More bounty…

Posted in Food and Drink, Plants and Gardens on February 27th, 2012 by Coffee

Out in the hot house the tomato plants have just been chugging away, doing their own thing for the past few months. They’ve really been rather neglected, and most have taken to just sprawling out over the floor as they’ve wanted to with little in the way of guidance as to which way it could be awfully useful if they could just bring themselves to decide to aim in that general direction. Like upwards, for example.

I’ve been dragging the odd 5 or 10 off for salads etc, but today we went on a bit of a well overdue hunt for any ripe (or over-ripe) ones with the hope of not wasting them too. So 2kg of plum tomatoes later…

Bit of a rinse, bit of a “wazz-up”, bit of a boil up, bit of a spice up later, and we had some spicy tomato ketchup.

Not a lot of ketchup for 2kg of toms! But I’m sure it’ll be the very essence of summer and spice in a jar. I’m just giving myself a couple of days before trying it so the flavours meld and settle. Better be worth it!

But in other hot-house related news, there’s now a big, empty void where the cucumber plant used to be. Yes, I know. A very sad day yesterday when it was removed from the premises. For us and all those others that have been partaking of it’s prodigious product.

It had finally stopped producing any more flowers and was getting a bit over-run with some sort of nasty mite that we’d rather not have infest the whole crop so it was time to go. On the upside we did manage to harvest a last six cucumbers as we were dragging it out the door, so it will live on in the fridge for just a bit longer!

More blinds…

Posted in Sewing on February 27th, 2012 by Bec

Having felt the warm glow of success when we managed to get the first spare bedroom kitted out with blinds we couldn’t wait to get on and apply the same treatment to another of the rooms.

Excuse the photo. Backlit scenes really do suck to capture!

Slightly different design needed as we were dealing with already backed fabric of a slightly different size, but with only a few hours head scratching making sure we were getting things right they were constructed and installed. (Neither of our maths is what it used to be, and we are still yet to construct the perfect spreadsheet for this. But we will. Oh yes, we will…)

As for the actual sewing, not a bad effort but still room for improvement. Perhaps that will come with the next bedroom we decide to upgrade

So now when you come visit you’ll probably be installed in the “purple room”, rather than “bedroom 4”. And you might now feel a little bit more comfortable not having to strip in front of the “neighbours” (currently a small herd of cows), and also might have a bit more of a sleep-in.

But on the downside when you wake up in the middle of the night you won’t be able to stare at the stars and try to work out which of them make up the Southern Cross…

Home improvements

Posted in Animals on February 23rd, 2012 by Coffee

Yesterday we finally got around to finishing the last little improvements to the chicken run. Some windbreak cloth around ¾ of the bottom, and adding a bit of ceiling mesh to keep the hawks and magpies out, if nothing else.

Not sure it’s all needed, but the girls do seem to really appreciate the windbreak.

We’re (and that definitely includes Fidget) still getting a lot of entertainment from watching them. They seem to enjoy chasing flies just as much as Pinot does. Glad we’ve got the garden bench nearby to watch them from.

“Wildflower” of the month – February

Posted in Plants and Gardens on February 23rd, 2012 by Coffee

The “wildflower” of the month award this month really has to go to all of them! Seems like February you get the carpet of all of them. Lucerne, thistles, borrage, yarrow, dandelions, and all the others that I’ve yet to feature stretching out into the distance where the heat pump coils were installed.

I just wish I could actually get a decent photo of it. It’s really rather pretty. I guess we should maybe think about trying to find some even prettier flowers and see if we can replicate nature’s efforts…

Oh working washing machine, how we have missed you…

Posted in Animals, Rants And Rambles on February 16th, 2012 by Coffee

Picture the scene: New Year’s day morning, 8 something AM. First thing we try to do in the new year goes horribly wrong when we turn on the washing machine and it starts dripping dribbling pissing water out of the bottom of the machine. Bugger. What a way to start the year!

And as it’s the summer holidays, trying to get hold of the commercial dealer guys that we got it through to find out what the warranty deal was took until the second week of Jan, then getting the fix-it guys out to have a look took another couple of weeks, then waiting for the required replacement part took another couple of weeks, then a last bit of swearing and cursing while I wrestled it into place…

So all up we’ve been without a working washing machine for forty-six days. Forty six days! That’s a lot of days! 12% of a year!

Huge thanks to everyone that’s supported us over that time with the loan of their machines over that time. Hopefully the veg has been enough payment for now.

And the problem? A tiny little hole in the main pipe caused by a tiny little mouse that (presumably) got lifted through the cat-door by Pinot one day or night and escaped into the machine and then got a bit thirsty and had a chew. Little bugger. And we suspect it might not be the last time this happens. But at least we know how to dismantle and reconstitute the machine now, so at least we can avoid the fairly hefty call-out fee in future.

Which leads me to digress as little from the initial subject to report that at around 5am this morning both kitties bought in a mouse. To our bedroom. That’s two mice at once, not both hanging on to the same one. Sigh. A bit of excitement and dancing around later we managed to get them out the door. Both the kitties and the mice.

We’re well used to Pinot bringing them in, but Fidget’s been a bit, well, slow to catch on to the whole catching them himself thing. Not quite sure how to feel about him finally working that out, but if the noise he was making when he came in was anything to go be he was very excited to have finally worked it out.

I think in the interests of open and unbiased reporting I should probably point out that his mouse was about a third of the size of the one Pinot dragged in.

Something new to watch…

Posted in Animals on February 10th, 2012 by Coffee

Fidget found something new to watch today. And I’ve been keeping just as intent an eye on him. Yes, we finally have some chickens in the chicken run. And they look just the right size for a kitty to try to have a lot of fun with!

Meet the girls (clicky for more clarity). Three Barred Rock chicks. Well, not quite chicks, but close. About 3 1/2 months old apparently. So still a fair bit of growing to do yet. Which is just as well if we want to end up with any decent size eggs!

Fidget’s still not quite sure what to make of them. As yet he hasn’t made any real attempt to get up close and personal with them. But actually it’s Pinot that I suspect we’ll have to watch a bit more closely once she finally gets off her chair and goes for a wander outside. Given the amount of mice, birds, and baby hares that she’s still been bringing in as gifts lately she may well think on of the girls is a prefect gift.

So now we’ll just have to sit back and try to keep them fed and watered until they’re ready to reward us with a few home grown eggs now and then. Bring them on!

Summer Glut Bounty

Posted in Plants and Gardens on February 9th, 2012 by Coffee

Meet today’s pick of cucumbers. Yes, we did indeed harvest eight of them today. To go with the six and half still in the fridge. And many more still expanding on the plant. Want any?!

I’m pretty sure I’ve never been glad that a plant died before, but I’m now pretty relieved that the second cucumnber plant bit the dust early on.

And earlier this week I harvested an abundance of more green things…

Yup, a big pile of beans! The photo doesn’t really do them justice. I went out with what I thought was a pretty reasonable size bowl to grab them, but I had to do two and bit trips in the end. And with no need to eat that many beans this week I even got keen and blanched and froze a few bag-fulls for later. Now I just have to remember they’re in the freezer…

Unfortunately I think I left picking them a bit late. The bean plants (vines?) have now stopped flowering. I suspect that’s it. They might well have to be dragged out in the very near future to try to get one more crop of something in before it’s all over for the summer cropping.

Window dressing

Posted in Sewing on February 6th, 2012 by Bec

They are finished! This week’s project was to finish making some blinds for one of the rooms. After calculating the material required and sitting on it for a few days (not literally), then nervously cutting the material, having to re-learn how to use the sewing machine etc. , I finally pushed the procrastination to the side and started the technical side of the project.

It has to be said that it has been a very long time since I have sewn anything. The last thing would have been a soft toy about 4.5 years ago. This probably wasn’t helped by the sewing machine being in storage for about a year on its way home, and then it has been sitting in the cupboard here for the last 10 months. So first thing was working out how to thread a bobbin and then the machine. But we got there in the end! Thank you little sewing machine!

And the sewing of the blinds, well they went pretty well with not too many errors on the way (could be a little bit straighter here and there). Hardest part was matching the material where it needed to join in two places and this was not an easy task with quite a number of fish needing to be matched up. So for the next lot of blinds, think I might try already lined and non patterned. One would have thought it was best to start with this first. Nothing like doing things around the wrong way.

Once I got going it was quite fun. And then I had Mike pretty much do the end bit of attaching them to the wood and hanging them up (not to mention a few other bits of advice here and there throughout the project – mainly checking my maths).

Installed at last!

Posted in Animals on February 2nd, 2012 by Coffee

Well it’s been a bit quiet around here lately. Nothing much to report. But today after an email telling us that the chickens will invade soon I decided it was about time that the chicken run door got installed.

The installation actually went very smoothly. A bit of chisel action saw the posts squared off enough to hold the hinges and presto a real, operating door! First time too!

If you look carefully you’ll note the sneaky angle of the photo that hides the big gap between the door and the posts on the near side towards the top of the door. I guess the guys who plonked the posts in have a slightly different view of straight! But it’s still a small enough gap that the chickens shouldn’t be able to get out. I hope!

Now I guess we better look to getting the wire around the outside of the run too, so the chooks can’t just wander out the sides ignoring the door altogether!