Friday, 16 February 2018

Voldemort Lives!

This is a very exciting photo, allow me to explain.  You know how we call all our King Skinks Voldemort, they abound in our shed and woodpile.  But we have one special Voldemort that has lived inside this old settee that is just outside our bedroom window for about a year.  He/she has become relatively tame as I feed him (let's call him a he for simplicity) banana and he is quite used to our presence.  We aren't on touchy feely terms with him but he will happily allow us within a a couple of metres of him. 
 Anyway, just after Christmas, Paul and Sam were returning from the beach and they saw a great hullaballoo going on on the other side of the driveway.  There was a huge Wedgetailed eagle on the ground battling with Voldemort, and the eagle won, carrying him away to be devoured.  We were rather devastated about his, and mourned him for quite some time.  Well, look who's back!!  The skeptics among you will say that it is a different Voldemort, but we don't think so.  He came running up when I threw some banana and gobbled it up (it took me months to get him tame enough to do that), and he is behaving the same way as always, doing his cruise around the outside of the house, sunning himself in the same spot, so we are happy to say it is him, and the eagle grabbed one of his relatives.  Anyway, we are very happy to have a King skink back outside our bedroom window, giving Neo the shits....they have staring contests through the glass. :-) This photo shows Voldemort atop the settee and Gerald the girl magpie hanging out with him...she has learned there is food to be had when Voldemort is out.
 Speaking of birds, this is another exciting photo for us.  In case you are wondering, it is the bums of two female Red Eared Firetails, a beautiful little bird that fossicks on the ground but we rarely see them near the house.  So the fact that they were on the grass in the back garden makes us very happy indeed.
 This is yesterday's harvest.  The peaches have all but finished now, gosh that's been a treat.  We are starting to get some of the Italian Sugar Plums, the oval purple things.  They are often dried to make prunes apparently, ours are not lasting long enough for that ha ha.
 The peach on the left is from a small tree that blessed us with about 15 fruit.  It is an Elberta peach, a freestone yellow fleshed variety, and boy was it yummy.  The nectarine on the right is a white fleshed Goldmine variety, we got the grand total of two because we ran out of nets so the green parrots got into the heavily leafed tree and secretly scoffed the lot!
 Our friends Mel and Sheila came to stay this week, we have seen them for three years so it was lovely to catch up.  Here they are at the ever beautiful Shelley Beach Lookout.
 We drove down to the bottom of the cliff and had a wander on the beautiful Shelley Beach.  It really does have shells now, for quite a few years the shells disappeared, but there are huge piles of them here and there now.
 Such a lovely, photogenic beach it is.
 Back in the paddock we have the chicken who thinks she is a kangaroo once again.  She is so funny, she just loves hanging around with them.
Speaking of kangaroos, have I ever told about how I name them?  Their names are always very sensible, to do with how they look usually.
Lucy, the old girl, is so named because she has the most amazing, long, curled eyelashes, so she is named after Lucille Ball.
Patience, the slightly younger old girl is so named because she patiently waits outside our bedroom window every morning for a breakfast snack of a handful of rolled oats.
Growler, another female, is so named because she does!
Split, another female, is so named because her right ear is split in two from tip to base.
Elsa has a very faint, very long triangle on her forehead, it reminds me of an ice tower, so she is named after Elsa, a character from the movie Frozen.
Quirrell, another female, has two dots and a line on the back of her head that looks a bit like a face, so she is named after Professor Quirrell in Harry Potter, who had the face of Voldemort on the back of his head.
Rabbit, Lucy's daughter, is so named because she was the scrawniest joey we have ever seen and looked just like a rabbit.  She is easy to identify now because she is missing half an ear.
Julius, one of the dominant males, has a distinctive roman nose so he is named after Julius Caesar.
Floyd, one of the younger males, is very very beautiful so he is named after an American bank robber Pretty Boy Floyd.
Professor Moody had a punch up and had a revolting eye injury and now he has a distorted eyelid, so it seemed most apt to name him after the eye patched Prof Moody from Harry Potter.
The new, huge alpha male is called Ano.  He has an enormous body and a tiny head which reminds me of the cartoons of overly muscled men on steroids, so Ano is short for Anabolic Steroid Boy.
Nash is a two year old male who got himself caught up in wire when he was little.  My neighbour freed him and he thanked her by biting her, so Nash seemed an approriate name for him.
I will stop now although there are many more, but I thought you might be amused by the way my mind works.  :-)

Until next time xx

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

The Moon, She Hid

Our attempt at losing weight continues.  We are trying to walk as much as we can, heading down to Cosy Corner at the crack of dawn some mornings.  This was last week, very early with rain clouds gathering, so beautiful.
 It brightened briefly as the morning progressed, the oyster catchers were scurrying around, waiting to see what the wave wash brought them.
 Then when we were at the furthest point of our walk, the heavens opened.  We got absolutely drenched.  It was rather fun actually although we had to take care with climbing back over the rocks....we laid bets as to which one of us would have to be airlifted with a broken leg, but fortunately we both remained unscathed.  Here we are back at home with Steve putting on his best unimpressed face ha ha
 A few days later it was the night of the super/blue/blood/eclipsing moon so we toddled off back to Cosy Corner about 7pm, admittedly with a generous lack of excitement as the whole day was really cloudy.  As expected there was a massive cloud bank completely covering any sign of the moon rising, but instead we were blessed with the beautiful sunset colours on the rain clouds.  We admired the photos of Perth people's view of the moon on the news the next day, you had a great view up there in the capital!
 Our garden continues to bring forth its harvest.  The runner beans are starting to tail off now, the tomatoes are just revving up, the rhubarb is a constant glut, the Bramley cooking apples were the first off the little tree, and our chickens continue to be marvelous girls and reliably give us 3 or 4 eggs a day.  The peaches came to an end last week, 10 kilos is nothing to be sneezed at!  The next tree with ripening fruit is the Italian Sugar plum...they are small, oval, purple fruit that are often dried to make prunes.  This is the first year we've had these so we are rather impatient for them to ripen!
 A big pot of rhubarb and Bramley apple stewing, yum!  Our diet dessert is a blob of this with a blog of home-made yogurt, very nice.
 For our records, photo of the water tank level at 1st February, just over half full.  It's going according to plan. 
Which is just as well as the *&%$# bore pump shat itself AGAIN, this time it wasn't iron bacteria like last year....we had just done a $200 water treatment to eradicate that.  No, this time a tiny piece of something that looked like fibrous root had got inside the submersible pump 50 metres underground, jammed in the impellers and wrecked a couple of them, causing the stupid thing to cease up.  It's just come back from the repair shop and is now behaving itself thank goodness. 
 The garden has coped with minimal watering whilst the stupid pump was away, the more delicate things got a sprinkle from the hose with rainwater.  I thought I'd take a photo of these lovely flowers.  Mum, do you remember giving me this plant as a gift about three years ago?  It's a dwarf Canna with beautiful, bright, orange flowers.  It sulked for the first two years and I thought it was going to die, but this year its roots must have found a nice spot underground as it has grown massively.  It's such a cheerful looking plant.
 I was messing around on Google Earth today, first time for a couple of years, and I was thrilled to see that our area has really up to date imagery.  We reckon this was only 3 months ago and we are mega impressed with all our bits and bobs around the place.  I told Steve he should be well proud of himself with all his construction and fencing, it looks great hey!
Until next time.... xx

Sunday, 28 January 2018

The Surprise In The Garden

Life potters along in lovely, cool Albany.  Currently it is 19 degrees which is surprisingly cool for this time of year even in Albany, it's lovely. 

Steve is our resident bread maker and he is today making small bread rolls instead of loaves as it helps make our portion sizing a little easier while we diet.  We're not eating much bread so we've been freezing most of the rolls and grabbing a couple out when we need them.  These ones are in the process of rising, they'll be going in the oven soon and the house will smell divine...... :-)
 The Angel peach tree continues to bless us with her wonderful fruit, I picked these 2 kilos this morning, that 9 kilos in total from this tree, with probably another kilo still on the tree.  Yum.
 I'm experimenting with freezing some of them, skin off, stone removed, sliced and frozen on trays before bagging up.  I hope they keep okay, it will be a big treat to have peach flesh in the freezer after the season has ended. 
 Bees are very busy in the garden, collecting pollen from the profusion of flowers that continues.  This is a very pretty, pale pink pelargonium.
 And these are Candytuft, they self seed every year and provide and mass of low colour, they are almost white with the teeniest blush of pink.  The butterflies like them.
 Just look at what I found in the garden this morning, I'm still in shock!  I have a little grove of banana trees in the back garden, simply because I love the look of them.  Never did I expect to find a huge flower with the the beginnings of teeny tiny bananas forming.  It will be interesting to see what happens, I would be gobsmacked if they developed fully, surely its too cold down here?  Anyway, I was very excited and isn't it pretty!
 It sounds like a bird aviary out the back, there are so so many little birds, which is just wonderful.  I managed to snap this pair this morning, a feat in itself as they dart around constantly, a Redwing fairy wren male and female.
 Here's our old girls, Lucy at the back, and Patience in front.
 And here's Ben, doesn't he look bony the poor old bugger.  He seems happy enough though and has become a permanent resident.  As long as we put some food out for him he is content to eat, drink, then lie around and snooze.
 This is one of his favourite spots, tucked under the lime tree.
 Since doing the illustration/water colour short course last week, I am trying to make myself do lots of little sketches.  At the moment I am mostly copying others until I have enough of a stockpile to be confident to start trying to develop a style of my own.
 It's amazing how you can't think how to do hair or what angry eyes look like, so it's good to have previous sketches to look back on.
 I am determined to master line drawn cats, I find them hard.  I discovered after drawing my mouse, that to turn it into a rabbit all I needed to do was lengthen the ears and change the tail, it's a case of working out the important bits of an animal to recognise it in a quick sketch.  Practise practise practise hey
 And speaking of cats, here's Neo with his best 'slightly pissed off' face. :-)
Until next time, xx

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Fruit, Fruit, Glorious Fruit!

Well, Steve and I are on a diet.  It's a good time of year to do this as there are plenty of bits and pieces in the salad line that are growing in the garden.  Apart from the chicken and cheese, everything on this lunch plate is from the garden, which makes us very happy.
 Our stone fruit continues to be magnificent, after the nice lot of yellow nectarines we picked at New Year, we were blessed with 5kg of luscious apricots.
 And today we have just started picking the flat white peaches....oh my god they are sensational, so juicy and sweet!  We have waited very patiently for these peaches, this is the fourth fruiting season since we planted the tree, and apart from about 8 tiny fruit the very first year, the tree had all sorts of problems with leaf curl the following two seasons, so badly that the tree was weakened and dropped all its fruit.  This year the spring weather has been better and the leaf curl was not quite so prevalent, and finally we are being rewarded with lots of lovely lovely fruit.  Great for dieting, a delicious treat instead of fattening things.
 I've been to the Albany Summer School the past week, doing an art course run by a children's book illustrator Gabriel Evans....if you want to check out his work, click here.  We learned mainly water colour techniques (which was a huge learning curve for me as I knew nothing), things like skin tones, shadowing,
 interesting skies, scribble techniques for shading, wet wash, dry wash, loads of stuff.  Although parts of it overwhelmed me, I enjoyed the course very much and felt I learned heaps and heaps.  Now to keep practising!
 Speaking of chickens, our escapee chicken thinks she is a kangaroo.  Not only does she continue to escape every day, she spends most of her time hanging out with the kangaroo mob, going right up to them totally unconcerned.  Here, one of the joeys is a bit taken aback at the sight of someone with feathers, but after a sniff they ignored each other.
 Here's one of this year's joeys, looking all chubby with her fluffy baby fur.  Her mum is Split, grazing behind.
 Do you remember me telling you about our alpha male Ben, that he got into a fight with another huge male just after Christmas?  He was a right mess, a bad throat wound and a damaged mouth as well as being very very sore.  The photo below shows Ben back in October when he was a magnificent specimen of a huge male kangaroo.  He had lost quite a bit of weight after this photo when the breeding season started, presumably too busy chasing the girls to eat, but he still looked pretty good early in December.
 Poor old Ben, he disappeared for a few days after the fight but then he dragged himself back to our place, poor bugger could barely walk, and started following us around, (which unnerved us as big male roos can be dangerous, but he was only able to move as slow as a snail so that was okay) desperate for food.  We realised that he couldn't eat, or rather couldn't graze, he was holding his mouth half open so we wondered if he had a broken jaw.  He's a pitiful sight, I'm sure you agree.
 So, we had a decision to make, do we ignore him and let nature take its course, do we find someone with a gun and put him out of his misery, or do we look after him?  Well, we don't cope well with seeing an animal slowly dying before our eyes, so we decided to start looking after him.  We had to plan carefully how we would feed him as male roos are not to be trifled with, not even sick ones.
 So, every morning, after checking carefully where he is, we put out half a bucket of roo muesli for him, alongside the 50lt water bucket that we always have in the paddock for the roos to drink.  His mouth is slowly recovering and in the last week he is able to chew much better than before.  He still doesn't seem to be able to graze, as in bringing his front teeth together to bite grass, but he can eat the loose stuff we give him.
 So he spends most of his time in the same spot, where we put the food.  This is good actually, as he has stopped following us.  He has a little mate with him too, the smaller roo, his name is Nash, is a two year old joey whose mother disappeared a few months ago.  He is independent but normally at this age he would still be hanging around at least near his mother, so he is appreciating a bit of food too, as he is on his own. 
 So Ben is looking better, he has put a tiny bit of weight back on, he is eating better, but is still moving very slowly like an ancient old man.  He spends most of his day lying down against that fence, or tucked under the lime tree, then gets up and has a feed and a drink then repeats this all day.  He goes away at night, presumably into the bush.  He has definitely lost his alpha male status.  The big boys don't keep that status very long, I think he's been the alpha male for 18 months.  Anyway, we are happy that he's not starving to death. The chicken checks up on Ben a few times very day too, she goes right up to him.  He could easily squish her but he tolerates her cheekiness.
I've done a bit of crochet lately, I made another market bag for shopping.
 And I want a couple of large, round, fat cushions for our settees, so this is the front of the first one.  I still have to sew it into a cushion but the crochet is finished.
 And I had a lovely time doing the jigsaw Michelle gave me for Christmas.  I love busy jigsaws and this one was wonderful!
Until next time.... xx

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Happy New Year

Here we are, mid Christmas.  We're somewhat tireder than that now, having had the pleasure of Mum, Dad, Michelle, Michael, Paul, Sam and Riley to stay in batches over the last couple of weeks.  It was wonderful to see you all xx
Now we are doing NOTHING but relax for the rest of the week ha ha
I forgot to get my camera out over Xmas as per usual, but here's a few... here is Paul, midway through a game of Uno. 
 and Michelle with her dad.  She is wearing the elf hat I made her, love the ears!
 Here is a close-up of the hat.  Cute hey!
 My god we ate, so much food and so much variety.  This was a new thing, a glazed ham that we started on Xmas Eve.  I've never done one before, it was yummy!
 This is the Nutella Xmas tree that seven year old Riley made.  Isn't it pretty!  It was gobbled up in record time.
 Here is Riley's unicorn hat that I made her, I was very relieved to see that it fits okay!
 And this is an in-progress photo of Stevie's Wonder Woman bag in the making.
 And here is the finished bag.  Hope you like it Stevie :-)
 Paul brought down his impossible jigsaw that with lots of perseverance was finally conquered EXCEPT there was a piece missing!  Thankfully when Paul got home he found the missing piece so hooray, it was finished :-)
 Over New Year I got my crochet hook out again and made myself a crochet hook roll after spotting a pattern for this one.
 It will be very handy, it has slots for my crochet hooks and I've managed to find a spot for my scissors, and wool needle, stitch markers and a pen.  So as long as I don't forget the crochet roll then I'm all set.
 I went into town yesterday, the first time I've set foot out of the house since before Xmas.  Waiting for me at the post office was my Christmas present to myself...the pattern and the yarn for the next blanket I want to make.  This time I am going with the colours suggested in the pattern instead of choosing it all myself, I adore the look of this blanket, which is smaller than the one I made last year, it will be perfect for snuggling under to watch the tv. 
 Outside, things are growing well.  This was today's harvest, 5kg of nectarines, 1 1/2kg of beans and 5 eggs.  My goodness we've had eggs, I think we used about 80 eggs over the Christmas fortnight and we still have a couple of dozen in the fridge.  Total of the nectarines was about 8kg which we are thrilled with.  This is the early tree, the Flavortop, we didn't get any last year.  The next fruit that will ripen will be the Angel peaches, flat, donut peaches with white flesh...maybe in a week or two.
 We have giant zucchinis! My goodness we have had a lot of giant zucchinis.  I've ended up cutting them up for the ducks and chickens, who are all very partial to a bit of zucchini.  We will use the smaller ones.
 We harvested our garlic mid December.  After letting it dry out then cleaning it up and trimming roots and leaves, we ended up with about 2 1/2 kilos of very nice looking garlic.
 These are some of the bigger ones, we have a variety of sizes of the globes.  They are tucked away in a basket in the pantry and we so enjoy using our own garlic for cooking.
 On a different note entirely, my little silkworms all spun their silken cocoons, hatched out into these ever so cute moths (just look at the gorgeous little face) who then got together and did the wild thing for days, then laid many many many eggs, then kicked the bucket!  So, I have a container covered with eggs and not sure what to do now.  I read somewhere that you put them in the fridge until you are ready to have them hatch, I must read more.  In the meantime if I notice they are hatching then I'll start feeding them again.
 We are having to be careful at present and take stock of who is where when going out in the paddock, there are a lot of big male roos here, following the females around.  The one on the left is Ben, who until recently was the alpha male, but he got into a huge fight with Ano who I think has taken over as boss man.  Poor Ben has quite a nasty wound on his throat, presumably Ano bit him, so he's been feeling a bit sorry for himself the last few days. 
 Flowers, birds and bees abound as usual, much to my delight.  Isn't this pretty, it's a mini fuchsia, called Ballerina I believe.  The flowers certainly look like little dancers don't they.
 And this photo is for our reference, showing the water we have in the tank as at January 1st.  Steve keeps records of our water and rainfall but we are adding a photo on the 1st of every month to make things easier to remember.
Until next time xx