Thursday, 28 February 2008

Fruit trees

In addition to our other fruit it emerged (when the fruit appeared) that we had a peach tree (see left).





On picking some of them (and a pear) there was evidence of marsupials: see toothy image to the right.



The apple trees continue to do well, although we don't know what variety this (to the left) is. Note netting around the pear trees in the background. On the right is a view from inside the net - I think this is a Conference pear (or it would have been in the UK when I grew up).





Monday, 25 February 2008

A Penguin in my esky

This is effectively the story of our visit to the South Coast of NSW in mid-February 2008. For a change I thought I'd get the explanation of the title out of the way early. The background is that our National Scientific research place likes to get dead birds to add to their collection of skins, skeletons etc. The protocol is that when you find a corpse you freeze it and wrap it and then deliver it to them . We found the pictured Penguin when we were a fair trek from the car but we did have an esky (aka ice-box) in it. However, we were about an hours drive from our accomodation and we suspected the bird would be fairly ripe when we got back. Also, although our host is a birder, we were not sure how she'd feel about waterfowl in the fridge!


One of the key elements to the trip was to visit the historic village of Tilba-tilba to check out the dining table situation in the woodworks there. They had a good sample made of red gum but it wasn't quite what we wanted so we asked for a quote on what we did want. There will be more to come on this tale.

The image is of the pub in the main (almost only) street.




On one of the earlier walks along the beach we found this juvenile Australasian Gannet sitting on the beach. We assumed it was just buggered - repeatedly plunging head-first into water from 10m up can do that - so left it to get on with its recovery.







This is a most obliging Striated Heron that crawled around in the she-oaks beside Congo Creek for a few minutes letting me try to get an image of it









Frances wanted to collect a few empty shells for her collection. This is why we chose a day with a very low tide in mid-afternoon to get down there. We used to have a weekender/cottage/bach at Congo and were thus pretty familiar with the area. It seemed to me that the biodiversity was lower than it used to be, but my impressions and $5 will get you you a crummy latte in Starbucks.


There were a few sea anemones around........












... and one stingray!










The sea was generally quite ripply. This photo gives a bit of an idea of the rocks ans waves of the South Coast. I will see if I have got a photo that shows the magnificent beaches: they are often more than 5km long, and most of the time are deserted. Paradise!

Monday, 18 February 2008

The Daily - OK weekly - news

The title started as a quote from one of the many ear-worm songs in Guys and Dolls in which the narrator asks "What's happening in the Daily News?". But I don't intend to do this on a daily basis (Thank Deity you cry.) However there are a couple of odds and ends worth reporting as a bit of rustic interest.

I have commented in another posting about the amount of blackberries we have picked. I think the total is now up to 10kgs in El Rancho Carwoola with a further 3 - 4 kgs despatched to the Upper Swamp (aka the US Embassy) in Weston. I have experimented by adding some extract from some blackberries to the secondary fermentation of a couple of bottles in a brew of Draught Bitter which I bottled today. The idea was to try a lambic approach: possibly by the time it has matured the berries will all have gone so it will be too late to repeat the exercise this season if it is a success.

As well as blackberries we have been getting a good crop of mushrooms following some nice rain in February. We found this lot when the only receptacles we had were our fly veils so we loaded them up. We found we got about 2kgs that time and have collected another 2Kgs since. Not only do they BBQ well but they also make an excellent sauce for serving on polenta. Yumm yumm!





In one of the first posts in this blog I commented on the number of thistles etc. I have also rabbited about buyng a new brush-cutter. On 25 February I took my mini-tractor (aka ride-on mower) and the brush-cutter to the top paddock and dealt with a particularly noxious bunch of scotchmen and a few of the rose broars. These were added to the pile near the house where I will have another excellent bonfire, once the bushfire season is over.







The image to the left is of our drive. If you expand the image, just to the right of the foreground patch of grass (in front of the large rock) you will see a bolt. This is in fact the sump plug from our neighbour's low ground clearance Hyundai. Do you need any more information about the dark stain going up the road? Remedial work is in train.


My last report on brewing was a couple of months ago in http://franmart.blogspot.com/2007/12/zymurgy-continued.html. This hiatus doesn't mean that the hops have not been happening, but that I have been brewing fairly boring things to catch up on supplies due to the wait while the IRS was festering. Today (29 February) I moved back up to quality, with a load of Morgan's Dockside Stout. This follows a visit to the City Kiosk in Queanbeyan where I acquired this, some Yukon Brown and Molloy's Irish Stout. Autumn is close!

Monday, 11 February 2008

An avatar to believe in

The underlying story follows the image.
One of the characters who provides colour and movement to the Canberra birdwatching scene is Geoffrey Dabb, who is a brilliant photographer and video taker. He also has a good sense of the ridiculous, and after I accurately identified a butterfly on the COG chatline sent me this image.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Other animal acts



These two shots are of a bearded dragon, which pleased me with the yellow colour (and the beard). It froze niecly until Igot too close when it scarpered up a nearby Eucalyptus viminalis (see photo below).




This shows the civil engineering of the local wombat. I suspect it has got fed up with its previous pit being flloded so has gone upbank a bit.



Friday, 8 February 2008

More garden stuff






This collection shows a zucchini, some of our raspberries (hitting their straps in fine order) a Russian Black tomato and a mignaficient Jubilee tomato - the yellow jobbie. The tomatoes are hinting at going beserk, but at the moment the climatic Prozac is keeping them under control.



These flowers - known apparently as "Naked Ladies" are clearly visible from my study window. And I am not going near that designation: there is no telling who might read the post. We thought they were the much safer "Nerrines, but have expert advice that nerrines are "different". Last year they didn't flower at all, despite all the water that the Over100s sprayed around. so the breaking of the drought has had this further advantage.
I hate to rabbit on about the begonias, but they really are doing well at the moment. The huge red one in the image is the second flower, after the original flowering stem broke off due to the weight of the first blossom..

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Arthropods

The three images below are of members of the phylum Arthropoda seen on a walk organised by the Australian Native Plants Society. I suggest click on the image to get a better look at these quite pretty beasts.
This colourful beast was enjoying the view on one of our strawberry plants. I
didn't whup it at once (which I will probably regret when we find the strawberry patch - which has gone feral - all gets eaten).
The Don King look spreads to eucalypt munching caterpillars. It was about 9cm long!

Monday, 4 February 2008

Getting roots

Some of you may recall an emailed tome entitled "How to get a screw in Dar es Salaam" (which the benefit of recent recruits was about punctures) so will not be disappointed to find that this is about gardening. It will at least start off with crops from below the ground, thus justifying the juvenile attempt at humour in the title.


We purchased a fair range of 'upmarket" seed potatoes and then spent $50 on straw to get them heading in the right direction. There was initially some concern that the selected planting spot was too wet for them after a couple of plants chucked wobblies and Frances found some rotten tubers. However when we actually got to dig them up (very late January) most of them were in most bodacious shape and condition. The image is the produce from one of 8 rows, and weighed 14Kgs. This was one of the heavier yielding varieties: my guess would be that we got close to 50kgs in total.




The first lots of carrots we grew in what we refer to as the dog run, since that is what the area was before we moved in. This means that the soil was essentially as nature intended, rather than the imported and well worked over stuff in the rest of the veggie patch. as a result the carrots were weird shapes and rather short. Now we are working in the good deep soil we are getting much nicer results in the carrot department.






Things are also happening above ground. We got a packet of mixed pumpkin seeds and these were planted in another part of the vegie patch. They seem to have done rather well although these green jobbies looked as though they may have emulated the sharks (from West Side Story) and got a social disease. In fact the analogy ain't too bad since it turned out to be skin deep, and the insides were very amenable to being turned into excellent soup. There are also orange ones, green ones and Queensland blues still growing.



Of course the pot plants on the verandah continue to bloom. This is a tuberous begonia we acquired for a fairly steep price at a garden show in Melbourne. The size of the flower can be assessed in comparison to Frances arm: it was so heavy it broke the stem of the plant!

In addition to this cultivated stuff we have got several feeds of field mushrooms from the top paddock and the blackberries are now ripening. Picking them (so far we have collected 2.3kgs and there is a lot more to come) not only gets us some nice fruit to freeze for Winter but also stops them from propogating. However, it does mean that we will keep at least a small patch of blackberries for this purpose. That was written on 6 February: we got another 2kg on 8 February and 3kg on 9 February. Since the freezers have already got a good supply of broad beans and basil, we are beginning to run out of storage! The image (to the right for a change) shows most of the Ey family and Frances picking another 3 - 4 kgs for consumption in (Upper) Weston.