Showing posts from July, 2010

Sustainable use of wood!

I have put up a couple of previous posts about our impending acquisition of some nice furniture.   We have now got the lot and some photographs of that follow. 

Before getting to that I was most impressed with some comments made by Evan Dunstone who leads the workshop which made the stuff.  He was talking about the sustainable nature of their operation:
they use a relatively small amount of carefully selected wood;very little nasty glue is used (cf veneering or particle board operations); relatively little power is used to drive the 'human-scale' equipment they use; andthe product lasts for many, many years - longer than the life of the purchasers. Anyway to business.  The images show the furniture where it is.  It is being used and is brilliantly comfortable! Well the bits we sit on are, and as the books and CDs haven't complained about their new accommodation I guess they are also well satisfied.!

I will start with the lounge setting.
This shows a clearer view of one of th…

Election update 30 July 2010

During the past week few days has been a bit of bubble and babble as expected.

It started with a story in the Canberra Times that Mike Kelly was a shoo-in for the seat with 61% support.  This was good to see, but my inbox included an email from his campaign saying "These things can change. Keep the pressure on."  That evening the TV news contained a story that the Liberal guy was an extremely good candidate and well qualified etc etc.  I like to see balance: it prevents complacency!

The babble element got more pronounced on 27th etc with the schlock horror revelation that Ms Gillard asked a few questions in Cabinet about some policy or another.  It seems that in the world favoured by the media no-one asks questions!

There was also some publicity given to the fact that Ms Gillard is not a Mrs, but fortunately for my sanity they seem to have realised no-one in Australia other than the troglodytes of Family First or the WA Branch of the Liberal Party gives a drat.  Given the li…

Driving on Black Soil

mI have read and commented on a post by Denis Wilson after which he suggested that I might have a tale to tell.  Indeed I have but it is a bit too long to tell as a comment.  Plus it needs some photos.  So here goes.

The tale actually takes place in Tanzania, not the Darling River Run.  It started with us arriving at Mikumi National Park (about 3 hours drive West of Dar es Salaam) on Christmas Eve 2001

We passed a pleasant afternoon cruising around the Park looking at the game.  Then we had a very nice evening meal at our accommodation and retired for the night. listening to the rain beat down on our tent (actually a luxurious canvas walled apartment).  The next morning we hired a guide who took us around the park pointing out when to go fast through mud and when to engage 4WD in our Nissan Patrol.  We drove through a large herd of buffalo, which was a tad worrying.  However the presence of patches of black cotton soil was the main reason for concern.  An excellent day despite the amo…

Native flowers get in on the act

After yesterday's foray around our garden, today we went for a Wednesday Walk in the Queanbeyan escarpment/Cuumbeun Nature reserve area.  Quite a few species were flowering.

Acacia genistifolia
Astroloma humifusum
Cryptandra propinqua
Dillwynia sieberi
Grevillea lanigera
Hakea decurrens
Hovea heterophylla
 Leucopogon attenuatus
Melichrys urceolatus And finally a couple of fungi.  OK they aren't flowers, they aren't even plants, but they grow in the soil (most/many of them). Ramaria sp.
The Green Skinhead (Dermocybe austroveneta) which is a Fungimap Target species!!

Spring flowers begin

Although we have had reasonably solid frosts for most of the mornings since we returned from England a few flowers are beginning to emerge.

It is particularly pleasing to see a daffodil in flower up the drive.  There are about another 1800 (or so I am advised) in various stages of emerging from the ground in various places around the premises!

Closely related to the daffodils are of course the jonquils.

Always early starters are the Violets (in this case not the native ones, which I must go and search for) and Snowflakes (which seem to have presented themselves in the wrong order.- but I am sure you can work out which is what).

In terms of shrubs we really only have two in flower at the moment.  These are a Hebe (purple) and a nice green Correa (finally an Australian native).

Election update 25 July.

I have just rturned form a Veterans Handicap race.  As I came back past the roundabout at Yass Rd in Queanbeyan there were a row of about 6 young persons holding up signs promoting Mr Gazard.  Ihave seen that in the US in the past, and also Brendan Nelson did something similar as a way of saying 'Thank you" to his electors when he left office.

The markets are basically staying where they were, although the coalition had moved out to $4.25.

There have been a few interesting events on the radio news this morning:
The Liberal Party in NSW have disendorsed some character (see image to the left, ex ABC website) who complained about his opponent being a Muslim.   ABC radio then carried a comment from the disendorsed one raving on about how Muslims shouldn't be allowed in Parliament.  It does make one wonder about their preselection processes!The Liberals have also announced that they are going to cut immigration.  Unfortunately it appears that economic conditions have already do…

Birding webcams

Of course, with these sites make sure it is daylight at the site when you wish to access then!

I have just followed a link from Denis Wilson's blog to a webcam at an Osprey nest in Finland.  Spectacular images of an adult sitting on the edge of the nest with two fat chicks in the nest!

I then tried to look up the Falcons of Water St in Manhattan.  The camera has been turned off for the season, but the news is rather good with 4 eyasses fledging this year.

Election update

The Bungendore Mirror delivered yesterday also considered that there are only three candidates apparent thus far.

I was surprised that the Family First people haven't put someone up on the stump yet so checked their website.  I was even more surprised to see that they make no mention of the Federal Election on the site, let alone have a list of candidates.  The part of their site dealing with NSW read like a personal promo for the leader in that State including his pronouncements about the 'confronting burqa' and the problems of alcohol.   I have no intention of including a link to this site since it might encourage them!

The nice Mr Gazard has mailed us out a letter ranting about the waste of money and spiralling debt.  If he is so concerned about financial efficiency and not wasting money why did he also include a leaflet and reply paid envelope about postal voting since the Electoral Commission sent us the same information 2 days earlier?

The Mirror coverage includes ph…

Don't need to be a fireman ..

.. to know which way the flames blow!  With apologies to Mr Zimmerman (and, indeed, the Weather Underground)!

It being the middle of Winter, a nice cold and (more or less) calm morning it was time to light up "the pile".  For those who do not have the benefit of living in rural Australia that is the name given to the heap of flammable stuff one accumulates over a period of time.   It is usually:
Things that are too small to bother chopping up for the indoor fire; Weeds that are too nasty to risk spreading through the compost bins; and Whatever is left over from last years fire! This year had the added bonus of
the really rotten (or white ant ridden) components of a heap of building wood further up the block that I should have lit up about 3 years ago (the better bits will be sawn up as kindling); andsome treated pine offcuts from the step rebuilding process. For once the weather forecast was stable and delivered as required.  So I was able to rely on having warned the RFS (an…

An election is coming on

Australia is heading for a National Election on 21 August.  I suspect I will be putting up a few posts about goings-on in the campaign.

This could be quite interesting.
The previously elected Prime Minister has been booted out by his own party, and replaced by Julia Gillard who seems to be doing rather well in his place.  The Leader of the Opposition - one Tony Abbott aka the Mad Monk - is not the sort of person from whom one would buy a used car.  Nor even a new car, still in its wrapper.  However the average punter in the street may be able to be persuaded by the Murdoch Press (see Dennis Potter's comment) to ignore more backflips than a season of Cirque du Soleil.The mantle of third party is now held by the Greens: a party widely seen as "for the environment" but who spat the dummy on the Emissions Trading Scheme in the hope they could get something better.  This is slightly more stupid than them announcing a plank of withdrawing Australian troops from Afghanistan (bu…

Hanrahan rules OK?

For those not familiar with major landmarks in Australian culture I will extract below a few verses from "Said Hanrahan" by John O'Brien.(I commend both the link to the full text of the pome (sic) and the brief biography of the poet.)

"If rain don't come this month," said Dan, And cleared his throat to speak - "We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "If rain don't come this week."And every creek a banker ran, And dams filled overtop; "We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "If this rain doesn't stop.""There'll be bush-fires for sure, me man, There will, without a doubt; We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan, "Before the year is out."
The point of this outbreak of literature is to set the scene for me commenting that we have probably had enough rain for a little while.  This comment has been occasioned by us being sufficiently recovered from jet lag to embark on a little…

The small dog gets through a hole

While the small dog was on holidays she refused to use the doggy door (about 20cm in diameter) available to her and Zoe (the host corgi).  This was even after she had been assisted through it, and seen Zoe use it.

When told this tale of wilfulness we suggested that she would have been through it quick smart, had a rabbit been on the other side.

This afternoon we had her on a rope near our red shed, underneath which she had found rabbits in the past - until I blocked the entry holes.  Rabbits had recently dug a new hole about 10cm in diameter in a new spot.  Here are pictures of the small dog proving the correctness of our suggestion.  I think her chest must be close to 10cm in diameter as at one point of the emergence process she had to lay sideways to get out!

The holes have now been blocked since things with less that 4 legs (in fact about 4 less than 4) also tend to live under there and we do not want small dog playing with them.

A few days later she demonstrated that she can also …

Tales of Queanbeyan

When we lived in the ACT it was common to hear the City of Queanbeyan referred to in a negative way.

Since we have moved to Carwoola where Queanbeyan is 'town' while Canberra is 'that place' we have found that the people of Queanbeyan are extremely pleasant and helpful.  Not always of the upper socio-economic strata, however.  I think each of the first four tales below illustrate both the struggles faced, and the humane approaches adopted in dealing with, reality not seen often in the ACT.

My first visit to town after returning from the UK was quite interesting:
In the Post office a Person of Southern European Appearance (PSEA) was involved in deep discussion with a staffer, while another, older  PSEA was sitting off to one side in a wheelchair. It emerged that the younger PSEA was attempting to get the older guy access to his pension payment.  This seemed - due to bureaucratic bullshyte imposed on the PSEA and the Post Office staff - to require the old guy to have an A…

Assessing water flows in Whiskers Creek

This post covers a few thoughts about how to assess the rate of flow in Whiskers Creek where it goes under (or occasionally over) the drive into our property.

I originally had a range of designations based upon the proportion of the pipe which was 'filled' by the water. However this was very difficult to assess (and even when flooded the pipe was only 50% full). So I developed the set of designations below. The words were chosen so as:

to have relevant meaning; and
to be able to be sorted into a relevant sequence.
After a while Frances commented on the use of the sound of the water as an objective means of distinguishing between trace and light flows. So that is included as well.

At present we are finding the Visual and Aural measures are correlating well.

The basic assessment is made in the morning each day when we first cross the creek, either in an exercise walk or driving out. If however the road is flooded later in the day I will use that as the measure . I will also…

Frogmouth update

They reappeared in my GBS site on 30 March and I have been able to locate them on about 60% of days since then (20% of the time I have been away and 20% they have been elsewhere).  In the main they have shuffled between three roost trees at about 5 day intervals.  Interestingly, when using the tree that was their favourite last year, the male has usually roosted about 3m higher than the female, while in the other two trees ( a little further from the nest tree) they have snuggled together.  Last year my observations didn't begin until 8 August but they also snuggled while in the favourite tree and on Tuesday this week they were in the favourite tree, but together in the high roost favoured by the male.  I hesitate to suggest their thoughts are beginning to focus on the calendar but I will be keeping an eye on the nest for signs of refurbishment.

This morning they were roosting near our gate and as we approached (an event that usually causes one of the birds to briefly…

Rainfall (again) and flooded crossing

We got back from England, where it it is supposed to rain all the time but was beautifully sunny, to find that there had been a couple of spells of sogginess in Carwoola.

Rain was again forecast yesterday (13 July), expected to start in the evening.  It was cool (maximum about 10 degrees C) and cloudy/drizzling all day.  Then it bucketed down as we retired for the night.  From the state of our drive (and the surrounding vegetation) Whiskers Creek had obviously flooded during the night, but was merely at 'Heavy Flow' status when we went for our morning walk at about 9:30.

By 7am on the 14th we had totalled 42mm for the event.   This gave us a total of 441mm for the year so far (which can be compared to the year total of 484mm in 2009).  Extrapolating from the ratio of July totals  to annual totals suggests we could be looking at about 875mm for the year as a whole.

This chart shows the monthly totals since we moved here.
While the water over our drive is well gone, I thought it …

Back home

Frances and I are back in Carwoola after a very enjoyable trip the UK.    In due course, when I have got over the jet lag, I'll put a link directly to my trip blog.  Currently the version of this which I compiled as we went is linked in a sidebar.

While we were away the small dog was looked after by a very kind friend who has a corgi.   Here are a couple of photos she provided, proving that Tammy also had an excellent holiday.