Friday, May 19, 2017

One to six, pull

Or something like that (that's an old boatswain' call, from whaling days, not just my inability to count.)

It seems to have been a week of carrying. First loading these, then offloading these, then carrying them and then packing them up. It's kinda like digging holes and filling them in. (well, except with slightly more point.) That was my Monday. Tuesday I did a relatively minor load of collecting some scrap hardwood.

Then on Wednesday we bought 50 square meters of Macrocarpa planks, and took them out to the old house (our 'store' and shed-to-be on the farm next door). This was done with a big heavy borrowed trailer. I kept expecting the blue slug to expire like puff the tragic wagon. I'm not too sure what I'll do with the timber - it is a little soft - would make pretty internal doors window frames, and the like. I worked a little more on my front door. The job seems endless, partly because there are only a few hours to do it (I'm using the tools at the community shed.) The wood is curious... it sinks like a stone. That leaves it as almost certainly Ironbark, probably Grey, which makes it Australia's second hardest wood (ranked no 11 on the Janka scale, at 16 300 Newtons. White Oak for comparison is rated at 6 000 N) That's good because I plan to make a countertop of it and I have a lot of heavy cast iron pots and pans. There is an excellent reason for me cooking - a skillet related injury with frying pans is terminal. It's also one of the few timbers not to need fire-proofing in bushfire prone areas. In case of flooding do not attempt to float away on the door

I'm also scavenging old timber for a battery box for the solar system - I have enough bits left for 'carport' for Jamie's tractor. We have -thanks to John Tulloch got the Hydraulic ram apart, and hopefully have a new O-ring soon. Then (rubs hands gleefully) digga digga... A shortcut to England. Well - some track-flattening, flattening the site for the generator shed, clearing the orchard site etc.

Olives are now bottled. It's a month now before they can be tested.

So no use visiting before mid June.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Doorways, olives and electricity

It's been a busy week - writing and doing other self-sufficiency type tasks as well as making some fairly large steps toward the new home - and some that take a lot of patience... always my strongest suite. But you know, you can have it two of the following good, fast or cheap - not three. And as writers get 64 cents for that paperback WHEN and if they get it, cheap has to be one. And I kinda like good. I don't like endlessly replacing cheap junk. It still happens...

One of the slows has been progress on the door - I've now laminated into 6 sections the upper half of the stable door. For a job I thought I'd do in a day, it's taking an amazingly long time. I'm still no wiser about what the dense timber it is made of - which is sort of relevant as they may fuss about fire retardation. Personally I suspect it's a lot more fire-resistant than the expensive imported tropical timber I am supposed to use - but can I prove this? The internet is being no help.

So: Olives
I bottled the green ones de-bittered for 6 days in wood-ash lye. I only did just over 600 grams - it's pretty much experimental. The patience with the black olives (and they were all at least mostly black when I started) goes on. Daily the water is changed and they go into another 5% salt solution, I'm planning to give them 10 changes.
notice that some are hardly black any more.
Anyway a couple more days before bottling.

I went out to see the legendary John Tulloch with the tractor's water sheep... hydralic ram, and to consult him on setting up my own off-grid system. John is an amazing man - a sort Nikola Tesla character, with the same incredible breadth of knowledge -anything from Quantum Physics to how to fix hydraulic rams - and the same ability to visualize thing in 3D. I'm not the bluntest pencil in the box but he makes me feel a trifle dim. He adds being pragmatic to all of this. Anyway one of his favorite fields is alternate energy sources, and he talked me through getting my Solar power set-up. I've got 9 panels, I will soon have 29. An old shed, and one of John's fiendish devices, und vith ze power galvanic... ahem. You get the picture. I hope to have power on the site soon - We have water, we will have power. Now all we need is get some form of shelter.

I'm also looking at the possibilities of buying some macrocarpa to do my floors - a bit soft but beautiful. It may just be an expense too far.

On another tangent, I took in a 7 foot log of Cape Barren pine - a kind of cypress native to the Island. Also rather soft, but with a lovely cedar-like scent. I hope to get slats of this to make shelves for the linen cupboard.

I've got a load more bulbs to plant, and no further developments...

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Diving, Tractors and doors

Ok with financial stalls temporarily holding up progress, I've been a bit lax about reporting in. That and having a surprise visit from my son James and my daughter-in-law, Alana, kind of put a temporary halt to major works.
Which involved a fair amount of diving, fishing
And my first 5kg cray.
Normally diving crays here is pretty hard - not easy for the inexperienced, as they're few and far between, typically in deep, narrow caves or cracks at least 10 meters down, and very hard to reach and hard to pull out. Norman and I have got very into diving the way my bruv and I dived back in the old country - as a team. This has upped our joint catch a lot as so often you go into one side of a cray hole, only to have the spiny lobster leave out of a second hole. In among huge underwater boulders and chasms and cracks... that usually means you've lost them. So we work together - any large boulder if he swims left I'll scout right, and fetch the other if we spot a cray - if there is time. We keep a very close watch on the other diver, or at least their bubbles. This time Norm spotted a cray, went in to have a look... and quite unbenknownst to him frightened another into leaving quietly by the back door... only I was swimming past his back door and saw him coming. So I just settled, stopped breathing, with my hands apart on either side of the cave. He just kept looking backwards... until he was between my hands. I just had to scruff him and swim over to Norm, who has the catch bag.

Anyway - as I've been a bit stuck with the actual building, I've been working on making a hardwood stable door - from insulposts - a hardwood they used for fencing back in the day. Mostly these old fences are/have been replaced - but the wood is still undamaged after 40-60 years out in the weather. It's a heavy dense beautiful dark red/brown timber. Hell to work - an inch and a half thick - the door will weigh at least 100kg. It is made up of 49 posts - quite a job cleaning and gluing... and heavy. Man... I reckon in case of a nuclear attack - just take shelter behind my door. The house will blow away, but not that door. When it is done I will put up pictures.

Today I was up at Jamie's taking a piece out of the hydraulics of an old tractor - if we can fix it, we can borrow it... it's got a bucket on the front, and will make road building, as well as taking apart and moving the old house a lot easier. Besides I get to play digga-digga...