Speaking of big rocks

Developing a line of big rocks along the roadway, for confused-motorist-crashing-into-the-fish-pond-while-attempting-ill-conceived-3-point-turn action. Sunflowers should serve as a visual cue, also.


But how do they get up there? Plain old heave-ho. These three above went up like babes in arms. In general, they come from the wood pile digging spot, which is in front of the car there and about 3 metres down.


And these guys? Too big to lift. That one on the left prompted the winch purchase. But the winch is also slow, so ended up rolling it up the road, end over end. Good thing there’s no traffic on our street. Anyway, they’ll make a nice flagstone sort of lead in to the log steps, so that’s all that counts.

Half way up the hill it occurred to me that in Dante there was a level of hell set aside specifically for rolling boulders up hills. Maybe Dante was a gardener.

Big logs and pumpkin patches

As it fell, the big log that used to be the main trunk of the tree that died was kind of in the way. It was also perched a bit precariously on a fairly steep bit of the hill.

Good ideas were had; a small shelf could be dug out on a relatively less-steep bit of hill, the log rested on the shelf and a fairly decent patch made to put in the pumpkins.

A couple of hours with the mattock saw the shelf dug out about a metre above the log’s natural resting place. Proceeded to try to lever the log up the hill with the big crowbar. Was going about 2cm per lever before having to chock it with a stake to stop it rolling back down again. And heavy. By golly is that thing heavy. Then remembered the $12 winch (thanks Richard).


Then pile some compost behind it. Our organic gardening book says that pumpkins like nothing better than to grow in a pile of compost. Carl has been dumping his grass clippings next to the wood pile for god knows how long, and the bottom of it isn’t too bad.


Gave it some wetting and forking and it’s coming good.

Then, time for the other log to join its mate up the hill.


And, put a big rock in the V. We can pile some dirt against it and make a home for some flopsy plants.


That all sounds quite easy, right?

Well, the straps broke trying to get one of the logs up there. We went through 3 garden stakes as the uphill stable point before we got out a star picket to serve that purpose. And how did that rock get there? Magic? No, it was heaved up the hill from down on the driveway. It disturbed some of those nasty jumpy-biting ants on the way up, and they had to be dealt with. And there was no purchase on the downhill to make a footing to heave the rock. So kept slipping down the hill hoping the rock wouldn’t roll down.

And the compost, spare me. The little garden cart Shelley gave me for my Birthday 2 years ago just doesn’t work on a sloping block. It falls over sideways all the time. And comes to pieces. And rolls back down the hill if you stop holding on to it.

So future posts will feature a spanking new wheelbarrow.

First brave souls on the bald hill

They’re two weeks late, but the first sunflowers have found their way up onto the bald hill. It’s a stinking hot weekend in the high 30’s and the poor babies just aren’t up to it. The first lot Shelley planted all wilted and died almost straight away. This next bunch had their leaves rather brutally cropped and they made it through the heat of the day. By the evening they look almost chirpy.




Poor little darlings – they’re hardly visible on the vast expanse of summer-dried grass. Hopefully soon they will be towering over the ground and providing some shady spots for some more delicate flowers to go in.


Interlude: currawong

Rohan had a book about these birds (Strepera graculina) called “Rainbirds”, which tells how they come down from the mountains to the city for the winter, bringing the rain with them.

Like a cross between a magpie and a crow.


Interlude: rainbow lorikeet

We used to get these guys (Trichoglossus haematodus moluccanus) flying around our flat in White Gum Valley, where they’re an introduced species. They would congregate in large groups on particular tree succulents and make an unholy noise.

Here, they seem to hang out in pairs, and rarely make a noise. They land on the deck railing and look over the edge, as if they’re trying to see under the rail.


Also called Swainson’s lorikeet.

Interlude: Olinda hill

Olinda lies behind the hill that is across the valley. The valley is formed by Sassafras Creek.


Those are uphill Dave’s birches, and they’re only about 3 years old. There’s about 6 or 7 of them in a higgeldy patch below their house. We’ll extend the patch into our garden by planting more. That probably won’t happen until around about August, however, when we can get trees in stick form at a pretty cheap price. Dave reckons his were about $5 each.


Interlude: bogan of the bush

They call these birds the bogans of the bush. Sulphur-crested cockatoos, Cacatua galerita. Noisy fellas. Hog all the seed. Congregate in groups and squawk like nobody’s business.


They have this thing at Grant’s picnic ground down in Kallista where the day trippers from the city can pay to get a bit of seed and go into a fenced compound with a sad-looking dead stick that serves as a ‘tree’ perch, and feed the birds. Only, the only birds that hang out there are these ones.

People pay for that. Hilarity ensues as the birds all land on grandma, and she’s beating them off while kids and grandkids all laugh and take pictures.

Steps to the wood pile

In digging out the flat spot for the wood pile, compost heap and access to chickens, it would be handy to know how close to the house to stop. The idea is to have steps coming down from the deck, which will run along the side of the house as well as the front. Some of those steps can be made now.

Here’s the initial lookout.


I got a bit overzealous, a few big rocks have already been carted up the hill to serve as a kind of kerb for the road.

That sleeper on the bottom right lines up with the front of the house. I want to extend that line all the way to the fence, at deck height. Did some measuring – that sleeper is 1.41m below the deck height. I’ll make the steps generous, 300mm wide and 150mm high, which should allow Rohan to get up and down and allow me to fit my foot on it. I’m getting a little over steps that are not wide enough to fit a foot. We got a house full of them.

Half way down the sleeper is the height of step 10, which is positioned around about where the brown star picket is sticking out from behind that rock. So we’ll make that the initial level, extend the level 3m from the deck end (about 2m from the end of the sleeper), make the steps 1.6m wide (more generosity, but it’s just dirt – I got lots of dirt), which matches the width of the deck and makes it all symmetrical and harmonious.

So those big rocks have to come out. Damn. Some will go up the hill for the kerb project; the really big one can stabilise the downhill side of the steps.


And that’s me done for the evening. Going to have to come up with something to hold in the dirt on the downhill side. But what’s that in the distance? A gajillion sleepers? They’ll do for temporary purposes.

Can’t wait to rip out that corrugated iron.