Summer has been long and hot and with the threat of bushfires, particularly as we are reasonably close to the Rushworth State Forest, trips to the retreat have been dependent on checking out weather conditions and deciding if we want to be there in the heat or stay home and have the option of a pool to slide into to cool down!
Being self employed gives a little more flexibility and we decided to add an extra day either side of the Labor Day public holiday to avoid traffic and have more time to do “stuff”.
Packing the car has become an art form as necessities (& luxuries) are taken up there and left….
Luxuries like 4 matching banana lounges….perfect for star gazing!
Sitting in a normal deck chair to watch the satellites and stars, results in a cricked neck if you do it for too long, so the banana lounges are ideal, even if they are a little low to the ground…..
The shed has become a cooking area, with gas camping stove, electric frypan, Dad’s old toaster and benchtop oven and even a donated microwave….
A comfy 3 seater lounge and chairs (also Dad’s old furniture) are also stored in the shed.
This last visit saw the installation of a roman blind over one of the shed windows to reduce the sun fading the fabric on the sofa and there have been discussions about installing a roof vent and insulation to make it more pleasant to be in (hot in summer and no doubt it will be chilly in winter).
About 10 acres of the block is covered with a bush that is locally considered a nuisance, but not a noxious weed. It has grown too high to use the slasher, so the only other option was to attach a grader blade to the tractor.
Only problem was that the blade was seized stuck with rust from being in the open.
With a little work (& diesel and oil mix) and pushing up against a strong tree, the attachment loosened up and Michael and a friend, Rod, began the task of flattening the bushes by driving over them and dragging the blade behind. More comfortable than sitting for some time, twisting backwards as the tractor is reversed over the bushes.
Hot and dusty work and the aging tractor began to make some ominous noises from the gear box.
Most of the area treated this way has stayed flat over a two week period and is dying off. The flattened bushes can be removed by hand and stacked up, ready to burn once the fire season is over, but this is labour intensive and I’m not so keen on having piles of flammable material, whereas if it is flat it may mulch down.
Another alternative is to find a fencing contractor who specializes in brush fencing and offer them the option to harvest it for free. That way they will get their fencing materials and we will get rid of the bushes!
The composting toilet is working well, using 20 litre buckets, recycled from the local (city) chicken & chip shop, sawdust from the hardware store and we picked up some mulch from a roadside heap that was created after the bushfires near Kilmore. The intent is to leave the sealed buckets for 12 months or more to get rid of any pathogens & then add them to a compost heap to break down further.
This will then be used on the planned fruit and nut tree grove.
I hope to install a second composting toilet in the cottage in the near future and the ceramic pan (which was not hooked up to anything and lacked a cistern) has been removed, leaving much more space in the shower room.
The previous owners left behind a chemical toilet, but that requires some nasty chemicals, water and a disposal pit, although it has been suggested that a homebrand nappy soaker is more environmentally friendly.
On to more pleasant topics….
The visit at the end of February involved cleaning the lichen off the fibreglass dome. Washing it off also washed off the top gel coat of the fibreglass and we were left with a milky white liquid.
Fortunately, the camper trailer we have is fibreglass and the manufacturers included a bottle of fibreglass polish and wax…. only thing was that we didn’t have it with us on that trip. So Labor Day weekend saw the application of said wax early in the morning, before the heat and flies became a problem. Luckily the dome roof rotates, so I was able to move that around and work in the shade most of the time. The eastern walls had to be polished in the evening!
The idea behind having this place is create a retreat.. both for myself and my family but eventually having a space for practitioners who might need some time out to live simply for a few days.
This requires some preparation… energetically clearing the space, using Reiki and feng shui and adding some comforts.
Using the Autumn Equinox was perfect timing to start some serious energy work.
I brought up some Tibetan Prayer Flags on this trip and installed them around what will be a central gathering /fire pit area.
In this way, their energy will be working for the space even when I am not there.
Their vibrant colours will fade in time and the breeze over the weekend kept them active, adding to the energy.
The colours of the sunset on the night of the Equinox faded quickly, but I managed to capture them on the phone camera as I was having a wander around looking for a site to build the labyrinth. Originally I had thought that a flattish area to the west would be ideal, but it is just a little too close to the neighbours. Then I thought down between the two dams….. but in winter that area will be quite boggy (if there are good rains).
Trusting that the right place would be revealed as I explored more, I continued to meditate.
Some time alone the next morning allowed me to do a really good energy cleansing of the cottage, which I finished off by cleaning the windows and adding Reiki symbols all around.
Curiously the sliding door screen stuck fast when I opened it, and I couldn’t move it at all.
Michael returned from his expedition to the Aboriginal Waterhole at Whroo and inspected the damage. It was decided that a visit to the hardware store in Heathcote would be in order, to get new parts for the door. That done, the door still refused to move freely on the tracks….. Too late for a return trip, it was decided to make a repeat trip the next day.
No part available …. so a road trip to Bendigo was in order to a larger hardware chain. A bit of a wander around and a late lunch eaten in a park, then back to the retreat.
The new parts (hangers) were fitted to the top of the door and just as the door was moved…… crack…. both parts broke.
We had been gone 4 hours on the return trip to get those parts…….
Luckily, Michael can think laterally, so he used screws we had bought from the Rushworth hardware store to install the roman blind, to connect the broken bits together and eventually we had a screen door that opens and closes as it should……. what a day!!
An old yabbie net had turned up on our explorations, so some left over meat was put into an onion bag and tied securely, and the net tossed into the top dam. A couple of hours later, there was a yabbie having a feast…. disentangled and it scarpered back into the muddy water. Later that evening, when we checked with Peter who had come over from his place at Redcastle, all the meat had gone .. & so had the yabbies!!
We had another go on Sunday morning and caught 2 more. One with half a claw missing…. and both back into the water…
Apparently they have to be purged in fresh water for about a week before eating… so the net from home will go up and the yabbies may become an Easter feast……
As I went for a last minute wander on Sunday after packing up, I came across a space that somehow I have missed before.
Towards the Eastern boundary, yet quite private.
A bit more of a slope than I would prefer, but that could add to the sensory experience…
It feels as if it is the right place for a labyrinth….
And just a little further to the East ….
…….a small clearing, almost circled perfectly by some trees….
I can see the potential to put benches in the spaces between the trees and a small fire pit to do some circle work……..