Around the Farm: Part I

Posted by Nick  | 31 Jan 2015  | 0 comments

There’s a bit of content from our lives here on the farm which isn’t substantial enough to make the final cut of a post, so we thought it’d be a nifty idea to create a post every now and again which includes some extras (mostly photos). Consider this the first!

For example, check out this funky peg basket I fashioned a while back from some wire netting:

And this handsome rustic garden bed I built for my mum for Christmas. We even used some of our delicious old macrocarpa sleepers she had been lusting over:

There’s a bunch of flowers from around the place, which are super stunning:

Here’s a selection of treasures plucked from our meagre garden:

And some produce not from our garden which seems to inflate with the change in altitude between the supermarket and our farm…

There’s lots of mundane labour, which you don’t hear much about, like cutting down metre-tall grass that extends along our one-hundred-ten metre planted boundary, taking no less than twelve hours:

Or staying vigilant in the war against the invasive thistle:

Of which we stand victorious (for now):

Pruning this rhododendron (the very same as the one in full bloom above) was one of the many odd jobs that never made it to print:

Seasonal goings-on, like our paddocks being mowed by tractors for silage (fermented stock fodder), have also gone unmentioned:

There’s plenty of wildlife encounters with the likes of hedgehogs and hares and this vulnerable little fledgling sparrow:

Whose tree-dwelling brethren are stalked by a fearsome beast:

Oh so fearsome…

We’ll continue to post “leftovers” like this whenever a bunch pile up. Meanwhile, I have about ten outstanding posts on my to-do list…

Out here, it’s hard not being so easily distra– Wow, would you look at that:

An Old Pump and a New Pipe

Posted by Nick  | 24 Jan 2015  | 7 comments

Status update from the middle of nowhere: Devilishly dry. Hellishly hot. Last rain a distant memory. Forgetting what an overcast day looks like. Sanity in jeopardy. Survival uncertain.

Okay, so it’s not that hot, but damn I wish it would rain – we’re running out of water! Our cottage’s water tank is quite petite and without a good downpour every few weeks it can almost empty out.

That there is our little tank. And see that rusty thing at its base? That’s this crazy old pump:

No, this is not the means by which we pump water to our cottage, thankfully (our house pump is old, but not that old). It is, however, the means by which we can pump up from the much bigger barn tank, we were told, which acts as our reserve:

Having almost run our little cottage tank dry, we tried our luck at pumping up from our reserve. We hadn’t done it before, so had no idea what to expect. We ran a power cord out to the pump and plugged it in. The little motor ticked away with more guts than you’d expect from something so old. But alas, it coughed up only air. Our suspicion was that the buried pipe had been crushed by the logger when we had some of our trees felled.

With only one course of action to pursue (and our water situation a looming emergency), we decided to try our hand at joining a new pipeline.

First, we haphazardly uncouple the thingamabob from the doohickey. Here we learn a major lesson: The old adage “righty-tighty, lefty-loosey” does not always apply!

Instead of loosening the nut (if you can call it that), we were tightening it onto the pipe! It’s hard to explain if you’re not familiar with this kind of stuff (we aren’t), but the nut needs to “tighten” on the thread in order to release the pipe, and we were turning it counter-clockwise, which you’d think was correct but indeed was not.

Anyway, I’ll refrain from waffling further; long story short, we actually managed to pull it all apart, albeit incorrectly. Luckily nothing was damaged in the process. It seems really dumb in retrospect, but hey, we learnt something about pipe fittings.

We then successfully attached our new pipe and uncoiled it. At fifty metres, it reached perfectly between the two tanks with a metre to spare.

Don’t fret, we won’t be leaving it out there like that to be squashed by tractors and the like – we’ll only unravel it when we need to pump up from the reserve tank, otherwise it’ll stay coiled up out of the way. Here’s hoping we won’t have to pump up more than a couple of times over the summer months.

We then went up to inspect how the old pipe had been attached to the pump.

Electrical tape concealed the attachment… Why? What were we in for…?

Ah. Of course. Like most things around this farm, someone had whipped up a make-do “solution”. So here we encounter our next challenge. As you can see, the kind of pipe used for this endeavour is too small for the pump nozzle. And our new pipe was exactly the same type as the old one, so we ran into the same problem.

Our instinct was to heat the end of our new pipe and stretch it open, so we did a quick search online to confirm. Sure enough, that’s supposedly what you’re meant to do. One method of heating if you don’t have any other means is to boil the pipe end. So, threading the end of our fifty metre pipe through our kitchen window and into a pot of water, we did just that.

Wham, bam, what do you know – works a charm! It was a snug fit, but with the help of a screw driver and a pair of nose-hair pliers, we managed to get it on without incident – no electrical tape necessary.

All that was left to do was to run the pump and hope for the best. There was still a chance that the old pipe wasn’t busted at all and there could be a problem with the pump itself. It certainly looked old enough to have a few issues.

The anxious anticipation and desperate hope for water to gush forth…

Hooray! Success! What an accomplishment for a couple of clueless city-slickers. We excitedly shoved the pipe down into the house tank and watched the flow, as if it were liquid gold, slowly replenish our worryingly low supply.

As the water level rose over the next few hours, a weight simultaneously lifted from our shoulders. With a working reserve pump, we wouldn’t have to worry so much about our tiny tank supply. It is so easy to forget how much we take for granted a resource as crucial as H2O. How fortunate we are to have access to it at all.


The Farm Purrs

Posted by Nick  | 15 Jan 2015  | 5 comments

Meow. That’s right, we have ourselves a god-damn kitten. It was one of the things we were most excited about when moving here – getting our very first farm pet (though an unexpected duck changed that plan). Meet Mica (my-ka), our tortoiseshell kitty:

When looking into online kitten listings we found they were being snatched up like hot cakes, so we decided to take a trip to Hamilton to visit the pet shop and the SPCA. The SPCA had a few kittens, and they were as cute as any other, but it wasn’t until we saw playful little Mica at the pet shop that we fell in love. She happened to also be an SPCA rescue, but we were happy to pay the pet shop premium for this bundle of joy.

Mica’s personality is all you could hope for in a cat – just the right balance of affection and mischievousness. She thoroughly enjoys pouncing on the evasive finger-worms that insist on surfacing from the cushion underworld. She’s very loving and trusting, and her antics provide us with hours of entertainment. We’ll even overlook the fact that she’s pissed on our bed three times already. D’aww, who could stay mad at that face for more than a split second? In any case she’s learning fast with the aid of a spray gun. A look of bitter scorn crosses her face whenever we bring it to bear.

Pet toys can be pricey, so I decided I’d fashion her a hand-crafted scratching post. I had in mind some materials I could use, and it came together all right, albeit a little grubby-looking.

We took to climbing it right away. Then it was off to investigate the curtain again.

Mica is named after the schist which her mottled coat resembles, but we’re still looking for names in case a better one pops up – it’s not set in stone yet (mind the pun). Other potential names were “Marble”, “Gillie” (like a sniper’s camo suit), “Freyja” (Norse goddess who rides a chariot drawn by CATS), and boring old “Pepper”. Do any of our readers feel inspired enough to suggest some more potential names?

This weekend we’ll be taking her to the vets to get her final vaccinations and the sutures out from her de-sexing. And maybe while we’re at it, if she’s lucky, we’ll pick up some more of that delicious jelly meat that came free from the pet shop. Nom nom purr.

After her first week getting to know her new home we’ll let her outside into the wide open world of our farm, which she’s been super curious to explore. She stares longingly out the window at all the flitting swifts and fantails that can’t wait to be mauled.

In the meantime Christmas tree baubles will have to do.