Thursday, May 18, 2017

Magnificent May

I love the month of May, the temperatures are becoming deliciously cool, the rains are becoming more frequent, and, best of all, it's the month for magnificent sunsets. 
As the cloud clusters intensify, the colours and light that peek between are a sight to behold.
 The creek should start running in a month or so, so I am trying to get the bottom of the creek dug out again.  I did this last year, digging out years and years of built up sand until I found the hard, gravelly, actual creek bed below.  It was a big job last year but totally worth it, as we got to admire a pretty, gurgling creek with little pools instead of a big flooded area.  There's not so much to dig out this year so I'd best get on with it before the creek starts to run!
 These are the back garden beds just outside the kitchen.  They are looking really good, the plants all grow massively this time of year, and I am staggered by the amount of colour.  But.... I really need to do a huge prune, but it's so hard!  It's too pretty!  I shall leave it for another few weeks and then think about it again :-)
These gorgeous little birds appreciate my overgrown, flowery garden.  This is a male Redwing Fairy Wren, he and his harem of girlies spend a lot of time here as do the troop of Splendid Wrens, a few White Browed Scrub Wrens, a few Western Spinebills and a bombardment of Silvereyes.  The nectar feeders are in heaven, as many of the plants I put in produce nectar, I did that quite deliberately to attract them.  The wrens love the thick cover of foliage and spend their days foraging through the undergrowth looking for bugs.  They also love desiccated coconut that I put outside for them.
 Speaking of birds, relative peace has descended in the chook yard.  Everyone has pretty much learned their place and our eight feathered friends spend most of their day harmoniously free ranging in the orchard.  Here they are having breakfast together, the new girls are starting to grow their new feathers so don't look quite so scruffy. 
 Although we have a cosy chook house with roosts and nesting boxes and plenty of soft hay for sleeping and laying eggs, the new girls still have their own ways of doing things.  None of them would venture into the chook house at first, choosing to sleep in the corners of the chook yard.  Once it started raining I put a few protective measures out for them, I stuffed a load of hay behind the feed bin and one of two of them were snuggling up there.  I also added this old washing basket in another corner.  I cut out one side and lined the floor with hay.  This has become the preferred nesting box and we find most of the eggs in here now.  I think now, 2 weeks on, that most of the girls are sleeping in the chook house at night, although one still chooses to sleep under the washing basket.  Each to her own hey :-)
 This is the old girl Patience.  We thought she had past the age of breeding like Lucy has, but we were surprised recently to notice that she has a very definite bulgy pouch happening!  She's doing it at a different time of the year to most of the others, the other girls only have the beginnings of teeny tiny pouch bulges.  It will be lovely to watch for the first sighting of the tiny little face peeping out.
We had a visit from the rams again, just for half an hour or so.  I still don't know where they live, and it's pointless ringing the ranger as they flit in and out so quickly the ranger would never find them.  They look very well cared for so presumably they find their way home.
 As I am the queen of unfinished items, I am rather proud of myself for actually finishing the project we were given at our recent embroidery workshop day.  It's a needle packet holder.
 That's the inside, it holds four needle packs, or 8 or 12 if you stuff them in, then it just folds up.  It will be useful.
 This is the progress I have made with my crocheted squares that will become a blanket cover for our bed.  It's a crochet-along, so each week we are given a new pattern for a square, which we crochet using our own pre-chosen colour scheme.  I am way behind but that's okay.
Speaking of crochet, I think it's time for a cuppa and a look at this week's new crochet square pattern.  See you next time! xx

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Feathers Feathers Everywhere

I popped up to Perth for a few days to visit mum and dad.  Hello dad, you do look comfy in your reading chair xx
I gave mum her Mothers Day present early, I crocheted her a shawl using autumn colours that mum likes.  I hope you find it useful mum xx
 I so enjoyed making mum's shawl (and if anyone is interested, it's called the Sunday Shawl and the pattern is HERE) that I made one for myself, but I chose cool colours. 
 I don't like wearing jumpers so this will be handy for warding off a wee chill in the air.
 After being eggless for the last few months, we took delivery of four new laying hens.  These are another hybrid breed called Isa Browns, very similar to our Hylines.
 My word they are a scruffy looking lot, they are all moulting as are our two existing hens, so there are feathers everywhere!
 Once again they all look like little vampires with their white faces....although called 'free range' bred, that is a highly variable description and I suspect these girls are from a big barn.  They don't know about roosting, I don't think they've ever seen grass before because they were fascinated with it and spent two days nibbling it.
 But it doesn't take them long to learn how to behave like chickens.  This one is wallowing in the pleasure of a lovely, mucky dust bath while her friend looks on.  Slowly they have plucked up the courage to venture out into the orchard, eating grass, catching bugs and laying eggs in all sorts of secret places.  I love seeing them slowly relax and realise they have a marvelous, stress-free life ahead of them.
 Spuddles and Sparkles on the other hand are not impressed.  The normality of their world has been somewhat disrupted by this wayward bunch.  It wont take long, after a week or so peace will descend once more in the chook yard.  :-)
 I spent a day replacing the net that protects the top of the chook yard.  Initially we installed it to keep birds of prey out, but it is also handy for keeping out parrots.  Except when the old net becomes full of big holes then these smart galahs work out how to get into the yard and pig out on all the chook food.  It was getting out of hand, we'd wander down and find a dozen or so galahs in the chook yard so now they have been foiled with a new net, ha!
We went and bought some more chook food and I also grabbed a small bale of hay as I am going to clean out the chook house and replace the old chaff that I use on the floor to keep it cosy.  That chaff will be great scattered around the fruit trees as the old chook poo that is mixed in with it is a great fertiliser.  Steve has a nice big bag of sawdust in the shed that I'll use on the floor this time, but I wanted to scatter hay over the top as well.  When we took the hay and the feed out of the car, we left it on the settee outside the front door ready to move today, but when I woke up this morning I could hear strange noises just outside the bedroom window, what could it be?
Naughty Andre, that's who!  He found the hay, decided it was yummy and sat there munching on it.  You're a scallywag Mr Andre :-)
We had a lovely treat recently, we took ourselves to the Albany Entertainment Centre to see The World Of Musicals.  It was a troupe of ten young West End performers, who have travelled around the world doing their show in small venues.  Basically they perform the best songs from the best musicals, complete with costumes, lighting and backdrops.  It was a really good night and we were pleased to hear they are coming back next year with a whole new repertoire.
Yesterday was Stitches By The Sea, an annual embroidery day with our Albany day group, the Albany night group and the Denmark group.  This year is was the Albany night group's turn to host the day, and they turned on a feast of yummy food and the project they set up for us all was good fun and not too hard.  It will become a needle packet holder and we were stitching the design to go on the outside, in the colour of our choice.  It's always nice to catch up with everyone.
Well, the sun is shining, the birds are tweeting and I have a basket of washing to hang on the line.  Then I'm going to sit out the back with my audio book and do some crochet.  What a way to spend a Sunday, lovely :-)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Cuddly Lilly and Hungry Voldemort

As Easter approached there was the most amazing moon.  I woke up in the wee small hours two nights running to find the light of a glowing, golden, full moon shining across the bed.  This photo really doesn't do the colour justice but setting a camera up whilst half asleep is a big fat fail, so I settled for auto and hoped for the best.
 Even as dawn broke the moon was still there, hovering above the horizon looking magnificent.
 On Good Friday the family arrived.  We were blessed by a visit from Michelle, Paul, Sam and our granddaughters Stevie-Lee and Riley.  It was so good to see you all :-)
 There is nothing, NOTHING, more heartwarming than hand-made cards.  They are proudly displayed on my fridge now.  :-)
I organised a range of things for the girls to do.  I made them both a scarf, then I showed Riley how to make pom-poms that we attached to the ends of the scarf.  I think she wore it all weekend.  Stevie preferred the idea of a fringe, and as she was busy playing an engrossing and imaginative game with a small doll alongside me, asked me to do it for her ha ha. 
We went and visited our neighbour who kindly showed the girls her miniature horse Star with her most divine little foal Lilly, who adores being cuddled upside down on a lap.
We went for walks, watched the kangaroos, did jigsaws, fed the chickens, and checked out the progress of Voldemort the King Skink's breakfast.  He lives under the outside settee and I've discovered he loves eating banana and cherry tomatoes so I chop some up and leave it out.  We can watch through the window when he gets hungry.
 Neo is engrossed with Voldemort and follows the skink's progress around the outside of the house by moving from window to window with his nose pressed close, watching intently.
 And when he is bored with watching Voldemort, he sits on his favourite chair by the sliding door and watched the bouncy little wrens eating their breakfast of dessicated coconut outside on the path.  It's like Neo personal wildlife video :-)
 After we said goodbye to the family, we had the pleasure of a visit from Ange and Amy.  How many photos of kangaroos did you take Amy? :-)  It was wonderful to see you both.
 On the home garden front, the tomatoes are all but finished (thank god for that!).  We've reckon we've grown over 100 kilos this year which is really great but a lot of work to preserve them in various ways and I'm glad it's finished with.  Look at all the colours of the varieties we grew this year, so pretty! 
 I am fascinated to discover that down here the figs ripen much much later than Perth.  This variety is called Black Genoa, which is the tree we also grew in our Willetton back garden.  We used to get the start of ripening figs at the end of January in Perth, but here they have just started, in mid April.  Granted this summer has been weird and everything has been a few weeks late but this is a big difference.  But no matter, we are thrilled with our first Black Genoa figs, and they are HUGE!! Look at this one, it's about the size of a pear! 
 On the craft front, I've downed tools for a few weeks whilst we've had visitors.  But in progress is something I'm making Riley for her birthday in June. 
 I am way behind with the current 'crochet along' blanket that I'm doing on the internet, but no matter as I'll catch up eventually.  These are the squares from week 1.  We make three of the same pattern but changing the order of our pre-chosen colour scheme. 
Steve very kindly made me a blocking board (hey Paul, do you recognise this wood?  It's the offcut from your bar top!).  Often when you crochet you need to block your work, it can be a bit out of shape, so you peg it out and dampen it and stretch it into the shape and size it should be, then when it dries it stays that way.  As this blanket needs 36 squares all ten inches square, it will make the sewing them together so much simpler if I have blocked them all, then they are exactly the same size.
Embroidery isn't something I spend much time on at home, I usually do embroidery when I go to the Tuesday group in town, and this is what I'm working on slowly but surely.  This type of stitching is called canvaswork and I've been making it up as I go along, all I knew was that I wanted to stitch a line of houses, sort of like something reminiscent of an English seaside village street.  It's coming along okay.  The eventual use for this is as a decorative top to a door stopper.  I am going to stitch up a patchwork cube filled with rice to sit in front of the bedroom door to stop it slamming, and I thought this might look nice sewn on the top of it. 
Time for a cuppa, see you next time xx

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

35 Years!

See this handsome couple here?  Hard to believe that's us!  That was taken back in 1979 when we'd been going out for about six months.  On April 3rd we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary.  Far out! -)
We decided to treat ourselves to a trip on the Kalgan Queen, something we've always been meaning to do.  It's a four hour boat trip from Emu Point, across Oyster Harbour and up the Kalgan River.  It was a great day out and the skipper was a mind full of local folklore and information.  I never knew why Emu Point was named thus, it was nothing to do with emus, it was in fact named after a boat belonging to explorer William Wentworth.
 This is Perch the Pelican, isn't she gorgeous.  She was hand reared by the skipper, Jack, after he found her caught up in fishing line when she was a youngster.  She delighted us all by wandering up and down the side of the boat, then catching a couple of herring that were tossed into the air by Jack.
Oyster Harbour is huge and shallow, with one deep channel across it.  I didn't know that it is theorised that wayyyyy back, Oyster Harbour was dry and the deep Kalgan River ran across it and out into King George Sound, then sea levels rose, flooding the Harbour and the river bed remains as the deep section across it.
 This is Green Island, a nature reserve right smack in the middle of Oyster Harbour.  It is a breeding ground for many birds, but in particular, it is one of only four breeding grounds for the pelican in the whole of Western Australia.
 Jack throws out two fish for each of two Sea Eagles that swoop down and grab them, it was quite a sight.  We've never seen a sea eagle before.
 Here they are atop a giant, dead, Norfolk Island Pine tree.
 We choofed under the Kalgan Bridge and headed up river.
 The Kalgan is a beautiful river and it abounds with various birdlife
 This is an Australian Darter, it has a neck like a snake and apparently keeps its wings open underwater to help it shoal the fish to catch them. 
 Meanwhile, on the home front, hello Lucy and Rabbit.  The roos are enjoying the flush of green grass that has sprung up after the recent rain.
 We are enjoying our apples.  These lovely red ones are Red Fujis, our best apples I think.  Nothing better than plucking one straight from the tree and munching on it whilst have a walk around. 
I am still up to my eyeballs in tomatoes too!  I've made bolgonese, tomato sauce, dried tomatoes, chopped tomatoes for in the freezer for winter cooking, we've eaten trillions, given them away, the ducks love eating them as long as I squish them or slice them first, I think I need to make more sauce with the next batch.
 The weather has been up and down between cold and warm, dry and wet.  Voldemort enjoys the sunny days, he bakes himself out the front on the warm concrete.  He looks rather sleepy and contented don't you think :-)
This is the trolley that we tow behind Helga the ride-on mower when we want to move stuff around.  It's become rather decrepit and rusty being out in the weather.  The wheel bearings were stuffed a while ago and it has been very rickety.  The final straw was when I pulled it along by the handle and the whole handle fell off, rusted through.  Now we could have spent $250 on a new one, but instead my clever husband spent about $20 on some new wheel bearings, and he forged a new handle by welding some bits of spare square tubing together and even finding a piece of squishy tubing to make the handle comfortable to hold.  As good as new!
 Meanwhile I have been busy on the crochet front.  This is dad's beanie in the making.
 And the finished article, measured for size on a partly inflated balloon.
 And here is dad, wearing his beanie, that fits! I hope it keeps you nice and warm dad xx
 I've also joined a Crochet Along which involved crocheting 35 squares, two or three of 12 different patterns, then putting them all together into a blanket.  We use our chosen colour scheme throughout all the blocks, although the order of the colours change.  The colours I chose are Petrol, Sage, Meadow, Parchment, Camel and Duck Egg Blue. This is square number one!  And yes, I know I also have my Mandala Madness blanket too, that is sitting forlornly in the corner of the sewing room at present.  I like to have a few things on the go, so I can chop and change. :-)