Sunday, April 08, 2007

A Busy Few Weeks

This month has been a month of interior decorating and property maintenance while waiting for the Cabernet sauvignon to ripen.
The former has involved a lot of painting, not with conventional paints, but a lime wash. This type of coating has a life of its own and the finish is very dependent on climatic conditions, particularly temperature and humidity, and the "brush load" during application. We weren’t happy with the result the first time which then meant resealing the walls and starting again!
But it was worth it in the end. The rooms look great.
We are reliant solely on rain on the farm for domestic water use. We used to have four 10,000L galvanised steel tanks that stored water from roof runoff. The water is then supplied to the house via a pressure pump from the main tank which is replenished, when levels become low, from the other three. However one had succumbed to old age and rusted out, another was completely destroyed in a hailstorm some years ago and the main tank was showing major corrosion problems. Under normal rain event conditions we could survive on 20,000L but the drought has caused us to self impose pretty severe water restrictions. It doesn’t appear that an improvement in rainfall which for the last five years has been running at 50% annual average will be forthcoming.
So we bit the bullet and decided to revamp the entire water supply infrastructure. This meant new guttering on all the buildings and three new tanks.
We decided to use high density polyethylene tanks this time to overcome any potential corrosion problems. These PE tanks are a one-piece design, made with a rotational moulding system to produce a strong, hygienic and long lasting rainwater tank. They are made with a centre pole for further strength and safety. Apart from being corrosion proof they have excellent impact resistance and come in an extensive range of colours.

We selected heritage green to fit in with the surrounds. Our 10,000L tanks were the smallest that Bushman produce in their rural range but it still took three of us to get them off the 20m long semi with trailer that delivered them and roll them into position. One of our neighbours is a plumber and he and a roofer mate took only a day and a half to replace all the guttering and downpipes and connect up the tanks. We put up with being completely "waterless" for that time reverting to a bucket delivery system and cold outdoor bucket showers. Lucky it is still relatively warm.

The poor condition of the main tank became evident after we pumped any useable water into one of the spare tanks and took an axe to it. Rusty fine mud, just like lava, covered the bottom in a thick layer. It made the tank so heavy we had to cut the wall and top off to move it. Unfortunately I had the job of getting rid of the ‘lava’.
Now all we need are some heavy downpours to fill the empty tanks. We could always get a tanker in but who wants chlorinated town water "contaminating" pure rainwater.
In the years I have been here I have slowly repaired or replaced all the fencing on the property by hand. Apart from one boundary fence with which I have an ongoing dispute with a neighbour about the type of replacement, I am nearly finished. I won’t go into details other than to say he has horses and I have cattle and he wants a much fancier fence than I am willing or legally bound to share payment for. A temporary electric fence is doing a great job so far. None of the animals. horses or cows, like a 5000V zap through the nose.

So it was great to get the last falling down paddock divider ripped out and replaced with a new four-strand barbed wire, wooden post and star picket fence.
It looks like we will be picking the grapes and making wine within a week and that will obviously be the topic of my next entry.

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