Giant lettuces and other achievements

It’s been a hectic few weeks with little time to put fingertip to keyboard. We’ve achieved heaps since I last wrote and the range of jobs has certainly helped improve my limited building skills. I can tell you that I now swing a mean hammer and am fairly adept at using cheap wire cutters. My shovelling skills have also improved because I’ve sifted what feels like tonnes of soil and carted more rocks around our steep site than I care to think about. As a result, my hands now look and feel like that of a seasoned builder. I dabbled in a little bit of plumbing work with Chris and almost did my head in working through the design and technicalities of our drip irrigation system. I’ve continued to tend to the garden in-between everything else and we’re starting to harvest some of the goodies including the biggest oak lettuce I’ve ever seen.

Giant oak lettuce

We’ve had some great wins with second hand stuff over the last couple of weeks and our collection started with a stack of beautiful Cypress Pine for the chook nook. It’s perfect for outdoor use in Sydney as it’s about the only timber alongside Turpentine that is white-ant resistant and it was a bargain at only $4 a metre. We also got some pre-loved hardwood for $8 a metre which is unheard of. Unfortunately we missed out on a small pre-fab pebble crete pond for $35 from the Buy-back Centre at Kimbriki. We didn’t take it because it had a tear in it but looking back we should have because we’ve sine learnt that Luke could have repaired it for under $15. Yesterday we became the new owners of a gorgeous little timber seedling bench that was handmade by our friend Andy. He no longer needs it and it will be a welcome item in our nursery. And our biggest score was a great quality second hand chook house and 2 adorable Isa Brown hens. A work friend is moving house and can no longer keep them and immediately thought of us as an option for a new home. When it comes to animals we’re both a bit of the soft touch and the thought of taking 2 soon to be orphan chooks was very appealing on many fronts. Like our adorable rescue mutts Digger and Shadow, they’ll be well looked after and it’s a bonus knowing the hens are already dogorised. We can’t wait for the October longweekend to roll around as our suburb is having a kerb side cleanup and it’s always a great opportunity to go hunting for more treasures for our permaculture garden.

Uncle Robot's stone steps

Thanks to Uncle Robot, we now have a magnificent set of sandstone steps that sweep down between the fruit trees and soon to be vegie beds. Waterlines have been laid underneath in preparation for the drip lines and he’s continuing to work on a few other steps and landings which are going to tie the winding path in nicely. After that he’ll be returning to work on the stone garden beds.

Luke cementing in the footings for the stairs

The chook nook is almost finished and although Chris and I could have possibly built it ourselves, it would have taken us a seriously long time to complete. But thanks to Luke the main wall frames were up in a flash and Chris and I are still married. Luke also made a fantastic wooden staircase which gives us direct access to the chook nook and garden from the decks above.

Chris has completely plumbed the overflow tank and laid all the water lines under the pathways and stairs. He’s been working like a trojan getting heavy material like sand, cement and rock down to the site as well as shovelling rocky soil and labouring for Uncle Robot. It’s been exhausting work.

Chris's fancy plumbing work to the overflow tank

We’re now concentrating on finishing off the chook nook in preparation for the arrival of our new adopted girls some time in the next month. I’ve been fixing wire mesh panels to the walls with these little galvanised hook nails that are colloquially referred to in the building game as ‘little bastards’! If you miss hit them you either belt your fingers with the hammer or the nails fly off into space or they go in crooked, splay out, split your timber or bend or all of the above. I’m sure you know the ones I’m talking about. Anyway, the guy at Bunnings suggested I use a pair of long-nosed pliers to hold the little b’s in place while I tapped the heads in. And guess what, it’s works a treat.

One of the 'little bastards'

Talking of Bunnings, I’ve had some very interesting experiences with the place over the last few weeks.  Probably like many, I’ve found that some of the sales assistants are excellent and very helpful but a few of them are totally useless.

Have you ever found yourself explaining to the sales assistant in detail what you’re looking for only to have them tell you that they don’t sell that particular item and then five minutes later you find it on a shelf yourself! Or have you walked down 30 of the 31 isles trying to find some help only to locate the one lone assistant with 4 other customers already hot on their heels. Good luck to you if you can find someone to help you in the drive through trade area and whatever you do don’t ask the exit gate guard for help as they live in fear of moving from their post. If you do manage to track down someone in the drive-through you’ll also find them being hotly pursued by any number of customers and you can guarantee their offsider is doing the rounds on a forklift.

I’ve never seen a job add for Bunnings but perhaps it would go something like this…Looking for semi-retired hardware junkie.  Absolutely no experience or knowledge in hardware needed, ever. Must be able to look busy and be good at dodging customers. Lots of places to hide. Nice apron provided.

We’ve had many hilarious Bunnings discussions over lunch in the last few weeks and I’ve learnt that Uncle Robot despises going anywhere near the place. He refers to any forced visits as ‘Death by Bunnings’.

I really think there could be a book in that and it could even be a best seller.

Looking into the chook nook space a week ago

The chook nook with wall frames

Looking up to the chook nook from the garden below

2 responses to “Giant lettuces and other achievements

  1. Kath!! It looks so amazing! And you are getting chookies soon! Do they already have names? Luke is always telling me how you and Chris are so busy running around like chooks with their heads cut off so I think the new families members nick names will be K and C. Looks great and I am so impressed by all you have done everytime I get to see it. YOU ARE AMAZING! (amazing amazing amazing Chris. 🙂

    • Siloecho, the little chooks are 18 month old Isa Browns and they look very healthy. I’m hoping to pick them up on the long weekend because their new home, the ‘chook nook’ is almost ready. I think they’re going to be very happy and spoilt.

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