Friday, 21 February 2014

The Big Chop

Water water water, mulch mulch mulch, that's all that seems to be happening around here at the moment.  This summer is so dry compared to last year and I am watering such a lot of plants and grass as sparingly as possible, just to keep things alive, with one eye on the water tank level.  We can store 125000 litres in our tanks and we estimate there is about 30000 left, of which we can use 20000.  You have to keep a certain amount of water in the tanks so they don't blow away! 

I am trying to build up the mulch around the plants in the hope of keeping a bit more moisture in our sandy soil.  These native plants are struggling as I am trying to only water them once a week, it's not enough.  If I can just keep them alive this summer then another growth period during the rainy times will hopefully establish them enough to cope better next summer.
The local roos are hungry and looking skinny.  A group of them spend a lot of time here as I water a few areas of grass for 1) aesthetics, 2) fire safety) and 3) to give the roos something green to eat.  Their favourite spot is in mid-photo, halfway down the hill, where our two 12 metre leach drains run under the soil.  The kikuyu grass obviously appreciates the moisture!
The magpies are hungry, visiting the verandah three or four times a day for their top-up feed of rolled oats.  This one, Teeny, is impatient, if I don't get my arse out that door with her breakfast quick smart, she hops up on the settee outside the window, eyeballs me drinking my morning cuppa in bed, and squawks at me and taps the glass!!  I do so enjoy having the magpies come round, and it makes me smile when I throw the food to the two or three that are waiting, and they all puff up, lift their heads, and burst into caroling song to tell the others that the restaurant is open.  :-)

Do I sound a bit fed up?  Well, yes, I am.  Can't wait for some rain and to see lots of green grass again.  As my neighbour put it as I moaned to her, "don't worry too much, in about 6 weeks we will all be complaining about too much rain".  Okay.  So, instead I decided to do something within my control.  I've been frugal the last 13 months and haven't been to the hairdresser, thought I would grow my hair, and to quote my daughter, look like the hippy bogan I have become.  :-)  However, in my tetchy mood and fed up with hot hair all over the back of my neck, I had a hissy fit last week and booked a haircut!  This is before...

And this is after.  Holy crap it is short!!  With a few blonde foils scattered through.  After a couple of days of getting used to it I like it, and I love that I can't feel hair around my neck any more.
Steve continues to be a busy lad with his chainsaw, do you remember a few weeks back the photo of that huge tree trunk and associated crap underneath it?  Well, this is what it looks like now, clean as a whistle.  Apart from planting some natives here and a line of grass just behind the driveway (to help stop runoff when it rains heavily), we are thinking of planting an avocado tree here.  It is a good hot spot and it protected against the wind to some extent, so as long as we water it enough, we think it's a good spot for an avocado, and maybe a mango too.

This area is in front and downhill of the house, it's an old defunct creekbed that was full of fallen trees.  Steve has been chainsawing them up and moving them out, dealing with very cross, very big bitey bugger bull ants!  Our plan eventually is to block the lower end with rocks and soil, sort the levels out a bit, then turn it into a long pond.  We'd use a heavy duty liner rather than cement, and landscape around it and put yabbies and tadpoles in it.  Should be quite pretty I think.  It's a way off yet though.
 My fenced garden, although alive and thriving as I water it regularly, is a bit of a mess.  There is no definition to it.  I need paths.  That way I have an edge that I can plant up to, and also not trip over the uneven ground.  A trip to town for a trailer load of crushed limestone was in order.
 A days work later and ta-da, spiffy or what!  I didn't like how stark and white it looked at first, but as soon as I wet it down, the white dust disappeared and a variety of colours came through.  It is so nice to walk on.  And it's clean!  It has inspired me to get on and plant more stuff.
An interesting turn of events the cap off the week was the unexpected arrival of an escapee pony, who wandered in late one afternoon.  We'd had a call from a neighbour doing a local ring-around to alert everyone there was a lost pony wandering around and frantic owners driving around looking for her, and an hour later Xanthe, as we later found out was her name, came cautiously walking down our driveway.  I grabbed the first thing I could find, an extension lead as it turns out, and a handful of chook wheat, and slowly and quietly wandered over to her and managed to catch her.  It took a couple of hours to work out whose pony it was and contact the owners, so we put her in our only secure fenced area, our veggie patch, which thankfully doesn't have much growing in it at the moment.  We had a minor stress attack when she started eating rhubarb leaves (poisonous), so I stood between her and the rhubarb (and she WANTED those leaves, stubborn pony), while Steve rushed and found a roll of fencing wire and hastily created a barrier.  So she ate my beans instead.  Anyway, a bucket of water and half a bucket of chaff and wheat later she settled down, and eventually her owners were found, they were very very happy to have her back.  All's well that ends well.  :-)

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Teeny Tiny Tear

Chooks are fabulous but fickle creatures.  Our egg production tailed off rather suddenly last week which was rather mysterious.  Then I noticed Wilma on a few occasions disappearing behind this feed bin in the corner of their yard.
And look what I found.  A cute little nest had been made in the corner for a lovely private nesting area.  Something must have upset a couple of them as this happened for quite a few days.  In the end I nailed an extra piece of wood across the top of their nesting boxes, to make them more private, and after a day of getting used to this, laying has once again been happening in the right place.  Weirdos.
We had the pleasure of the company of our friends Angie and Andy for a couple of days.  Drinkiepoos on the verandah is happening here, and catching up on all the news.
Now isn't this the cutest little joey you ever did see?  Its name is Lucky.  Reason?  Angie and I watched in complete astonishment as a wedgetail eagle had a go at the joey as it had a little bounce around out of the pouch, it swooped down a couple of times to a couple of metres above the joey, who had the sense finally to leap back into mum's pouch.  Whether the eagle would have actually attacked the joey I am not sure, but if the joey (who is still a small, gangly little thing) strayed too far from mum and the rest of the roo group, then perhaps yes. 
Steve has been a busy lad continuing on with clearing up the site of the huge tree trunks, he's doing a great job.
The big wattle trees are flowering now, I think they might be called Karri Wattles.  We only have a couple on our place but they are huge and very beautiful.  The bees love them!
Yesterday we decided to harvest the rest of the sweetcorn and pull the plants out.  We have already eaten heaps of delicious corn and there are bags of it in the freezer for later, but the remaining corn needed to be picked or else it gets overdone and loses its sweetness.  We also decided to dig a heap of potatoes too.
We let the helpers in, who had a lovely time pecking around the place for bugs.  Surprisingly there were very few bugs actually, just heaps of ladybirds which is brilliant as they are predatory insects and gobble up aphids.  The chooks got bored eventually with the lack of bugs and decided to start digging up the roots of the bean plants that are growing along the fence, so they were unceremoniously returned to their yard.  :-)
 A nice haul of corn.  After dealing with all this today, in the freezer we have 4 kilos of corn that has been stripped off the cob, plus a few dozen whole cobs and half cobs.  Yay.
 Woohoo, 35 kilos of potatoes!  That is on top of the 30 kilos we have already picked over the last 6 weeks.  And we still have a quarter of the potato bed to pick.  We are going to have a go at cutting some up into chips and wedges, par frying them and freezing them. 
 How do you like this demented evil mouse potato ha ha
I must go.  As much as I would like to get back into my book (Cecelia Ahern - There's No Place Like Here, I'm enjoying it), first I have to change the sheet on our bed.  You know how when sheets get old they get gloriously soft but also thin?  I put such a sheet on our bed the other day, so soft and comfy.  But thin.  With a tiny little tear in the middle of it.  Such a teeny tiny tear, it will be okay I thought, I'll get a few more uses from this comfy, soft sheet.  Well.  Within an hour Steve had put his foot through the teeny weeny tiny tear and later in the night I felt my own foot do the same thing.  I should have changed the sheet the next day but I persevered for another two days, you know, just to give it a chance to magically knit back together overnight.  I kept sort of tucking the tears under a fold to keep them safe.  Hah!  By today the sheet looks like someone has attacked it with a machete.  Very crossly.  So, I shall sadly condemn my favourite sheet to the rag pile.