Tuesday, 6 January 2015

How To Piss Off The Cat

I could moan about the heat, I mean, 30 degrees is flippin' hot as far as I'm concerned.  But I wont, it wouldn't be nice would it, when you poor things in Perth have just suffered a day over 44 degrees.  Dreadful!

I spend a lot of my time hand watering, the ground has dried out massively, and the plants soon tell us limply if they need a drink.  I try and water vegies and my garden plants every other day, and the native shrubs once a week.  Steve has just put in a micro sprinkler system in the orchard, that saves a heap of time.  Things are looking pretty good, this photo is part of my first garden, the fenced one in front of our house near the chooks.  The shrubs have grown enough now that it is its own little microclimate, with plenty of shade to protect the smaller plants, and the moisture hovering amongst the foliage.
I am very excited about my tamarillo tree.  It's been in the ground for a couple of years, last year I got six fruit from it, currently it is laden with dozens and dozens of unripe fruit.  They are also known as a tree tomato.
 My frog pond is starting to look a bit more natural.  It's an old bath that I sunk into the ground.  Slowly the little reeds and water lilies that my friend Ruth kindly gave me are starting to spread, and the little ground covers I've put in around the edge of the bath are starting to creep over the stark, white edge of the bath.  I've got five big frogs living in there.  However, due to the distinct lack of tadpoles, I wonder if I have a bachelor pad of frogs?
 I love this plant, it is called a Buddleia or Butterfly Bush, for very good reason.  I planted it near the entrance to the chook yard, and every time I round the corner to visit the chooks, butterflies cascade out of this lovely plant.  You'll have to take my word for it, there really were butterflies on it just before this photo! :-)  I need to give it a prune, see how the spent flowers turn all brown, plus the branches get very leggy, it likes a good trim.
I planted a row of carrot seeds in the new back garden beds, figuring I wouldn't waste the good soil mix that Steve filled the beds with.  The shrubs are still small so there is a lot of soil mix that no plants are using, so I'm filling the gaps with veggies.  The carrots have grown like crazy, even though they are a bit squished together.  I am thinning them out by picking a couple every morning and munching them whilst watering, they are sweet and delicious.  :-)
 A few pumpkins sprouted in the back beds too, from my compost.  This plant has turned into a monster!  I swear it grows about a foot a day.  It is creeping towards my cucumber and pea plants so I'll cut it back a bit now some fruit has set.
Some of the small pumpkins.  When they pop up in compost it's always a surprise as to what variety I am going to get.  I think these look like the round Jap variety, which is good, I think they are the best sort for pumpkin scones as they have quite an intense flavour.
 The citrus trees are coming along nicely.  Apart from the stupid mandarin, they all have a bit of fruit on them.  We picked our first lime the other day, very exciting!
 We chose to plant and smaller but more intensive area in the veggie patch this year, better for watering.  Steve dug masses of stuff into the soil and we are continuing to add compost, worm castings and a touch of NPK blue fertiliser to maintain all the growth.  Growth, holy moly, can you see me amongst the corn?  Behind me is a massive wall of scarlet runner beans, the supporting trellis being about 2 metres high and 3 metres long.  It is filled with rampant, twisting vines, covered with beautiful scarlet flowers, and bedecked with many many long beans.  I think we've picked about 9 kilos so far, they are absolutely delicious!
Some of the day's produce, King Edward and Dutch Cream potatoes, rhubarb and the scarlet runner beans.
 Now this may not look very exciting, but believe me it is.  You know how we planted our orchard last autumn, 23 odd trees that have been tended with great care?  Well, THIS is the very first piece of fruit!  It's an Angel peach, a white fleshed flat peach.  And OMG, it was delicious!  There are four more on the tree so hopefully they will ripen successfully too.
Speaking of the orchard, the well fenced orchard that Steve slaved over, can you see what is wrong with this picture?  Trespassers!  Steve just about cried when I told him there were roos in the orchard, feeling like all his hard work had gone to waste.  But when I went and moved them on (I found out that if I turn the sprinklers on they get a bit fright and hastily leave the locale!) I discovered that they hadn't jumped the big perimeter fence, they had snuck in through a side bit of fence that is unfinished and quite low.  She's a crafty bugger that Patience. 
All the wild things are getting hungry now that summer is upon us.  The magpies arrive every morning for their handful of rolled oats.  This cheeky one is perched on the settee just outside our bedroom window, watching Neo inside, using his scratching post.  Neo, the big nong, didn't even look up for ages, and when he did, ha ha ha, he just about had a fit when he saw that cheeky magpie looking at him! He threw himself at the window all fluffed up and chattering, very cross indeed - the magpie thought it was a great joke :-)
The green parrots have started trying to pinch the magpies' oats, and we sometimes hear loud squawky battles going on as the parrot tries to bash up the magpie and visa versa.  A few loose feathers float around and peace descends once again as they agree to share.
Stumpy the quenda is a regular 'just on dark' visitor.  He gobbles up the last remaining rolled oats that the birds have left.  Neo is beside himself when Stumpy arrives, racing up and down the house, peering out all the windows, tail lashing, thinking he would very much like to eat this big pointy nosed rat looking thing.
 There are eagles high in the sky, circling around awaiting opportunities for a meal.  There are a lot of kookaburras around too making all sorts of raucous racket, not their normal laugh, it's quite a different sound and I suspect they are nesting high in the mallees.
 The chooks have a large bush growing in the corner of their yard, I planted it way back to provide them with some shade.  It's a tree lucerne or tagasaste, and it is actually a fodder crop tree, quite edible to animals.  Occasionally I bend the big branches down a bit and the chooks have a lovely time leaping into the air to nip off the tender young leaves.  That's Angie on the ground under there, having a dust bath after her leafy snack.
 I don't know what but the chooks have been on strike for the last month or so, hardly laying at all and also moulting which is odd, normally they moult in autumn.  We were a little suspicious of our last bag of laying pellets, perhaps something crucial was missing?  So we bought another variety and things seem to be improving.  We are getting one or two eggs a day now which is still down on their usual performance, but a darn sight better than zero!  It is nice to be able to have a dippy egg and a piece of home made toast for breakfast again.  :-)
I had a go at making yogurt cheese the other day.  You basically strain greek yogurt through cheesecloth until all the whey drips out, which leaves the yogurt thick enough to roll into little balls.  I don't think I strained mine for long enough, the outer part was nice and firm, but the inside was still very soft.  Anyway, I tried it, and bunged them into a jar of olive oil with a bit of garlic, rosemary and a bay leaf.
 Not bad, quite tart as you'd expect, but quite nice, particularly when dipped in dukkah. But the squishiness of them spoiled it, they are turning to mush in the jars now.  So if I do it again, I will have to improve the way I strain the whey out to get a firmer end product.  It's good to try these things out though.
 Michelle came down to stay for a couple of days recently which was lovely.  We had a great day in Albany, first we visited the Sugar Boy, a fabulous sweet shop that also has a wonderful collection of various sized tins.  It used to be tucked away right at the top of town on a back street, but now it has moved down the main street and has doubled in size.  It's sort of like walking into Willy Wonka's shop.  :-)

Then we went to the museum where there was a Da Vinci exhibition.  It was replicas of his inventions, about 60 in all.  Things like the Archimedes Screw and all sorts of labour saving devices that the theory of are still in use today.  He was a very clever man that Da Vinci.  Out the front was Mona Lisa with a hole in her face.  Of course I had to plonk mine in, I look rather regal don't you think?
Then we had lunch at a new opened placed called Due South.  Beautifully situated on the waterfront next to the Albany Entertainment Centre.  This is the outlook (thanks for the photo Mellie), nice huh.
The decor is great, it is well spaced out and they have a terrific bottle shop focusing on local wines.  The food was okay, not great, not crap, okay.  I expect it to get better and better.  Regardless, it's a nice place to just drop in for a coffee too.


  1. I love your blogs Dy! Love hearing about all the growth and the animals. Hope there are some runner beans left when we visit (probably not), they are my favourite veg I think.
    Looking forward to seeing you in a few weeks...

    1. S'okay Ange, I'm freezing plenty of runner beans :-)

  2. Hey Dy, great to read your update. You want to try the Maggies on some of Neos cat biscuits? They love them although I only buy the elcheapo ones for ours.

    1. Good idea Steph, will try it, thanks!

  3. Wow very impressive growth happening here Dy... not sure about the Bandicoot though, we have to try and discourage ours from visiting, the ticks they bring are horrible, especially on children, little children... we use Dynamic Lifter around the garden and haven't seen them in months thankfully... all children are going home tick free!

    1. I think the Kangaroos are the ones with more ticks around here Pennie, and there's no getting rid of the roos, they were here first! :-) does the Dynamic Lifter get rid of the ticks or the bandicoots?

  4. Gets rid of the bandicoots, well they go to someone elses garden and dig great big holes in their lawn... But I just read that it isn't only bandicoots that bring ticks... We also have those brush turkeys, they don't live here I dont think but there are two chicks that I've seen a couple of mornings... We're put down some prickle mats so here's hoping. In case you think I don't like animals, I love our water dragon and our Python and the birds and owls, fruit bats and possums can be pains though... Just don't like tick carriers.

  5. Lovely newsy blog, Dy. Your veggie garden looks magnificent. Mine is a magnificent failure this year except for potatoes, shallots and garlic. I think my soil needs a rest and a huge big feed. Your chooks must be related to mine - hardly any eggs the last couple of weeks - holiday season perhaps?

    1. It's a big mystery re hardly any eggs Liz, I certainly hope it changes!