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 250 trees this year – a personal best 🙂 )
  • 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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Outdoor Kitchen – Stage 2

Earlier in the year I wrote about how we had progressed on the construction of the first mortared stone masonary project: the Outdoor Kitchen

After much continued work around our other tasks I am happy to say the the next stage of this project is complete, meaning all the stone work for the structure is done!

There was a fair bit involved to get to this point, first as soon as the walls were up to height Kellie and I donned our stunning protective gear and wire brushed the walls in preparation for pointing them.

Outdoor Kitchen 2 (1)

This was necessary as all our hard work was based on three sides on the work of the previous owner who had used a more lime rich mix for his mortar and it had therefore degraded quite seriously in some areas. No point doing all the work on top if the bottom falls apart over the next few years.

Then, having got completely covered in dust we proceeded to put back what we had just scrubbed out, but with new strong mortar. Then, scrubbing back the rocks to neaten up the joints….

Outdoor Kitchen 2 (2)

Click image for a larger version

The last photo in the series is after the acid wash, but before that could be done we had to actually finish the stone work – the walls weren’t the end of it, we needed to build the structure on which to install the large cement sink we were re-purposing out of the tiny laundry where it was far to big and put in a bench using a large piece of slate.

Kellie and I worked diligently at it but it was just to the point where we could put the sink in when Kellie had to move on so we said our sad goodbyes and work slowed noticeably.

Over the next month I worked slowly at finishing the structure and then finally (with heavy lifting assistance from Noven) the sink and the bench were in!

Outdoor Kitchen 2 (3)

Next step: Acid wash. Stinky (even with an acid vapour respirator), slightly scary but well worth the effort for the resulting clean stones.

Moving right along now that the end was so close in sight, I laid a small section of mosaic in the final join of the bench and sink to the wall. This will tie in to the mosaic using the same tiles in the slated area directly next to the structure.

Outdoor Kitchen 2 (4) Outdoor Kitchen 2 (5)

Finally the last step! Sealing the top of the walls and the area behind the benches to protect it from spills and the harsh environment. DONE.

Next steps: Plumb the sink outlet, lay the floor and then the roof and a resin top for the slate bench… I really hope to get this completely finished in the next few months… when we aren’t planting trees. In the meantime this is where we are at:

Outdoor Kitchen 2 (6)

This is the corner where the BBQ will be positioned. The utensils hook is an old garden fork I found half buried in the yard. I’m very glad it was points down when I found it and that it’s been reused where it’s not going anywhere now.

Outdoor Kitchen 2 (7)

Outdoor Kitchen 2 (8)

Outdoor Kitchen – Stage 1

For the last month Kellie and I have been working on a long awaited project: the Outdoor Kitchen. Using the walls left from the previous owner’s attempt to build a carport we had planned to build a low walled gazebo with a thatched roof which over time had morphed into an outdoor kitchen to house our new barbecue and our dining table until we have a dining space in the main building. It also seems sensible to make the most of our warm climate for the majority of the year and move some of our activities right out of the tiny house.

The starting point:

Outdoor Kitchen 1 - Start

Excuse the photo – it’s the only one I could find from right at the start, after Noven’s brother and his friends knocked the corners out of the original ‘u’ shaped structure and laid the foundation for the front wall. That was in 2009.

When we returned to live here in 2011 my brother came up for a while and got a good start on the front wall of the structure but he couldn’t stay and donate his time forever. By the time he had to go this is where he had reached:

Outdoor Kitchen 1 - East (1) Outdoor Kitchen 1 - West (1)

The project languished for years as I got the easy work of major earthworks and tree planting started and was easily distracted from the daunting task of stone masonry. We had a couple of attempts at continuing to raise the wall but only small success was had.

After achieving a number of dry stone wall tasks last year though, I felt that the time had come and no more procrastination would be allowed. Kellie, fresh from her dry stone success on the sculptural wall was there to help so we set up the cement mixer and buckled down. The main aims of this wall are learning oriented as it is a practice run for other projects that require more skill so we weren’t too worried about how straight or perfectly neat the stonework went in, more about seeing how it went, what worked and what didn’t. After weeks of constant work (often 3 batches of mortar a day) and some additional help from Noven’s father who arrived at the start of March we reached the required heights all around. The final step was to finish the top as level as my basic skills could manage.

Outdoor Kitchen - East Progress Strip

Outdoor Kitchen - West Progress StripClick on the images for larger versions 🙂

I am very happy with the result, and although it’s not completely finished yet and I will do the second learning project on my list before I attempt the next big structure I do feel like I learned a lot (hopefully enough) in building this. To follow: Pointing, bench and sink installation and the floor…. and much later… the roof…

In the meantime here is where we are at:

Outdoor Kitchen 1 - End

Outdoor Kitchen 1 - West (2)

Outdoor Kitchen 1 - East (2)

Outdoor Kitchen 1 - Top

 

2014 – 2015 Progress Report

The year has turned again and seeing I took a raft of progress photos at the start of January 2014 it made sense to take the same angles again and see what progress has been made in the previous year. All in all, there seems to have been a lot of major changes in the yard and some areas are finally finished! A quick highlight run of things ticked off the ‘to do’ list goes like this:

  • All major earthworks for gardens
  • Shed tank in and immediate area landscaped
  • Start of the main creek & waterfall done
  • Bonfire area finished (only lacking seating)
  • First section of Windbreak finished
  • Front Hill and West Hill fully planted
  • Orchard extended, bamboo fence completed
  • New tank stand in place (finish that this week coming)
  • Shed storage area cleared and packed
  • Outdoor bathroom area prepared first level
  • Shed significantly cleaned out
  • Current loss rate for natives VERY low 🙂
  • Log bridge across lake from circle to island.

Still a long way to go, but getting there 😀 Thanks to everyone who has helped in the last year, and here’s to just as much productivity in the coming months…

Wrap up of the Second Year

At the end of two years living back here in Beltana it was heartening to take a few photos for comparison of our progress and to see that even though it felt like there was a long way to go, we had actually achieved quite a bit.  I think the photos in this regard speak for themselves and I feel like I had a productive year, but I hope to achieve a lot more in the coming years so no time to rest really…

WWOOFers!

In November 2012, just over a year after we had moved home, we hosted our first WWOOFers. the Willing Workers On Organic Farms (WWOOF) program is an Australian creation (although it has spread far and wide now) where travellers can visit with hosts in their home, and in return for some work they receive accommodation and meals. In country areas work carried out often allows the traveller to count the days towards their Second Working Holiday Visa which requires 88 days work in a rural area. For us (and many hosts) it provides invaluable help.

My husband runs an IT business which finances our lives so he is working on that a lot of the time and with a young son, I find that to be productive on the gardens and general renovations can be quite difficult. This means that WWOOFers are especially appreciated! Our first couple were fantastic! They stayed for 9 weeks and even house-sitting for three of those weeks while we travelled to Brisbane for a family Festive Season which makes a big difference in the height of summer – without someone around to look after the plants and animals we would not be able to travel much at all in the hot weather.

While these first WWOOFers were here we did a lot of work with Slate – finishing the shade house floor, the woodheap floor and getting about a third of the entertaining area done. We also worked a bit on some stone masonry for the outdoor kitchen and they made our first cobblestone path… inspiring many more paths to come.

We said goodbye to those first travelling friends in January 2013 but we’ve stayed in contact with them and hopefully they will both be back to visit sometime in the future!