I didn’t get as much time out there this year as last, but I still had 2 nights to get a few jobs done.
As friends and family already know, I’m starting a new job in about 3 weeks time, we’re moving from Perth to Collie, we will be about 90min closer to the block, so I’ll hopefully get more time out there. It also means that I need to curb back a few of my hobbies, our neighbour got our chickens (so that we can still get free fresh eggs until we leave) and someone should be picking up my breeding pair of rabbits in the next week or 2.
In preparation for moving I loaded up the trailer with as much as I could, I also finally got up the effort to add the tool box to the front which gave me even more storage space, everything I could think of that I don’t need at home and that could be handy at the block. A fair bit of wire, wood, Jerry cans, concrete, render, blinds as well as a tonne of recently collected sheets of tin.
We had Christmas at home and then with family in Bunbury, on the way past Mandurah I swang in and grabbed a Christmas present for myself (semi block related) a compound bow, rangefinder, kukri and a few other hunting toys.
I spent most of boxing day at shan’s parents before heading out in the afternoon. By the time I was unloaded and had set all the tin and ladders up to get the roof on, I only got one peice on before it was dark. But it was all ready for the next morning.
I started bright and early, it was a great cool morning, actually had a lot of fog which is a bit unusual for Summer, first minor complication hit straight up, the tin needed to be 3m long, preferably a bit more to give a good overlap, all the pieces I had laid out the night before were actually 2995mm, so close, but no joy. Thankfully I had some more that were 3.4m, bit of overkill on the overlap but the job got done.
Next up I had planned to get a bit more of the veranda done (had the additional wood on the trailer), however I quickly realised that the screws I had been using for the roof were too short and I had nothing bigger.
I laid all the timber out to make sure I did have enough but couldn’t do much more. I did add a couple of extra support posts in the middle, i’m not sure if they were 100% necessary, but they will make it extra solid and I had the cement/wood available to do it.
Next up was pulling the tractor out to fix the clutch. My brother in law in is much more competent than me with metalwork so I asked him to fix the clutch, a bit of bending and a bit of welding later it looks almost new. Thanks again Cam, I may have a bigger job for him some time soon that i’ll need to pay him for, but i’ll leave that for later.
As per normal the tractor battery was flat and it needed to be jump started, I also still had the trailer attached to the Patrol. I decided that I could squeeze myself into some tight gaps and jump the tractor, unfortunately I couldn’t quite fit. I needed to reverse out and was focusing on the trailer, I managed to swing the side of the car into a tree. It doesn’t look that bad, but pretty disappointed in myself for screwing up. It’s a perfect example of why we have the older Patrol rather than a newer Pathfinder as Shan would prefer. No need to feel too bad if the Patrol gets dinged up.
In the end I needed to pull the battery off the tractor and charge it separately anyway. After the mini drama of starting the tractor, fixing the clutch was super easy. Only dodgy part was using a bent nail as a split pin, but I’m sure most farmers would have done that at some point.
For lunch I decided to have a play with my bow. It seems to be sighted in at 50m, we also have our 50m shooting range already set up so it worked out well.
I feel like I did reasonably well for my first time playing with a bow. I managed to break 1 arrow, no idea how, but it scared the shit out of me. I also managed to put 1 arrow straight through the entire mound. Out of the 20-30 shots only 1 went all the way through so i’m guessing it must have just hit a lucky section in the mound.
After the fun I needed to get back to work, I headed up the hill to work on the stumps. Over the course of the trip I got 3 out and dug around a couple more. Very slowly but slowly getting there. Hopefully when we live closer I’ll get more out sooner.
The following morning my focus was mainly on the bracken end of the property. With mum and Kelvin being away for the past 4 months or so the bracken is making a comeback, most of it isn’t as thick as it used to be, but some parts are getting back to 6ft tall. I had a bit of fun trying out my new kukri re-cutting one of my trails that I haven’t used in about 6 months.
The kukri seems to care less about what part of the blade you use compared to the bolo machete that we already had, but that also makes it easy to pay less attention than you should. I was lucky on one swing that I only cut through my glove and took a chunk of skin off my knuckle. It could have been very slightly different and I may have lost a finger.
When I finished the path I made my way over to the blackberries. As expected the blackberries had fruit on them, more of a surprise was that one of the big fig trees had fruit also, we have never seen fruit on it before. If we’re lucky we might get to harvest some before the animals get it all.
Hard to believe, but this is the ‘after’ shot of my cutting the path
I spent a few hours pulling/cutting back blackberries, I also pruned back some of the figs that seem to be taking over almost as much as the blackberry in some places.
As I was starting to think about heading home I got a message from donut that he and Scott had a job nearby and they were swinging past to see me. The visit gave me the break I needed and after they left I got back into it and got about 80% of the patch looking respectable.
Our ‘bore’ still, just barely, has water in the bottom of it, probably only 3-4cm deep, but it’s something. The pomegranate guild is coming along nicely, the only thing in it that may not make it is the apple tree, I’m surprised at how well the gooseberries are doing in the summer heat with very infrequent water, the avocado is also starting to love life.
Thats it for us for 2017, it was a big year. I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t get the driveway done. But we have set up our roofing, toilet, some rainwater catchment and got a few more trees in, next year will be bigger and better than ever.
Block goals for 2018 are:
- Driveway finished
- Gravity water to the van (real showers finally)
- Van decking
- Wood heater for the van
- Solar for the van to run a fridge full time (funds pending)
- Build the swale between the big tree near our van and at least half way to the cabin (50m).
- Plant out at least half of the seedlings from my nursery (at least 150 to plant)
- No doubt many more things that will pop up along the way.