And so it begins…..

WEEK ONE

Well it’s been a week since we moved to the Meadow and it already feels like home.

The house has a friendliness and serenity which is very calming. Despite the fact that there are always “jobs to be done” it’s nice to feel relaxed at the end of the day when we are sitting on the front veranda under the stars with a sense of pride in what we have achieved that day. That view feeds our soul and we love watching the weather coming over the escarpment. The mist in the mornings and the clouds in the afternoon as the sea breeze picks up and cools us down. The birds are everywhere and we have everything from the magnificent black cockatoos to the beautiful tiny blue fairy wrens. We have a resident bunny who scurries across the lawn every morning and evening as well as the 300 strong dairy herd that walk past our house twice a day for milking.  I don’t know who is more surprised when we turn the corner to find a huge blue tongue lizard basking in the afternoon sun. One of our biggest fears before moving here was the flies. Proximity to dairy farms means you can’t avoid them but it hasn’t been as bad as we feared and the house has fly screens on all the windows and doors which means we can fling them all open and make the most of the lovely cross breezes, keeping the house lovely and cool.

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                               Our beautiful fairy wrens. They are busy with their new babies at the moment….

As this house has absolutely no built in storage of any sort we have had a challenge trying to house our many books, magazines and photos albums. As a result our huge double garage is home to loads of boxes and crates of our belongings. We had to buy a small wardrobe to see us through until we start our first big project – the ensuite and dressing room. Cam has commandeered an outside cupboard/shed for his clothes and shoes and we are coping pretty well. This is mostly due to the fact that we are living in work/gardening clothes and have so far only got dressed up once to go into town for breakfast thereby not needing our “good” clothes yet!

We have actually done quite a lot in one week. The rooms are all sorted out and just await the hanging of our pictures and some new furniture! The rooms are huge with 12 foot ceilings and our beds look rather lost.  Whatever we buy furniture wise will have to be of generous proportions to look right. We have had ceiling fans installed, our TV has had to have 2 different types of connection installed  as apparently in the countryside you don’t automatically get the free to air TV channels via our cable TV (or in our case the satellite). A few hundred dollars and yet another 3-4 wall plugs later we can now access all stations but cannot series link our favourite shows – annoying but not exactly catastrophic!

Cam has come to grips with his ride on mower although apparently it is way too small with a hopeless turning circle and will need to be replaced(surprise surprise!) He also bought a whipper snipper and has managed to coerce the garden into a sense of neatness. The chook shed had grass up to our thighs as a snake was seen in there a couple of weeks ago and no-one was game to go in and risk it, but it is now ready for some little chickens to munch on! We have washed down all the windows and cobwebs and swept out the roosting pen and the potting shed. We have decided to put in our little spare bar fridge so we can have nice cold drinks on tap when we are working – very decadent!!

We have weeded, dug over and planted our veggie garden.  We are trying our hand at a bit of everything and we will see how we go. We have tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, spring onions, leeks, eggplant, cucumbers, beetroot and carrots as well as snow peas and French beans, kale and rhubarb.

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The beginnings of our veggie patch and some resident kale and rhubarb!

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                                  The local “girls” making their way back to the milking shed in the afternoon.

Last night I made a crumble with some of our own apples with very pleasing results – once the rhubarb ripens we will be trying all sorts of cakes, pies and crumbles! We have a persimmon tree groaning under the weight of the fruit but I have no real idea what to do with it? Our macadamia tree is being enjoyed by the white cockatoos that come by every morning for breakfast. We have some baby pears and loads of lemons and limes. In the summer we have a huge mulberry tree that spreads out over the cubby house giving some beautiful shade. If we can beat the birds to it we should get plenty of fruit to eat fresh and freeze for later. It is a very short season so they are quite prized. The birds can have the top of the tree and I can have the lower branches – what can go wrong???

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                                 My very own apples waiting to be transformed into a delicious crumble!

Our dear friend Smutzer came down yesterday and he has been a godsend. He is very handy and has loads of tools and common sense, both things which we lack, and he has been helping Cam reinforce the fencing in the chook shed. It had come loose in a few places and wasn’t fox proof so they have metres of chain fencing and a few hours hard work in the 30 degree temp ahead of them. It will all be worth it at 5.30pm when it’s tools down, a shower and a well earned beer at The Berry Pub. We had to go and buy a new pump for the water system this morning as the old one had burnt out and we were so excited when the sprinklers all burst into life – we were like kids jumping up and down in the water and I can now wash all the fruit and veg as I harvest it, as well as having plenty of water on tap for the chooks. I initially had severe doubts that the one vertical sprinkler would be of any use in the veggie patch but with the new powerful pump the water pressure is fab and the solitary sprinkler covers the entire area really well ( as well as providing relief for the odd hot and sweaty gardener who has been seen running and jumping through it like a five year old…..)

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The boys attacking the Chook shed. The old fence is down and they’re digging the holes for the new fence. It didn’t help that the temperature was up around 30 degrees!!

Unfortunately in order to install a super duper fox proof new fence they had to chop down a very vigorous passionfruit vine that had completely covered the old one. We were devastated until we actually ate one of them to find it completely bland and not our usual zingy fresh tasting fruit that we love! The flowers however are truly magnificent.

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I have been dabbling with the idea of trying my hand at painting. Being surrounded by so much beauty I am itching to try and convert it to something interesting on canvas! To date my creativity has only been seen in cooking, gardening and house design plus the odd picture of poppies, which I adore. I intend buying an easel and just setting it up at various spots around the property and having a go – I doubt if I will be able to turn out much that is worth framing but the South Coast has inspired many an Australian artist and you never know if you never try! The Cambewarra escarpment and its ever changing sky and cloud formations is an obvious choice and the passionfruit flowers and other massed plantings of salvias and roses also provide some inspiration. Once we have some spare time (!!!) I shall drag my supplies out of the boxes in the garage and who knows – I may be able to share something with you all soon…..

WEEK TWO

Things are starting to take shape. The house is very comfortable and easy to live in and we now have the hang of all the new appliances and the “new” TV system and despite the weather – which plunged into wintry conditions earlier this week together with a day of steady rain – we have managed to get the garden a little more under control and some of the front beds planted. We unearthed a long ago installed garden edge and have reinstated it to its former glory. Its unusual curves are growing on me and I have now planted a new hedge following the lines originally created for the front garden. As the house was built in 1896 it is hard to know when this would have been created but we are pleased to be able to bring someone’s ideas from the past into the future!

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                                                    Our newly revealed curved border

 Our lovely friends Phil and Karen who live about 60kms from us in Milton gave us a generous and wonderfully useful house warming present of 10 hours use of their gardener Peter and he is coming to visit me next week to discuss our garden. I am very excited as he will be able to identify the plants and trees that we have as well as recommend a plan for it all going forward.  My next area to attack is the west side of the house which has a hedge of white bushy roses or “rugosa roses” which are looking a bit lost surrounded by overgrown roses and geraniums. I think if we get rid of all the messy stuff, transplant a couple of the nicer roses and generally tidy it all up the hedge will look better and might be worth keeping to create a pathway around the house.

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                  Our messy westerly side of the house – waiting for Peter’s magical transformation!

We discovered that we couldn’t use our present server for the internet in the new house and have been patiently waiting for Telstra to come and join us up to the world. It has probably been the most annoying thing thus far that we do not have it as Wayne is trying to work from down here. The day that was all booked in and ready to go came and went and when confronted they said “you were meant to get a call telling you about that error…” which wasn’t particularly helpful. We have embraced this lack of available technology and in some ways it has been a blessing as we all know how easy it is to waste a few hours on the net. We haven’t watched the news for a couple of weeks and most days I don’t even put my watch on!!! The whole world could have imploded and I wouldn’t know about it. I guess that is one of the reasons I am starting to feel so much more relaxed. That, and the greenery that surrounds us in every direction. I don’t think I am ever going to tire of it……

We have a horse currently living in the adjoining paddock to our house. We have called him Ned and I feel a bit sorry for him as there are no trees in his field and on the 30 plus days he just huddles as close as he can to the wire fence nearest our trees in the hope of a bit of shade. Despite eating the carrots I offered him he isn’t overly friendly and will not allow us to pat him just yet. It is nice to have something other than cows near us and hopefully he will eventually trust us enough to come up for a pat on the nose!

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                                           Ned looking hopeful for a carrot or two…..

 The local Berry Show was on last weekend and it is pretty much the biggest thing that happens to Berry all year. It is a typical country show with agricultural happenings such as horse jumping, cattle judging and tractor displays as well as entertainment for everyone. I was pleasantly surprised to see a bunch of little kids sitting cross legged in front of a Punch and Judy Show – they were entranced!!

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 Sitting in the Axman’s bar with my dear friends Leigh and John from nearby Kangaroo Valley I watched the local lads get stuck into the wood chopping and they even held a final for the Australian Championships so it was a pretty good standard and great entertainment, especially with a cold cider in my hand!

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WEEK THREE

This week was Visitors Week….!! Our long standing friends, Sue and Nifty who live a couple of hours further south in Moruya came to stay for a couple of nights which was fun as we usually lob at their house and it was finally our turn to host. They have 100 acres and Nifty is the best campfire cook ever and we are forever asking him things about the countryside so it was great that he could be with us for our “special” moment – buying the chickens!

Our beautiful existing chook shed was swept and washed and laid with fresh sawdust and straw and together with its fancy new fence merely awaited the arrival of some hens! We decided on 6, a cross of Isa Browns and Leghorns, that were 17 weeks old and should only be 3-4 weeks away from starting to lay. They’re very placid and seemingly happy in their new home although they have so far steadfastly refused to get excited about the scraps that I give them. They walk around them and over them with not so much as a sideways glance so I’m hoping that is only because they have never been fed them before and it’s all new to them. They have a fancy feeder that they tread on to operate, which is meant to discourage vermin from wanting to share their dinner and also a lovely hanging water container so in theory we could go away for a couple of days without them expiring.

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As Sue and Nifty left, our eldest son Sam and his girlfriend Tina arrived for the weekend. They were a bit frazzled after a week of the big smoke and a rather horrendous journey to us which took an extra hour for no particular reason other than it was Friday night and people were escaping from the city.  After a nice dinner and a couple of drinks on the front veranda I could feel them starting to relax and during the rest of the weekend we explored the beach and a lovely local bar/restaurant on the Shoalhaven River where we enjoyed some cold wine and a selection of food from their bar menu (one of everything in fact!!). It was lovely to spend more than just an hour or two with him as we would have done in Sydney sharing a meal, and our hopes are that all the kids can pop down for a day or two and escape from the city when they feel the need and tap into the serenity!

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