Free-ish of tussocks

We had the Noxious Weeds Man around this week.  He wasn’t especially noxious, or weedy.

The Noxious Weeds Man is a government inspector, with the power to force us to spray chemicals.  As we’re using organic methods, that would be really disappointing.

When we bought the property three and a half years ago, it was overrun with a weed called Serrated Tussock.  Left alone for another two years, it would have covered the place.

Our wonderful neighbour Shane ploughed the two worst fields and sowed them with oats, which eliminated 99% of those tussocks, and gave us lots of oats as well.

The remaining areas we’ve been clearing by hand.  Basically, our wwoofers do an hour each day chipping out pasture weeds, except in bad weather.  This would have to be the favourite wwoofer job  😉   Some have been more conscientious than others.

Our wwoofers in the past few months have been very good.  We had particular problems in our field with the big swimming dam, and also down by the highway.  (Not surprisingly, the furthest places from the Wwoof Cottage.)

Anyway, we have pretty well cleared all the property of these weeds, so all we have to worry about is 20 more years of germinating seeds lying in the ground, or blowing in from other properties.

The Noxious Weeds Man drove around the farm with me, and determined that Cockatrice Farm is “pretty clean”.  He did find the odd plant, but just a few and probably better than our neighbours.  He’ll leave us alone for three years now.

Many thanks to all those wwoofers and visitors who have helped us, over several years, to get on top of this problem.

The ones we’ve missed have now gone to seed (alas) and the grass is getting too high to find them.  We’ll have another go next winter, and get even closer to being free of tussocks.

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Driving north

Some changes with our cars recently.

We’ve had a Nissan X-Trail for a few months — pretty handy.

Our Camry (which takes both petrol and gas) needs some repairs soon, and as the car has done 500K it’s not really cost-effective to do them.  So we might let wwoofers drive it for now.

Our beaten-up old ute (“pickup” in American) is registered and roadworthy, but has developed an electrical fault such that the battery gets flat quickly.  So it doesn’t get used much.  We’ll probably sell it soon.

I’ve been driving the X-Trail into Canberra, which is a lot of kilometres and hence a fair bit of petrol.

Recently I bought a 2002 Holden Calais, in very good nick, to take over the Canberra run.  I’m getting the gas fitted in a couple of weeks.  It’s very comfortable.

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Last weekend we got to take the Calais on a long run.  The SCA medieval club had a national event in Dubbo, which is five hours north of Goulburn.  The car did a great job, except the CD stacker in the boot which died fairly promptly.  I’m going to have words with it.  Possibly involving a hammer.

The medieval group in Dubbo didn’t quite reach orbit and become an independent group.  They live on as a distant outpost of the Sydney medieval group, Rowany.  And they don’t have to write officer reports, which I rather suspect might be part of their plan.  They usually run one or two events a year, and this time they volunteered to run a kingdom (Australia & NZ) event.

Their main family has a 25 acre property just out of Dubbo, and they have built a rather charming tavern out of bush poles and recycled carpet.  Allison thinks we should build something like it.  Actually our Okewaite Feasting Tent is bigger, so I can’t see the value, unless we build something to seat 200!

It was small for a kingdom event, but then again Dubbo is a long way away from anywhere and you pretty much have to drive there.  There were still a good number of old friends there from Brisbane, Newcastle, Sydney and Canberra.

Lunch was cold meat and salad; decent fare though I object to the tomato and pineapple — we shouldn’t use New World foods as they weren’t known to Europe yet.  OK, tomatoes were known in Italy (as a suspected poison) just before the end of the SCA period.

Dinner was pretty well the same, which I don’t think is up to scratch for an SCA kingdom event.  When we ran one in Goulburn, we had a whole stack of well-researched period foods, but then I guess we’re foodies.

The tournament was good to watch — not too many entrants, so it was possible to follow it.  The final bout came down to Sir Agro, a very old friend of mine, and Sir Siridean, who I guess I’ve also known for a few years now.  Siridean won, and will be crowned in Perth in January.

We liked Dubbo, and would like to get back to the Tapas bar there for another look.  Dubbo has a large zoo there, which we visited on the Sunday — good, but perhaps a little overpriced at $48 each to enter.

On the way home, back in the Calais, we followed our friend Tig who was driving with the aid of a GPS system.  She took us down some ever-narrower country tracks, so we got to see some unusual country but we were wondering just what settings her TomTom was on….  Eventually we decided we’d had enough, and stuck to the main road when Tig headed into yet another goat track.  Sure enough, Tig got back nearly an hour before we did.

At the last revel

Our Goulburn medieval club is still running a monthly “Revel”.  This is where we all bring a dish to share.

Two weekends ago (sorry, I’m a bit behind on blogging) we took along some home-made bread and savoury butters, some dragons made from mincemeat and food colouring, then Allison made some berry foole.

We had a good time with our friends, after which we played a medieval chasing game called “Tierce” — which was very popular with the kids and the wwoofers.

Before that, our friend Tig had run a class on cloisonné enamelling.  She gave us little squares and circles of pure silver, on which to experiment.

I have wanted to have a go at enamelling for a long time, so was keen to participate.  Our four wwoofers also took part.

It turned out to be quite fiddly, carefully cleaning the silver then laying out tiny pieces of silver wire.  That first session, we really just got enough enamel down to hold the designs in place.

Tig brought her kiln over to the farm for a couple more sessions.  You have to lay down and fire quite a few layers of the enamel mixture, which is ground glass and water.

Once we had enough layers on, we filed them back to expose the silver wires, and then they had a final firing.  Tig then did some jeweller’s finetuning with her Dremel tool.

The results were as shown below.  The finest was that of Ryo from Japan, who did a marvellous cat watching the moon.  Vey from Germany did a detailed but abstract piece, Zara from Germany a moon design, Sarah from France a cinquefoil flower, and mine was a simpler geometric pattern.

(click to expand)

I’m quite impressed by the results.  I have to say though that there is a lot of painstaking detail to the work, which would probably drive me crazy.

And this is only one enamelling technique.  Tig can teach several, so maybe we’ll play some more another time.