Steam trains and Royal Carriage at historic Don River Railway - family outing for kids

We had a brilliant day this week at the Don River Railway, in Don, Northern Tasmania. It was established in 1973 and trains began running three years later. The railway line which now exists runs from the Don Village through to Coles Beach, a distance of 14 km. The many beautifully restored carriages and engines housed here at the railway station and yards are the results of thousands of hours of voluntary labour. We were stunned by the beauty and expert craftsmanship of the restorations. Both steam and diesel engines are available for use and today our old-fashioned carriages were drawn by a diesel engine.

In 1927 the Duke and Duchess of York, who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, arrived in Hobart and travelled around the state. For part of their journey they travelled in a royal carriage which we were able to see today. Restoration of this carriage began in 2009.

 The coach was also used by Edward Prince of Wales who later became king Edward VIII. The same carriage wa…

Great Earthworks and Butcher birds

Since we moved here, from the very first day it seems, I have heard the beautiful, melodious call of a mysterious bird I wasn't able to identify. Until this week! We have plantation forest to our east and another, almost ready for harvesting, sadly, to our south. These forests are home to many creatures, one of which is this mysterious bird, which I found out was a Grey Butcher Bird. I really thought it was going to be a rosella or parrot of some kind. But this humble little thing has such a lovely song, it's worth mentioning. Here is a recording of several: listen here In each state they sound slightly different. So lovely.

In other, exciting and long awaited news, - the mighty tree stumps are finally gone! Yesterday I spent 8 hours burning three of the biggest of the Macrocarpa stumps, the trees being were cut down many years ago. And today we heard a big machine coming up our road and guessed it was neighbour Rob bringing his massive excavator. YAY!

It's a bit of a mes…

Horses in the birdbath and hanging rocks

Horses in the birdbath
I lifted the blind and looked out the kitchen window yesterday morning to see a horse slurping in my birdbath. I did a double take then remembered - we offered for our neighbours Phil and Kerry to put their horses in our derelict vegie patch for a couple of days because they have so little feed in their paddock. It's great for us too because the grass is rampant in the vegie patch! Of course I filled a water trough, but do you think Matti was interested in drinking from it? Oh no. Sandstone birdbath please.

Small favours in a small community
In our small community we do little favours for each other all the time: loans of machinery or trailers, sharing excess eggs, passing on cuttings of trees at pruning time etc. Our entire southern fenceline in the 'Horse Paddock' is lined with poplars we were given by neighbours John and Sonya from when they pruned theirs. And they're sprouting! (not John and Sonya, the cuttings!) All we did was cut the ends an…

Spring! Birds and Gardening in our 100 acre garden

Spring is sprung!
Spring is finally here! I have always been a winter/autumn person. I love the cooler weather. I feel relaxed and happy. But Tassie winters are very different to the winters we had in The Blue Mountains for 20 years. I'd sit out in the garden under the cherry trees in the crisp, cool sunshine with my friends with pots of tea. Winters were dry and mostly windless. Tassie winters are often wet and windy. It's very cosy inside! When the sun comes out it's quite glorious and we do need the rain, it's just taking a bit of getting used to.

Formal among the informal
In other news I have finally been able to get my small circular garden done. It's a little formal bed in amongst the rambling garden and the desolate vegie patch. The tiny Viburnum windbreak hedge plants which border it will hopefully protect it in a few years' time.

I am proud to say I did the carpentry myself - cutting the stakes and borders with the dropsaw and measuring the exact centre…

Recycling a cubby house as a dog kennel using a tractor

So much going on at the moment!

We've had two glorious days here at Crumbleton Manor and I've actually been able to get outside and do some gardening. Some of the trees are already flowering, such as the plums and ornamental pear. Lovely! Really heartening after such dreadful winds lately accompanied by driving rain that went on and on for days. While New South Wales is in drought, we were drowning a bit. Mud everywhere.

We've had crisp white frosts too. Really crunchy underfoot. Love it.

It's been fantastic to finally get rid of the play equipment that was here when we bought the house. Kidlet is too old for it and I have big plans for the garden, so it had to go. As with the Hills hoist washing line. Both are an eyesore. Still waiting for the insurance company to organise removal of what's left of the polytunnel, which disintegrated in that last storm, under the terrible winds. It was great fun to watch the tractor do the heavy lifting. Hubby sawed through the f…

Lazy Daisy - How do you NOT become too attached to tiny, helpless lambs?

It seems, despite my protestations that I do NOT want to be farmer's wife and spend all my days looking after animals and fixing fences I have become just that. (sigh). I'm a writer, but have always been I suspect, a Visual Artist. Sure, I have dabbled quite successfully in both music:

Here's me singing on a recorded CD

and writing:
Here's my 9 children's books 

But what I am itching to do is get dirty in a workshop, throwing clay onto a wheel, building slab pots, inking up an old fashioned cast iron printing press and etching plates, painting a HUGE canvas, drawing tiny detailed pen and ink drawings etc... You get the picture. After all, I have a degree in Fine Arts. I spent four glorious and fun filled years at Uni. It's my passion!

But instead, what am I doing?
Stumbling out of my warm bed at midnight to feed a four day old lamb Standing around in the perilous cold waiting for her to do a weeCutting up fleecy clothing to make lamb jacketsGetting covered in poo…

3 Sets of Twins for Crumbleton Manor Farm!

We've had wildly varying weather this past week or so. Every morning we worried about lambs popping out during the wee hours while wind and rain lashed at them, so we moved our small flock to a paddock next to the house where they are sheltered beautifully by a very large Macrocarpa tree (native to California) with low branches. It's in the perfect spot to block the westerly winds. In addition, we can stand in the kitchen at night and shine a powerful torch to see how the girls are doing without setting foot outside.

So, two more sets of twins! And we haven't had to bottle feed any of them. We've moved all three mothers and six babies to the shed annex, with maternity paddock right nextdoor. They have shelter all night with plenty of room for all of them and the lambs can bounce around the lush green paddock during the day. Apart from one day when one of the ewes escaped and took her lambs down to the first dam, we've had no incidents.

The newborn lambs are simply…