Friday, October 5, 2018

In the timing

Perhaps the title of this post, should read: "Just get it done, already!" For I've been dragging my tail on a few pertinent jobs. I kind of blamed it on the lack of rain, but maybe I was just finding a reason to procrastinate. Maybe drought induced procrastination? The kind you get, when almost everything hinges on that next downpour. You hold your breath, when it's all on pause, and then...


Drum-roll, please


Exhale...because it rains!! Yes, that elusive wet stuff has visited our landscape, once again. And they're predicting more for the week. What this timing suddenly brings into focus, however, is what the heck you were doing, in the dry. Like, did you clean the gutters so they wouldn't overflow - or install new rainwater catchment to take advantage of the wet? In my case - did I fix the skylight that fell down from the garden shed?

It fell down, twice. I put it back up, TWICE - knowing full well, I should replace the adhesive tape, after nine years of service. Nothing like rain leaking into your garden shed, to bring it all back into focus. I hurried like the repentant procrastinator, I was, and got it fixed before lunch.


Peekaboo, I see you!


I have some friends, who are pretty happy with the rain arriving too. Mama Roo and Joey, were both looking for the tender greens which emerge, surprisingly quickly, after the rain. My potted silverbeet, has responded well too.

It's all in the timing, no? I often observe the natural sequences, which come into play, after rain events. Everything hurries to push itself out of the ground! But I'm observing now, how exactly, it kicks my butt into gear as well. 



Saturday, September 29, 2018

Scarcity

Several storms have threatened to bring rain, but somehow, always seem to skirt around us. Food is so scarce, the kangaroos are simply eating everything in our garden. They're normally such fussy eaters too, but when there's nothing to eat, you simply eat what's left.


Male grey kangaroo


You can see from the dead grass above, why this buck has to resort to other measures, in order to get the calories he needs. This boy would have been raised here, by his mother, some time in the past 10 years. He's not particularly old, but not that young either. I'd say he's in his prime.

He knows there is food in our garden too, and luckily, size is on his side now. So he can reach to higher places for it.


Stretching high


This is a leucaena tree, I pollarded a few months ago. Despite the lack of rain, it has managed to push out new growth. The leaves are full of protein, so this boy hugs the tree, and stands on his tippy-toes, to reach them. The female kangaroos cannot manage this feat, so I'm going to have to organise some shorter pollards, elsewhere.

This weed tree, we're asked to eradicate, is feeding the wildlife, long after their native food sources, are gone. Consider the farmers now in drought, some are completely reliant on this particular tree as a form of food for their cattle now. If you're interested in learning more, and whether this is a suitable forage plant to grow in your region, visit The Leucaena Network. They recommend responsible control, as their #1 growing tip.

Anyway, I'm glad I pollarded this tree earlier. I was intending to grow it as mulch for the garden, but so long as he poops it out nearby, we'll call it a trade.


Red grevillea


Here's something new I learned they eat too. Grevillea flowers! I had no idea this could be a part of their diet, until I saw him munching them from off the shrub, one morning. It seems the bees, have some stiff competition for blooms now. They better get up early, to beat the rush.


Garden variety geranium/pelargonium


He's also been eating the geraniums, which completely surprised me as well. This stuff must taste awful, and yet, the kangaroos need to glean their calories from somewhere.

If you click on the picture, you may even catch a glimpse of the tick, I think is on the side of his eye. Either that, or it's a war wound from the fight he had with another male recently.


Luckily these are not the only saltbushes I have


What started out as a couple of broken branches, on one shrub, has turned into a procession of broken branches on three saltbushes. Old-man saltbush, contains protein in their leaves, so is often planted by farmers, as forage for livestock in drought. I guess it's serving it's purpose here too, even if they're not cattle or sheep.

I wonder how much of my garden will be left, by the time the rains arrive in earnest? I'm not particularly precious about my garden, but this is the worst drought year, we've had. I just hope it's enough to get the local inhabitants through. Surely, we'll catch one of these storms soon!



Friday, September 21, 2018

Play time

School is out for another semester, so now is the time to activate imaginations, and enjoy two weeks of holiday. Surprisingly, when the kids were packed off to school for the last day, today, I found myself a tad obsessed.

When I say "obsessed", I mean I was engaged for HOURS - making preparations for the holiday. What was so enticing, it would take-up most of my day?

LEGO!


The Mario Brothers


It was all Mario's fault (in red) because Peter almost finished making him, before I had to pack him off to school. I thought I'd surprise Peter, by putting him together. Of course, I couldn't stop at Mario, could I? I had to build his brother Luigi (in green) next.

For those who aren't familiar with these two, they're a popular gaming franchise of Nintendo. Peter doesn't have much merchandise from the Mario Brothers, so we make our own. In this case, with Lego...


Help me, Mario!


Most of the Lego collection, was formerly his sisters. Which is why I was able to find a smidgen of pink, to make Princess Peach. Where would Mario be, without his Princess?

Of course, you know wherever Princess Peach is...Bowser is never far behind.


Hah-ha-ha-ha-HAHHH!
Mario doesn't stand a chance, Princess


This giant dinosaur, and arch nemesis of Mario, is always capturing Princess Peach - trying to force her to marry him. Only because he wants to take control of the mushroom kingdom!

My Lego version of Bowser, looks more like a Koopa Troopa. Doesn't matter when Peter is convinced it's Bowser though! That's what a good imagination is for.


Do not enter...


There's a Lego Mummy, guarding the entrance to Bowser's castle, so Mario and Luigi, won't have an easy time, getting through.


Defend the castle!


There's also a former Lego Knight, manning the giant crossbow again. It's been years since he's seen some action (tucked away in the Lego box) so he was keen to defend the castle once again - even if it was for a giant dinosaur.

Then there are bad guys, who aren't quite sure if they're bad guys or not...


...banana?


Poor Bob the minion, was just looking for some bananas to eat. Bowser promised him plenty of bananas, if he guarded the tower door, from two pesky plumbers!


Enter at own risk ~
especially if you're a banana


This tower came together, thanks to his sister's former lego collection, and Peter's new. I love mashing them together, to make new structures. Talk about getting value for money. His sister's collection must be at least 8 years old now, and still as sturdy as the day it came home.

So many interesting shapes, to put together. Whole new worlds to create! You can see why I became a tad obsessed...


Play time


So this made-up world, created with toys we already had, awaited Peter when he came home. He played - the bad guys lost (of course) then he went outside, to draw on his chalk board. In the time it's taken to write this post, he's come back inside, and playing with his Lego again.

I have a few other activities up my sleeve to pass the two weeks away. Things to be creative with. Things to do with our hands. I think I've been looking forward to these school holidays, just as much as the kids. Because I like being creative in the home, and not having to race-off in the mornings. At least for two weeks.

Have you been doing anything creative in the home, lately?

Monday, September 10, 2018

Springtime visitors

Mornings are when you can see some delightful visitors to our yard. I always look forward to their arrival. I might be making coffee, or opening the curtains to let the new day in - and there they'll be. Just waiting for me to grab my camera.


Grey kangaroo


This mother kangaroo, was standing on the slope with the morning sun on her pouch - giving herself a good scratch on the belly. I was concerned I hadn't seen many mother kangaroos, with their baggy pouches, around. She has turned up recently, and is munching on whatever green is available.


Kookaburra


This fellow had decided to perch on the chicken tractor, while his mates perched on the outdoor furniture, nearby. Obviously, a hunting challenge was on, for who could catch the first meal of the day.

He spotted me at the kitchen window, with my camera, and was most put off. So they all decided to fly to a more secluded hunting location. Which was just at the trees, a few metres away.

So much to see, if you're up early enough. 




Sunday, August 26, 2018

Footloose

My husband got on stage as Logan/Wolverine, as part of an impromptu dance troop, for Toocon, yesterday. A friend, caught some footage of it, and it was quite the hoot!

If the link works, you'll also see one of the professional Cosplayers, dressed up as Thor, in the background. To the left of David, is a Black Panther, Cosplayer too. Although you only see him for a few seconds.


 I managed to load the photo to my blog, of Logan (aka: David) & Thor,
up on stage together


It was uploaded to Facebook, which is why I don't know if others can view the video footage. Let me know if it works for you, or not?

PS: I changed the link, so I hope it works for you this time, Nanna Chel. Let me know.


Friday, August 24, 2018

A dose of medicine

 Not quite the oranges and lemons ~
of St Clement's


Lemons and limes from our trees, instead. They gave us a crop before they started to curl up their leaves in the drought. Now there is fruit on the ground everywhere. There's only so much we can eat, and preserve, before the tree could hold no more fruit.


 Rindless


Our citrus is pretty hardy, so I'm hopeful they'll recover until the next drop of rain. But I've got to be thankful for what I received, and actually do something with it. There was a part of me that said, "you're too busy", to make marmalade, and "haven't you got enough to do already?"

Absolutely, the temptation was there - as I was constantly nursing family members back to health, at the time. But it niggled at me constantly, the thought of my bare trees, when they did eventually drop all their fruit.


Kumquat Jam


I'm glad to say, I ignored the temptation to ignore the fruit. Actually, it was the trees which inspired me, to fight back my own mortality. If they could hold onto their fruit despite the lack of rain, surely I could muster the strength to do something with them?

So I made marmalade. Albeit, not perfectly. I still need more practice with reaching the gel point. My Lemon, Lime and Ginger marmalade, was too runny, and my Kumquat jam was too thick! But I'm really glad for the practice, and it still has a lovely flavour.


Kent (or JAP - Just A Pumpkin) pumpkin!


Now I have a pumpkin I'm thinking of turning into chutney, next. Recipe found here. I'm nursing myself through my own sickness (thanks family for sharing with me, lol) but part of the healing for me it seems, has been finding ways to overcome, regardless.

My kitchen, and preserving foods I love to eat, is part of my medicine cabinet. Not just the food itself, but the moving of my parts to make it happen. So pumpkin chutney, here I come!

Is there any delicious foods, coming out of your kitchen, lately?



Thursday, August 23, 2018

Desperate measures

It hasn't rained here for months. It's true for many places in Australia. We're all waiting for the heavens to open up again, and if the predictions are correct - we have a high chance of that happening, over the weekend.

What this post is about however, is the reality for the native animals which are always affected too. I notice this, every winter/spring, there's a protracted dry spell. It was made more prominent this particular year, because of a lack of average rainfall throughout autumn/winter. The higher than average winter temps, didn't help either - sucking what moisture there was in the ground, out.


We've been raided...


Consequently, there is very little feed around for the native animals. Which means, they invade what we have. This is my shade house, which I can normally leave the door open. The culprit was a kangaroo. Not only can I tell by the scats they left behind, but they also failed to eat the silverbeet they pulled down from the shelf. A hare would have devoured these.

Kangaroos go looking for foods they favour, which is why the first time they took these pots down, they didn't eat them. The second time, they did. Because by then, the food was getting even more scarce.


...and again


The roos raided my shade house several times, before I got in the habit of closing the door again. I'm surprised they didn't take the sweet potato leaves, after having devoured the rest in the garden. I expect they were nervous coming into my shade house (enclosed space) and didn't stay longer than they had to.


Lavender and bromeliads, 2017

Lavender & bromeliads, 2018


What the kangaroos have done this year, which they haven't done before, is take out my bromeliads. Right down to the stub. I hope these will come back. The reason I know it was kangaroos, is how they squashed my lavender plant, with their big feet and long tails. I never knew they ate bromeliads, until this year.

Normally the pigeon pea trees I plant around the place, helps feed the kangaroos through this dry part of the year - but they were already taxing that supply early. The rains failed to green the grass, so they stripped the pigeon peas. A lack of rain has stopped the pigeons peas from growing more leaves. So now the kangaroos are desperate.


Damaged


So much so, disputes are now happening between males, as they're forced to find food in our limited backyard. I came out to feed the chickens one morning, and found the garden arch, had been knocked over.

I didn't know what it was as first - wondering if the wind had blown it down? Upon closer inspection, however, I found two, tell-tale signs, it was male kangaroos.


Exhibit (a)


The bars which slipped into each segment of the archway, were bent. This took a lot of force, to knock the bar out, and bend it at the same time. Which means applied force took the archway down, and, apart.

I managed to put it back together, with the help of some pliers, however it will never be the same again. One of the sides, bends inwards now. Never mind, it's just "stuff" which can be replaced. There was still a mystery to solve, however.


Exhibit (b)


Speckled all over the ground nearby, was grey kangaroo fur. Which confirmed what I already suspected - this was a fight between two male bucks. I have not seen this in our yard before. Normally one big male, owns our yard and we see very few males, otherwise. But now they're in competition for food, and not just females. So we're seeing more males trying to enter our yard to eat.


Male buck


I'm not sure if this was the victor or loser of that particular confrontation, but I spotted him eating the grass we irrigate with grey water, a few days afterwards. It's meant for our chicken, but plenty of native animals take advantage also.

This particular buck, had a half-closed eye - a war wound, perhaps? The kangaroos are in the worse shape, I've ever seen them in the decade living here.  Not just the males, but the females especially.


We all miss the green!


This picture was taken June 2015, from this post - where I wrote about the view from my kitchen window. Notice the green grass in winter, and the joey she's growing in her pouch?

Not this year though. I haven't seen any female kangaroos, sporting baggy pouches. It's part of their biology to naturally terminate a pregnancy in a drought. So even if an egg is fertilised, it won't survive. If there are kangaroo mamma's out there, they aren't visiting our yard.


Click to enlarge


We also found a flock of juvenile King Parrots, taking advantage of the chicken feed, left behind, after moving the chicken tractor. Also a couple of Topknot pigeons. Parrots don't normally like to come down on the ground like this. They much prefer the safety of snacking from a tree limb.

But when in drought, this is what the native wildlife, have to do to survive. Risk being eaten, in order to eat.


Lookout, for the flock, to warn of danger


It's a very different view in cities, where the native wildlife subsist exclusively on the accumulation of resources. The numbers are also reduced, due to heavy competition with humans and infrastructure. Birds and possums have managed to adapt more, to increase their numbers in suburbia though.

All this to say, it's a lot harder where nature is all you've got to subsist off. We haven't got much for the wildlife to share, when it's not growing out there. We've been filling the birdbath daily, and an extra bowl we put at ground level, for the kangaroos. I imagine, if it wasn't for the water, we probably wouldn't be that popular.

So my hope is, the predicted rain comes though this weekend, and gives everything/everyone a hearty drink.