Wednesday, January 30, 2013

New year, new routine

Towards the end of last year, the level of exercise we were doing fell to almost zero. I was travelling and a bit frantic at work in November, then we had visitors and Christmas to keep us eating and drinking too much... it really hit home for me when I attempted a hike up Snowy South and  found I really wasn't up to the task. Unfortunately the Wing Chun karate school David had been enjoying decided not to run classes locally anymore. I love dancing but haven't found any classes nearby, David loves tennis but same deal... long story and excuses aside, we needed a new approach.

Now we get up when the dogs wake us to be let outside (before six) and go out straight away for a walk on the forestry roads near our place, rain or shine. I am really happy about this. It is such a beautiful time of the day and I feel like I have achieved so much more before it's 9am, instead of sitting straight down at my desk to work after breakfast. I know that if I left it until the end of the day, my thoughts would be on dinner and it wouldn't happen. And with both of us committing to it, we have to keep each other honest. Often, we are rewarded with views of endless wilderness, beautiful sunrises and mountains, all only half an hour's walk from home.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

More babies

Russell the Rooster is a father again. Yesterday we collected five newly hatched chicks from the incubator in the shed and they are now happily cheeping away in the downstairs bathroom. I was worried that they had all been cooked in their shells on the 42 degree day we had not long after I put the eggs in there. The recommended incubation temperature is around 37.5 degrees C, and it's fine if it fluctuates a little one way or the other, but the temperature in the shed that day was much too hot. So I'm delighted that we have five cute little babies out of the 12 eggs we set. Our last batch is now 7+ weeks old, so depending on how many turn out to be cockerels we should have a nice boost to our laying flock once they are big enough. Our menagerie now totals two dogs, one cat and 17 chooks of varying sizes.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Working bee

The Franklin History Group has leased part of the former St. John's church hall from its new owner to create what will become the Lady Franklin Memorial Museum and Gallery. Today we had a working bee to start cleaning and painting it ahead of installing exhibits about Franklin and of course Lady Jane. It will be fantastic to have a more permanent exhibition of photos, stories and artifacts documenting our town's history. The museum's grand opening will be coming up in the next few months... more details to come.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chicken castle

The latest in the saga of the world's most expensive eggs... last weekend's project was installing our eight young chooks in their grand new home. David constructed the edifice and then it had to be maneuvered into place in the little orchard. The next morning we caught and boxed the chooks and moved them into their new home, then cleaned out the dusty brooder pen in the shed. They are loving it outside, pecking around on the grass and basking in the sun. Baerli is fascinated but so far hasn't been too naughty, just the odd pounce to make the chooks flap... mostly she's happy to sit and watch them. They are almost seven weeks old and I still have no idea how many are cockerels. It seemed easier to guess when they were tiny chicks.


Monday, January 21, 2013



We've made the trip to Hobart almost every evening for the past week to go to the Museum of Old and New Art's annual Festival of Music and Art (MONA FOMA or MOFO as it's known). It's the first time we've been and I have to say it was great entertainment and well worth the lack of sleep. From fantastic acts we wouldn't normally get to see  that even started on time, right down to providing good food and drinks and enough space, seating (including the famous pink beanbags) and toilets... the MONA guys really know how to do events, with a bonus sense of humour. The highlights for me were:
  • Hearing my number one all time favourite song This Must Be The Place performed by David Byrne and St. Vincent
  • British author Neil Gaiman reading poems and stories (and singing the odd song or two) accompanied by a string quartet and guitar by the composer Jherek Bischoff  in Hobart's beautiful Theatre Royal
  • The quirky and fun Chicks on Speed 

We saw Tasmanian 80s-style synth band All Fires, Aussie blokes Graveyard Train, an 'icon of the golden era of Ethiopian music', Mahmoud Ahmed and a couple of things my ears could have done without. All round great fun. And we're going back tonight for the MONA benefit gig for the Red Cross Tasmanian bush fire appeal, which will feature some of the same performers plus two of my favourites, the Hoodoo Gurus and Kate Miller-Heidke. Brilliant.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Prickly box

Hayden sells honey each month at the Franklin Market. His bees produce leatherwood, prickly box and bush honey - all delicious, but my favourite honey ever is his creamy prickly box honey with its distinctive yet mild flavour. I'm onto at least my fifth jar. Even better, it comes from Castle Forbes Bay, within walking distance of where we live. And it's $5 a jar. Sweet.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Photo credit: Kellie Spicer
Late yesterday afternoon I drove into the centre of Hobart for an appointment on what was the hottest day on record in Tasmania's capital city, according to this story in The Australian: 41.8 degrees Celsius at 4pm. It felt like it too. Walking down Collins Street felt like standing in front of an open oven or pointing a hairdryer at myself. Dry and fierce heat. I was grateful for the air conditioning in the car.

David took a picture (left) of our temperature reader at home, showing more than 40 degrees, but even more telling, only 7 percent humidity. No wonder bush fires were popping up all over Tasmania. Driving back into the Huon Valley from Hobart after 5pm it looked a lot like our friend Kellie's beautiful photo above.

Today, the air in our valley is thick with smoke and the smell of burning is everywhere. But we are the lucky ones, as the fires were not near us this time. According to news reports, more than 100 properties in Tasmania have been destroyed by the latest round of fires. There were fires close to our home in early December that had us worried and ready to leave with our pets and documents. We have little hope of being able to defend our property and a relatively clear path down to the river, so we plan to leave early if necessary. Where we live, it is critical for everyone to prepare their homes as best they can and have a fire plan so they can decide and act quickly if there is danger from bush fires. It is such a frightening thing for everyone affected. I hope no lives have been lost. The heartbreaking photos of wildlife and livestock running from the fires are bad enough.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Forestry operations

A few months ago I set off to walk through the forestry area to the west of our place but found my planned route was blocked by tree felling operations, the first we've seen in the area since we moved here. For a month or so we saw various trade vehicles, utes and trucks driving past our house before 7am each day. Some of them were heading back down the hill later in the day, which our neighbours collecting their children from school around that time were understandably not happy about. There's barely enough room for two cars to pass each other in a couple of places on our road, so I would hate to come face to face with a log truck.

Activity has since ceased, so last week I walked up again for a look. Although the tall trees you can see in the second photo below are now flattened, the logged area was a lot smaller than I had expected. There is an awful lot of timber lying around, I hope some of it is collected for use before the burn off and replanting occurs.

On the way I passed an echidna. We have seen quite a few of them around lately, aren't they lovely creatures?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Summer holidays

... are over, and it's back to work for me today. Here are some of the things we got up to on our short and relaxing Christmas break. Happy new year! 2013 is going to be a ripper. Now there's an Aussie expression I don't use often enough.

Took the dogs to the beach
Cooked, ate and washed up a lot
David got out on the bike in the nice dry weather
Visited Ida Bay Railway again on New Years Day with visitors 
The beach at Deep Hole, end of the Ida Bay Railway