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

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Who Doesn't Love A Pav Test Run

I had a very quick trip to Perth last week, to wish a special young lady a very happy 9th birthday, I'm glad you like your dreamcatcher Stevie, Happy Birthday xx
I also wished dear Sam a very happy birthday for next week too.  Sam is a Game Of Thrones fanatic and I've been planning the making of a Targaryen House cushion for her all year.  After lots of intricate cutting, fusing and stitching, I'm very pleased with it, and Sam loves it so yay!
 We also had a very pleasant few days at home when Angie and Amy came to visit.  Here we are at good ol' Boston Brewery.
 Michelle sent us the most amazing advent calendars for a present....mine is a cider one and Steve's is a beer one!  Every day we open a numbered brown paper package containing a little bottle of Australian beer or cider, and they are all different.  What a great idea hey!  Today I'm drinking Batlow Oaked Pear and Apple Cider and it is very nice indeed.  Thanks Michelle! xx
 We are slowly getting organised for Christmas visitors.  Steve had to do a test run of his pavlova recipe....oh okay then....YUMMY!!
 A couple of weeks ago, two pleasant young men came and installed our outdoor blinds that we'd ordered late October.  Very exciting!
 As you can see, they are the sort that you can see through from the inside, and they block out 80% UV and wind, so it's almost creating a whole new room.  Not only will they be good in summer, we think they will also be great in winter for stopping the storm rain that comes straight at the house, and keeping the cold wind at bay.  We are still learning the best and different ways to position them to get the full effect but we are really pleased with them.
 This is what the house looks like with the blinds down from further down the hill.
 And further down the hill we find the resident roos, along with their chicken friend who spends very little of her day with her chicken friends, she is always out exploring, very intrepid!
One of the chickens is doing weird things with her eggs, look at this teeny tiny egg!  It only has white in it and I believe, according the very wise Google, that they are called fart eggs.  Indeed! 
Until next time... xx

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Silky Stripy Munchers

My goodness, we hit November and suddenly everything is happening, November is certainly our busy month.  Things start growing like crazy, including weeds!  The ride-on mower, Helga, is dusted off and gets to work, we need to get firebreaks ready and comply with other fire safety regulations by December the 1st, and we've learned by experience that there is no point doing it too early as it all grows back and we have to do it again!  And suddenly everything need watering, so the bore has been reactivated and the small tank is filling up.  Thankfully we haven't had the problems of iron bacteria blocking up the submersible pump like last year....we know what to look for now and can deal with it chemically if necessary.

The orchard is a very interesting place when the temperature rises enough for the trees to leave dormancy, it always astounds me how leaves and blossom just appear from nowhere.  We have been busy trying to get all the trees under nets before the parrots start chewing off the young fruit, it getting harder to do each year as the trees get bigger, but they are nearly all done.  Here we have some tiny cherries, there are about 30 on the tree, more than last year's 8 ha ha, and hopefully we wont get any pesky little birds getting under the net and gobbling them up like last year.
 We have apricots.  All three varieties have a few fruit set, I hope they all make it to ripened so we can compare the taste of them.
 These are teeny tiny Bartlett pears.  The tree has gone bonkers and set far too many fruit and a few are starting to fall off now.  As long as we get a taste.
 These are Cox's Orange Pippin apples.  We also have Sundowners, Red Fuji and Bramleys all setting their fruit at present.
 This is the Granny Smith covered in blossom, the last of our apples.  This one is the main pollinator of the other apples so it's good that it is reliable.
 We have a decent amount of nectarines and peaches so far this year.  These are Angel peaches, a flat, donut, white fleshed peach that I hope will be productive.
 Last year our stone fruit was decimated by this dreadful fungal disease, Leaf Curl.  Unfortunately our climate is ideal for the disease to flourish and last year it was so severe that the trees defoliated about five times, thus leaving them no energy for fruit and we lost the lot.  This year I have been absolutely diligent, I sprayed with copper as much as I could without causing toxicity in the soil, and every other day I pulled off every diseased leaf I could see, before the whole thing got out of control.  We had quite a bit of leaf curl, but now the weather has warmed up we are past the danger time, and the trees seem to have recovered, albeit the odd distorted leaf here and there.  There is still fruit on the trees so we live in hope!
 The vegie patch has sprung to life too, the tiny zucchini seedlings that sat there for weeks hardly growing, have turned into monsters and are producing zucchini at an alarming rate!  The rhubarb that Steve divided and replanted has gone berserk, so we are never short of that.
 The dwarf beans are starting to produce, we are having our first meal of beans tonight, yum.  There are loads of tomato plants growing well, with the first tiny green fruits starting to appear.
 Finally, after five weeks of very hard work, Steve has finished the enclosed growing area and greenhouse.  The finale was us hauling a net over the entire 10 x 4 metre space, stretching it and securing it in place.  We are hoping (HOPING!!!) that this will be bird, rodent and cabbage white proof.
 Now the construction is finished, Steve has started planting out the beds.
 But the main reason for this enclosed growing area is for growing berries.  Like these beauties here, they are unripe blueberries.  Steve has planted five blueberry plants, four thornless blackberries, strawberries, a red currant and a white currant.
 All the plants seems to be growing well, we are a bit excited about the possibility of growing loads of berries and actually getting to eat them ourselves instead of the birds nicking them!
 Speaking of birds, there have been a few of these beauties around, the Red Tailed Black Cockatoo.  They sit up in the Marri and Jarrah trees scoffing the seeds within the gumnuts.  Beautiful, majestic creatures aren't they.
 My garden remains a profusion of little birds... Red Winged Fairy wrens, Splendid wrens, White Browed Scrub wrens, Fantails, Silvereyes, Western Spinebills and the occasional glimpse of Red Eared Firetails.  They have suddenly decided that the like the little birdbath I popped into the garden bed just outside the kitchen window, sothis is the sight that I am blessed with...

 The photo below has thrilled me no end this morning.  I have always been happy that I have created a garden that the birds now live in, and I have been hoping that they would also breed.  Well, this morning I could hear a lot of cheeping deep within a pittosporum, and upon quiet inspection I could see four (FOUR!!) baby Splendid wrens sitting huddled on a branch, while their parents frantically dashed around finding them insects to eat.  I managed to get a photo of the rear end of one, you can just see her open beak to the left, and her mum is the dark blob to the left of her.  I am so so happy that the birds have graced my garden with their progeny.
 And while all this wildlife stuff is happening, we made Neo an outdoor enclosure, accessed from the laundry door that we don't use.  It's about a metre wide and four metres long, and netted right up to the eaves.  We netted very carefully, not only so Neo cant get out, but also so nothing bigger than a bug can get in.  He has a chair to sit on and Steve added a shelf in the corner so he can get a view from higher up.
 He absolutely loves it, and spends most of the day out there now that the weather is pleasant.  He loves lying on the ledge in the sun, snoozing, but with one eye open on the little birds that flit around in the bushes just out of his reach.
 Here he is up on his tippy toes, watching the ground cover beyond the net intently.  That is because Voldemort the King Skink is lying in the ground cover, having a sun bath.  I think they stared at each other for about half an hour before it got boring.
 Look what I've got in a container in my kitchen, silkworms!  Some young lads were selling them at the Torbay market and I was so impressed with their enterprising business sense, the brilliant way they had set up their stall, and the enthusiastic way they talked about their silkworms and how they care for them, that I couldn't help but hand over $3 and bring home 20 tiny silkworms.  We have a mulberry tree so feeding them is not a problem.  They are absolute gutzes!  When I put the new leaves in the container every morning they set too gobbling them up, and if you put your ear close by you can hear them eating, it sounds like the snap, crackle and pop of milk on Rice Bubbles.  They are so pretty with their stripes, and if you stroke them gently you find that they are velvety soft. Most of them have just pupated now, so I'll need to cover the container so we don't have a house full of moths flapping about!
 I've been churning stuff out on the craft front.  This is a pile of thirty joey bag liners that I made for a local wildlife carer who is overrun with orphan joeys at present and was running short of bag liners.  She gave me a great big hug and showed me all her gorgeous joey babies so it was absolutely worth it.  :-)
In the background on the foam head and in the crochet bag is a Christmas present for a small person in the making, all will be revealed at a later date.
 I had a go at making a Christmas crocheted bauble, I was testing a pattern for a friend.
 I finished a dreamcatcher for a certain special young lady who is turning nine very soon.  She informed me her favourite colour is green so I hope she hasn't changed her mind!
 We are overrun with duck eggs at present so I had a go at making pasta with duck eggs.  Very nice, not much different to using chook eggs so it's good to know that's another way I can use them.
 Look at this gorgeous little joey, who I hope is a girl.  The markings on its head look a bit like a halo, so if its a she then her name just has to be Angel.  :-)  Her mum is Jane, so named as she is completely and utterly plain, with no markings at all.  Sadly Patience's joey Willy who I had photos of in the last blog post, disappeared about ten days ago.  Patience showed up as usual at our bedroom window for breakfast, but with a saggy, empty pouch.  We had a look around for him in case he was caught up in a fence, to no avail.  We just have to accept nature but it's still sad.  So we said goodbye to Willy in our hearts and look onwards to the three or four little darlings like this haloed one, and hope they stay safe and healthy.
Until next time xx