i found the floor!

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At least that’s what I tell Wayne.

But the truth of the matter is that even I can’t live with this:

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Yes. Disgraceful. I know. That is my office.

To be fair, that was about halfway through cleaning up, the goal being to find the floor. As everyone knows,  you have to make a bigger mess to clean up a mess.

I have so many hobbies and have so many THINGS that I plan to do creative things with, that the office is chock-a-block full of stuff. Its hard to keep it all contained, let alone organised.

Especially when in the middle of a project or five.

Part of the problem is that I don’t work on one thing from start to finish, then put all the bits away before starting something new. I’ve never got the hang of focusing…

That means I have 3 commission barbies on the go right now, necessitating hair, rooting tools, fabric for clothing, shoes, etc to accumulate on the desk. I also have some wire projects in various stages of un-finished-ness. Add wire cutters and pliers and wire to the mix… Then, just for the fun of it, I have a couple of small sewing projects – nothing too boring. Top it off with fabric, scissors, beads, buttons… oh and paper to draw up patterns.

You’ll notice the photos somehow avoid showing you the table…

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I ended up moving a few bits of furniture to make the office a bit more user friendly. This side of the room is dedicated to dolls. The cupboard holds glues and sprays, felting wools, as well as some boxed items for future projects. The boxes on top hold dolls and accessories. The little wooden cabinet holds old diaries, notebooks and folders and the drawers hold doll accessories. The shelf on top holds all the dolls that are finished or in progress.

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The opposite wall now holds all my fabrics and sewing machines. The fabric does need to be sorted and folded better, but for now the top shelf holds doll costume fabrics and the bottom shelves hold my crazy critter type cotton fabrics.

Much better.

I wonder how long it’ll take till I fill it up with crap again?

z

new year’s resolutions

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It’s that time again. When we think about the new year, new beginnings, what we’ll do to be better, be healthier, be thinner, smarter, wealthier, more successful, more loving, more adventurous… just… MORE.

It’s just another day really, nothing has changed since yesterday, but the first of a new year brings new hope that somehow we’ll be able to make changes for the positive that we failed to do last year (and all the years before).

Things I’ve failed to do on a regular basis: Get fit, lose weight, schedule my time better, prioritize better, garden more, spend more time with the horses, not mess up the house (as much) with my craft projects, clean the kitchen often, vacuum before the dust bunnies demand to be fed, get rid of things I don’t need or use, not buy more things I don’t need or use…

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Things I’ve succeeded in doing this last year include one big one: I gave up my ‘day job’ and finally began to groom full time. And I love it. Its the best thing I ever did.

Now if I could only learn to schedule my time better and keep my accounts better I’ll be on top of the world.

So this year my resolutions will be: schedule better, keep my accounts better, finish all my started projects, start more and finish those, empty out the shed of all the things I do not need or use, learn to say no occasionally, not volunteer for everything under the sun and go visit my family in Greece.

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I began the year well. This last week I spent a ton of money on things I needed (wanted) for the garden, and things I did not need but just wanted. Among the things I bought is this beautiful platter. I’d seen it at the market and resisted, then went back the following week and it was still there.

It was meant to come home with me. Who am I to resist fate?

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I also bought some cane baskets I definitely did not need and a couple of dolls I will use but did not technically need. But that’s all in 2017, when I spent my money carelessly. this year I will be better.

Cause I’ve made a resolution!

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Another thing I did last week was share my garden with a lot of people. I’ve given away seeds from my gorgeous lupins, aquilegia, foxgloves and sweet peas. I’ve given away plants I’ve grown from cuttings. I believe in sharing these things cause when I started my garden I was lucky enough to be given a lot of plants by people who were generous enough to share with me. Pay it forward and make the world a prettier place.

In return I got some herbs, some plums and some chilis. Don’t they look nice on my new platter?

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See? I knew I had to have it…

So. What are your new year’s resolutions?

z

the etsy market experience

Since Andi prompted me, here is a post about the Etsy Makers market we had here in Hobart at the end of November. It was the first time for it here in Tasmania.

I spent days getting stock ready for it – of course I had my dolls, which are currently listed in my Etsy Shop (its a work in progress), but I also wanted a lot of smaller items which would appeal to people wanting something small as a gift.

I made cute brooches from fabric scraps and felt. They were very popular.

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My crazy critters were popular too. They’re scrappy fabric creatures with a soft stuffing.

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I also had a few teapot suncatchers, critter heat packs, lavender filled houses and hearts. Basically, all kinds of things that I enjoy making.

And then, of course, there were the dolls…

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It was a great weekend. Successful too – I sold heaps of stuff, including 2 dolls which was a bonus. I know I love making them and people are impressed by them, but they’re not something which jumps off the shelf…

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People loved the dolls, saying they look so much better in person. I displayed them in groups, with boxes of scenery to suit behind them.

If you want to buy one of my dolls, or get one made for you, visit my Etsy Shop!

z

nothing new to share

I have no idea what happened there.

I wrote a long, very detailed, very informative, insightful and articulate blog post where I answered all sorts of questions, not least being the meaning of life itself… and I lost it.

I hit save twice. Then pressed preview and nothing came up. I repeated the process, put it down to a glitch, proofread it, tweaked it, and hit Publish instead.

That’s when it all disappeared.

I gave up in disgust.

You lose. Now you’ll never know about all the wonderful stuff I wrote about.

So here’s a consolation prize.

Weight-gain-vintage-era

z

my new grooming sign

When we moved to the farm I made a sign out of  MDF cut in the shape of a poodle and put it up on the stockyards down by our front gate. It was a pretty cool sign, I’d tell everyone to look for the poodle sign when coming to our place. But this year it broke in the wind. It was only thin MDF and even a couple of coats of paint could only protect it from the weather for so long.
It was time for a new sign.
This time I decided to go a bit more professional. I ordered vinyl lettering online. I recycled a piece of laminate I had in the shed, putting strong timber behind the sign to keep the wind from breaking it. I hand painted dog silhouettes in case I needed visual aids.
Then I decided it was too small and too far away to go on the stockyards. It needed to be closer to the road. (See the stockyards behind just above the sign? The old sign was on the ramp bit.)
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Now all I have to say is “we have a sign at the gate”.
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Mind you… it wasn’t all easy going. Not much is, come to think of it…
First I put it near the letter box. Nope, not easy to see till you were right on top of it. So I moved it out a bit. Nope. Still not good. Then I tried in front of the gate on the left … good. But it sat on the ground… not a good idea when the grass grows in summer.
Finally I fixed it to our gatepost.
It works.
I’m happy.
Enough messing around with signs.
z

doing stuff

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Today was another gorgeous day in the Derwent Valley.

Ok, it was a bit cloudy. And a bit windy. But it was gorgeous. It  hasn’t rained for quite a few days, maybe a whole week, and with the wind, the grass was dry enough to mow. And it needed mowing!

I’d been putting that job off for a while now. It was always too wet. I was always too busy. But today was the day. It was a write-off as far as being creative as I had errands to do in the morning and Montana had a vet appointment.

Update on Montana: she’s now on oestrogen pills. Fingers crossed that sorts it out cause Wayne looks ridiculous putting her undies on. All her tests are good (boring as the vet said) thankfully so hopefully she’ll respond well to these pills.

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Anyway, I decided that it was a day to work outside for once cause I tend to neglect it at this time of year. I needed to check the fence lines as the other night Romeo managed to kill a pademelon (that’s a tiny wallaby) that got into the yard. I don’t like that happening so I went around and put things all across the bottom of the fence where there were gaps. Hopefully no more wallaby deaths in our yard…

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I also hung a small bell by the gate for my grooming customers. 🙂

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By the end of all that I was on a roll. I wasn’t ready to stop. I thought I’d clean up my workshop – I stood there and stared at it for a while before deciding that the best thing I could do to begin sorting it out, was to remove the huge sheet of MDF I had baring the entrance. I mean, it seemed the right place to start.

I measured out the length I needed to make the drying bench I planned to make and cut it using my circular saw. Then I thought, well, I started… may as well make the bench!

I looked around and found bits of this and that timber and basically made a bench for my dog drying area. It ain’t pretty. I’ll get photos tomorrow. Its rough and rustic and it needs a coat of paint and rubber matting on top to keep the MDF dry and the dogs from slipping. But it does the job. It fits in the corner, my show trolley sits underneath it for cage drying large dogs, it fits a smaller crate on top for cage drying small dogs and it has enough space to dry dogs on even without removing the smaller crate.

And its not even really wobbly!

Wow. I surprise myself with my talents.

(Its really badly made!)

z

photo display and more pet sagas

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Wayne likes to get me little presents now and then. Usually rusty old things. Like a couple of rusty old chests he brought home a few weeks ago. And then this toast rack, hand held steak grill thingy he found somewhere.

I love rusty things (in case you hadn’t realised), and old things, and things which just look interesting. This covered all bases.

So, what did I do with it? Well, first I drilled a hole in the handle so I could hang it in the kitchen to go with my ever so slowly growing and encroaching collection of old and rusty stuff…

Then I put one of my favourite photos of mom and her brother on it to display. I really love this photo. Aren’t they both so gorgeous?

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I added a few bits and pieces to it to add interest…

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Take a step back and have a look at the things around it. The beautiful black and white plate is something I bought at an auction. I think I paid $20 for a box of junk just for the plate. The sieve on the right is something I brought back from Greece. The Mickey and Mini I bought years ago when I lived in Melbourne. The Flintstone characters I’ve had since I was a kid. The black mammy notebook is so politically incorrect but so gorgeous. She was a gift. And the charging station is something I upcycled from an old drawer.

You can read about that adventure here and here.

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Take another step back and you can see what I mean about encroaching stuff taking over the kitchen.

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I started with the two vintage food covers. Then I found some vintage strainers… then I needed another wall…

I’m loving it.

So, where are we with the animal situation? Well, Montana seems fine. She ate another nappy last night (ok, don’t get your knickers in a knot, she didn’t eat it, she chewed a hole big enough to counter any pee soaking effect it might have had). I washed and dried her bedding so its ready for tonight.

This morning I fashioned a funnel out of aluminium foil and chased her when she went out to pee and collected a small plastic container full of pee which I took to the vet. I’m now waiting to hear from them and take her in when they ask me to.

But the adventures don’t end there.

Yesterday morning when feeding the poultry (we have a few chickens, a lot of geese and we feed a fluctuating flock of ducks which aren’t really ours but they live around or visit our dam) I noticed one of the hens was wobbly on her feet. She seemed to cross her feet over as she walked and she’d overbalance like she was drunk.

This morning she was falling all over the place and I know she hadn’t been drinking.

I picked her up and checked her over. I think her feet are a bit swollen, but I’m not really sure. I asked on a FB poultry group (as you do) and got suggestions, advice, sympathy and well wishes. I also asked Dr Google. I still have no idea what’s wrong with her but now I have a whole lot of things I can worry about.

I’ve got her in a dog crate for the night, in the shed where she’ll be warm. I’ll have another look at her tomorrow.

Ah the joys of owning animals. I swear, if this is a fatal infectious disease that kills our chickens I am NOT getting any more.

z

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the new chicken box

What do you call it? A roost? A home? A box? I have no idea. But I’ve made our segregated couple a new home. These two live in Stalag 13 – a dog run converted to a chook pen.

Why are they segregated you may ask. Well, basically the rooster needed to be put in a safe place or his son was going to kill him. Then I couldn’t leave him lonely, so I got him a hen from the feed store. I didn’t want to pen one of our free range hens as I thought it’d be cruel to cage a girl who’s known freedom. This little girl was born and bred in cages so I figure that she’s happy not having to share her space with a lot of other girls.
So here are the steps to making this wonderful creation. In case you were wondering. If not just skip this post.
Believe it or not, I started by making a nesting box. I was dreaming of the day I’d open a lid and reach in to a clean poop-free box and remove fresh, clean eggs, without having to get down on creaky knees and grope through chicken droppings to get them.
Here is my box. I’m so proud. Don’t ask me for a tutorial on this. You really don’t want to make anything the way I do… But let me just say I only cut one piece of timber wrong! Honestly. That’s a new one for me. Especially working on angles ..I failed geometry. And the teacher was right… I did need it…
NOTE: This nesting box and roost is made up entirely of offcuts of wood I had in my workshop.
Let me try to walk you through it, I cut a base the size I thought the hen would appreciate. Then I put a front and a back on it, the front high enough to hold in bedding, the back high enough to give the hen head space. Since I really suck at putting sides on things I used brackets to put the back on. I’m a cheat. I’m comfortable with that.
To make the sloping sides, I held a piece of plywood up and kind of drew where I thought the sides would meet the back and front. Then I used a ruler to draw a line between them and cut along those lines. Once I was happy with side #1, I traced it onto another piece of plywood and cut that too. I used screws to join them together. 
I added a piece of pine to the top and to the front for the lid to swing off. This is how the box was looking at that stage.
I used some offcut pieces of cedar cladding for the roof. I had to add a thin strip of pine at the top in order to hold the screws. Turns out cedar is really soft and breaks easy. Who knew?
Result, a stylish nesting box. I hope the hen is pleased. I gave it couple of coats of the same self priming exterior paint that I used on the house, except for the roof which I simply gave a coat of polyurethane. 
So there I was, nice nesting box, nowhere to put it. I was trying to think of how to make a home for the chickens in Stalag 13 when I had a revelation. In the middle of the night of course. Lying in bed, not able to sleep cause of nesting boxes and angles going through my mind, when suddenly it was KAPOW.
The wood box!
We’ve been using this as our wood box for the last 7 years. I think it may have been a feed bin in a previous life. I’d given it a coat of paint and Wayne cut half the front out so we could reach in for our wood and put it on the back porch. We used to keep the smaller, kindling type of wood in there. But we now have air conditioning. And a broken wood heater… so… we don’t need the wood box! 
In my sleep deprived state I knew it was the answer to my prayers. I didn’t have to make a home from scratch!
First step, I took the front off. I had planned to just turn it upside down, leaving the opening on the bottom. 
Then I thought, why leave the ‘wings’ at the bottom? I cut it straight across and down the middle, creating doors. Which I had all kinds of trouble hanging on my own. Those suckers were heavy and its hard to hold the drill, screws, hinges and doors all at the same time. The lost screws under the deck are proof of that.
Plus, I was thinking it might be too enclosed. So I took them off again.
Meanwhile inside the box I put in a long branch as a roost. I sure hope its thick enough… I did this by drilling out two large holes with the hole saw (yes, I own a set of those!), pushing the branch through and then putting a screw through to hold it in place. You don’t want it spinning when the chickens get on it!
I also cut a hole out for the nesting box and attached it to the outside with screws. I admit, I googled how to make nesting boxes and chicken homes. The nesting box has to be lower than the roost or the hens will sleep in the nesting boxes. Since chickens poop in their sleep, if they roost in the nesting box, they’ll poop in the nesting box. YUCK.
Now I was thinking, can they get up onto the roost? Is the box too small? Is the roost too high? I have no idea.
So to be safe, I made a little ladder. A friend thinks its too steep. Maybe it is. I’m hoping they’ll use it. They’ve been living on the ground for so long…
Oh, and I added more cedar to the roof to make it match. Looking good!

Since the outside of the box had already been painted, I just gave it one coat of house paint to freshen it up. Then I decided the inside needed painting too.

In the end I decided to use a piece of trellis I found and make a single door. A bit of privacy, and more air circulation. Remember, these chickens have been sleeping in an old dog kennel till now. This has got to be a step up in the world!
Here is the other side. Pretty plain huh? I thought a little porch would look nice, balance it out, you know. I’m all about curb appeal. 
I used some brackets and some timber wedges to achieve an angle, added more cladding and voila! An undercover area for eating.
Ok, the reason behind the porch is that I had planned on demolishing the dog kennel. I hated that thing, it was stinky and hard to clean out. And I was over reaching into it for eggs.
Well, when I started pulling it apart I had another idea. I pulled off the cladding on 2 sides, making it into a kind of summer house. How many chooks have a summer house? huh?
Its actually a great place for the food dish too. You can see the hen is having a peck at the shell grit while the rooster is having a snack of grain under the porch.
I didn’t think I was going to be able to get the new home into Stalag 13 till next week as there was no way I could move that thing off the porch on my own. However a nice man gave me a hand today and its done! I’m not above playing the weak female card. 
I cleaned out old bedding and put down some new stuff, put some hay in the bottom of their new roost and in the nesting box, and here they are…
Stalag 13 has never looked so good!
I’m so pleased. I love the new look. Now, if they would only use the roost…
Next job – the chicken coop. Ugh. Don’t remind me.
z

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string holders and evicting bats

Phew. The day is over. A good day, but SO tiring. I got a ton done which is great. I failed at a couple of things too, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.
So, what did I do today that was so exhausing? Well, I started with the plan of putting up the new grooming sign. I worked on that for about 30 minutes before giving up. It was just not working. Good thing too really, cause in the end I decided I needed to rethink the position. More on that soon.
I did 3 loads of washing and the usual chores of feeding and caring for all the animals, and I did a little garden work. Then I decided it was time to clean out the carport. 
Background: We used to keep our chicken feed in the carport and that encouraged mice and rats to live in there. Which encouraged the dogs to dig at the walls and generally cause trouble. About a month ago I started the car and a mouse jumped out of the engine bay. I’ve been parking out in the yard since. 
So, I decided the carport needed a makeover, more to make it safe than to make it look nice. Trust me, its a pretty basic farm carport… Not much I could have done to make it look pretty.
Anyway, I ripped off the sagging plywood which had been put over the barn wood and in the process evicted two rats and one tiny bat.
Yep, a tiny bat! Not a typo! I was so excited when I saw it. At first I thought I’d uncovered a hairless baby rat but then saw its cute little face and wings. I wanted to keep it! I wasn’t quick enough to catch it, it escaped under the wall and out near the dam. I was worried the geese would eat it – I mean, it was full daylight… what do bats do if they’re out in the day? I looked for it but couldn’t find it so I hope it was ok. The geese weren’t around so I know it wasn’t lunch at least.
I threw out a ton of rubbish and rat infested nests and then I nailed a thick particle board to the bottom section of the wall – Its not about keeping rats out as much as its about keeping any small animals (ducklings, chickens, natives) out of our yard. The finished carport is so much neater and I like the exposed slatted wood back wall. And bonus – there is nowhere for rats to nest any more!
After the carport was cleaned up, I opened up a small area I’ve had penned off to keep the dogs from digging. Hopefully now the rats have been banished the dogs won’t need to dig for them and destroy my plants. And I’ll be able to pull weeds. Yeah. I live to pull weeds.

ha.

Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to share with you today. I wanted to share my new rustic string holder. 

I was inspired by this lovely makeover of a thrift shop find by Carlene at Organised Clutter. When I saw it I thought what a great idea, I have to make one of those!

Yeah. Ok. Mine looks nothing like that. 
I had spindles. I had a ton of string. I didn’t have a fancy wall sconce. I also didn’t really have a wall spot to put it. So I just grabbed a piece of timber from my offcut pile and put them together. It’ll do for now.

Its not pretty, but it works. Its not for the office, its for the workshop so it doesn’t need to be pretty. The workshop leans more towards a more rustic-farmhouse-hoarder design style.
Thanks for the inspiration Carlene, and sorry I killed your idea. 
z

fun junky planters

I’ve been a bad blogger. I’ve let other things (like working and earning money to eat) get in the way of sharing all the exciting things going on around here. I know you’ve missed me and are dying to hear how things are going at Wind Dancer Farm.
Well… not much really. Except that I’m about $1200 poorer thanks to Romeo. First a couple of weeks ago while grooming him, I found he’d got a grass seed in the sheath of his penis. Yikes. And while investigating that I saw he had a lump on his flank. It didn’t look like a grass seed but I took him straight to the vet. There was nothing in the privates, whatever had got in had got out thankfully. He got a course of antibiotics and it cleared up.
The other thing, the lump, the vet was concerned about. The ‘c’ word was mentioned. So Romeo went in for surgery to have the lump removed and a biopsy done. We then waited a week to hear. Romeo limping uncomfortably cause he also seemed to have a grass seed in his left front paw. I searched but couldn’t see anything so I waited to see if it would improve.
The biopsy said the lump was cutaneous reactive histiocytosis. Not something usually found in poodles or even, for that matter, on that part of the body. Wierd. We are waiting and seeing if it was a one off… I’ve got my fingers crossed.
When the stitches came out I asked the vet to check his foot which was not improving. He couldn’t find any indication of a grass seed either and thought Romeo might have broken his toe. He gave him anti-inflammatories.
Well, it got worse and worse till I saw that there was now a hole in the webbing between his toes. I searched and pulled out a grass seed spike and took him back to the vet. They kept him for the day and searched but didn’t find any more foreign bodies. They cleaned it out and sent him home with a red bandage, antibiotics and he’s also on anti-inflammatories again. It should clear up now but till then we call him Limpy.
Poor Romeo.
Other than that all is well. The garden is looking shocking but given that a reader commented on my old toolbox planter I thought I’d share some of my whimsical plant containers.
I have quite a few old and rusty galvanised buckets. This one, one of my favourites, sits on the porch cause the begonia doesn’t like it too hot or frosty.

Last year I bought this gorgeous 60s planter from a garage sale and have put small pots with succulents in it, as well as a cutting of a beautiful pinky white geranium I’m growing.

At the end of the porch I have my lovely old mop bucket. We had one of those things when I was growing up. I much prefer it as a planter.

Since its now autumn the garden is looking pretty awful. Most plants have finished flowering and look ratty. But some are coming up again. Like the sweetpeas in the rusty old washing machine tub and the columbines in and around the old ammo box.

The steps up the porch have some new seedlings in them, alysum and lobelia which will fill and overflow the old pots and loaf tins they’re in.

I’ve replaced the succulents in the bike basket with plants which will overflow and cascade as well. Cat mint, which has purple flowers, in one pot and a pink groundcover I’ve forgotten the name of in the other.

In three pots in a basket on the back of the bike I’ve got a white daisy like plant, some alysum and lobelia. The white will grow upwards and the others should cascade. One day it’ll look great… one day.

The succulents I put in my stacked containers are coming along nicely. I have three of these but the third isn’t looking too good yet. I made these a couple of years ago for indoor storage but decided they’d work better with plants in them. They’re made of spindles and baking tins.

I made hanging baskets out of old strainers and steamers, put succulents in them and hung them on the wall near the door. Only succulents do well in planters with so many holes as they dry out very quickly.

I’ve had this old cane chair for many years, I bought it in an op shop when I was living in Fentonbury. When I got it it was dark brown, I used a wire brush to brush off the flaking paint and sprayed it white. The paint is flaking off again now so I decided to relegate it to a garden ornament.

A bright petunia will full the jam pot. Next spring I’ll put in another one – this time in spring so I have flowers through summer.

I used to have a lot of old toolboxes with succulents in them but this is one of the last ones. I sold a few of them at the market stall I did in January. I love old toolboxes and this one in blue and rust is just gorgeous.

The last one is the one on the back of this little tricycle.

You’ll notice the flour sifter near the old (cheap) half barrel planter that I can’t move without it falling apart. I have 3 sifters but this is one in best condition – ie the plant is still thriving.

One of the other sifters lies next to an overturned pot full of succulents. Hopefully the succulent in it will grow and spread. If not I’ll just put another in there!
This little area is in a wasted corner of the driveway where the retaining wall meets the steps to the path. I envisage that the succulents will grow and fill the area.
The other side of the retaining wall is decorated with some more buckets and drums.

And more ammo boxes… with more seedlings in them!

Do you get the feeling I love rusty old things? Well, you wouldn’t be wrong!

I do need to get out into the garden and begin trimming things back for winter and, if things go to plan, there’ll be a ton of flowers next spring.
I’ve been holding myself back waiting for the right time to cut things back. I get the urge to do it as soon as things begin to look ratty. Well, time is fast approaching. Time to tidy the garden, plug up all the holes the birds use to nest in, continue making the yard safer for the dogs next summer (ie keep them safe from snakes).
Lots to do.
Always.
z