Mooing Around

On our block we have 3 noisy cows. They are owned by Les, however, he hasn’t given them names.

So I thought they needed names!

I have made 3 names for them:

  1. The one with the white head is “White Chocolate”
  2. The one with the white tummy is “Milk Chocolate”
  3. And finally the one with the black body is “Dark Chocolate”

Les the owner is a 75 year old Greek man who lives not far from us.

Les comes to check on the cows every morning and every night. He milks them and waters them. Les uses the milk to make Greek cheese.

We wake up every morning to a sound like this”Mooooo”.

Snoopie loves the water that is left out in a big blue container to water the cows. When we take her for a walk and are close to the container of water we let her have a drink and a splash.

Layers upon Layers

On the 24th of January this year mum and dad picked up our 6 chickens that grandma and grandpa got dad for a late 40th birthday present.

On the 14th of April (Good Friday) we found our first egg in the laying box (which dad thought was “egg-cellent” but he was only “yoking”…. ha ha ha).

We have tried our eggs that we have found in the laying box and they are… “eggs-traordinaryly” yummy!

The names of our chickens are:

  1. Princess  Layer
  2. Pekichu
  3. Red Dog
  4. Hen Solo
  5. Cheeky Chick
  6. Chicken Nugget

They love the grass and weeds that we have grown for them in their yard.

Dad has automated the chook house so we know the temperature and humidity all the time, and their door opens at a set time after sunrise and closes a set time after sunset.

We also have a green LED light when it’s open and a red one when it’s closed!

We love our chooks.

Woof Woof Weport

On the 28th of December 2016, we got our first ever puppy.

We  named her Snoopie because she is black and white, but a girl, which is why we added the “ie” on the end.

Our family got her off dad’s cousin Amanda near Barmera.

Because her mummy dog had puppies.

She is a great puppy to snuggle with, play with and get free bites from 🙂

Snoopie loves going on walks with us and sticking her tongue out of the ute window.

It’s raining men… well not quite!

Welcome to my (Claire)’s first blog. I know it sounds strange but the other day I realized I have never loved our shower like I do my shed shower…why? Glad you asked.

Here are my reasons all organised in dot points:
1. We made it from scratch including sheeting, proofing and designing an original genuine one and only shower from things we have bought cheap or recycled. The floor was made from aluminum with grids on it like workmen use on their utes. We had it bent up on the sides and creased so water can go down the drain. The walls are made from recycled packers which have been water-proofed then two pieces of a white composite sign sheeting material water proofed. We used this instead of glass or tiles for reduced cost and a great time saver to get it finished and sealed. The taps and spray part were seconds from a shop. Finally there are 2 very bright and water design shower curtains were purchased new from Ikea.

2. The water is mostly from the river so is super cheap… yes it is a bit brown but you can’t see it in shower! I say mostly as we can change it over to rain water when we have surplus and there is more expected.

3. The hot water is heated using the sun or the water booster wet back of our wood fireplace depending on the season… so again basically free and we haven’t run out of hot water yet.

4. I can have a quick cold shower 3 or 4 times a day when it is really hot (37 degrees yesterday, 38 today and 36 tomorrow) and not feel too guilty.

5. I guess it acts as our air conditioner or way to survive summer in the Riverland with no air conditioning. We all shower just before bed then go to bed damp to allow our fans to cool us enough to sleep.

6. It is also huge so one child can be going out one side while the other is going in the other side which makes showers quicker in the end.

So there you go, I can’t believe how much I love that shower!!

One day come and check it out and let us know what you think.

Futurising our Farm


For my 40th birthday party back in September, we put on the invite if you want to give a gift (which you don’t need to at all) then please chip in some cash towards my (Brenton’s) plans to ‘Futurise’ our farm.

Now what on earth does that actually mean?

Well it goes way back to when i was a boy….

Back then growing up on the family farm (14kms away from our farm as the crow flies) my dad was both a farmer, a telecom/telstra technician, amateur radio ham, and electronics repair person.

So i got into electronics. I made ‘bugs’ (electronic eavesdropping devices), things that flashed, and then along the way got quite interested in control and automation including trying to create my own robots and such like thingys.

Well that passion for using technology to control and automate the world around me hasn’t ever left me, even though it might have gone ‘dormant’ for a little while.

Interestingly in the last few years while still in Canberra, a mate of mine, Rick, mentioned in passing something called a Raspberry Pi and an Arduino. I thought he had lost a couple marbles initially, but as i listened, and then did some research I came to the “slightly shocking but in a good way” conclusion that while I had been focusing on growing and learning as a leader with Fusion, finding and marrying the most beautiful women in the world, and making babies, I had missed a good decade or two of development in terms of open source electronics devices and the Internet of Things (IoT).

So with the move to SA I sensed it was a good moment to dust off the skills, the soldering technique (along with all the other ones like welding, plumbing, building etc etc etc!) and the electronics theory and reawaken those dreams and passions i had as a boy to control and make life easier using technology – and it’s gotten a whole lot more interesting and fun while i was focusing on learning many other lessons!

So in essence what i’m hoping to do is use technology to do things like:

  • control our lights
  • monitor and control our security system
  • sense things like temperature, humidity, smoke, gas, doors being open etc
  • monitor our off grid power system
  • automate our irrigation system
  • automate our chook yard (so no more forgetting to put the chooks in)
  • monitor our soil moisture
  • open and close our gates
  • and do all this remotely from my smartphone!

To what end you may well ask?

Well firstly f20161109_093831or the fun of it. But secondly and as importantly, to demonstrate to others a little of what is possible, and if it gets to the point, setup a business down the track helping others do the same. And thirdly, to save one of our most valuable things – time – so we can invest it in other areas.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves.

On the left is a photo of an old box I pulled apart, using some of the existing electronics like the power supply and plugs, and then installing a MySensors relay actuator node with a temperature and humidity sensor.20161203_152848

This pmysensors-logo-croppedroject took me about a month from start to finish working at nights and when i could during the day, to complete it. It’s now installed up in our Loft where the kids sleep, controlling their LED strip lights, and telling me the temperature and humidity of the Loft!

I’ve started working on my next project which is automating our newly installed chook house (an old cubby from our Pastor’s place i picked up for free) with two automatic doors, internal lights, temp and humidity sensor, camera and fox deterrents.


So until the next episode in this new category “Futurising our Farm”.


Bonza bonfires

2016-05-13 17.43.34 One thing that has fast become a tradition here at Reimann Ridge is having bonfires now that the fire ban has been lifted. Claire has been leading the charge with weeding our 1 metre high thistles and huge rollie polie round prickle bushes and heaping them ready for lighting.

One of the added benefits of bonfires is that the kids run around pulling up and collecting weeds and putting them on the bonfire for us!2016-05-13 17.44.34

There is so many more weeds to pull up…. we could have 5 working bees and there would still be more to go!

It’s also a great way to tire them out so they sleep well (and us adults too!).

2016-05-13 17.44.39So bonfires are definitely a tradition already here at the Ridge. Who knows, if you drop in and stay for a bbq at the right time of year, you might get to experience one too. 2016-05-13 17.44.30

Wouldn’t that be a treat?