Alright, so here we go on the big picture post! It is both a big post with pictures, and the post where I finally realized I can make all of the pictures big.
I’ve been at Villa Marti for four days now, enjoying the hard work and taking in the local scenery.
The birds here are magnificent– my mum would lose her mind. I’m looking forward to having her visit! Today I saw a Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo (or Funereal Cockatoo, which I prefer, because I didn’t see a yellow tail, but its feathers were pitch black with bright yellow cheeks, instead), and we regularly see galahs, magpies, lorikeets, noisy miners, and a variety of other small and medium feathered types. I’ve also been having a multi-day conversation with some unseen bird which sings in eerie minor key trills and skips.
Anyway, on my first full day here, Graham and I cleared out a woodpile and started building new compost bins. He let me be in charge of the chainsaw:
We’d finished them by the end of the second day:
I’d started a puzzle the night I arrived, challenging myself by building it without looking at the reference image. I finished it after we completed the bins, and then demolished it:
On Sunday morning, after a delicious eggs-and-bacon breakfast, we started on the second project, building a shade house where the old compost bins had been. Since I hadn’t thought to take a before picture of the old compost bins, I made sure to take one of where they used to be, before we got started that morning.
On the first day, we dug many holes, drilled through the posts and put bits of rebar in it, and dropped them in the holes, secured by cement:
Asher, at right, is the happiest farm dog. She works very hard.
That night, I began and finished the second of the two puzzles left in my apartment (I’ll save the accommodation post for later, this one is about the stuff I’ve been doing.)
This morning, we started the day by helping some neighbors move their cattle from one paddock to another, and then moved the cattle at Villa Marti from one paddock to another:
Those black spots in the distance are cows. Look, they’re not in Asher’s lazy picture–the morning sun just makes it look like different trees.
I saw the Funereal Cockatoo while we were out helping the neighbors, I should mention. We also went wallaby-spotting, and I learned that wallabies are pretty much just small kangaroos. Rocko lied to me. Also I saw one with a joey in its pouch, but Rocko had no bearing on that.
Anyway, Graham and I got back to work after the cattle urging (and our mid-morning coffee break). We took the long metal… things that had been on top of Asher’s house and turned them into the roof framework for the shade house.
This required using the grinder, which I didn’t do, and sorting out a bunch of screws, which I did do. As I’ve finished all the puzzles on offer, I’m determined to convince Graham to let me sort his screws into different containers to make his life easier. He told me he didn’t want me doing more work in the evening, but entertaining myself. I tried to explain that I’m precisely the kind of sick person who finds sorting screws entertaining. He’s not yet convinced, but Chris understands and is on my side in this. Sorting screws is a lot like making a puzzle, except at the end of separating all the little pieces into their related groups, I actually have something useful to show.
Anyway, in addition to fashioning the framework, we also used a “dumpy level” to sort out just where we needed to attach the frame to the posts we’d put in the night before.
After lunch (I’m going to have to do another food post, because Chris is amazing), we shoved aside some of the plants to make room for hanging and attaching the framework.
As of this moment, we’ve got all the frame hung, so tomorrow we’ll get started on attaching the timber battens and the screen itself, as well as sorting out just how the door is going to work. Here’s what we’ve got:
It’s amazing to me how much work can be done by two people in four days. Seriously, the math on this is ridiculous– we’ve got less than 50 cumulative man-hours on these projects. We pretty much break to eat every two hours. And we’re getting so much done! Quite, quite satisfying, and quite precisely what I wanted to be doing on this adventure.
I had to start making my plans to head to my next farmstay, in Adelaide, because the folks at Tansley Farm asked if I could come a few days early, and I’m happy to oblige (I was going to be spending those days back at the hostel in Sydney anyway). It makes me sad to think about leaving here already, because I’ve been so lucky with my first hosts. Seriously, if I could just live in this flat and work here indefinitely, I’d be happy. (The accommodation post is coming, I promise.)
I’ll wax more poetic later, I’ve got to get to sleep. Expect more in a few days– who knows what we’ll accomplish by then?