birds not so welcome

Its summer. We have a house with all sorts of nooks and crannies which birds find perfect for raising their young. Every spring and summer our roof is full of bird families being raised. 
Its not as nice as it sounds. Our deck and everything on it gets covered in bird poop, there is constant rustling in the roof and the birds nests are a fire hazard and attract rodents. Yuck.
This is one example of the easiest to reach spots. The light fittings on the back porch. Pretty huh?
Here are three of the many nests I removed from above these lights this spring. 

I actually had to remove them every couple of days. It took weeks for the birds who were nesting there to get tired of rebuilding and go elsewhere.

The story was not without casualties. One of the nests had two eggs in it.

Pretty little speckled blue eggs. And one of them broke when I pulled out the nest. sigh. Barney helped clean it up. He likes eggs.

I love the bird songs and I love watching them hop around the place. We have swallows and sparrows and blackbirds and many spotted pardalotes and my favourite, wrens.
I do not love the bird poop or the rustling overhead or the fact that they’re a fire hazard.
Better go patrol the lights again. Its been a week of quiet on that front and I bet someone else has moved in.
z

waterfront property. again.

There’s been rain, bad weather and devastation in South Australia this last week and someone on FB sent me a message saying they hoped we were well. I replied that we had perfect weather – sunny and gorgeous.
I spoke too soon.
It began raining yesterday afternoon and didn’t stop till this afternoon. Lots of water. Strong winds last night, but thankfully only for a short time.
Now, we’re used to a bit of flooding every year, but this is the second time this year and its the worst we’ve ever seen since we moved here.
We have two creeks that run down from the hills behind our place, join together outside our top paddock, then down through both our property and the next door neighbours. These overfill with sand every year (which washes down from properties above us) and break out into our paddocks. Normally, we get a breakout in the same spot just to the right of the proper creek. Today we had a breakout in two more places, further up the creek’s path. 
We could offer white water rafting in our paddocks today!
Lucky we don’t keep any animals in our stockyards!

We’re really getting sick of fixing our driveway down at the gate. We just spent money on that at the end of summer, filling in the ruts and putting in a new culvert. That all washed away today.

The worst of it is that the water doesn’t even go under the bridge where its meant to, it comes out onto the road, washing away huge chunks of it…

Then it rushes down to a low spot and crosses the road. I had trouble crossing that section of road this afternoon, same as at our driveway.

Lots of people had water issues today though. Tons of properties along our road had waterfalls and white water crossing their paddocks.

For the first time ever, however, there was a river in the valley on the lower side of our road. Entire paddocks were under water there.

I spoke to a few neighbours on the road and have decided its time to get the council to be more proactive in this. They were out today digging up blocked culverts but its not enough. They need to do more to sort this problem out. Its not just a property owners problem, its a council problem cause it affects roads and infrastructure.

Anyway. I say we have nothing to lose by getting a mob group together to speak to the council.

I’m a mover and shaker.

Wayne will say I’m a troublemaker.

z

spring on the farm

When I lived in Melbourne I’d see photos like these and I’d feel so envious. I wanted wide open spaces, grassed plains where the dogs could run and play. I’m so lucky here. (Lucky you can’t see the weeds in photos!)
These are different views of our place from the bottom paddock, looking back towards the house. 

I love our place. Even when its squishy underfoot. It’ll dry out soon enough… then we’ll be hoping for rain.

Thanks to Google, I now know the difference between daffodils and jonquils. I’ll soon forget, but while I remember here goes…

The bottom ones in this pic are jonquils, the top ones are daffodils:

These are jonquils:

These are double daffodils – my favourites:

We also have paperwhite narcissus in a couple of spots but I didn’t get any decent photos of those.

A couple of years ago I planted some daffodils and snowdrops along the driveway and they are finally flowering.

The garden is beginning to pop with colour too. Like these gorgeous purple anemones:

In pink too:

There are still lots of empty spots in the garden beds though, where things are yet to grow or have died… When I get around to gardening again I have lots of work to do. More weeding, planting new stuff. Then just sitting back and enjoying the prettiness.

Ah. I love that part the most.

Oh! And the gumtree I thought would die when we dug the driveway run-off trench is doing great! Plus we have two more little gum trees coming along. Love my gum trees!

You can see the little gum tree on the side of the driveway above. One day it’ll be nice and big… but hopefully we’ll be long gone by the time it decides to fall over across the driveway. Gum trees have notoriously shallow roots and blow over at the slightest huff of wind.

Actually, they don’t. They stand up during storms, then fall over on quiet days. At least that’s the story our neighbour told us and I believe it. One quiet, totally still day last year, a huge gum tree came crashing down on the slope opposite us.

Its true!

z

poodles and daffodils

Today was one of those days when the sun came out for small bursts. And when it did it was glorious. The sky was deep blue. The grass really green. The air was clean and the dogs were excited.
We decided it was time for a romp in the daffodil paddock.

Romeo ran up and down the banks of the creek so many times. Both he and Montana were covered in splattered mud by the time we were ready to go home.

If you look closely you can see Romeo in the creek bad. All you could see was his tail at one stage.

I love happy running Romeo!

And happy, not so running Montana.

In case you’re wondering, Barney was there too. He ran too, believe it or not. Just not with as much abandon. He has arthritis and running too much takes it out of him, poor boy.

Can you see the slipper feet soaking up the mud? When I clipped them off I didn’t wash them, just clipped off all the curls and dreds. Montana curls, Romeo dredlocks. Anyway, as I was saying, when I clipped them off I didn’t do their feet as they were too dirty to risk my blades. They look so funny, slim all over with clown feet.

You can see the colour of their feet today. Oh well. Its just mud. It’ll fall off once its dry.

I have more photos but there are enough in this post. I’ll share the other photos in another post, less dogs, more our place in spring.

Don’t you miss the silent gaps of no posts now?

z

grrrr frustrated

I’m bored.
Annoyed.
And frustrated.
This morning I had a plan. A friend was coming over thus bringing the count of usable hands in the house to three, which would enable me to make a few things.
Like a spanakopita. 
An apple cake. 
An apple crumble (I think its called an apple crisp in the USA… a rose by any other name is just as yummy).
Why the heavy apple leaning you may ask? Well, three weeks ago I bought a ton of apples to bake a few things. Said apples are still sitting there, getting less crisp by the day. I wanted to get it done.
But the friend cancelled on me. So I sit here thinking how hard would ot be to peel and cut apples with one hand? 
How possible is it to kneed and roll out pastry?
Do you know how long it takes to change a broken plug with one hand?
These are serious questions!
z

one finger typing

I had an accident on Friday morning. It involved a competition between a horse, a wire fence and my fingers. The fingers lost. But it could have been so much worse – and in my quiet moments I run horrible scenarios through my head of just how much worse it could have been.

So I’m thankful that all my stupidity cost me was the entire top slice of my left hand middle finger. Basically the tip of my finger broke and the nail, nailbed and surrounding tissue is probably still out in the paddock.

I was able to drive myself to the doctor but my finger was beyond their capabilities, so a friend took me to emergency from there – which incidentally moved really fast (note: if you plan to injure yourself, Friday morning is a good time to do it). They checked me in but I didn’t get surgery till the next day. I couldn’t eat or drink  for hours and hours. I’ve had a skin graft and am now all wrapped up and in “downtime” mode till they check it out in 2 weeks.

At least that gives me a ton of time to catch up on all the projects I’ve had ready to post about but never had the time… and to watch 3 series of Game of Thrones.

Meanwhile, farm news – Chipmunk foundered so he’s on a starvation diet, poor little man.

Everyone else is well despite the huge amount of mud around, Dirty dogs won’t be getting a wash any time soon!

We had a pretty visitor last week:

Thats all for now. One finger typing sucks!

z

where we’re at

Literally or philosophically? Maybe a bit of both!

Whatever.

Either way, I thought it was time to catch you up on stuff around here.

Everyone is well – dogs, horses, geese, ducks, chickens… us. Although one chicken is looking half plucked. Its autumn… I know they go through a molting phase, but she’s a step above being in a roasting pan by the looks of her.

Meanwhile, we’re down one rooster. We did have two – one was a home bred boy. He’s disappeared. Either he was run off by his dad or he met a sticky end. I haven’t found any evidence to suggest which.

Without rain there’s no grass so we’ve been hard feeding the horses a few months now. There’s no hay to be found anywhere and, if you can find it, it costs more than gold.

Here’s Waldo, sharing his breakfast with the chickens. I give Wally a wide berth… after the time he bit me I’m very wary of his teeth.

Dancer, on the other hand, is a real smoocher. We love that girl! 

We have a new female goose. She arrived one day and paired up with one of the boys. That now makes us the proud owners of 3 couples. I really am afraid of what will happen when they decide to have more babies. We got lucky last year. One of the girls lay 20 or so eggs but didn’t sit on them long enough to hatch them.

Next year when they lay eggs I think I’ll skulk around stealing them!

Our dam has never been so low. Its spring fed and it’s always been full. This summer its more mud puddle than dam. I think we either stuffed up the spring when we had it dug out or the spring has dried up. The dam never seemed to bounce back from being dug out, the water has been like brown soup since… then again, with the lack of rain around here, maybe the spring has just packed it in.

If the situation doesn’t improve I think the geese might move out. Not sure if that’ll make me sad or glad. I love them, but they’re pretty deadly on any plants I try to get growing where they can reach.

I mean the horses are bad enough, but now I had to rethink all the fencing. Not just tall and strong for the horses, also shorter and closer for the geese!

Wayne built a cute bonfire pile in the middle paddock. Won’t be long now and he’ll be out there roasting marshmallows. If he liked them. And if people actually roasted marshmallows in Australia.

It looks like a forest fairy home, complete with a door. I suggested we could do a rain dance one night under a full moon. The neighbours would enjoy that.

Providing we keep our clothes on.

Meanwhile, Wayne and I are doing a regular radio show at our local community radio station. It was my idea, I have a ton of cds and some vinyl from my rockabilly/rock’n’roll days and I thought it’d be a great opportunity to listen to and share my music. So far we’re really enjoying it.

Turns out Wayne is a closet radio announcer! Who knew? He’s a natural.

You can stream it online if you’re out of range, so look us up – TYGA FM 98.9 – 12-2pm on Sundays.

Other than that, I think I may have mentioned I’ve lost my mojo in terms of creativity lately. I just don’t have the motivation. Or energy. Or desire.

My get up and go has got up and gone.

One of the only things I dragged myself out to do last weekend was put up three old mirrors in the mud room. We now have someplace to check ourselves before we walk out the door. Surely that’s a good thing.

When I feel flat like this I have to remember – we’ve done so much to this place since we moved in. All I have to do is look at the old photos to appreciate that.

And darn… I have to remove the Xmas bow from the front door.

I told you I’ve been ‘off’ lately.

Sometimes its ok to just watch TV, read books and rest. Its ok to do nothing for a while.
At least that’s what I tell myself. I’m almost convinced.
z

our junky garden

In the last week I’ve managed to get a bit of work done in the garden. Not on my own… I had some help otherwise I’d be lying on the couch moaning in pain right now.

One thing I did by myself was move these broken old chairs into the front garden bed. Partly to stop the dogs from digging, partly as garden art. I got these chairs at the tip shop ages ago. The guy there thought I was going to fix and restore them. I had no such notions. I only bought them as garden art.

There used to be a gorgeous burgundy penstemon growing where the chair (below) is but the dogs dug it up and killed it. I have another one in there now but till it grows up enough to grow through the chair like the one above, I have an old jam saucepan sitting on it.

The birdcage is protecting a newly planted daisy.

I love my junky garden art.

Close to the front door the old washing machine drum which used to hold lettuce now has sweet peas in it. I’m using the broken windmill as a climbing trellis for them when they grow.

I do have plans to restore the windmill.

If you’re wondering about the springs… dog barrier.

Need I say more?

I found this little chair at the tip shop a couple of weeks ago. I had planned to fix it up but for now its holding some of my succulents on the front porch.

AND…. (drumroll)

I bought a maple!

Its a japanese maple, no idea what type exactly. I had one of these in Melbourne many years ago and I sure hope this does well. Till now we’ve had no trees in the house yard and that’s just wrong. This is tree no. 1.

I dressed it up with a few junky planters so it wouldn’t feel so alone on the side of the woodshed. The soil there sucks, but we dug a deep hole and filled it with soil, fertilizer and manure. Fingers crossed.

I did plant some trees just outside the yard – one canadian maple which bit the dust, one orange tree which was eaten by the geese, three birches near the dam of which one survived. The others were eaten by the geese. Seven birches near the water tanks, and five pussy willows, all of which have survived and are growing despite having been pruned back by the horses on numerous occasions.

Meanwhile, you may have noticed the tyres around the maple… We’ve now added tyres down lower in front of the new drainage ditch, creating an extended garden area. For now I’ve got some spring bulbs in the tyres closest to the maple but need more plants to fill the other tyres.

I bought a new camellia which I put in a container on the side of the house. Advice of a friend: put it in a container in the spot you think you want it to live, that way you don’t have to dig a hole and plant it till you know if it likes it there.
Excellent advice.
Procrastination 101.
The white banksia rose I moved twice and almost killed has come back. Its now in a pot in the spot I intend to plant it eventually. I like this way of gardening. Why do today what you can put off till tomorrow?

Other than that, I got this old singer from the tip shop. The base is broken but I’d love to find a way to grow a plant around it. Same with the typewriter. I got them both with the plan of making them into garden art. I can put a small pot into the centre of the typewriter, something which will grow up and hang down over the keys a bit. The sewing machine… maybe I can remove the base and sit it in a container and grow a plant around it…
There’s still more to do, but isn’t there always? I’ve spread sugar cane mulch, got the vegetable garden cleaned out of weeds and attacked the weeds. Again. We’re coming in to winter here so I won’t be doing an awful lot to the garden till spring. I just wanted it to look tidy.
z
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saddle storage in the workshop

Sharing another project I did before the eye/cataract saga. Back when I could lift things and bend over without fear of detaching a retina…
Eh. Its only a temporary setback.
You may or may not remember that we’ve been storing the saddles and other tack in the workshop area of the casita. 
My workshop.
Where I keep my tools and do messy things with paint and sawdust.
Anyway, we can’t store them in the feed room for obvious reasons so its basically that or move them to another shed which is out of the way and we have to carry things when we want to use them……. though, with the amount of riding we do lately, would that be such a bad thing….?
Hm…
Must think about that…
Meanwhile, it doesn’t matter cause I’ve finally sorted out saddle storage in a way that takes up less space, is safe for us (ie no saddles falling on heads) and is safe for the saddles (ie no saddles falling on heads).
It was easy. Basically. It just took a long time to do from inception to completion. And I used only things I had on hand.
I have a fence in the middle of the workshop area of the casita. It was there cause the shed was being used as a shearing shed when we bought here. When we cleaned the place up and put in a new floor, we didn’t worry about removing the entire fence. Its been handy for tossing horse rugs and even hanging saddles off.
The problem of putting saddles over the fence, however, was that they took up space on both sides of the fence, thus limiting what I could do on the other side. So what I did was basically make a kind of saddle ‘tree’ to hang them off, thus limiting the spread…
I began by attaching a long piece of hardwood to the fence in several places and up onto an exposed beam in the ceiling so it was secure. This became the ‘trunk’. I then made three triangles out of timber and attached them to the trunk, each one a ‘branch’ for one saddle. The bottom branch holds Wayne’s western saddle (very heavy) so that got an upright support as well.
To finish it off, I used an old piece of pipe I had, cut to length, to create a rounded rest for the protection of the saddle upholstery. Mind you, I also put saddle blankets over the pipe and over the saddles for added protection.

The other side – minus saddles hanging over, taking up space. I’m can now push cabinets and other things up against the fence and have more room to work.

While sprucing the place up, I even sprayed the side of this old locker gold for a bit of class…

Looking good, in a messy/creative/working kind of way.

Of course, there’s always more to do. But the saddles have a home now, so cross that one off the list.

z

horses in the garden

Long ago I said that I’d never have a nice garden cause we kept letting the horses into the yard. I loved having them in there and they loved the time with us.

Then I put in garden beds cause I wanted flowers and pretty stuff, and I banished the horses.

Well, the other day the horses were back.

First time it was an accident. Wayne drove ol’ Blue from the paddock into the yard and the horses followed him. Opportunists that they are.

They’d been eyeing off the greener grass on our side of the fence for ages and there was no way they were letting that opportunity go by without grasping it.

Yeah. Its not that green. But take a look at the paddock beyond them. That’ll give you an idea. At least in the yard there were clumps of clover and tufts of that grass that isn’t lawn.

We had to keep an eye on them of course. Every time one of them so much as looked at a flower sideways, expletives would rain down on them from two directions. Luckily, the green clumps and clover were more than enough for them and no flowers were lost in the visit.

There’s something so lovely about having horses in the yard. I love giving them a pat as they wander past and watching the dust poof off them. I love the sound of them chewing. I also rather like their help with “mowing”.

And I love horse butts. So strong and round.

Almost as good as cow butts.

Taken at the Hamilton Show yesterday. I got to pat a lot of cows and a lot of beautiful horses.

Life in the country is good!

z