An intruder?

We were woken up at 5am this morning.  Or at least Allison was, and she elbowed me in the ribs saying “There’s somebody in the house.”

Cara the dog was sleeping on our floor, and she gave half a yap to confirm this, before going back to sleep.  I tell everybody that she would rip the throat out of an intruder, but I guess you can only expect so much from a labrador.

So I staggered out of bed and down the hallway, in my undies.  I’d like to say that I was alert and ready to launch a flying side kick at a thief, but I don’t think that was strictly true.

It turned out that our wwoofer Ryo had come into the house and knocked in our hallway.  Cara apparently doesn’t consider Ryo a threat.

Ryo is from Japan, and fits the stereotype of being quiet and unnecessarily well-mannered.  I have since explained that thumping and shouting might have been a more reliable strategy.

Anyway, Ryo had himself been woken up by a young New Zealander knocking on the wwoof house door, I guess at about 4.30.  He had got lost and had run out of fuel on the highway.  He was heading for work (fruit picking?) at Orange, three and a half hours away.

There are no houses near the road in that area (Breadalbane) so our lane was the first habitation he’d come to, after walking for about an hour — and the two other houses on our lane were empty or didn’t answer the door.

I offered the guy a jerrycan of petrol to get him to the Goulburn Service Centre (5 minutes away).  Ryo agreed to drive the guy back to his car, which at least meant we were sure to get the container back.  He was apparently out of money for fuel and out of phone credit, so I let him use our phone to ring a mate to put some money in his account.

I think we were being reasonable samaritans.  Allison said we could have offered him breakfast, and I guess we might have if I had been fully awake.

I wonder if I should have given him $50 to get him to Orange, but I’m not sure how far my obligations go to random New Zealanders rocking up at 5am.  People have been kind to me in somewhat similar circumstances, but his prior planning does seems a little poor.  Hopefully some other people will help him to extract himself from this situation.


Ryo has been with us for about three months now.  He’s past the date we normally ask wwoofers to move on, but he’s still our hardest worker so we’re in no rush.

Along with Sarah and Vey, we got Ryo to bake some bread in a dragon shape for a little medieval event.  He made bread a couple more times after that, just to eat, and some biscuits for the wwoofers.  He says that kitchens in Japan have very small ovens, and he’s enjoying the opportunity to learn some cooking.

Allison lent him a cookbook, and Ryo has been working his way through it.  Quiches, tarts, pastries, something every day.  And yesterday he made chocolate eclairs, with homemade choux pastry.  Who knows where this will lead?

We still have JB from France; he and Ryo have cleared untold numbers of serrated tussocks.  We’ve just said goodbye to Henrik from Finland, with us for two weeks, who built us some equestrian mounted games equipment such as stands to hold rings which you catch on a lance.  And recently we have Sarah (our fifth for the year) who is from Germany, and works with our horses.

We won’t get any more wwoofers now till the new year.  We’re getting daily requests from wwoofers who strangely enough want to come on the 19th and stay for about a week, just in time for New Year’s Eve in Sydney….

Some of them explicitly say that they really want to have an Australian christmas, and have chosen us for the experience.  We must seem like soft touches!

A storm

We’re having a second year of the La Niña weather pattern.  Basically means lots of rain.

We had a beauty of a storm a few days ago, lots of thunder and lightning.

We had to drive into town during it, so we ran to the car and leapt in.

Ginger the (half-dingo) dog was half in the car door, so Allison told her to get out.

Instead, Ginger jumped in and hid at Allison’s feet, between the brake and accelerator, shivering.  Poor little thing.

We took pity on her at this point, and took her to the wwoofer cottage.  She’s not usually allowed inside, but it was time for an exception.

The storm kept going all night, so when we got home we brought both the dogs into our house.

Cara was pretty relaxed about the storm — unless there’s food involved, not much bothers a labrador.

Ginger jumped onto our bed, and was told to get off.  She did, but then reappeared between our pillows.  Some stern words, and she was off again, then somehow ended up under the covers.  Bad language ensued, and she slept the rest of the night on the floor.

There was an almighty thunderclap at about 3 am, and the house shook.  It seems that everything survived.


Most of our seedlings failed this year; not sure why.  Maybe because we didn’t have any sand when we made the soil blocks; I thought it would be OK.

Fortunately, a lot of plants came up by themselves.  Celery, fennel, parsley, many kinds of spinach and salad vegetables, even one broadbean plant that has produced in bulk.

With the addition of some shop tomato and capsicum seedlings and some additional seed potatoes, we’ll still produce most of our vegie needs.  Not sure if we have eggplants this year.  My carefully-constructed planting scheme is in ruins as a result of this random resurgence.

In the orchard, a number of trees are coming along well.  The nectarine tree is now twice my height and covered in fruit; Allison says it’s had the most messy duck water poured on it.  Not bad for three years.

Many of our berry bushes are covered in fruit — I guess it’s a good season.