I once encountered one of these Mountain Dragons in the backyard when we 1st moved in 5 years ago. Found this little fella today, glad to see that they are still secretly calling our garden home.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love birds, mostly because they fly over your fence (an in joke from a public speaking course that I once did, needless to say, a piece of me died that night and never grew back). What I love more than birds is the literal fruits of my labour, which birds happen to also love, more than me. Being that we have clearly established that they have the superhuman, almost bird like ability to fly over fences, measures need to be taken.
Those who has seen a cherry orchard know that they are covered with nets. Birds love Cherries. The unseasonal November heat wave seems to have blushed the cherries early this year. I suspect, part of a bird’s success is they are happy to take a few bites out of a partially ripe fruit, and leave the rest to rot. Being almost a real human being, I also succeed competing within the food chain, quite well in fact (I like to eat) therefore, this morning, instead of my morning cuppa, I was putting up the below primitive but timeless bird keeper outerer. Again, anyone who knows me would know that 4 x 4 metres of twisted net would normally be a trigger for a fit of rage. I can tell you that I calmly and skillfully got that net up in 25 mins, maybe I really am a backyard farmer?
Speaking of stuff, we have two lots of thornless blackberries on our humble suburban block, one covering a tree stump and the other, pictured below. Normally an afterthought, they typically produce a token amount of berries which need to be picked at the right time to ensure ripeness. I think age and care is a factor in their production as this year, they are laden with flowers and should produce plenty of fruit in February, after the bulk of the summer berries have already been enjoyed.
Lastly in a series of unrelated paragraphs, pictured below is another cute cacti which I picked up a couple of years ago. Love the little bright orange flowers which it produces each year.
Even to this day, recalling the song which inspired this post title still makes me want to regurgitate my very recent, and quite delicious meal. I’m not sure why I am going ahead with it.
Today I prepared my first batch of strawberry wine. The result of a new hobby born after being a teetotaller for 12 odd years. Drinking is a great hobby, but, the desire to be as close as possible to my food sources, and have a clear understanding of the ingredients (alcohol seems to be exempt from labeling requirements) has led me to the art of fruit winemaking.
What better way to preserve this year’s excess tamarillos, rhubarb and a lucky score of feijoas? Not to mention my plans for all the summer fruits that will be soon in season.
Tomorrow, while sheltering from the midday heat, my 1st batch of mead will be prepared. Perhaps the oldest and simplest of alcoholic beverages, in its most basic form, can be created with just honey, water and yeast. Being a huge honey consumer, and having access to the great honey available in Tasmania, it seems like a no brainer.
The strawberry wine reminded me of our own strawberry patch, which seems to be gearing up for a bumper crop this year. The berry in the lead already showing signs of being tampered with by an unwelcome guest prompted the netting to be rolled out and installed.
Speaking of unwelcome guests, the close encounter with a white lipped snake in the yard just the other day was cause for concern. A beautiful creature, they are, like all of Tasmania’s snakes, venomous. For healthy human adults, the effect of the venom is supposedly not too bad, and with the snake being on the shy side, it is our secured on a lead but ever curious and somewhat wannabe hunter of a cat which is of most concern. With luck, the snake, despite being surrounded by its favourite food of skinks, will decide to move on.
Maybe it is because southern Tasmania is starting to heat up, or maybe, because due to the increase in temperature, I am finding myself in the yard more, but, it seems the wildlife is starting to rouse. The Blue Tongue Skinks in particular seem to be taking over the yard, with several sightings of distinct lizards on a warm day, with two even spotted fighting, or mating… let’s face it, the two acts come hand in hand ;-). In our previous residence, there was a noticeable rise in the snail population when the Blue Tongue was no longer about, so, if you get these fellas in your yard, do your best to make them welcome.
2 Brown Tree frogs were spotted in the glasshouse, providing further motivation to create a frog pond to encourage further amphibious residents. Having spent my childhood seemingly endlessly searching for lizards and frogs, I am excited to be able to share my backyard with them and foster my daughter’s curiosity.
Some passing Yellow Tailed Black Cockatoos stopped in to play on our big gum tree, the 1st time that I can recall them hanging out on there and, a testament to my photography skills.
Finally, this Katydid, whose chirps fill the air for many of the warmer months.
I picked up a couple of new raised beds recently. After much digging and leveling, they have both been installed, one filled with existing soil, the other one though, being a little on the entirely empty side. Ideally I was just going to fill with straw and grow potatoes, but with current straw prices, availability and a ute that is on its last legs, I reconsidered that idea. I had better buy up on straw this season.
What I do have after such a wet winter, is an abundance of lawn clippings, so I thought I would try my hand again at composting, now that I have a big raised hole. I have filled the hole with fresh clippings, sheep manure, cow manure, which, given all the sticks, might not have arrived directly from the cow, and sugar cane mulch (which I thought I would try it out given the price of straw). The theory is that the pile of fresh grass will start to break down and turn into a literal hotbed as I have seen piles of grass do. I will then start feeding it with the other materials, turning it over with a fork daily or so until, I don’t know, I have something resembling soil that I can grow what already feels like, late potatoes. I can add those to the list of late everything else that has yet to be planted. I will keep folks updated on the progress, with instagram quality photos of a pile of grass and poo.
On another note, I caught a snap of my favourite little visitor to the garden, a Superb Fairy Wren. These guys seem to be seasonal visitors the the garden (not to the region though), but appear to be hanging around more this year than previous years. I would love to entice them to be year long residents.
I would be too, with such a shabby, frog related headline…you waited months for this crap?
Anyway, i’m not dead, I haven’t been in jail, and I haven’t been on the run (for the whole time), I have just been a bit lazy and time poor.
But, after a few weekends of solid weeding, the yard is finally in a state where i can take a snap without shame, so I will soon be boring those silly enough to subscribe, with regular ramblings again.
I mentioned a frog, and you bothered to read down to this point without jumping straight to the pic? Yes, the post is about a frog. I must admit, these guys are one of my favourite visitors to the backyard. This one was discovered hanging out in the glass house last weekend.
It has actually been great to get back in the garden and on top of things after the mild, but still cool winter. Hopefully I can get you guys back reading the blog and keeping me on top of my weeding.