ 5 m length and 150 wide
60 @ 2.5 m lengths and 95 wide...
and thats min amounts there were a couple piles I didn't even get to..a few more hundred meters are included...

NOW...they are used...and I have them outside..so there is going to be wastage I found that the ends had to be trimmed off..and usually the top row I put to the burn pile but under that was pretty good as far as second hand timber goes..They have paint on them and I just scrapped them before nailing into position... Just keep in mind these are old boards..used(no nails) ..they are not perfect (far from it..to be totally honest ,so you have to expect wastage..some splits ,breaks..but if you are like me and want the look as real as possible...then here is a pile of material to get you started on your next project.

We also got hold of some lovely stained glass panels going for a song, which are going to be SO fantastic in the doors of the crockery cupboard (well, that's the plan for the moment anyway). We've got 2 of each of the following:

glass 51.5 cm X 25 cm two glass 52 cm X 27 cm two glass 68 cm X 25-5 cm two

glass 82-5 cm X 33 cm two glass 93 cm X 29 cm two

They are sized, in order:
51.5cm x 25 cm
52cm x 27 cm
68cm x 25.5cm
82.5cm x 33cm
93cm x 29cm

We also got a panel which has handpainted kangaroos on it! It looks really old, awaiting close-up photos to see how good a painting it is, but for the price we paid it was worth the gamble. It's sized 95cm x 32cm.

glass 95 cm X 32 cm kangaroo

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ebay wins: rotary pantry, fender, iron lace

First up a little something for the kitchen - a kind of giant lazy susan with drawers. It was a bit of a splurge but Dave especially fell in love with it so we decided what the heck. It'll need a lot of work but should come up really well when painted.

1920's rotary pantry

From the Ebay description:
"Made by metters sydney and newcastle, a rotary pantry as advertised in the 1920's anthony horden catalogue. Quite rusty but mainly surface rust the galvanised coating remains on much of it. No holes that i can see. The drawers are all semi circular and pivot from bolts on the main body of the pantry. 63 cm or 2 feet in diameter 80 cm tall or 31.5 inches has most or its original porcelain knobs."

See the powerhouse museum collection for a similar one, made out of an old drum!

Next, a fender that reminded me of my long ago summer in Paris.

fire surround

From the Ebay description:
"Beautifully made from metal (maybe brass ? not sure due to condition), as you can see from the pictures it needs a little TLC, but there is no major damage. I am guessing it was made in the early 20th century and takes its influnce from the Eiffel Tower c1889. Stunning Art Deco detail that will look fantastic when cleaned up. These fire surrounds are becoming very rare and modern repo's are just not the same. It measures 51 inches across and 14 inches deep."

Finally, some iron lacework that will probably end up on the front verandah for the new house, in the bit that runs between the kitchen and lounge doors.


From the Ebay description:

"There are 23 pieces of wrought iron balustrading which roughly covers 2-3 bays, there are also decorative pieces for the face of support beams .Primer has been applied to the metalwork which is in good condition, very small pieces are missing from a few sections but l dont believe this to be of great significance. The straight sections measure in total 17 feet. This is combined of course with the length of the corner sections. There are 5 major corner pieces (17x24 in) and 4 smaller corner sections (17x12 in)"

Monday, May 14, 2007

water tanks

We're toying with the idea of getting more water tanks installed sooner rather than later. But first, there's some decisions to make.

The first question is how much capacity we need.

We know we need about 5000 gallons dedicated just for firefighting.

Dave was then thinking we could get away with having an additional 12000 gallons for household use (bearing in mind that almost everything that goes on the garden will be recycled). But a lady I talked to in Rushworth said she got through 2000 gallons in a fortnight for her household of 3 people, which makes me fear 12000 might be cutting it fine.

I'd far rather err on the side of having more rather than less capacity, not least since if we ever have to resort to trucking in water it'd be better if we had more space on-site to store it. But at the same time, water tanks are expensive so don't want to be stupid about it.

We asked Eric what he thought:

Back when we lived in the bush, we had two, 20,000 ltr (5,000 gallon) tanks. All garden irrigation was via the dam water. Dam water also supplied the toilet and the laundry (cold only.) Our rainfall was somewhere in the region of 700-800 mm per. We never actually emptied one tank all the way. I suppose that a single 20,000 ltr tank may have worked, but I wouldn't have wanted to cut it that fine. I'm wondering if the 2000 gallons (8000 ltrs) in a fortnight included gardening. My feeling would be that 2 x 20,000 ltr tanks should be sufficient. Add a third if you want extra security.

Check how much water is required by the CFA. In most areas that I have dealt with, they required 10,000 ltrs. Generally, that can either by a "static" water supply (ie a stand alone tank that just sits there full of water waiting for a fire.) It can also be part of your domestic water tank. Do this by fitting a CFA valve at the bottom of the tank, and the outlet for house use part way up the tank. This means that there would always be a certain amount of water in the tank even if the house runs low. In any case, I would fit a CFA valve to all tanks. It doesn't cost much extra, and if the house catches on fire, most of us would like the CFA to use any water that is available.

Based on this, I'm thinking we'll plan on getting big tanks that can store 40,000 litres = equivalent to two 5000 gallon tanks to begin, but build in space so we can easily add a third. We'll also still have the little baby tanks that can be used to collect and hold water from various sheds and so forth, but I reckon you can probably never have enough water tanks when you live in a dry area. We'll also take the advice about having CFA valves on tanks at a level higher up than the house water, rather than a separate dedicated tank. That way they'll be able to use all the water we have rather than it be restricted to just one tank.

The second question is what colour/style of tank to use.

We've decided to put the tanks up the top, above the house and to go with above-ground tanks rather than under-ground as they seem to be a lot cheaper.

We started off thinking we'd mix them in a variety in different sizes and heritage colours to make it look almost sculptural, but Eric has now changed our minds:

"I use light colours like beige (I know that the work has negative connotations.) Light colours will reflect heat, keeping water cooler. Also, light colours disappear into the background a bit more. I would never use a green tank, especially dark green. They stand out like dogs ..... Metal tanks look the most "authentic." The plain galv metal tanks really suit the australian landscape. The ones used for houses have a PVC lining on the inside. It is a food grade plastic, but some people are concerned about he PVC"

He also gave us links to two suppliers:

Enviro-friendly tanks: These plastic tanks were recommended by a building biologist that I am working with for delivering water with fewer chemical contaminants than other options.

Or for metal tanks, Blue Scope Steel's aquaplate tanks.

My preference is for the latter, in the shade of 'pale eucalypt' steel.

There's a supplier in Ballarat which is probably our closest option:
BlueScope Water - Western Region, BALLARAT, VIC, 3350
ph: 0412 781 095 fax: 03 9830 4897

Saturday, May 05, 2007

admin note

Those with eagle eyes might notice that I've made some changes to the sidebar. I'm experimenting with using Google's Adsense thingy.

I haven't decided yet if I'll leave it on or not. Hopefully it's not too obtrusive, and who knows might earn a little to offset the web hosting costs.

It's also quite amusing so far to see the 'contextual' placements in action. For example, there was a post ages ago I wrote about Dave's new tonka toy - ie: about him deciding to get a (real life) tractor. But all the ads when I just looked now were for cat toys and dolls! Not quite the same thing, but hey... :-)

Ads for places in Amherst, US, seem to come up a lot too. I wish there was a way I could tell it they're a bit confused geographically... but hey. It'll be fun to watch as the targeting gets better, as I'm sure it will.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

plant ideas from Rushworth

While back in Australia I visited a friend who lives in Rushworth, about 2 hours drive further North from Amherst. She's restoring an old farmstead which has a lovely established garden with some really interesting plants. Here are a few that I was interested in for the Amherst garden:

First, this amazing lily... or at least I think it's a lily judging from the shape of the leaves and dead petals, but I can't tell for sure. Sam didn't know what it was either... if anyone recognises it, can you please leave a comment?
amazing lily pods

Another is this tree with great purple bell-shaped flowers. Again, we didn't know what it was precisely... thought at first a lilac but apparently the leaves aren't 'furry' which means it isn't that. Please leave a comment if you can suggest what it might be.
purple flower tree

Finally, a peppercorn tree. This would be a lovely shade tree for the house garden plus the peppercorns would come in very handy in the kitchen too. :-)
peppercorn tree

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

painting has begun

Dad has started painting the old house.

There was a little mix-up in that we'd thought Dad was going to be putting undercoat on - and thus we still had time to tweak the final choice of colour - but it turned out that for this kind of paint, you use the 1st coat of the paint itself as the undercoat.

Anyway, it's turned out OK in the end. Dad got the paint mixed to match the colour we came up with while in Savannah. It looks good in situ, so I think that's what we'll stick with.

house started being painted

closer view of painting

For the moment, Dad has just been painting EVERYTHING in this deep blue. Ultimately of course we'll have the frieze patterns picked out in contrast colours - much lighter - but he assures us he'll easily be able to paint over them later, and that the easiest thing for now is just to get a first coat of paint on all over to protect it.

Interestingly, I saw another house of similar vintage to ours while in Rushworth. They too have gone for a deep blue albeit a bit more grey/purpley, so it's not that unusual.

blue house in rushworth

designing the orchard fence

The poor fruit trees need better protection. No sooner do they send shoots up than they get nibbled off by a passing sheep or kangaroo. The wire fencing doesn't seem to have worked as well for them as the gum trees, so they're surviving - but barely.

Dad reckons, and Dave agrees, that the only thing to do is put in a proper fence.

But I've been hesitant to do so, because I was worried it would spoil the feeling of open-ness and views through to the dam.

There's no alternative however, so after much deliberation we've come up with an idea.

The 'functional' goal is to keep the sheep and roos out, but make it possible still for smaller animals, like rabbits, to get inside and eat the grass to save us mowing. The 'design' goal is to make it look nice, perhaps even sculptural, not like a traditional fence and with minimal impact on the views.

Depending on price, we're hoping to use the kind of wire that has square holes, about 15cm x 15cm. It's strong enough to repel sheep, we can use tent pegs to fasten to the ground between pillars, and viewed from a distance you'd hopefully not notice it.

The question however, is what kind of posts to use to hold the wire up.

My first idea was to make it sort of mediterranean in feel... to make the fence posts like round pillars, and put planters for cacti and succulents on top. The concept was that we could sprinkle them through the orchard and that they'd appear to have a reason for being there - almost as if they were sculptures - beyond just holding up a fence.

Idea for fence

But, when I tried to envisage this while there, I realised it wouldn't work... it didn't have the right feel. So Mum and I came up with an alternative.

We'll make it one big fenced area around the orchard - but in a curved shape that feels natural to walk around and to fit in with the shape of the driveway. I had a go at marking it out using bricks, but suspect it'll evolve as I wasn't sure how much space needed to be between each post.
We'll use normal fence posts (ideally round, unless rectangular is a lot cheaper) with the idea being that ultimately we can paint them - perhaps in the dark blue of the house, with a gold 'finial' like detail at the top. Whatever paint style we choose, it can be a recurring motif throughout other garden features and help to pull it all together. To give you an idea of how the painted fence posts might feel, here's an example from a garden we visited in Olinda (ours of course would be much taller and with wire between):


To make it even more interesting and less 'fence-like', we could perhaps have every 5th or so post being not a post but a 'dead tree'. If we buy some uncut big branches from the local sawmill, ideally in different shapes with a few other branches coming off at the top, then they could be set into position almost as if they were the trunks of real skeleton trees. It'd give it a more natural feel and blend in with the gums of the driveway, and I could put pots and hanging planters in the branches perhaps. Hmmm... here's a sketch of the idea:

Idea for orchard wall

Of course, there are a few trees that are just too far out to be included in the main fenced bit. I'm envisioning that each of the mulberry and almond trees will have their own enclosures. For simplicity they could be rectangular, but the way they're lined up needs consideration. Mum and I toyed with a couple of ideas (aligning them with the walled garden; making them point to the dam) but in reality I think the best alignment will only become obvious a the point of building, as it'll need to fit in with the house, the drive, the slope of the land etc, so am not going to fuss too much about it for now.

a sad lesson learned...

In October we planted a few things without any protection from sheep, to test out how they'd do.

Sadly the news is not good.

There is no sign of the reeds. Nor did the waterlily survive - but then, after the disasters of attempting to plant it, that's not surprising.

There is only the slimmest of signs of the 'pigface' cuttings. So slight that it might be just a weed, but I found where I planted it and there is a very small shoot coming up that might, just might, be it attempting to re-grow. It was too small though even to show up on a photo, so I suspect realistically it's gone. :-(

Even the agaves are struggling. The b*****d sheep ate them, spikes and all! Well, they didn't have big spikes as they were little, but still... Dave reckons that one agave survived unscathed behind the house, but I searched and couldn't find any sign of it. However I did find the two that were at the front of the house. Both are eaten to the bone - but they're still green so fingers crossed they'll revive. One even seems to have sent out an offshoot.

agave eaten with house

agave eaten

another drive through Talbot

Mum took me on a quick drive through our closest little town, Talbot, enroute to the airport. We didn't have time to get out except to pop into the local milkbar to pick up a copy of "Talbot Today and Tomorrow", the monthly newsletter. It's not available online (yet) but I've just found you can sign up for a subscription, so fingers crossed they'll post to London.

Anyway, while there I decided to do another short clip showing Talbot, because it's changed a lot in the past 2 years since the last one I did. The two cafes and the bookshop have opened, and apparently Mum heard from the lady she bought coffee from that some others are opening too soon. It'll be interesting to watch, I hope they keep to the same style...

Music thanks to Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

What a difference a week makes...

... well, actually 2 weeks, during which time there were several days with solid rain.

I've just got back from a very fleeting trip to Australia for a friend's wedding, and managed to squeeze in 2 hours at Amherst en-route to the airport. To my amazement, it was green! It's such a relief to see how quickly it greens up; to have a reminder that it's not always dusty and drab.

The lemongum trees are doing magnificently. You're starting to be able to get the effect of them lining the driveway now.
looking up the driveway

view of house and dam wall from drive

The dam has filled up quite a bit - the ridge is still visible but closing over at one end.
view across dam ridge

Unfortunately the orchard isn't doing so well (more on that soon) but just look at the green!
view from orchard to house

Here's a short clip combining images with some panoramic videos to show more:

Music thanks to Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)