Wednesday, 11 October 2017

What Did The Chicken Say To The Kangaroo?

I was watching the little birds through the glass door this morning, they are so clever, I hadn't noticed before but they actually pick the dead leaves up with their beaks and fling them aside in their hunt for tasty morsels.  It struck me then how very happy I am with the ecosystem our property has created.  I have always planted gardens with the birds in mind, nectar plants, bushy shrubs for protection, and the planted areas are close enough together to allow the little birds a short dash on the wing to get from one area to the other and feel safe.  This area was open ground 7 years ago when we bought the land, with the little birds safely hidden away in the bush on the perimeter, but now they abound near the house, in the gardens we have created.  I feel very satisfied and a wee bit proud.
 Not only birds but plenty of small lizards and insects.  I keep trying to get a good photo of this delightful little lizard?skink? It has the most beautiful coloured legs, a vivid orange with black dots.  There are quite a few in the back garden, there is plenty of cover there to keep them from being gobbled up by kookaburras.  This one had a meal in mind, I disturbed them......
 The lizard was having a stand-off with this quite large, very pissed off, reared up on its legs, spider.  I didn't stay around to see who won the battle, perhaps they agreed to call it a day.
 Out the front the sun has shined for brief periods this week.  I believe we have a warm weekend forecast so Helga will be pulled out of the shed so we can finish mowing.  The roos like lying on the grass when we've mowed, here is Lucy all tucked up, having a lovely sleep in the sun.
 And this is Big Ben, the alpha male, also enjoying basking in the sun.  They love it when the weather starts to warm up.
 Michelle gave me this idea of taking a photo from ground level, isn't it an interesting perspective.  The roos were quite fascinated! 
 We have an escapee chicken!  One of our girls has taken to leaping over the orchard gate this week and going for a wander.  In this photo she's just finished having a chat with the kangaroos, and now she's headed up the hill to the house.
 She didn't quite make it to the front door, but here she is peeping over the small hill in front of the house :-) Naughty girl!  When I went outside she followed me back to the chook yard very excitedly..... she has got fed up with waiting for me to get her breakfast :-)
 Here is the lovely Magoo, watching me curiously as I took a ground level photo.  I haven't named any of the chooks (they all look the same!), but this girl I did.  She has a very big floppy comb, which gets in the way of her eyes sometimes, and I see her moving her head from side to side, trying to see past it.  Well, the first time I saw that, visions of Mr Magoo cartoons with his bottle bottom glasses sprung to mind.  So that's why she is called Magoo!
 And here are the duckies.  They are very clever duckies because we have duck eggs again, yahoo!  I think only Spuddles lays, the one with the dark feathers on the top of her head, but Sparkles may surprise us. 
At the moment we are getting 3 or 4 chook eggs and a duck egg every day, we are drowning in eggs!  I do enjoy sharing them.
 The occasional burst of spring weather means things are growing.  Here's another shot of my beloved cliveas, I think they've been in flower for about a month now.  So cheerful and colourful.
 Steve grew another batch of broccoli, the big headed variety this time, over winter he grew broccolini.  This particular broccoli head is going to be in our tummies tonight, with a nice piece of steak and mashed potato, yummo!
 The rhubarb that Steve split up and replanted is taking off with a vengeance.  It is such a reliable variety and obviously loves our growing conditions.
 The pea plants have taken ages to germinate, most of them never came up.  We think it's just been too cold for them.  A couple are growing strongly though, with the start of flowers, and we are blessed with being able to nibble a few peapods straight from the plants this week.  Soon we hope to be inundated with peas as the other tiny plants get a wriggle on.
 Now this is exciting news.  My dear husband has worked his little arse off with construction over the last week.  He has built a greenhouse!  Oh my goodness this will be so useful for us.  Because it's cold here our spring plantings take ages to get going, and sometimes don't survive, but with a greenhouse to get seeds germinating and the young seedlings growing in a warm, protected environment, wow, the possibilities are endless!
Not only has Steve built the greenhouse, he is also finishing the fence and has been digging big holes to put in 2 metre high poles to have a new growing area about 10 metres by 4 metres  that will be completed fenced and netted above.  We plan to grow berries and vegies that are more susceptible to bird and bug attack in this protected area, it's going to be great!  Sucked in Cabbage White Butterflies, find something else to lay your eggs on, hah!
Here I am enjoying the warmth of Steve's fabulous greenhouse.  It's also rather handy if you get caught out in the rain, you can dash inside the greenhouse and keep warm and dry :-)
 Meanwhile I have been busy on the craft front.  I finished myself a crocheted bag to use as a shopping bag instead of plastic bags.  I think it will be quite handy.
 I continue with doing my little bit for orphan joeys, I am doing some sewing for 2 of the local orphan joey carers. 
 This is a hanging joey bag, with three channels at the top so it can be hung from 3 different heights.  The older joeys get tucked up in these, in a bundle of other cuddly covers, but they can then choose to poke their heads out and see what's going on.
 And this is the start of a stack of joey bag liners, made of soft flannelette with all the rough edges hidden inside seams so the joeys don't catch their little claws.  I feel good doing something to help these wonderful women and their joeys.
Until next time... xx

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Birds Eye View From A Drone

The wildlife is showing itself more and more as we head deeper into spring.  Voldemort spends a lot of time sunning himself on the arm of the settee.  Did you know that King Skinks love banana?  I throw him a couple of small pieces most days and he gobbles it up.
 There are a lot of kookaburras around at present, sitting motionless waiting for a snack to show itself.  I guess they are nesting and feeding hungry babies?  I like this photo as it shows my bank of clivea that are bursting into beautiful orange flower.
 This is Coco the Quenda or Southern Brown Bandicoot.  We were really surprised the other morning to see it scoffing the wrens' desiccated coconut just outside the back door.  Normally it does the rounds outside the house just on dark, we always know when its around as Neo starts darting from window to window watching it.  This one turned up at 9.30 in the morning.  I love that it has coconut all over the end of its nose :-)
 I'd love to know if it's male or female.  Apparently the female has a backwards facing pouch, to keep the dirt out of it when she is digging.
 Here's a little video of the Quenda.
 I've been busy in the kitchen making hordes of sausage rolls amongst other things.  This picture shows the filling being put atop the pastry sheets before brushing the edges with egg and rolling them up.
 All cooked and ready to be bagged up for the freezer.  When I make them I do it enmasse, nothing more satisfying than knowing there are over a hundred of them in the freezer, healthy homemade sausage rolls, ready to pull out for a quick lunch.
 Steve, who is the bread maker of the house....we have a bread making machine, has been experimenting with making bread rolls lately...they are SO GOOD!  Surprising really as it's the same bread mix to make either a loaf or rolls, but it seems to taste better as rolls.  Which is not necessarily good as we scoff far too many of them!  He went a step further the other day and had a go at making focaccia.  It came out of the oven beautifully crusty, the only thing we did wrong was leave it a bit too long before eating it, so by then the lovely crunchy crust has gone soft.  It still tasted really nice though.
 We welcomed the arrival of eight family members on Saturday, so I busied myself earlier in the week with finding spots for enough beds and making them up warm and cosy as the weather is frankly crap at present, cold and very very wet.  This is Michelle's bed, it's actually in our walk-in wardrobe!  We named it Harry Potter's  Cupboard Under The Stairs and Michelle declared it to be very comfortable and cosy :-)
 I love taking shoe photos when there are loads of people here.  They were all rather soggy actually and were drying out.  Stevie and Riley and I had huge fun on Sunday afternoon playing in the creek despite the weather.  We took off our shoes and rolled up our pants and stomped around, wriggling our toes in the sand, flinging mud around and made excellent dams.  It was very good fun :-)
 Paul brought his drone with him, here he is with the girls driving it with a little remote control. 
 We were amazed at the footage from the drone, it's wonderful!  Here is a still shot of our place.
 And a still shot of the vegie patch, chook yard, orchard and my front fenced garden.  We were amazed to see how straight all the lines are.
And here is a video from the drone.  Absolutely amazing!
 And finally, here is my ta-dah moment, my crocheted blanket is finished, it is on our bed and I just love sleeping underneath it!  It kept me busy over the whole of winter. :-)

Until next time.... xx

Monday, 11 September 2017

Spring Explosion

It never ceases to amaze me how after just one week of warmer (well, warm for us, about 20 degrees ha ha) weather, the dormant trees just know that it's time to start stirring.  Nature is truly amazing.
This is the almond tree, it is smothered with flowers and the beginnings of teeny tiny nuts, and now it has burst into leaf.  That's one of the big male roos on the other side of the fence, having a nice rest in the sun.
 These lovely pink flowers are from the Angel peach, a flat, white fleshed peach.  This is the tree that has given me the most grief with leaf curl, so I am crossing every finger and toe that it will not be a big problem this year.  Apparently our climate is the main issue, cool and damp spring weather is the harbinger of doom for leaf curl.  We shall see, they are lovely peaches to eat, evidenced from the dozen or so we got a couple of years ago, here's hoping.
 And these pretty white flowers are apricot blossom.  This tree thankfully isn't troubled with leaf curl, and it has an explosion of blossom this year so maybe it's an apricot jam making year!
The chooks just love foraging in the orchard.  They are very useful, there is not a grasshopper to be seen, and very few weevils.  I didn't think the chooks would eat weevils, those ones with armour plating, but I know when a chook has found one from the crunching noises :-)
Once the weather changes it's time to get busy outside.  Steve has put in a mammoth effort this week in the vegie patch.  He spent ages weeding, then cultivating the soil and barrowing in heaps of heavy, wet, smelly, wonderful cow poo to enrich the soil. 
We seem to grow rhubarb very well here, and the plants were massive and getting way too thick.  Oddly it never seems to die off in winter for us, so regardless of the leaves and stems, Steve put some muscle into digging it all out with a big garden fork, then broke it up into smaller crowns, thinned them out and replanted them in newly cow pooed soil.  I potted up the spare crowns to give to some friends.  It's looking a bit limp and sad for now, but already it is sending up new leaves so all good.
 The spring planting has begun.  We need to be careful we don't plant too early in our cooler climate otherwise seedlings languish and often rot.  Steve has just planted some tomatoes and he has built them a little house to harvest the sun and keep off the worst of the wind.  I'm doing a load of various seed planting into tray today and I'll keep them out the back in the sun pocket near the kitchen window, so within a few weeks there will hopefully be tiny leaves sprouting.
The garlics have been sitting quietly through the winter, growing very very slowly.  They are suddenly looking greener and taller so they should put on a big burst of growth over the next few months.
 This bed in the corner of vegie patch is smothered with chickweed that we hadn't got around to removing.  Under all that lot we had planted a few puny asparagus crowns last year, and we'd all but decided that they'd died.  But what's this!  We did a doubletake when we saw this tall thing waving around, it's asparagus!  Just one mind you, but we are excited :-)
I busied myself weeding that bed so we could admire our one asparagus stem better ha ha.  After a careful dig around we found a couple more crowns so there is life in the asparagus bed yet!  Alas we are not allowed to eat any until at least next season, but it's still good knowing it's there.
 The olive is budding up.  This year we are determined to get some olives before the parrots decimate the tree, so it's getting a net thrown over it to keep them away.  Who'd have thought a bird would enjoy eating a revoltingly bitter olive, but they do!
 My cliveas are coming into flower.  Gosh I love these so much, the bank of them under a big peppermint is getting bigger and bigger as the years go by.  They are looking really healthy this year, possibly because the last load of cow poo was positioned not far from them, so the cliveas got the benefit of that in their soil reach.
In the shade of cool, damp forest of peppermint trees I am still finding patches of these delightful, teeny tiny fairy toadstools.  Little glints of red amongst the leaf litter.
 Finally, after weeks of stalking them, I managed to get a nice posed photo of the male Splendid Wren in full blue plumage.  Normally he turns his arse towards me whenever I take his photo, but not this time.  Isn't he beautiful!
 And a close up.
 With the rising of the day's temperatures, the next beastie to awaken was Voldemort The Younger, the King Skink.  We think he hibernated inside this old couch that sits outside our bedroom window.  He loves to spend his days sunning himself on the top of the arm of the couch, and Neo just loves sitting with his nose pressed to the glass watching. Voldemort The Elder, the largest one, is over at the shed, he likes to hang out under the hoppers full of chopped firewood.  There are smaller Voldermorts inside the shed too.  We like them :-)
 I haven't done much crochet this week, I feel guilty doing that when the weather is nice.  I need another week of rain to get it finished!  I am currently on row 6 of 10 of the border, this particular row is very slow going so once I'm over the row 6 hurdle it shouldn't take too much longer to finish..... nearly there....
Okay, I've finished my cuppa and now I'm heading out the back to plant some seeds in pots. 
Til next time  xx