Spring Planting

2016/08/21 deej 0

It’s been a busy weekend. As well as finishing off a literature review around implementing dehesa style agroforestry in Australia, for my uni course (once the paper is marked and returned, I’ll put it up here in the Resources section), I’ve planted 17 trees. The bare root trees from Heritage Fruit Trees arrived, so there’s been a lot of digging and planting happening. Five more apple trees for the orchard, five pears and two nashi pears planted in a new little pear grove, and another five stone fruit trees for Zone 1 behind the house.


Zone 1 includes the herb garden at the front, the roses, the chicken coops, the somewhat-in-need-of-repair vegetable garden, and most of the stone fruit I’m putting in. There are going to be almonds and cherries around the vegetable beds, to give summer shade for the veges and for people, to make it a pleasant space to be in. Between the vegetable garden and the house I’m planting a miniature hedge maze, made up of productive fruiting plants (plums, peaches, nectarines, persimmons, lily pilly trees, sloes, mulberries, and damsons) and some livestock-friendly fodder plants for cut and carry animal feed (willow, hibiscus) all trained into a hedge form. It’s a challenging mini project, because the soil in that area is very poor and very compacted, with a lot of rock in it. But what’s life without a few challenges? It’ll be beautiful when it’s all in.


All the trees are budding, and the almond is in full flower already. It’s definitely spring. The chickens are all laying again, and the wildflowers are out. Any day now we’ll have to harvest the beehive.


Meanwhile, K has been in the workshop, building a pair of Japanese-style sliding doors for our media room / meditation dojo / guest bedroom. The wood stain is going on as I type, and they should be ready to go up tonight or tomorrow. Very exciting. (The room didn’t get doors fitted when the house was built because we wanted something special, and also because the doorway is not a standard door size).


June 12: Housework

2016/06/12 deej 2

This is not a post about cleaning, doing laundry, or even about looking after the cats (yes, that counts as housework normally). The kind of house-work I’m talking about is more along the lines of minor renovations.


When the house went in, nine months ago, there were some casualties – a few trees had to go to make room for the trucks to come in. The contractors knocked them over, and (at our request) left them for us to deal with. We collected a few sections and painstakingly de-barked them on the verandah. They’ve been drying out and seasoning since then, in preparation for being moved indoors as combination ornamental pillars (sort of a ‘whole-tree architecture‘ thing) & cat climbing toys. Yesterday I sanded the tree sections, and treated them with borax (wiped them down thoroughly with a borax solution of about 400g in about 8 L hot water, with some soap added for good measure). Today the fist coat of varnish went on, so after another coat of varnish they can be installed.


We’ve also been working on putting up sliding doors on the guest room / media room / meditation dojo (it’s a multi-purpose room, depending what we need). The idea is something that looks like Japanese-style rice-paper sliding doors but is a little more resistant to destruction by cat. And since we do have a house-guest arriving next week and staying with us for a couple’ve weeks, it seemed like a good time to do something about the door situation.


The other thing we did yesterday was tidy the workshop and the garage. Which took most of the day, and left us exhausted – but with a sense of satisfaction. It’s much more usable now, and our bicycles have a proper space in the garage instead of being shoved up against the wall between boxes.


June 10: Art and Happiness

2016/06/10 deej 0

Everyone understands the need and desire for nourishing food, to provide us with energy and amino acids and essential nutrients. That’s pretty straight forward. But as a social species, we actually need more than that. We have needs that go beyond the physiological – we need things like acceptance, love, appreciation, and autonomy. We seek happiness, or self-actualisation, or a sense of belonging and community (or all of these things, they’re not mutually exclusive). We create meaning for ourselves out of the things we do, because we need our actions and our lives to have meaning.


There are many paths up this particular mountain. Today’s project is one of those. I bought another wall decal, this one a mandala pattern for the toilet door, and I’ve been filling it in with colour using enamel paints. It isn’t finished, because paint has to dry before more paint can be added, otherwise most of the paint ends up on me. Been there, done that.


Lots of things provide me with happiness. Flowers growing, gardening or cooking, baking bread, looking at the stars. Reading a good book. Having a warm cat sitting on my lap, purring (which I currently in fact have). But I’m also an artist, and for me one of the big things which gives me happiness is creating things.


I acknowledge that this project is basically just colouring in, no great creative feat. But it still makes me happy. And it’s one more thing towards getting the house finished (even if it’s a very small thing), which also makes me happy.


If anyone wants to play with this idea, it’s super easy to do on a small scale. Draw a pattern on a piece of wood or masonite (if you don’t feel able to draw a pretty pattern free-hand, copy one fro a picture of a simple stained glass window), and then fill in the spaces using paint. Enamel paint is available from hardware stores in small ‘sample’ pots, or you can use artists acrylics, or just use nail polish from the $2 store. It’s available in lots of pretty colours, and it’s easy to get. When you’re done, you can go over your lines with a black or metallic permanent marker if you want to. Then paint a layer of clear varnish over the top to seal the whole thing, and you have a lovely artwork to hang on a wall, or wherever you like. This is pretty easy for children, too, if they’re old enough to be trusted not to try eating the paint or nail polish, and have a reasonable level of dexterity.

June 6: furniture modification

2016/06/06 deej 0

When I was 19 or so, I built myself a bed. To be precise, a queen-size loft bed – effectively the top bunk of a bunk bed, but with no bottom bunk and instead space for a desk or couch underneath – made of large chunks of jarrah and aged pine.


Today’s project was modifying that bed. We’ve cut the legs down a bit, so it’s only 80 cm off the ground, rather than a full 1.5 m. K got to use the table saw he got for his birthday (and thinks it’s the best toy ever). And then we carried the pieces down from the workshop to the house; with just the two of us, that was a pretty epic task in and of itself.


The modification works are now complete, the new varnish dried, the mattress and bedding in place. It may not sound like much, but it was  pretty major project.


Photos to come 🙂


June 2: Seed Planting

2016/06/02 deej 0

Winter is here. Cold nights (and cold days, too, at the moment!), rain and wet, black soil. Every night there’s the smell of woodsmoke from wood-burning heaters in the neighbourhood, and the deciduous trees are all in the last stages of losing their leaves. The sweetgums are glorious, red and purple and gold. Everything is settling in for a good winter’s hibernation. Perfect time to plant tree seeds.


Stone pine seedsI’ve had some stone pine (Pinus pinea) seeds and cork oak (Quercus suber) acorns in the fridge for a couple’ve months, getting the chill they need to start germinating. They’re going to go into the zone 5 woodland, along with the edible-seeded wattles from the last lot of seeds. The first stone pine seed has just cracked open, so it’s time to plant them out, let them start getting the warmth of the winter sunshine as well as the cold. That was today’s task.


cork oak acorns, plantedI’ve also planted another load of vegetable seeds, mostly beans and a few different squash. The tomatoes have all sprouted, and realy need planting out, and the eggplant and capsicums have started sprouting as well now. The peas I planted are well on their way to taking over the world, triffid-like, and I’m hoping they survive long enough to produce peas! In the past I’ve had a lot of trouble with snails every time I’ve tried growing peas; they’re just too delicious, apparently.


the new towel railOn the house front, our achievement for yesterday was to put up the second towel rail. It’s been sitting there waiting for weeks, and it finally went up last night. There was much rejoicing. We celebrated with a bubble bath, and chocolate biscuits.


Corvy (the newest addition to the menagerie, a little black kitten we adopted to be a companion for George) fell in the bath, but he wasn’t too fussed about it. No scratching and clawing to get out, he was just a bit unsure because he couldn’t reach the ground – and a bit cold once he got out, until he was dry again. He was more careful after that, though, and stayed next to the heater to finish drying off instead of scrounging for chocolate biscuits.

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