Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guest room or greenhouse?

Following the dismal failure of the tomato seeds I planted last year, this year I have started them off inside the house, where it is generally nice and warm. Early signs are good... well, better than the couple of sad little seedlings that made it to around 10cm high last year before giving up. Although it was a pathetic first attempt, I don't feel too bad because most people around here struggled with tomatoes last year thanks to the cool summer we had. Except for those people growing them in greenhouses of course. Where we are up on the hill is simply too cold to grow some things and the growing season is short. I will look at getting a greenhouse next year. In the meantime, the morning sun streaming into the guest room will hopefully give these little seedlings a chance.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Of dogs and swans

This morning we joined the Huon Valley Dog Walkers for their second social outing along the Franklin foreshore, taking Baerli and Gretchen with us of course. It's great for the dogs to be able to socialise with other dogs... oh and the people are pretty nice too. It was good to meet Nat of the twigs and her gorgeous whippet and catch up with Zuki. The editor of the local paper took photos for next week's issue. Luckily we kept B on the lead, as she loves a swim and there was a family of swans with four beautiful cygnets floating past.

A major goal of the group is to lobby local councils to install more off-leash dog areas, ideally fenced or at least away from major roads. I've mentioned before that one of the few things we really miss about Sydney is the afternoon walks up to our local off-leash doggie park, where loads of dogs and their owners met at around 5pm every day. We love going to Kingston Beach which is safe, beautiful and guaranteed to have loads of dogs for ours to socialise with... but it is a 30 minute drive away so only possible on weekends with nice weather. Most days we'd be lucky to run into one other dog along Franklin Esplanade, but today was most definitely an exception. Looking forward to going to more of these gatherings and to more dog-friendly places to go close to home.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Local free-range pork

We collected 20 kilos of pork today from friends who had kindly offered to share a free-range pig from local farmer Gordon. The pig comes from the next road over from ours in Franklin and the meat was butchered just across the river at the local Cradoc Abattoir, which was happily saved from closing down recently. We now have roast, cutlets, mince, chops, hocks, all sorts of pork bits. I am very happy about this purchase. Aside from it being from a local happy pig, pork is my favourite meat and I already have a pile of dishes in mind to cook. Looking forward to it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

More silly birds

Just as they did last year, the plovers (aka masked lapwings) again laid their eggs in a really stupid location - inside the fenced yard where our two exuberant Bernese Mountain Dogs barrel around at speed. I was hoping that the birds' swooping and squawking would be enough to keep the dogs at a reasonable distance. But late last night I heard unusual noises coming from the plovers, and this morning, both eggs and birds were gone. Plover chicks are so cute, we'd love for "our" resident pair of plovers to breed successfully. Can you spot the plover guarding the egg on the hill in this photo?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sunday leg stretch

Finally, some time outdoors and away from the computer. Despite getting up rather late thanks to seeing The DC3 at the Republic Bar in North Hobart last night, the beautiful spring weather meant I just had to go for a walk. It would have been a great day to join the Hobart Walking Club group going up Trestle Mountain, but again, it was a late night and I knew getting out of the house by 7.30am was not going to happen. Instead, with weighted-up day pack and trekking poles, I set off from home late morning to explore a few forestry trails I haven't walked before. It isn't the most exciting walking, but it was some much needed exercise. Only 30 minutes walk from our house I am rewarded with the views of Mount Snowy and Hartz Peak below. Here is a map of my little walk.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

All grown up

Puppy Gretchen is a big girl now - turned one last week - and just look at her! Here she is rock climbing at Kingston Beach today.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Pain de campagne

Not sure that this version is very French, as the recipe contained dark beer, Coopers stout to be precise. Who cares, the bread is very tasty.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

One bird down

Unfortunately, my concerns about free-ranging the chooks turned out to be justified - we lost one of our lovely Barnevelder hens last week. I went down to lock them up for the night on Monday afternoon and couldn't find her. I suspect it was a grey goshawk that took her. The day after she disappeared, I saw one swoop in across the front paddock towards the chook shed. In the nearby forest, I found one hen cowering in fear and another squawking madly while the huge white bird sat calmly watching from a tall tree above. The other hen I found sitting behind a log on a hidden nest of 18 eggs (!) shown collected in the ice-cream bucket here. So that's why the egg count was down a little. I thought a couple of them had started moulting.

So now we are down to three birds, who are unhappy at being locked up in their shed again today. Their fully enclosed yard is simply too wet to let them out into. After the amount of rain we had last night, one corner of the yard is basically a mud bog and not exactly healthy for the chooks to be standing about in. Hopefully we'll get some more warm sunny weather like the last two weeks of August and it will dry up. And then perhaps I'll be brave enough to let them out again in a few weeks. Guess it's a good thing I listened to breeder Paul Healy's advice to get four instead of three "because you'll always lose one in the first year". Maybe I'll consider getting a cockerel next year, they can be good at protecting their girls.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


The random clumps of daffodils have emerged in our paddocks again this year, and I've been able to pick plenty for the vase on the table and still admire the sea of yellow flowers outside. I don't know how they got there or who planted them. Our neighbour has a similar number but they have obviously been planted that way, stretching in a neat-ish row from her front door along the driveway towards the gate. Ours are, well, random.

This weekend, on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September, Jackson's Daffodils at Surges Bay south of Geeveston will hold their annual open weekend. You can wander through the large variety of daffodils and order bulbs for next year. I'd like to go to see the beautiful display of flowers, but I must confess that other than stuff that's edible (vegetables and fruit trees), I'm not terribly interested in planting things that are not native. The previous owners of our place planted many non-natives such as silver birch, golden ash and oak trees, and they are really lovely young trees, but if they don't survive, they'll be replaced with natives. I am not sure I understand the Australian (and especially Tasmanian) obsession with planting an English country garden, when we have such lovely native plants better suited to the conditions.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Bellerive to Salamanca

Today we walked with our social walking group from Bellerive Yacht Club on Kangaroo Bay on the northern shore of the Derwent across the Tasman Bridge and into Hobart (map here). The walk takes two hours at a leisurely pace and affords great city and mountain views. Apart from a short shower, during which we sheltered under the bridge on the northern side, it was a beautiful warm spring day. We stopped at the cenotaph which commands sweeping views of Hobart, and finished up with coffee in town. We had planned to take the ferry - actually water taxi - back to where we had parked our cars, but it was out of service today. So we hopped on a Metro bus back across the bridge. It was my first trip on a bus since moving to Tasmania, which is a bit pathetic considering how much I love public transport. Normally I use it in any city I visit.

Saturday, September 3, 2011


It's not a very pretty name for a plant that is quite lovely to look at. We have many luminous green carpets of the stuff on our property.  In winter in the rain, it is so bright it is almost fluorescent green. It's common in the alpine and sub-alpine areas of Tasmania and grows well in very wet and nutrient poor soils... hmm that's definitely true of our place. It holds a lot of water and walking on it feels like treading on a soft cushion.