Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Our New Helper Jeff

Our latest helper (via Helpx) is Jeff, who is on a holiday in Australia, after finishing his degree in China. However it is not much of a restful break, because he has very kindly helped us out with many tasks. Normally at this time of year, most helpers head north to keep away from our cold Victorian winters. But when we told Jeff that temperatures can drop to zero on some nights, he replied that where he has come from, the temperatures can drop to minus 17 and snowy conditions prevail for months on end. Our winter was mild in comparison!

After a short visit to some Chinese friends in Springvale and Strathmerton, Jeff travelled out to our place. He has been very busy ever since. Some of the jobs he helped with, include digging out and mulching an old blackwood tree, weeding and mulching the garden, shifting mudbricks, replacing a post that held up the chook house roof, collecting trailer loads of old bricks and transporting them home, helping with our market stall, covering our hot house with plastic sheeting, cutting back vegetation that was encroaching on the drive, shifting a piles of gravel and earth, digging drains, jackhammering a hole in a brick wall, mowing grass, helping out with most of the daily chores and more.

Jeff is keen to learn about Australia, its culture, our food and of course permaculture. We have spent many evenings discussing these things and for us learning more about China. He has a very good appetite and has enthusiastically eaten a wide range of meals that differ greatly from his normal diet. In fact he has not only eaten them, he has often taken photographs of our meals. We jokingly told him he could turn his photos into a cookery book. Jeff has even adopted our habit of starting the day with a bowl of porridge- in fact at the moment he is our chief oat roller. The only food he cannot cope with, is the one that most visitors to Australia find hard to take- vegemite!

Of course he is very keen to meet the local native animals, but so far they have been very uncooperative- only the wombats have been out and about. However, while he was shifting some mud bricks he did uncover a baby (40cm) snake (deep in hibernation mode). After that, we took over shifting the rest of the bricks, just in case the snake’s parents were around. Fortunately, all we found was one other baby, and we made sure both reptiles were safely transported away from our buildings to “snake corner” where they were released.

The stay is not all work of course. When possible we have managed to explore a bit of the Yarra Valley and taken the dogs for walks around our tracks. So far we have visited Healesville, the local tourist railway line, Maroondah Dam, William Ricketts Sanctuary, the Skyhigh scenic viewing area on top of Mt Dandenong and we spent a day exploring the Mornington Peninsula.

Jeff has made good friends with our dog Bluey and Ruby (a dog we are dog-sitting for a friend). In the photo above, you can see Jeff testing out a Chinese saying that says “if you ride a dog, it will rain on your wedding day”. Hopefully the saying won’t come true!


gardenglut said...

Wo xiang, zai nide difang, nide bungzhu ren 'Jeff' you hen hao de shijian! Jeff, ni shi bu shi dongbei ren ma?

This is hopefully not too bad Mandarin written in pinyin.

Jeff Chung said...

bushi, wo shi zai dongbei shang daxue, ni shi dongbei ren?

gardenglut said...

Bushi, wo shi yi ge didi daodao de Aodaliya ren. Juishi niandai, wo zai Beijing xuexi hanyu!

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