Archive for November, 2007

Meet Our Neighbours

November 25, 2007

We have been enjoying the birds and critters around the house this week and have some photos to share with you.

I already sent a photo of a little fantail on her nest.  We have now found a second fantail nest nearby as well.

This is a spotted pardolote.  We are working on getting a photo of him or his missus coming out of their nest, but it is difficult as they nest in a burrow in the side of a hole in the ground and they are pretty flighty!

We have been watching a pair of black faced shrike thrush’s making a nest high in a tree in our front yard.

Then, the most interesting to me was this spotted tail (or tiger) quoll which Josiah found on our verandah the other night.  The quoll slipped down the side of the washing machine and seemed most curious and not really frightened at all when we all came out to see and photograph him.  I wanted to get him out to cuddle, but since they have a reputation for being fierce I restrained myself!  This one was just a youngster being only about 25cm long (head and body) and apparently they grow to be from 50-70cm long.  They eat rats and reptiles amongst other things, so I am hopeful he will hang around and take his fill of baby snakes!  They are even reputed to take out small pademelons so I guess they are pretty mean hunters when they are grown.

Other sightings include Kim thinking he may have glimpsed a devil up near the manor and Caleb seeing our first tiger snake as he was driving out the other day.  We haven’t seen any snakes around the house thankfully, I think we make enough noise to warn them off.  Echidnas and hares can be seen on most days if you look for them, and the dog sees wallabys quite often and chases them and the hares whenever she gets the chance.  We mostly hear the wallabys rather than see them.  We’ve also had visits from brushtail and ringtail possums, including a ringtail mother with her baby on her back, just outside the house.

This is a hare, zooming off as usual.  They blend in so well with the scrub that you just don’t see them until they suddenly decide you are too close and shoot off.

We have numerous superb wrens, fantails, scrub wrens and a dusky robin around the house with plenty of yellow throated honeyeaters and green rosellas ranging a bit further out, and we see occasional black headed honyeaters and yellow tailed black cockies as well.  Other birds are seen less often, and some remain unidentified as yet.  A hawk makes the odd appearance and an eagle flew across the road, chased off by a crow, as we were heading out the other day.

Superb wrens are just gorgeous.

And Scrub wrens are possibly my favourite, because they are so bold and get so close.

The kookaburras serenade us in the mornings and evenings, but they generally don’t hang around nearby.

In other family news, Josiah has got the whole bike riding thing worked out and is off trainer wheels now.  He is very proud and excited about the event and can be found riding his bike up and down the driveway numerous times a day.

And we have finished making the electric fence around the our first dome’s rotation area.  God willing we will be collecting the hens on Monday and can start the permaculture gardening process again.  I’m looking forward to not having to buy eggs!

Well, it is time to go and make lunch now, before heading off to church.  The church service in Mole Creek is at 2pm so we have a fairly relaxed and lazy start to Sunday’s these days.  Sam usually skips breakfast and arrives down from the manor for lunch!

Warming Up

November 18, 2007

The weather has been warmer lately, getting up over 25 some days.  Perth friends will laugh, but after aclimatising to Albany we find this uncomfortably warm.  All those who said we would freeze over here were obviously thinking only of winter!  Anyway, what news do we have.

A week ago we had a public holiday for northern Tassie.  Wondering what important event we were commemorating we checked up on the internet and found we were celebrating Recreation Day.  It seems that southern Tassie has a holiday for their regatta earlier in the year, and since we up north wouldn’t be interested in joining in with the bureaucrats down south, we have our own holiday up here to keep it fair.

We have finished making our chook dome and have moved on to organising the electric fence to keep out the predators now.  This is not terribly straightforward, but we hope to get it done this week.  My seedlings are growing well and I enjoy checking every day to see what else has come up.  Soon hopefully we will have some chooks again and I will be able to plant things out.

We have also found and reopened a track for the ute to get around to the back of the house (brushcutters rule!).  This has been very helpful in allowing us to move larger piles of tree prunings, leaf litter, sticks etc away from the house onto one of the “to be burned” piles.  Kim continues to cut trees into rounds which we are then working on splitting for our firewood stack.  Apparently we want to have about 10 cubic metres to last a year, we think we have about 3 cubic metres split so far, and there is plenty more to do.

The boys had an early morning visitor in “the Manor” the other day.  Two Grey Shrike Thrushes came in through the open window and then could not work out how to get out.  These are the birds who were nesting there when we moved in, and I guess they thought they would see if the boys had gone yet.  Caleb got a photo of one of them this time.

While on the topic of birds, we have discovered a couple of fantail nests close to the house, so we are keen to keep and eye on them and watch the babies grow up.  They are still in the hatching eggs stage right now.

Lydia is feeling very pleased as our neighbour has been inviting her over to ride her pony.  She has ridden twice this week and is invited over again next Tuesday.  The pony is much more lively than the riding school ponies she was used to, but she is doing well and enjoying the challenge.

Josiah has been trying to learn to ride his bike, but still does not have the whole balance thing worked out yet.   However he loves to  race along the driveway as you can see.

We are still enjoying wandering around the block finding new things we hadn’t noticed before.  The other day we were told that we have some pine nut trees here somewhere.  So we went hunting and found them today, and have been trying out home grown pine nuts.  I never even knew what they were before.  We find odd little deciduous trees planted in hidden spots and are never quite sure what we’ll find next.  I only wish that I knew what most things were!  I think I need a new book to help me ID things.  I have a book of native plants, but a lot of the things we find are introduced I’m sure.  Lydia is in search of a good climbing tree to make a cubby in.  In the photo below she is in a huge old silver wattle, a nice cool spot on a sunny day.

In other exciting news we had trouble with our composting toilet last week.  The gearbox broke despite it having a shear pin that is supposed to break before anything more serious does.  The supplier posted us a replacement part, which contained both the gearbox and motor, from Queensland.  When it finally arrived Kim installed it only to have it work for about 30 seconds before the motor in the new part died.  After much “not amused” messing around, my useful husband managed to make a conglomerate working whole out of the two non functional parts.  Sometimes I am very glad he is both mechanically and electronically capable.  Still, we don’t feel much like recommending this particular loo at the moment.  Hopefully we will have a trouble free time with it from now on.

On a more pleasant note, we are all going out to dinner at the Guest House in Mole Creek on Tuesday to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary!  Should be nice.

The Latest

November 8, 2007

It has been a few weeks since I caught you up on our latest news.  Life rolls on, Kim and I are always busy, there is so much to do it can be a bit daunting at times, and the kids stay busy helping us and keeping up with schoolwork too.  We are still clearing away tree debri and collecting our stack of firewood for next year, I don’t think that job will ever end.  Kim recently injured his thumb which has slowed him down somewhat but he still managed to build a cupboard in the house which is giving us more much needed storage room.  It is wonderful to have the internet phone and to be able to communicate from home again, that takes away a lot of the feelings of isolation.

 We are starting to get to know some of the locals, there seems to be a nice little community here who help each other out and share their skills and experience.  We are being swamped with eggs from our nearest neighbours, and have received some milk and help cutting down six trees close to the house from another neighbour.  In turn they have sussed out that Kim is handy with mechanics and I’m expecting to have them call on him to help them in that way when needed, and we have contributed to the koalas diet at the local wildlife park with some white gum leaves.

We have started to build our first chook dome and hope to have that up and running soon.  To that end we are tracking down an electric mesh fence to surround the garden area with.  There is always the wallabies and hares to keep out, but our main concern is the quolls and to a lesser extent the devils who would happily make a meal of the chooks.  It sounds like quolls are trickie little beggars, and the neighbours assure us that both types of quoll as well as devils can be found around here.

We had our first official visitors recently, a friend made from when I was working at the vets in Albany was over from “the mainland” visiting Tassie with her family.  It was great to catch up, and having visitors somehow made us feel like we had arrived.

The motor in our old VW wagon recently gave up the ghost so we have been back to one car and limited in our travelling abilities as a family (since we don’t all fit into it).  As a stop gap measure we picked up a ute for the miserly sum of $500 which has given Kim more to work on  🙂  and has been quite useful as well in moving things around.  I feel much more like a farmer driving a ute than an Audi.

We are keenly waiting to see what fruit trees are springing into life in the yard.  So far we have identified a bunch of small cherry trees (yum, can’t wait) and some spanish walnuts.  Anyway, I will finish up here with some more photos.  Firstly two of the cherries, then the chicken dome in progress and Lydia exploring, then a sunset shot and our new ute, finishing up with a before and after of the new cupboard.