Friday, December 2, 2011

garden and more

The garden has been going along superbly.  Toni harvested and dried garlic last week, here she is

Beautiful garlic

enjoying the subtle aromas of one of the several flavours she has grown. Plenty of fruit coming from our mini orchard, Raspberries, Brazillian Cherries, Peaches and Apples at the moment and even a handful of Blueberries !  The strawberries and Nectarines have finished.

A plump Raspberry ripe for the picking !

Brazillian Cherry

More Blueberries on the way to ripening

and many of the other fruit trees are flowering or have small fruit all over them.  The passion fruit for instance, has the most gorgeous flowers
Intricate and delicate Passion fruit flower

and the BlackBerry is covered in flowers and small unripened fruit
Thornless blackberry flower

and with all the rain we are having, the Dams are of course full as is the frog pond near the greenhouse.  The lillies in the pond provide the most stunning of flowers

Partly opened lilly flower in the frog pond

What a Whopper !

We collected the largest egg we have ever seen from our chooks the other day, a massive 107grams.
One of the girls lays a HUGE egg

 remembering XL chook eggs at a supermarket are about 60 grams.  I have no idea how she managed to push this out without rupturing something !

and I finally got off my butt and dug the ferns out that had been spreading like weeds along the side of the house.  One of the concerns was attracting termites as the ferns blocked all the wind, and the area could
never dry out.  Termites are apparently attracted to moisture.

Free of the ferns !

So now I have to collect large rocks to line the edge of the bed and smaller rocks to lay on top of the double layer of weed mat.  Hopefully not to many ferns will grow back!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Toni had headed off early to work, so I woke up, wandered down and fed the chooks, they'd laid two eggs early, so I grabbed them, followed with a handful of mulberries, then wandered over to the garden and grabbed a handful of strawberries.  That and a piece of toast from home made bread was breakfast taken care of.  I released when I got back to the house, I was naked the entire time...

Breakfast !

If I had been in suburbia, I would have probably been arrested, it's times like that I really appreciate being out on a property in the bush.

More beautiful birds
Well the Kookaburras are back nesting in an old termite mound in a big old stringy bark in the front yard

Kookuburra nesting in a Stringy Bark !

and as special as that is, there is a pair of Sacred Kingfisheres nesting in the back of the same mound !

Sacred Kingfisher

This also makes for some interesting aerial acrobatics and dogfights on occasion, especially if you throw the ever aggressive Friar Birds nesting in the tree next to it into the mix.

The White Cheeked Honeyeater has been coming around of late, we haven't seen much of them at all but their noisy calls alert you to their presence soon enough.  A beautiful little honey-eater !

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

always something happening

One of the truly wondrous things about living in the bush is that there is always something happening, wildlife wise.  The Kookaburra's are back, nesting in the tree out the front,

Kookaburras nesting in the Stringy Bark in the front yard

and we spied these guys on the front lawn the other day.  Not sure if they are two males fighting, or a couple making luuurrrrrve?

What are they doing, fighting or making sweet luuurve?
We were paid a special vist by this beautiful female Satin Bowerbird the other day
Female Satin Bowerbird

Toni's guinea pigs are busy breeding, with this little albino popping out the other day.  These guys keep the grass down in the orchard and chook run and require no work from us except keeping there water topped up (once a month or so).

Albino Guinea Pig !

Every now and again, Toni keeps the numbers down by selling off some of the babies to the local pet shop.  She has been researching eating them, the nation dish of Peru apparently, so we'll see how that goes !

There is nearly always some sort of fruit or other in season, we are getting the odd pineapple at the moment, as well as a huge crop of White Shatoots (white mulberries)

White Mulberries, with an egg for scale

and Toni is busy in the kitchen as always, lovely fresh baked bread !

Fresh baked bread
Poppy Seed, Sesame Seed and  Onion and Camembert cheese savoury loaf !  Yum yum !

Monday, September 19, 2011

Busy as a bee

Well, the bees have been busy, me, not so much.

One of the trees down to the chook yard is in full blossom and it sounds like a billion bee cacophony when you walk past.

Billion Bee Cacophony Tree

  It's full of Native and European bees, all doing their thing

Bee Business
The White Mulberry (White Shahtoot) Tree has burst forth with new foliage and what seems like a million fruit.
Immature White Mulberry fruit

up closer

The only issue with this fruit from this tree is that it is in the chook enclosure.  Some of the chook prefer to roost in this tree at night, their dropping end up all over the fruit, so you need to be wary where you pick them from.  Another month or so yet before they are ready.

Wandering over to the garden, I noticed even the stalks of the Spring Onion have native bees all over them, Toni wants to collect the seed, so we are letting some go to seed

Spring Onion flower with native bees
and I could not walk back to the cottage without stopping to admire the gorgeous flower of the Grevillia

Grevilla flower

The property is alive with the warmth of spring and even walking off the veranda, the subtle perfume of jasmine surrounds you

Jasmine flowers

Saturday, September 17, 2011


I actually wanted to head down to the garden to see what Toni was up to, on the way down, I noticed the Callistemon out the front of the garden played host to a plethora of Scarlet Honeyeaters, they were all over the spring flowers.  I raced back to get my camera, cam back, they had moved to the next tree along and have been joined by their compadres.  I counted at least 5 or 6, 4 of them the males, displaying their gorgeous scarlet colour.

Feeding, on the wing, ah la a Hummingbird

Lovin' that nectar
While I was there, Toni came out to see what all the excitement was about, she had been thinning out her purple carrots, a heirloom variety growing at the moment.  The small thinned out carrot were delicious, fresh from the ground !

Yummy purple carrots !

On the back to house, to drop the camera off, I was distracted once again by a gorgeous flower in bloom

after that, I forgot what I had even come outside for !

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hail... mary ?

Well, the small amount of hail the other day was simply a precursor for the doozy that followed it two days later !  We could here the storm coming from miles away, then rain, it poured, 45mm in about 30 mins, mixed with it a huge quantity of hail.  I am from North Qld and have never really seen hail before, my partner is from Victoria and she said this was the longest hail storm she had ever seen.  It kept coming, we were quite concerned about the netting over the orchard, chook yard and veggie garden.  Luckily it survived, just.  One of the poles in the corner of the chook yard was pulled out of the ground from the weight but we managed a quick repair as soon as the hail stopped and a complete repair the next day, that was the only real damage.  Piles of hail were still on the ground 48 hours later and we received light rain for the rest of the night, another 20mm to bring it to 65mm in total

Hail the next morning in the netting, about 50% melted

Hail around the base of an immature Avacado 

We have decided to cut a square out of the netting where the hail accumulated and "sew" in, with 0.7mm gauge wire, a 50cm x 50cm patch of chicken wire to let the accumulated hail fall through. I am sure after all that work we'll never get a hail storm again OR the hail will be so huge it simply blocks the holes !

Fruit has been bagged
We were caught out badly by fruit fly in the Nectarine and Peach trees last year.  On guard this year, Toni had prepared with plenty of bags sown from muslin purchased from a local shop and gauze netting she found  at an Op Shop as well as waxed paper isolation bags where appropriate .  We're hopeful this will stop the little buggers !

Fruit bagged on Peach Tree

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Busy in the garden

Toni has been very busy in the garden, planting crops and getting beds ready for a spring planting.  The garden is looking pretty good
Garden looking gorgeous

The Snow Peas are prodigious producers
Snow peas (left), flowering Choy Sum (right) for seed collection
Broad Beans: grow baby, grow !
and the strawberries are starting to produce, yum !


A couple days ago we had the first hail storm I can remember, little hail (thank god) about the size of a pea

Hail stones on the front lawn

and not too much of it.  It came down with about 30mm of rain as well !

Monday, August 8, 2011

Our Orchards morning delight

Nature makes a much better statement then I can, from our orchard this morning.

Morning dew on peach tree blossoms

Anna apple blossoms

Anna Apple flower buds

Morning dew on apricot blossoms

Spiders web amongst the apricot buds 

Morning dew on the Dorset Apple flowers

Morning dew on the Dorset Apple flower buds

Glistening dew droplet on olive leaf

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wood for winter.. Pumpkin & Sultana Cake ! ...and more

Only a small update today...

We have started laying in green wood for NEXT winter, to give it time to cure
Staring next years Woodpile !
and managed to get around to adding a step to the front veranda, the original was a wooden block that had rotted

New Step !
It's just rock from the nearby river and some concrete.  It looks a little "prettier" since I took the photo

The garden has had some work done on it by the ever hardworking Toni, a new batch of Marmalade and Persimmon Jam has been done !

The chooks have started to lay again and we're getting about 8 - 10 eggs a day, so custard and bacon & egg pie a-plenty.

and the Internet Installer came out the other week to replace the Satellite module that was full of water
Sat. Tech doing repairs

Pumpkin & Sultana Cake
Toni has been baking a few of these lately and they have gone down a treat.  Surprisingly to me, I also enjoy them, it's especially odd as I don't like Pumpkin ... go figure !!!  We don't grow Pumpkins, we have been given a few so this is a good use for them, Toni also makes herself soup with the excess Pumpkin .  We get a huge supply of Sweet Potatoes, so next year when they are in season, she plans to substitute Sweet Potato for Pumpkin, we'll see how it goes and report back next year.

The recipe came from a Chef friend of Toni's, Mark (currently in Perth).  Here it is

Pumpkin and Sultana Cake Recipe
250gm butter
1 cup caster sugar
1 tsp orange rind

Alternately add a little of each of the following until it's all mixed with the above:
3 eggs
½ cup milk
2 cups SR flour

¼ cup of orange juice
½ cup sultanas
¾ cup mashed pumpkin

Pour into a lined cake tin and bake for 1 hour at 180c

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Food 'n Weather

Well, Autumn is over it seemed incredibly short as it was quite cool,

Autumn leaves taking an early winter swim

 making it seem that Winter had come early.   A cold Autumn has continued into Winter.  The fire place is getting heavy use, so we are chewing into the wood pile.  I have started the woodpile for next year, mostly spotted gum, it needs 12 - 18 months to cure for use in the fireplace.

One of the reasons to be here is to make use of the home grown produce and to live more reminiscent of a time when this way of living was predominant.  So lots of baking and cooking gets done, lucky me, Toni does most of the work in that department.  I, on the other hand have been out building Mountain Bike Trails and clearing lantana.

Pictures speaking louder them words, here's a few

Home made bread, proving on the fire before baking.

Lemon Meringue; home grown lemons, and eggs used

Recently collected Persimmons for Jam and various citrus for marmalade,
glass jars washed and waiting to be sanitised in the Oven.
Home made Chicken Stock, carcass removed

This is a good book for those interested in venturing into Jams, Preserves etc.

The author, Sally Wise is a stalwart of ABC radio

A few odds and sods
The garden has winter veggies in, and doing a maintenance to the gardens as well, always work to be done in there

Chickens helping weed
A couple of beds have become over grown with weeds, so we put a temporary fence around the bed, bird netting over the top and placed a few chooks in there to do the hard work for us!  Go girls!

Most people living rurally will be on Satellite for their Internet.  We recently had a huge amount of rain over the space of 6 days and I was up on the roof the day after, spotting the water ingress into the membrane cover at the end of the Satellite Dish horn.  The membrane is also deteriorating badly in the harsh Australian Sun, which is why the water is getting in.

Soggy Satellite !

Checking with our ISP this is a common design fault with the Sat Dish and should be fixed by IPSTAR themselves.  I would suggest anyone who has a Satellite Dish for their Internet check theirs as well, and contact thier ISP if they have an issue, make sure you take photos as well, as the water slowly evaporates after a couple days but water inside will eventually destroy the components.