Saturday, April 23, 2016

Orange Orbs Of Yum

I continue on with my creek bed digging obsession.  I keep dreaming of big pools of water and deep streams, rather than inch deep trickles and sloshy flooding from the sand build up in the creek.
 I've been spending hours down here with my trusty spade.  It's looking a bit like a moonscape at present, until the grass regrows on the newly heightened banks, and I hope hope hope that the water is obedient and goes where I want it to.
 I've been bringing my trusty iPod and little speaker down with me, so I've been immersed not only in digging, but the absolute pleasure of listening to Stephen Fry narrate the Harry Potter series of books with his excellent array of voices. 
 Here's Steve sitting on one of his benches, enjoying the beauty of the area.
 Speaking of benches, he's made three now, with number four on the saw.  Look at this, this is an old piece of painted jarrah that our friend Mel gave us.  Looks like an ordinary old pergola post or such like.
 But look what happens when Steve gets to it with his bench saw and planer!  He sliced it in two, rounded the edges and gave it a coat of varnish.  Look at that magnificent colour and grain, so beautiful.
 Then he got busy with his welder and da dum, another lovely and useful bench.  He's a good 'un. :-)
 Meanwhile, we have been neglecting the veggie patch, look at it!  The lower end has been invaded by kikuyu grass and we've had to leave it there as there are loads of sweet potato plants in amongst it.
 Steve had a little dig around on the outskirts of the sweet potato plants, and joy of joys, we've managed to grow some decent looking ones, along with some rogue potatoes!  Yeehar.  I try every year to grow them and at best have managed a few spindly looking, tiny ones, but if these ones are anything to go by, hopefully there will be more sturdy, chunky ones under all that grass.  They've been growing for about 18 weeks now, so we'll probably start harvesting them in a couple of weeks.  Then we can get onto the task of eradicating the grass.
 
In stark contrast is this nice, neatly weeded veggie bed.  Steve planted this bed with potatoes, broan beans, cabbage and cauliflower over the last six weeks.  We had a morning session weeding it the other day as fifty million tiny tomato plants came up, threatening to smother everything.  So, weeded and the potatoes hilled up, it's looking good.  The cabbages and cauliflower plants have been chewed by the cabbage white butterfly caterpillars, but they've gone now so the plants should all recover nicely.
This is terribly exciting....do you know what you are looking at?  They look like big, ripe oranges don't they.  But they're not, they are almost-ripe Fuyu persimmons.  There are five on this little tree, and they are huge!  I tentatively picked one this morning, as they are not quite orange enough, but it was irresistible.  And it was YUMMY!!!!  It hadn't quite attained full sweetness, they are a very sweet fruit, but it was still delicious.  We'll leave the remaining four for another week or so, to be absolutely perfect. :-)
 Out the back is a straggly looking plant, but in autumn it produces these pretty bell chillies.  They are quite mild thankfully, I think it might be stir-fry for dinner tonight.
The duckies have now been integrated with the chooks and all is well.  There hasn't been any bitching or pecking, the chooks are still wary of the ducks but all is calm.  The ducks are getting a bit less scared too which is good.  I was reading this morning that Muscovy ducks are not really ducks, apparently most ducks are bred from Mallard duck origins, but the Muscovy ducks are different, they are more like a goose, or to quote the article, "large, perching waterfowl".  They don't quack (I did not know that!), they make little huffy and whistly noises, they waggle their tails (very cute) and apparently in the wild they like to roost rather than sleep on the ground, fascinating!  These two sleep on the ground, but I guess they have come from an intensive breeding farm where they probably lived in a shed and thus had no access to roosts, so they may not know how.  One day they might copy the chooks and hop up onto a roost, it will be a weird thing to see!  When I pop up to Perth next week I will find out the names that have been chosen for the duckies by my granddaughters - watch this space! :-)
Meanwhile the chooks are waiting impatiently for the net to come off the persimmon tree so they can get in there and dig up bugs and worms in the soil.  They are such useful girls.
 We had unexpected visitors again over the last week.  These three sheep have been popping in and out for a quick graze then they are off next door and goodness knows where else.  No idea where they are from or how they got in.
 When Anne and Ian came to stay last week, Ian took this timer photo of us all.  Isn't it great, with the lower angle it's picked up terrific reflections in the windows, along with four happy people. :-)

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Foul Integration

We had the pleasure of the company of our friends Anne and Ian, along with Ian's new pride and joy - his brand new V8 Mustang Coupe.  It's rather lovely isn't it, and that engine sound, wow.  Was great to see you both! :-)
 We have new neighbours.  Our dear neighbour Marilyn has moved into town and has rented her place out.  The tenants have a delightful menagarie of creatures great and small, so there has been masses of fencing work being done to contain them all.  These beautiful horses arrived today, and apparently there are miniature horses and an alpaca to come.  It's lovely to be able to see them when we do our boundary walks.
 
 We've also been able to see what's going on with the animals next door as we continue working on the creek area.  I'm continuing to dig out the accumulated sand in the creek bed, building up the edges, and Steve has been bringing the trailer down to take some of the sand away to fill in lots of little holes and hollows that have been bugging us around the place.  Check out the size of this tree fungi near the creek, it's huge!
 
 The kangaroos are a bit upset with all the fencing and treelopping and influx of new animals next door, so they are not around as much.  Needless to say, I expect they will spend more and more time at our place once they've got used to everything, where they know it's quiet.  We have the annual influx of galahs here at present, they arrive enmasse for three or four months.  They are adorable, Steve reckons they look like little men in suits.  I love it when they put their crests up and strut around, oozing attitude.
 
 Today is the start of the chicken/duck integration.  I opened the gate between the chook yard and the garden where the ducks are living.  The chooks trotted in, it's a treat for them to be allowed into the garden.  But it's really funny, they are scared of the ducks.  They are normally tough girls, afraid of nothing, but the ducks unnerve them.  So they all spent their day together in the garden, avoiding each other.  But no blood was shed and there was zero bullying so I am happy with proceedings.
 
 The next stage will be to persuade the ducks to go into the chook yard, as eventually I want them to sleep in there, on the floor of the chook house all snuggled up in the straw.  They are soooo nervous, they stick together like glue and wont let us near them, but I think we can probably herd them into the chook yard in a few days time, to force the issue. 
 
 We went for a drive up the road to West Cape Howe National Park , through the beautiful Karri forest and on to the lookout over the coast.  Look at this mess.
 A couple of weeks ago some arsehole decided to set fire to the bush.  It took the firies about 15 hours to get it all under control, not until over 200 hectares of bushland was destroyed.  Thankfully it didn't get into the karri trees, instead burning out heathland and small trees.  In the two weeks since we first went and had a look at the damage, it was promising to see just a hint of green appearing at ground level, nature is amazing how it brings forth life from the ashes.  It's sad to think of all the birds and wildlife that have lost their lives and habitat, I am thinking major evil thoughts about the person who did this.
 We had a rare evening out last week, we treated ourselves to a wedding anniversary present of tickets to see comedienne Judith Lucy at Albany Entertainment Centre.  We choofed in an hour early, had a meal and a wine at Due South next door, then wandered in and enjoyed a great evening listening to a funny lady.  Was good :-)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ducky Duck Ducks

The weather has been cool and fine, perfect for revving ourselves up to do stuff, neither of us are very active during the heat of summer and we find renewed energy with autumn.  We've been concentrating on cleaning up the peppermint forest area, Steve has been chainsawing off all the dead crappy bits on trees and either consigning the wood to the pile for winter burning, or chucking it on the ever enlarging bonfire heap.  We can start burning rubbish again as of the 1st May, there are many piles of garden rubbish sitting on properties around the place so the scent of smoke will be in the air soon, but for a good reason.  The smell of smoke in summer is scary and not wanted, but now the rains are due to start, it's okay.
 We keep saying that we should put a few seats around the place, to sit and reflect whilst on our walks.  Well, Steve made a fabulous bench this week, it's down near the Faraway Tree near the creek.  Isn't it great!  He used a chunky piece of painted jarrah that his mate Mel gave him a while back (thanks Mel!), he sanded it back and rounded the edges, then welded a frame using square tubing.  It's very strong and sturdy and just the right height.  And the grand finale of it all, as displayed above, is the fact that Steve's magnetic stubby holders stick to the legs :-).
Meanwhile I went ahead with my mission, to dig out the lower end of the creek bed.  18 hours of digging later, I dug down to the original floor of the creek bed, which was obvious as it was hard and a bit stony, I removed all the sand that has clogged up the creek over the years and caused it to flood, and created new banks with the sand.  What I'm hoping is that we'll have a creek that holds a little bit more water rather than just washing all over the grass and spreading out.  I had to promise Steve that I wouldn't cry or have a tantrum if heavy rain washes away all my hard work :-)  It will be interesting to see what happens, but regardless, it looks really nice, and I'm hoping that the grass will grow over the new banks before the heavy rain arrives, and stabilises it all nicely.
 Look look look, we have duckies!  Happy happy joy joy.  Our friends Ruth and Laurie rang a few days ago asking if we wanted a couple of homeless ducks, after a quick look in a book to see if I was capable of looking after them, it was "yes please!".  They are very lucky to be here, they were in a batch of ducks that were being prepared for the freezer, and it was decided that these two didn't have enough meat on them for the effort of preparation.  They don't know how close they came!  Anyway, I love them, they are female Muscovy ducks, nearly a year old, and I think they are the prettiest little duckies.  They are currently living in my fenced garden alongside the chicken yard, so they can all see each other and get used to each other before I integrate them.  The ducks are very very timid.  I'm doing to send a photo each to my granddaughters and ask them to choose names for them :-)
 We have so enjoyed having apples in the orchard this year.  We haven't had many, about 75, but it's been so nice to walk through and pick one straight off the tree and munch it.  These are the last of the Red Fujis and the start of the Sundowners.  We've finished the Cox's Orange Pippins and we've still got 6 Granny Smiths on the tree and about the same of Sundowners.  The Red Fujis are the stars I reckon, they are absolutely delicious!
 This is the next project around here.  This eyesore is the back of the shed, where we keep all sorts of crap for various projects.  Stuff like wire and colorbond sheets, and poly pipes and bits of wood.  There was heaps more there and Steve has gradually used it up on various tasks, but a lot that is left can probably go to the tip. 
Steve is going to build a retaining wall along the back of it, in the same manner as he did my garden beds out the back, using treated pine sleepers.  Then we'll get a load of gravel for the ground, looks far nicer than sand.  It should look a whole lot better.
 Speaking of the back garden, look how much it has grown!  I'm so impressed, the house looks more nestled now, rather than plonked.
 We took ourselves into Denmark this morning, for a pie and a Chai latte at the bakery for breakfast, then a wander up the main street.  It was very pleasant.  This is our very bad attempt at a selfie, we obviously haven't quite got the hang of doing it glamorously ha ha
 I had some birthday money to spend, and decided to treat myself to a digital microscope, something I've wanted for ages.  I settled for a fairly simple one with limited magnification, this one plugs into the computer via USB, it's a hand held one with LED lights in the end to illuminate what you are looking at, then you can take a snap shot or video of what you're looking at.  It's going to be useful for garden stuff, like identifying bugs I think.
These are the pollen-laden stamens of an Abutilon flower.  Pretty cool huh.  :-)