Saturday, 31 December 2011

New Years Eve

I've been busy during Christmas....  though I hadn't realised that it's been so long since my last post.  Today is quite hot... close to 40C, and the garden is watered and protected from the sun.  It has "gone downhill" a bit during the past few weeks as, between work, minor and major crises in the family and the arrival of a temporary lodger with too much stuff, I have neglected some patches.

It's amazing to see how well the salvias are surviving. I have quite a collection from various countries where conditions can be equally hot and dry,  and I'll make a proper post about those shortly.

Meanwhile, Gertrude has been unwell.   I had only recently been admiring her wonderful general health, shown by her fat tummy and her amazingly shiny hair, when I noticed that one of her eyes had a red edge to it a couple of days ago.  Today, her pupil looked whitish though she didn't seem unduly fussed....
 ... during the hot days,  she has been in the shade and getting rid of feral olive branches.

The vet has been to visit, and there is nothung in her eye.  I'm assuming that she's scratched it or got something in it that is long gone.  The vet used some anaesthetic to poke around (while I held her back legs off the ground to reduce traction) and now she has some antibiotic cream in and around the eye....
... hard to see, but the white ring around her right eye is a good dose of medication.  I can't wait to have a go at putting some more in tomorrow morning...  it will be a great way to start the new year.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Perfumed lilies, ladybirds and jalapenos

The latest lily to flower is the amazingly perfumed white one.....
 .... the shadows of the salvia behind it look interesting.  There are more to come.....
 The ladybirds are still out on the parsley seed heads.....
 .... and the carrot flowers.....


The parsley is almost ready to plant.....
 .... this is where my seeds come from.

The new jalapeno crop is beginning while the old ripe fruits remain.....
.... I'm obviously not eating (or freezing) enough of them.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

New lily & first tomato!

The first of this different lily came out yesterday afternoon.  A little the worse for wear in the sind,  but beautiful....
 ... my grandmother used to grow this kind, and it reminds me of her.

I ate the first local (20 metres) tomato today....
 ..... not a huge crop,  but it was very tasty.

The ladybirds are still at work.....
... and hopefully dining on aphids as I dine on tomatoes.

Bath time

The young rosella that has been haning around the pond was back again this morning. 

It always drinks and bathes,  and this morning was no exception....


.... this morning, a friend came too.....


....  and a young blackbird...  don't know what it was thinking,  but it didn't go near the water until the splashy bath was over.....
Interesting morning.   And this is all straight outside my kitchen window and it's what I watch while I wash the dishes.


Friday, 9 December 2011

Best bronzewing picture

Today I went out looking for a cuckoo that I heard,  but never did see.   However,  having got my "eye in" yesterday,  I found the Bronzewing without any difficulty at all.  They ar every apprehensive about people compared with the other birds around here,  but I photographed this male bird quite easily....
 .... in this first photograph, there is a definite yellow puffy patch on the forehead... that makes it a male....
... and in the second picture you can easily se the multicoloured feathers and stripes down his back.  I suppose the female is sitting on eggs.  There are usually two birds around, but I can't see her.  They are both in my yard though, and both call in the same way at times.   I'll keep looking, but if only they knew that I wasn't going to interfere, with them,  and that I have forgone fruit trees to preseve their habitat here.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Bronzewing

I have been hearing a Bronzewing pigeon for some weeks.  Their sound is very distinctive, it begins at about 4.30 am in the morning and goes until dark (nearly 9pm lately.)  As it was getting dark this evening, I saw it.....
 ... and I realise that this is not the best photograph in the world,  I am just so pleased to have found the Bronzewing.

Earlier in the day I had been photographing a young red wattle bird around the pond.....
 .... it was very funny......
 .....  it didn't like the bees around the lily pads......
 ... but here, if you look carefully,   you can see the red wattles... just tiny,  but they are there.


And here is a baby blackbird, learning to catch earwigs....
 ..... this year is a BIG earwig year..... so the blackbirds had better get on with it.
The garden is not doing so well at the moment....  hot, earwigs and less attention than usual.... at least the birds are doing their part.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Eggs

This may not be an exciting picture to many, but this is the first day on which I have retrieved 4 eggs from the chickens.....
.... since the night of the fox I have had to deal with stressed hens and a lack of eggs.  I now have only four hens (prior to the fox in the henhouse, I had 13 + one wierd rooster) and significantly less eggs than usual.  Today is the first day that I have found four eggs in the nestbox.  That means that even the black hen is laying eggs.  She is the one who sat for two weeks without moving....  here she is when I first saw her roosting... a couple of weeks ago....
The production of four eggs today means that she is back "on the lay" and hopefully happier.  She was the first out of the pen when they came out to deal with my earwig problem today....  a turnaround!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

More cactus flowers

It does seem to be a very good year for cactus plants/flowers this year....  just beside Gertrude's pen are these.....
..... a pinkish purple one...

 ... this yellow one, with a green centre....
 ... and more of the spectacular while flowers....
And here they are all together.....
... the very tallest plants are a different species, I think and so far these only have buds... so much more to come.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Flowers, seeds and insects

This morning, when I was out in th garden early (before work) the air was heavy with perfume.  i took this photograph to add to my facebook page before I left for work.
 This afternoon, the same flowers look a little the worse for wear... no wind, gentle weatehr,  but the flowers don't last very long.
 The compensation is the next cactus flowers.....
 ... and these have come out during the day.

I went to check on the rest of the garden when I got home.   Someone asked me the other day what I do when plants go to seed.  In faact,  I do pull a few out,  but mostly I let them "do their thing" and this is the result....
 these are coriander seeds.  For a start, dried coriander seeds (like this) are very useful... they constitute much of the "volume" of the curry powder that you can buy.  This "fresh" version has much more flavour than the dried, ground version that you can buy.  As well as that,  I plant the seeds again to get more leafy coriander (cilantro/chinese parsley) and I am never short of any of these flavours... it's one of those flavours that either you love or hate (I love it) so I am pleased to have a constant supply.

I always let a few winter carrots "go to seed" as well... it is just at this time of the year that I am trying to encourage ladybirds and they love carrot flowers for their babies.... and love to eat aphids!   This lady bird is running around on a carrot flower....
 ... but the parsley flowers seem even more attractive.  Here are three on this flowerhead and I could have photographed any number of them today.

I also found this fly on another carrot flower...
...don't know what it is yet,  but if anyone has any suggestions, I'd be grateful... I assume it's "friendly" until I find out otherwise.  There seems to be an un-written rule that the adult insects that hang out on mature plants have babies that feed on the pests of the young/immature plants that I am in competition for...  the friends of my enemies are my friends.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

The poor black chicken that was savaged by the fox is definitely getting better.  Today is the first time that she has been out foraging for earwigs in the yard.....
 .... she looks so much better, though you can still see her bald patch behind her head.  The fox took off with a lot of feathers, and the patch is only now growing back....
 .... if you look carefully, you can see the gap in the feathers behind her head.  Baby feathers are growing back,  but she still looks a bit odd.
But remember this.....
.... she spent two weeks like that (and she didn't eat or drink!)  and I seriously thought about euthanasia.

I found two eggs today.  The two bantams lay smaller eggs than this big one.  That presumably belongs to the white hen.   The tiny one is probably produced by the black hen.  Chickens often produce these funny little eggs (no yolk) when they are "learning" or when they re-commence laying after the winter (because "normal" hens don't lay all year round.)
 Anyway,  this egg had a black feather stuck to it.   I think that it just might indicate that the black hen might be coming back "on the lay."   So pleased to see that she has survived,  let alone laying eggs!  A survivor!
Pond still needs work,  but is getting better by the day... fish are enjoying it too,  is seems.