It is the end of November & as I look back over all we have achieved since moving here, I wonder where the time has gone. Life is good here & we are very happy in our new home, made all the better by some wonderfully helpful & caring neighbours.
The first thing to be done was to fence a garden for Shadow. He has settled better than anyone expected & is very happy, but we have proved that he is not allowed out of the house or his garden without being on a lead.
Gradually we got most of the boxes unpacked & their contents put away, but as this house has a lot less storage, it has taken a while. After several months we also decided to rearrange most of the furniture in the living areas, as our original placements were just not working. One thing that has proved invaluable has been the wood heater, which has doubled as a cooktop many a time.
We have spent many hours wood gathering from various sources & now have enough stockpiled for several winters. Some of the timber came from the hayshed yard, mostly old jarrah fence posts which needed to be sawn into lengths. Needless to say the chainsaw has had a lot of use & the tungsten tipped chain now needs sharpening. We also needed to erect a woodshed, which we bought as a flat-pack. Once the panels were assembled, it soon went up with the help of our wonderful neighbours & it didn’t take long to fill.
Another task was to start the vegie garden. We began by planting some of the designated beds at the bottom of the orchard & to date have had successful crops of broccoli, peas & potatoes. We also decided to cultivate an area known as “the airstrip” as it reminded us of a grassy landing strip. This is below the orchard & Ken worked up the ground with a 2 furrow plough & a set of offset discs borrowed from a good friend. This area is still awaiting a permanent fence to keep out the rabbits, kangaroos & sheep, but has a temporary fence with some old bird netting & has already produced broad beans, potatoes & squash. Also planted are many varieties of tomatoes, as well as bush beans & corn. All the vegie growing area needs the soil improved & it is trial & error finding out what grows best.
As well as cleaning up the hayshed yard, Ken got busy clearing fallen timber so that by the start of the burning season there were several big bonfires alight in the paddocks. He also had clean up burns around the house paddock & after much deliberation, he also lit up the creek line between the 2 dams. This was a tremendous burn & the results have been fantastic, opening it up & allowing the shrubs to make plenty of new growth.
Acquiring all the equipment has been an enjoyable task: the research; the costings & the purchases. We now own a chainsaw, ride on mower, quad bike, walk behind tiller & a stock trailer as well as various pumps & fire-fighting water tanks.
No farm is complete without livestock. We soon had (neighbour) Lorraine’s Dorper ewes eating down the grass. We then rescued 15 more Dorper sheep from an orchard in Balingup which quickly became known as “the bison” owing to their size.
Our next sheep acquisition were 37 maiden Dorper ewes who were then joined with Duke, the Dorper ram belonging to our neighbours, John & Kate. However, it seems not all these ewes were virgins, as a couple of months later we found they had dropped 14 lambs! We await the arrival of Duke’s progeny in the next couple of weeks.
An opportunity to purchase 2 Dexter heifers presented itself, so Hilda & Trudy arrived. Trudy’s calf we called Ted Dexter. Then followed Sunny, a young Dexter bull & Honey, another Dexter heifer so hopefully we have the start of a small breeding herd.
The six geese we inherited with the property produced 4 goslings, with 3 surviving to grow well & are now starting to get their adult feathers.
My garden came with us in many pots & with little suitable ground to establish a garden, I took to using recycled fridges as raised garden beds. I now have some lovely flowers & a few vegies at the back door. They have been improved by being clad with corrugated iron & soil also put into the spaces between the fridges, to make plenty of space. Then we planted grass between the raised beds & the house that will grow into a lawn, as well as more grass in front of the house where it will help control the summer dust & the winter puddles. The grass is doing well & the first planting will soon need the lawnmower over it to encourage the runners to spread.
The sheep have done an excellent job in eating down the house paddock & together with Ken’s mowing of the bank, we now have a green grassy bank. Ken, with John’s help, has now laid reticulation right around the house, not only to irrigate the grass, but to assist in case of a bushfire.
The irrigation project has continued to water the “airstrip” & the vegie beds in the lower orchard from Red Dam. Red dam itself has had the culvert mended & the causeway raised to increase the holding capacity & as it is spring fed, we should have plenty of water with which to keep everything growing through the summer.
The latest arrival at Marribrook has been Ella, born on 9 August, one of 8 pups born to Indi & Max, the 2 Boarder Collies owned by John & Kate. Indi proved to be a wonderful mother. Ella is delightful, feisty & an escape artist. She has great play fights with Shadow, who has accepted her gradually & tries not to hurt her, despite their boisterous activities.
There is still much to be done, especially inside the house, but most of the pictures ( & we have a lot) have been hung on the walls, as well as the clocks & barometers. The walls still need to be painted, but that won’t happen for a while, until the ceiling has been repaired, following water damage from winter rains. Hopefully the roof has been fixed & we await the building maintenance company to complete our insurance claim.