Sunday, July 31, 2011

Nothing on the Weekend

I had nothing on this weekend. It started off well, a few beers with some mates (for me) to celebrate finding out the sex of my new little farmhand. (it's a boy and I'll write a bit more about that later). Slept in Saturday with the weekend gloriously unencumbered by any appointments, social outings or coaching.

Of course this is Lantanaland and that means the list of things I have to do is as long as a 14 year old girls phone bill. I started off with a coffee, everything should start with a coffee then a little light fencing with the cows. They are not really up to Olympic standard but it was enough to get the sweat going. This paddock is the small one and it had one gap that looked like it was an impenetrable bank of eight foot high lantana. There is a little (native?) pea that was growing over it and they soon smashed that down to a size where they could munch the pea. On the other side of that was a stand of bananas and I might as well have gone to a fashionable club in Sydney and yelled 'free cocaine for everyone' considering the stampede into the garden. So the cows went back into the big paddock till I had fixed the fence.

This is the last of the grass I have in the paddocks. The other two are eaten out and I don't think I'll get time to do the last big one, which has a much higher lantana to grass mix anyway. The good news is that when this rainy season comes there is a LOT more open land and I'll do a bit of pasture improvement with some green manures over summer as well, so I should get a lot further next winter.

In the afternoon I decided to tear the carpet up, as you do after a good lunch. Underneath was lovely floorboards painted green with white and yellow splashed everywhere. Interesting. We haven't decided what to do, but I'm glad we are shot of that carpet.

Sunday I slept in until the cows bellowing got too insistent to ignore. Laf was in the dry paddock watching the others eat the nice grass and wasn't happy. I was waiting for my chippy neighbour to come over and give me some advice on where my new shipping container was going to live. He was off buying several hundred records, so I planted out two mulberry cuttings and gave them a little electric fence enclosure. Mulberries are supposed to be great for a cows health and I love them in smoothies, so I'm trying to propagate them in all the paddocks. I did some citrus pruning, planted a finger lime, chopped out a few weed trees and prepped for some new vegetable beds.

When Eric came over, we completely changed the plan, deciding to run the container east/west and bury half of it into the hill, which I'm very happy about. The only problem was the end we wanted to start at was covered in a nice thicket of farmers friends and lantana. What a surprise! Eric went home to his many projects and I went got out Zombie Defense Tool Number 1 (the brush cutter). I gave the blades a quick sharpen and went at it with abandon. That done we did some quick and dirty measurements to see how much fill and digging there would need to be done and called it a day.

Ahh yes, a nice quiet relaxing weekend.

- Lantanaland from my iPad


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Taking stock

Lantanaland is in a interesting spot. I have one pregnant wife and two pregnant cows. After four years I now have a good plan of some of the things that we want to do.

Take in front of the house. There is a flattish bit that runs along the whole front of the house where the original owner built retaining walls. When we first moved in the chooks went there, with varying degrees of success. It's hard to build a completely enclosed chook yard all the way to the edges of the level ground because of the retaining rocks. I lost chooks to snakes and foxes and more snakes, ducklings would find gaps and kamikaze down the rock wall. Usually just as the veg garden would get going, the chooks would find a way in and destroy it.

When the ikea flatpack chook house arrived I had a much better idea of what I wanted to do with the space. I decided to build raised garden beds on one side and move the aquaponics to the other side and incorporate a pond for the ducks and a waterfall for The Wife. Now a few years ago that would have cost me a bit of cash, but now I have the materials from the rebuild of the deck and stuff to fill them, an unending supply of cow shit. The first bed is up and producing, the salad leaves are ready and the tomatoes are coming along nicely.

Everything has a flow on effect. Moving the aquaponics will mean I can clear out a path running behind the tank and access and maintain a little rainforest garden below the big fig tree at the top of the block.

Take for instance, the impending birth of The Child. This has pushed us to expand our one and a half bedroom house somehow, which means I lose the carport space where I do my building. I can't really have a whole bunch of timber, recycled guttering, power tools and assorted drill bits lying around with a bub coming anyway. This is good, because it means the mythological and much planned for shipping container has passed the Wife Planning Commission and will be installed in the far corner of the top paddock to be part cool room, work shed, storage and doghouse. Extensive secret plans to build world domination center outfitted with every apple device available have yet to be approved.

A bit further down the paddock sits the poorly designed and poorly built cow bales and yard. It's done the job but is woefully inadequate for when Candy has her calf and I need to lock it up for the night so I can milk in the morning. I've mulled many an idea over to build a decent barn while spending my budget of next to nothing and I'd pretty much settled on a tyre construction with render, despite it being a shitload of work.

Then it hit me like a large amount of rectangular building things, with the shipping container going in, I'd have a perfect mount for a cow barn and lockable yard for the calf, rock solid and just sitting there! Happy days.

Elsewhere round the farm things are going pretty much to plan. I've kept up my ambition to get a whole bunch of fruit trees in at regular intervals. Recent additions are a lemon and a finger lime (surely I won't kill this one), gooseberries, raspberries and passionfruit (both to shade the gooseberries and to cover the ikea chook pen). Next round I'll get some avocados, a grapefruit and some more apples.

I've ordered some fertile eggs, including a few silkies. Those raised garden beds are all the same size and I'll make a chookhouse that fits right over the top and when the bed is done producing I'll chuck a few silkies in and they can turn it over for me.

I guess the thing is, when you get a place like Lantanaland, you get all motivated and want to gung ho. Which is fine if you have buckets of cash. But it is better to go slowly, make a few mistakes and learn along the way, so when you do the big immovable things, you are pretty damn sure that it what and where you want it.

- Lantanaland from my iPad

Location:On the road