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

Friday, December 31, 2010

We planted pigs ear

While browsing in Talbot's nursery earlier in the day I'd spotted a lovely succulent bush that was waist high.  The guy told me it would only take a couple of years to reach that height, so thought I'd experiment with putting them in at Amherst.  We bought 8 plants.

orchard - 09  orchard - 14

So as to protect from kangaroos and sheep, we put them in the orchard, in a sort of ring near the fence.  Although they won't grow fruit, they'll still look nice and shouldn't be in the way of anything as we can grow climbers behind.

It was a great feeling to actually get something new in the ground there - a very small progress step.  But even more amazing was to see the soil.  I guess thanks to all the rain it was really pliable - no need for tractors in digging, we didn't even need to add extra compost.  It was much better soil than I'd imagined.

To show you what I mean, here's a short clip of Dad digging a hole...

... and here's me putting in one of the 8 plants.

Mowing the orchard

Even though Dave had mown it in August, there had been such a lot of rain that the grass was crazily long again.  So although we hadn't planned to do any work on this visit, Dad and Vida pitched in to get it cut.

orchard - 03  orchard - 10

Meanwhile I climbed into the mulberry enclosures and cut back the overgrown grass to reveal some very bushy little trees - complete with mulberries!

garden - 22  garden - 24

Thursday, December 30, 2010

We win some, we lose some with the trees

The bad news first... the wollemi's didn't make it.  Despite all the rain and the (too late) added sun protection, there's no sign of life.  It's one of the biggest disappointments we've had.  Hoping against hope, will leave them until Dave's next visit, then will replace them with some other kind of hopefully fast-growing tree.

garden - 04

However, on the flip side the lemon gums are looking magnificent.  

driveway - 3  garden - 02

The peppercorn and almond trees are also looking healthy - there are even some nuts growing.  Although calling them trees at this stage is a bit of a misnomer, they're really still just the size of shrubs... hurry up and grow!
garden - 16  garden - 14

garden - 37  garden - 36

Fleeting visit - little progress but still nice to see

I managed to make it back home to Australia for Christmas, and in the process spent a day at Amherst.

Although there hadn't been any change to the house since Dave's visit, it was wonderful to see it up close in person.

house views - 03  house - 04

The same with the "damhouse".  Even with the spillway having been added, the dam is still so full that there is no way you could access it without sinking to your waist or more in water.  Dad has a great idea for how to quickly build a ramp to it using various old fence panels, so with luck we'll soon be able to make progress on it again.

damhouse - 05  damhouse - 11

But there has been some big visible progress, with the construction of the new shed.  This was partially completed back in August when Dave visited.  Since then Dad has got it pretty much completely to lock up stage.

sheds - 06  sheds - 01

Sunday, October 31, 2010

update and idea for dam shed ramp

All is quiet at Amherst for the moment because Dad has instead been working on some emergency repairs on the Toora house instead.  One small step forward though - Dad managed to rescue some strong metal fence panels (remnants of the old Toora fence) which he's thinking about using at Amherst.

I don't much like the look of them, but one possibility is for them to become the base for the pier-like ramp that Dad plans to build, so he can access the damhouse without needing a boat!

sheds - 02

Sunday, September 12, 2010

the dam gets a spillway

Somewhat controversially, Dad has created a spillway at the back of the dam in order to lower the water levels after the recent torrential rains so the "damhouse" isn't totally flooded.  It apparently is going to have rocks added next visit to prevent erosion.  Ironically, this is the same spillway that Dad closed up several years ago in order to boost the dam capacity.  Dave had wanted it not to be changed but there was a misunderstanding and, well, now we have a spillway again. 

new spillway on dam - 3

new spillway on dam - 1 new spillway on dam - 4

This is what it looked like before the spillway was put in... the dam floor was covered but not by as much as I expected, so in the scheme of things the spillway hasn't reduced the capacity by that much because the water had already started to overflow around the dam sides. 
full dam after torrential rains - 4

Sunday, September 05, 2010

A full-to-bursting dam

It has been raining incessantly at Amherst. In August alone, there was over 110cm of rain, and then on Sept 4th there was another 80+mm. Considering we normally get only around 500mm of rain in a whole year, this was pretty incredible.

When Dave was back in mid-August the dam was already the fullest we'd seen it:

The water was already lapping at the floor of the "dam house":

dam - 5

Then on Dad's last visit a week or so back he said it was over the damhouse floor and you could just see a window sticking up. I wouldn't be surprised if now you can't even see the window (!). Fortunately, Dad reckons it'll all be fine once it dries out as it is all hardwood / treated pine. But still. Seems hard to believe that it could go from being the lowest water level we'd ever seen to the highest in the space of scarcely 18 months.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Work continues on new shed

Given the weather didn't allow for working on the house, Dave and Dad instead focused on getting the new shed erected. Dad had already made a huge start by getting the frame up, but there was still a lot of work to do in terms of getting the roof and walls installed.

Then they set up frames inside to support shelving, and Dave started cutting up some old boards to serve as the floor. Once it's fully finished, it should give us a lot of extra undercover working space, as well as overflow storage.

new shed - 4

new shed - 8

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Olive grove gets a mow too

The olive grove also needed a mow... Here's what it looked like to begin:

olive grove - 04 olive grove - 03
olive grove - 02

And here's the final result...

olive grove - 07

Monday, August 23, 2010

Mowing the orchard

The fences we put in are working brilliantly to keep the sheep and kangaroos out... but the sad byproduct is that they no longer can eat down the grass. One of Dave's favourite jobs is to mow.

Here's the orchard pre-haircut:

orchard - 02

Midway through...

orchard - 06 orchard - 12

And at the end. Note how Dave took away all the rocks from the trees... they looked lovely but apparently turned out just to be housing for giant grass weeds and spiders.

orchard - 17

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The campsite gets a (sort of) bathroom

Over his big (UK) summer break from teaching, Dave spent a few weeks working up at Amherst with Dad.

Unfortunately, it rained almost the entire time they were there and was absolutely freezing, so they had to get creative about what to do.

One of the things, done largely out of self-preservation and a desire to get warm I think(!) was to get the "camp bath house" in workable condition.

Here's as far as Dad had got it. The bath was hooked up with the tank, with water heated by the wood fire. But it had no walls(!)

bath house - 02

They used some of the windows and old wood and corrugated iron Dad had salvaged from rubbish over the years to knock up walls, even stuffing them with leftover insulation from one of Dad's old projects. Some old curtains and wall candles completed the transformation. It's still pretty basic but functional at least for a temporary camp bathroom.

bath house - 15 bath house - 11

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Bullock teams in 1900

Here's another old image that I've just come across, thanks to Museum Victoria.  It's of bullock teams between Talbot and Amherst, circa 1900.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Da-da ... the kitchen doors are in

Some of the finishing at the edges is still to be done, but the patio doors Dad scavenged for the kitchen are now installed. They're centred between the two verandah posts which will (eventually) have steps leading down, and are exactly the style that I'd hoped for.

patio doors installed

old house - 5

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A collection of ideas

I don't have time at the moment to research these, but didn't want to lose them. So here is a random list of various things that have sparked my curiosity about trying when we finally get to Amherst:

For the garden...

Decorating the house...

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Afternoon tea in 1910

I've set up to get an alert whenever new items about the neighborhood get posted online. Mostly it's irrelevant but every so often there's a real gem - like this photo:

Via Museum of Victoria photo collection.

It was taken in 1910 in Amherst and features two ladies from the Brehaut family enjoying afternoon tea in their garden. I love that even the family's pet dog and cockatoo get included!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ebay win: Edwardian screen

I like screens, they're useful as a quick way to hide messy corners. :-)

Originally I got this to use in London but it turns out to be twice the height I expected - it's door height, not waist. But I can imagine many uses for it at Amherst.

It is a little bashed about, as you'd expect, but I like it as it is. The bottom isn't as badly damaged as it appears in the photo. I will just varnish it I think to protect, and put on replacement hinges, then it will be fine for another few decades.

edwardian screen

From the description:
Edwardian tri-fold screen featuring prints of birds by Lynn Bogue Hunt. Green painted screen with detailed bird prints on both sides. In need of rejoining and attention to bottom of panels. An unusual antique for the bird enthusiast

Monday, May 24, 2010

Patio doors

Dad stops by architectural salvage yards regularly and has managed to get some rather incredible bargains over the years. Recently he picked up two sets of lovely old hardwood patio doors for use in the old house renovations.

This set we'll use for the side door from the bedroom. They even came with have made-to-measure blinds(!)

patio doors for Amherst 002

The other set are the perfect size to be the doors from the kitchen to the verandah.

patio doors for Amherst 001

Sunday, May 02, 2010

a full dam

We had a lot of rain recently in Amherst, so the dam is looking pretty full. The steel that Dad put down to be one side of the path to the damshed is already underwater(!)

It's so funny considering that last year when we built it, everyone was worried that it would never fill up again and just look silly being up so high. Now I'm wishing we made the stilts higher...

Here it is now:


Here is as it was, when first built:

working on base for damshed - 7

setting up the new shed

Because we are running out of storage space, Dad has taken the plunge and begun work on erecting the old shed Michael gave us, down near the container.

He had to tweak things a bit because some bits had been cut off when it was taken down. Dad also decided to build it higher so that we would have option of storing taller things in it. Overall, it's now a good size: approx 8mtrs long by 3.3mtrs wide by 2.6m high.

This will solve the storage problem temporarily, although I like where he's put it so hopefully will be able to stay there long-term too.

So far the frame is partially up - here's some photos:

shed frame 02

shed frame 01

shed frame 03