Here’s a little update about the vineyard. I guess we’ll have to think of a name for the place before too long. The vines at first were not particularly thriving and we realised that they really were not getting enough water. We have not put in irrigation to the vines because the decision is to dry grow them – that means that they pretty well need to survive only on any water they get from rain. But for their first one or two years they do need extra water over summer.

So given their slight weakness we decided to step up the hand watering to fortnightly. And that has really paid off. Nearly all are looking great and we have lost hardly any – in fact only six have died. Not a bad percentage from 1000 vines. And what’s more, some have already grown above the top of their guards.

super vine 1

Super vine 1 - already wrapping tendrils around the wire.


super vine 2

Super vine 2


Citrus Trees

For years we have had two citrus trees in pots. They have travelled with us to the various houses we have lived in over 12 years. One is a cumquat and the other a lemon tree. Both were gifts. The former from me to John, the latter from Kirsty, Alex and Kate. We love them both and they have faithfully produced fruit all that time. The lemon even survived a pruning to within an inch of its life when it got gall wasp one year.

A bit more recently we received another citrus as a gift – a tahitian lime tree from John’s mum. It also managed to thrive in a pot.

Anyway we have always wanted to put them in the ground. And this year we did. At the same time we added a different lemon tree to the citrus collection – a lisbon.

The poor fellows haven’t enjoyed the transplant process much. In order to help them along we have just built some wind breaks to protect them from the frequent southerlies we get and to encourage growth.


lisbon lemon tree

Here's the lisbon lemon tree (and a couple of friends) before wind break.


lime tree with screen

This is the lime tree with wind screen in place. Underneath the tree basil and oregano are planted.


two screens on citrus

Two out of four wind breaks in place - a few green-guarded acacia, eucalypts and banksia in the background.


four wind breaks on citrus

All citrus now protected from southerly winds.

The Vineyard Story

January 10, 2012 | 10 Comments

Back in October 2010 was when we planted our Sangiovese cuttings in a vine nursery. Just under a year later in September 2011 we had a fully trellised and planted vineyard. Well the first stage of a vineyard. It may be quite small but by god we don’t love it any less for it. It is fantastic to look out from our windows to the neat rows of vines, protected from the wind in their vine guards.

All up, from measuring out the vineyard to the finished thing took about six weekends (and evenings when we could sneak them in). Along the way we really appreciated the help we received from friends and family. Huge thanks go to:

  • Peter and Kristy – for great work on the end assemblies and plenty of hammering
  • Matt – for massive crowbar heroics and mattocking par excellence – in a sterling effort Matt completed two full weekend tours of duty
  • Dawn and Steve – our hardcore Saturday and Sunday planting team
  • Martyn and Chris – Saturday planting and suppliers of extra tools
  • Bec, DA and Zak – the Saturday reinforcement team arriving just when our numbers needed boosting
  • Ross and Neale and Jackie – our appreciated Sunday additional planting team

Below is a pictorial story of the vineyard from whoa to go.

john inspects vine nursery

In October 2010 we established a vine nursery - John proudly surveys the vines' progress.


bud burst in the nursery

Still 2010 - here's a close-up of budburst in the nursery. And a nice close up of the "babies".


the first vineyard post goes in

Cut to August 2011 - John hammers in the marker for the very first vineyard post.


John and tape measure

Checking the row length


Amanda and post marker

No show without Punch - Amanda wields a hammer on the next post marker.


vineyard posts

No treated pine for this vineyard - these are softwood posts coated in recycled plastic. Termite resistant without the nasty chemicals. Arrived 20 August 2011.


ute loaded with posts

The trusty ute loaded with posts ready for placement on the vineyard site.


posts in place

All the posts laid out on the site ready to be hammered into the ground.


John and Mark with the post driver

John closely observes as Mark uses the post driver.


more post driver action

More post driver action


intermediate posts

Beautiful! All intermediate posts done by 21 August 2011.


Peter and John start the end assemblies

Now it is the first week of September 2011 and here John and Peter start putting the end assemblies together.


Matt and crowbar

Sterling effort by Matt doing the hard yards with a crowbar.


more end assembly work

And the end assembly work continues. Kristy is in the background taking a well earned rest from hammering in wire holding staples.


wiring up an end assembly

Matt and Amanda wiring up an end assembly.


finished end assemblies

There's a fine looking set of end assemblies - the western end of the rows complete.


tensioning wire

John adds the required amount of tension to the fruiting wire. Work that strainer!


vine roots

Here's what the vines look like dug up from the nursery just before planting.


Chris Steve Matt Martyn planting

First weekend of planting 10-11 September 2011 and here we have Chris, Steve, Matt and Martyn digging some of the 1000 holes.


more mattock work

Matt, Martyn and Steve soldier on with mattocking holes. Don't worry everybody got to have a go - 1000 holes is a lot of holes.


more Amanda and Dawn planting

Amanda and Dawn planting the first row - one minute up, next minute down - plenty of exercise on planting day for all concerned.


Amanda and Dawn planting

And now just a bit of delicate soil tamping with the boots.


Amanda Ross Jackie Neale planting

On Sunday the planting continued - here's Amanda, Ross, Jackie and Neale (walking with purpose with vine in hand) doing some of their best work.


Steve Amanda planting

Strike a (weird) pose - Steve and Amanda plant vines on Sunday.


mountain of vine guards

We received our vine guards in a flatpack and had to assemble them all - this mountain of guards was mostly due to Steve.


Dawn putting guards on vines

And once the guards were assembled it was time to put one on every vine - Dawn shows how it is done.


just planted bud burst

This is why the young vines need guards - this vine has only been in the ground for a day and it has already bud burst.


John watering

Once planted each vine needs a drink - John starts the watering.


Matt watering

Matt and John continued watering till well after sundown - nice work.


The following weekend on 18 September 2011 John and Amanda finished the last couple of rows and – voila! – we had a vineyard.


finished vineyard

Stage 1 vineyard - 1000 sangiovese - completed.


view of vineyard from northern deck

Here's a view of the vineyard from the northern deck of the house, with a fledgling fruit tree orchard in the foreground too - what a fine view.

From a great height

August 22, 2011 | Comments Off on From a great height

Back in January we finally tackled the last exterior painting job. We’d left it a while because the degree of difficulty seemed pretty high. As were the surfaces that required painting. On the western deck are some very high trusses – and they needed a coat of charcoal coloured paint. Here’s a series of pictures of John tackling the long ladder in order to get that job done.

John commences the truss painting

John paints trusses

Right up the top of that ladder!

John paints trusses

At least some shade in the morning on what was to be a scorcher of a day

John paints trusses

One more angle - looking past John towards the north

It’s been a while. Sorry about that break in transmission. We got busy after we moved into the new house (yes, your eyes do not deceive you) doing some of the painting we hadn’t finished. Oh, and of course, unpacking stuff. The shed is rather full of all sorts of things that don’t fit in the house.

Anyway it is great to be actually living in the house after a year of construction. Our move was not without some drama. I believe we picked the wettest weekend of the entire 2010 year (possibly of the past 5 years) to book a trailer and start packing boxes. The plan had been to pack boxes on Friday, pick up the trailer on Saturday, transport boxes and furniture to the new house on Saturday. Then we’d unpack some essentials Saturday night and continue the unpacking on Sunday.

Instead we packed boxes on Friday while there was non-stop and steady rain all day. A quick trip down to the creek crossing later that afternoon revealed that there would be no point getting a trailer for the next day as the ford was unpassable – gentle creek had become raging river. And word had it that the long way round to approach our house from the other direction was also no good as the road was under water. Sigh.

New plan – trailer Sunday. So that is what we did.

Flooded Myrtle Creek at ford

The impassable Myrtle Creek ford 27 November 2010

normal water levels at Myrtle Creek ford

The usual level of Myrtle Creek at the ford

flooded Bartys Road

Going the long way round once the water level had subsided a bit

Water across Bartys Road

Bartys Road became a veritable creek

Then, it seemed like we had just had time to dry ourselves out when we were struck by plague locusts. Hundreds and thousands of them spent Xmas with us and left us with the gift of a ticking time bomb of underground egg beds – all around the house.

John and plague locusts

John shows those locusts a thing or two...

But all’s well that ends well. Here we are – moved in!

John unpacking boxes in kitchen

John unpacks one of the many boxes - stack that pantry!


That kitchen - looking good and working well

Living Room

Ah - furniture at last! Now we can actually do some living in that living room.

Totally floored

November 9, 2010 | 2 Comments

Four days of sanding, vacuuming, oiling, topcoating, scouring and topcoating again – oh and did I mention vacuuming? – and we now have glorious floorboards. A treat for barefeet definitely.

Living room floor before treatment

Before and raw

Living room after floor treatment

Oh yes - what a difference!

Amanda treats floor

Oh what a glamour shot!

Amanda does detail floor treatment

Oh and ANOTHER glamour shot

Bedroom floor treated

Bedroom floor

Study floor treated

Study floor

Well it has come to pass that all that prevents A & J moving into Home on the Grange is the installation of a range hood, some minor silicon (for the bathroom not the inhabitants – ark ark!), the addition of worms to our lovely Biolytix waste water system and several hours of painting. Oh and not to mention floor oiling and coating.

Nail bitingly close in other words to operation “get me a delivery truck”.

John paints study

John hard at work painting the study - degree of difficulty, high, when it comes to edging between ceiliing and wall.

bench and stereo unit in the living room

Here's the bench/storage unit and custom built stereo unit for the living room. Note the bottom shelf - made the perfect size for LPS. Yeah! (Photo taken pre timber oiling).


Not much to say other than this is one of the fully completed rooms in the house.


Small, simple room. Soft close dunny lid - and no exposed S bend. Oh the small things that please...

oven and bench in kitchen

Sneak preview of kitchen.How gorgeous is that red? And that oven? Looking forward to taking the protective coating off the stainless steel benches.

bubble tiles in bathroom

Our feature wall of bubble tiles is guaranteed to add to our shower experience.

Funny thing about these tiles is that you can see a grid pattern in this photo (I think) but in real life it is not at all obvious.

tap and tiles

Side wall, tap and a bit more of those bubble tiles in the shower.

drain and floor tiles

Round drains are soooo overused eh? Here's part of our "ripple" grate drain. And our floor tiles.

green exterior

For those of you who voted "green" here's the end result. We love it.

blue exterior on western deck

And here's where we managed to use the blue we love so much too - this is the western deck.

blue exterior from further away

More of that feature blue deck wall...

Ever closer…

September 2, 2010 | 4 Comments

This update introduces you to two biggish items: our shed (admired by all who visit – interestingly nearly every male who has set foot on the site feels compelled to speak out loud, “Nice shed,” they say.) and our rainwater tank.

Also included are some detail shots for those who like the detail…

Laundry floor with floor oil

Check out the difference pre and post floor oiling - this is the laundry. And the timber? Remilled messmate.

living room walls one with and one without oil

Wanted the ply walls to feel largely untreated so gave them a coating of quarter tint acrylic oil. One on the right has had the treatment - doesn't look this dark in real life. All up the living room looks great.

living room fan and lights

Here's a look at our ceiling fan and one of the living room lights.

shed before concrete has been poured

Ah - the shed! Here it is before the concrete had been poured. Nice looking day on the Grange eh?

shed after concrete  poured

And how proudly I stand next to the shed and its magnificent concrete floor

john on the tank ladder

Ta daaaa! Tank in place and rain on the way.

first house gathering

The floor not being oiled does not stop us - with the help of a couple of trusty tarps here's our first (surprise) house gathering. May there be many more!

Well after no blog activity for quite a while here’s an update hot on the heels of the previous one. Things are moving along with the house but it still feels like we have quite a way to go. Still to do: bathroom tiling, floorboard sanding, kitchen and living room cabinetry, rainwater tank, power to house and . . . plenty of painting and oiling.

living room with plywood walls on

Plywood internal walls all on and floorboards all in place. Waiting on ceiling paint.

Kitchen with unfixed benches

Kind of getting an idea of kitchen now - benches not fixed and waiting patiently for their cabinets.

bathroom no tiles

Just waiting on the tiles to be added...


View north from study window - who's getting any work done in here?

main deck

Decisions, decisions - what to 'finish' all this timber with?

shade devices

Eaves are so old fashioned 😉 We love our slatted shade devices.

eastern shade device

An up-closer look at the shade devices on the eastern end of the house.

John near main deck

John wanders past the main deck.

Colour our world

July 2, 2010 | 8 Comments

John and Amanda demonstrate their patented technique for deciding on paint colour. Guess which way we went.

blue paint

John has "the blues".

green paint

Amanda is green.

What’s inside?

July 2, 2010 | 2 Comments

Well it has been way too long between updates. These pictures have been in the camera since late May. Somehow haven’t been able to find the time to get them up on the blog. Maybe it’s all the painting??

Anyway, here’s the first set of shots that include any interiors. Will update again soon because the house has come a LONG way since these were taken.

from the windows of the main bedroom

The view that will greet us from our bedroom. Nice!

looking down the hallway

Living room in the distance from the hallway

living room

Here's the living room.

bathroom no lining

Wait till you see the bathroom with some wall covering!


Would you believe this will be a kitchen?

throught the house from the front door

We love that the minute you arrive at the front door you can see right through the house to the glorious outside. Check out the reflections in the glass though...