Monday, 29 April 2013

Educating Alice

On the weekend along with whatever else we got up to (check the previous post, actually by the sound of that I already need to) I got some reading done. Now that makes it sound like a chore but a chore it most certainly was not. A little while ago I was lucky enough to be chosen to receive a giveaway from Bush Babe of Oz. Now I was absolutely thrilled as it was a book and I love books especially books about the bush and this certainly fit into that category as this book Educating Alice is the story of Alice Greenup, a once upon a time city girl and now a bushy, who has become very much a part of the rural industry. I remembered seeing the feature on her in the Australian Women's Weekly a while ago. I have to say that her story is very inspirational and her writing is brilliant, so down to earth.

Now I loved the book as a whole and Alice's story, her trials, her tribulations, her successes and her insight into life on the land and the feelings than go hand in hand with it. In particular I related to her 'courtship days' if you can call them that. The feelings and thoughts that she revealed about a long distance relationship made me think 'wow see I wasn't really a loony case'. Thanks for sharing your story Alice, the hardships and the good times, and all that goes with being on the land. You are an inspiration and I am sure your family knows how lucky they are to have you in their midst.

Thanks Bush Babe/ Amanda and Alice for the give away. I appreciated it immensely and loved every minute of reading, definitely a page turner. So my advice is to read Educating Alice even if it isn't your thing. It will give you insight into the rural industry, into living from the land and into what it is like to be a women and newcomer. 

Check out the Bush Babe of Oz blog here.
Find Alice Greenup on facebook here,
And check out a guest post from Alice on Bush Babe's blog here

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This and That and a Kookaburra

 This weekend we were super organised and headed out of Cairns as the sun was rising. From the car I got to see the sun bathing the cane paddocks south of Cairns in the golden light of early morning. It was beautiful.

Now what is with the 'super organised' you ask? Well usually we get up to the Tablelands around lunch time but as Mr Sparky is working today, Monday, we wanted to get up there early so we could fill the day with farm rather than plodding and travel. We did however find that although it was warm and clear in Cairns the same couldn't be said for the Tablelands. When I got out of the car with Mr Sparky to get a 'breakfast' pie in Malanda I nearly froze. The misty rain and cool wind were not what I was dressed for. Pie for breakfast?, breakfast pie? you say. Honestly I don't think I have ever appreciated a pie more than when a fresh one from some bakery or another becomes breakfast fare. Maybe it is just the fact that I am usually starving but boy they are good. I first learnt this on the super early trips from The Station to Longreach for school and a pie from Aramac bakery became the best breakfast ever after already spending 2.5hrs on the road. Also on that note some bakeries sell a Ned Kelly Pie I believe it is called and it has steak, tomato and an egg in it, now that is truly a breakfast pie. Okay so I got of track with the pies thing. Back to it now.

Now we certainly filled Saturday at the farm, well Mr Sparky did, I was a little lazier. First up was the vege garden. Imagine a jungle ... thinking of one? Now imagine pulling the jungle out by hand. Yep that is some massive weeding. Weeds grow well like weeds on the Tablelands and a pretty hard to stay on top of especially if they are only looked at once a week or fortnight. Anyway I'll put that up in a post later. I'm going to have to steal what I wrote here I think though. Also Mr Sparky recruited some young males both related and unrelated to him to move and enormous and messy pile of posts and boards and who knows what of the timber variety. They sorted it into a fire pile a still good for fencing and a still good for something else pile, oh and the special piece that was put off all on its own. Lets just say they weren't afraid to cull some timber, it certainly needed to be. Mr Sparky then set about spraying weeds until dark. I think he was having fun playing farmer for the day. In amongst that I cooked a brownie which was devoured and did some hand sewing on a project that I've been working on for a while.

Exhausted from working, playing cards and the rain that woke us in the middle of the night we slept in a bit on Sunday morning. Slept in a bit translates to didn't wake up before 6am. I missed out on sunrise which due to clouds would have been a non event anyway. I did get to muck around taking a few pics of this and that and a kookaburra before it flew away. 

A bit later on Mr Sparky went missing. Turns out he wasn't all that hard to find as he was in the wood working shed, well the shed filled with wood and tools anyway. Now that special piece of timber I mention that was put aside on Saturday well Mr Sparky had plans for it. They involved scrubbing it down, a bit of planing, then cutting it into lengths and fitting the pieces together. Okay so it is a little, I mean lot trickier than that especially with an old slightly twisted piece of timber. Can you guess what he was making? Think back to what he has made before ... Yep that's it another picture frame and although it isn't finished yet I LOVE it.

Well that pretty much brought the weekend to a close other than some more card playing, some more sewing, some fruit and vege picking and some fiddling around with a tricky frame. We headed back to Cairns after our short and busy weekend away and I definitely need to think about doing something with some warmer clothes now, mine are mostly down south.

 Argh and now to fix that previous post and the no show pictures.

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Friday, 26 April 2013

How to ... Slab Timber (by someone who doesn't have a clue)

Well before I start I have to admit (as you would tell from the title) that I am no expert, this is Mr Sparky's domain. I am just the humble slave right hand man, unless another is found to take my place like last weekend.

So first things first you have to set up the mill, well in this case you do as it is a portable one, and you have to make sure you put it in the right place.

So first step is to survey the area or in this case decide whether to set the mill up in this spot or move it to the back of the farm ... I guess this spot it was.

Then you get to work putting it together. Like one of those metal puzzles in giant form.

Sometimes you do running repairs, fixing crooked supports ... by bashing them with timber (not convinced on this one).

You then need to check everything over, make sure you have fuel, oil, all that.

Next you bring in the big guns and put the tractor to work towing in a log to cut up.

Once the log is under the centre of the mill make sure everything is all lined up.

Then start her up (after you put on safety gear like ear muffs and glasses) and start slabbing away.

Here is the portable Lucas Mill all set up and ready to go.

You push the cutting blade/ saw forward on the tracks using a bar mounted over the mill.

As you push forward the saw in this case cuts the desired amount of timber off the log in a long slab. When it gets stuck you just pull the mill back and try again.

Once one slab is done you wind the mill down to cut another.

That is after you have moved the slab out of the way.

Once you have slabbed as much of the log as you can without the mill being on the ground you move what remains out of the way and bring in another log. The rest of this one will be done by stacking it on top of the next partly slabbed log.

The mill creates lots of sawdust and sprays chips and dust everywhere hence the need for safety glasses or sunnies.

Sometimes log require parts being chopped off before cutting. The first cut on a log usually ends up in the 'burn' pile unless Mr Sparky takes a liking for it or knows someone who wants it. It is usually just the sap wood or outer timber on the tree.

A slab all done and ready to move.

Mr Sparky and I like seeing what patterns or markings are revealed. We also love the smell of freshly cut timber. I am certainly being introduced to the different smells of different timbers.

Mr Sparky has been working away at this project for the better part of last year, it is for our future, our home one day. Can't get much more romantic than that, well that's what I think.

Note: for anyone who hadn't worked it out Mr Sparky is in the hat ... the non hat wearer is a 'ringer in' who was giving milling a go, leaving me jobless.

Totally loving learning new things.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Good Morning from the Tablelands

Mr Sparky only works Tuesday to Friday most weeks so we get a long weekend at the Dairy Farm, on the Tablelands, most weekends. This Monday morning I took many more beautiful sunrise photos and watched the fog and low clouds clear to leave a clear canvas of sunny blue skies for the day ahead. This is actually unusual weather for this time of year as it should be wet and drizzly but I am living up the sunrises, clear skies and green grass especially as I now have a job, YAY! (well one that isn't delivering catalogues, we might keep that one though and do it together) I am now an English language teacher with Nova a Japanese language company that is owned by another company. I will be teaching Japanese students, mainly adults, English during their two week study stay in Cairns. It sounds like a great adventure to me ... a bit of challenge and learning mixed in with a bit of what I know. Hopefully I can still get up here every now and again.

Well enough blabbing and I'll leave you with the photos of the ever changing morning sky.

Enjoy your Monday, enjoy your week.



















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