Monday, 17 July 2017

Savage Seas and Majestic Beauty

It's been wet wet wet and cold cold cold, so not much has been happening to speak of.  I am permanently affixed to my chair near the window, ploughing through my obsession of finishing the crocheted blanket to adorn our bed.  Gosh it's been a long process, I started this at the end of March, but I've finished 33 of the 36 ten inch squares needed, so nearly there before starting the joining and the border.  The latest squares at the front of the photo, I really like these ones.
 This is my happy cat, Mr Grumpy, who does not approve of photography.  He has been enjoying the daily fire to keep the house warm, and on particularly cold days he likes to tuck himself up in a cuddly blanket on the settee.  But don't take his photo or he will sulk!
 He enjoys his bird tv in the mornings, through the glass of the sliding door.  He loves watching the wrens eating their breakfast coconut, and chatters at them constantly with the occasional pounce at the glass.  The birds don't give a hoot. These two are female Splendid wrens, they have the blue in their tails but their body feathers are brown.
 We had a week of visits from Mr Peacock next door for some reason.  He made good use of the patio when the rain came belting down.  :-)
Upon reading of a big swell, we took ourselves down to The Gap and Natural Bridge for a look, rugged up to the nines.  It is so exhilarating be blown to kingdom come, watching the savage surf pounding way up the cliffs, whilst safely on the path and behind a sturdy fence.
 This is the water off the far side of the Natural Bridge, it was ferocious. 
The Gap was fairly tame despite the rough seas, the swell was moving past The Gap rather than into it.  I was thrilled to see a small rainbow amid the spray and mist, rising above The Gap.  It is such a beautiful place.
We moved on to The Salmon Holes and admired it from the lookout way above.  We were pleased to see there were no idiots trying to fish, the big swell kept whooshing up the flat rocks and would have dragged anyone fool enough to be down there into the water.  Another place of majesty and beauty.
 We finally climbed the steps at Cosy Corner up to the cliff top, it's only taken us five years ha ha.  It's part of the Bibbulmun Track and we found a pretty trail atop the cliff.  We walked a little way along it, but will save it for another day as we had only dropped in quickly and had no water or wet weather gear with us, so unprepared for a long walk. 
The view from the cliff top was gorgeous, with Cosy Corner below, then Perkins Beach to the left, followed by Mutton Bird, then directly over the bay is SandPatch, which is where the windfarm is, you can just see the turbines over there in the distance. 
 An update on my little frogs, I am pleased to say that I have quite a few healthy little tadpoles living in the shallow dish I hid amongst the plants in my garden.  These were the tadpoles I rescued.  I haven't got a photo as they are shy and hide very well and impossible to see in a photo.  So, in conclusion, the tadpoles have to spend the first few weeks of their life out of water in their jelly, but when the jelly starts to degrade, then they are able to live in shallow water.  If they end up in water too soon then they die.  My observations continue :-) 

Well, I am being summoned by the magpies for some breakfast, so at this point I will say goodbye, until next time.  xx

Monday, 3 July 2017

Frogs Frogs Frogs, Geocrinia Leai to be precise

My frog research continues.  Last time I mentioned that the frogs that sing their cacophony of tck tck tcks outside the back door each evening are from the Geocrinia family, and that I knew there were only half a dozen varieties and only three on the south coast.  I have been doing an intrepid David Attenborough impersonation, creeping around, trying to find one of the frogs so I could identify it.
Success!  At long last while slowly parting masses of thick Mondo grass, I found a teeny tiny frog hiding at the bottom.  The poor love then had to endure a photo shoot, but was returned unharmed soon afterwards.  That is a teaspoon alongside so as you can see, this is a very small frog.
After hours of research, I now know that our frogs are Geocrinia leai, or Lea's Frog or Ticking Frog.  Common as muck in the coastal southwest of WA.  I was hoping for the rare one, Geocrinia lutea or Walpole Frog which is rare as it is only found in a very tiny area around Walpole.  I had visions of a few that had found their way over to us and imagined the thrill of a new colony of rare little frogs!  Nevertheless, I adore our Lea's frogs, despite their lack of endangered status ha ha.
Now I know who lives here, more research gave me more accurate information about the many masses of frog's eggs laid behind the mondo grass.
Some of the Geocrinia frogs' eggs develop fully into tadpoles within the jelly, so no pools of water needed for development.  I thought that's what our frogs did.  But not quite.  Lea's frogs lay their eggs in grasses overhanging winter waterways where the eggs develop into tiny tadpoles within the jelly, and what happens is that when the rains begin in earnest, the jelly starts to dissolve, and eventually the tiny tadpoles drop through the thin jelly into the waterway below where they develop into frogs over the next three months.  So our frogs' eggs are doomed as there is no water source beneath my Mondo grass, only pebbled steps.  I have been busy positioning some shallow water containers in the garden beds, and replanted heaps of Mondo grass around these, so hopefully the frogs will use this instead.  In the meantime I had a good look around at the bottom of the Mondo grass and found a few sludgy areas of dissolving jelly, with live tadpoles within.... so I've transferred those to the shallow containers in the garden in the hope of saving some of them, and a week later they are still alive so I'm pleased. Okay I shall shut up about frogs now :-)
It has suddenly become wet and cold, winter has arrived with a bang!  The broccolini is growing well and we are eating it every other day.  Steve had a dig around and found some new potatoes, so with that and some fish from the freezer, Breaksea Cod and Orange Wrass from Steve and Laurie's fishing expedition a few weeks ago, we enjoyed a delicious dinner.
On July 1st the creek started running, we love it when the creek runs.  The dug out section at the bottom filled up beautifully and looks wonderful although a little muddy for the first few days.
 I love pools. 
And I love the fungi that pops up everywhere amongst rotting logs when the weather is cool and damp.
My Albany Bottlebrush, Callistemon glaucus, is growing well now and is putting on a lovely show of flowers.  It's been in the ground for 4 years and I reckon it took 3 to settle down and grow well, I hope it continues.
I love watching this statue in the back garden that Michelle gave us.  It changes as it weathers.  I still haven't thought of a name for her.
I was thrilled to bits to see Peg the magpie turn up a couple of days ago, asking for some rolled oats for breakfast.  In the past the magpies warble outside our front door regularly, but I haven't seen Peg for over a year, I thought she might have died.  But no, here she is looking healthy and happy, despite only having one foot.
And with her is the gorgeous Gerald-who-is-a-girl, again, we haven't seen her for ages either.  I love the patterning on female magpies' backs, beautiful scalloping but each bird is very slightly different.  The males have a solid white back.
Mr Peacock and his women also wandered in for a visit, they had a bit of a poke around, decided there was no party here, and leisurely wandered off home next door.
I have been making use of the wet weather to continue on with my crocheted blanket squares, 27 out of 36 finished now.  There have been a lot of hours put into this, I estimate about six hours per square, then I have to join them and do a border.
 It's been a learning curve, I have crocheted off and on for years, but only simple stuff.  I have surprised myself, but have to thank the brilliant Esther who produced marvelous instructional videos for each and every square.  This is the most complex one, isn't it pretty!
As my current embroidery project nears completion, I have decided to try and do an embroidery of our house and where it sits, so I've been taking photos whilst contemplating what to do, I am thinking blackwork so I'll need to do a load of photoshopping to alter one of my photos to suit.  Anyway, it struck me when I was taking photos how our house has now seated itself into its environment, it's 'nestled' now, rather than perched.  I like it.
Here's a comparison photo taken in December 2012, just after the house was finished.  That looks perched.  Now the gardens have grown the house looks like it was meant to be here.  :-)
On that note, it's raining outside again so I shall start crochet square number 28 and listen to my audio book....crochet and audio books are a match made in heaven.  Currently I am listening to book 3 of a fantasy series called Lightbringer by Brent Weeks, pretty good.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Avian Beauties

I had another trip to Perth last week, the main reason being to visit a certain little girl who was turning a great big 7!  Happy Birthday to you dear Riley, it was wonderful to see you and Stevie-Lee xx.  We had a little family gathering at Paul's house with pink cupcakes :-) I was pleased that Riley liked the dreamcatcher I crocheted for her very much indeed, and even more pleased when Stevie-Lee asked if I could make one for her birthday!

On my last morning in Perth I had a wonderful treat, a visit to the zoo!  I haven't been for years and years and it was a grownups visit so was done at a leisurely pace ha ha.  I was thrilled to see Tricia the elephant.  I remember her from when I was a small child and it's so nice to see her in a gorgeous habitat, most unlike the awful concrete enclosures from the sixties.
I was really impressed with the African Savannah area.  In fact I was really impressed with the whole zoo, it's so good nowadays that zoos carefully create ideal habitats for their charges, and find ways to keep the animals physically and mentally happy. 
 Zebras are the most beautiful creatures.
 Even the hyena looked happy and contented.
 I loved how these tortoises all had a big cuddlefest in one corner.
 Meanwhile, the creatures at our place are also happy and contented.  The new chickens have finished moulting and look so much better covered in beautiful red feathers.
 And they bless us with a couple of these every day.  Grateful.
 We had a few visiting avian friends too, this splendid peacock and his two lady friends are from next door, and for some reason they decided to pop in for a visit.  They eyed off Steve's newly growing broccoli plants, Steve was a bit nervous about that, but they left them alone, and contented themselves with scaring off the kangaroos instead!
 The small birds still abound in the back garden, this handsome fellow is a Red Winged Fairy Wren.
 And this is one of his females.
 And this is a White Browed Scrub Wren.  I love their white eyebrows and how they look slightly cross!  It's interesting that both the Red Winged Fairy Wrens and the Splendid Wrens will tolerate the White Browed Scrub Wrens feeding alongside them, but if the Red Wings and the Splendids see each other then all hell breaks loose!
 We could hear the gumnuts raining down from high in the Marri trees this morning.  That can only mean that the black cockatoos are here for a visit.  Recently we have seen mostly the Red Tailed Black Cockatoos, but today we were thrilled to see about half a dozen White Tailed Cockatoos.  There are two varieties, Carnaby's Cockatoos and Baudin's Cockatoos.  They look almost identical, the only difference to their appearance is their beak.  We have mostly Baudin's White Tailed Cockatoos here, they have a longer beak than the Carnabys.  They spent about half an hour here, munching their way through the seeds within the gumnuts.  The ground is now littered with well chewed, seedless, gumnuts!
 And then there are the wonderful kangaroos.  This is Patience. 
 And here is a zoom in of her belly.  Look who is peeking from her pouch!  Such a tiny little thing, barely any fur yet, and so far I've only seen it poke its head out this far, no sign of ears yet.  So gorgeous xx
 This is Rabbit, Lucy's last joey, she's the one who lost half her ear, which doesn't seem to trouble her at all.  Rabbit is a two year old now, doesn't she look grown up!
Look at the difference, this is her with her mum in March 2016.  She has only just started coming out of the pouch and learning to hop, she was the scrawniest joey we've even seen.  Can you see why we called her Rabbit?
 We are patting ourselves on the back today, as a long overdue finale to a task is now complete.  This is the 30 metre long fence at the rear of my back garden.  Steve fenced the back garden 2 years ago, and after completing 75 metres of digging in poles and bolting poles to the top and adding miles of wire, he ran out of puff before the wire was finished along this back section.  So it has sat there for 2 years with ugly temporary wire stuffed in there to keep the roos out.  Steve got very busy this week, and with a little help from me too, the job was finished.  It looks so tidy!
 I am poodling along with my crocheted squares for our bedcover.  This is a square that has been blocked, nice and square and exactly the right size.  It requires pinning to size then hovering the iron over, giving the yarn blasts of steam to dampen and relax it, to get the size right.
This square is waiting to be blocked, see how out of shape it is?  It will be square and magnificent once it has been pinned and steam blasted :-)
 My houses embroidery is slowly coming along too, I'm inventing it as I go along.  It's just the sky to do now although I'm not sure if I'm happy with the chimneys, I think the lighter thread I used is perhaps too light?  It may be that they will stay simply because I can't be stuffed pulling them out and redoing them though ha ha.  Anyway, I am quite pleased with it on the whole, I had in my mind for it to look like an English seaside village street and I'm happy with how it looks.
Well, we have a forecast for days of rain starting tonight, but the sun is shining now so I might have a wander in the back garden and do a bit of pruning.  Until next time xx

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Frogs Know Better Than Me!

Wow, winter is upon us, is always surprises me when it is officially announced, I'm not sure why.  The orchard is starting to slow down, the stone fruit trees are all but leafless, and the latest fruiting apple tree, the Sundowner, is still giving us our post-breakfast piece of fruit just for another couple of days.  It's nice to get the nets off the trees after protecting the fruit.  Soon it will be pruning and shaping time.  Today I've sprayed the stone fruit trees with copper and will do it again when the leaves are just about to burst forth in spring, and crossing fingers that it will control leaf curl a bit better next season.  Apart from that annoying problem, the fruit trees have been disease free and we are pleased with our small but yummy crops of fruit. 
 Around the garden there are still fruits to nibble on, these are cherry guavas, quietly ripening on a plant tucked away in the back garden.  The parrots haven't found these.....yet :-)
 Winter time brings the citrus trees to fruit, we are a bit excited about the mandarin tree, which graced us with one fruit last year.  This year it has many, albeit small, fruit slowly changing from green to yellow to orange.  We'll know in a few weeks how they taste.
 The ever abundant lime tree is bursting forth with big, luscious limes.  I must make some marmalade.  We really like adding lime juice to sparkling or soda water for a nice drink.  And, may I also say, a gin squash is extra special with half a lime squeezed into it too!
 My winter back garden is abundant with flowers, keeping the nectar feeding birds very happy indeed.  Isn't this pretty, it's a Kunzea, called Solomon's Pink.  The bees love it too.
 Have a look at this.  Its official name is Banksia baueri, commonly known as the Teddy Bear Banksia.  I can see why, it's a huge fluffy flower and it has been in flower for nearly two months, that one flower.  Its longevity is amazing.  I'm really pleased as I planted the teeniest little seedling of this in amongst loads of other natives, and it has basically had to fend for itself for the last 3 years, and this year it gave me my reward, a beautiful, huge, teddy bear flower.
 I love how the moss creeps and greens up this time of year, covering the base of tree trunks and smothering falling, rotting branches.  It's so pretty.
 Our mission this week was to clear an area of scraggy bush over near the creek waterfall.  There is the remains of a giant rabbit warren entrance there that we wanted to fill in.  We still haven't seen a rabbit since they all suddenly disappeared early last year, and there is certainly no sign of this tunnel being used.
 We gathered our tools and our beloved Helga and her trolley and set to work.  Steve did all the chopping and vegetation clearing whilst I loaded the trolley and carted the contents over to the bonfire pile.  Then we  filled in the rabbit hole and got rid of the pile of sand they had dug out some years ago. 
 That's better.  Nice and clear, easier to walk along the creek, better for fire safety next summer, plus we will be able to see if there is any rabbit activity in the area a lot easier.
 Five loads of dry brush later, added to the already big bonfire pile, we set it alight a couple of days later.  I didn't bother taking photos as it was a very smoky affair.  The five trolley loads we cleared when up like an inferno, but everything underneath was rather damp, there were a lot of garden prunings that hadn't dried out, so it smouldered and sulked most of the day.  Eventually most of it burned and what didn't can wait for the next bonfire.  It was a good job done.  It's always tricky timing the bonfire burn, making sure you leave it long enough so the ground is damp and there's no risk of setting the surrounding bush on fire, but if you leave it too long then your bonfire contents are too wet to burn themselves.
 Speaking of things that got burnt, Steve said goodbye to his very first woodwork project that he completed about 4 years ago.  He hollowed out this piece of Marri and made a nice bowl that he's been keeping his loose change in, but this was before he knew much about the ageing process and the splitting of timber.  Ah well, we live and learn, it made a very nice piece of firewood!
 The magnificent sunsets continue.  As soon as we see a cloud bank forming in the western sky it usually means we are in for a colourful hour.  First we get the warm yellow glow of the sun sinking in the sky.
 Then it turns to gold as the sun sinks lower.
 To finish up with crimsons, oranges and blood red as the sun slowly disappears for the night.  So so beautiful.
 Around sunset at this time of year, we start to hear the cacophany of frogs out the back.  I talked about this last year, as I was fascinated to discover loads of frog spawn amongst the mondo grass growing each side of the stony steps just outside the back door.  Last year I was all worried about this frog spawn, thinking it should be in water, so I collected quite a bit of it and put it in a shallow dish with a few rocks and a centimetre of water.  I killed them, they rotted.  After doing some research, it is apparent that this is the frog spawn of a genus of frogs called Geocrinia, teeny tiny frogs about the size of a thumbnail, but what is amazing is that they don't lay their eggs in water.  They instead tuck the spawn safely away in a damp place, and the tadpoles develop completely within their jelly and hatch out from there as mature and very very small frogs!  I wish I could actually find one of the frogs to work out which Geocrinia we have here, there are about four types that live in the south west of WA, they are a noisy bunch but impossible to find.  They make a sort of screechy tck tck tck sound, and when there are a few of them singing together, it is quite rowdy!  Fascinating though, don't you think.  I'm not touching the eggs this year! 
 Meanwhile, on the crochet front, I have finished my granddaughter's dream catcher for her 7th birthday.  I hope she likes it, I'm going up to Perth on the weekend to give it to her.
I am slowly wading through the many blocks I need to crochet for the new cover for our bed.  18 down and about the same to go.  Then to crochet them together and do a border.....we shall need to keep warm some other way this winter ha ha, it will take some months to finish this.  I am enjoying it very much.
Right, it's time to make a big batch of sausage rolls for the freezer, so I'll be off.  See you next time xx