Every picture tells a story, so I'm going to let the pictures do the talking this post. There are a lot! So grab a cup of tea and come along and see what we've been getting up to the past couple of weeks. We have been busy!
As a follow on to our last update, we're still mucking about with a tree! This tree next to the cabin we are renovating looks oh so pretty. But... the branches that lean over the roof don't look safe. They could stay where they are for years, or they could come down on top of what will soon to be a new roof in the next big storm. So Frans started cutting the branches with a very long saw that he purchased on eBay. It wasn't very effective. Lesson.. you get what you pay for! Our lovely neighbour Paul from the dairy around the corner spotted Frans struggling along with the tree and promptly offered his assistance. First long discussions were held to work out the best method of attack!
The tree was then 'scarfed' at the appropriate spots. Frans got right up to the spots that needed cutting. This little machine is called a 'tele handler'. Very useful indeed.
Up up up.....
The biggest branch took the most effort. All hands on deck for the cutting down of this one. I'm in the 4x4, branch tied to the front of the vehicle. I'm in our neighbour's paddock. Reversing.. keeping the line taught as Frans cuts... I keep pulling backwards... hoping I don't run out of paddock! There's a fence coming up behind me very quickly...
The branch came down just where it was supposed to. Then it was on to the next one. This time from a different angle.
A bit more to the right Paul....
This time the rope was lashed around the electrical pole. While Frans cut from the opposite side of the tree, three adults and a bunch of kids hung on the rope to keep everything just 'so'. Down the branch came with a crack. New floor frame completed a week or so before still in tact. Phew!
A branch may not look that big when it's up in the air, but down on the ground it takes up a lot of space! The cleanup took Frans the best part of a week. We have a pile of wood for winter burning in a year or so.
And then we were up early a couple of Monday mornings ago. Off to sell the ducks at the market. Dark and cold. First we had to catch them and put them into the cages (borrowed from our neighbour) on the back of the trailer.
Once at the market, we had to get our birds into the cages. It is a very old fashioned system. You pay for the hire of your cage. Around $2. So we put about 5 ducks in each cage. They get sold in lots generally. Once the auction is over, you stand in line to collect your money.
The bird market also provides an opportunity to buy stuff. All sorts of stuff! Frans was very happy to find two near as new 44 gallon drums. They are always useful on a farm. They are great to store chicken food as the mice can't get into them. Or they can be used in the fire season. They are filled with water and placed around the property. This way spot fires can be dealt with quickly.
The fellow below is the one we bought the drums from. We also purchased a bag of day old bread for the chooks for $2.50. He was also selling eggs and a rabbit! I'm not sure if the bunny was a pet for sale or for eating! Can you see it next to the bag of bread on the right?
I struck up a conversation with an Italian gentleman named Joseph. He was selling the cider barrel. I had my eye on it. Thought I'd pick it up after we sold our ducks. He also had a big bucket of broad bean seeds. They were on my list too! Sadly, he was gone by the time we were done. Next time!
You could find all sorts of things being sold out of the backs of trucks and car boots. This bloke was selling tin foil, rubber gloves and wait for it.... condoms! The mind boggles.
A quick stop at the 'ladies'. What a clever 'mirror'. Another use for those old cds!
Back in the market, I was most tempted.....Not! These gnomes went under the hammer before the birds! Really? What next!
Look at this chook. She looks really fat!
But wait... look what's hiding under her wings....
She was keeping 10 little chicks warm. The owner of the chook was hoping she'd fetch around $15. Bargain we thought! Our neighbour was there too and he decided to bid on her. He set his limit at around $60. Well, the happy farmer went home with $80! Our neighbour let her go. Pity our ducks didn't do as well....
This billy goat was also waiting his turn to be sold. He was impressive in many ways. His claws were incredibly long. His horns long and curly. And oh, the smell!! He was letting off some incredible pheromones.
Billy Goat Gruff was positioned right next to the 'collect your money' spot. The queue of sellers had to stand in the noxious vapour! Some were seen with scarves tied around their faces to block out smell!
Home we went. Fewer ducks to feed.
Then after our early morning start to the market, we got up early again the following morning. This time we were getting up close and personal with a herd of dairy cows. We have another dairy close to us. In fact we can see it from our farm. We were invited to come and see the girls in action!
Let me say, I have a new respect for our dairy farmers. The hours they keep are ungodly! It's cold, wet and dark! We arrived around a quarter to six. The stars were still out! Half the herd was already done with milking. By 8am the session was done. Then a big clean down of the dairy and a hot breakfast followed. The work day is spent looking after the cows, feeding baby calves, fixing fences... doing stuff that farmers do. Then around 4pm it all starts again. I'm not surprised that the farmers fall into bed at 8pm!
Note the wonder dog! He has a very important job. His boss whistles quietly to him and he rounds up another few cows to enter the rotary platform.
Here I am trying my had at milking. Well, not really. Just having a little tug on a warm and dry teat.
After the milking, our dairy friend pulls a big milk bottle into the calving area. The babies get their milk nice and warm! They're a little eager.... running after the milk machine. Those pink things are the teats that they feed from. The giant big green tank is where the milk is stored.
Seeing the milking of cows first hand makes me appreciate that 2 litre jug of milk we buy at the supermarket!
Last weekend we had a stall at the annual event held in Birregurra. The festival takes place in the grounds of the quaint bluestone Anglican church situated on the hill.
Sara and Stephen will be walking through these doors in October to get married!
A corner of our stand.
We were entertained by a group of Morris dancers. I can't say it's an activity that I'm dying to try!
Right after the festival, I drove to Melbourne to be with Sara. She was having a stall at the Camberwell Market. My favourite market in Melbourne! We were there early. Very early. It was still dark as we unpacked all her stuff. We had a good morning. The rain held off just long enough. She went home with a much lighter little car!
And then it was time to plant the garlic. Before we got down and dirty, Frans gave the beds a once over with a rotary hoe. Then it was simply a case of 'head down, bum up' and we planted three and a half thousand cloves.
Frans made a new awl to plant the cloves. It worked a treat. He moved down the centre of the beds on his knees. I preferred to bend over at the waist and plant hunched over. We were exhausted at the end of the day, but pleased with our efforts.
And lastly, I've been invited to be part of a core group of artists to exhibit and sell our work in a small local art gallery. We had the 'grand opening' this weekend. It was a success and we had lots of locals pop in to wish us well. I had my face in the local paper last week too.
Till next time, stay warm.