Sunday, 24 May 2015

Citrus Uncaged

I shall start off with my moans, as I'm still not 100% well and am, quite frankly, easily irritated.  I know, you are surprised.  :-)

Do you remember me telling you about the sneaky mice that had burrowed their way into the chook house, between the edge of the concrete floor and the wooden walls.  The first job on my post illness agenda was to seal up the gap.  Steve very kindly mixed me up some cement, which I stuffed along the back wall where it meets the floor.  I was liberal in all the corners too, anywhere I thought there might be a weak point.  The chook house had a big clean out and here it is looking spiffy clean and rodent free.
It took the little buggers two days.  Look what they've done, chewed a hole right through the side wall!!  It is hard to keep one step ahead of the little fiends.  Next plan is for Steve to screw a thicker strip of wood along the bottom of the wall.  I will not be defeated.....
The title of this photo is "Fly Rage".  I have been getting a little ferocious with my swatting.  Neo is looking at the swatter lovingly as he knows when I get one, I knock it to the floor and he gobbles it up.  You wouldn't think they were so appetizing.
Okay, ommmm, let's get whimsical and happy.  A little wander around the outdoors.  This is a favourite part of my garden, the birdbath peeping out from within a Chorilaena quercifolia, or Karri Oak shrub.  The little birds love using this bath as they can dart inside the shrub and feel safe.
 This is one of the frequent visitors to the birdbath.  She's a blue wren, the females have just a hint of blue in their tails unlike their vivid menfolk.  I love their red beaks and beady eyes.
The back garden continues to grow well, I am really happy with it.  There are vegies and herbs and other useful plants in amongst the slowly growing larger shrubs.  I need to weed out there, whilst I've been sick weeds have sprung up like triffids, ready to take over the world!  Mind you, I was happy to see that a large number of what I thought were weeds were in fact a zillion coriander seedlings.  I love letting herbs self seed, it leads to exciting little discoveries amongst the shrubbery.  :-)
 Next to the very productive passionfruit vines is a banana passionfruit vine that is also growing really well.  Both varieties are producing loads of flowers and fruit which surprises me in this cold weather, I really can't believe anything will come of the fruit, I thought it needed heat to ripen.  Anyway, I am happy the plants are happy.  I love the flowers on the banana passionfruit, long tubular flowers with a pretty pink fan of petals at the base.
And this is the start of a banana passionfruit fruit.  They appear at the base of the tube, where the petals were, and as the petals and tube dry up and fall off, a long green fruit on a thin but strong tendril remain.  They ripen up to a bright yellow, looking somewhat like a small fat banana, but have innards more like a passionfruit.  I haven't had one since I was a kid, looking forward to the first ripe one!
 Steve decided to be brave and finally took all the cages off the citrus trees.  He did it with one of the lemons first, to see what roos did.  They ignored it.  So off came all the cages, although Steve has put a small collar of wire around the base of each trunk, to stop any rabbits from stripping off the bark.  Speaking of rabbits, where are they?  No rabbits!  Haven't seen any for about a year.  Of course you know what will happen now I've said that out loud....
 There are loads of field mushrooms (or things that look like field mushrooms) popping up all over the place, along with some more interesting looking varieties.  There are loads of these around the base of one of the old Marri trees.  Upon researching, they are called Australian Honey Fungus, which apparently likes to try and kill off old, sick trees by infecting them.  Hopefully that Marri is strong and tough and will tolerate pretty orange fungi around its feet.
 And this crop along the back firebreak.  Not sure what they are, perhaps Yellow Headed Amanita.  Nice and toxic.
 My lovely neighbour turned up with a huge bag of apples, so out came the dehydrator.  I've finally learned the yummiest way to dehydrate apples is to keep it on for about 7 hours so they become completely dry and crisp.  You pop one in your mouth, and for a moment it seems like you have eaten a piece of dry nothing, but then the flavour just explodes in your mouth, plus you have the pleasure of the crunchy, crispy texture.  Yum!
We got an email from Plantagenet winery this week, telling us of their specials, and with the email was a flyer from a couple in the Porongurups who grow olives, and couldn't pick all their olives, their trees being especially productive, so they were inviting anyone who wanted olives to come and pick their own, for free.  Woohoo, we are still in mourning over our tree that was stripped completely bare of olives by parrots, so I hurriedly emailed Joan and arranged a time.  What a wonderful day we had there, we were staggered by the generosity of this lovely couple.  Not only did we pick 25 kilos of luscious Kalamatas to bring home to pickle, Joan and Jim showed us around their magnificent property, made us tea, gave us biscuits and olives for afternoon tea, showed us all their production area, and Joan gave me her recipes for how she brines her olives.  We were so touched by the sharing of knowledge from these people.  And I have found someone else who plays Words With Friends :-).  We ended up buying some of Joan's pickled olives as well, we didn't really need any but we wanted to give something back to them.  They also have a beautiful farmstay cottage, this is their website...
When we got home it was action time.  We sat in front of the tv for a couple of hours, each armed with a small knife.  Each olive needs a slit in it, then they all went into a big esky in a water bath.  That water needs to be changed every day or two (the drain at the bottom of the esky coming in handy for that) for three weeks, then the olives have to sit in a strong brine solution for a month or so, then they are bottled into a half brine, half vinegar solution for a month, then they are ready to eat.  That's the method we are going to use anyway, there are many different variations to this.
 On a final note, every May seems to be sunset month, and this May has not disappointed.

Monday, 18 May 2015

What A Waste Of Time

I got nuthin' to say of any interest at all.  I've just wasted nearly two weeks of my life being sick as a dog with a sinus infection, blah.  Many drugs later, I've awoken this morning with a vague semblance of normal with a tad of working brain function and the ability to breathe a little easier.  What a pain, I had to cancel a visit to Perth twice as I wasn't well enough, so disappointing as I was looking forward to catching up with family and friends.  

Speaking of Perth, wow, the rain you've had!!  We awoke to thundering rain this morning too, so happy happy joy joy. :-)

That's it, please return next week for our normal transmission.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Journey To The Centre Of The Earth

Can you see that unassuming white pipe sticking out of the ground beside Steve?  That is our journey to the centre of the earth in search of water.  A man with a big truck and lots of pipes and drills turned up, and finally, after drilling 50 metres down, 44 of those through solid granite, we have water.  We haven't found a gusher, but a deep, consistent, slow flow that will work well with our plans to pump into a tank.  We will be getting a submersible pump that will sit down the hole at 42 metres, with high and low sensors so it will automatically pump into the tank when enough water has filled the pipe.  And the tank will have a float switch that will turn off the bore pump when the tank is full.  Sounds very sensible and efficient yes?
The new tank will sit next to the existing shed tank, so that they can share the pump to the reticulation lines and taps.  This also means that the two tanks' water will mix (I learned a new word, this is called 'shandying'), the benefit of that is that the small amount of salinity in the bore water will be diluted with the rain water in the other tank.  The salinity of the bore water is pretty good actually, we were relieved, apparently roses would not be happy, but as I don't grow roses then it's no problem.  We'll get the water tested once the system is in place, to find out the mineral content, that should be very interesting to find out the chemical components of water that lives 50 metres below the surface.

 We recently had an eight tonne truck of cow poo from the local dairy delivered, for the growing of all things good.  What also came with it is a plague of bushflies!.  Normally we don't have many flies this time of year and this lot are a pain in the bum, they are all sitting on the walls of our house and hanging round the door, sneaking in when we go in and out. 
 The good side of this (I do like to be Pollyanna and see the good in everything) is that all the little birds have realised that the flies are here, and early in the morning the flies are too cold to move, and the birds spend hours darting around, gobbling the flies up.  Hordes of little birds all fluttering around the windows, it is very entertaining.  On the watering can is a delightful little fantail, they are the experts at eating flies off our house.
 And the blue wrens (who have very little colour at present, as it's not breeding season) also arrive en masse for a group assault, they like to pick off the flies that are on the flyscreens. 
The silvereyes are not particularly interested in the flies, instead watching the proceedings from the bird feeder that contains some dessicated coconut, they love that.
 Neo has been having a pink fit with all these little birds dancing around outside his windows.  He throws himself at the windows in the vain attempt at having bird for breakfast, and the birds don't even care, it's as if they know that he can't get them.  Alas no Neo, no birds for you, so instead he runs around the house, chasing the odd fly that has snuck inside, and the reward for his efforts is his satisfied chomping as he chews that fly up!
 I had to pull some valencia oranges off the tiny tree the other day, there are too many for the tree to support and there was danger of little branches breaking.  Although they weren't ripe, I squeezed them, added sugar, and enjoyed the very first glass of home grown orange juice.  Yay! :-)
 I thought this was an interesting visual of a plant that wasn't being watered enough, and then was.  I was amused to see these carrots having a new lease on life now that they are getting sufficient water, imagine how fat the whole carrot would have been if I'd watered enough from the word go.  Next summer we will have big fat carrots with our new water!
 A while back my friend Ruth gave me a few bits of bearded iris with some pieces of root attached.  They have grown really well and I am being blessed with the first flowers, aren't they lovely!  And what I really like about these plants is that they are evergreen, unlike Dutch iris that lose all their leaves. 
 I've been doing some more embroidery.  I tried my hand at 'long and short stitch' embroidery, which is rather time consuming, but I like the result.  Another description of this is 'thread painting', perhaps a more apt description, as it involves layering colours to blend.
 I've done a bit more to the forest floor piece, adding french knots and drizzle stitch along the underside of the log.  Not sure what I'm going to do next.