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

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

photos of trees

Poor Dad. I am always pestering him to take photos when he visits. I just love seeing how it's changed and having the photos also makes me feel like I'm there. Here's a couple of shots from Dad's recent visit:

From Dad's email on September 24th
The dam is half full. The gums are very large now, some 2.5metre and growing++.

Amherst September & October 002

Amherst September & October 042

view from orchard to house

Thursday, September 20, 2007

pine posts and wire for orchard

Dad has done another of his miraculous sourcing tricks. Somehow he managed to find someone who was dismantling their orchard and selling off a bunch of pine poles that are perfect for what we need:

From Dad's email on September 19th:
I am going to Amherst with the loaded trailer of 160-180mm pine posts 3 metre long. Had to go to near Arthur's Seat chairlift to get them. They are excellent and only $10 each. The next size down, 125mm, cost $25 each. These are an exceptional bargain and we ought to buy as many as you envision you will need. He also has 125mm ones both in the 3m and 2.4 m and some 2.4m that are 180-200 that would be excellent for strainer posts. Your call if you want to invest more. He runs an orchard that he is downsizing. He has about 1000 poles that are 9 yrs old but in excellent, and I mean excellent order. Better than new because they have better preservative in them than is presently being used.

Dad ended up getting another load's worth in the end I think, as they're such a good deal and will come in handy for so many projects.

Amherst September & October 043

In terms of the wire, Dad said:
I cannot get discounted dog wire so will go with 1.2 m high weldmesh for the bottom that has square gaps of 10cmx10cm. You need 3 rolls at $54 each, plus staples. You have the single strand wire already to make up the top of the fence up to the 2.4, or you can tell me to buy an additional 3 rolls of the weldmesh and make it all weldmesh.

I replied to say to use the same weld mesh wire along the whole fence and also to make sure it was lined up with the wire below if it was going on in two parts.
"What I mean is, make it symmetrical if you can as otherwise I think it might look a little odd to the eye when you're looking up close to see the 'stripes' of the wire that don't match up. If this isn't possible then please leave a gap, say 20-30cm, between the two sheets of wire so they look clearly separate... I'm assuming a small gap like this, 1.2m off the ground, is not going to be possible for any sheep/roo to squeeze through as they're not climbers"

Saturday, September 15, 2007

rescuing 3 darling hens

September 15th was a very eventful day in the lives of 3 chickens. (Well, actually about 500 chickens in total, but we were only involved in the rescue of 3). It's the day they were rescued from a battery farm and rehomed as pets.

The Battery Farm Welfare Trust runs an adoption service, they have a deal with friendly battery farmers around the country where instead of sending them to be slaughtered after the first year of laying, the farmers allow the Trust to adopt as many as they can handle. The lucky rescuees are then adopted by people around the country as backyard pets. It's entirely run by volunteers and so far this year they've rehomed nearly 20,000 hens. A drop in the ocean but a hell of a lot better than nothing.

The way it works is that you put your name on a waiting list. Yes, we waited 3 months, there was such demand. At last the big day arrived. On Saturday 15th the rescue people collected hundreds of lucky hens in the morning from a nearby farm... gave them all health checks and claw trimmings, ready for everyone to converge in the afternoon to collect their new little ones.

When we arrived the remaining chickens were waiting in playpens on the lawn:
Adoption day

It was nearly 2 hours drive home, so we used the bunny travel boxes and borrowed a third from the vet. Lined each with paper and straw and got them tucked into the backseat. They were model passengers!

Adoption day Adoption day

To give them time to recover, we put them in the old Omlet house - within sight of C2 and Little Miss in the new cube, but separate. We let them climb out of their travel boxes in their own time, although a few nudges to get them facing the right direction were required.

pippia on her first day pippia and frenchie on arriving

To begin they just stood there, then tentatively began to walk around. We have a lot of wild birds in our garden and so they spent a lot of time looking up, enthralled.
pippia seeing the sky for the first time

They also loved the grass. It was so moving to see them attempting to scratch. They'd never done it before but clearly their instincts told them they should. Chickens have a particular way of scratching - a kind of 2 step scratch then step back to see what they've uncovered. It's very rhythmical and every chicken I'd seen did it - except these guys... they were so uncoordinated. Poor little Frenchie (so named because of her huge comb looking like a beret when she's standing upright) especially had trouble, she nearly fell over once when she tried to scratch with both legs at the same time!

frenchie on first day

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


The house design alterations have been on the backburner for months, as Eric had a bunch of other projects he needed to work on plus he moved house to Ballarat. We didn't mind as we're not in any rush, but it is a nice feeling to have finally got back to working on it. (For a reminder of where we left off, see here)

Eric kickstarted the process again with an email on September 11th:
"Well, I finally started going through the plans again today. I have notes from our conversations from the last little while. I thought that since it has been so long (my fault) it would be prudent to mark up what I believe to be the areas to look at. These mark ups aren't necessarily the solution, but rather the general ideas. Can you have a look and tell me if it reflects the areas to look at?"

Ground floor:
house plan alterations (ground floor)

Top floor:
house plan alterations (top floor)

Side views:
house plan alterations (side view)
house plan alterations (side view)

We replied a few days later:

"Thanks a lot for this. I just looked through the plans with Dave and what you have tallies with our recollections too.

We have just a couple of general thoughts re: the library tower... I really like the idea of having the bigger library. And Dave is thrilled about the idea of having his tower. :-)

Our only slight hesitation is in terms of what it potentially does to the house value, were we ever to have to sell it. Before, we could arguably pretend the library was another bedroom. Now it will be less easy... I'm wondering whether there's a way of having our cake and eating it too - ie: having a library extension but by playing with where the stairs are & shape of upstairs floor, making it so that the library billiards area + extension could be easily converted to ideally 2 other bedrooms if ever needed in future?

Also, Dave is curious to explore some other roof designs for the tower, eg: a squarer roof rather than triangular. He still wants it to be pointy though - ie: he's not thinking of it being a flat roof (even though perhaps it could be cool as a kind of mini lookout thingy)"

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

DesignMyRoom tool

It has been AGES since I last posted. All things at Amherst had a bit of a hiatus as my UK life got in the way - not least, me quitting my job (I start my new one on Monday) and going roadtripping in the US for a month.

Now it's time to get stuck back in.

I stumbled across this article about a new tool for interior design. I can't wait to have a proper play around with it. I'd much rather make my decorating mistakes on a computer than on a real-life wall...

DesignMyRoom - Very Useful Tool For Virtual Interior Design