Friday, December 31, 2010

The Start Of A New Year!

Liffey Falls
We had a quiet new year's eve with a friend and her kids here. We all drank home brewed beer (lime and chili for me) and had cheese and biscuits. Then this morning we had honey toast on home made bread.

We went up to Deloraine for a few days after xmas, and spent time enjoying ourselves with A's brother and new baby and the whole family. We went to the honey farm, and Ashgrove cheese farm and came home with an awful lot of both! We got a kilo of bush pepper cooking cheese for $10, a big chunk of cheddar off cut that's a very odd shape, wasabi, more bush pepper (a different type) and tasty cheese. We also got honey lollies which are all gone now and I need more, they were so delicious! Then the next day we went to the honey farm and bought them out of honey. Our honey collection is verging on the ridiculous! We have medicinal honey, lime honey (my personal favourite) blue gum honey, strawberry honey, cajun honey, and leather wood too.

We went for a drive up to Launceston and then Davenport, and we went for a bush walk at Liffey falls. It was a gorgeous day, but when we were at the falls, an hour from the car, there was a mini hail storm that had us a bit worried. The stones were so tiny they were melting on impact. We also went to the Gorge for a short walk and had coffee and an ice block - or booby depending on your demographic. It was so stunningly beautiful there, I hope we get back there again some time soon when the weather is more Summery and we can have a paddle in the lagoon.

We came home with a bread maker! A's father gave us their old one and it works prefectly so we've had lovely fresh home baked wholemeal bread today and plan on getting a sour dough starter on the go in the next few days.

The things we planted in the hothouse are really starting to take off, we're getting a few strawberries a day and there are two black russian tomatoes starting to grow. While we were away we learnt lots about gardening in Antarctica from A's mother. She gave us a big bag of seeds that she's been saving out of her garden and we have sprinkled them in planter boxes in the hothouse. I have to learn more about seeds I think.

Us at The Gorge

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Merry Giftmas To All!

Today is our first christmas in our new house, and Angus' first giftmas! We decided to spend the day at home with just us because we'd never done that before. We had a bbq with free range pork, lamb, sweet chili prawns, potato salad (with home laid egg mayo), green salad, and corn cobs and baby carrots. All served with home brewed lime and chili beer - oh so good! - or ginger beer depending on the age that appears on your license.

After lunch we had to get busy cleaning up and getting organised for our trip up to visit A's parents. We have a friend coming to water the veg and throw food at the cat and the LOTL. We are taking Vinnie with us. Stylish washed the dog, and Spikee picked up his toys, under duress.

This morning's present opening was exciting for some members of the household, and the bounty included such highlights as a remote control car, frog trinkets, and bright and colourful things that rattle.

For dinner we're having ham sandwiches on sour dough rye bread with home made tomato relish and we'll take our giftmas lunch left overs for a picnic on the drive up North. Right now the kids are in the front garden playing with the remote control car and the baby is enjoying things that rattle and a cuddle with Daddy.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Saving Strawberries

We saved the strawberries today. We bought four coconut husk hanging baskets and repotted them, now they're hanging in the hothouse, safely out of reach of the emus and the phantoms. We stopped in at the tip shop on the way home and rifled through the piles of discarded wood where we found heaps of stakes for tomatoes and some fencing which may be used for staking or even a dog and emu for a guard gate for the hothouse.

This evening we wrapped the kid's giftmas presents, so now they're falling apart with excitement. The tree looks so colourful with decorations, rainbow candy canes, tinsel and presents underneath.

We took Vinnie walking tonight and he has transformed into a runaway steam train! He's either dragging me or tripping me up because he's running in circles around my feet. I've got to look into a few ways to curb his enthusiasm because it's not much fun walking a dog who is tying me in knots!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Emus and The Humble Pie

We have to transplant all our strawberries into the hot house ASAP because the chickens are enjoying them. I kept accusing the kids of eating them but then I caught a chook half way up the bar stool near them and I worked it out. Looks like I'll be having humble pie instead of strawberry tart if I'm not quick! T-Rex family is still alive but she is too scaredy to come out of her house now, which is sad. She's not laying anymore, but now Klukkie is laying up a small storm, and the others are too. Today we got an egg from all the Larger Ladies and one small one. Four eggs in one day is perfect! We might have to try egg nog this year for giftmas.

We have really started using the hot house now. We've planted our tomatoes in a bed prepared by Spikee and me. First we lay down a layer of newspaper (that we got free at the local supermarket, because they keep old news papers for gardeners!) then a thick layer of mulch straight from our lawn mower, then another layer of newspaper, then A lay a top layer of soil. Then we planted our rock melon and watermelon seedlings, and broad beans, zucchini, and parsley. We also have a hanging pot with three strawberry plants in it.

Vinnie's training is coming along well, he's walking well on a lead, sitting as soon as he sees his bowl being handled, he's stopped eating the cat food ... when we're watching him at least *snigger* and the toilet training hasn't faltered for two days now. The food aggression is really good too. He lets me play with his food, and hasn't snapped for a week or more. He's really quite relaxed around food these days. He had his first bath three days ago, and it was the most humiliating experience of his short life. he looked so pathetic and sad in there as we shampood him all over. He best get used to it, he's in for a life time of baths because of his unfortunate genetic canine disposition.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Hot House in Summer!

This is the candle christmas tree I got at the tip shop for a pittance. Everyone laughed at me, but now we all think it's really pretty! I was right, I told you so ner n'ner n'ner ner!

It's freezing here, despite being more than a week into Summer. We've had the fire burning tonight and last night despite it being out for over a week now. I lit it tonight, I think I did a rather deft job of it for an L plater! Stylish did it last night and I was really impressed with how well she did it too. With the fire burning it's lovely and toasty warm in here, but I'm not looking forward to winter.

The dog was caught "playing chicken" today. He was only being friendly but that's too rough for teeny tiny little T-Rex Family, we're concerned she'll die of shock over night. The LOTL (Ladies Of The Lawn) have been keeping us beautifully supplied with lovely home laid eggs. The little ones started laying after a few days with the emus, and since then they've really started acting like chooks, they come out of the shed by themselves and peck around on the lawn eating bugs. Send well wishes to T-Rex Family. I'll keep you posted on her status.

This afternoon I finally managed to put Angus and his reflux down for long enough to do some gardening in the hot house. I really enjoy gardening. We filled up the raised beds in the hot house with potting mix, then planted out the rocket seedlings, and pak choy, and put the newly planted peat seedling starter pots with mesculin straight in. Then we planted more lettuce, spinach, rocket, and pak choy in seedling starter pots. We also replanted some of the seeds that never sprouted properly in the first planting. I'm not sure why they didn't come up because I've never had that problem before. Hopefully we'll have better luck this time round.

Beer making is going well, and A has just bottled about 50 bottles of chili and lime draught. We cracked a bottle of the raspberry and one of the blueberry to taste it. The raspberry tastes amazing! The blueberry is nice but not as flavoured. The ginger beer has become a bit of a habit now, A feeds it every day and bottles it every week.

Tomorrow is meant to be the family xmas lunch but it looks like it'll be raining all day. What a shame. Oh well, there's always next year!?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Vinnie -walking. And hot housing.

Vinnie's training is progressing remarkably fast! He's a smart, eager to please little puppy, although it's fair to say that I haven't had a dog for 14 years now, only a cat, and they aren't exactly obedient. This evening after dinner it was a beautiful balmy evening so the kids took their scooters and I took the baby in his pram and Vinnie on a lead and we went off to do some exploring in our new surroundings. The dog just walked tonight, instead of stopping and having to be dragged, he eagerly trotted along and only sometimes had to be dragged away from the most interesting of smells. We had our first encounter with other dogs and Vinnie behaved like a perfect gentledog whilst the other ones were being rather naughty, barking and whatnot. Then he came across something delicious, and didn't growl or protest at all when I opened his mouth and took it out. Then when we were nearly home, about four houses down the street I took him off his lead to see what he'd do and he trotted along contentedly, smelt a few things, and then ambled amicably into the front yard!

He's also doing "sit" now. Every time we feed him he sits. He's not quite up to waiting yet but that's going to be our next training command. He is doing brilliantly with the food aggression and eats out of my hand or with someone's hand in his bowl every feed. This evening I took him into the y ard to do a wee and he knew I had a treat so he was doing "sit" right in front of me all exaggerated, so that he could have his treat. The toilet training is coming along ok ... could be better, but given hos fast he's done everything else it's not going to be too much of an issue.

I bought some pet mince for Vinnie today and he refuses to eat it. So does the cat. But you'll be pleased to know that the Ladies of the Lawn loved it. The cat remains firmly in charge of the dog, but we've seen Vinnie taking more of an interest in The Ladies and rounding them up into their shed. They are still laying so we've decided to monitor the situation closely for now but take no action other than disallowing the dog in their shed.

We're hoping to find the time to get out in the green house tomorrow and plant some seedlings, I'm also hoping to plant more seeds so our bok choy and lettuce crops are aplenty through the summer. We also need to plant the fruit trees but we're not sure where we're going to put them, Possibly in the unused front garden, rather than in the back garden where the Ladies of the Lawn will possibly eat the fruit, and where the kids play.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Table manners 101 - for Vinnie, and other miscellaneous happenings

Today we implemented Vinnie's 'food friendly' programme. I was feeding Angus at breakfast time so A and Stylish fed him his bikkies by hand. A held him firmly and made him sit before each mouthful and Stylish fed him from the palm of her hand. Spikee helped as well and gave him a few handfuls, and both kids put their hands and faces in his bowl while he sat and watched. He doesn't really do calm eating but he is certainly getting better, he is calm while we eat and doesn't beg which is positive. For lunch he had left over porridge. I made him sit down and I patted him enthusiastically while he gobbled it down. At dinner time Stylish and I fed him. She held him and made him sit and I let him eat his foul and disgusting kangaroo mince out of my hand. He did quite well and there was no growling or snapping. I suspect that this all stems from his lack of socialisation and the fact that they were giving him the tiniest amount of food at the pound. They were feeding him half a cup of biscuits three times a day and that's roughly half what he should be eating according to several sources. According to common sense and other more reliable sources he could have developed this nasty habit due to hunger and socialisation. So I believe we're on the right track!

Today we did a tip shop run and got a door for Spikee's room. We were looking for one for the back door but we'll have to keep looking. We took our door off the hinges and put the new one there instead, then our door went on Spikee's room. For some reason that fits much more geometrically there than it did on our door frame - go figure!? While we were there we also got a heap of bottles out of the recycling crates and A has been sterilising them, scrubbing labels off and prepping them for the next beer brew (chili and lime - due for bottling in a day or so) for hours. We got a complete fish tank, a book for Stylish, a bag of toy animals and a wind up dinosaur skeleton ... all for $20! We love tip shops!!!

We cracked open our first ginger beer brew yesterday and have nearly finished it already, it's too good to leave sitting around. We have another lot fermenting and still another batch of starter on the go. I think the next lot will have lime in it instead of lemon, just to see how it tastes. It's safe to say that home made ginger beer is one of the finer things in life!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

More on Vinnie 2

This evening Vinnie was a bit aggressive with the kids because he wanted to eat their toast so I've been googling food aggression to find a solution. This is a bad habit we simply won't tolerate because it's dangerous, especially with kids in the house. So far I've found the following pages with useful advice:
I think we'll implement a practical combination of all three, first with A and I only, and then when he is better, letting the kids take over. It's important to let the kids be a part of the training so that when Vinnie learns not to be growly with me and A, because we're Top Dog's, he won't transfer his own Top Dog behaviour onto the kids. Stay tuned!

The toilet training has progressed well today, over the whole day we've only had four indoor wees, compared to the copious indor wees of yesterday! We've rolled up the rug in front of the fire because he seemed to like weeing there for some reason. We didn't like him weeing there because (well ... why would you like that!?) we just steam cleaned it with a special shampooing vacuum cleaner!

Food issues aside, he is a very well behaved little dog when it comes to other animals. he met and happily greeted a large staffie at the park today, and he is completely ignoring the cat and the chooks now.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Vinnie Settles In

This morning when Stylish let him out the cat attacked him. He ate his breakfast with his usual lack of table manners (forgetting to chew) then went outside and did doggy things for the morning. After lunch we decided to take him for a walk and see how he went on a lead. It was slow going at first with us having to use lots of little dried fishies and drag him along gently. By the time we came home he was walking a bit better on the lead, still having moments of stopping and having to be encouraged though. While we were out we stopped at the cafe in the village and had a coffee, Vinnie curled up contentedly under the table and had a micro sleep.

We're using the RSPCA recommended method of toilet training, combined with the method Cesar Millan suggests on his website. Basically when he wees in the house we take him outside and just let him have a sniff, but we dont' shout at him or any of that nasty punishing crap. We also take him outside every half hour (we're all sharing the task) and when he wees we give him a dried fishy and make a big deal of him.

Friday, December 3, 2010

More on Vinnie ...

We've had him since about midday now and he's really taken to the whole family. We've discovered (although we already suspected) that he's not toilet trained, so we're running mad wiping up wee and taking him outside a fair bit!

We fed him and he ate without swallowing, so we fed him more and he did the same thing, and since then he's eaten two lots of the cat's food ... we might have to move that. We've also learnt that he's never walked on a lead before so as soon as you put it on him he stops still and refuses to move, I'm sure we can fix that with a few little fishy treats though.

He and the kids spent ages running around playing chasings in the yard, then the kids were worn out and Vinnie was only just warmed up! So they had a rest then went and played more and he was tired so he crashed out on the ugly fold out sofa in the ugly room. The blue healer in him is rather dominant I'd say.

The cat isn't terribly impressed but he hasn't tried to decapitate Vinnie just yet, and Vinnie has taken a liking to the chickens, so we have to keep a close eye on him. He means no harm, but the chooks aren't keen on playing with him - funny uptight things they are!

Meet Vinnie!

Vinnie is our new second hand puppy, he's 3.5 months, just like Angus! We brought him home from the Hobart Pound this morning. On Tuesday we drove in and selected him, and then we had to wait while they desexed him. It's been a long week! Stay tuned for more Vinnie updates as he settles in and we train him.

Please excuse the dreadful photo! it captures him doing what he does best ... WRIGGLING!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Screw you FACEBOOK!

Here are three profile photos of me breast feeding my children that facebook has removed. Apparently they are unsuitable for a family friendly site.

Please enjoy them, and don't forget to link to this blog post so they stay on facebook - a family friendly, pron loving website!

Rainbow Jumper

Here is a photo of Angus in the jumper his Aunty gave him.

Thanks AJ!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Eggs and Emus and Phantoms!

Here is a comparison shot of the emus next to the phantoms
Here is an emu egg
Here is a Phantom egg

Ok so maybe I was a little loose with my creative license, but oh well.

Friday, November 26, 2010

J'aDoor le hot house!

Today A finished putting the door on the hot house and covered the back end of it in the PVC and secured it properly. Now all that remains is to fill the garden beds up, and build shelving! It is very strong and secure and I can't wait to get some food growing in there, it gets so hot with the sun pelting down on it, and long after the sun has set it's still warm.

I'm happy to announce that most of the pak choy has sprung up, and a bean plant and one rocket as well. We have added a red currant to our fruit tree collection, and now we have six strawberry plants, most of them with small green strawberries growing already. I haven't had time to start the herb garden yet, but it's on the TO DO list. The mint is growing beautifully, and every time I walk past it I get a strong whiff of it and feel so contented. There's nothing like the smell of fresh herbs!

The phantom chooks are doing much better since their new roommates arrived. They seem far braver and they just have a better "vibe" about them ... which probably sounds strange, but it's the truth! They even voluntarily came out of their shed this afternoon, and then this evening when I locked them all in there for the night they were perched alongside the emus ready for bed. They're eating all our kitchen scraps and I think they could eat more than we have but they get plenty of wheat and layer mix.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Productivity Report

Today the hot house really took shape. We raised the metal grid, covered in with plastic, taped it all down and then drilled wood around the plastic cover to hold it down. It's mighty hot when the sun is beating down on it and you could see the condensation building. it was a really hot day - for Antarctica - and I opened up all the windows and doors and let the cool breeze float in.

I did some googling about what we can grow in our newly erected (not completed) hot house. We're thinking of having tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, capsicum, chili, and melons, and we'll probably put more stuff in there once we're really up and running. Apparently a hot house is one of the best ways to grow melons, so hopefully we'll have more luck than we did with them in the garden.

I made caramel slices for dessert. Stay tuned for pics.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happiness does grow on trees!

DahlChapati with garlic

I'm starting to think that our tree change is one of the best things we've ever done! I was thinking about how I would feel if we were to move "home" to Sydney and I realised that I would feel very claustrophobic with all the buildings around. The food culture in Sydney is forever going to be something I lament, but I love home cooking so that's a very amicable swap. And we're learning to make some of our favourite food for ourselves now. We made chapati and dahl the other night and it was amazing! My next big challenge is caramel slices. I've mastered the cherry slice now, and Spikee wants to make muffins because he saw them being made on a kids cooking show.

So many foods to learn to cook, so little room in my stomach!!!



Second hand sheet I adore! It's so me.

The Garden Underway!

T-Rex Family, right, Klukky, left.
12 tonnes of wood and a chook shed

The veggie garden beginning.

Today I planted a heap of seeds in little peat seedling starter pots which you just put straight in the soil when they're ready. I planted cucumber, oregano, sage, coriander (in a mini green house), zucchini, dill, pak choy and a few other things too. We also bought 6 tomato variety seedlings. A has been industriously digging up the garden where the hot house will go. We've measured it and decided to get some cheap raised garden beds, we'll put a trestle over the top of them for pots.

The cat is settled in nicely now, and he hasn't given the chickens (now named T-Rex Family and Klukky) any grief so far. Speaking of the chooks, I should probably do a more formal introduction! We have been lucky enough to be given two teeny tiny bantums. So tiny that we call them phantoms. They came from the home of an animal hoarder who had fourteen of them all living in a small chicken run, so they're extremely unused to free ranging and they are very shy when it comes to people (although they seem to be accepting A, and they cluck at him when he makes chook noises at them). They won't come out of their shed unless we go in and shoo them out, which we do gently, once a day, so they can begin to recover from their agoraphobia. When we do make them go into the garden they usually spend a little while scratching about before they go straight back into their shed. They're the cutest little things, once they settle in we plan on getting a couple more.

We've decided to make all our giftmas presents this year. We're giving people a bottle of home brew, a bbq spice rub, and a citrus fruit with cloves stuck in it to make their house smell lovely. There will be a large family gathering just outside Hobart which we may or may not decide to attend. It's hard to decide coz being in our own house means we'd quite like to spend the day here, but we've never done giftmas with this branch of the family and they'd probably like to see us and the kids. Our giftmas tree is ready to be put up so we'll do that over the coming week or so, A and I seem to be more excited about that than the kids!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


A insisted upon ordering 10 tonnes of firewood because we found it at a good price. This morning it arrived! ON THE BIGGEST TRUCK YOU EVER SAW. The truck was so enormous it wouldn't fit under the powerlines, and it most certainly wouldn't fit under the car port, so the wood had to be dumped (in several loads) on the footpath and right out onto the road. A is currently moving wheelbarrow loads of it to the back of the yard. BUT, as with all good stories, there's a catch. The wheel barrow keeps breaking and having to have its' legs screwed on again. It's gonna take ALL DAY, and I mean ALLLL DAY to get it all in. It's just as well that A loves a challenge coz I'd have thrown my hands up and left it there before the wheelbarrow busted for the first time!

Yesterday was equally thrilling because our water went yellow. We called the water company and there was a guy here not half an hour later. He had a look at it and said that it was on our side of the meter so it was a plumbing problem and we had to get a plumber. He then suggested that A dig up all around the pipe and expose the area so that when the plumber came it'd cut down on labour cost. He said call him back if we had any trouble. After digging away for hours we encountered a problem, the pipe burst because it was so old and rusty and only the pressure of the soil against it was keeping it whole. So A was arse deep in a muddy hole frantically digging so that we could call a plumber. I suggested calling the water company guy coz he had said to call if we encountered any issues so we did. He said he'd come and help and sure enough, 10mins later he was here. He gave us the pipe measurements and we called the local hardware shop to see if they had the right size, they did but they'd just closed ... however they said to rush around and they'd help us. So, covered in cold caked on mud, A drove there at break neck speed and brought home the pipe ($25). Then the water guy showed up. He said it was definitely a plumbing problem and that he wasn't supposed to fix it. Then he said for us to ring the water company and tell them that there was water gushing out on the other side of the meter. Which we did. They called the emergency hours guy ... who was the man currently swimming in a freezing puddle of mud in our front garden, and lo and behold! He fixed it for the cost of two long necks of home brew! We must have saved about $1000 at minimum. He got paid overtime, we saved a shit load of money and our water is clear again. Can't complain about that, can we.

And while all this goes on, what we had actually hoped we'd be doing today and yesterday was assembling our green house! We decided to build our own in the end and all the material is lying dormant in the back garden waiting for a day free of drama. I can't wait to start planting some tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, coriander and a few other things better off in a green house.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We are the Proud Owners of THE UGLIEST CARPET EVER!

The carpet to end all carpet, being installed.
The $8 bowls in desperate need of an oily drink.

Carpet from the bedrooms - chook house insulation
The photo really doesn't do the true fugly nature of the carpet any favours, it really tones it down. Somewhere there is an RSL sadly lamenting the carpet someone stole and gave to us. A spent the afternoon putting it down in the strangest rumpus room ever. It makes it look much better, despite the frighteningly ugly overtures. We are planning to accessorise with the ugliest sofa bed ever, bought at Kingston tip shop in perfect condition (it's so ugly no one would go near it) and the worst curtains in this hemisphere (and quite possibly the entire universe). We decided to make the most of these unimaginably hideous furnishings by putting them all together. WAIT TIL YOU SEE IT! In The Castle they had the 'Pool Room', at our place we have THE UGLY ROOM!

On a far less garish note, I found three myrtle, rough edged bowls at vinnies for the grand total of $8. I spent a good half hour wiping them clean because they had something very sticky on them. I suspect the previous owner over oiled them with the wrong oil and then they gathered dust. I used copious amounts of eucalyptus oil to remove the black sticky layer and then equally copious quantities of eco friendly detergent to get the oil off. The grain of the wood is gorgeous, and once they get some more oil on them they're gonna be beautiful!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Moving In

A took to whipper snippering the jungle in the garden and after three days (two of those full work days) he managed to relocate a lawn. Then he tidied it up with our new mower. It looks lovely and tidy and it'd getting greener every day, it was all yellow and dead looking after being covered with layers of dead grass. It took Stylish and I a few hours to rake it all up and A and Spikee were madly making our piles of raked grass into giant piles along the back fence. We were wondering what to do with it all but we decided that it will be perfect for the chooks.

Stylish and A went out in the "to be chook shed" yesterday and insulated it using all the carpet they ripped up from in the bedrooms. Our chooks will be lovely and warm in winter and nice and cool in summer. They're the only family members I want living near that festy carpet though.

We've been slowly unpacking everything and moving is over the last week. We got heaps done yesterday and even set up a dining area and unpacked then put all the clothes away. It's starting to really feel like home!

The plan is to get everything unpacked so the rumpus room can be set up. This is happening at the same time as we get chooks, the cat comes home, and family life continues! We're looking at making a green house too. We thought about buying a kit but that would cost $1000, or there's the poly tunnel option, but they don't look very sturdy and sturdiness is a must when you house share with three wild and unschooled children. Well, two are wild and the third is working on it.

Today I'm going to finish sanding the mantle piece hopefully, then we can varnish it an put some pictures up there, that's one of those finishing touches that really makes a place feel like home. A is planning to make dhal to help ease the pain of leaving Sydney's Indian food. I might look at making some chapati to go with it!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

We Made it!

We've now been in Antarctica for thirteen days now and seen several seasons already. From gorgeous summery days to quite chilly days with mist covering the top of the giant hill we look out our window on!. Today when we left home it was a gorgeous sunny day and by this evening when we returned home it was raining and you couldn't see the mountains for mist.

Our house is far better than I remembered and I'm pleased to report that the family are all happy and settling in well. We're still unpacking things and sorting out where everything lives, and the kitchen is proving a challenge because the Black Spot had quite a large kitchen with plenty storage and bench space but there is very little bench space and the cupboards.

When we arrived we ripped up a bit of the manky grey carpet in the bedrooms and were happy to discover good quality floor boards in them all, and the same in the kitchen, hidden underneath revolting lino. Actually, WE didn't rip anything up, A and Stylish did all the ripping, Angus, Spikee and I chased the pink monsters away (to avoid inhaling dust). Stay tuned because I'll put A on here to detail the sanding and varnishing.

We've started collecting power tools and plants. We now own a sander, a drill, a wheel barrow, a ladder, a beer making kit (A's birthday present) a whipper snipper, a fig tree and a blueberry bush!

I've been learning to light fires in the fire place even though we really don't need one lit tonight we have one going just because it's so nice to be able to have one! There's quite an art to it, or so I discovered after a bit of trial and error. I've played with plenty fires, stoked them, added wood, blown air on them etc, but never actually LIT one and started it from scratch.

Speaking of fires ... I'm a little perturbed by the similarities between the selling of firewood and the sale of illegal substances. It seems to me that both drug dealers and fire wood sellers are doing it to earn "a little cash on the side", you never know if you can trust them, you never know if what you're buying is the correct weight, if it's too wet or too dry or if it will burn! You never know if they'll show up on time or three hours late, they get shifty eyes when they're telling you about their wares, mates give you the number of their dealer and say "tell them I sent you" . And when one says that their stock comes from an eco friendly source??? Uh ha. And the last ounce of dope I bought was legally grown in the Himalayas and fertilised with the business of grain fed pink yaks.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Evidence and a link


Welcome to The Black Spot. Would YOU rent this property? Probably not, unless the mould had been concealed underneath cheap paint.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

We're On Our Way to Antarctica!

We're currently in a motel in Melbourne enjoying cable tv and internet. Tomorrow we leave the mainland and head straight for Tassie on The Spirit Of Tasmania. Since leaving Mould Hold, or The Black Spot as Stylish named it, we've spent a week in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney being tourists in our home town, and a night in Canberra, a night in Albury, tonight we're in Melbourne and tomorrow on the boat. Then a night at A's parent's house before we finally go to OUR HOUSE!!!

The placenta is traveling well, it's far less argumentative than the children, and experiences far less reflux than the baby. I can't believe we've come 1000 km in three days and by the time we get to Tassie we'll have seen four states in a week. I'm pretty desperate to get "home" and eat something cooked by us, not that I'm complaining about the lack of washing up or anything, but home cooked food is so much nicer, not to mention healthier.

We're pretty sure the power, water, phone and net are organised, but we're still unsure what sort of net we'll be able to get. A's family have been over to our house and mown the lawns, cleaned the fireplace, organised the electricity (which we needed an electrician for) and left us a couch. We're very glad about the couch because we actually don't own one. We didn't even have a loungeroom at Mould Hold.

Speaking of Mould Hold, the property manager is trying to get us to pay for the mould damage! I'm very keen for him to take me to court because I'd love to show the rental tribunal all the photos and discuss how he refused to return my calls when I rang to tell him about the problems with the property, from the mould to a broken window, cockroaches, rats, and a blocked drain in the side passage which prevented the bathroom sink from draining and the foul smell coming from the toilet. Not to mention the five days in the middle of winter with a new born baby when we had to stay at my sister's house because there was no electricity. Now, I know I'm not a bottle feeder or anything like that, but I'm a cloth nappy mama and we couldn't wash nappies or heat the house and we had no hot water either. So. Giampaolo, if you read this, we'd love it if you could take us to the tribunal. We'd really love it. Especially since we said you could keep our bond due to some very slight damage to the kitchen bench and the need to steam clean the carpet.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Plans

So plans are as follows. Leave the Mould Hold on the 8th, stay in Sydney for another 5 or 6 days (depending on the available accommodation at destination B). Leave early in the morning and travel to Canberra, spend a few hours letting the kids run amok at Questacon, maybe do the National Gallery too. Stay the night in the ACT then make a run for Melbourne the next day.

The placenta will travel with us. We decided it is too much of a risk to trust an airline with it.

We located a cat box in the shed, now I just need to find out whether it's an acceptable one to post the moor unsuspecting cat to Antarctica in.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Modern Day Migrating Feline

We're at that unbearable point where all our worldly possessions are in boxes. All my books, all my treasured things, all the kids toys (except a select few) and all their books too, are all in boxes, stacked in the hallway. I did the last basic grocery shop today, mostly snack food, and cat food and litter for his holiday at my friend's house.

I had a really difficult time packing James' ashes into a box. I put them in with all our precious things, candles from his funeral, beloved decorations, photos and gifts, then labelled the box very carefully. I had to have a good cry before I was able to put him in there though. I should be packing his toys, twice because he should be unpacking them faster than I can pack them.

I'm still working out how to transport the placenta to the new house. we have a few options.

  1. Store it in my friend's freezer (next to her placenta!) then let it fly down with the cat in his carrier box, telling the airline that it's cat food because they allow that (they probably wouldn't allow a placenta)
  2. Courier it down to a friend there and store it in her freezer (again, next to her placenta) until we arrive.
  3. Take it with us in an esky with ice, adding more ice every time we go past a servo and storing it in hotel freezers
  4. Same plan only with dry ice so it doesn't need too much maintenance as we travel.
  5. Get it dehydrated so it's easy to travel with.
I'm leaning towards number one because it's the easiest way, and the only way to keep it as is. Having never had a placenta and having had four babies, I'm a bit precious about it. I want to plant it underneath a fruit tree in the new garden. I'm thinking of doing a whole placenta ceremony where everyone in the family (none of us have had our placentas buried or even honoured remotely) chooses a rock, catches some blood from our finger (the kids can just use red paint) and ties a small cutting of hair to the rock and then we'll bury it with Angus' placenta.

Today I rang several companies to find out how much it will cost to fly our cat down to us. It looks like being about $120 plus $10 cat cage (second hand from the cat protection society) and whatever the cost of sedating him will be. Yesterday I organised for our pay tv account to transfer to the house, I'm researching phone and internet options, and I've created an account for electricity. I can't get the electricity on properly until an electrician has been to the house because apparently there is a problem with the hot water meter. I've never even heard of HOT water meters so I'm inclined to agree ... there's a problem!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Move Begins In Earnest!

We're on the count down, it's only 11 days until we're out of this house and then another six until we leave Sydney and embark upon our crazy making tree change adventure. Packing is in full swing, I'm in the process of changing the deed into my name, I've stopped grocery shopping (WOOHOO!) and I'm either throwing out or giving away a truck load of stuff - most of which our hoarder neighbour is snatching up. I discovered that I need to apply for the first home owners grant before the deed will go in my name which is irritating but it's all one big fat learning curve.

Working out what to pack and what we'll need to take with us is complicated by the differing weather in Sydney (where it was 26C today) and Tassie where it was snowing last week. It's hard to pack for the baby too because he's grown out of his winter clothing and no where is selling it now, not even vinnies. I suppose that he'll be warm enough in his trackies, strapped to me in a sling with my cardigan around him when we go outside. We're going to have to buy suitcases for the boys because taking clothes and toys for them will mean they need a fair whack of space.

The best thing about moving will be the adventure! the worst part will be NO INTERNET!!! I'm sure there will be plenty to occupy me.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lounge room

This is a picture of the lounge room. It's the main selling point for us I think, with the wood fire heater and the polished floor boards. It's also so bright with so much real light, our current rental house is the darkest in Sydney. It also has more cockroaches and mould than any other house in Sydney, and it costs us $300 a week. I think this room will end up going brown, I hate white walls.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Leaving home

We're looking at leaving Sydney sooner than December now! I'd like to leave in the next four or five weeks but we have to see how everything works out. It's so exciting to finally be embarking on this crazy adventure, but I'm sad at the same time. There's so much in Sydney that I love. So many wonderful friends, family, fantastic food from all the corners of the world, so much to see and do, and of course the fantastic weather. I love the in between seasons in Sydney. Spring and Autumn are just always beautiful, not too hot, not too cold.

I have a hunch that I won't like the weather so much in Antarctica. Mind you there are friends and family there that we will like being closer to. And there's stuff to do there, it's just that it will be so different to everything I've known my whole life. I know I enjoy doing things down there when I'm on holiday, the million dollar question is WILL I LIKE DOING IT WHEN IT'S NOT A HOLIDAY? One of the things I'm really looking forward to is bush walking with the kids and a dog. We've never been able to own a dog in Sydney, and even our cat is a state secret from the real estate agent.

We went for a walk last night to cheat Angus out of his witching hour and talked about the colour we want to pain things. It feels very real, and very exciting when we can realistically discuss that stuff! Fortunately, for the most part, we agree on colours and designs for stuff, and we have similar ideals about living sustainably and being more in touch with nature. I found a photo of a two story weatherboard house that's painted like the rainbow. I'd dearly love to paint our house like that but A draws the line at that display of eccentricity. Oh well.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Home Birth Story

I am a mother of three children, but I have given birth to four. Two were born via surgery, and two were born naturally. My first was a planned hospital birth that turned into surgery, my second was a planned homebirth that also turned into surgery, my third was a planned freebirth that turned into a transfer at 28w and a stillbirth due to listeriosis. My fourth, is my only real birth story, and here it is, warts and all!

After six miscarriages over the course of about two years I didn't think I would ever end up with a sticky baby, but when I least expected it along came Angus. I started to see a naturopath for some herbal and homeopathic support, and had been taking her remedy for two months when I met a spiritual healer who offered me a healing session in exchange for a tarot reading. I accepted. Without ever telling her that I wanted a baby, that I had lost a son, or that I had ever had a miscarriage, the Egyptian healer said that there was a baby boy who lived in my womb, and until I had told him it was safe for him to leave I would never conceive the baby I wanted. She said that James and I had never separated and that we both needed to let go of each other.

I came home, sat on the bed with a photo of James and told him that I would always be his Mummy - at which point I realised I'd never referred to myself as his mummy - and that he would always be a part of our family. I told him that there was room in our family for another baby and I cried and cried, like I hadn't cried for a long time. Grief never leaves us, it just gets stored away in a safe place for later. Two weeks later I found out I was pregnant, when I didn't think I could be and I hadn't been paying attention to my cycle.

I wasn't sure I'd ever see a baby but to be on the safe side, with the current anti home birth political climate in Australia I called a midwife straight away to book her. A few short weeks later I had my first appointment and hired her on the spot. Pregnancy went by stupidly fast, even though by my guestimation I was 43+6 days before real labour started.

At about 37w and a few days I started having pre labour. I felt more pregnant than that but I put that down to this being my fourth full term pregnancy. A beautiful friend and my doula organised my blessingway at my friend's house.


I honestly thought labour would start soon from all the rumblings, but it wasn't meant to be! Over the next 5 weeks I did lots of small pre labour stuff, lost chunks of mucous, had a few days where my hind waters leaked, had two convincing false alarms where I couldn't sleep through contx ... and no baby. Eventually after the second false alarm I decided it was time to consider an emotional blockage of some sort so I phoned my wonderful counselor and went through all the possible channels of upheaval. Who knew so much could be hidden in my herstory! Two nights later labour began in earnest at 9pm.


I didn't think I was in labour despite the intensity of the two minute apart contractions. I went from zero to 2 min apart contractions instantly, it was rather sudden. I was convinced it was more pre labour and it would all fizzle, but I told A to ring our doula and midwife just incase. Sonia - our midwife - suggested a shower, and if things were still happening after that we could assume it was real. I had two contractions between the bed and the shower and had to be helped to stand up on my two feet through them, and they kept coming, thick and fast in the shower and when I got out. I still didn't think I was in labour but told A to ask Mem (beautiful doula and friend) to come over, even saying that we'd probably call her when she was half way here and saying it wasn't labour. A called Sonia too and asked her to come over, but I called her and told her not to because it wasn't labour yet ... she said she'd come anyway (I couldn't talk through contraction when I was on the phone to her - despite the fact I WAS NOT in labour).

I paced up and down and concentrated on opening and relaxing through the non labour contractions and A started to fill the pool despite the fact I had ordered him not to because it was too early (Sonia told him to do it after she's spoken to me). 40mins later Mem arrived and I couldn't speak to her through the long intense pains, and Sonia arrived soon after. She more or less looked at me and announced that we were having a baby, she was going to get her gear out of the car - but I was still convinced that we weren't having a baby any times soon, I wasn't in labour, and it would all fizzle.

I was finding the pain very intense and it was concerning me that I wasn't coping with it - when this was only very early labour as far as I was concerned so I hopped into the pool which was full of gorgeous warm water. The weightlessness felt so good, my back felt so good, but the contractions were still bloody horrible. I was really concerned that I wouldn't be able to cope with REAL labour when it started and kept saying "how am I going to cope when it gets real?" and refusing to believe everyone who told me that IT WAS REAL! This went on for an hour or so. I was petrified that I couldn't cope ... but I must have been coping because I lived to tell the tale.


Transition hit me hard because that is the nature of the beast and I come with a fair amount of emotional baggage from previous births, plus my other births had all been over thirty hours so I was terrified that there was still a day or so of labour to come and it was too intense for me to handle it "when it gets REAL". I said over and over "This is bigger than me, I can't do it" and everyone calmly assured me that I could. A hopped in the pool and I leant on him, hugs were the best, but god damn the contractions were hurting ... and I probably wasn't even in real labour! Then out of the blue I started to feel pushy, but still at the height of transition I was terrified of pushing wrongly, pushing too early, the pain of the pushing and a myriad of other imaginary demons. I think it was at this point that I announced a strong desire to transfer to hospital for an epidural. I begged and pleaded with everyone present but they all calmly told me that I didn't really want that outcome, that I could do it here at home. I decided to up the begging when I became convinced that the baby was in a bad position and that he was stuck. My midwife finally agreed to take me to hospital .... if I packed my own hospital bag. Given that I couldn't have willingly rolled over by myself at this stage I realised I was pretty much trapped and there was only one way out. I was going to have to push. After about an hour of sporadic pushing, not on every contraction, the real work began. The piggy back contractions slowed down, and my body started to push.


Working with it wasn't easy because it hurt! I hear women saying how they felt relief at pushing, but I felt like I was trapped in a SAW movie. Actually relaxing enough to push effectively was really hard work, and I couldn't feel the baby moving down so I felt like I had been right, he was stuck and I was going to have to push for weeks, or have him cut out. Eventually I started to notice that his head was moving down but it kept going back up again. Sonia assured me that that was a good thing because it was gently stretching everything. I don't know how long I kept pushing and struggling to relax enough for it to be effective, but eventually I felt a shift, and his head moved in earnest, like he was actually coming.

By this point I got a second wave of determination, I could see the end in sight. I did feel relief from pushing but it was only emotional relief. I pushed for about forty minutes all up, I think the last fifteen minutes were the best because that's when I knew it was working and that's when I called the kids in. As Angus crowned I reached down to feel his head (even though I didn't want to because moving hurt too much) and his head felt like one of those blue ice packs so I figured it was still in the caul. I think his head took about three spaced out contractions to come out fully, and I was so relieved to feel him actually working with me in between pushing. It wasn't until then that I realised part of what had held me back, and possibly lengthened transition, was a fear of losing the baby. He was born very soon after that.


I didn't know it, but apparently I picked him up myself and just pulled him to me. He didn't breathe straight away and he was quite pale, Sonia said to blow on his face but the second I set eyes on him I was so in love that I forgot, and she blew on him and gave him a little pat and then he just started to cry. I was flooded with so many feelings, from sheer joy to relief, and just about everything in between. All I can remember is saying over and over "hello little baby". Angus is now two and a half days old and I'm still feeling all those feelings, and I'm still saying "hello little baby" to him every time I set eyes on him.


It's strange to have a baby and yet no hole in my middle. It was amazing to hold my son before anyone else did. After pains don't hurt when you don't have a huge scar, or a life threatening illness. I'm slightly torn and I feel bruised as all hell, but ... I DID do it! And there's a little baby lying next to me, sleeping peacefully, and he will grow up with two siblings who can tell him the story of his birth. I imagine their story will be something like "Mum went into labour, we played for a while then went to sleep before the midwife woke us up to see you being born". That's how it should be.

He weighed 3.51kg, was born at 3:05am, head circumference 37cm and he was 55cm long. he was born into my hands after 5 hrs and 40mins of non labour, and 20mins of pushing bloody hard!