Saturday, January 26, 2008

Plums, plums and more plums

We have five plum trees on the property AND we haven't even had the runs yet - how lucky is that?!?! hehe I don't know how we've missed it because I thought it was gonna happen for sure. But thankfully no :) Four of them are Billington plum trees (this is what we think anyway based on our research!), which have nice sized fruit with deep red skin with rich red flesh and oh so yummy, slightly tart. They're the first to ripen and you better be quick to get em because once they're ripe - that's it! We had a lot from each tree but there were HEAPS, all trees were pretty laden and we left it a little long to pick them all and start making jam and bottling. Alas the birds were very well fed :) The last plum tree is a Wilsons Early, it has smallish yellow with red skin and yellow flesh and ripens later in the season than the others so we had the first and now the next ones are just starting to ripen. It's great! Today we picked a bucket full, poor Chris climbed the tree and got attacked by it's spikes. Plum trees aren't very friendly! We have made our first batch of plum jam, preserved plums and plum juice. YUMMO!!!

Billington plums just before ripening.

Chris up the Wilsons Early tree.

Our homegrown and homemade plum jam and preserved whole plums. YUMMO SCRUMMO!

What else have we done... well we've painted the front entrance and hallway, as well as the bathroom and toilet. It all looks sooooo much better. I don't know why I haven't taken photo's of that. But will sometime soon and post them - I haven't even taken photo's of the kitchen and lounge which we finished ages ago! Opsy - I'll get onto that. The bathroom is the best for me - it really looks amazing in comparison to what it used to. Sooooo much cleaner - ahhhh, it's so nice not having to look at other people's crud that, no matter how hard you scrub, just wont fucking well come off. Not to mention the crayon scribbles on the toilet wall that I always ended up looking at and getting irritated by as I sat there doing my thing. Along with the hole in the bathroom wall and one in the toilet - I would switch between crayon scribbles and hole in the toilet and always look at the hole and crud in the bathroom. Now it's all gone! HORRAY!!!!! So on the painting front we still have our room, the back entrance and laundry to do, as well as a final coat around the doors and windows in the kitchen and lounge. Oh and repaint the kitchen door where the naughty new puppy has scratched the new paint off - GGRRRRRRRRRRR. Oh and we bought a new front door and have put that on - looks great, though now we don't have a cat-door so gotta get that installed into a pane next to the french doors. Looks so much nicer with a lovely front door. Chris has nearly finished the vanity in the bathroom too, just gotta put the top piece of wood on and then it's done - we have a vanity. HORRAY!

We've spent a lot of money on plants and things are definitely looking better, after bastard horses and lambs eating all the first ones we bought. GGGGGRRRRRRRRRR! Animals. We now have predominantly lavender and roses - it's very country cottage and cute. We'll add it as we can and it will continue to progress and improve (that's the plan anyway). Things were looking great and then the dogs decided they'd annoy the piss out of us and dig one whole garden out, like it seriously was the whole fucking garden. Bastards. All the plants were totally dug out and strewn across the yard. Wow - really wanted to kill them after that. But we've replanted them and although they look pretty damned sad, they look like they're gonna survive (mostly!). And I'm talking about all of this and haven't actually taken any photos of the gardens either. Will do that too. I'll add it to the incredibly, unbelievably, dishearteningly long to-do list. hehe

Before planting all the plants that are piled up everywhere, but you can see the standard iceberg roses either side of the steps and the rocks surrounding where the garden now is - it's now full of lavender that eventually will be a lavender hedge in front of the deck. You can also see on either side of the other steps onto the deck we have more lavender in pots and the standard patio prince roses either side of the doorway. The trellis is also new (ages ago now) and we have star jasmin in pots on the far side of the BBQ to grow up the trellis, along with the pink flowered climber on this side of it, that I can't for the life of me remember the name of.

Patio prince rose - gorgeous colour huh?

One of the pink roses we have in the garden below the kitchen windows - we have alternating pink and ivory ones.

Pink flowered climber guy who lives next to the BBQ :)


What else... ah fencing. We've done the top paddock fencing. We'd used three gates tied together to fence the opening off for WAY TOO LONG. Now it's finally done and feels soooooo good :) That is halfway down the drive way, so we carried on the two rail fencing and luckily enough we had enough rails for that as it wasn't a big area. Makes a huge difference and feels so much better. It was kinda embarrassing when we have the three girlies with their horses paying to keep them up there and it had that. Yay, so now it's gone.

We've also fenced the orchard with sheep netting - there was no way they were being let off in the house paddock anymore after destroying everything that was growing pretty much. So they're tethered during the day, eating the grass along the driveway down - good luck sheepies! It's all so damned overgrown and yucky to them now. But we've tie them up in the house paddock as well which they LOVE, nice short, sweet and juicy grass. They've been in here for the last three days now, to give the orchard a rest and time to grow. It's totally dry and dead now, gone from being horribly overgrown to nothing. It's good though, when it starts growing back (if we ever get enough rain!!!) it'll be good grass.

Just after we put the posts in to fence the orchard.

Met enjoying the lush grass in the house paddock.

Code wanting to know if he can eat the camera.

We cleared out the sheds and sorted them so we now have a workable and useable garden/wood shed and the other one is a useable sleepout which is quite cute (if you're not that fussy). We've had three different groups of people stay in it and they've all said it was great (perhaps they were just being polite! hehe). It has a queen sized bed complete with mosquito net, set of drawers, bedside cabinets and a lantern with citronella oil for lighting, along with waking up to birdsong. Nice. What more would you want? Aside from the fresh coffee and cooked breakfast we have ready for you inside :) The other half of that shed is used for storage, but it's an organised storage shed now thank god. We have a great saddle rack as well, right by the door which is long enough to hold our two adult saddles and Caelan's little one, plus it's got room for one more adult sized. It's great.

Water - one of the most important, if not the most important subjects for us. Since spring we've been bucketing water to the horses and this is frightening for us because with the lack of rain our tank will being going down and down and down and down. We're really frugal with our water use - when we wash our hands we catch the water and it gets fed to plants. All washing water gets caught, with the first load going to plants and gardens and the second being used for the next load. All dishes water gets taken out of the skin and given to plants, there is no such thing as taking a plug out and watching any water (regardless of how dirty!) go down the drain here. Showering every day is a thing of past days, days where water wasn't limited. Ahhhh how we loved our trip to Melbourne and showering every day! Along with our wee two night holiday in a hotel here - aaahhhhh the showers and being able to use water like it didn't matter. It was still always on my mind though, out of habit. But the latest exciting news is, Kevin (my father) found the bore while they were here visiting last week and there's still water down there!!!! It's so exciting! So now we just need to find a way to buy a pump and the hose needed and viola we have water for the horses, sheep and dogs (and gardens) and it wont have to come from our tank!!! YAY! So we're in the process of researching all of that and hopefully our problems will be solved. Yay :)

We also invested in a needed chainsaw - wahoo! Chris has put it to good use and has chopped up all of the fallen down trees from the fence-line of the first top paddock. We have a healthy wood pile stacked in the shed and against the wall outside. There's sooooo much more wood on the property to chop, but we'll get there.

And we've made Caelan a sandpit - it's a deep inground one that took a lot of digging. It's pretty damned deep too. He loves it. It's framed with four 6x2 planks and goes down from there. What a lucky little boy huh? Poor Chris too, as obviously he did pretty much all the digging, I helped when I could and as I could but being pregnant and the heat absolutely KILLING me I wasn't much help. I was more loosening the dirt for him to take out and wheel away. But it got done and two trailer-loads of sand later, Caelan has a sandpit.

Oh and yeah, we have a new puppy. She's the same breed as Toa (dogue de bordeaux) and is loving her country life. Her name's Mawhero (which means Pink), we wanted her to have a maori name like Toa (means Warrior). She's a lovely little girl, even though she destroys gardens! Toa's loving having a friend, although she swings off his lips at times and irritates the snot out of him. He's the most tolerant and patient dog in the world though and just lets it happen. He'll love it when she's big like him and they can play properly.

ANNNNND we bought a new outdoor dining suite and it's lovely jubbly! Our little rickety one just wasn't cutting it - we eat outside so much here (who wouldn't???? It's amazing and you'd be mad not to). The new one is great, seats six and is a really good size - we've used it HEAPS since getting it just before new years. It gets used pretty much every day and it's lovely just sitting out there talking to the birds. Our swallows who live in the front doorway now have their second set of babies - so cute! Caelan loves them and will visit them throughout the day and come back saying "Baby birds sleeping" if they're in the nest asleep. Ohhhh and speaking of birds, we have A LOT, I mean a fuck of a lot of bird visitors here. I've lost count of how many Caelan and I have gotten out of the fire place during the day. We have had a friendly fantail visitor who comes inside just to hang with us - like literally follows us into whatever room we're in. He's lovely. The swallows from the front often come in to say hi when I'm working on the computer. Sparrows will come in regularly - it's a right little bird house we have. Frank (the cat) is thrilled about it. And we've already had to save two young sparrows from the budding bird dog Mawhero.

If you just open this wee glass door I'll help it outside. Pleeeeeeease. YEAH RIGHT!

So just don't let that dog get me huh?

Come on little birdy, we'll put you outside.

Swallow having a visit in our room, chilling on the TV.

So that's the update on our wee farm. We've always got heaps to do but we have done heaps as well. Here are some more pics of around and about.

Chris and Mickey having a chat after a night time water filling run.

Don't use jandals as your farm work boot - this is what your feet will look like!

Ah the hammock, there are many magic spots on the farm but this is pretty close to being my favourite to relax.

The dogs chilling out.

The old outdoor set, it's now looking quite different here. We've tidied up the clearing more and the set is in the middle of that, Chris has chopped up all the logs that are seen in that pic as well. It looks really cute in there now.

The herb tower - gotten so much use out of that recently! It's great. Though the coriander is looking pretty damned sad these days and I anything I do just doesn't help. Also one of the basil varieties is doing really badly - hopefully I'm able to revive them.