Saturday, 26 April 2014

... treasured times ...



by Simone McPherson
April is always a lovely time of year in this part of the country.   

The mornings are crisp and invigorating with the skies a perfectly clear Cerulean blue.

With the three inches or so of rain that we received over three weeks ago it has completely transformed the countryside to ochres and tones of green resembling the lovely patterns found in a patchwork Quilt ….

… and to think that only four weeks ago or so the country looked like this …

The grass cover after a little rain can be deceptive as I watch the lovely soft tall Native grasses as they bow their velvety heads gently in the sway of the breeze.

Whenever I look at the ground as I am walking this landscape I am reminded that this country is a very harsh and hard country. The mixture of Native grasses and introduced along with the other herbs that naturally cover the ground is still only around 20% to 30% and even less in some areas, yes it is tough country.

… it is a reminder that the plant life in this landscape have really evolved to put down their roots as fast as they can and to get those seed heads up as quickly as they can for in an instant the whole countryside can be altered and put into drought mode once more where the plant life lay dormant waiting for the rains, anticipating that little window of chance to establish, yet again … bringing abundance and life to the countryside …

With this wonderful spurt of life through the rain and warmth that still exists in the ground at this time of year the Horses too, have been taking full advantage of all the richness and variety of grasses available on offer to the point of where they seem to think that each blade of grass will be their last and as a result they too are bursting at the seams … well in this case at the girth!

… Porky-girl really has to watch her figure unfortunately … which means she has to spend a little time in the overnight paddock … she is not too impressed, so she tells me …

… we have been flat out with ‘calf marking’ … still … and it is just wonderful to see that the cattle coming through now have picked up so much with the changes in their pastures and ...

... also with a good drenching too for we have had a very bad outbreak of ‘Buffalo Fly” – Haematobia exgua - a parasitic fly that lives on the cattle sucking their blood, with all this warm moist weather it has provided ideal conditions for the Parasite to commence it’s cycle.  The end result is that the cattle end up in very poor condition which in-turn impacts on their productivity.  The Parasite especially seems to attack the male cattle – perhaps it’s their hormones - more than the female cattle and it is not uncommon to see a Bull just walking around in a cloud of black flies just awful …

The other day we got word that there were a few cows and calves that had somehow gone through an electric wire and were taking full advantage of the neighbours Creek country … 

... luckily the neighbour does not use that particular part of his country as it is very rugged and step.

So we packed up the Toyota with the necessary tools needed for repairs and I took plenty of old chaffing bags for this particular part of the creek is where I get all my lovely dirt full of leaf and bark litter for my little gardens … and off we went.

On first sight the creek had definitely changed with water now running down the creek course …

Maxi and Lily-pup never let an opportunity pass and we had to make a pit-stop for a quick swim …

We drove as far as we could before we had to set out on foot … an hour later the dogs had found the cattle and had set them on their way, back towards our boundary at a quick trot … we on the other climbed over huge rock faces and ledges, skipped over rocks across the creek so not to get wet and plodded through layers and layers of pebbles and gravel rock that had been eroded over the decades by the water running down the creek bed.

… as the cattle approached our boundary we had prepared the electric fence line by disassembling and deactivating the electricity so that the cattle would pass through without any complications which they did … and off they all went with their tails in the air …

… it was a long afternoon, when we got back home Maxi decided that he would just stay on the back of the ute he was pooped! 

I have also been cleaning out and readjusting my little gardens after those awful months of heat and no rain where I had to let the gardens go.  Now I have packed polystyrene that I collected from our local supermarket, down the sides of the drums that get the direct morning and afternoon sun over summer … fingers crossed that it will keep the gardens a little cooler over those hot months.


I’ve been collecting humus dirt from the creek beds and lovely cattle manure from around the throughs making up my soil mixture for all the tubs giving them a new lease of life along with some clay from the dams and sand from the creek beds … it’s almost like making a cake …

I have also started edging around the concrete veranda as I need a little “order” when I go outside and besides we have more than enough rocks …

El Ranchero even contributed by finding some more drums that he no longer needs to use for the cattle so I was quick to incorporate those into the ‘Landscaping’ …


... and some hollow logs that the wood cutter had left hehind ...

I’ve planted the gardens out with my usual this year … parsley, mignonette lettuce, pansies and violas along with some Rosemary that I found …


… the larger drums will be planted out with a cumquat tree in each to assist in the shading of the drums over summer though still giving me enough space to plant some salad greens and spinaches over summer … why cumquats? Well … you will have to ask El Ranchero that, as that was his input …

I’ve also been busy making my version of Greek Shortbread biscuits …

Over Easter we were invited for a barbeque lunch by one of our new neighbours and their families so I thought I would give these lovely little morsels a try and successful they were! … 

My memories of Easter apart from all those little chocolate Easter eggs, was my mother baking traditional shortbread biscuits ...

 ... no wonder we became so excited with all that sugar and chocolate I don’t think much has changed from the time when I was a little girl rummaging through the garden in search of an Easter egg or two that the Easter Bunny had left behind … they were treasured times with family and friends …