Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

Update 25/12/16:
A beautiful Christmas day on the south coast of NSW.
Sunny with a maximum 24°C and a cooling sea breeze.
We had pancakes and maple syrup for brekkie (thanks Aunt Jemima) with a cappuccino.
Christmas lunch was Sydney rock oysters and tiger prawns (with soy, wasibi or sambal oelek) washed down with a nice bottle of champagne as entree (starter).
Main course was BBQ’d Atlantic salmon and salad accompanied by a special bottle of Margan Reserve Verdelho.
Dessert? Traditional plum pudding and brandy custard for me, home made pavlova with berries for the co driver.
Roll us outa here!

Monday, December 19, 2016

St. Andrews Cross Spider

I have mentioned numerous times that I have never used insecticides in the vineyard which has enabled the build up of a great number of predators who feast on the bad guys who could do damage.
One of these is the St Andrews Cross spider.
She (the male is a lot smaller and duller) is a colorful lady who spins a quite distinctive web.
The web catches numerous flying insects particularly the grapevine and hawk vine moths who are intent in laying their eggs on the leaves and stems.
When hatched, the caterpillars of these two moths can cause problems.
The spider normally hangs upside down in the web with two paired legs placed along each arm of the cross. The silken cross may be used for strengthening the web, for camouflage or for enhancing prey catches. It has been shown that the cross reflects ultra-violet light which is particularly attractive to insects.
Walking into a web is a bit uncomfortable as they are quite strong and sticky but the bite of this spider is considered harmless or at most to cause a weak local reaction. I don't think I have ever been bitten by one of these despite finding the occasional one crawling on me after a session spraying or green pruning.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The New Bawley Point Gantry

Back in June I wrote about the historic Bawley gantry being washed away in a huge winter storm.
Plans were mooted by the community for a complete restoration using recycled timber from it that had been washed up on the beach.
Thanks to the generosity of a Canberra  businessman with a local connection and a grant from the government, the new Bawley Point gantry has been built.
Today kids were jumping off it and people were fishing from it.
It will be popular once more during the upcoming Christmas summer holidays.
All is right again in the world.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Building a Fence

A section of our northern boundary fence has been in a bad state of repair for quite a long while.
We have overcome this by running an electric fence along it.
But this has its own problems eg. maintaining batteries, flood wash aways, fallen branches, high winds blowing the ribbon off etc
So we finally decided, with the agreement of our neighbour who will share costs, to renew it.
Neighbour Bob did this type of work for a living and has all the right equipment to do the job efficiently so we contracted him with me as his apprentice and gofer.
First job was to remove the old fence and clear the fence line.

This meant cutting off and rolling up the rusted barbed wire and pulling out the rotting wooden posts and rusted star pickets with the aid of a tractor. The wire and pickets went to recycling and the posts will be cut up for fire wood.
It also meant pulling up a few smaller trees with the tractor and cutting down a couple of other big ones by chainsaw. More fire wood from some of it, a winter burn off for the rest. Thicker bush was cleared by a neighbour's bobcat.
Then the fence line was slashed and strainers (large round deeply seated posts with a stay) placed at each end.

A plain wire is then lightly stretched between the two to give a template for post placement.
We decided on wooden posts 10m apart with two star pickets in between. Wires were from the top, barbed, plain, barbed and then three plain. My neighbour has horses and didn't want barbed on the lower level and my cows will easily be kept in by a six wire fence so it was a good compromise.
The post holes were dug with a tractor driven auger to a depth of around 1m and then hand 'cleaned'. Posts are placed in the holes and soil tamped tightly around them. The steel posts were rammed in by hand with a picket driver.

Then the six wires are strained one by one and then attached the correct distance apart to the wooden posts by staples and onto the pickets with tie wire. Where the fence had to cross a swampy area and a small creek, the post/picket pattern was altered to suit.
All was done with minimal injuries (barbed wire always tends to 'get' you) and only three snake encounters.