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.
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.
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!!!
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!
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.
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!
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!