Thursday, 28 January 2016

What Are Ewe Doing Here?

Well, what a strange summer we are having.  Since the last blog entry we've had about 90 millimetres of rain, which is stupendously fantastic!  We collected 27000 litres in our tanks, which will be brilliant for watering for the rest of the summer and give us the chance to use only rainwater on the fruit trees and vegies, and use a combination of rainwater and borewater on grass and ornamentals.  The temperature is strange too, most of our summer days are sitting at 22 degrees, which thrills me no end, I love cool weather.  I think we've only had two days over 35, I hope it stays that way!
The sweetcorn has grown well, the first cobs are almost ready to pick.  Corn, zucchini, tomatoes and carrots have seemed pretty tolerant of our bore water, but the scarlet runner beans, in the left of the photo, said 'nup, we aint growin'.  It's all a learning curve.
Gosh bees love zucchini flowers, which are huge and lovely and yellow.  There are always two or three bees at the bottom of the flowers, and we have no shortage whatsoever of zucchini!  They are yummy and I've discovered that I really like slices of raw zucchini with salad.
Michelle gave us this gorgeous statue for Xmas, and I have found it interesting to see the effect that rain has on it.  It makes her look like she is weeping don't you think?  I have to think of a cool name for her.
 With all the hassle of the crappy bore water and the fruit trees getting upset and dropping fruit and leaves, oddly, one nectarine thrived and grew like the blazes, with so much foliage that we were worried the fruit wouldn't ripen.  It didn't get the usual blush you see on nectarines, but the fruit was delicious, really sweet and yummy.  We managed to get about 35 fruit off this tree which was very pleasing for a tree that was only planted 18 months ago.
 The chickens just love spending their days in the orchard, patrolling the boundaries, scratching around the trees and clearing bugs from the area.
 Sadly we said goodbye to the last of the originals, Angie, who was fine one day, didn't want breakfast the next day, and was gone that night.  I'm glad she didn't linger.  She had a good run for a HiLine hen, I think she was nearly five years old.
There have been lots of birds around, particularly the kookaburras.  We often don't see them for months, then there is a big party all of a sudden.  I am presuming they are breeding at the moment.
The pink and grey galahs have arrived, they too are only here for part of the year.  I love them, they are so funny.  They are helpful too as they chase away the pesky green parrots that cause damage.  Oddly the galahs mostly feed on the ground, they sort of dethatch the grass and eat, I'm not sure exactly what, but it does the grass good.
There are Splendid wrens galore.  The males are brilliant blue for breeding and their harems of cute brown females bounce around everywhere, just lovely.  I am rapt that they are getting less shy around us and will let us wander around only a few metres away.  They used to be very elusive when we first moved down here.
 And butterflies!  I love butterflies, even common orange ones.  I love how they dance around and I'm happy that the butterfly attracting plants that I've planted (thanks Cori!) are doing their job.
 I was very excited to see this little plant, it's a Candytuft.  My friend Ruth gave me a heap of seedpods last year and I just scattered them around randomly to see what would happen.  I've been watching this little mystery plant grow, wondering what it was.  I didn't realise it was a Candytuft until it flowered.  The butterflies obviously enjoy them too, and the icing on the cake is that apparently Candytuft is a saline resistant plant, so it should cope with the bore water.
 Isn't this pretty, it's a Melaleuca nesophila, or Showy Honey Myrtle.  Colloquially known as 'Nessie'.  It's a native.  There are plenty of melaleucas and they all have the same kind of fluffy flowers, but this is the only coloured one I have seen.  Another saline resistant plant, just as well as I have planted lots of them over the years.
There is action aplenty in the frog pond.  I haven't seen the adult frogs for a while, but the tadpoles are starting to turn into cute little tiny froglets.  Adorable :-)
Neo the inside cat is very interested in wildlife, and watches intently through the window anything that moves.  If it's a bug then he can be seen throwing himself at the glass trying to catch it.  If it's a bird he will crouch motionless, watching, but with his tail twitching. 

We have also worked out that if he is crouching at the sliding door, absolutely motionless, not a whisker moving, not even blinking, then he is watching something that is not supposed to be out there.  The first time he did this was when a Blue-tongued lizard got lost and ended up on the steps.  This time is was a lost Tiger snake, can you see it there on the second step?  We both stood safely behind the flyscreen door along with Neo, and watched to see where it went.  It was obviously confused about the steps and the stones were a bit uncomfortable for it as it kept trying to slither on the Mondo grass at the edges of the steps instead of the stones.  It went round and round the edges of the steps for some time before it finally got to the top and headed off.  Later, dressed in boots and long pants, holding garden implements, we ventured out, stomping loudly and making lots of noise.  We saw it shoot off at a rate of knots through the garden and out through the fence and there was no sign of it the next day.  We are very alert about it now!  I have the phone number of a snake catcher at the ready if it comes back. 
 A new posture from Neo this morning, was to stand like a meerkat up at the sliding door, obviously fascinated with something.  No, it wasn't snakey again, this time it was a couple of nice fat sheep who came wandering in.  Life is never dull!  They are still hanging around, they've visited both our neighbours places too.... our boundary fences are nonexistent in places as the kangaroos flatten them, so the sheep can wander at will through a number of properties.  I think they belong to a farmer at the top of the hill, his sheep have a reputation for wandering.  If they are still here in the morning I'll make a phonecall, I was going to today but they kept moving around and on and off our place, so I figured they'd be gone eventually.
We had a lovely couple of days with Paul and Sam who came to stay for the weekend.  Here they are with us at another delicious lunch at Boston Brewery.  :-)
Today we welcomed the return of Helga the Husqvarna, who has been in hospital since the beginning of January.  She blew up just before Xmas, a huge bang, which as is turns out was the motor destroying itself.  Bugger. 
Many many dollars later she is back with a brand new motor, new battery, new mower blades and serviced.  I expect her to run like a little purring kitten tomorrow!
 I have a bit of patchwork enthusiasm, first time for ages and ages.  My friend Lesley showed me a quilt she made, and she used polar fleece to back it with.  I was taught that it was sacrilege to do anything but use cotton backing and sandwich cotton or wool wadding between the quilt top and backing fabric, which means arduous smoothing out, pinning and quilting.  Polar fleece apparently, is brilliant.  Wadding is unnecessary, pinning is quick and very little quilting is needed as the fleece nestles and fits itself nicely to the quilt top.  And it's snuggly!!  So, I pulled out a small quilt top that Michelle had made years ago and didn't want, that I salvaged, and I am in the process of enlarging it.  It's a lovely Flying Geese pattern, all in aquas and light greens, so I thought I'd make a wide border of matching strips of fabric, about an inch and a half wide.  Then have a go with a polar fleece backing, I'm excited!  It's good to be back in the sewing room :-)

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