Tuesday, December 28, 2010


The female koel is the top bird, in the middle are a pair of king parrots and at the bottom the male koel (eating cherry tomatoes). Koels are cuckoos - they lay their eggs in other birds nests, which is why this pair were being harassed by lots of other birds.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Hope you are having/had a nice day. For lunch we had ham, cheese and tomato crossiants (not my tomato though I have grown lots so far just cherry and roma). With lots of yummy nibbles, and homemade Baileys for evening.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Transportable factory

So I made the trek to Orange and return without too much adventure (31/48 hours on train/bus; train cancelled due to flooding so had to go via coach Sydney to Orange; mobile phone slipped out of pocket as I got off in Sydney but managed to get back on board and get it before the train left; technical fault with carriages caused an hour delay on the trip home). The houses being built were all bigger than my cabin but got some idea of the construction (steel frame on sturdy beams) and finish. I made the deposit so now they will draw up full elevation/sections and construction details to include in the council development application.

King parrots

A pair of male king parrots checking out what to raid in my garden. I suspect the corn which is nearly ripe looks good, going to try the first cob for lunch.

The cucumbers I planted all didn't germinate but two came up from compost heap and just picked the first two. Tomatoes are beginning to produce what may be a glut. We did plant several lots of tomato seeds weeks apart but the first lots were very slow.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


This little frog was on the garlic chives - shame the focus is off. Knee still sore, part of the meniscus was folded under and a bit was poking into the joint so no wonder it was hurting. This week I'm going to Orange to sign up to get the cabin built. It's about 11 hours drive so I thought I would take the train - although that's 14-15 hours each way (and I have to catch a bus as well). I'll leave 9pm Wed night, I paid extra for first class overnight leg in the hope I can sleep some, I'll stay Thurs night at the Templers Mill Motel (part of RSL). Then 6am bus to Sydney and then train to Grafton arriving back at 10pm.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Not sure what these bugs are that hatched under my solar panel.


I got 8kg of potatoes from 1kg of seed potatoes (that cost $8 from Bunnings, and you can get potatoes for $1/kg sometimes so not exactly a profit). Some chillies and a bay tree. And a leek (already ate some of it).

New chicken

Unfortunately dogs killed three of the chickens while I wasn't there. The next day they came back and attacked the survivor locked in the chicken tractor. Turns out they were my neighbour Lisa's dogs. I go walking with Lisa a couple of times a week. She bought me this new chicken from a local and will buy me some feed (since I said I didn't want all 3 replaced). Of course the survivor chook was Ruby who has never got along with me - standoffish and tends to run behind me then peck my legs. She isn't too friendly to the new chook either but seems to only chase it a bit not cause any damage.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Garden update

The survivor from the first 12 corn I planted is trying to form cobs - might not work too well since suppose to need cross pollination. In the front left corner you can see the potatoes dying back - guess I better harvest them soon. The sultana grape in the background isn't showing signs of last years mildew (yet).

The peanuts are starting to flower.

Knee is a bit sorer today so probably mainly bed bound.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Knee surgery tomorrow

I decided to go private for the knee operation - 12 months is a long time to wait if it's going to stir up regularly. It's day surgery (15 mins of surgeon time - with followup he gets $1800). I'm going to stay at Cathy's - I suspect I won't be able to drive a manual car for a couple of days. I passed the SES land search course on the weekend and straight into first aid course - but at least it's only Tuesday nights.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Knee operation $3000 vs 9-12 month wait?

The MRI of my left knee shows a torn meniscus - it could have been torn for years. Since most of the meniscus doesn't have a blood supply it will never heal. The can do keyhole surgery and trim the torn part off which will stop it sticking into the joint causing pain. It won't change my chronic sore knees (chondromalacia) - but should stop the acute pain episodes. Since I only have public hospital cover I can wait 9-12 months and get it free or pay ~$3000 and have it done almost immediately. It's day surgery and I should be able to walk immediately.

Brown snake

Saw my first brown snake - and it wasn't this one. I heard a car stop and talk about running over a snake (they doubled back and ran over it three more times) - as I walked up to see it I nearly stepped on another one - over a metre long and it was frozen along my path to the letterbox, lucky I was thinking about snakes so my eyes realised what I was seeing in time to stop walking on it. The snake on the road was still moving - hence the single poor shot - I wasn't hanging around just in case.

Peach trees

Anne noticed the peach trees on my block that had been bulldozed but a few hung onto life where they had been pushed to the edge of the stream bank. There seems to be lots of fruit set but I have heard between the birds and insects I'm not likely to get a taste. I tied a plastic bag around a few - fingers crossed.

Friday, October 29, 2010


The insectivorous plants are recovering from winter - the venus fly trap has flower buds. One tomato plant is finally forming tomatoes - going to be a huge glut as I have more than a dozen. The native bees are loving the flowering bunching onions, and the frogs are laying eggs everywhere. The last photo is green manure just before I dug it in.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wet and muddy

There has been lots of rain here - the soil is waterlogged. Things not doing well: corn I planted two lots of 12 but the mice ate most of them, the artichokes don't like being wet. Things doing well: potatoes (Ruby Lou) although starting to see some bugs on them, the peanuts have sprouted, comfrey is flowering. The stream has risen but no where close to flooding over the bank.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Early start to Port Stephens trip

I got a SES call out at 9:30am this morning, as I drove out noticed the creek was getting quite high so ducked back and topped up the chicken food, just in case. We went upto Coffs, me driving the Corindi 2 vehicle with a trailer. Did a couple of jobs and filled some sandbags. Left at 4pm (some disagreement - my boss wanted to leave since the other two had been out most of the day before as well and we hadn't been fed, the Coffs bosses said you can't leave till we release you, then I had to leave the room suddenly to avoid my boss's response and we left), drove back to Corindi - the highway just north was down to one lane and I decided it was safer to go back to Coffs in case flooded in at Parker Rd, plus I was soaking and a hot shower seemed attractive, plus Vinnie was leaking so would have been a very damp night. I had only done a rough pack - have my boots instead of comfy shoes and probably other stuff I forgot. The neighbour is going to feed the chooks Wed and Friday - they'll be pretty cranky since used to free ranging but it has been raining all day.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Wood duck visit

This pair of wood ducks are doing well with 9 quite large ducklings.

Friday, September 17, 2010

SES general rescue course

No photo since I forgot to take any but I've done the first 2 days of 5 days doing the general rescue course at Grafton City unit. I need to learn lots of knots, lashing a stretcher, carrying a stretcher, fire extinguishers, cribbing, ladders, tirfor winch, search markings and lots more I am already forgetting. Last Tuesday night we went to Coffs for a demo of road crash rescue - our unit doesn't do this but the new controller wants to work towards it (I'm not keen to see dead/injured)

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Not a stunning harvest but it's my biggest carrot yet. The kohl rabbi you can eat the leaves (like cabbage) and the stem bulb (e.g. grate into mash potatoes), garlic leaves, parsley, oregano and snow peas. I've been trying to catch up on eggs - so scrambled egg for breakfast, savoury french toast for lunch and vege fritters for dinner (with chicken legs). All those holes - are mice - I've caught 6 so far with only 2 traps so could be many more to come.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


I divided up the arrowroot and got three new plants, the yacon to the left has decided not to die although it's main stem rotted. The pool has water chestnuts. The olive in the high bed is hanging in there although its not really happy.

Who is living in that hole?

I'm afraid some of these may be mouse holes which is bad because mice attract snakes. They are all inside the fenced area. Also been some nosing around in the new compost beds which probably means a bandicoot can get in.

Egg and bacon pie

I made this last weekend - getting tired of trying to eat 4 eggs a day.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


From 1st Sept you need a permit to burn off so of course the last few days of August everyone was burning off. When I went to sleep at 10pm Tuesday after SES I notice an orange glow to the southwest. The next day around noon a fire truck drove past, stopped turned back and into the west neighbours place. I walked down to see and apparently the bonfire from last night restarted and was threatening their house. Two more fire trucks and an hour later they had it under control. I couldn't see too well - but got some information from the RFS website, although the internet was really slow.


The arrowroot in the wicking container filled with sand grew really well so I divided it up. Seems to be frost sensitive which might be a problem. I'm holding off major planting as apparently can often get a frost in early spring.

Perennial bed

Asparagus, Thai coriander and garlic chives transplanted into the perennial (4th) bed. The asparagus never really died right down so I haven't cut it back. In the bed behind I planted 12 corn and covered the rest with green manure mix.

Friday, August 27, 2010

New garden beds

I've built 4/6 new garden beds. This photo is of potatoes in the second bed with some sad transplants in the first bed. I'm making the 4th bed for perennial (middle bed to harbour good predators) - most important the asparagus though they didn't seem to really die down over winter and root systems were larger than an square spadeful I could lift and transfer, so looking a little wilted. Chooks now free range during day - but they drive me mad - calling out before 7am to get out, not just following me around but running in front of me and squatting (they think I'm a rooster). Every time I move they think I'm about to give them something delicious, to the point they have plenty of pellets, water and greens and still shadow me. Many times they have flown into Vinnies windows - can't understand why I am happy to be separate to them... Getting 4 eggs a day - so having to make myself eat 4 eggs a day. Fried eggs were good for a few weeks, getting old now so scrambled eggs - much better now I have turned fridge back on (as solar power getting stronger) so can have bacon or cheese.

I completed the SES navigation course - pretty easy since done it before in Army Reserve. Signed up for the General Rescue course starting 11/12, 25/26 and an assessment day.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

New garden beds

I ordered some besser blocks and mushroom compost to make some raised beds. I had organised the blocks for one day and the compost for the day after but they came at the same time. Drainage is poor - after heavy rain its pretty soggy, so hopefully this should help. After I've recovered I'll dig out the paths and fill with sawdust to drain water out.

Potatoes and free range chooks

I've decided to try free ranging the chooks in the hope they will eat up the ticks. I fenced off the back of garden to keep them in while they learn to get back into the cage at night. While I was putting the fence in I found some potatoes - I thought since they had little time before being killed off by frost there wouldn't be tubers but there were some. The chooks follow me around - and annoyingly two of them now squat when I get near them - how rude first I'm not a chicken and second I'm not male! Getting three eggs a day though a few have been eaten - bad news if it goes on as I'll have to figure out which chook it is and get rid of it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fruit trees flowering

A few of the (I think) peach trees which were bulldozed off the cleared part onto the bank along the stream have sort of survived. Last year Anne noticed a couple of fruits but I couldn't find them again. They are flowering now - would be nice if I got some fruit but it seems unlikely, after all the orchards all failed around here.

First egg

One of the chickens (no idea which) laid their first egg yesterday and I had it fried for breakfast. They have munched through over 50kg of food so far - doesn't help that they spill it (notice the spill around the egg). The local pigeons are grateful though.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Solar cooking

I've had two tries at solar cooking, first scallop potatoes that I didn't start early enough - the sun has disappeared on my block by 3pm due to trees/hill to the north. Then I tried chicken soup (with some dried pumpkin and tomato) but even though I got it on before 10am I still had to cook it more on the stove. I guess the middle of winter is not the best time for solar cooking.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Got down to 0.2 C in Vinnie - the bok choi was frozen when I went to pick it for the chooks. Have had a nice warm shower at Grafton pool. All my tomatoes died, new leaves on avocado and arrowroot leaves all browned. The photo is the neighbours place.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Solar oven

Made in India with a very amusing manual - not just the Indian english but a ragbag of metaphysical benefits (solar cooked food cures diabetes, depression, parkinson etc).