Monday, 19 March 2018

Waiting For The Turning Of The Season

I was bringing some shopping in from the car this morning, when Voldemort popped out from under the settee and looked at me expectantly.  "Just a minute Voldy, I'll be right back!"
 So I sat down on the grass 2 metres away and tossed pieces of banana to him.  "Is this for me?  It looks delicious, do you mind if I try some?"
 "Be my guest Voldy, enjoy"  And he did, about six pieces, well five actually as one of the magpies rushed over and nicked a piece!
 See this giant wood pile inside the shed?  This is what Steve has been busy doing for ages, getting all our winter wood ready and this time he is storing most of  it in the shed to keep it dry.  He has hoppers under the shed verandah but it still gets damp from the rain mist, so he's filled the hoppers and the corner of the shed, so depending on the weather, we'll have dry wood from one or both locations.  Steve reported the other day that he watched Voldemort from the settee wander over to the shed and had lots of fun 'playing' with another, bigger, blacker Voldemort in the new woodpile.  We don't know who is male and who is female, but it would seem that more baby Voldemorts may be on the cards. :-)
 There are lots of jobs awaiting the turn of season.  I have a trolley full of struck cuttings that are awaiting planting into the garden, but I'm waiting for the rains to start as it's pointless planting them into the ground now, it's so hard and dry.  I have a huge pruning list too, but I am again waiting until it cools down plus also making quite sure that the little birds have finished nesting.  I would hate to uncover a nest when pruning, so it's a good excuse to wait.
 Things are starting to die down in the vegie patch, the pumpkin leaves are dying off and behold, underneath we can see the extent of our fabulous Butternut pumpkin crop.  You have no idea how thrilled I am about this, for years now I've tried to grow these, I can grow other pumpkin varieties, but Butternuts are my favourite and up until now they have stubbornly refused to grow.  This year however, we have about a dozen good sized pumpkins.  That should keep us going for a while.  We cut one the other night and had it mashed and it was sensational!
 The almond tree has struggled at the end of the season as I mentioned last post.  I harvested everything I could see the other day.  The grey ones are the outer coating, the brown ones are the husk and the almonds are within. The almonds that are healthy are lovely, fat and delicious, but a lot of them have dried out and withered.  I'll have to do some more research on this as I really really want to grow almonds.  Anyway, it's been very nice to sample the couple of dozen edible ones.  :-)
 We are guarding this  and one other rockmelon.  As I mentioned before, two ripe ones were eaten by something, so we picked one but it was far from ripe, so we are leaving this one to ripen and woe betide anything that has its eye on it! 
 This is the third and last area of sweetcorn, Steve stagger planted this year so it was spaced out instead of us having heaps and heaps all at once.  It's worked well and we are enjoying eating it fresh instead of me freezing it all because there was too much to manage.  Yum!
 I'm a bit excited about this.  In my back garden is a tiny tree, planted there for its beautiful autumn foliage but also for its fruit.  This is a quince.  There are four on the tree and they are almost ripe, and I say this quietly, no wildlife have discovered them.  Mind you, a quince is disgusting to eat as is, they have to be stewed and then they are wonderful.  Looking forward to picking these. 
 The orchard is quiet at present, the summer fruit has finished but the apples are about to start.  We tried a Red Fuji and a Cox's Orange Pippin a couple of days ago, not bad but not quite there.  In the meantime the lemons are in abundance and there are heaps of limes, most not quite ready but we are finding a few to squeeze into soda water with ice....our favourite drink while we continue the long diet haul.
 The kangaroos are constantly searching for food in the dry dry bush, then they spend their afternoons lazing in the sun.  I rather like this family shot, that's Chevie on the left, behind her is Growler with her big joey in pouch, her current boyfriend Julius, Growler's daughter Ra is front right, and I'm not sure which two are in the centre.
 Patience in the foreground, Nash sound asleep and Rabbit in the background.  These three like to snooze along the outer side of the fence of our back garden.
 The front grass area is a little greener as we water it occasionally, so the roos like to graze there, helped along by the galahs and the two intrepid chickens.
 The chooks get right up close and personal, here is one chatting to Elsa with her joey.
 My big job coming up is to clean out the chook house.  I do this twice a year.  I use what is called a deep litter method, meaning rather than a thin layer of straw on the floor that gets covered in chook poo and removed and changed regularly, the deep litter method means you start with a thin layer on the floor, then as that gets soiled, you add another layer of straw and so on, so by the time I clean it out, it is a thick pile of layered straw and mostly rotted down chook poo, so I can then safely put the older layers straight around the fruit trees as a nutritious mulch, and the fresher layers go on the compost pile. 
 We bought two compressed bales of barley straw today in readiness.  I've never seen barley straw compressed like this, it's a little dearer to buy but it's worth it for the lack of mess in the boot of the car....bales of hay and straw scatter themselves everywhere in the car!
 We are awaiting a 'treadle feeder' for the chooks, it's a large feeder with a lid and a big treadle along the front of it, which the chooks and ducks have to stand on for the lid to open to access the food.  Up to now I feed the chooks daily in open bowls in their yard, and it seems that we end up feeding about 40 galahs as well, not to mention intrepid rodents.  I get rather frustrated after lots of effort to completely enclose the chook yard, including netting above, to find that the galahs rip holes in it and wriggle through to gorge themselves on chook food.  As far as I know galahs are too small to work the treadle feeder, so once our hens and ducks have got the hang of it, I hope it helps to alleviate the problem. 
 The chooks are naughty too, they will insist on digging up the edges of their yard, gradually lowering the soil level, which ends up creating holes at ground level for the rodents to sneak in is rodent time of year at present, I've spotted a few in the chookyard at dusk, and boy do they like eating our tomatoes, tidily leaving the skins in a neat little pile on the ground in the vegie patch.  Originally the soil level in the chook yard was where the wire is, but they've dug down so far that they've exposed the wood I dug into the ground to stop things burrowing in.  So an overhaul is needed.  It's a shame we dont have rocks on our property, they would be very handy, so I might get hold of some old bricks from somewhere to discourage them.  When I dig the sand out of the creek next month, I might get Steve to bring that up to the chook yard in the trailer, and top it up a bit. 
 These are the pink and grey thieving ratbags!  They are very beautiful and we do like them but bloody hell when we are besieged by them, the noise is deafening.  Normally the numbers start to dwindle towards winter thank goodness. 
 I will never tire of these divine little creatures though, god I love wrens.  These are female Splendid wrens, with their blue tails and orange beaks.  There are loads in the back garden.
 Now this might interest you.  This is a male Splendid wren, you know, the ones who are totally brilliant blue.  Well, this is a male after the breeding season, (they breed twice a year)  they lose most of their blue colouring.  So they look a lot like the females with a blue tail, but they keep a little of the blue on their wings too.  It's an amazing difference between this and the full blue breeding plumage hey.
 We are starting to see a few more of the RedWing Fairy wrens in the back garden now, they certainly play second fiddle to the Splendids, but as the Splendids have finished breeding they are not so rampant in their search for food, which gives the RedWings a turn.  This is a male, another beautiful little bird.
 On the home front, I have been crocheting for the last six weeks to finish a SECRET thing, more will be revealed in a couple of months. 
I am also trying to get myself back into drawing and watercolour since the workshop I did back in January.  It scares me you know, and you would laugh if you'd watched me over the past weeks, busying myself with stocking up on supplies, poring over instructional webpages, reading how to paint and draw books, but not actually picking up a flippin pencil or paintbrush.  I'm dancing around actually doing it.  I will show you the one thing I've actually plucked up the courage to have a go at, and I'm fairly pleased with it.  Following step by step instruction in a watercolour book, I painted this...
Until next time xx


  1. So many interesting stories, a wonderful update... but you scared me first up... I though Voldemort was a Crocodile!!

    1. Egernia kingii Pennie, Voldemort is a King Skink, although now you mention it he does look a bit like a ferocious crocodile in the photo! 😀