Friday, June 30, 2017

Curious chickens

Currently we have eight pullets living in the chook tractor in the orchard. They are very curious creatures. When I open the door of the house, they hear me coming and all run to greet me. They follow me up and down the run. The dogs like to sniff at them through the fence (I still don't trust the the dogs not to chase) but the funny thing is - the curiosity is mutual. The chickens come over to the dogs and peer at them. On a frosty morning this week, Baerli came with me to feed the girls and had a chat with them while she was there.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Roosters for raptors

Usually, if I have an unwanted rooster or two, I 'dispatch' them (as poultry folk say) myself. They end up in the freezer and get eaten at some point, by us or the dogs, depending on whether I can face rooster stew or curry after skinning and gutting them. But today I had four poor young cockerels who needed to go. They had started crowing and throwing their weight around and our existing rooster didn't like it much. Things were starting to get a little violent in the chook house.

Last year on a visit to the Raptor Refuge of Tasmania, we learned that they accept donations of unwanted live roosters, who are humanely euthanised and fed to birds in their care. I think it's a great idea. Anything to stop irresponsible chook owners from dumping them and help rehabilitation of these beautiful birds sounds good to me. Well, not good for the roosters clearly, but better than some other fates. You need to contact the refuge first to arrange a convenient time for drop off (in the box shown here) as they have limited resources, with staff and volunteers kept very busy caring for the animals.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fleeting snow

The forecast was for snow down to 400 metres. We settled in on the lounge to watch a movie (Hunt for the Wilderpeople - highly recommend) and by the time it was over the flakes were falling thick and fast and the garden furniture had a lovely dusting of snow. This afternoon, the snow is melting and clumps of it are falling off the roof with a great thud. The first snow of the year won't last long but it was pretty! And the dogs love it.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Winter fitness challenge

This is what I saw when I went out on my little run this morning:

If you're moving to rural Tasmania and (like me) don't like gyms and prefer to exercise in the fresh air, here's some honest truth. Be prepared for the mental barrier to climb just a little bit higher. I prefer to exercise first thing in the morning before work, and at this time of year when I go out, it's dark until after 7am. I mean pitch black. There's no ambient light or street lights like you get in the city. I find it easy to go out walking or running at 5.30 or 6.00am when I'm in Sydney for work. Here, I wear a head torch that illuminates the patch of dirt road immediately in front of me, helping me to avoid puddles and potholes. Apart from the occasional hopping sounds of pademelons fleeing from my path, I could be anywhere. Sometimes forestry guys in their utes whiz by on their way to work and the occasional truck thunders past and I have to step off the road until they pass. In the daytime, walking in the forest is beautiful, in the dark it becomes just a little bit scary.

Boo hoo, I hear you say, you're just making excuses not to exercise. Fair enough. I much prefer to walk and run in the cold than (say) the humid heat in Sydney, but I won't pretend its not harder to get myself out the door here. This morning it was a pleasant 7 degrees, unlike yesterday's sub-zero temperatures and chunky frost (I stayed in bed). While it will no doubt get colder over the next couple of months, I am so happy at the passing of the winter solstice this week, as it will start to get lighter at both ends of the day. Hurray!

A few months ago, David and I decided to bite the bullet and get a personal trainer to visit once a week. It seemed like a splurge, but it's been absolutely worth it. For the first couple of sessions we were able to exercise outdoors, but since daylight saving ended our trainer comes to our home and we work out in the living room. The bonus is I can wear a t-shirt and can see my own feet! Without someone (nicely) bullying me I doubt I would ever work as hard. Another step I think I'll have to take is to vary my exercise time and go out after 4pm some days when I'm too brain dead for complex work but before it gets dark. If you have any good winter exercise strategies, please let me know. It has been a challenge, one that I'm only just starting to get on top of.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sculpture Trail at Birchs Bay Art Farm

An art farm? Now that's a good idea. Art Farm Birchs Bay is on a property growing native pepperberries and a variety of flowers. It is also home to 12 permanent sculptures dotted around the hillside above Birchs Bay. Until mid-July, there's an exhibition of 17 additional works along the trail, which takes around 45 minutes to walk. There were many clever, beautiful and fun pieces. My photos really don't do it justice, so check out their gallery for more. There's a cafe on site if you need refreshments.

We took advantage of yesterday's perfect, sunny winter weather to visit the art farm. On the way we visited the Woodbridge Market (including a coffee across the road at the general store) and a stop at the Margate Train on the way home, where we ate Turkish Gozleme in the sun and picked up some Tassie pilsener from the Devils Brewery cellar door. What a lovely start to a long weekend.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Road trip to Launceston

Every day, many Tasmanian business people and public servants drive the 2.5 hour stretch between Hobart and Launceston for meetings. It seems crazy in the age of Skype and conference calls, but I guess sometimes face-to-face is best. Those making the trek regularly complain about the ongoing roadworks (improvements) on the Midland Highway, but it didn't bother me much on my brief road trip north last week. In fact, the road is looking great, much better than even a few years back. I drove north for a small gathering of communications and PR people at Saint John Craft Beer - a Launceston institution - and back the next morning.

I stayed at Auldington, an old convent with lovely views over the city and fully renovated, modern rooms inside. It turned out to be great value for money and only a short walk from the centre of town. As I've said before, Launceston grows on me with every visit.  In the frosty dark morning, I ran up Cataract Gorge to the suspension bridge and walked back down the Zig Zag Track. On the drive north, I stopped at Redlands Distillery, and at Oatlands for a late breakfast on the way back. If you have a favourite spot to stop on the Midland Highway, please let me know!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Redlands Distillery

I chose a perfect place to stop on the way to Launceston one gloomy day last week: Redlands Distillery in Dysart House, an 1840s colonial inn in the village of Kempton. There's a warm and inviting sitting room with leather couches to enjoy a bite to eat in. In my case, that was two enormous whisky soaked fruit scones with jam and cream and a lovely coffee. I'll have to go later in the day next time, as the lunch menu looked great. Redlands does of course produce whisky, which I haven't tried yet, but it was a little early in the morning for me, so I had a taste of their apple schnapps, produced using wash from Spreyton Cider in the north of the state.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Funnies at Frank's

My funny husband (pictured above) started a semi-regular comedy room in our little village of Franklin this year. Held at Frank's Cider Bar and Cafe, it's been an awesome addition to the local entertainment scene. I'm not biased at all - just ask anyone who's been! It's a great night of laughs. I'm so proud of him for making it such a success.

Each headline act has been a big name in Australian comedy, starting with Dave Callan in January, Peter Berner in April and last week, the wonderful Rachel Berger (pictured below). Two local Tasmanian comedians have supported them each time, all of them fantastic. The venue seats about 80 people and it's been sold out well in advance every time. That makes for a great atmosphere, warm and welcoming. Upcoming acts include Peter Rowsthorn on 29 June, Bob Franklin on 27 July and Simon Palomares on 7 September. If you live in the Huon Valley and want to laugh along, you'll need to get in quick and buy tickets online. Check out the Frank's Cider Facebook page to find out about upcoming events.