Sunday, 27 March 2016

Gosh A Goshawk!

We've been enjoying the company of visitors over the last couple of weeks.  Firstly Mel and Sheila came down earlier this month, here they are at the lookout at Lowlands Beach.  And today we said goodbye to Michelle who spent a lovely five days with us.  She doesn't like to have her photo taken so you'll just have to imagine it :-)
 We went out and about with our visitors, spending days in Denmark and Albany, and of course lunching at good old Boston Brewery.  We found a lovely little art gallery/shop in Denmark, The Riverfront Gallery, that only sells the work of local artists.  We fell in love with this quirky painting, Back of Cats, and had to buy it.  Here is Neo displaying it for you.
 Here am I and the bearded one at Due South with Michelle.  The beard has now gone, you never quite know the facial hair status around here :-)
 I had quite a surprise last week when I wandered down to feed the chooks and let them out into the orchard.  There was quite a ruckus coming from their yard and when I got there I discovered this bird of prey had trapped itself inside the chook yard!  It is netted over the top but there is a hole in the corner where a large shrub has grown through, so it must have carefully made its way through the gap and down the branches into the yard. 
 I had horror thoughts of feathers and bits of chicken scattered everywhere but that wasn't the case.  The chooks were completely intact and hiding in their shed, although when they heard my voice they gathered their courage and came out, then enmasse proceeded to chase the hapless bird of prey around the yard!  We opened the main gate and the bird, which after some investigation in our bird book, proved to be a juvenile brown goshawk, took off and sat up in the top of the tallest tree until it recovered from its ordeal.  I presume it was after mice as we have an abundance of them around the chook yard at present.  I don't imagine it will repeat the performance!
 We had to say goodbye to one of the hens however, nothing to do with the goshawk though.  This poor girl has been a bit unwell for weeks, she'd lost weight and was listless.  Then she had the misfortune to fall into the frog pond last week when they were having a day pottering around in my garden.  The water was shallow enough to keep her from drowning, but she couldn't get out, so the poor love was very cold and tired when Steve rescued her.  A couple of hours on my lap in a warm towel with a hot pack helped her recover.  Sadly she slowly went downhill after this, despite nursing and hand feeding, so Steve eventually helped her on her way to that big henhouse in the sky yesterday. 
 The garden is enjoying the sunshine and showers of rain and there are flowers everywhere.  I was rather excited to spot a butterfly I've not seen before.  Apparently it is a Meadow Argus, common as muck, but I am thrilled to have another variety enjoying my garden.
 I've rambled on repeatedly about how much I love my Yellow Abutilon plant that is getting really big.  Well, when we visited some of the Open Gardens in Albany a few months ago, one of them was selling some small cuttings of plants, and I spied a Red Abutilon so I bought it.  It has had much love and care since then and I've now been rewarded with the first of its flowers, yay!
 Look at this little sweetie.  This is a baby Western Spinebill.  There are two in my back garden, they have left the nest but can't fly properly yet and are still being fed by mum and dad.  They spend their days crashing from one plant to the next, constantly cheeping, learning how to suck nectar from the flowers.  They are amazingly tame and let me come very close to them.
 Here's one getting the hang of feeding from a Cigar Plant (Cuphea).
 Here is Lucy and her new joey, who is now venturing out of the pouch for short periods.  We have named the joey Rabbit, can you see the resemblance?

 This is Rabbit about a week ago, very scrawny but capable of short bursts of impressive hopping!
 And here is Rabbit a week later, looking bigger and stronger, having a good old scratch.
 And here is the poor little disabled joey, who I've named Hook.  He is coping quite well considering his leg and is starting to hop short distances, albeit very lopsided.  His mum looks after him very well.
 It's obviously itchy in those pouches, the first thing both Hook and Rabbit do when popping out of the pouch is to have a huge scratch.
 The teenage boys are feeling their oats and enjoying plenty of mock battles.  This is the first time I've seen a threesome though!
We ventured out to Sculpture Park on the other side of Albany near Lower King.  It's wonderful, a property filled with wood carvings.  The carver has an amazing eye to be able to turn ugly stumps of wood into amazing things.

 I've been in an embroidery mood lately so have done some at home.  I'm having a go at canvaswork at present, just trying out different stitches and making up a pattern as I go along.  The end plan is to make a weighted thingy for out bedroom door so it doesn't slam shut.  It's rather fun and I always enjoy deciding what colours to put with what.
 I also made myself a wee Xmas decoration.  One of the ladies taught us how to make a Pagoda Biscornu, that's the shape of it, and I decided to do mine in red and white to make it Christmassy.
Well, the sun is shining after a week of drizzle, so I might try and bring my washing in, it's had many a rinse out there in the rain! :-)

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Kangaroo Love

Tomatoes continue to ripen by the bucketful, so I've spending a lot of time in the kitchen.  A massive batch of bolognese sauce was this week's job, which used up heaps and heaps of tomatoes.  The freezer is stuffed to the brim with virtually readymade meals yay!  Lunch the other day was delicious, our tomatoes, avocadoes (kindly given to me by a friend at embroidery who grows them), smoked salmon and toasted chopped almonds with a lime dressing.  Twas very very nice.
I know I harp on a lot about the citrus, but this week we made up a big batch of yummy mulch for them, including bark, compost, blood and bone, sawdust and cow poo, and we piled it on.  Then we stepped back and admired how spiffy it all looked.  :-)
 There is a lot of tansy flowering at the moment, the bees absolutely love it.
This is a naughty chicken.  This is the chicken that can fly a few centimetres higher than her counterparts, and gets over the fence into my garden.  She has a right old time and loves digging up my paths!  But she catches lots of bugs so I can't complain.
 The other hens haven't figured out how to join her, so they become her audience instead.
Here is the delightful Lucy, complete with pokey out tongue.  And her wee child peeping out underneath.  This little one is just starting to venture out of the pouch for a minute or two at a time.  Very cute and scrawny.
And this is the lovely Patience, with her sweet child Elf.  Elf has been out of the pouch permanently for about 5 months now, but still has a suckle every now and then.  Patience has a tiny bulge in her pouch and I noticed it wiggle when I was taking the photo, so there is a teeny tiny baby in there.
Elf is such a cutie, and I was quite convinced she was a girl.  In the last three years we've only seen male joeys, which has intrigued me actually... is that purely chance?  Anyway, I really wanted one of the mums to have a daughter, so I kept watch.  The boys give themselves away eventually by poking out their willy and waving it about, and I have yet to see this with Elf, hence my decision that she is a girl.  I'm not so sure now, as a few times recently I've noticed a little round furry lump ascending and descending, not ballies surely!  I suspect so.  I shall continue to observe but it may be that cute little Elf is in fact a wee laddie.
Here are Growler and her son Andre having cuddles.
And then mum has to spoil it by holding him down and giving him a good wash, while he tried his best to escape.  Very amusing.
We are worried about this joey though.  This is Split's joey, who has only been coming out of the pouch briefly for the last 2 weeks.  The joey has a deformed back leg, with the lower part contracting upwards, so it hops on the leg joint.  The joey seems to manage for now with its brief hopping sessions, but I think this is going to be a problem sadly.  I've emailed a wildlife carer who specialises in joeys for some advice as to whether we do anything.  At present mum looks after the joey very well and is very protective, but I see issues with the joey being unable to keep up once its left the pouch permanently.  But who knows, maybe it will improve or adapt, so I am eager to hear back from the carer.
And here is the lord and master, Brutus, lounging near the citrus.  He's a bit tired today, he was busy bonking yesterday.  :-)
And a Happy Birthday to my dear other half.  Who is currently three years older than me, ha! xx