Farming, Home & Gardening

Wire Tricks: Cobb and Co Hitch

This is a wire variation of the Spanish Windlass whose name harks back to the C19th days of Chris Cobb and his wonderful coach service which opened up outback Australia. Do you remember the 60s TV programme ‘Whiplash’ based on his adventures? Surprising they haven’t remade that one. I can imagine he or his coach …

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The Spanish Windlass

My father, Lawrence used to use this trick sometimes to pull stumps out of the ground. He would wrap a rope around a crowbar (as shown) then wind the rope up with a stout branch. This windlass applied enormous force and was enough to pull quite large stumps out of a line of fence, for …

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If Posts Are Light

Della: I was planning on keeping this old heart of mine firmly in line, but it has been well and truly playing up again over the last couple of months. So yesterday I underwent a second angiogram (Just to take a look at things) and had my usual run of luck in being one of …

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Spring at Jeeralang

(Della) ‘Well, the minus 2 temperature did feel a bit intimidating this morning, but looking out the bedroom window to a little spring blossom certainly cheers the heart to start the day! This is just a wild plum that grew up in the hedge outside the window as a result of total inattention during the …

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A Sand County Almanac

“We reached the old wolf in time to watch a fierce green fire dying in her eyes. I realized then, and have known ever since, that there was something new to me in those eyes—something known only to her and to the mountain. I was young then, and full of trigger-itch; I thought that because …

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All Flesh is Grass:

How many deer are out there in the bush? The study below looks at an area in the Upper Yarra (Dam) catchment (you may not – legally – hunt) where the author has performed transects and other measurements to estimate 200 sambar deer per square kilometer in this small area of good feed. That’s two …

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The Tree-Planting Team Today.

‘Over 80 trees planted since Thursday – Great work, guys!’ (Della) Above, my grandson, Milo and my lovely daughter, Merrin, and me! No, at just under three years of age he is not too young to drive! I am very pleased – as my back was so bad a couple of days ago I had …

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Poacher’s Moon

The poachers of yore endowed us with so many gems of wisdom such as, ‘Stolen fruit taste best,’ ‘Little fish are sweet,’ ‘Putting meat on the table’, ‘Feeding the family’, etc. Traditionally the ‘poacher’s moon’ in the UK is the first full moon after the autumn equinox, when poachers could get out and harvest wounded …

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Midwinter Fruit

Even here in Southern Vic you can enjoy a variety of seasonal fruits/nuts still even in the coldest weather (which no doubt belies the cost to transport unseasonal fresh produce to us). Here are some examples from our garden today. Of course some things have just finished (medlars, pomegranates) and some are swelling already: eg …

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Harbingers of Spring

Della: ‘So while we have been madly busy with lambing over the last couple of weeks, spring has been making inroads on the garden as well as the paddocks. The almond blossom is well and truly out, so I stole a quick turn around the closest beds after checking on the lambs tonight. So much …

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Count Dracula Had It Right

Hanging upside down is the best thing you can do for a herniated disc. I bought this machine to get some relief from the agonies I suffered for years when I had bony arthritic spurs growing into my spinal cord and I had to wait for farms to sell before I could have an operation …

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What Tree Won’t Sheep Eat?

For years I have been planting trees in expensive guards to prevent the sheep from eating them. More recently I have started planting large cuttings in cheaper plastic guards which seems to work quite well. But I should really have been going round with my eyes open as there was a kind of tree I …

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Beach Burial #2: The Cat

We were ‘minded of this line from Kenneth Slessor, ‘they sway and wander in the waters far under’ when we saw a dead cat amid the sea-wrack who had fallen from the cliffs at the Wallegoe Steps, Northern Scotland on our recent visit there. It may well have been the most poignant image that springs …

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Wildlife Proof Fencing

There are many kinds of theft. For farmers (such as us) one of the worst thefts (after rules against clearing our own native vegetation on our ‘freehold’ property) is government (and others) stealing our livelihood by allowing their livestock to stray onto our land. That is what wildlife and vermin are, ie someone else’s stock. …

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I Kneed You

Knee problems are probably the (older) hikers greatest enemy. My own left knee has had pain for five years (arthritis) but has suddenly given out this week. The MRI says ‘severe arthritis’, ‘macerated meniscus’ and ‘burst Baker’s Cyst’. My GP says there is probably no alternative except a knee replacement. He has made an appointment …

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Several Winter’s Fires

I have been busy building a new wood shed and stocking it with rather more than my favourite poet Edward Thomas’ ‘recommended’ ‘Fifty Faggots’. I can get the wood to this one no matter how wet the paddocks are, and simply throw it straight off the tray and into the shed. It has plenty of …

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Our Valley of Plenty

Della: ‘This morning’s light frost and valley fog has left us with a glorious winter day. Climbing our hill just now to get the sheep down for their pre-lambing injections I was struck anew by our wonderful home vista. I don’t climb up to see this every day, but perhaps I should: It has certainly …

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The Other Kingdom

This autumn we were in Scotland when our fields were alive with field mushrooms, alas. Mushroom time is one of my favourites. I always collect heaps of them, fry them up with lots of butter, onions and bacon then smother golden toast or pasta with them. I guess my waistline isn’t  missing them. This evening …

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Rich Beyond Telling

Most evenings if we go for a walk at the back of Yinnar a huge flock of yellow-tailed black cockatoos comes in to roost after spending the day dispersed sowing destruction on innumerable hapless plants all about (as is their wont). I guess there has to be at least a thousand of them. Their raucous …

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You Must Learn to Shoot Your Own Dog

This was one of my father’s favourite sayings, by which he meant you must stand on your own two feet and fetch for yourself. Never delegate responsibility to someone else.  So, for 40 years I have been fixing my own cars. For example I have been rebuilding a sequence of Subarus since circa 1978 – …

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