Monday, 30 July 2012

Our Farm - Infrastructure (Layout, water, wood and weather)

Up close and personal...
I thought I would orientate you all to the layout of our farm.

The farm consists of 17 acres, split into paddocks and a bush block all on three titles.  An un-used railway separates the farm from the bush block which is up the 'back'.

We have two paddocks behind the house, and one that runs along-side, so coming down from the back is the bush block, the back paddock (which is where Eclipse (stud Alpaca) and his wethered friends will stay)
One side of 'Eclipse' paddock with the view of Mt Arthur

The other side of his paddock with the bush encroaching into the paddock - that we have to clear!
and then the 'washing line paddock'.  Sharing the washing line paddock is the wood shed which also houses the tractor and 'Macquarie Springs' which is the title of the land - hence once our stud-farm is up and going we will probably name it 'Macquarie Springs Stud'.
'Washing line' paddock
Macquarie Spring
In the spring we have a couple of platypus and some goldfish, and a creek that runs from the spring down through the property.
Our platypus
We don't often go and look at the spring because although fenced off, we don't want to draw 21mths' attention to it.

Then to the side of the house we have a small orchard and the vegie patch.  I haven't written about the vegie patch, but Daughter, Son and I have been working very hard in clearing it and planting some winter veg.
Veg patch
At the moment I don't think anything but the spinach is doing well as the soil is full of clay and water-logged.  We have some work to do with ensuring the fruit tree branches are at least four foot above the ground so we don't lose the fruit to the possums or paddymelons (small kangaroos)!  I know we have apples, nectarines, cherries, plums, peaches and pears but until they fruit I have no idea what tree is what!

Then we have the house paddock (house and garden including chicken mansion).
Chicken Mansion

The house is small (4x2) and can seem very crowded when everyone is home, especially as the bedrooms are cold at night so we are all enclosed into two rooms and the kitchen.  During the day it is mostly sunny and we can go outside on the verandah, deck and into the garden.  We are hooked into the electric mains, but our gas is from two large tanks.  The back of the house has a fenced off area for 21mths to play, with padlocked gates (he can already lift latches!!), containing his swing set, slide and selection of ride-on vehicles and cooking utensils (mostly stolen from my kitchen drawer).  This area is separated by a fence from the chicken's garden.  This means that 21mths can entice the girls with leaves and sticks through the fence, which they obligingly take with a few pecks at his fat little fingers!

The interesting bit- we are not on water mains, our water is supplied via the spring and rainwater tank.  This means that drinking water is via rain-water (which tastes beautiful, but has to be checked to ensure we don't have the added flavour of possum poo!) and all other water is from the spring.  We have to conduct daily checks of water tanks to make sure that all of the filters are working, and the filters need cleaning every two weeks.  Water has to be checked before showers, washing machine and dishwasher can be used.
Top water tank (spring water)
If there isn't enough water, showering has to wait!!  Husband checks and monitors the chlorine added to the water, as the spring water goes through two filters and two tanks before reaching the house.  Even though we don't pay water bills, the costs of running pumps every time the tap (either spring water or rain water) is turned on is huge!  We have really had to get onto the kids about running taps due to water levels and costs of electricity (Tas electricity being the most expensive in the country)!  We are now certainly more water-wise than we were!

From here we have the main paddock, containing the tack-shed, pen, stable and the Alpacas (and the visiting goats).  All of these paddocks have gravity-fed water into bathtubs, and are enclosed with electric fencing.
Main paddock

The next paddock is the 'wood' paddock, where Husband and Granddad have felled some trees for next year.  Sadly these trees have been infected with die-back, and as ghost-gums are notoriously known as 'widow-makers' as their huge branches can drop at any time without warning!
'Wood' paddock
Next down is the 'blackberry' paddock, containing lots of trees similiar to mangroves and infiltrated with blackberries.  This paddock has another creek running through it, and a bridge over to the next paddock.  This paddock is the wettest, being at the bottom of the hill.
'Blackberry' paddock
Creek (standing on bridge)
Up from there, we have three more paddocks which contain the cattle, well the two cattle (for now).  The last paddock contains a dam.
Last three paddocks

The property is framed along this last paddock and left side by Waddles road, a dirt track posing as a road.  We have to drive 14y.o down to the end of the road to be picked up by his school bus and check the mail.  The rubbish and recycling bins also have to be dropped at the end of the road, and Husband usually takes these down on his tractor.  This is such a different life to having the mod-cons of city-living that we were used to!  In saying that, we are only twenty minutes away from Launceston!

Everyone assumes that it is freezing here (and I don't like the cold), but amazingly it is not as cold as we thought it would be.  The wood-fire is going continuously, low during the day and high at night.
Yes, chainsawing kindling in a dress, leggings and gumboots LOL - not enough time to get changed!
Sooo romantic - husband bought me a chainsaw as a present recently!

We have more sunny/cold days than wet days, but the climate in winter reminds me of the UK in summer!  When it hits 14/15 degrees, it is too hot to wear a jacket.  The sun here is ferocious, and a different heat to Perth.  There is hardly any wind, which is a nice change after Perth too.  Despite this, Tasmanians are all warned about Vit D deficiency, as we all wear sunscreen or are covered at all times!  We are recommended to have half an hour sun exposure in the late afternoon in winter and ten minutes in the late afternoon in summer!  Apart from a few mornings of total white-out (frost everywhere including on the Alpacas!), it isn't as cold as I expected :)

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