Sunday, 28 February 2010

The small dog gets checked over (but not out)

The small dog has not been a happy camper over the past few days.  She was very lethargic last Wednesday (24 February) so ended up being taken to the vet.  He thought it was something to do with her abdomen and gave us some antibiotics for this. 

She seemed to be improving on Friday and Saturday (able to run OK but still not jumping) but on Sunday morning was really really slow to move.  Frances took her for a walk and she only made 200m and had to be carried home.  Our usual vet takes Sundays off and their message gave the phone number of the Emergency service.

I was off at a Vets Handicap race at the time and when I got home Frances thought the poor dog was dying.  After an awful lot of thought I concluded that we couldn't spend the day watching a dog die and despite having heard some unfavourable comments about the Emergency Service we took Tammy off there.

In fact they were excellent and x-rayed her, finding the problem to be mineralisation in a thoracic disc.  They gave her some strong pain relief  and gave us some analgesic material to be given to her.  Theer seems to be quite a bit involved in getting her back well, including having to control heer impulse to dash about - when she gets better) but the prognosis seems not too bad.

We got onto the pain relief therapy that evening and she seemed to be less bad, but nowhere near good the next morning (1 March).  When we returned from our activities she was standing waiting for us in full tail wag mode.   We took this as a positive sign!!  Later in the afternoon she went for a short walk aroud the garden and seemed in pretty good shape, as she was when Ingrid visited later in the day.  Well done vets!

She continued to improve over the next few days  possibly aided by a couple of days sitting in the car going to Adeaide.  We tried to moderate her activity (no running, no jumping) but by about 8 March this had become impossible:
  • jumping on to our bed (when a run up was available) was definitly on;
  • dancing dog happened before a morning walk; and
  • when I returned home and went to the end of the yard a leap off the highest part of the deck could no be stopped.
I think that is what she calls quality of life!  It is also exemplified in these two images from the top of the block.  I don't know what was under the log but it took a lot of effort to get her away from there!

Saturday, 27 February 2010

The vegie garden gets some attention

With our focus on painting the woodwork as a summer project the vegie garden (and indeed the garden generally) has taken a back seat.  However the rain recently has really kicked things along.

Let us begin with the tomato plants, where the rain seemed to in fact drown a few plants.  This is not a huge drama we are still getting so many that we're eating them like strawberries and giving them away as well as preserving a heap.

It has been rather a warm summer which is surely reflected in the pepper situation.  We are still using the chilis that we froze at the end of last year and now have a good lot of capsicums and jalapenos coming down the pipe for this year.  Yum yum yum.

Then we get to the pumpkins.  They are basically setting out to dominate the world:
  • Queensland Blues going through the chain link fence (where to our surprise the wildlife are not munching them); and
  • Ponti Marron (? we can't find the exact name anywhere) going up to the roof of the stable.
We have also put a butternut in a flowerbed where it has zoomed ahead, even though only one fruit appears to have set thus far.  I'm sure you'll work out which are what in the following images.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Bats in the Belfry

If we had a belfry I am sure it would be full of bats.  We have been visited - indoors - by bats a couple of times recently.

One of the visits was resolved by catching the bat in a net made from bird netting.  As that was about 2am and accompanied by a small dog (also anxious to trap the invader) no photos were taken.

The beast appeared again early on 24 February but was not captured.  So last night Frances couldn't get to sleep and she moved to the spare bedroom shutting the door to keep the bat out of the room.  Unfortunately, in the best tradition of Hammer films, at about 5am she was woken by flutterings and bashings and discovered she had shut the bat in with her.  She escaped, leaving the bat in sole possession.

About 7:30 I entered the room and eventually found the animal hanging on the back of a mirror.  Subtle use of a tea towel trapped it and it was taken outside where some photos were taken.  After a brief period hanging on a Cypress tree it swooped off back to the safety of somewhere on our verandah.

As well as I can work out this is a Lesser Long-eared Bat (defined by the well developed, Y-shaped nose leaf).  It doesn't seem "Lesser' when it is swooping around in the middle of the night. The ID has subsequently been supported by a respected local naturalist

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Fungus rules (at least until eaten)!

Denis Wilson has posted about some fungi in his patch and I thought I'd put up a couple of images of those growing at our place.  As they were photographed on our kitchen bench they are not actually growing now, although there are plenty more around which I decided not to harvest!

The first image is as they entered the house while the second is after they have had all the kangaroo and wombat poop washed off them.

As far as I can tell these are the good old field mushrooms.  Certainly the ones I BBQ'd last evening have had no evil FX.

Monday, 15 February 2010

The rain fell mainly in the plain (not)

The title of this post reflects a headline in one of our local papers dealing with the deluge of 5 February.  I added the word 'not' to update to the event I have been blathering about for the previous3 days where the rain has not stayed in the plain. 

Before getting to the rain in other parts the title is an obvious (hey, its the Bungendore Mirror, one cannot expect great nuances) reference to the song in My Fair Lady which as stated is an erroneous description of Iberian precipitation   This actually made me think about how the sentence would have been handled in "Let Stalk Strine". I suspect it would have been something like:
Rhine: rarely sighted precipitation rather than a river.  Attending a musical theatre performance in Sinny (qv)  you may find it alleged that "The Rhine in Spine sties minely on the pline".
For once Canberra seems to have scored rather more that the rural surrounds.  A friend (or at least close acquaintance) in Canberra captured 111mm  from Friday to Sunday while we totalled 89.  We have got another 13mm on 15 February putting our aggregate for the year equivalent to 3 July 2009!

Of course much of the rain which fell here has ended up passing off to Canberra.  The attached two images show the outflow from Scrivener Dam  and the flooded road on the way into Oaks Estate.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

The beat, or at least rain, goes on

Every time I stirred during the night it still seemed to be raining.  When it got light enough to see the rain gauge (at times I think we are the last household in Australia not to have a wireless electronic gauge) I found another 19mm had fallen getting the total for this event (thus far) to 65mm.

So I checked the radar.  As usual X marks more or less where we are and this time I have added a red arrow to show the direction in which the system is moving.  Given that it is basically calm (ie the only movement is the air dodging the raindrops) it is going to take a long while for that lot of blue to pass over us.

Looking at February thus far we have scored 119mm.  The most rain we have had in any month since moving here was 129mm in June 2007.  I suspect that record is going to be dead by about noon.

In fact it was history by 10am, by which time we had added another16mm.  Shortly after that Whiskers Creek got its act into gear and came over the drive.  Here are some more pictures (in case anyone is visiting for the second time and wonders what is different, for some reason my photo-handling program was flipping images, and that has now been remedied).

Once this lot calmed down - about 2:30 I took the car down to the Molonglo River.  On the way it was nice to see everyone's dams were now brimming, after a year of watching them slowly turn into mud holes.  The River crossing  was not surprisingly closed.  Herewith a couple of pictures: one looks out over Windemere station  who are not going to be short of grass in a while; and the other of the crossing itself.  The marker post shows it to be 0.8m deep in the middle. 

Saturday, 13 February 2010

You don't need to be a weatherman ...

.. to know its raining.

I posted last weekend about the rain causing the Molonglo River to flood.  My friend Denis Wilson, blogging from Robertson in the Southern Highlands (about 140km NE of here) also commented on the downpour.

On 12 February I rode further across the Hoskinstown Plain to see whether the floods had resulted in any water getting into Foxlow Lagoon.  The first thing I noticed was this marvellous old tree in Hoskinstown with the branches red and shiny: probably as a result of the storm flogging the foliage across them.

Moving about 2 km further down the road to a gully crossing the road I noticed that the Shire had been active with some serious machinery.  It was evident from the debris in the fences and shrubbery that at some recent stage there had been close to a metre of water running down the road!  Thank goodness they got that cleaned up before the deluge promised for this weekend!

On arriving at the point where I could look down into the Lagoon  I had a lovely sight.  No waterbirds yet, but judging by the bachtrian ruckus there is plenty of food for them in the water!

Moving on to the forecast, the nice Mr Carmody on ABC TV News has been smiling and talking about rain over the weekend.  As he has been subject to some criticism in the past for forecasting large amounts and the result being a flock of incontinent gnats  he kept his powder dry(ish) this time.  The Elders Weather site was a little bolder suggesting
  • 10 - 20mm on Friday; 
  • 40 - 80mm on Saturday; and 
  • 5_10mm on Sunday.

The image to the left shows the radar image as at 14:37 on Saturday 13 February suggesting it was pissing down at the time.  Obeying rule 1 of weather forecasting - look out the window - shows this to be spot on!  Our house is marked with a (barely visible through the blue) red X.  Shortly after this (don't worry about posting times I adjust those to get pages in the order I want) I went off for a walk round the property.  The images and some disorganised text are here.

The Bureau of Meteorology indicated that the more serious rain was going to happen on Saturday evening and perhaps into Sunday morning.  The results are:
  • Friday evening  - 2mm
  • Saturday (morning to lunchtime) - 12.5mm (14.5)
  • Saturday (lunch to tea time) -26.0mm (40.5)
  • Saturday after tea to dark - 6.0mm (46.5)
  • Sunday to 0630 - 19.0mm (65.5)
  • Sunday 0630 -1000 - 16.0mm (81.5)
It is probably noteworthy that by Saturday lunchtime our cumulative rain for the year was above that we recorded up to the end of March 2009.  Then, by 5pm on Saturday we'd got pretty close to the 40mm lower bound on the Elders site, and it was still raining quite steadily with the radar indicating some heavy stuff in our future! 8pm saw 44.5 having visited the gauge so well done Elders!

Some images of dampness

After I had climbed the ladder a few times to remove a few heaps of crud, the gutters were delivering well to the catch tank.
Whiskers Creek was sort of running into the ford under our drive but not really heavily: in view of the flow elsewhere on the place I wonder why that is so?  Does someone have a weir across it from which they have pumped a lot of water?  Has a tree blocked it somewhere upstream?

Nope I think it was just the water taking its own sweet tme to get down here.  An hour later it was running close to half a pipe -and beginning to think about crossing the road.

About 100m downstream from this ford is the point where run off from the hillside above our house gets into the stream.  As you can see from this shot there is plenty of water happening here!

The next two images show the creek on our North Western boundary in spate: I have never been up there before when it is raining (although it is part of our usual early morning walk).  I sometimes refer to it as Canyon Creek since it has eroded a nifty little gully where it leaves the place.  It is formed by the confluence of two gullies off the big property (Taliesin) on our Western boundary.

I'll finish this off with proof that moisture causes fungi.  These are not however the lovely field mushrooms that we pick from time to time and whenever they dain to emerge but Death Caps.

Small dog update

I realised that I have not said much if anything about the small dog for a while.

In essence she goes well.  Her behaviour seems to have improved as a result of
  • her visit to Chez Egan while we were in Peru; and
  • us using an extender lead which somehow gives greater freedom to her and greater control to us.
The two following images show her in favourite evening poses in the sun room.

This image shows Tammy having her morning feed in Frances' potting shed.  She normally eats outside but at the time it was raining and we are soft on her.  A key point is the flowering frangipani in the background.  This comes from the house in Brighton where Frances parents lived since returning from NZ in about 1954 and where the 3 daughters all grew up.  A fair bit of emotional linkage there: add to it what I reckon is great horticulture in getting such a tropical plant to grow and you have a well deserved piccie!

The following shot shows a relaxed dog in her favourite pose as we watch TV!

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Why Australian Magpies go off

Because there is a Wedge-tailed Eagle sitting in the Yellow Box tree in our lawn!  It stayed for about 5 minutes giving us great views and then took off, much to the benefit of the Magpies blood pressure!

Out of Africa - comes The Kwanja

When we lived in Tanzania one of the early bits of astonishment was watching the wananichi (ie the citizens) using a device which we called a "bent panga" for any task involving cutting vegetation less than 1cm in diameter.  I will deal with larger articles at the end of this post.

In expert hands these devices could trim a lawn as neatly as any petrol mower.  We eventually found they were called kwanjas and decided I had to have one.  Indeed after the compound's yard-boy died suddenly and his replacement was slow in arriving we began to need one: in a tropical climate in the wetter seasons grass and weeds do not hang around.  The trouble was, as with everything, where are they sold?

One answer was probably Kariakoo Market (because everything is sold there, including things that one might not yet realise one had lost, but I wasn't feeling game to go there on my own at thatstage. (My Tanzanian friends didn't like going there with a mzungu because then they got charged mzungu prices).  Gee, aren't you learning a lot through this post!

(As an aside - as I was composing this I clicked on the next educational link to test it and our power went off!  What a timely event- so like Dar where hakuna umeme was second only to hakuna matata as the national motto!)  However I was driving past the Mwenge Arts and Crafts Centre one day and spotted some hung up in  front of a duka (Swahili).   Using about 10% of my Kiswahili  I stuttered out "Bei gani?" and got an answer than translated to $2.50 Australian so I acquired one.  Here it is.

It really is a great tool for dealing with weeds such as Patterson's Curse, Verbascum, St John's Wort and sundry thistles.My guess is that the blade is made out of an old leaf spring and the wooden bits of the handle from  an old pallet.  Total cost 3/5th of 2/7ths of very little. Less trouble to operate than my brush-cutter (although a lot more tiring if dealing with a big patch of brambles) and no run-off problems as with spraying poisons!

I promised earlier to comment on how bigger vegetation is dealt with.  Here is the answer: lots of wananichi, each with a damn sharp axe.  We came back past this site about 40 minutes later and there was no sign the tree had existed.  Even the shavings had gone - hardly surprising in a country where about 90% of household use wood or charcoal for cooking.

Reveg happens

I have commented in one of the earliest posts on this blog about our efforts to revegetate some of the more barren parts of the place.

The planting of tube stock tends to be fraught with grief and anxiety.  The firsteffort was followed by 2 months with next to no rain which gave a fair death rate through drought and then as the plants that were left began to grow the local wildlife assuaged their hunger in the easiest way: munch the tops of the trees as they popped out of the top of the covers. 

Greening Australia kindly gave us some more tubes and they also got replanted just in time for another dry spell which sorted out most of the eucalypts.  However the Acacias, Dondonea and Bursaria are beginning to come along, if only we get few more rainy periods to encourage the roos and hares to go somewhere else.  That being said I am not photographing them yet - it may steal their souls and expose them to death.

Enough with the negative vibrations.   The direct seeded area is coming on a treat.  Perhaps this is because what has mainly grown there are acacias and despite the area being well covered with roos and rabbits (and fat wombats at night).  Here are some photographs.

Saturday, 6 February 2010


The following are some pictures of a cricket (see comment from Denis Wilson for a better ID) , a huge (10cm leg span) huntsman spider and a colourful damselfly.

One size fits all!

When our daughter was born she weighed a tad over 3 pounds (ie about 1,5Kg) .  When I sent a telegram to my folks in the UK announcing this, in Imperial measure, the operator said "don't you mean 3 Kg" I said "no", getting the music-hall reply of "OOOOHHH.  She's a little one!!".

After a few weeks she doubled her weight and came home.  In the intervening time Frances had made a wee dress for her to wear.  It was found in a "treasures pile" the other day.  And we wondered if it would fit a 3.1Kg (more or less 3lbs x 2) dog.  You be the judge!