A couple of months back I had serious concerns that I’d arrived at “peak rocks”. Peak rocks, is the time at which all of the easy to recover rocks on the farm were utilised in rock walls. Such an event would be very disturbing because it may require having to bring rocks in from outside the farm. The thought truly strikes fear into my heart because that also may mean actually paying for rocks when I’d been previously obtaining them for free!
Fortunately, after a bit of exploration deep into the forested lands on the farm I’ve discovered quite a few very rich veins of rocks. Those rocks are there for the taking and I’ve been busily making plans for all of the projects that they can be used in. However, there is one minor catch. All of those rich veins of rocks are downhill of the house, so if I want to use the rocks, I have to bring them back up the hill.
If it was summer, I’d simply drive the trusty white Suzuki down the hill to the nearest accessible place, load the vehicle up with rocks, and then drive it back up the hill. Easy! However, it is now winter and whilst the trusty white Suzuki will happily undertake the downward journey, coming back up the hill presents a few difficulties because the vehicle will do a whole lot of damage to all of the carefully maintained herbage which the local animals eat. And it would not look good at all not being able to make it back up the hill. Plus, how would I be able to get to the Post Office / Cafe.
Rocks are still being recovered, but I’m now having to go “old school” which means simply loading those rocks onto a wheelbarrow and pulling them up the hill by myself. It is a slow but sure process at this time of year.
With the benefit of a supply of additional rocks, the retaining wall around the new firewood shed has now been completed. The photo below shows the retaining wall with its various components.
|Sir Scruffy and Poopy inspect the new retaining wall next to the firewood shed|
Behind the very large rocks which form the face of the face of the retaining wall are many smaller rocks. Those many smaller rocks are mixed in with the local clay to ensure that the much larger rocks on the outward face stay more or less as they were laid. Over the top of all of those rocks a layer of rock toppings from a local quarry is added. Those rock toppings contain lime which when combined with water and rainfall forms a more or less solid surface.
|The finished retaining wall between the two sheds|
Rock wall action continued, because this week I scored two new olive trees. I use both the olive fruit and the oil from the pressed fruit all of the time in cooking, so more olive trees are very exciting. It is amazing how much fruit an advanced olive tree can produce and the trees just thrive here. There are now about 15 olive trees in the orchard and whilst I’m not in danger of running out of space for more fruit trees, I did have to work out exactly where to plant the two new olive trees.
There is a line of olive trees below the house, and this week I decided to extend that existing line of olive trees with the two new olive trees. However, those garden beds required more rocks! This is what it looked like before extending the rock wall:
|Before the new olive trees were planted|
I was never really sure what to do in that garden area anyway and because of that I’d done nothing. However today, that rock wall was extended a further 5 metres (16.5 feet) and the two olive trees were planted into the new garden beds. The photo below shows how these garden beds are constructed.
|New garden beds under construction|
The two new olive trees were planted and some of the soil was enriched with plant cuttings. At this time of year some plants can be cut back very hard and I use those cuttings as fill for new garden beds. On top of the cuttings, I add a thick layer of mushroom compost. Soil geek alert! The worms and all of the other soil life happily turn those cuttings into a rich and healthy soil.
And some of those cuttings were also replanted into the mix and it now looks like this:
|The two olive trees were planted today into the new garden beds|
Observant readers will note that although it is winter here, I’m standing outside in a t-shirt because the weather has been extremely warm this week. It almost felt as though spring had arrived early and many of the bulbs actually started to produce green shoots. Very observant readers will note that just behind where I’m standing in the photo there are many piles of saplings which will be used as pickets on the berry enclosure just behind me and to the left.
The cycles of nature dictate what has to be done when here and planting out all of the berries into that berry enclosure has to be completed before the end of August. That unfortunately means getting the pickets onto the berry enclosure before that date. If those pickets aren’t installed around the berry enclosure I might as well just feed all of the berry plants to the wallabies who will happily eat every one of them! The pickets will be simply screwed onto the fence rails surrounding the enclosure. The only problem with that plan is that the 20 year old trusty yellow drill has required a few repairs. A few months back I added a brand new keyless chuck to that trusty yellow drill, but with all of the bashing around during the construction of the machinery and firewood sheds, the electrical cord broke somewhere and the drill stopped working. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to hang the drill from the steel roof joists by its electrical cord?
Anyway, this week I performed a hack on a new heavy duty extension cord and rewired the trusty yellow drill and all was good. I didn’t actually go out of my way to colour match the electrical cable to the drill, but sometimes – what can I say – magic happens!
|The trusty yellow drill enjoys a brand new heavy duty colour matched electrical cable|
In breaking egg news, as the winter solstice is fast approaching the chickens decided this week to up their egg production and I’m now retrieving about three eggs per day from fifteen chickens.
As it is getting closer to the winter solstice, I've been posting the solar PV statistics:
Battery % full at the start of the day - Amount generated by the 4.2kW of PV panels during that day
Tuesday 9th June – 85% full – 3.8kWh
Wednesday 10th June – 90% full – 2.9kWh
Thursday 11th June – 90% full – 5.5kWh
Friday 12th June – 95% full – 3.8kWh
Saturday 13th June – 100% full – 2.6kWh
Sunday 14th June – 95% full – 4.2kWh
Monday 15th June – 85% full – 3.2kWh
How did the house get here?
As the 2010 year ticked over into January 2011, I was busily installing architraves, door jambs and internal doors. The door to the left in the photo below was very important because it was for the visitor’s toilet! During that time, I somehow managed to fill the book shelves that line the hallway too.
|Internal doors began to be installed, whilst the bookshelves were filled|
As it was summer, the 90 minute fire rated walls which protect and surround the underside of the verandah deck were installed. The photo below shows the first layer of 16mm (0.63 inch) thick fire retardant and moisture resistant plaster installed over a treated timber framework. The top edge of that plaster is further protected from moisture by various steel flashings that I had on hand. Those steel flashings weren't necessary and may have been a bit of overkill, but it provides an additional long term moisture protection to the plaster.
|The fire rated walls are installed protecting the underside of the house|
Those same fire rated walls protect the timber which holds up the veranda roof too! The join in the corner of the veranda was a nightmare angle, but fortunately the editor has a better brain for such things than I.
|The fire rated walls extend under the veranda roof as well|
A neighbour gifted me the remains of a rusty old water tank which was converted that month into three raised garden beds. It was quite large as the photo below shows:
|A neighbour gifted me the remains of a rusty old water tank which I converted into raised garden beds|
2010 was the wettest year here in recorded history with reliable records dating back to 1870! I’d never seen so much rain before and I don’t believe that the wildlife had either. The photo below displays a couple of very wet and bedraggled kangaroos enjoying the compost fed herbage lifestyle here at the farm:
|A couple of very wet and bedraggled kangaroos at the farm in January 2010|
The temperature outside here at about 9.00pm is 7.8 degrees Celsius (46’F). So far this year there has been 348.8mm (13.7 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 339.4mm (13.4 inches).