We are very proud of our Italian and Spanish wine collection. However, it must be said that we do tend to look at it more than actually drink it.
We have several friends who are very dedicated to wine appreciation and one of them recently talked me into downloading an app so that I could ‘manage my collection properly’.
At just on 90 bottles, this is probably not something I really ‘needed’ per se…but it does make me feel important.
Sadly, I keep forgetting to ‘manage’ our cellar on the app (add, delete, etc) so I end up in a bit of a mess. Plus, many of the bottles in our cellar are so ‘rare’ (read ‘undrinkable’?) that they haven’t already been registered on the app by anyone else.
While some might say that this means our wine collection may not be as ‘serious’ as we’d like to think…I like to think that our collection may be ‘above and beyond’ the collections of other ‘lesser’ people…
For many many years, the earth on the bank behind the fienile has been crumbling slowly and building up against the rear wall of this beautiful old stone building. It was so ugly that we were inspired to throw our industrial rubbish there too which included old bed frames, rusted wheelbarrows, broken plastic tubing, bags of hardened cement as well as broken bricks and tiles.
We were finally confronted by our own mess when we renovated the upper level of the fienile into a lovely summer entertainment area. At every event we held there, our guests would invariably look down from the window openings in the rear fienile wall, look down and ask embarrassing questions about the pile of crap that was secreted there.
It became horribly shameful. Something had to be done.
So, last summer, we started on this mammoth cleanup job.
First, we sorted through the rubbish. This involved using a pick to loosen the heavily compacted dirt, then digging, collecting and sorting each individual piece of detritus which included stones, rocks and industrial rubbish.
We moved about 5 cubic metres of earth which Stu dug out BY HAND. I wheel-barrowed this excess earth to where the bank drops off in order to expand the size of the flat area near the fienile.
Stones and rocks were sorted by size and placed in separate piles for future use.
Rubbish would be sorted by material type and every week we would set off to the local recycling depot with a car-load of some type of rubbish. One week it would be construction materials, another week steel, another plastic.
Once the area behind the fienile was clear of dirt and rubbish, Stu installed a stormwater drain which ran along the back of the fienile above ground. He joined this drain to several lengths of plastic pipe which he installed underground to take the stormwater to the old septic tank which we now use as a fresh water storage receptacle.
With the drainage complete, we put a layer of small rubble over the area behind the fienile to help excess water to leach away from the building and to provide a stable base to the area.
Lastly, we built a dry rock wall about 2 metres away from the rear fienile wall to hold the bank back and stop it from crumbling again. Apparently, this is a major achievement as dry rock walls are quite an art. We must have done well, though, because we’ve had an extremely wet spring and the weight of the wet earth would certainly have pushed it down by now.
Like many of our jobs here, the dry rock wall isn’t finished yet but the drainage is functioning well in terms of stormwater and our beautiful fienile is breathing again.
But most importantly, when our guests look down from the window openings in the rear fienile wall, they now see a very pretty and very traditional dry rock wall…
In the future, when we venture out to visit the chooks during the darker wetter months, our feet will be mud free…
We have built a path between the shed/fienile and the chicken coop.
The path is made of old bricks that have come from various sources including the demolition of 2 ‘modern’ internal walls that we removed about 6 years ago.
Ever since we demolished these walls, we’ve been moving the bricks around the property. The pile always seemed to be in the wrong place so we’d move them somewhere else, only to realise shortly after that we needed to do something in that space and that we needed to move them again!
The path isn’t totally finished yet but it will be within a few days. We are already 2 very happy people with clean feet and no further heavy lifting of bricks to be done.
Stu celebrated a milestone birthday this week and his memories of some of the special birthdays he had during his childhood prompted a few of my own birthday memories…
My memory isn’t so good that I remember exactly what ages I was on these birthdays but I can distinctly remember that I was young. I was a child. I was safely enclosed in a warm loving home with my parents and my 2 sisters.
I remember cold weather in May.
I remember a cold bedroom.
I remember windows that ran wet with constant condensation; thick bubbles that gathered weight then wriggled down the glass to sit on the window sill.
I remember Mum sending me into the bedroom to mop up the lake of water that pooled on the wooden window sill.
I remember my sisters and I laying under warm blankets and discussing how we might ever have the strength to creep out from our cocoons and brave the cold air in the house to get ready for school.
I remember how an urgent screech from our mother made the decision for us and how we’d run from bed to cupboard to gather our school uniforms, then from bedroom to living room to get dressed.
It was supposed to be warmer there.
But I remember a living room which promised warmth but never delivered. The oil heater seemed to take forever to emit anything that remotely resembled heat and we’d stand in front of it with our arms wrapped around us as if this might keep our trembling nightie-clad bodies warm in the meantime.
I remember 3 birthdays in particular.
One year, I received a music box. It was small, white or cream in colour and had a gold clasp. I remember winding the little key at the back of the box to summon the music, then opening the lid to peer inside. My eyes widen even now as I remember the first time I saw that tiny perfect ballerina as she slowly turned around in her glorious pink tulle.
Another year, I received a beauty case. I seem to remember that the case was pale pink but it may well have been another colour because all I really remember is the incredibly luxurious pink silk lining on the inside. There were compartments and pockets everywhere and I remember feeling suddenly grown up and elegant as I considered where I might put the lotions and potions and beauty tools that any decent 10 year old keeps.
Another year, I received a sewing box. It was yellow, floral and happy. It was a beautiful and feminine thing. It went to school with me; it went to sewing lessons with me. It made me feel capable; it promised great things. It would also witness my utter lack of sewing prowess. I quickly learned to use it as a casket, a place to bury things. In it I would hide pieces of material that I’d cut wrongly, hems that I’d puckered and endless tangles of threads that I’d matted.
I still have the sewing box.
It contains things that have nothing to do with sewing.
Now, it is not lost on me that my 3 most memorable childhood birthdays have involved boxes. While I don’t believe I have a box fetish, it may be fair to say that if I was to suffer from one at any point in the future, I could blame it on my parents…
So Horris the Rooster has developed a problem…
Over the last week, he has been attacking me. Hackles up. Jumping at me. Stabbing me with his spurs and beak. It’s been quite confronting behaviour from our little bantam rooster who has been so docile to date.
Having had a peaceful and respectful relationship with him for a couple of years now, I decided that the problem had to be my NEW garden shoes. So one morning I decided to test my theory. I put my OLD garden shoes on and headed out to the coop. Horris left me alone.
The next day, Stu decided to extend the experiment. He took my NEW garden shoes out to the coop and put them on the ground inside the coop. Horris reacted. Hackles up. Jumping at them. Stabbing them with his spurs and beak.
So the problem WAS my NEW shoes!
The next day, I went out (in my OLD shoes). Horris reacted. Hackles up. Jumping at me. Stabbing me with his spurs and beak.
So the problem WASN’T my NEW shoes!
It was time to resort to chicken discussion forums on the internet.
I read that Horris may consider me to be a threat to his hens or a competing rooster (!?). I’m not sure if this is a compliment.
I also read that, since he never attacks Stu, he may consider Stu to be the dominant rooster (!?). Stu thinks this is a compliment.
Admittedly, I am more ‘hands-on’ with the hens than Stu is. I pat them, pick them up, etc. So it is quite possible that Horris worries about me touching them.
The recommended solution to an aggressive rooster is to “re-home or roast”!
Since we are incapable of killing and eating anything that we’ve come to know (and since Horris is such a midget and incapable of drawing blood), we’ve decided to ‘wait and see’ just in case the problem is actually Spring and his territory/breeding hormones have kicked in!