As some of you may now be aware, I’m a music fan. I really do enjoy listening to the latest releases even though many of those same releases may challenge my musical palate! In fact, the title of this week’s blog is a nod to the alternative metal band – System of a Down. They rock.
Fortunately for me, down under the government runs the national youth music FM radio station Triple J. It is quite good because not only can you hear that radio station all over the continent, but it also happens to be commercial free, has always been a strong supporter of Australian music and they also stay right on the zeitgeist (and sometimes perhaps a few steps beyond).
Why are discussing radio stations? Well, the farm just happens to be on the one spot on the continent where the FM radio signal is a bit patchy. It is a bit hard keeping on the zeitgeist when it is full of static! So this week, I took the plunge and built a purpose built FM antenna.
A few decades ago, you could simply visit an electronics shop and purchase a specially designed antenna for FM radio reception. Well, try finding one nowadays and you’ll discover that down under these things are very hard to find. And the television antennas that could provide a reasonable substitute have so much plastic incorporated into their construction that I have serious doubts about the longevity of the things.
Well, it had never occurred to me to construct the antenna here from scratch. Fortunately, August Johnson from the Green wizards radio forum website helped me every step of the way. Who would have thought that you could turn a few scraps of aluminium tubing into a full on working antenna? It took a few hours work, but the antenna was soon proudly sailing off the side of the roof here:
|homemade FM antenna proudly helping me to stay on the zeitgeist|
For those that are technically inclined, the antenna is 2.1m (about 7 foot) in length and the widest span is about 1.3m (a bit under 4 foot). The antenna works well.
Now that autumn is here and the weather is cooler, excavations have begun for the new wood shed. It may be a bit ambitious but I’m hoping to have the shed built and full of firewood by sometime around the end of April…
|A new rock wall has been placed so as to receive the excavated soil|
It is pretty hard work, so after about half a day’s excavations, the wood shed site is now progressing.
The editor’s birthday overlocker machine scored a makeover this week. The refurbishment involved cleaning, some more cleaning and then there was a little bit more cleaning. Seriously, that machine was one dirty machine (that sounds a bit dodgy doesn’t it?). We used a small 12V air compressor to blow the many years of unidentified rubbish out of all of the nooks and cranny’s inside the guts of the machine. Various nuts and bolts were replaced, whilst others were tightened. Crucial linking cables were replaced with stainless steel wires. The stand that holds the cotton reels and thread separators was also replaced. The mineral oil was topped up. Did I mention that after all that work I still found bits that needed further cleaning? Mate, even my dogs aren’t that dirty!
|Overlocker before the refurbishment|
|Overlocker after the refurbishment|
The machine purrs along now and as a bonus it is a little bit cleaner and sturdier!
Last week, I wrote about abandoning the original ideas for the strawberry beds in favour of the yet to be built strawberry beds above the wood shed. Well, that left a large garden area completely unplanted. That unplanted area had been previously covered with woody mulch 12 months ago just to keep invasive plants out. The woody mulch breaks down into soil, but really requires 2 years before it ends up looking like a black sandy / loamy soil mix.
This unplanted but mulched area is now going to form part of the garden beds, so today I brought in a cubic metre (about a cubic yard) of mushroom compost. The compost was spread around on top of the woody mulch and I planted cuttings and self-seeded plants directly into the mix. Autumn is the time to plant here because the soil is still warm and it gives cuttings time to get settled in before the winter hits.
|Mushroom compost distributed around with cuttings planted directly into it|
|Garden after 12 months of growth|
After 2 years of growth the garden beds will have even more diversity and should look like this:
|Garden after 24 months of growth|
How did the house get here?
Towards the end of the year, just as I had all of the concrete stumps which keep the house off the ground installed, it started raining. Actually it rained a lot and the following year (2010) was the wettest in about 140 years of rainfall records. I’ve never seen so much water and over 12 months 1,437mm (56.6 inches) fell from the sky.
|By the end of November, all of the stumps were installed and the timber bearers were mostly in place|
Then one day, all of the supporting timbers were installed. There is a real beauty to the symmetry and order in house construction when everything is (mostly) perfectly lined up just waiting for the next stage.
|The bearers and joists were all installed|
|Lots of red/brown clay everywhere|
|Wall frames completed by New Years Eve|
The temperature outside here at about 6.30pm is 21.6 degrees Celsius (70.9’F). So far this year there has been 135.8mm (5.3 inches) of rainfall which is up from last week's total of 131.2mm (5.2 inches).