Thursday, May 31, 2012

Exhausting day yesterday of poo-vacuuming. Barbs is away in Lonnie for today, tomorrow, Saturday, and the bulk of Sunday, so I shall be conspicuous by my absence. So far we've been doing most days together, and I'm not the horsey one of the two of us. It's glorious weather - for winter, but for today, mostly work and horses. Come next Saturday, we're free...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


They're crutching over at the shearing shed. I believe they blow the daggy butt-hair off with high-volume country and Western music. I think there are something like 7 000 sheep to have their nether quarters shaved. I hear the Tasmanian government council for interfering in agriculture and wasting other people's money is issuing a decree that the shearers are to be trained to do waxing and to show sheep the various styles of undercarriage fashion available and providing 200 000 studs and piercing kits for adventurous ewes, owing to a misunderstanding about the word 'stud' by these city types.

On other news I spent half an hour hunting for Barb's hat. I borrowed it for mowing as mine was in the ute that she had in furrin parts (the big smoke, Whitemark). Only a branch or tree must have knocked it off my head. I'm a believer in you borrowed it, you must try to return it, or fix it or replace it. Walked every inch of the garden. Couldn't find it. Eventually found it was hanging by its string down my back. grumble.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Man attacked by savage machine

I managed to knock myself out this morning. No, not climbing. No, not falling out of a tree with a turkey. No, not by having myself smashed into a rock by tons of surging water. No, by being kicked by a horse.

It's embarrassing, but it just goes to show that really one might as well live dangerously and have fun. Tomorrow you too could be attacked by a Hills hoist (a windi-dry - one of those spinning clotheslines). We have a very elderly and very heavy solid steel one. Pre-war :-). It has one low bent arm. We live in the roaring forties. And they were roaring... I had hung a few sheets out - as Barbs had gone up to the horses and I had the week's baking in, I was hanging up the washing. It's not precisely my metier but I can turn my hand to most things. Yeah, I know, Barbs says I do it wrong, but at least its done. And she's figured by now that if she doesn't like the way I do things, she's welcome to do them herself - which most of the time she does.

I bent down to grab a bunch of socks and delicates for the inner lines, trying to get this all done in a hurry, as usual. Stood up fast turning around. And straight into the low arm... which like me, was moving fast. Sadly, I was moving one way, and it was moving in the other. And like ships that don't pass in the night, we went bump.

I do recall holding my head and deciding I would sit down before I fell down. And then I came to up with a pair of Barbs panties over my face, lying on the wet grass. It's a good thing it didn't kill me, because I hate to imagine the poor local copper dealing with this one and the photographs of the deceased. Norman swears he took some great pics and they'll be up on facebook. Huh. Keep looking.

Anyway, it all goes to show that hanging up washing can be harmful to your health. And a sock would have made a much better cold compress.

I have a headache and am going to bed now.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

And no peacock

Well, I had hopes of having peacock for our tea tonight, but alas my invite to help remove the menace (they're feral, and several hundred of them had descended on a new planting) and add something different to our dinner table did not not materialize, as the birds had moved on. Wise birds. I'm very curious as I have been told the meat is a rather startling colour. Anyway, all things will come to he who waits.

I've sorted out a kind of hot-house for my capsicums - well some of them, with an old crate and fertiliser bag - the bag is bigger than I am and intended for commercial spreaders. I just need to check the morning sun position, and hope it doesn't freeze tonight. The door to the little hose on the flats is here, we just need to move the house slightly with the forks on the tractor - soon, and I can put on the roof.

I have a new tank too (a damaged one from the Abalone farm), which I've drilled holes in and now just need to fill with hay, manure (from horses, kindly things) and some soil out of the sheep-kraal (pens as you would call them).

And now to cook some tea. sans peacock

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Well, yesterday was a 'I did a whole bunch of boring desk work that needed catching up on.' I also read a book. Just a novel, in one sitting. Conscience pricked (I do read a steady stream of novels. In guilty half-hour snatches, because I really ought to be working. Yes, I know this makes no sense at all. I am not sensible. I could read all day, everyday if I could find enough authors that appealed. I could play computer games. I could drink myself insensible. I could eat myself into a blimp. But I won't.)

Today was help Barbs catch up on the horse-poo vacuuming (I do the shovelling, she does the ride around and suck. But it's oh, about a 10 acre paddock of lots of little bushes and small trees and lawn. Well grass shorter than lawn mowed by wombats and wallaby. And it's steep and awkward in parts. And ornamented by well-fed horses. It's a form of art, really. Probably get a turner prize. Today also brought Baen wanting me to write some game module stuff. In my ample free time (the magic word money does seem to be absent. It will help to sell e-books from them. For which I will get 20%. Sigh. I don't know. I'm supportive of the company but when dear Lord are they and the other players going to learn by Amazon's example and pay us associates fees on every sale we send them? After all, that sale is money they didn't have without me? They all want something for nothing, as promotion is mostly for their financial benefit. I'll see. Some of it does spill over into my own e-book sales I suppose.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I have all but finished with the appendixes to THE STEAM-MOLE. Just the glossary of terms for the copy editor to ignore so he/she/it can ask about. I honestly don't know if anyone but me reads them, but I do feel if anyone makes a derogatory 'light' or 'airport reading' comment again I'll probably attempt to make their ears into knee ornaments for them. I try very hard to make my books easy to read. That doesn't actually mean the thought, research and layers aren't there. It's just that' you're confusing the above with 'turgid' Ok grumble over. The dawn from the trip up to feed the horses was truly so beautiful as to make you catch breath. Or maybe that was the cold. It was impossible to photograph, especially as I had not brought by camera along.

I shot another wallaby this evening, so the dogs are in tucker again. I might mince some of this one for us. It was well shot, bled, butchered. I'm getting there. We have more variety than they do, so they come first.

oh and for the department of weird eggs...

Monday, May 21, 2012


It occurred to me that one of the ways that people make up for rubbish jobs are great titles (with no extra pay, oddly) The senior chief flow control sanitation engineer is supposed to feel better than 'bloke what cleans toilets.' I need to stop the mindless work of collecting and disposing of the successful transformation of lots of money into horse-poo. It takes no thought (and in fact you would rather not think about it)And thus I have decided I want up the social scale of assistant junior stable-hands (horsepoo-shoveller class IX, trainee). You have silversmiths, tinsmiths, wordsmiths. Gunsmiths even. They all make something greater from their raw materials.

As a journeyman dungsmith I make piles (and not of money, except in the sense that the stuff I am piling was once money, before it was magically transmuted by passing it through a horse.) They are much much greater than the raw material. And indeed it's astounding just how much it there is after just one night.

Barbs proved more accurate by accident with a ute than I am with a rifle tonight. I was just behind her and did a quick mercy killing (with the knife I'd get arrested for in the city) as it wasn't dead. The gut of the wallaby was undamaged, so I brought the dead wallaby home and dressed it for the dogs. I have got faster. Our local pro does it in about a minute. I'm down to about 10.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Roast Pheasant and the joys of winter self-suffiency

I was trying to finish up the edits on Steam-Mole so Barbs has been doing horses etc alone today. She did have a little crisis with the horsepoo sucker, which involved a call to Switzerland to find out all that was wrong was that if it's not truly in park it won't start. Galena - the girl Border Collie was trying to be an eye-dog on a wombat today... not working:-). Wombats are not sheep. I have tried being an eye-human on the sheep and found out it works. Anyway, as Barbs had two long traipses up the hill while I was home, dry and warm... I cooked the pheasant. We had roast pheasant, with crispy roast potatoes, roast carrots, pumpkin and beetroots (all our own) with a thick gravy redolent of thyme and sherry, a cosy fire behind us, a glass of good red wine, and then home made apple pie and custard. It was a princely meal, and I think - as most of it came off the farm possibly cost us a dollar, maybe two, as the wine wasn't the bottle B got for helping pick. Self-sufficiency is hard work, but it does result in some mighty fine provender. The rolls for the week are baked, and the pheasant will give us another meal, picked off the bone (and picking out the shot). It's mizzly rain out there, and tomorrow will be another early start and dealing with grumpy horses, bolshy sheep, needy border collies, and cold water. But for tonight... it's not half bad.

Saturday, May 19, 2012


We went into Whitemark to the farewell for our two Doctors Sonya and Biren. I shall miss them a lot, and like many a thing - wish I'd made more time to spend with them. Biren and I spent some good hours talking about different cultures, and I deeply respected the fact that he never tried to BS me on medical things. I'm a scientist. You cannot know everything, and don't trust anyone who pretends they do. A clever man knows where and how to find the information and understands it. That was Biren. He'd look things up. And that made me trust him (and as an ex-army medic, that's a vast compliment). They added a lot our little international island, and we hope they come back.

Oh and we heard the latest about the Australian Nursing insanity. Basically it's a wonderful idea which makes sure that we'll always be short of nurses, especially in rural districts, and that discriminates against women who leave the profession to have kids. Yeah, someone deserves a medal for this. Not.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The little house on the island

The view from my window is now a little house. In the next few days it will acquire a roof, cladding and maybe even a door. It's moveable well insulated (it's a coolroom from when they made them with feet of insulation). And it's ours. I made a base for it that can be lifted with it, and if the whole of our rather fragile state of being fell apart, if we could find a spot to put it... we have a 3.2 by 2.3 room. There are plenty of folk with less.

It was a heavy exhausting job getting it to its base (and there is more to be done), but it's here now. And of course tonight, dead tired and wanting just to get back, eat and shower my sore back... Galena (sheepdog where sitting) decided to nick off. She did come back but it was a very unpopular move, making us a half hour later.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Pheasant and Turkey

Well, having finished the steamed! article,(and my it is full of typos) I found I was frantically needing to get the base and floor for my cool room built, and the edits to Steam Mole sorted. And then Norman came and led me astray, for what took half an hour and quite a lot of plucking and drawing time. I hadn't fired the shotgun I bought before. I have now fired 2 shots.

I will probably never be that lucky again.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Well, so far, no eels. Something has eaten the bait, but I think I'll need to retrieve it in darkness too. I meant to last night but the wind being still we nicked off to spear flounder - and by the time we got back and they were gutted and packed it was after 11 and my batteries were flat. Still, we did get some intersting fish last night - unless I am much mistaken I have our first whiting - which we speared

It's a glorious day today, but I HAVE to work on the edits, HAVE to write a piece for 'Steamed', and even if I miraculously got through that in 10 minutes, I have to get the holes dug for the cool room pilings, and put the frame on it. Have to make the hot-house (really have to, there was frost this morning) and have to getthe next raised bed drilled (it's an old damaged tank) and filled with 3-4 tones of manure and soil really soon for the garlic and onion crop, or there will be none. And I have to do some Bolg, and Barbs has - in her role as Meals-on-wheels organizer - us going to the volunteers dinner at the pub tonight. I'll enjoy it, but I wish I was two or three people!

Monday, May 14, 2012

eels? squeals?

So Barbs roadkilled a pheasant on the way home from horse feeding this morning (I was in the other vehicle (we were going different directions). She retrieved it, but it was a mess - guts all over the place, not fit for consumption. So I have taken it and put it in a yabbie trap in an old dam. We shall see if there be eels.

Lesson one in using the laser pointer on a rifle remember the error of parallax! I think I was shooting about 2 foot below the wallaby (I took the rifle along to the feeding this evening - we always see a few wallaby on the farm track) because I set the sight in the only dark spot in the day - a shed about 20 feet away.

And now back to trying to do Lou's edits to STEAM MOLE...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

dog & horses

I thought I'd post a picture of my new girlfriend

And the opposite end of the horse that I normally have much to do with... or at least the products of. They look grumpy because breakfast service is coming and they are amusing themselves by griping at each other

No, the Border collie was not actually the one Dog & Dragon was written about! (the Dog is on the dragon's back. You probably need t go and look at it large size (follow link click on picture on Amazon to see it large)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

So things are different here

When I came from the wet walk early this morning, I took off my waistcoat to put in the wash, emptied the zip-pockets. Half a dozen .22 bullets, and a large lock-knife... and as i took the bullets - relics of the morning's walk to see if I could spot any game back to the gun-safe it occurred to me that I could very easily have gone into town etc. having missed those, and always with the knife -- I basically put it on with my trousers, there's always work for it. I'd guess about 85% of the guys coming in from the farms would have something similar in their pockets. It's normal here. Yet, when we went over to Melbourne, a friend was having fits about Barb's Gerber multitool on her belt - because it has a knife (and a saw and a useful thing for taking the stones out of elephants toe-nails, and a million screwdrivers, pliers, wire cutters...) It's about half the size of my normal knife. You can't take a KNIFE with you into a shopping center! Horror.

Here they're working tools. For me, for cutting bailing twine today. I doubt if a day goes past without Barbs using hers (lot of elephants with sore toe-nails here) In the city they're for cutting people I suppose. Here waving one around might cause a mass crocodile Dundee moment 'You call that a knife?' I daresay it's all city laws still here where they are totally meaningless and counterproductive - and totally illegal for all those solid citizens going in to Roberts or Walkers or the library or Post Office. I think we should demand quid pro quo, and have someone at the airport demanding to know if visitors had a bladed implement with a minimum 4 inch blade, and fining them for failing to have essential safety equipment.

It's raining, miserable and wet out. Going up to do the horses was not much fun. Jed (big gelding) hates the wind and was very grumpy. The other two were their normal good-natured selves. Interesting how horses have such different natures.

Friday, May 11, 2012


I went out early this morning for my third attempt at getting some wallaby - by now getting a bit worried that I was the world's worst shot and that this avenue of protein was just not going to work for us, despite the fact that the wallaby numbers are at plague proportions. This time I decided instead of using the scope (I just haven't had time for a decent dead-rest sight-and-firing check - I adjusted it with the laser bore sight)I would try the red spot pointer laser. It worked, and I shot two and missed one. A hasty gutting and skinning had to happen before we went off to the horses and other beasties, but it did mean the 3 border Collies got bones. Happy dogs, which as it is cold wet, miserable tonight is a comfort.

Having done dressing of the wallaby, I am not sure if this counts as hunting or saving the critter from dying slowly of artero-sclerosis. That yellow... that's fat.

Anyway, the post brought me a cheque from Amazon for e-book sales(not vast, but welcome and comforting), box of DOG & DRAGON (only a month and a bit late) and a cleaning kit.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


So Wednesday passed - having lunch with Peter and Helen, Vacuuming horse poo, and working far too late, and literally forgetting to post. I'll need a holiday by the my friend with the horses goats sheep dogs & chickens gets back. Horses are work. Why are dogs, cats, pigs house-trained... and horses are not. Like budgies, they go when they want to.

Today I went and gave a friend a a hand with some rock-climbing skillz inside a high roof, and was rewarded with some 12 3"X3" 15 foot timbers, and some flooring and some nice color-bond corrugated iron - all for the cool room, which will need a floor to sit on, and a roof, and fresh cladding. I am amused to see people's faces when you walk along a 3 inch wide beam 20 feet up. It's the same beam as on the ground. I had a harness and a leash to stop me decking it.

Anyway, I am tired and stiff. But more roofed than I was...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"That's a really cool room Dave!"
"Yeah, it's a cool-room."
I spent today working on a very old cool-room we've been given from down at the fish-processing factory that they're demolishing. It's intended to stand outside, and had a rusty wreck of a roof that had to come off before it could be moved. Some of this was quite tricky - even for a rock-climber, as the roof was so rotten it could not take weight. So I had to hover above it flapping one arm really hard (needed the other to pull roofing nails) Anyway, the timbers are sound, and a new roof and we'll actually have our very own first Australian 'building' (as it is moveable. We did so, with a fork-lift today).

The horses and sheep and goats and chickens and dogs we're sitting seem to be doing well enough. The dogs - completely unused to other people - took a little while to get used to us, but have in two days moved from nervous and miserable to over-excited nuisence demanding attention and cuddles and being hyper, which is what border collies do best.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Saw nervous wreck exhausted friend and family off, on their way to Switzerland. One of the dogs has gone walkabout - fortunately before they left. I could hear him barking and having fun chasing wallaby off down the hill. I hope the silly beggar is home by morning, as there are at least 10 000 acres of bush for me to search. Not happening... well, I'd probably try but it's not a really plausible idea.

I tell myself looking after horses will be good for writing fantasy novels. It actually went quite well tonight, with two of us. Tomorrow morning however will be hell as I am not yet confident enough to do it alone, and Barbs has work at 9 and doesn't do mornings well at the best of times (I don't do mid-day well, but am usually at work by 5.30AM at the latest. In summer, 4 AM.) Yeah I know. It's unfair. Some people are morning people and some aren't.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Horses, sheep, goats, dogs, chickens...

We're babysitting a small menagerie while my friend and his rather animal-crazy wife and their kid go to visit her family overseas for the first time in many years. They're good folk, but it's no small job as the horses have a diet that makes your average suburban yuppie 'health' nut on 53 supplements, natural goats-milk yoghurt and only shopping at health-food stores for important staples like organic burghul look like a meat-and-fried potatoes redneck. The one sheep (of 9) - which IIRC is 11... comes to have special muesli in the laundry.

The diet and instruction sheet... well the horses alone runs to two foolscap pages of typescript.

I wasn't too sure about the horses (Barbs has had a lot to do with horses, I had preferred motor bikes), but they seem good natured beasts. The 3 Border Collies... well I like dogs. And I like Border Collies. One is already a soppy big boy and I will have to work the others.

They have a horse-poo vacuum cleaner which tows behind a quad...
Well, I really am battling with my wallaby shooting. Having gone out to watch and learn from he local licensed shooter - and dodged the dratted things on the road... finding them is the problem at the moment (they are there vast numbers), plus a few rifle and light hassles when I do. I kind of believe in shooting dead, if shoot at all, so I tend to err on the side of caution. But last night and early this morning, I got nowhere again - compared to the pro who would shoot 40-50 in an hour - and we saw 100+. I only saw 6, and only even tried to shoot at 2... missed and managed to have the bolt not eject the spent cartridge properly and the rifle misfire the second try. The rifle I using has a very touchy bolt - if you work it too hard, it comes right out (and shouldn't) and if you do it gently doesn't extract well...

On the positive side, my carrots and beets are coming up well, and lettuce is flourishing and we're still getting a few tomatoes!

Anyway, will sort it. Just like Barbs computer, which is part way fixed.
I'm going to put some effort into another Bolg short this morning.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Time and tide...

Waited for no man, and we learned a valuable lesson about a heavy boat and an outgoing tide (and just how fast that happens). We had a lovely 4 hour wait for the tide to come in. Our fishing thus ended up being 35 minutes... and very bumpy, rainy ride back - having sat in sunshine for 4 hours (and um... tried to move the boat.) We did however solve most of the world's problems while we waited. I hope you're all grateful. So I came home to discover that Barbs' windows has fried itself and she doesn't want to lose all her games and pictures and 'stuff' so I cannot reformat ye hard drive. We have her original windows disk, and I think the answer is to put a new hard-drive in there... and we have two old ones from my children's 'fixing computer' days. Only one has wrong cable and the other wrong power cable. But I have an external HD case... only - somewhere the power-cable to that is missing without a trace. The two we have found do not look as if volts and amps are right... we have not tried this! So we decided to shoot more wallaby for dog tucker... only found 4. And rifle jammed, would not load. By the time I had sorted it out, we had none. And it started to rain so we came home. Yes, not one of your good days, but perhaps tomorrow will be better.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Descent of Trousers

It is a sight which will long in my memories - my friend Peter staggering toward the beach (where I am standing on the edge of water with all my dive gear, aqualung, inadequate weight-belt...) bearing a pair of rocks. I had had serious problems getting down (and staying there) diving in relatively shallow water, and had asked him to find me a rock (my BC valve was leaking a little into my BC- which I hadn't realized). It was raining, and he was wearing a long dryaza bone coat... and staggering. The rocks weren't that big and he's a big bloke... It was only when I saw his track pants waist-line appear below the bottom of the long coat that the problem was revealed. Well, so would he have been, bar the coat!

Having finished Ye Book, I have been trying to do some catch up on all the other jobs and temptations that I've skipped. Last night we went squid fishing and got... well I got an octopus, but my fellow fishermen got two nice ones and kindly fed Barbs and I on them. The octopus waits for another tea. Tonight we had abalone (as with rock and letting air out of my BC... I could get down. I also took my shotgun for a walk yesterday. It enjoyed the exercise but no turkeys or pheasants were seen for me to miss.