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