2015 – 2016 Progress Report

Well, the last 6 months have been busy with planting and the like, we only had a couple of WWOOFers (and only one for 3 weeks of the planting season!) so not as much productivity in that time as I would like, but still, when I went out to take the progress photos I realised that we have still made some significant steps.

This year we have:

  • Cleaned and sorted all the ‘junk’ around the yard
  • Put up the Tank Stand
  • Continued to build the sculptural stone edging wall along the east side all the way to the front fence
  • Done all the stone work for the walls of the Outdoor Kitchen
  • Positioned and connected up the small Header Tank
  • Cleaned down the old stone work in the Outdoor Kitchen and built the sink/bench
  • Planted significant areas with native trees as planned (I personally planted around 250ย trees this year – a personal best ๐Ÿ™‚ )
  • Extended the Orchard plantings all the way around the play area and along the front end of the western driveway
  • Trenched pipes across the driveway in two more places and connected the new plantings to the irrigation system
  • Grew a patch of barley…
  • Sourced and placed logs for the seating in the Bonfire Area
  • Laid the floor of the Outdoor Kitchen and moved the BBQ in so we could start using it!
  • Finished the trampoline hole and installed the trampoline in the ground where it now gets significant use
  • Dug the hole for Brigid’s Well
  • Put in the posts for the roof of the Outdoor Kitchen
  • Installed a clothesline
  • Built half of the Garden Shed
  • Tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to keep on top of the weeds

 

We are now looking forward to meeting our new WWOOFer next week and getting some more projects completed. So far, on track to be finished the major yard works by the end of next year…

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The growth of a stone wall

Last year, when we put the shed tank in I used the larger stones we cleared from the space to begin a sculptural stone wall that will one day stretch from the shed tank, to the front fence-line and then along the front of the block. This project has been envisioned as a way to use up a lot of the stone on the property that is not a suitable shape or size for building neat structural walls. It is also as a way to reference the history of the site – there was a 6 foot high stone wall across the front and down the north-east side, with a stone walled goat enclosure in the back corner. These walls have long since fallen down but their remnants create a mound on those fence-lines that is filled with usable stones. My start on the wall can be seen below:

Shed Tank 2 (3)The century plants in the wall were gifted to me a couple of years ago and I have a number more, it’s great to get them in their final positions so they can grow properly. With the supply of stone from the tank placement used up the project went into pause mode until this year.

Fran had cleared the storage area behind the shed and in the process she had unearthed and moved a lot of stones suitable for this purpose, as had Terrica and I while sorting the stones for the bathroom area, meaning that the project could restart when we had a good window for it.

Eline returning and Kellie arriving for an extended stay it seemed the perfect time to use the sculptural dry stone walling as a stepping stone to the other, structural, stone work that is on the list. So, Eline & Kellie got stuck into clearing theย space for the next section and I built a little bit more as an example of the method for Kellie.

Kellie's Wall (1)

They were clearing machines! In the time Eline was here they cleared almost all the way to the front fence and I was able to lay out a general guide for how the wall should go, incorporating a fantastic idea of Kellie’s on the way :). Then I left to join Noven in the Solomon Islands for 3 weeks, and Eline moved on to her next project, leaving Kellie to hold the fort and continue building the wall.

On my return a beautiful sight awaited me:

Kellie's Wall (2)

Kellie did a fantastic job! It’s really starting to show what it will look like as it grows and I love how the character of the stonework in Kellie’s section is different to mine – I can see how each person is going to be able to add their personal touch to the concept ๐Ÿ™‚

Kellie's Wall (4) Kellie's Wall (3)

Thank you Kellie, especially for your addition of the seat ofย cacti garden contemplation, you’ve certainly made your mark on our home!

Kellie's Wall (5)

Now we’ve moved on to doing some work with mortar, but that’s a taleย for another time….

The Shed Tank (Part 2)

For the first part of the story see this post

Now that the hole was prepared it was time to put the tank in place. This meant some interesting manoeuvring with an old forklift and a lot of checking to make sure things lined up. After about half an hour of work though it was in and I was left to plumb it to the gutters and finish the stonework around it.

Luckily Noven was able to take on the majority of the child wrangling for 10 days so that I could make a concerted effort to get the zone finished. I excavated and levelled a further section of the old stone wall and used the rocks that were unearthed to build the start of a sculptural wall that will eventually edge the front of our block, finished the dry stone wall around the tank and wheelbarrow hole, laid out some paths and spread the shale – it was a lot of work but very satisfying especially as it constitutes an area of the yard which, now that it’s planted with some succulents, is pretty much complete.

I was also pleased with the results of the stone masonry – I’ve been playing with it a bit but this was the first serious ‘start to finish’ project I’d done so its success gave me hope for the eventual major house renovations that I’m working towards becoming skilled enough to complete to my satisfaction.

Following are photos of the finished product. I’ve planted the succulents in the raised garden beds since they were taken and there’s still a bit of work to do but all in all I’m quite happy with the point it’s at now ๐Ÿ™‚

Shed Tank 2 (1)

 

The Shed Tank (Part 1)

A while ago we had organised a tank to replace the tiny one that was attached to the shed. Tanks take time though, so we didn’t expect it to come quickly. Time passed… All of a sudden, with very little warning we discovered that the tank was due to arrive and of course I’d been concentrating on other things so the area wasn’t cleared properly yet! With the help of the WWOOFers we had at the time, we pumped the small tank empty and shifted it to the poultry yards where it could have a useful temporary home. Then came the clearing process. It turned out to be quite a big job.

Shed Tank 1 (1)

The bushes came away easily as they are a shallow rooted (or so we thought) variety. However, underneath that camoflaging layer was the remains of an old stone wall and the tank that was coming was BIG so to fit it in that needed to be levelled, ie: digging out all the stones down to ground level to remove the mound from where the wall had fallen down years previous and melded with the landscape. The wall was made of very large stones so it was hard work but the lovely WWOOFers put in a Herculean effort and got it down to ground level.

Then the tank arrived. It was even bigger than we thought! In fact it was bigger than the shed, well taller anyway. This presents a problem when you want the water from the roof of the shed to run into the tank with maximum efficiency/minimal storage loss. The only solution is to sink it into the ground. Cue a lot of digging. The hole required needed to be 4.5m diameter and 40cm deep from the level at the base of the corner of the shed. Not only was that a massive volume of dirt to shift, but the stone wall had foundations (with some truly phenomenal rocks in it) that went a way below the ground level and those shallow rooted plants actually turned out to be deep, fragile rooted plants which broke off easily and left behind a network of woody booby traps to contend with. It took over a month to do with the help of 7 other people (WWOOFers and visitors) through that period it was achieved and what a relief that was!

Shed Tank 1 (2)

I also cut out a ramp for the wheelbarrow to get the dirt out and then, when it was deep enough for the tank I sank the ramp down a further 80 cm so that the wheelbarrow could be positioned under the tap. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to get underneath a tap at the bottom of a tank! All the original tanks here suffer from that problem, but not this new one ๐Ÿ™‚

Before we could position the tank though I needed to sift some shale and line the base of the hole so that there was a soft, level base for the tank. With a future 27,000L of water to be stored there it is vital that the base is prepared properly so as not to puncture the base of the poly tank – that would be a disaster. I also put up the first part of a dry stone wall where the tap was going to be situated so that the tank could rest on the edge of it when in position. Finally…. we were ready to put the tank in position… to be continued ๐Ÿ™‚

Shed Tank 1 (3)