Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Chop Chop Chop

Oh what a beautiful morrrrrning, oh what a beauuuutiful dayyyyyyyy......
It's sunny and getting warm, the birdies are tweeting and it can't help but brush away the cobwebs.  My first job this morning was to collect up a barrow load of tiny twigs for the kindling box.  And after the recent storms there is no shortage of twigs and branches lying around, my goodness we have some cleaning up to do!  Steve busied himself with the chainsaw, working on his precious woodpile.
 
We had a lovely sojourn for 24 hours last weekend, visiting our friends Cori and Adrian at their beautiful house in Balingup.  We talked, we laughed, we marveled at the views, we played a hilarious game of Trivial Pursuit, we had fun.  We also went and visited a fabulous place, the Golden Valley Tree Park, website is here - http://www.goldenvalleytreepark.org.au/ It was  glorious, and we saw it when there were no leaves on the trees.  We must go back to the tree park in autumn and see all the beautiful leaves.

Oh yes, before I forget - I've had .a few queries about the fate of Rabbit, the dear little joey who lost half her ear.  Well, she is absolutely fine!  Her ear has healed up completely as far as we can see and she looks healthy and happy.  I was going to take a photo of her this morning but all the roos had scarpered after Steve started up the chainsaw. 

We had a later start to the morning as we were big grownups and went out last night! :-) First we stopped at Due South for an early dinner.
Then we wandered next door to the Albany Entertainment Centre and spent a very pleasant three hours watching and listening to this amazing man.  Tommy Emmanuel can do things with a guitar that others can only dream of.  He plays his acoustic guitar in such a way that it sounds like there is a bass guitar, rhythm guitar and lead guitar all playing at once.  Such talent.  He started chatting to the crowd in the second half which was great, telling us the origins behind the writing of some of his songs, and amused the crowd with anecdotes.  I was amazed to discover that he wrote the theme music for CountryWide, that used to be on the ABC for a gazillion years.  And he wrote it in half an hour!

We are getting right into enjoying performances here, so we've booked our next one already, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards are coming in November, really looking forward to that one too, nothing like a good set of bagpipes and some kilts :-)
 After I've finished my cuppa I must head back out into the sunshine.  I have work to do in the back garden.
 It's all looking rather lovely at the moment, but it's really overgrown.  I've been loathe to touch it with the clippers but I really must, so today is the day.  Then I think a few loads of cow poo and compost flung around and all will be well. 
 You know how I love my yellow abutilon, and I really don't want to prune that as it's covered in flowers, but it always is and it's looking rather leggy so I must I must I must.  This photo is of my red abutilon that has started to grow quite well now.  I just love the flowers, they look like hanging hibiscus, and the birds love them.  They poke their beaks in between the petals at the top of the flower and drink the nectar.  The yellow abutilon, being very big now, is very popular with the silvereyes and Western spinebills for the nectar, plus the fairy wrens spend a lot of time underneath hunting for bugs.
Most of you know this already but here's one more photo of our new fandangle.... two very nice, efficient men from the NBN (National Broadband Network) arrived and installed a satellite dish on our roof and wired it up to an NBN modem box inside the house, courtesy of the government!  This is because we are in an area that has no plans for NBN internet on any phonelines, we are too remote for that.  We bought ourselves an NBN compatible router, signed up with an NBN provider and all is going well.  We get a lot more data for a lot less cost.  Good one!
To finish up, I have some exciting news.  A while back I mentioned that I'd had communication via this blog from a wildlife artist by the name of Ian Griffiths from Cornwall, UK.  He specialises in parrot paintings, from all countries.  He wrote to me because he was being commissioned to do a large painting of Red Tailed Black Cockatoos, an endangered parrot from Australia, and was trying to find someone who does habitat photography as he likes to be accurate with the trees and foliage the birds inhabit.  I didn't know anyone, but as the Red Tails live in this area and feed in our trees I offered to take some photos of our trees for him, if that would help.  The poor man, I think I exploded his brain as I ended up sending him over 200 photos ha ha.
Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, Ian emailed me a copy of this beautiful painting.  It's not the commissioned one which he will do later after his studies, this one is his first painting of the habitat.  What is terribly exciting is that I know these trees!!  These are our trees!  This is a painting that Ian will be selling prints of, but what is also wonderful is that Ian is sending us a print as a gift.  We are thrilled and can't wait to see it for real.  We shall frame it and put it in pride of place on our wall.  :-)
Ian's website is http://www.artbygriff.com/  and his Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/Wildlife-artist-Ian-Griffiths-122881387886979/
if you get a chance, do go and have a look at his work, he is a very talented man.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Sun, She Peeps

Well, we are bleary eyed from lack of sleep but we're still loving watching the Olympics.  I get so filled with national pride when I watch our athletes.  We needed a small hiatus though, Steve had a fit of anxiety as we virtually ran ourselves out of dry wood.  The wet weather has been a great excuse to stay inside and watch tv, we have also kept ourselves very comfortable with the fire constantly burning, but outside, all Steve's stash of chainsawed logs were wet wet wet.  So Steve scurried around and found some big pieces and we had a block splitting session, and ended up with a nice big rack of wood that thankfully started drying out quickly.  We had a fabulous sunny day yesterday which helped heaps.
With the beautiful sunshine yesterday, the end of winter orchard maintenance seemed the perfect job to complete.  All the stone fruit had their spray of copper to stop leaf curl, and all around the trees we piled on manure, bark, sawdust, trace elements and fertiliser, finishing up with a hefty sprinkling of blood and bone.  We were amazed to find that the chooks did not like the blood and bone and therefore did not hop right in and throw all the yummy tree food all over the place.  I wonder how long that will last!  The chooks love digging around the fruit trees but they get a bit too enthusiastic and often start exposing roots, hence we throw big pieces of bark and wood around the trees to try and stop them. 
 This is a new acacia that I planted in my back garden last spring, it's called Acacia leprosa "Scarlet Blaze".  Isn't it lovely!  I've never seen anything but yellow acacia before.  This one grows into a small tree, it has a weeping habit and it flowers these lovely scarlet puffballs from August to October.
 A closer look at the flowers.
 My beautiful camellia is starting to take off now, it is covered with buds and flowers considering it is still a small plant.  It is being awkward though, all these flowers are on the side of the plant away from the house, so I can't see them from the kitchen window, I have to go outside.  I'm wondering why, perhaps it gets more sun on the side.
 I love these.  It's a tree lucerne or Tagasaste, a fodder tree that is also a legume.  I planted a lot of Tagasaste and Acacia as they are legumes, they accumulate nitrogen in the soil and thus help out other plants.  This time of year the Tagastastes are smothered with white flowers and the bees are so so happy, the whole tree is buzzing with them.
 Steve very kindly made me a potting table for out the back, using some bits and pieces he found in the shed.  It's going to be very useful as I love striking cuttings and planting seeds.  The only issue I found with this, as it is a bit of a wind tunnel out the back, was that some of the smaller pots were getting blown off.
 So, yesterday, I fixed that issue with some plastic mesh wrapped round and secured with gardening wire.  It's not very strong but it will stop the problem.  Yay!  Note the pots of grass on the left, I put up clumps of new grass and bring the pots in one at a time for Neo.  He loves to nibble grass and has only puked it up once.  :-)
 Steve and I finished our collaborative effort with his frame and my embroidery.  Gosh I am pleased with it. 
 There are mysterious things happening in the shed, I wonder what is going on here!
 We are really really enjoying our duck eggs, as well as our chook eggs.  I cracked three of each to make a cottage quiche the other day, and thought you might like to see the difference in the size of the yolks.  The yolks at the top are the ducks, they are so much bigger than chicken yolks.  The chook eggs have more white than the duck eggs.  They are all delicious!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Wood and Thread

It's 7 degrees here today, SEVEN degrees!!  Howling, freezing cold wind, cutting right to the bone.  The ducks and chooks don't give a hoot, wandering around in orchard snapping up hapless bugs that lie half stunned by the rain and hail.  There have been some amazing cloud banks coming towards us from the north-west, beautiful.
 And the hail.  We've had so much hail, pelting down along with the rain for most of the day.
But that's fine.  We rug up warmly to dash outside and do what needs to be done, and have a quick walk along the creek, then it's back to the comfort of the house with the cheery fire keeping us cozy.  But in reality we are downing tools for the next fortnight anyway.  Yes, we are Olympics tragics, staying up to ungodly hours of the night to watch that special moment live.  I love the Olympics so much, and it amazes me how much I enjoy seeing sports I would otherwise have no interest in.  The women's Rugby Sevens for example, I am not interested in rugby, rugby is not AFL, it's boring, but wow, we are so enjoying watching our Olympic team play, even at 1am.  I scour results constantly, revelling in minor details of many many sports.  As I said, an Olympics tragic.  :-)
 https://www.winxdvd.com/resource/pics/rio-2016.png
 Would you like to see a joint work in progress?  Six months ago I finished this raised embroidery and stuffed it into a drawer as I didn't know what to do with it.  I rather like it, it's one of the few things I've made that I am very fond of.  I had in mind to put it into a round wooden frame, but I couldn't find anything I liked, and eventually I asked my clever husband if he could possibly make me a frame using a piece of our jarrah.  He set to work with the lathe and other tools, trying to shape it as I wanted.  He got a bit upset when it started cracking, but I was actually rapt, as it gives it rustic look that I wanted.  It isn't finished yet, Steve still has to work on the inner part of the frame, smoothing it off and staining it, and I have to stretch to embroidery over a round board, stitching it at the back to keep it taut.  Then it can all be put together and popped on a wall somewhere in the house.  I love that we've both had a part in the making of this.  :-)
Look what happened to poor little Rabbit, Lucy's baby.  Half her ear is missing!  It's not a clean cut, rather raggedy instead, so we are wondering if a dog or a fox grabbed her and then she managed to escape with the help of her vigilant mother Lucy.  It looks very sore but she seems unfazed by it.  Poor little girl.  I suppose I wont have any trouble recognising her when she grows up now.  There are a lot of roos that I recognise by various shaped bits missing from their ears but Rabbit's missing chunk is the biggest by far.
Well, back to the Olympics highlights, We've still got half the doors and frames to paint, but they will just have to wait hey :-)