Thursday, 29 December 2016

It's Been Busy!

Wow, let me catch my breath, so much has happened since we last caught up here! The bore is fixed and working well which is a relief. 
First it was the busy busy busy of the baking and the wrapping and the bed organising.
 We slacked off one evening and popped over the Boston for a bite to eat, isn't it nice when someone else cooks your food and cleans up, all along with a nice glass of red.
 I have been in a crochet frenzy.  Most of the frenzy has involved scouring the internet for patterns and inspiration, and I have 4 bulging files of patterns and photos I've printed out, that will keep me busy for every and a day!
 Above is simply a coaster, but I really like it and was very pleased with the simple colour scheme.  I always agonise over colours and sway between the mundane and the psychodelic!  Below is the start of a mandala, which I will attach to a big metal ring when finished.  I have a desire to hang it in the garden somewhere, so the wind catches it and the sun glints in the patterned holes.
 I've made more Xmas balls.  This one is for Sam and I also made one for dad, and I know I took a photo of it but do you think I can find the photo? Nope :-)
 Meanwhile in the garden Steve has been pulling potatoes ready for meals over Xmas.  Just have a look at this monster, it weighs over 600g!  He found a couple more this size too, from the same plant.  That plant must have been wiggling its roots in some mighty fine soil!
 Do you remember how excited we were about our very first ever grown eight cherries? Well, we tried one a week or so ago, it was a bit sour, so we left the others on the tree, safely under a net.  Alas the net had a small hole in it and a lone Silvereye snuck in then couldn't get out, thus needing to have some dinner, it ate the only thing available - the remaining seven bloody cherries!  Basically what we have here is cherry skins and a cherry stone inside, it did a darn good job of scoffing all the yummy cherry flesh.  Next year the cherry tree will have a stronger net!  We live and learn :-)
 
 Okay people, can anyone tell me what this little plant is?  It has sprung up next to the blueberry bush, it has long leaves and these interesting striped seed pods.  I didn't notice it until this point so have no idea what the flowers looked like.  I am intrigued as to whether it is a noxious weed or a beautiful little flowering plant.
 
 We set to decorating the living room.  We love running sparkly lights up the flue of the fire, it  looks really pretty at night.  Mind you, the weather turned really chilly and we could have almost done with lighting the fire except we'd have ended up with crispy fried tinsel and lights!
 Our visitors started arriving, and it is at this point that I forgot to pick up my camera for days and days so have scrounged photos from my phone and other people.  So bad of me!
This is mum and dad arriving on the plane from Perth.  Dad has trouble with stairs so the airport staff attached this nifty platform to the side of the plane so mum and dad could be lowered to the ground.  Very impressive and efficiently done. 
 Neo finally made his way out from behind the bed and consented to being petted by visitors.
 My friend Claire dropped in with her joeys so everyone had cuddles.
 They are called Pippa and Poppy and weigh about 5.5 kilos
 It was all very cute until Paul got wee-ed on by Poppy.  We didn't laugh.....much
 So I have no photos at all of our Christmas meals as I forgot and also as I was very distracted.  You all know I love our wild kangaroos, give them names and watch over them.  Well, while we were sitting down for Xmas Eve lunch we saw next door's visitor walking his large dog, who spotted one of our roos, a young female called Marx, jumped the fence and bailed her up against a gate.  It was over in a flash with Marx struggling to get away and the man calling his dog off, but she finally got away through the fence and hopped away with some other roos.  We thought that was the end of it but a few hours later we found her at the bottom of our place on the ground, unable to get up.  And her joey was missing.  I called my other neighbour Claire who is a Wildlife Carer and she and I spent a lot of time keeping an eye on her.  We held her down while Claire examined her and treated some wounds, we left her some food and water and hoped overnight that she would recover and baby would reappear.

6am Christmas morning Claire and I were back with Marx, who still couldn't get up.  She got on the phone to a couple of other carers to work out a plan of action, and Toni, a carer nearby said she had a pen so could take Marx.  So we covered Marx's head and held her down again so Claire could give her Valium to sedate her, then we bundled her up in a sling, popped in the back of my car and took her to the care facility.

Meanwhile we were watching all the time for the joey.  We spotted her a few times with the mob but at that stage she was too quick to catch.  Yesterday morning gave us an amazing sight, we'd put some food out to encourage the roos in close so we could see where the joey was, and we watched what we thought was Jane's joey trying to get back into the pouch, when we realised that there was a joey already in Jane's pouch, and that little rear end is Marx's joey trying desperately to get in too.  Jane wasn't particularly bothered and we think this joey might have grabbed a few sucks of milk which was very heartening.  By lunchtime though the joey had disappeared so it was back to worrying again.
Then last night at dusk, I was sitting out the front watching Jane and a couple of other mums feeding (minus our missing joey), when I heard off in the distance a small barking sound....roos in distress make that noise.  So I very quietly and slowly went for a walk in the direction I heard the sound, and eventually on our boundary I spotted her, all alone.  I took off my windcheater and held it down in front of me sort of like a pouch and walked towards her very very slowly, talking quietly and making the clucking sound that roos make.  She watched me nervously, hopping away a few time slowly, but finally she let me get right up to her and she looked in the windcheater as if trying to decide whether to get in or not.  At that point I dropped the windcheater on top of her so she wouldn't get away, then gently wrapped her in it and picked her up.  Poor little darling was really cold so I cuddled her right up against me for warmth and went back to the house and rang Claire, who came over with a proper carer pouch, had a quick look at her and announced she was dehydrated and a she.  Here she is, I named her Noelle as she is sort of a Christmas miracle don't you think.  She had been on her own for four days when she had barely even been out of Marx's pouch before then, a tough little cookie.
 Claire got in touch with Toni, the carer who has the mother Marx, and mum and baby were reunited last night.  Apparently it was beautiful, they both recognised each other instantly and there was lots of nuzzling and licking going on.  Toni stayed the night in the shed with them to make sure joey Noelle didn't get out of the fabric pouch and try and get into Marx's pouch, as there was a big risk that Marx might lie on her as Marx can't move much.
 The update on Marx is still a waiting game.  Toni the carer has been amazing, rolling Marx hourly, massaging her four times a day and treating her with remedies.  A vet has seen her twice and thinks she has an injury to the base of her tail that has causes numbness to the end of her tail, which is why she cannot get up.  Her legs are strong and she is now in good spirits.  She had one bad day when she was dull eyed and listless and had a discharge, which is what they think was her aborting a tiny jelly bean baby.  The vet put her on antibiotics and she has come good, eating well with more energy.  The arrival of her lost joey Noelle has helped her spirits too.  Apparently the vet is coming back today with a mobile x-ray machine to make sure she has no fracture, the vet is hopeful that the nerve damage is inflammatory and she will recover with time.  It's a waiting game.

I am in utter and complete awe of the Wildlife Care Network, this particular group is the Born Free Wildlife Carers.  The compassion and giving and expertise of these people is mindblowing, and to have a vet willing to give up time to visit sick roos for no charge too is wonderful.  I dropped off a bag of kangaroo food and a thank you card to carer Toni's place, it seems a small gesture but hopefully it will help.
 Back to our place, here are a few of our regulars.  Do you remember Lucy and her daughter Rabbit, and that Rabbit had lost half of her ear?  Well her she is now, a chubby, healthy looking young lady who couldn't give a hoot about having half an ear.  Lovely.
 And here is the gorgeous Growler, complete with joey legs poking out of her pouch.
And this is what you do when you are a great big male who has spent the day busily bonking the lady roos, and you are now a bit tired.  Basking in the afterglow :-)
So, it's been an interesting Christmas!  It's been a wonderful Christmas, we have so enjoyed having the family here and we are looking forward to seeing our granddaughters this weekend, and then my brother, niece and her partner next week. 

Monday, 12 December 2016

What The F*#% Is Iron Bacteria?

It's been a bit of a challenging year, 2016, things breaking down and unexpected expenses.  The current pain in the arse is the bore, which has already had its share of issues after last year we discovered the water is pretty crappy and not in abundance.  Since then we've spent lots of time researching and putting into action ways to use the water the best way possible, hence things like putting in drip systems so as not to get the bore water on the leaves, and setting up sensors in the bore pipe so the pump moves water to the tank when there is sufficient.
Since we reactivated the bore after winter shut-down, it got slower and slower and slower, with the water being pumped into the tank gradually becoming only a trickle, then the pump died completely.  The fix-it guy turned up on Friday with his winch and hauled all 50 metres of pipe out of the bore hole, so he could have a look at the submersible pump.  Have you ever heard of iron bacteria?  Neither had we!!!
We have Googled ourselves stupid and know a bit more now, apparently it is not uncommon in deep bores.  It occurs within a certain set of circumstances, things like quantity of iron in the water plus the combination of other minerals,  it causes this thick, slimy, clay looking stuff that has completely and utterly jammed up every tiny bit of our almost new pump.  Far out.  The guy has taken it away to clean it up and hopefully it will still run afterwards.  Then we need to discuss chemical treatments, watch this space...
Hence we have had to watch our water usage, so watering grass has been cancelled for now, gosh it's browned off quickly.  We've had a lovely drop of rain overnight, and more happening right now, so that is wonderful, the grass should green up quickly.  And once we get the stupid bore pump back, all will be well and sparkly green once again.
Okay, moaning over :-) All the plants, vegies and trees are looking really really good and growing well.  This is the vegie patch, in the foreground are potatoes, we always seem to grow good potatoes.  And in the background are sweetcorn.  They have grown like the clappers, having been planted late due to the delay of spring, and they are all looking strong and healthy.  We've also got loads of small tomato plants and a few carrots, beetroot and red onions.  The scarlet runner beans absolutely refused to germinate this year, despite two separate plantings.  The weeds are under control at present, what with the mulched paths, plus the fact the drip irrigation only waters the vegies and not the paths, yay!
 Look at this rhubarb, magnificent!  Steve moved it last year, he dug it up and chopped the crown into four and planted them into just about pure cow poo.  It's like a jungle trying to reach in to find the best, fat, deep red stalks to pick.  We had stewed rhubarb for brekkie this morning with some chia pudding, yum :-)
 I usually pick loads and cook a big batch, then freeze most of it, so good to be able to grab a batch from the freezer for a spontaneous rhubarb crumble!
 Now what do you think this is?  A garlic tree?  ha ha.  That is the sum of our garlic growing this year, very pathetic, six whole globes, and the only reason we have them is that they came up randomly in my flower garden.  I've hung them over a bare shrub in the photo to dry them out, now they are tucked away in the pantry.  Garlic was a disaster this year, the weather was wrong for a start, way too wet for too long, but when Steve went to the shed to get his cloves from last year that he'd put away for planting, he found he'd put some old seed potatoes on top which must have been damp, and the whole lot had rotted.  It's probably a good thing in disguise as we want to buy some different varieties of garlic to plant next season, so this will be the impetus for that to happen eh!
 This, on the other hand, is terribly exciting....this is a photo of four of our EIGHT, yes EIGHT cherries!!! Don't you scoff, the first fruit off a young tree is very exciting we think.  And I heard on the news this morning that there is going to be a cherry shortage this Christmas, so if they are ripe then each of our family members visiting for Christmas might get one each!  That's if Steve and I (or various bird or insect or rodent species) haven't scoffed them first :-)
 Our Bartlett (aka Williams) pear tree has also put on a wee bit of fruit too, lots of the tiny ones fell off but we have about six growing nicely.  I can't wait to try a pear straight from the tree.
The plums have been a bother this year, we have three trees, an Italian Sugar Plum which is the pollinator, and a Greengage and Coe's Golden Drop.  Unfortunately the sugar plum only had half a dozen flowers on it so what happened is that the other two trees flowered like mad and it looked like zillions of tiny fruit were forming, but they then all fell off because they weren't pollinated.  Bugger.  We are thinking of getting another pollinator tree or even hand pollinating with a soft paintbrush if that is possible.  Anyway, end result is no fruit on the Greengage or Coes, but the sugar plum has four fruit on it.  So I made up little bags from an old net curtain to keep the bugs and hopefully birds off them.
 Apples apples everywhere, we get the impression that our soil is apple growing soil, they are the least bother, they grow well, flower well and fruit well.  This is Sundowner apple tree, a dwarf variety but it is the most productive tree we have.  The Granny Smith has quite a few on it too, the Bramley will give us a dozen or so, but for some reason the Cox's Orange Pippin and the Red Fuji are quite sparse this year.  It's all a big mystery this fruit growing hey!
 Our stubborn mandarin tree has finally seen the light we hope.  It's been in the ground for five years, tried hard to die for the first three years, gave us one mandarin last year and this year so far it has lots and lots of tiny fruit.  Crossing fingers that they don't all fall off. 
 The fig trees have been really late getting started this year with the cold, wet spring we had.  But there are signs of tiny figs happening.  Whether we or the birds get to eat them will remain to be seen!
It's been such a learning curve growing fruit here, although the fruit production is up and down, all the trees are growing well and look strong.  Even the poor stone fruit trees that had such terrible damage from leaf curl virus, have finally started growing healthy leaves.  It's so interesting though, there's nothing I like better than finding a problem then settling down with books and the internet and educating myself on how to fix or at least improve things.
 The wonderful banana passionfruit vine just keeps on keeping on.  I keep it well watered and fertilised and it rewards us with beautiful flowers and fruit all through winter, and it's revving up with another crop now.
Like everyone, we are busy getting organised for Christmas, tidying up, shopping, making lists, working out beds.  This is a photo of me wearing my dear mother-in-law Barbara's Christmas present.  Barbara has Alzheimers, lives in a nursing home, and she spends most of her day walking, particularly outside, so I thought a nice big hat would be a good gift for her.  I didn't like anything I saw in the shops, so I bought a big, comfortable, plain hat and blinged it up for her with some ribbon, lace and a handmade flower and a feather.  I rather like it!  I hope she does too.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Joey Delights

Hello there :-)
Last weekend we toodled up to Perth to have cupcakes with a special young lady who turned eight - yay eight! Happy Birthday to you dear Stevie xx
Here are Michelle, Steve, Paul and Sam watching the girls play at a beautiful new park near Paul's house.  It was nice in the shade, it was a stinky poo hot day!  We felt sorry for the team of workers nearby that were creating what we think will be a skateboarding area, they looked very hot.
 We went for breakfast with Michelle to Halo Cafe in South Perth.  Well! Yum yum yum is all we could say.  I chose their homemade banana bread complete with caramelised banana and passionfruit syrup - delicious!
 Steve and Michelle chose the chia pudding, made with almond milk, agave syrup, and topped with almond butter and fruit.  They both loved it. 
 I have set myself a mission to use chia more, so I scoured the internet yesterday for a handful of recipes and doing a bit of tweaking, I had a go with the ingredients I had in the pantry.  Oh my gosh it was wonderful! 
Recipe for 4 serves-
1 400g tin of light coconut milk
70g (up to the 100ml line on a measuring jug) of chia seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
35ml of maple syrup
small handful (20g) of shredded coconut.
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and give it a good whisk to mix the chia seed well, then cover and put in the fridge overnight to thicken.  Serve with fruit.  Next try will be using almond milk.

Per serve of pudding (135 grams) - calories 225, protein 4.5g, fat 15g, total carbs 20g (within that sugars 10g), cost about $1.50
 Whilst we were in Perth, Paul served up Kale Crisps, we had never had them before - very very nice!  Shred up some kale, massage in some oil (we used coconut) and sprinkle with salt (we used garlic salt) and pop in a moderate oven until going crispy, about 13 minutes in my oven.  Our attempt ended up a bit salty but still very nice.  Who knew that kale could be so yummy.  Although, as my friend Cori commented, the kale is really only the vessel for oil and salt ha ha
 After the healthish cooking I also made chocolate chip biscuits ha.  Allow a moment of stupidity here, these two biscuits caught my attention and deserved a photograph.  These are the Emotional Biscuits. :-)
 We had a visit from our friend Claire from next door, who now mothers two orphan joeys.  Poppy on the left we had met before, and Pippa on the right has been with her for 2 weeks.  Oh my, what a delight, they are both hopping now, and we got to see Poppy hoon around like a total maniac.
 Pippa on the other hand was being quiet, and she spent ages holding my hand and sucking a fold of my jeans  Beautiful beautiful babies, and so soft!
 Speaking of wildlife, look at these two crazy magpies.  They look like they've died don't they.
 But no, they are alive and well, and merely sunbathing in the back garden, wings outstretched, warm as toast.
 Steve has been a busy busy boy carting barrows of mulch into the back garden.
 It looks so nice when garden beds are mulched, it makes everything look so neat and tidy and cared for.
 Hopefully the dripper watering system we've installed under the mulch will keep the plants watered well, but at the same time reducing weeds, by not watering between the plants like sprinklers do.
 I have been busy outside too, I whipper snipped everywhere to clean up grass and weeds, then I roared around on Helga and finished all the firebreaks ready for the fire season.  As I was bringing Helga back to the shed, a small stick got caught up underneath, a totally normal thing to happen, Helga chomps up sticks and spits them out, however this bloody stick got trapped in the drive system, destroying a pulley and thus the drive belt is loose and floppy and Helga isn't moving any more.  Bugger.  We pushed her back to the shed and are awaiting collection by the fix-it people to make her all better.  My reputation as a Helga wrecker continues....
The view just outside the back door always makes me happy.  It is filled with lovely flowers, delighting the bees, butterflies and hover flies.  Bottom right is a very happy lemon thyme plant in full flower, to the left of that is a lovely pale pink trailing pelargonium.  In the background is the purple heliotrope that butterflies love, and the yellow abutilon at the back.
On a final note - the bushflies have arrived, flyveils are the current fashion statement around here.