Saturday, May 31, 2008

Protection from Wellington winds

Tree planting has included special bracing to protect our trees from the Wellington winds. Although technically we don't get the Wellington winds when they do come it can be very gusty and unforgiving. I had to tie up the trees to the fence when they were delivered to make sure that they didn't get blown over.

Anyway I thought I do some photoblogging to show the new arrivals settling into their new spots. It's fair to say that this blog entry will mean more to those people who have actually visited our place but I do hope all my blog readers will enjoy the views though!

Note basset boys on the sniff!

Opphs, need to take the instruction labels off these!

If you're wondering what the snake thing is across the picture it's our new drainage pipe.
George and the girls are enjoying their new tree view!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bassets have domestic fears

Friday's are always busy days for a Domestic Executive. Getting ready for the weekend requires lots of elbow grease and careful bargaining for the weekend shop.

Today was no exception but I slacked off big time in the middle of the day to catch up with my friend who's just returned from a big trip to the UK. I could bore you all with the gossip and humorous stories but I won't.

Instead I'm hope you'll smile at my beloved bassets who hate Friday's or indeed any other day when the hoover (or in our case a Dyson) is wheeled out to suck up debris. Let's just say that they hate the domestic machinery with a passion. You might say they were scared.

Suffice to say that it takes quite a lot of belly rubbing to reinstate good relations with Fortnum and Mason after the mean, noisy rolling thing is put away in the cupboard.

"If we hide behind this milk carton and bone do you think it will get us?"

"Well the milk carton is no use it's coming our way. Let's hide behind our furry bone instead"

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Trees give garden shape

It's been a busy day for moving trees - well landscapers moving trees. I've taken a more executive role highlighting the tree planting plan in lots of different colours. There is method in my madness.

After a minor hiccup of placement because the new picket fence is not on the plan the boys started to motor along and get the large trees into place. They'll be back tomorrow to complete the job and we'll be left with a number of the smaller trees to plant up ourselves.

Although it's hard to tell from the pics putting the trees in place do really give some shape to the garden and will look great when they grow some leaves back in the spring. Now the tree is in the roundabout we'll have to start thinking about the under tree planting so that it doesn't look quite so lonely!

As you can imagine Fortnum and Mason are loving having the landscaping boys back on site. It was a bit of a shock for them to see how much they've grown (that's the dogs not the landscapers). There was some mutual admiration and much belly rubbing (again, it's the dogs getting the belly rubs not the landscapers) during the coffee and lunch breaks.

Another small step for our small piece of paradise.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Doing chickens is all the rave

It seems that chickens are all the rave with poms here in NZ. Here's some pics of my friend's chooks and their feline admirers. These belong to Nicole who arrived in NZ shortly after us and after cruising NZ for a while stayed in Whangarai where she found love (for a while at least). Now she's just loving her chooks and cats. Seems that it's been raining as much up north with the associated mud baths we're experiencing, although perhaps not on the same scale!

Judging by the length of the grass Nicole you need to get a couple of sheep as well!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mud, glorious mud!

It was all go yesterday at Domestic Executive HQ. Diggers and lorries and men wielding rakes and nosiy machinery. To make sure that all the activity went swimmingly it rained for most of the day!

Still, we now have a completed drive, top soil reinstated along the drive and the top paddock all of which are primed ready now for more thistles to start growing at a rate of knots. The landscapers come later this week to start planting trees and finally we'll be complete with phase one of our landscaping plans.

It's amazing how a bit of gravel and mud can tidy a place up. Well until the bassets start playing in the new soft to play in areas. Deep joy!

Eagle eyed bloggers will notice the basset play pen is gone in readiness for trees!

Guess where these guys have been?

The sun down the valley!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Gorse harvest

Flushed with the success of last week's thistle harvest, this weekend's gardening adventure was to start on the gorse harvest. The key dilemma was however, simply where to start!

To test the tools and my stamina we started with a few small bushes which gave a real sense of achievement - a quick win. I then had to move on to something larger that certainly wasn't going to be a pushover.

My trusty tree lopper did it's best to break through gorse branches and my arms and legs did their best to hold out. After an hour of systemmatically trimming from top to the bottom we finally revealed a large gorse stump.

You just have to take my word for it that the five bushes we harvested and burned in the two hours of work has made a huge difference to the small patch of land. Only another two hundred or so to go. I think little and often is the key.

This bush was about 4 feet high to start with

Fully trimmed gorse - now just need to dig out the stump

MT looking very pleased with my handiwork

Pyromania rocks!

Tada! Can you tell the difference?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

New hill billy house

Yesterday was a special day for our chickens - George, Charlotte, Anne and Bess (named after king and queens) - their exchanged their hill billy shack for a hill billy house.

It arrived on the back of Al's truck designed and prefabricated for swift installation in wind and rain. It was truly unpleasant weather to work in but before too long our chook house was built off the pen complete with easy access to the nesting boxes for egg collection.

Throughout the entired process the chickens were totally unconcerned and made themselves at home in their new pad pretty quickly. The only down side of the whole adventure was that we turned what was a mud patch into a real mud bath. We also had to do some emergency drain building as the rain water natural course was bringing streams of water into the chicken pen and house.

This morning George was yelling good and loud to be let out and the girls followed him quickly flying off their roosting perch into the pen for a good peck at the grass and waddle in the mud.

Al's been a true wonder providing us with the chickens and designing us a magnificent house for them to live in. I'm slightly worried though he has ambitions for pheasants and quails to be kept in the bush. The way the water is flowing at the moment I think we have a better chance of building a pond in which to keep some ducks!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Holy moley - that's house prices for you

It must have been sixth sense, whilst cruising the internet I decided to have a peak at what's happening in the UK village we lived in. Imagine my surprise to find that "our" house was up for sale.

On closer inspection it seems that there is daylight robbery going on. We loved the house and the location but it seems that the price has shot up by about 42% in 2 years. I am reliably informed that's just inflation and how things are in the UK. I don't believe it!

It was very strange to see the house which has hardly changed at all. New flooring in the hallway and new paint job on the front door. Otherwise it looks pretty much as we left it, except of course there is different furniture in.

Described by the real estate agents as "outstanding" with "flexible accommodation". The house "boasts" and is "immaculate". I guess you need lots of superlatives to justify asking such a high price.

Friday, May 23, 2008

More muck and raking

We're living on a building site again. In fact, as I write this blog there is an enormous truck delivering metal (that's road gravel) moving past my window.

After months of waiting the ground works people have returned to finish of the drive and spread the top soil back on the land around the house. It's typical, it's also raining too so it will be a case of raking mud and moving it around. Hmm, just think of the mess that the bassets will make in that.

Despite the impending mess it's an important part of the building and landscaping jigsaw that's finally coming together. Hopefully the southerly that's going to blow through today (that will bring the temperatures down by at least 5 degrees) will dry things out and we can prepare for tree planting next week.

It's been a long time since Fortnum and Mason have seen a digger so they spent a fair amount of time last night barking at the stationery machinery parked by the barn. They weren't at least as worried as my neighbours girlfriend who thought we were putting up more buildings.

In the couple of hours work they've done the area behind the barn has been flattened to the same level and created a much more useable area. Keeping the bassets off the newly turned soil is going to be a battle I'm just not going to try and win. I'll just have to get reaquainted with my trusty mop and bucket every day to wipe their muddy paw marks away.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More expert fencing

I sometimes wish that Bassets came with a full instruction manual. When I got my new power saw this week it came with full instructions on how it operates and what to look out for in terms of health and safety and when things go wrong. We got no such thing when Fortnum and Mason arrived but a cheery wave and smile from Nikki the breeder "call us if you have any questions, I'm sure you'll work it all out.....!"

Although we have worked it out it tends to be after much trial and error. There is one area I am still failing in terms of basset training - keeping them out of the flower beds. Loyal bloggers will know we installed some basset fencing which also doubles up as rabbit protection. At the time I was concerned about how high this fencing needs to be. I have come to learn it's not the height that matters but rather the strength of the materials and it's capability to withstand over 30kg of basset moving slowly in order to exhert maximum damage. Let's just say our early fencing was a little on the light side and Fortnum and Mason smile every time they push it over with their paw and step onto it in order to enter the forbidden garden zone.

I tried yelling at them to get out. Deaf ears. I've occasionally sprayed them with water from a hose. What's a little water when there's fun to be had. I've tried begging and pleading and they just look at me as if to say "get off your knees you're embarressing yourself".

So, more drastic action was needed. New basset fencing.

According to my Domestic Executive DIY manual careful planning is the key to success. I have therefore set up some prototype fencing this time to test it against Basset attack. This time we've gone from sticks and wire to posts and mesh. To be precise 50mmx50mm posts with plastic guttering protector stapled to the posts.

I think it's fair to say the posts are a hit. Much more solid, quite architectural in fact. The mesh did however fail at it's first Fortnum test. It isn't that easy to see and he simply walked through it breaking it off without much effort at all. Mason crawled under it - although he jumped the gun on the testing period as I'd intended to put two layers to cover the whole of the post area.

This early testing has proven that we need more robust fencing materials - probably metal mesh that won't break so easily. I rather fancy putting a mini picket fence but pickets only come at 900mm height which would mean a huge amount of wastage. A simple rail system is a possibility but that requires quite a lot of joinery effort and lots of painting.

I'm back at the Domestic Executive DIY design board on this one but rest assured I'll keep you posted on what we decide. In the meantime Fortnum has learned that dumping toys, bones and shoes into the flower bed off the veranda is a good place to hide them and gains a huge amount of attention from me as I leap in to fetch them out. Great game of owner fetch eh!