31 December 2012


You may remember when we had a heatwave some weeks back and I down some palm fronds as a temporary cover for the seedlings
Since then I've got a bit more organised and put up a structure to hold the fronds during the hot summer months, especially in the big bed where the delicate lettuces are.  In this way they get morning sun, shade in the middle of the day from the palm fronds, and shade in the afternoon from the madagascar beans.

29 December 2012

Summer projects

There are a number of projects Shaun and I have been working on these holidays.  The first has been working on the citrus swale.  With the recent rain, its a great time to weed with the roots not gripping as tightly.  When we first put the swales in, we did a winter cover crop of green manure, followed by a summer crop, but clearly we didn't sow thickly enough as the weeds and grass soon took over, despite this promising start.  So this has been the week to get started ( I know its summer and its really, really hot, but at least we're on leave and so have some time).  And now that the trees are establishing nicely, its also time to think more about the understory.  So here's what we've done this far

24 December 2012

Its a zoo around here!

Dogs, chickens, fish, snakes, koalas and now monitor lizards!  Yesterday we heard some birds going crazy just outside. At first we thought a group of minor birds were having a go at another native bird who had come into their territory perhaps, but they all seemed to be looking down on the ground and other birds seemed to be joining in.  So given recent events, we thought 'snake'.  Shaun slipped quietly outside to have a look, and unsurprisingly, I decided to stay inside and watch from the window.  He turned and held out his arms, showing me the size of the snake (not too big I thought) but then came to the sliding door to tell me it was a monitor lizard.  I rushed for the camera and Shaun ran to get a shot, but those puppies can move, so I saw it darting off into the bush but we didn't get a photo.

Then we heard the chickens going ballistic so Shaun went down to have a look and see what was upsetting them.  Despite finding nothing, though the girls were clearly avoiding one section of the run, so perhaps there was something in the grass he couldn't see.  As he came back to the house, he spotted a second, and much larger, monitor lizard and as he still had his camera in hand, he managed to get some great shots

23 December 2012

Just a mild heart attack

I'd just picked some onion shallots from the garden (the first I've grown) and was giving them a bit of a trim outside the kitchen door.  I heard a substantial shifting sound just next to where I was standing, as if the dogs had bumped into something.  But they were inside and the thing that shifted was our two surf skis, which for some reason are up next to the house, just along from the sliding door that leads into the kitchen.  I yelled out for Shaun to come have a look, as I thought it was a rat in the skis.  He came outside and was peering under one end and I was peering under the other, and then I saw it - a snake.  Then once I'd recovered and come back  to have another look, as it was clearly trying to catch said rat, Shaun saw the head and realised it wasn't our resident roof python, but a brown snake.

So one heart attack later, I was inside, looking out the the sliding doors as Shaun bravely offered to scare it away and towards the bush.  But by the time he went back to go and shake the other end of the ski, the snake had turned right around and was coming out his end.  If he had a heart attack at this point, he hid it well.  The snake perhaps had its own conniption as it turned around again and headed in my direction (though I was safely behind the glass)

22 December 2012

Summer holidays are here

I had one last business trip for the year (hence rather long blog gap) and am now on summer holidays, that greatest of Australian traditions.  I've now got just over 3 weeks of pottering around, and Shaun 10 days, as we don't plan to go away but are staying home instead.  After all the travel I've done in the second half of the year, I'm thrilled at not having to leave.  We do plan to do a few day trips to see things we haven't visited in the time we've lived in Brisbane.

The first hint of summer was our local growers Christmas party.  We offered to have it here as we've got a gorgeous spot for a picnic and have yet to use it - under the trees by our dam.  With holidays commitments, we ended up with about half the gang able to come over for a relaxing Sunday lunch.  As usual, everyone brought something to share that they had made from their veggie gardens.  We made quiche, fried rice and bread to add to the festivities.

10 December 2012

That's one way to deal with the rats

Shaun went down to close up the chooks a couple of nights ago and it was unusually quiet - no rats scuttling around, no chooks shifting and complaining about who got the best spot on the roost.  Silence.   What could silence chickens and chase away rats?  Only a python.  So Shaun started looking around and finally found the sneaking thing tucked up under the lid of the roosting boxes.  But when you lifted it up, you could see him but you could feel his weight in the lid itself, as he'd slithered in between the wooden frame and the metal lid.  Tricky fellow

07 December 2012

koala rescue (so sad)

When Shaun found the little koala on the second day, she was wondering around the patch and so Shaun let her out so she could get back to a gum tree.  She made it to the grass at the base of the tree but didn't have the energy to climb up.

06 December 2012

Heatwave protection

I got up at 6.00 and went down to the patch to try and make some hasty heatwave protection of my little seedlings before work.  I gave them and go water and then went to raid my green waste pile (not sure I'd call it a compost heap as its just a place where we put the things that take absolute ages to breakdown).  I grabbed lots of palm fronds and laid them down over the seedlings

04 December 2012

Even koalas get hot

Shaun went down to check on the little girls to make sure they hadn't finished all their water.  They hadn't but what he found was an empty run.  Thinking this was just not a cool enough spot on a 40 degree day, he went inside their yard and found them huddled in the shade.  Then he heard some loud rustling on the other side of the fence in their run.  A snake would also explain why they weren't out there under the gum tree, so he went to look.  But what he wasn't expecting to find was a little koala on the ground in some heat distress.  So he rushed off and got a black garbage lid and filled it with water to place at the bottom of the tree.  When he got back, the koala had gone back up the gum tree, just out of reach, so Shaun put the water down and moved away so as not to stress the little fella any further.

First fruits

Isn't it a wonderful moment when a tree that you've planted as a tiny thing finally grows up enough to bear its first fruits.  For some, its obviously much longer than others, but each time its a little thrill.  One that I've been hanging out for since we moved here and started planting is my fig tree.  I'd been watching and giving lots of tender loving care and then I got busy with other plants as she seemed to be doing fine. And of course, when you stopping looking, things happen.

03 December 2012

What's our aquaponics system up to

Its probably time for another look at our aquaponics system.  The fish, along with everything else are growing.

Can I just say, its much harder to get a pic of fish in a feeding frenzy than you'd think.  Shaun didn't think I did much of a job capturing how big they are, and whilst I agree, they only come to the surface to feed and then its on - splashing and shoving and no glamorous photo moments.

02 December 2012

How many uses can you find for cow poo?

Not only did we manage to cover patch 5 (and me) in gorgeous cow poo and straw,

we also wheel barrow many (many) loads into the raised garden bed patch, filling each one up to the brim again.  you got a sneak peak the other day, but here's a proper look

01 December 2012

I had to give it a go

We've been watching a bit of Jamie Oliver's 15 minute meals lately, so I thought I'd give one of this week's recipes a go.  The ricotta fritters looks good, so I popped into the IGA on the way home to get a few bits a pieces I'd need.  I have to confess, it didn't take 15 minutes, but I wasn't multi-tasking and I was carefully going back and forward to the recipe, but I still think a meal in 35 minutes is pretty good.
It has three parts to it, the ricotta fritters, the sauce and the little side salad.  Relatively simple.  But what surprised us the most was the amazing depth of flavour that such a simple meal has and it was possibly one of the tastiest things I've ever turned out of my kitchen. And cheap as chips to boot.