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One of the most often asked questions once we had moved to the country was “have you seen a snake yet?” or “have you got many snakes at your place?”  The movers claimed to have seen a Brown Snake sunning itself when they arrived, but I decided that they were trying to spook the new girl in town.

stickorsnake

That one is a stick

We spent a lot of time in our first few weeks clearing branches, chopping wood, dismantling sheds, and general clearing up around the place.  All the time I was on guard.  “Is that a snake or a stick?” I didn’t leave the house without my work boots on and always put on gloves just in case a snake decided to turn up to defend its territory.

No snakes there either.

No snakes there either.

Last week I finally saw my first snake. Or was it a stick? That was my first thought anyway.  Up until that point, every snake I had seen has turned out to be a stick, or a tree root, or a bit of bark. I was starting to think that we must not have any snakes at our place. Having been at the property a couple of months now and having not seen any snakes at all, I was more relaxed with what I was wearing, especially close to the house. This sunny weekend day I was gloveless and also wearing thongs.  Not much protection happening there.

Then one day, while moving sprinklers around out the front of the house, there was a stick on the lawn. And then it moved. It went under the house, the stick went under the house. The house that we live in! EEEEKkkk! That’s no stick . . .that was a snake!

These aren't snakes either . .

These aren’t snakes either . .

 

When I told people that I’d seen a snake, the reaction was “WOW! What sort was it? A Brown?”.  Ummm, I don’t know.  It was just a stick that moved.  I ask a few people what sort of snakes I’d be likely to see near us and there were generally two options.  It was either a Brown Snake or a Copperhead. Thankfully Mr Google has assured me that a Copperhead was the better option of the two.  Even so, I’m still wearing my boots and gloves every time I go out in the garden from now on.

Michelle

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It started out as a few painted fluorescent spots on the ground to mark out where the chicken coop would go. And before we knew it, the frame was going up and we had the makings of Cluckingham Palace.

chook_run_160214_03

I’m not sure if that qualifies as bigger than Ben Hur, or just  slightly smaller. The dogs supervised the site all afternoon, from the shade of the trestle table, occasionally rising to inspect the workmanship.

chook_run_160214_04

We are expecting some spoils from a demolition any day now that will provide some shelter for the coop section and when the wire arrives at the local supplier, we will be able to start to enclose the run.  Then the fun begins – the choosing of the chickens!  We mainly want them for their food disposal, ground scratching, bug eating and fertiliser providing properties, rather than an egg-per-hen every 24 hours.

I’ve now started to concentrate on what sorts of hens we’ll have in our flock and was quite delighted to read about all the different colours of eggs that hens can lay. And not just your white, off-white, and brown varieties either. Now that know that there is a whole rainbow of eggs there waiting to be laid – blue, green, lilac, chocolate-brown, olive – my choice of chicken may now be based on what colours will fill my egg basket.  Or which hen is prettiest. All the important things!

Michelle

On country roads there are all manner of animals wandering alongside some are more obvious than others, especially when they leap out onto the road in front of you.  Unfortunately that is what happened to me this week.  It’s the first time that I have hit an animal on the road and I was quite shaken.  I can’t say that the Wallaby came out of it too well. I have been told that, with the amount of kilometres that I cover,  it more than likely won’t be my last. 😦

On a brighter note, I spotted someone else on the side of the road who wasn’t planning on leaping out in front of me. Rather, he was attempting to hide.

Roadside Echidna02

He thinks I can’t see him and if he stays still long enough, I will think he’s a rock and go away.

Roadside Echidna03

I just sat still, so he decided I must be a rock and decided to head off home to safety, away from the road, much to my delight.  I couldn’t save the Wallaby, but I feel that I may have saved the Echidna.

Michelle

The fires in Victoria have been going, in various areas, for nearly four weeks now, but this past weekend it was slightly closer to home.

Fire map Feb8

The map shows all the fire events that were taking place on Sunday around Victoria.  It was deemed the worst day, weather-wise, since the fire event on February 7 2009 which will be forever known as Black Saturday.

We were not in any danger, but when the cool change came through, it pushed the smoke from the surrounding fires all around us.  It was quite surreal.  We had spent the day being whipped by northerly winds and, being on top of a hill, we really felt them all around us.  Then suddenly smoke was everywhere and visibility had dropped to only a couple of hundred metres and he smell was overpowering. We were still in no danger of the fires, and very glad of it too. I cannot even begin to imagine how those communities to our east and west were feeling. The ABC had switched to emergency broadcast mode, keeping everyone informed of the changing conditions.

As the day drew to a close, the colours from the sunset were bouncing around the haze and, to quote a cliché, it looked like a painting. We gathered at the fence to watch the sunset and just watched as the colours swirled and changed the lower down the sun went. We realised that the horses in the front paddock were watching too.

sunset feb9

Although houses have been lost and over 130,000 hectares have been burnt, there has been no loss of life. A big thanks to all the fire-fighters who have worked tirelessly over the last few weeks and will be rotated in and out of shifts for the weeks to come to ensure that we all stay safe.

Michelle

While we prepare for some feathered friends, in the form of chickens, to join us someone thought that they would jump the queue.

Meet Gorgeous, our Sulphur Crested Cockatoo.  Isn’t he just as his name implies?

Gorgeous

He was found on the roadside after a flock of Cockatoos flew across the road into the path of an oncoming vehicle.  Many didn’t survive, which seems to be quite common at the moment.  Not just for Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, it seems that Galahs are just as prone to fly en masse in front of cars too. There were quite a few youngsters among this lot that were rescued and we have been told that Gorgeous is about four months old.  He’s got a dodgy wing, which means he can’t keep up with his flock, so he’ll have to rest awhile with ours.   Gorgeous has been given carte blanche with the contents of the fruit bowl and the veggie crisper and it seems that carrot is the clear winner at the moment.  But I am sure that he will be like all children and tire of that soon enough and want a new flavour with his seed mix.  One of the dogs is enthralled with him and just has to watch his every move; the other is keeping an eye on the discarded fruit.  Who knew dogs liked bananas?

We will be working on accommodation this weekend for a planned addition to the household and hope to have some of these soon –

Basket

  source

We haven’t decided on the types of chooks we want to get yet. Their primary mission will be as chief food scrap recyclers and the eggs will be an added bonus. With only two of us, we aren’t going to need a full box of eggs every day. Perhaps I better dust off my CWA Cookbook and find some egg-laden recipes.  Frittata anyone?

Michelle

We have been here for just on three months now and our first 6 weeks were spent getting to know the house, the land and the surrounding area.  I had spent the last 25 years coming to Gippsland to visit my folks and had never really gone out and been a tourist to see the area. I really didn’t know what was around, let alone all the great places to see and the beauty that is now on my doorstep.

The beauty on our doorstep. We're pretty lucky, aren't we?

Getting right into the spirit of our new country life, on our first weekend we were here we went to see a bluegrass band, The Davidson Brothers, playing at the Valencia Creek Hall.  The brothers are local Gippsland boys and are bit of a big deal in the Country and Western / Bluegrass scene.  I’d never heard of them, but I do enjoy a bit of banjo-pickin’ bluegrass.  The brothers seemed to get a buzz playing to a local full-house and even posted a picture taken from the stage on their Facebook page. As you can see, it’s what they’d call an ‘intimate’ venue, seating about 120 people; no-one had a bad seat!

New Years Eve 2013

Valencia Creek Hall is a beautiful community hall that was built in 1926 and was dedicated as a memorial to the local soldiers. It has been a focal point and a center of activity for the district ever since, including being used as a meeting place in times of trouble, such as bushfires and is well known for its display of locally historic photographs.

 Valencia Creek Hall

We returned to Valencia Creek Hall on New Year’s Eve to help ring in the New Year.   A few clever souls had brought along their campervans, so they had no worries about drink driving.  A large communal barbeque was set up ready to grill the snags and steaks that we’d brought along.  A local bush band played, there was some bush poetry and a kilted piper tootled in at the appropriate time, squeezing the goat skin bag, to let us know when to start singing “Auld Lang Syne”

Albeit slightly late here’s wishing you a happy and healthy 2014! (I’m just in time for Chinese New Year though, aren’t I?)

Michelle

It’s been forever (well, nearly 2 years) since I last blogged and I was pretty sure I never would again. As I purported to have a crafty ‘show and tell’ kind of blog and it seems that I didn’t have much to ‘show’ and not much that I wanted to ‘tell’, so I just stopped posting.

My ‘crafty mojo’ had gone AWOL and what I was creating; I didn’t feel like showing anyone.  There are so many crafty blogs out there that if you were looking for inspiration, I wasn’t delivering. What else did I have to talk about? Not much, it seemed.

Life has changed quite a bit for me over the last year or so.  Some of it very sad, but the biggest change of all has put a great big, silly grin on my face.  A good ol’ fashioned, mid-life tree-change.  We have moved out of our cramped quarters in the big smoke and moved to acreage in the country where the view goes forever and the only smoke is that from the recent summer bushfires.

We are all the better for the move, the fresh air and space that is now all around us.  Our days are filled with productive busy-ness, interspersed with cups of coffee sitting on the veranda watching the weather cross over the nearby mountain ranges and discussing our plans to build the lives we have always talked and dreamed about.  The lives we thought we would only get if the benevolent Lotto gods smiled on us.  It finally is our real life and no longer do our sentences start with “One day, wouldn’t it be nice to . . “.

stormy sunset December 2013

I have started feeling creative again and have been sewing a little bit, learning the finer points of patchwork from a master of the cut-it-up-and-sew-it-back-together art, my mother.  I enjoy it immensely and have already got a drawer full of PhDs (projects-half-done) with another half-dozen projects in the pipeline. I have just about unpacked all the vital tools required to get cracking on my card-making and have set up a little space in the storage container that is doubling as my craft room until more permanent accommodation is built. I hope to find a space in the local community centre class schedule so that I can teach again.

Other plans currently on the drawing board are an orchard, a big chicken run, a small apiary (only 2 hives), a vegetable plot  and the biggun’, the building of our dream house that we have talked about for most of our married life.  It’s nice to take it out of the “dream plan” file and place it firmly in the “reality plan” file.

So this is what I hope to share with you; the things that I am doing, creating, learning and experiencing along the way.

Michelle

It seems like that all that preparation for the  Christmas in July extravaganza exhausted me and required an extended blog-break to recuperate! And now not only has it looked like Christmas, it’s been Christmas and now it’s starting to look like Easter (was that hot cross buns I spied in the shopping basket today? Who put them there? Not me, your honour!)

Well, I certainly don’t have any Easter offerings for you today but I do have some of the Christmas cards that never made it into a post or out into the mail (so do all these left-overs mean I have made a start on next years’ cards?).  This first little fella was part of a swap that I coordinated that involved some fellow stampers from a Facebook forum I belong to.  After making 15 of them, I realised that this is not a chap that I would want to mass-produce unless I was taking some long-service leave from my day job to get it done.

I’ve called him my $300 Santa because of all the different punches I used to make him up.  He required 9 different punches and the Circle Scissors (that was for his 3″ round belly!).  He looks like he’s been on a bit of a binge on biscuits, milk, beer and all the other nibbles that all the good little children leave out for him!  I originally saw this Santa on Valita’s blog and I hope I have done her original creation justice.  What this woman does with punches is truly amazing, and I can only hope that I could be half as talented with a punch as she is!

Well, I best be off to find some more things to show you. I am sure they’re around here somewhere.  I’ll be back as soon as I can, I promise, and it won’t be 6 months before I come back.

Michelle

It’s a new year, so time to get back on the blog wagon! So I thought I would start with a new look.  Please forgive the tweaking and fiddling that will go on over the next little while.  What I may like today, I will probably hate tomorrow.  But, at the end of it all I will actually be posting again and, hopefully, on a much more regular basis.  That’s assuming I have something to show you 😉  I promise I will.  New Year’s resolutions and all that.

Happy New Year,

Michelle

we will return to our irregular regular programming as soon as we get our act together.  I promise.

till then, keep thinking INK 🙂

Michelle

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Most images © Stampin' Up!® 1997 - 2007 - All artwork by Michelle Frost-Stevenson (unless otherwise stated).

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