Saturday, 31 December 2011

A work in progress

Wayne's been working flat out on the stable for the last few days. I think I'll take you for a small stroll through the history of the stable thus far.

This is what it looked like when we first saw the farm. It was an old shed, housing a tractor and many bits and pieces of rusty engine parts, broken plowing implements, trucks, boat bits, drums of oil and a truck parked next to it. The roof was being held in place by spit and a collection of old tractor wheel hubs and besser blocks.

Before we moved in the previous owner took away everything he wanted to keep. Most of the truck parts, boats and tractors went. All that was left was a falling down shed and a whole lot of rubbish. Really. A ton of rubbish that we are still coming to terms with.

So Wayne started looking at it, considering how to go about converting it into a stable for 2 horses. We only had Wally at the time but were planning to get a horse for me. He found that the roof needed replacing entirely, that the low ceiling on one end of the shed was too low for horses, and that one post wasn't holding up the wall let alone the roof. It wasn't even in the ground.


Slowly, over the next few months, Wayne started to rip the old shed apart. He dug holes and put in posts to hold up a new roof for the 'extension'... only to find the irrigation pipes. Twice. Seems like every single hole that Wayne dug for a few weeks had a pipe going through it. I think we spent more on mending pipes than on anything else during that period.

One weekend our friend Chris came up and together the guys put the first half of the roof on. By then we'd already had Ben join our family so the two bays were perfect for the two boys. Of course, now we also have Dancer which means that the work is far from finished. We need another bay, so Wayne is considering a 'lean-to' bay added to the side of the current structure.

I suggest he builds another, similar structure at a right angle to the one we have now - another 2 bays.... Cause you never know when you may need another stable... :)





Thursday, 29 December 2011

Before and after

This is the before photo of the vegie patch. Not before-before. When it was 4 beds of weeds. About halfway through the weeding process, 2.5 beds done, 1.5 to go.

This is the vegie patch a couple of weeks ago, overgrown with growing things that we actually planted on purpose. Well, minus a few that were either eaten by bugs or threw the towel in on their own. The corn is currently almost as tall as I am and the runner beans have grown up the trellis and are sporting red flowers. Who knew.

I've just been feeling so lazy lately... I have a ton of things I need to or want to get done over the holidays, but I just can't motivate myself to do anything at all. Maybe I just need a rest for a few days, then I'll get back into it.

...That's what I'm telling myself.

Wayne's daughter Caitlin is visiting us and its nice to get to know her. So far Wayne's taught her how to drive the 4x4 up on the hill, we plan to put her on Ben for his first time being ridden and I think he's planning to get her to chop down a tree after that, then stock us up with firewood for winter.

Ok. Only joking. Caitlin can't ride, and though we'd love to get someone onto Ben who's lighter than us (Wayne suggested I buy a clydesdale!) I don't think it'd be fair to use Caitlin as a guinea pig. As for the chainsaw, I don't think anyone can prize that baby out of Wayne's hands...

I'm actually really looking forward to getting back to working with the horses today. It's been weeks. And I have a new saddle to play with. We bought a hybrid - that's a confused saddle, not quite Australian stock, not quite western. Its a Wintec so its as light as a feather (compared to Wayne's western). I'm hoping Ben will like it. I believe my butt will like it fine.

I really can't wait to start riding Ben. And Wally sure needs the exercise. All the horses are round as a whole number thanks to the shortage of grass around here. A visitor thought Wally was pregnant! Besides the grass and the hard feed they all get (cut down to one meal a day now), Wally scoffs the best bits out of his feed bin, then runs up and eats the chook feed too. Its a miracle he isn't laying eggs with the amount of layer pellets he's eating!

We could use the eggs.

So, they could use the exercise. As could we... Seems like lately we mark time between one meal and the next. Right now I have scones in the oven... with strawberry jam and that double thick cream you can stand a knife up in. YUM.

And tonight is pizza and movie night. I'm making pizza and we got dvds in New Norfolk. Wayne got 3 movies about centurions, romans, swords and heads being chopped off. I got Red Dog and Water for Elephants. You know which I'll be angling to watch tonight.

Let's hope the scone are edible. First time I ever made scones they were hard as rocks. This time I'm making them using a Country Women's packet. Just add water it said. Easy as pie. We'll see.

Better go check the oven.


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Boots and all

Its been a busy few days. Firstly there was the crazy build-up to Christmas, then somehow instead of collapsing in a heap, we found ourselves doing MORE.

Christmas was fantastic. We had 3 friends come up from Cygnet to stay, and another two good friends who came up for the day with their gorgeous dog, Harvey. Montana and Harvey have the kind of relationship where there's nothing they wouldn't do for each other - so they spend their time together doing nothing for each other.

First time they met was at a park near my house in Fentonbury. I thought it was wiser to introduce them on neutral turf given he was visiting us for the first time. They met, sniffed and basically ignored eachother in perfect harmony. Then we all drove to my place and soon as we arrived Montana turned into Ms Protector. She rushed up to Harvey as he bounced out of his car. Harvey turned on her and gave her as good as he got. Montana turned around and jumped back into our car and stayed there till 'that nasty Harvey character' had gone home. Ever since then, every time Harvey comes over I just open the back of the car and Montana spends his visit in there.

That's where Montana spent Christmas day.

She kept an eye on things from afar, making sure 'that Harvey' didn't get up to anything.

Romeo on the other hand kept a closer eye on Harvey. He never let him out of his sight. When the rain started and we went inside Romeo was there, watching, while Montana stayed in the car in the carport.

At one stage Romeo just couldn't contain himself any longer. He snuck up behind Harvey and tried to nip him on the butt. Harvey (who is wise to Romeo's butt-nipping tactics) whirled around like a flash causing Romeo to virtually spring over the coffee table backwards, narrowly missing the coffee cups.

Yes, I did mention rain. Rain is too mild a word for the downpour. Firstly, let me mention that I've been in Tasmania for 8 Christmases now. And not a single one of them has been good weather. Once it even snowed. And before you ask, yes, its summer here. 

This Christmas was almost an exception. The day was hot and still. I'd put up the gazebo but made the executive decision to eat inside cause it was actually cooler in there with fans on. Lucky too. I was outside picking fresh raspberries for dessert when the wind picked up and the rain started. I tried to brazen it out a while, but the raindrops started coming down hard and I had to make a run for it. I got everyone galvanised to help take down the gazebo cover before it became airborne, take in the chairs, rescue one umbrella as it sailed off down the road. 

We sat inside and watched the rain come down in sheets and turn to hail. Then we watched in horror as the footpath turned into a mini tsunami that washed down the steps and into the casita, through the laundry and the workshop area, then down a crack in the floor, at which point it disappeared from sight. (I sure am glad Wayne isn't a great carpenter and that he left a small gap between the old floor and the new!)

Wayne and I both waded out to make sure tools and other stuff was safe from the path of the water. It was coming in through the walls in some places.

In all the excitement we forgot that all the windows in the house were opened (it HAD been hot!). All the bedrooms are on the back side of the house - and the rain was coming down from that direction... straight into the bedrooms, soaking the single bed in the tiny room, the carpet in the main bedroom and guest room, and the office desk. ugh.

Anyway, no real harm done. Things have dried, things have been washed, and all seems ok.

So Christmas was exciting.

When everyone had gone the next day and 575 dishes washed, Wayne and I looked at the garden. The new deck will be going up soon and a couple of shrubs needed to be moved. A salvia and a hebe, both flowering gorgeously till we attacked them.

See, they were right in the path of the new deck. They had to go. So, going by what I'd been told, I cut  them right back and Wayne dug them up. I figured they were going to die anyway, we could at least try to transplant them... nothing to lose right?

Well, turns out the salvia wasn't too hard to get out, though it came out in 2 pieces. I potted one up for a friend and planted the other. The hebe though wasn't going to go peacefully.

Wayne dug and prodded and heaved with the crow bar. Nothing doing. So he got out a chain, wrapped one end around the bush and hooked the other end to the towbar on the ute. I watched as he accelerated slowly, carefully... and obliterated the bush, breaking it off at the base.

So much for transplanting the hebe!

I took cuttings from both bushes. Maybe I'll get lucky and a couple of them will take.

We never claimed to be great gardeners. In fact we have a vegie patch which is growing in leaps and bounds and we have no idea what to do with the stuff in it! We don't know when things are ready to pick or how to cook some of the stuff in there (the packet said 'asian greens' and it seemed like a good idea at the time! Now I have a patch of overgrown asian greens I have no idea what to do with!).

I put in about 15 silverbeet plants. Not my fault. That's how many the punnet had in it! Wayne watched me plant them all. Then our neighbour gave us another 3 plants. When they were ready to pick Wayne told me he hates silverbeet. What on earth am I going to do with half an acre of silverbeet? sigh.

Luckily for me 1/3 of the stuff I put in died, or we'd be totally sunk. I think I may have to be more sensible next year. Put in less of some plants. Like the lettuce for instance. You can't cook or freeze lettuce. What on earth am I to do with 613 lettuces? 

I need rabbits...

So. Once we'd pulled out the bushes, we had to put them in somewhere right? We'd prepared an area above the driveway, a bit of a slope. I'd bought some topsoil in anticipation of putting in a garden bed in that area. My idea was to create 'steppes' out of some cement blocks we inherited with the property. 

This is what the area looked like originally - the tarps were my way of passively killing the weeds. It didn't work, they were still alive, but they did have a bit of a headache.

Wayne dug holes, we shovelled dirt, mixed in some horse poop and finally we were able to put the plants in. I put in 2 different daisies, a lavender, some seeds and a plant called Cherry Pie... Fingers crossed they grow. The dirt in that area is poor and I'm not sure we had enough topsoil. My theory is that if I feed them regularly they'll be ok. If I'm wrong I'll know soon enough.

It was hot too, though overcast. Wayne worked topless, and though he was all for me immitating him, I opted for the midriff look - tucking my T-shirt up into my bra at the sleeves and above my waist. We're both sunburned. Wayne is lobster red all over his back. Me, I look like a belted galloway in negative.

What's a belted galloway?

Meanwhile, Wayne saw his first snake the other day. He was walking through the bottom paddock, which looks like this:

He's let the horses into the bottom paddock now so he had to set up water for them. While out there Barney apparently warned him about the snake he was about to step on. Damn lucky too, cause all he had on his was a hanky to beat it to death with.

So, life has been exciting here at Wind Dancer.


Friday, 23 December 2011

What goes around

They say that if you do good things, good things will happen to you. I've always been amazed by how this works... All my life I've had good things happen to me in the most unexpected ways. Then again, I do good things for others too.

Its never a quid pro quo arrangement. I don't do something good for someone who's done something good for me. For instance, I give things away to people who need them, I rarely sell things I no longer need. Then, when I need something, someone else will give me something to help me out.

Its really quite cool how that works.

Many years ago, I lived in Melbourne and used to dance rock'n'roll about 4-5 times a week, going to pubs to follow bands. One of the most popular places to go on a Sunday afternoon to watch a band and dance had changed hands and was no longer doing rockabilly on Sundays. I missed it. So, when I bumped into an old classmate from art school who he told me his family had bought the pub, I instantly asked him to consider bringing back rockabilly. I gave him the phone numbers of the bands I knew, I recommended good bands which would draw a crowd and gave him advice on how to run it.

A few weeks later, rockabilly was back on the menu on Sunday afternoons.

It never occured to me to ask for anything in return. I gave my advice cause I wanted somewhere to dance again on a Sunday (selfish!), but also to help out a friend who said that their Sundays were quiet. He was happy, I was happy. I went there every Sunday and paid a cover charge just like everyone else. Until another friend of mine pointed out to the owner that he owed the Sunday success to me. From that point on I got in for free (a saving of $5), but I already had what I wanted. I felt good.

I asked a friend of mine at the time if she could give me the phone number of another band she knew well, so I could pass that on and they could be booked to play on the occasional Sunday. She wanted to know what was in it for her. Getting the band a gig and having somewhere to go to enjoy their music wasn't enough for her. She wanted a spotters fee.

I never understood that mentality. When you do something for someone, you do it cause you want to, otherwise don't do it at all. A friend will help you paint a room or move house cause that's what friends do. Sure, I've offered to pay friends to do jobs for me, but in most cases its cause I wanted more help than they were able to give me on their own terms. When I was getting my house in Melbourne ready to sell, a good friend helped me repaint it. We didn't get enough done on the weekend so I paid her to stay a couple of extra days. She was a student and needed the earnings from her job to make ends meet. I couldn't ask her to miss work for nothing in return.

When I broke my ankle a few years ago and was laid up in my house, in a new state and knew only one neighbour, I got the most unexpected gift. Someone I'd only ever heard of from a discussion group called the local store and sent them some money for my groceries. I'm amazed that someone would do that for a stranger.

People can be so surprising. Especially when you don't expect it.

On the other hand, I'm also a great believer in asking. I figure there's no point in being shy or afraid to ask. The worst that can happen is you get a no. My ego can take that.

Yesterday when I went to pick up the work van I noticed a trailer load of rough timber boxes on the back of a trailer behind the business next door to work. There was a man working in the garden. I asked if the boxes were going to be thrown out, and if so, could I have them. He asked if I wanted them as planter boxes cause that's what he'd thought of using them for, offered me some of them, then said I may as well take them all (9) and save him carting them around. I now have a stack of boxes in my drive waiting for a new home and plants!

Wayne was like 'What's that? More stuff!' and this morning he was 'I like those boxes, I may steal some...'

But the best was a phone call I received yesterday afternoon. On Sunday, when I picked up Merrill to take her to the airport, she pointed out a stack of underlay and carpet in the neighbour's carport. The house has recently sold and they're obviously rennovating and the old carpet is in the carport, most likely to go to the tip. She suggested I take it for the casita. I said I couldn't go into someone's yard without permission to take something which may or may not be destined for the tip. Different if its on the nature strip. Then its first come best dressed. For all I knew the guy had another use for it. So I went in and left a note on the stuff.

Yesterday afternoon I got a call from a man who was so thrilled that I left a note. He said he thought it was nice of me and cool to find the note, and that I'm welcome to take as much of it as I want. He was planning to take it to the tip on Saturday. He also asked me to stop by and introduce myself if he's there next time I see someone in the house.

I made his day and that makes me feel nice. Plus I get new (old) carpet and underlay for the studio area of the casita and the grooming room! :) Win win.

Well, the pre Christmas stuff won't get done by me sitting here writing blogs. Better get off my butt and get started.


Thursday, 22 December 2011

There's a reason they call it the silly season

Christmas is sneaking up on us and things are going slightly crazy. People seem to have run out of patience for work, have shorter fuses and every day is a struggle to keep up.

Everyone says 'Its the end of the year. We're all tired.' But what I don't get about that argument is that the 'end of the year' is just a date on the calendar. Its just another day like the day before and the day after. Sure, some of us have holidays around Christmas time, but why is it that everyone seems to wind down as the end of the year approaches? I haven't noticed people winding down before a holiday at any other time of the year.... It must be psychological: the year behind weighs down on us, exhausting us... then a new year begins and we feel lighter, ready to tackle anything. Maybe its just the hope that the new year will be better than the last.

Things in my world have been a bit wierd lately, in keeping with the spirit of the season. On Tuesday, while crossing the road with a client, I suddenly got a stabbing pain in my right hip. A pinched sciatic nerve apparently. I stumbled through the day, holding my butt-cheek for the majority of it (good look) then drove home in agony and booked a treatment with a friend who does deep tissue massage. She came over next morning and after she was finished I felt like a new person... albeit one who'd had a severe asskicking! My butt cheeks are black and blue.

That woman has strong fingers!

So, since I was at home resting and recouperating, I decided to finish the little Christmas tree I was making for a centre piece for Christmas day. Its made of sticks I collected in the paddock. I used my glue gun to put it together, and topped it off with a star decorated with beads.

No idea what happened here... This photo was saved as portrait. Please tilt your head to see it!
I also made a few stars from sticks to decorate the room. I used wire to tie the sticks together in star shapes and then hung beads on wire from the bottom point.

I feel quite proud of my Christmas decoration experiments. 

Meanwhile Fred and his friends all got noses. I made another friend for him and realized none of them had a nose. So now they all do.

Christmas is going to be busy here. We're having it here to celebrate the first year on the farm. We've decided to forgo tradition and make it a grazing day: cold ham, cold turkey, cold chicken, salads, dips, cheese, crackers, lots to drink and lots of sweets. And all day to consume them!

Hopefully the day will be good to us, but despite the weather bureau's long term forecast about a hot day with afternoon showers, I'm not optimistic. Ever since I've lived in Tasmania Christmas day has been COLD.

So I'm planning to set up the gazebo for an outside setting, and bring in trestles and a door to set up an inside table as well. Better safe than sorry I say.

I'm also planning to wash and clip dogs. Can't have grimy dogs around here at Christmas! Barney is quite happily going through his days, completely unaware that his fuzzy face is soon going to shaved off and the accumulation of grime and smelliness is about to washed off. Mischa's too. Well, she wont be clipped, but she'll be washed. Her whites will be white again!

My two will go from a greyish white to pure white again. And I'll be able to see their gorgeous faces again. Its been too long since they were last done. And they love it. They love being farm dogs! In fact, thats one of the best things about living here instead of Fentonbury. In Fentonbury they were locked up all day when I was at work, here they get to spend the days in the yard and they love it.

Ben is gorgeous. He's definitely my horse, comes to the fence to say hello and get a face rub and comes to me all the time. I love it. Then Wally comes over and pushes him away in case I have carrots.

Wally meanwhile has been scoffing down his food as quick as he can, then rushing over to where Wayne feeds the ducks and chooks so he can clean up the wheat and layer pellets. With the amount of chickenfeed he's getting, its a miracle he isn't laying eggs!

Dancer is being a real girl., playing one boy off the other. Poor Ben is the one getting picked on I think. Maybe I made a mistake encouraging Wayne to get her... Poor Benjamin... I may separate him a while. We haven't had time to work with him at all lately. I'm really hoping we can get back to it soon. I'm eager to ride him.


Friday, 16 December 2011

Sniff butt

Dancer, in the front yard.

Check that out Ben! Its a girl!


She sure is pretty Wally. She smells nice...


You boys can sniff my butt!

EWWWW. Girl butt!

Dancer is coming along nicely. She's learning to trust us, particularly Wayne cause he works with her the most. He's been working on her giving her feet so that we can trim her hooves, she's coming to us when we arrive home from work and seems to enjoy our company, pats and carrots.

She's filling out too. Her butt has a nice roundness to it that it lacked before. She's still skittish about some things, but she is coming along. For instance, when we got her you could never be sure if she was going to kick, but now she'll come up and back up to you to have her butt scratched. And she was really reluctant to let anyone touch her head. We've been working on that and most of the time now she'll let you touch her head and run your fingers through her forelock even though she still doesn't like it much.

With Christmas coming up and all the stuff that seem to happen around this time of year, its been hard to find the time to work with the horses. All last week we had meetings, training and dinners after work, so every night was a late one. Hopefully next week will be a bit easier as we only have one meeting and then we have a 3 week break for summer holidays.

I am so looking forward to my holiday! Not that I see myself really relaxing... I have a To Do list a mile long! Things I'd like to get done while i have a few days at home.

Like finish the brushcutting I started last weekend. About 4 hours of it. I tackled the deep grass and weeds growing around the dam and the pussy willow stems I stuck in the ground around there. I put in about 9 pussy willow stems. I think 6 have made it. There may be more... I have to finish the job and find them in the weeds.

Once that's done I have to tackle the other side of the fence, around the water tanks. Another 4-5 hours... 

Then, about 3 weeks later, repeat above steps.

I also have plants to put in the ground (over 20) and seedlings to separate and pot up...
Those are just the outside jobs! It never ends. I wonder what on earth possessed us to buy a farm? One and a quarter acres was more than enough outside work for me... Don't they say be careful what you wish for, you might get it? I always wished to live on a farm and Ta Da! Here I am!

I do love it, though, so I can't complain. I just wish that I had more time to enjoy it. More time to spend doing things at home, on the farm. More money to do them with. Less need to work.

A lotto win would come in handy right now! Failing that, selling my house in Fentonbury would help a hell of a lot. 

So people out there looking for a beautiful, comfy house, in a gorgeous landscape, for a country life, look no further. I have the house for you!

Till then, I work at work, I work at home, I work in the garden, I groom dogs, I paint. The time I have left over I play with poodles and horses and enjoy the view.


Did you hear about Fred?

Hey! Did you hear about Fred?

Shh! Here he comes!

Hey Fred!

Hey guys...

So, what did happen to Fred? Fred is a pipe cleaner and pom pom poodle I made last week as a prototype/experiment for Christmas ornaments. I made Fred late one night while watching TV and when he was done I left him on the coffee table to dry and went to bed. 

In the morning I went to show Fred to Wayne and he was nowhere to be found.

OH NO! Romeo got him! I knew it.

And sure enough, I looked outside and there was Fred, lying in the middle of the footpath. 

I was able to resuscitate him, but he'll never be the same. The hair on his tail will probably grow back, but he'd lost an eye, had a broken hip and will never be able to walk without a limp again.

The above photo does no justice to the flatness of Fred.


Note: One PC&PP poodle was harmed in the making of this blog entry.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Bats in my belfry and possums in my hen house

Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE living on a farm? I love having animals around me. Sure, I hate it when some animals (or birds) kill the other animals (or birds), and I could do without the rats and mice, thankyouverymuch, but I love having animals around me even though sometimes I have no idea what I'm doing.

When we got the 3 new isa brown hens a while back we locked them, the black leftover hen and the rooster in the hen house to bond. Then we let them all out a while and after a couple of weeks I found one of the red hens dead. Looking back now I think her head was missing (I saw a mess and didn't want to look too closely) which lead me to believe it was the work of a quoll... At least I've heard that quolls will kill chickens.

I love quolls. They're gorgeous and its a tragedy that most of their species is extinct everywhere in Australia but Tasmania.

But I digress.

While the chooks were locked up they made a nest in some long weeds at the back of the pen and we didn't know it was there. By the time I found it there were 13 eggs in there! Wayne thought they were holding out on us.

Needless to say, despite the lesson I learned from my mother early in life, I took all the eggs and the chooks stopped laying there.

"When you have free range hens and you find where they're laying, always leave an egg so they return to that nest." Wise woman my mother!

So for a while we didn't get many eggs. Then one day I found 3 eggs in a nest on the floor of the hen house. Being a bit wiser this time, I left one egg there as a 'seed' egg. We marked it with an X and various threats to the life of the person who takes it, and left it there to encourage the girls to return.

A couple of days ago Wayne found the seed egg cracked open and sucked dry. We know the 'egg sucking dogs' didn't do it cause they can't get into the hen house. We blamed the theoretical quoll, but really we have no proof that quoll even exists.

Which brings me back to today. I spent some time out in the paddock with Wayne and the filly, Dancer, working with her, picking up her feet and just getting her used to me handling her. Then we messed around with the boys a while so they didn't feel left out. Before heading inside to make dinner I checked the hen house, checking for eggs and to see if they were roosting in there or up the tree.

I looked, found two eggs, no chickens on the roost. But wait, there was the black hen in one of the nests, I could see her big black eyes and her pink nose...

Pink. Nose....???

That's not a hen!!! That's a black possum!

It was curled up and looking very snug and comfortable in the nest. I'm wondering if it was the possum who ate the egg... do they even eat eggs?

Its so darn cute. Wayne had to drag me out before I tried to make friends with it. That could be very dangerous... Those thinks have claws like Freddy Krueger.

Maybe its a female and she's chosen to have her babies in the hen house! Maybe the hens moved out cause the possum moved in? Who knows.

What I do know is that my poodles are now eating like normal dogs. I mean, Montana has always been a fussy eater. She'd eat her chicken frames, loved disgusting canned food if she ever got it, would graze on dry food. But give her leftovers and she'd inevitably leave the vegies and eat the meat and pasta or rice. Romeo was still a pup when we moved in and growing, and just like any young male, he's always hungry.

These days everyone eats their dinner and no one leaves anything behind. Even Montana is now eating like a dog, only a little bit more ladylike. She eats it all but takes a bit longer than the others who scoff it down like there's a deadline.

I've never had dogs that ate like this before! When I ran out of chicken frames this last week and didn't have time to go buy more, I had to resort to giving them all dry food mixed with whatever I could find, preferrably not canned dog food cause *PIEUWWWWEEEE!* I can't stand the smell of that stuff coming out of the can or coming out of the dog!

I'd mix up dry food with canned fish or chicken soup and toss in some leftovers and YUM. Nice and disgusting. Just the way they like it.

Not the way I like it. I've had to pooperscoop about 8 times the normal volume in the last couple of days. Soon as I can I'm buying more chicken frames. I'd much rather the firmer, smaller poop which results from the raw chicken frame diet.

Yes, I am discussing dog poop. You'd have to scoop it up to appreciate these things. And while I'm on the subject I may as well add that Ben's poop is finally solid.

Ah, its the simple things in life which make me happy...


Saturday, 3 December 2011

Memories of home

As you know, I have put my house in Fentonbury on the market. Its been a big decision for me cause I love that house, I love the position and the area. I love the yard and the openess. But home is here now, with Wayne and the dogs, the horses, the chickens, the ducks and the grass. So its time to let go of the past and move forward in this next chapter of my life.

Fentonbury holds so many memories, I thought I'd share some of them with you.

I bought the house in Fentonbury in 2003 and surprised almost everyone I knew. I'd been living in Melbourne for over 20 years but dreaming of living in the country and threatening to pick up and move to Tasmania one day. I'd never been to Tasmania so I came down for a weekend, saw 3 houses and made an offer on the third. I went back to Melbourne, handed in my resignation at work, put my house on the market, set 4 open days and an auction and I was gone.

The house on Gully Road was my first country home and I lived there alone for a long time. I knew nothing about living in the country and had to learn about the sounds wallabies made when they thumped through the yard in the dark. Its where I learned to stock a pantry when the supermarket isn't just down the road. Its where I learned that poodles are real dogs that can (and will) kill small animals. Its where I had my first litter, and my second, third and fourth. Its where Montana was born, Bonnard and Romeo. Its where I buried the one puppy I lost and planted a tree over its grave. Its where Scooter met his new family and where Pagan met Louise and chose to go live with her.

Its where Billy was living when he started losing his hair and was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and where his immune system started to lose the fight and started the cycle that ended in him leaving me. 

The house in Gully Road was a mess when I bought it - the previous owner had not loved it, had never unpacked and had cats who left messes. She'd lost her keys and broken windows to get in. I fumigated it, I stripped dirty carpets, repainted walls, put up dado rails and timber lining on walls. I put in a new bathroom floor and a new bathroom suite. I updated the kitchen and put a rail around the deck and a ramp to replace the rickety steps. I built a garage and moved the clothes line to the back yard. I got rid of rabbit hutches and bantam cages and cubby houses and old vegie patches. I put up new fences and gates and planted trees. I got the roof painted - it was half pale blue and half unpainted.

Its where I learned to chop wood and to light a wood heater and keep it going all night. I bought my first lawnmower and my first brushcutter (a big REAL brushcutter, not some pansy one) and my ride on mower. I bought firewood by the truckload. I learned to drive a tractor and pick hops and pack cherries. I got my first pair of blundstone boots, rain gear and fluoro safety clothes.

The house in Fentonbury wasn't the first house I'd rennovated and made home, but it was the one I was in the longest (so far). It was home for me and my family (my poodles) for a long time, and I loved it.

Here is Billy, standing on the ramp... Billy was my baby, my shadow. Billy is in almost all the photos I've taken of the yard, I couldn't go anywhere without him following me. This photo was taken not long before we moved, the house was freshly painted and Wayne and I were already looking for a larger property.


When I bought the house it was a pale yellowish colour and the trims were all blue. I hate blue trims. I love the new colour, a dusty pale green with Antique White USA trims. I'd seen the green and admired it on other houses but as always, I waited too long to paint it so now someone else is enjoying it.

The bedroom I first slept in when I moved there. It was the first room I did up when I moved in. This room had an old carpet which I lifted before my stuff arrived from Melbourne, finding old lino and then rough floorboards which I sanded by hand. I love the look of the old floorboards. I painted the walls in suede paint and created a bedroom I felt cocooned and safe in. This room is where Montana was born, between the bed and the fireplace, with me in the whelping box with Pagan and the phone on hands free with a friend giving me advice and instructions.

Later on I moved into a front room and made this room the dog's bedroom. They had their own room, their own beds and their own TV. The paintings above the fireplace were 2 of the first poodle portraits I'd ever done - of Pagan as a puppy.

The special door I brought with me all the way from Melbourne... it was the dog room door in my house in Melbourne. I'd found an old gate on the side of the road and got a good friend to cut a panel out of the door and set the gate into it, making it perfect for the dogs' room. They could see out, I could see in, they couldn't get out if I wanted them locked up but they could get the heat or air conditioned air from the next room. When I sold my house in Melbourne I took that door with me, replacing it with a new door. When we moved here I took the door with me again, replacing it with the door that was there when I bought the house.

The living room had a grimy carpet, not improved by years of muddy pawprints. The living room is an addition to the house and didn't match the old part so I got timber lining and dado rails put on to give it more character. I replaced the old carpet with good quality vinyl flooring, easy to clean and practical. I spend many nights curled up on the couch watching TV with poodles draped all over me in that room.

The grooming room was the back porch. I hired a local handyman to help me enclose it using decking and windows and a door I bought second hand. I got a plumber to put in a hot and cold water tap for my hydrobath and ran it into the same drain as the kitchen sink. This photo was taken after I'd packed up the hydrobath and grooming tables. The sink replaced the dog bath, making it more a gardening room than a grooming room. It wasn't the biggest grooming room in the world but it was big enough for me to groom 3 poodles for the show ring. I spent many hours brushing and drying hair in there...

 The hallway... so wide I actually put my desk in there and used it as an office for quite a while. I had the lining and dado extended into the hallway to give it more character, and I added the decorative corner thingies where the roofline is lower. Why is the roofline lower you ask? It used to be where the house ended but a previous owner enclosed it and added the office/fourth bedroom. I love that wide hallway.

The guest room... the room where I totally stuffed up my colour choices and gave up. I thought the green would be a good colour but it just didn't work. Maybe if I hadn't given up and finished it, painting the trims antique white, it would have looked better. Maybe just changing curtains and putting in another light fitting... As it is I didn't finish it. This is where Bonnard was born. I put the whelping box in the nook beside the built-in wardrobe and slept in that room for the first two weeks of his life.

The fourth bedroom, the one I used as my studio and sometimes as my office. I never got around to painting the trims white but I did paint the walls. I painted the window box which used to hold a cushion where Pagan would sit and watch birds on the trees outside. Its where Scooter would lie to sleep in the sun and, later, where Montana would lie resting her chin on the windowsill.

My bedroom... I loved the old fashioned swirl carpet which reminded me of the houses I lived in as a kid. I whelped my second litter in there, next to my bed. This is the room I slept in when I'd broken my ankle, I had the TV moved in there so I didn't have to go up a step into the living room and so I could look outside to the gate. This room was full of light, cheerful and peaceful.

The bathroom was a mess when I bought the house. It had different colours of corregate iron (colourbond) on the walls, a clawfoot tub and a sagging floor. I removed the clawfoot tub and replaced it with a bigger new tub which fit against the wall. I replaced the floor with a new, non-sagging one. I had mini-orb put on the walls to give it a more modern look. I put in a hand rail cause, having had a broken ankle, I know how important it is to have something to hang on to. I replaced the old sliding door with a solid timber shed door which I sanded and painted. I added timber lining and a dado rail, and I adapted an old bookcase as a cupboard to hold towels and to give the toilet some privacy.

Best of all, I love the kitchen... When I bought it, it was all pine. Dark and gloomy despite having a skylight. I painted the kitchen walls antique white. I put doors on the 2 cupboards which didn't have doors. I moved the breakfast bar up so it was bar stool height. I put up 2 restored bathroom cabinets as spice cabinets, I put up my Tony Curtis film poster and my collections of old bits and pieces. I love the old ceramic double sink with its depth... and I changed the old tap to a more practical gooseneck. It wasn't the country kitchen with a table in the middle which I still dream of, but its a spacious and very practical kitchen. Pretty too...

 All in all, its a great house. I really hope someone finds it as pretty as I do,buys it and is happy there. I've done a lot to improve it over the years I lived there but there's still some things to be done. There's plenty of opportunity for someone to move in and make further improvements. Lets not forget the green room which is crying out for another colour. Carpets could be lifted to show off floorboards, thats something I had planned to do but never go around to.

Whatever, its a great house and has a great yard. I'm sure someone will fall in love with it the way I did. I just hope someone falls in love with it soon! The tenants in there now are great, they're looking after the garden better than I ever did myself, but I would like to not have to worry about it. I don't think I'm cut out to be a landlord. I think I'd much rather move forward and concentrate on making this house my home in every way.

So, send good vibes and send the right person our way. I'm sure they will be as happy as I was in that house.