Sunday, December 30, 2012

A day of interesting things

When I let go of the starter cord for the brushcutter it slammed back into the poor little finger which has already endured so much breakage and change.  Massive pain and bruise but seemingly no other damage.

The hives have gone to "hospital".  Which is why the brushcutter was out - first chance in a couple of months to slice down the now v high weeds.  Bees don't like big buzzy things around them.

Two birds in the currant netting - despite the fort knox enclosure. How do they do it?

Farm gate has opened - three buyers in the first two hours after the sign went out on the main road. Good fun persuading people that they don't want half a kilo of blueberries, they really want at least a kilo - the minimum we prefer to sell.

Have purloined a wonky wooden table, slightly de-wonked it, and set out to paint the top with chalkboard paint. The table is to display/sell blueberry punnets and freshly baked biscuits made by the kitchen tenant.  Last time the paint was acrylic - easy to clean up and dry in no time.  Guess who didn't read the label on this can of paint - b----y stuff is NOT acrylic, messy clean up (including me) and will undoubtedly capture insects as the drying time is 4-6 hours, not the 4-6 minutes of acrylic (slight exaggeration, but you get my point).

And there are still many more working hours in the day!  What other wonderful thing/s will happen?

Friday, December 28, 2012

The annoyng and the beautiful

This morning saw me bashing around in the currant patch, encouraging blackbirds to leave - in all, seven!  They had made holes in the netting on the far side - out of sight of humans who might stop them.  The currants are fruiting beautifully - and now the blackbirds are throwing themselves at the netting in the hope that it will sag sufficiently for them to be in reach of the rich red fruit.

And before that I was watching two gorgeous Nankeen Kestrels sitting on the big orchard netting - they had their eyes on the New Holland Honeyeater living in the netting.  Unfortunately, not just one NHHE - somehow a second has got in.
(Image from

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Bugs bugs and more bugs

The past week has seen thousands and thousands of flying things hanging around the chestnut trees.  They were never still enough to photograph, let alone identify.  But the chestnut catkins have started flowering and the bugs have landed.
This is one of Alex Wild's photographs of the Chauliognathus lugubris, the plague soldier beetle
Have just come across an article posted almost a year ago about these creatures - seems they've taken a very long time to get to us.  Problem now is that they are covering the flowers so much that the bees can't get a look in.
My really poor photograph - excuse = wind blowing.  The beetles are layers dense around the chestnut flowers.  Will try for more photos when the atmosphere is calm.

Alex Wild's website is a joy to behold - well worth wandering through. His photography is stunning.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Poorly bees

Seems there's not enough food around to keep our hives occupants fit and healthy.  They have succumbed to European Foulbrood and a wee bit of fasting.  The beekeeper has been over - twice today, and treated them with OTC oxytetracycline hydrochloride (a v mild antibiotic) and dropped in a couple of combs of honey to boost the waistline.  Within a couple of weeks they'll be moved to a better food source area - possibly a goat dairy. I've been promised they'll be returned - I hope so, it's fascinating learning about the life and times of a bee, from a bee (or 50,000).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Random pics from a visit to Lambley

Lambley is a nursery at Ascot - sweeping dry country plains in central Victoria.  It's the sort of place you spend your time either groaning with desire or groaning in despair that you'll never achieve anything like it.  Still a fab place to visit!  The dry garden display - where a lot of these photos were taken - is always inspiring.

 Following were taken in the propagating beds.

Tomatoes encased in wire mesh.  The mesh squares are wide enough to take a tomato-searching hand, but I'm not sure about the concept.

 This asparagus is over a metre high and the spears have a huge girth!

 Bit of a tilt going there.
Bought some very tiny versions of this.  Gorgeous to view, dangerous to touch.  Eryngium bourgatii "Oxford Blue".

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Look at me, look at me

New Croc thongs to match the sweet peas, peonies, cistus, roses ......  I don't think my feet actually look that weird - took the pic inside.

Am wearing my ultrathin lightweight summer trews as I need to dry quickly - have just been checking the irrigation and the best way to do that?  Wander around in the middle of the spray!  It's quite warm, so scarcely a hardship.

Have been re-loading the masking tape with tree guard.  Heavens that stuff is weird but sooooo effective.  For some reason the aphids fly into the laden masking tape - not that I'm complaining; fewer to attack the new leaf growth (although if you didn't see the now black masking tape you wouldn't believe there has been a reduction in the aphid population).  The hanging yellow cardboard coated in tree guard is capturing the sawflies, so hopefully there'll be fewer pear and cherry slugs.  But again - if you didn't have the evidence you wouldn't believe in reduced population.

The "grass" is starting to dry out - no rain for the past two weeks.

I'd say the fruit is coming along a treat but that would be tempting fate. So I'll leave you work out how delighted we are with the huge number of tiny tiny nectarines and peaches.  Only one fig sighted so far, and there won't be many pears this year - it's an off-year.  About two-thirds of the apples are having a quiet time this summer - that's ok.  Sometimes there's just too much goodness growing.

Monday, November 12, 2012


A really bad photo of a rabbit which has taken over the back yard.  There are some in the village who think it might be a hare - it's big, but I think it's still a rabbit.  Each day it is chased from one back yard to another - to no avail.
Humans have red-eye in photos, rabbits have white-eye!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

One busy day

Black skies, thunderous thunder, lightning strikes and short very heavy rain falls.  Not in Melbourne though!

We live in a area where the power supply is "fragile" - anything and everything can plunge us into a pre-electricity existence.  In the past week trees fell on a line 70km away and plunged the surrounding towns - including ours - into darkness for nearly three hours (trees which some locals campaign to keep, despite the danger they bring), a possum played for the last time in the transformer outside our house; yesterday a magpie's sense of direction failed it  and the transformer fuse blew and lightning strikes blew out transformers in several towns.

However, the world is still a beautiful place.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Seagull photography

A must-watch video taken by a seagull.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In the space of a week

This is an "abandoned" veg bed - left to do its own thing.  There's chard, peas, poppies, mustard and who knows what.
 Ceanothus pacific blue - thick with flowers and with bees.
 Dense lilac flower head - divine smell.

This rhododendron is now in full bloom and there's not a space between the flower heads.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Political protest

Loving this story of the weekly political protest:

The Redwoods was built in the early 1970s as affordable housing that would encourage seniors to remain vital members of the community. A weekly tradition is political protest; on Fridays, residents congregate—with their lawn chairs and anti-war posters and giant bobbing Gandhi head—at a nearby intersection to urge motorists to honk for peace.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Macro views

The profusion of buds demands that the macro lens gets an airing.
Cox's orange pippin buds

Blueberry flower hanging by a thread

Quince - love the veining
Quince "candle" - see fuzz on the bud and leaves?

Different cherry


Grevillea - can you see the fine spider web threads on either side?

Wisteria bud

Slightly more wisteria bud
Three cherry trees - smaller on the right is a morello, the other two are from the original orchard and species unknown.  The centre tree, known as Warren's tree (because that was the first tree he picked when visiting the orchard), is covered in blossom still - we're hoping this variable weather is not detrimental to fruit budding.

Last summer there was a terrible infestation of aphids on the young leaf shoots and cherry fruit. This year phacelia will be sown under the cherry trees.  Have just sown the seeds in pots - hope they germinate in time to do their work.