Saturday, 28 April 2012

It's raining, it's pouring...

I'd take a photo from the deck of the valley but it looks like white noise...

It's been raining for 24 hours now and we've had more than 130mm of constant rain and there is no sign of it letting up. This has the potential to be very bad. Around here the creeks come up quickly, roads close without warning, dams overflow and landslides  are far too common. We are still doing repair work from the January 2011 storms on our property.

Anyway... I've just come in from rugging two very wet donkeys and giving them some chaff to warm their bellies. They will dry out pretty quickly and be toasty under their coats. Then there's the two wet dogues that are currently lying on the living room rug on their dogs beds. That is, if you define a custom made leather poofee as a dog bed. And somewhere out in the misty rain is/was 7 chooker moles who, last time seen, looked like some sort of tiny alien dinosaurs.

I even got an emergency callout this afternoon to attend a car accident on Clear Mountain Road (am a local rural fire brigade member). I was in town so was more than an hour away. Luckily I got a STOP message ten minutes later so I can only assume it wasn't as bad as originally thought. Am glad someone got to go home to their family today.

PLEASE STOP RAINING... I just want to mow the lawn...

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Break and enter

I came home from work on Tuesday to find that there had been a break and enter... the donkeys had broken into the chook shed and stolen the chooker moles laying mash! They'd even taken the container outside and taken it apart. Not a single grain was left (am assuming the chooker moles helped to remove any evidence).

Working out exactly who was the culprit wasn't very hard as Irwin is too wide to fit through the door of the chook shed. But he had obviously been an accessory to the fact, if not a recipient of stolen goods.

Laying mash (and any chook food for that matter) is very very bad for horses and donkeys. It can kill them. But Guinness and Irwin obviously didn't read the label on the bag. They probably only got a litre or two of the grain and it obviously not enough for them to work out it gave them a belly ache.

So, how did I know exactly what happened? Well, the next morning the culprits came back and we found casing the joint for a repeated offence. Luckily for the chooker moles I have put some mechanisms in place (a brick and a pigtail picket) to ensure that no donkey can open the door to the chook shed again. The door has to stay open during the day so that the chooker moles can get in and out to lay their eggs.

Today I shall move the electric fence so that the donkeys can't get to the chook shed - just to be sure. I don't want an unnecessary vet bill. Lord knows I get enough of them already!

Friday, 6 April 2012

Getting exotic on Clear Mountain

This weekend is the weekend of introducing exotics to the garden. (It takes my mind off chocolate)

So, for a little variety and challenge, I recently purchased a vanilla plant. It went in the ground last weekend and we have set it up on a trellis.

Vanilla is actually an orchid and a vine and likes to grow (so I've been told) about 25 feet (this one is about 2 feet long) before it will flower - which it does within only a few days. Then you have to manually pollinate the flowers with a cotton bud in order to assist Mother Nature in growing vanilla pods. This also doesn't happen for the first few years. So, this is why vanilla is so damn expensive.

Anyway, my friend David and I are having a little challenge to see who gets the first pods. He is thinking about planting his on/near a frangipani tree. I bought the two plants on ebay from FNQ if anyone is interested in having a crack themselves.

David also got me a miniature banana tree a few months ago. As you can see, it has gone nuts and is now about nearly 2 metres tall. It will produce normal bananas (not sure if it is Cavendish or Lady Finger) but the tree itself will only get this tall. 

So, am expecting flowers and baby bananas any day now.

And the latest addition to the mountain is a coffee tree (thanks Josie). I have high expectations for this little sapling. We use a shitload of fresh coffee!

We also plant a lot of things that are generally considered waste like pineapple tops (yes, they do grow eventually). We currently have three in the ground waiting for a burst of development.

I have also successfully grown an avocado tree from a seed. It got to about a metre high before I accidentally sprayed it with Roundup. [Key learnings: #1 don't go so close to small trees with the spray and #2 I can always grow another one]. They do grow really large so don't plant it too close to anything.

Local word is that Camfin Valley, that we overlook, was used during WWII for the American soldiers and their horses. As folklaw goes there was an old Chinese market gardener who would provide fresh produce to them, although no one really knew where he had his gardens. Rumour is that his old gardens were on our land. In one of the 3 gullys there is an amazing 3 metre high rock waterfall that looks like it is   man made, it is so perfect. It is really hard to get to but worth the walk down there if it is flowing. It only flows when there is signifiant rain (often). To the south of it is where our orchard and an untamed area lies. The soil here is amazing... makes you wonder, huh.

As happy as a donkey in...

I’ve learnt a lot about donkeys since I took on two rescues a few years ago. They are highly emotional and intelligent creatures, of whom you need to earn their trust. Not such an easy job when their previous lives had obviously been so traumatic. But little by little, they come around. It’s an incredibly rewarding process.

Donkeys are very tidy creatures, they toilet in the same area (separate spots for #1’s and #2’s) and love nothing more than a good old dust bath, again in the same chosen spot. Ours have adopted the sandy area over the top of our biocycle as their dirt bath area.

I’ve taken the following photos of Irwin totally enjoying his bath last weekend. Sorry, they are so hard to see but it was taken from a way away so as not to disturb him.

I do believe he is smiling…