Having an eagles eye view across the valley to Mount Bullengarook and also to Mount Blackwood, means that sometimes you get to see some very strange clouds moving across the valley. Earlier this week the clouds did a great impersonation of the mothership which was clearly about to land in the valley after a long voyage across space:
|The mothership descends into the valley|
And land in the valley that cloud certainly did! Fortunately I didn’t spot any aliens exiting the mothership, but it is perhaps good advice not to go looking for them in the first place as they seem like bad news. Anyway, with the thick cloud, visibility was down to only a few metres (feet) and it stayed like that for many days.
The chickens are a mostly hardy lot and they didn’t let a little bit of thick cloud upset their fun which usually involves digging up the plants in the orchard!
|The enforcer chicken braves the thick cloud for a peck in the orchard|
Over the next few months, I’m considering rebuilding the chicken enclosure and chicken hut. Lewis has suggested that it may be a Taj Mahal in the making, but I’m thinking that it will be something closer to a Chookingham Palace! The current chicken housing arrangements are quite unsatisfactory for a few reasons, least of all being that the enclosure which the ladies spend most of their time in, is actually built upside down and on a slope. It will be quite interesting to be able to implement what I’ve learned about chickens over many years and I’ll include some preliminary designs on the blog over the next few weeks. I’d certainly be very interested to hear from everyone about what works and what doesn’t work with their own chicken enclosures, so feel free to discuss all things chicken enclosures.
The weird thing about the thick cloud here was that for quite a few days, if you ignored the constant mist and the fact that the solar PV produced next to no power, it was actually quite dry and OK to work outside. So, excavations for the new wood shed site continued and are now complete for that stage of the project.
When you excavate anywhere here, you never quite know what you’ll find in the ground. There can be giant rocks happily floating (seriously) through the clay and loam and they’re like the iceberg that finished off the unsinkable ship - The Titanic, because you’ll never know just how big they can be below ground level. And usually, they are exactly where you want to dig! This area has also had forests for millennia so there can be old tree roots or stumps underground in various states of decomposition and you’d never even know it.
To get a flat site for the new wood shed, I’ve had to dig at least 2 metres (78.7 inches) deep at the deepest point of the excavations. And wouldn’t you know it? An old and very large tree stump was sitting in the ground just waiting to be uncovered, just where I wanted to dig. I removed that tree stump by digging around it and axing off any side roots – some of which were enormous – and then cutting the tap root with the chainsaw.
|Old tree stump uncovered in the excavation area|
The final corner post for the new wood shed was then able to be cemented into the ground – and then all was good with the world and I went off and had a celebratory mead!
|The final corner post was cemented into the ground|
As of this afternoon, all of the posts have now been cemented into the ground. The height of the roof has been set at 2,300mm (90.5 inches). That height was itself governed by the height of the water tank that will eventually collect all of the rainfall that falls onto the shed roof. It is a funny process building a shed this way, because you have to understand every single step of the process before you can even begin construction.
|All of the posts for the new wood shed have now been cemented into the ground and the height for the roof has been set|
Autumn has truly taken hold here and over the past few weeks the tourists have descended on the mountain range to witness the change in leaf colour. The maples produce some spectacular colours and some of my favourites are the Japanese maples and below is a photo of one of the many Japanese maples here which has had a particularly nice colour change this week:
|Japanese maples produce an awesome autumn colour display|
With the roof now installed, by July 2010, I started installing the underfloor insulation and the very beautiful Sydney Blue Gum flooring. The flooring is actually a species of red gum and even today the floor has this sort of wild “red head” feel to it! To add to the interest, the timber was a downgraded timber, which is what the timber supply people call feature grade. Being classed as a feature grade the floor has a whole lot of visual interest, but is much cheaper to purchase than higher grades. I also strove very hard to increase the visuals of the floor by off-setting the very dark (which are the older timbers) with the very light timbers (which are from much younger trees).
|The underfloor insulation is installed at the same time as the timber floorboards|
The fibro-cement weatherboards were also installed that month and although the boards themselves were individually quite high at 230mm (9 inches) each, I provided a lot of overlap between the the boards so that the house looked as though it was a traditional weatherboard house, instead of a cabin park trailer. I actually had to sneak around some of the older suburbs in Melbourne at night with a tape measure to get a feel for what sort of measurements the older weatherboard houses actually had. Fortunately I was not caught in that act as it would have been very hard to explain!
|The external fibro cement weatherboards are being installed|
|All of the floorboards were finally installed in the house|
|The inverter is now connected up to the house batteries|
The electrician then could begin the exceptionally complex task of running electrical cables all around the house frame:
|The electrician began the complex task of running wires through the house frame|
To be continued…
The temperature outside here at about 9.00pm is 7.2 degrees Celsius (45’F). So far this year there has been 224.0mm (8.8 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 209.4mm (8.2 inches).