Friday, November 11, 2016

Spring is here!

Well the year is certainly moving right along and here we are in November once again!

This coming week we are shearing and for the first time in 14 years it is going to be raining. This  does become a logistical nightmare but luckily I booked the shearer to come over two days so I don't have to put boys in together who don't like each other and am able to put them far enough away from the girls in the shed so we don't get too frisky if you know what I mean!

These last few weeks I seem to have been on Betty my tractor quite a lot lately doing slashing and mowing and it is a bit like painting the Sydney Harbour Bridge, when you finish it seems you have to go right back to the beginning and start all over again.  The only ones who seems to think this is fun is Willy and Olive.  Willy is my friendly wagtail who has adopted me and who is my constant companion around the farm (I don't feed him, we just seem to connect) and he loves loud machinery.  Wherever I am on the tractor or mower or indeed just walking around the farm he is always just one post ahead of me singing and bouncing away.  The other day I was in the olive grove slashing and I couldn't see him.  The next thing he comes flying across the road, flaps around in front of the tractor for a bit and then flew off back to where he came from.  The reason I believe was that the neighbours were making silage and they had really big tractors and he just wanted to say that whilst I was here he was really having so much fun with the big tractors that he had to be somewhere else. At least it was nice of him to tell me. I smiled and wished him a happy day.

Olive, our oldest alpaca, probably about 25,  also loves it when I mow the driveway next to her paddock as she loves to eat the fresh grass clippings.  Me being the softy that I am I make sure I cut one way that throws as much grass into her paddock first and then I go back over it the proper way.  Her big eyes just make me melt.
Here is Willy on the fence post earlier this week.

You really can't beat living a life with animals.  One day I will introduce you to my two dogs; Paddington and Archie.  They are indeed a couple of characters and totally BFF.

How are my yurts going I hear you ask......
So with everything going on in the world, alpacas don't talk politics, so we won't go there, the banks have said we can't have anymore money this year to keep building our yurts; my home.  So currently 3 yurts stand at frame stage and no more. What to do? Well work harder is the obvious answer so you might like to check out our website for all that is happening over summer and of course there will be more coming out via our own Nickelby Design range.

So as I look out my studio door to yet another dark and blustery Saturday afternoon in November (go figure!) I do wonder what is to become of us all.  With the latest happenings in America, Brexit and everything here it can be a little frightening so I just take a leaf out of the alpaca's book and just take each day as it comes and live in the moment.  I encourage you all to do the same and be kind to your friends and neighbours and embrace and celebrate their differences.

I will finish up now and promise to share with you how the shearing goes next week and show you some before and after shots.  They do look funny after shearing.

Take care

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Yurts come to Darnum

My business has been operating for over eight years now and many of you would know that I managed to build the shop and studio but as yet building a house had eluded me.
Over the years I had designed many houses for my location at the end of the farm, both on paper and in my head and the one I had settled on about 4 years ago was going to have everything that opened and shut and was just lovely.  Unfortunately so was the price tag - yikes!

What is a girl to do? Well I suppose I could have made it a bit smaller (it was rather large) but then I thought every time I tripped over something I would think, if only I could have built the house that I really wanted.  Any of you who have popped your head into my studio will know I am not the tidiest person around!  So I decided I had to design something completely different.  So I did!

On a day when I  really couldn't be bothered doing anything of any significance I did what many of us do and played on the internet.  Somehow I came across yurts and my imagination started to go where it had never gone before.  Maybe I could live in a round house!  Many of you may know but many may not as I am often asked "what's a yurt?"  Yurts are best known as the houses used by Mongolians and they are usually made of felt.  I was pretty sure, whilst I knew I could make the walls with alpaca, our local shire would not allow me to live in a felted house.  More the pity as it would have been cheaper and I do have access to lots of alpaca fleece.  So I found a company in Goulburn in New South Wales and I sent up my plans I had drawn using a dinner plate and two bread and butter plates as my templates to their draftsman of choice who helped me put straight lines around my scribbles.

Six months later three yurts arrived down by truck and they are currently now being put up by my wonderful builder Craig and his team and they are going to be joined together by two "pods" that I put into the design. (no plates used for the pods, they are rectangles!)

So my house of 3 yurts and 2 pods has started and is gaining lots of attention from friends and locals, not to mention the alpacas in the surrounding paddocks. Craig and his team are coping well with the designs and the 4 engineering reports that were required, but that is another story for another day and I now think they are feeling quite pleased with themselves.  However we are yet to get to the roof frames and putting up the cupolas (the glass tops that sit on top of the roofs).  Think I will stay away that day.

Probably one of the hardest parts has been thinking in the round.  Put two French doors side by side and they don't both look at the same view, there is about a 45urt degree difference, so the view you wanted you might miss completely.  All good fun.

The next stage is to make the pods and put on the roof and wrap it up so it is water tight so I have spoken to my 3 dogs to see if they can think of any way of raising more capital but as yet they haven't come up with a plan but I am sure something will turn up.  You never know we might even sell some more alpaca clothing in our shop

Speaking of which, I went to Japan earlier in the year to study SAORI weaving and now Nickelby Designs is producing SAORI garments in our range and they are proving very popular with many special request, so the loom is working overtime.  Here is a sample of what we are producing which you might like to come and see or check out in our online shop.

Well with winter well and truly here I am trying to tell myself that I should get out of the studio and into the olive grove and start my pruning but it is just so very cold and the shop and studio are so much warmer.  If you are passing, pop in for a bowl of soup or a ploughman's platter and a glass of wine or even a coffee and cake and I will update you on the state of my yurts and pods!

Until next time