Thursday, 2 June 2016

... to finally be ...



by Simone McPherson
For the past number of weeks I have been very fortunate to have had the help of a wonderful ‘Helper’ around the house with me, whom I was introduced to through a programme where Volunteers assist Hosts with projects that they themselves are in need of assistance with in exchange for accommodation and meals as well as sharing in the 'day and the life' of a Host family and in our case that is how we met ‘V’ all the way from Germany on a holiday break from her own working environment back in Germany.

This arrangement has worked out very well for us all including El Ranchero, Maxi boy, Lily pup and even the horses, especially those who love and enjoy human company like Pedro.

It gives us a time to reconnect with the environment around us, like a large Dam that was built back in the 1970’s to provide irrigation amongst other things to Cotton and Corn growers further South West from where we live and …

… ofcourse the Dam has its own camping ground that is usually overflowing in the summer months with families and individuals that enjoy fishing as the Dam has a stock of such fresh water fish as Yellow Belly, Cod and Catfish to name a few as well as water sports and there are Grey Kangaroos everywhere enjoying the lovely short grass to the delight of ‘V’.

In addition to rediscovering places to visit within driving distance from where we live we also explored our own backyard …

… after a day of moving cattle we took the long way home to show ‘V’ a community of 'Black Boys' …

… We have been gifted with a number of small extraordinary communities of “Black Boys” though now days the name has now changed to ‘Grass Tress’ to be politically correct?   However these magnificently ancient species of plant are not at all related to a tree but the Lily family, the ‘Grass trees’ are very much a part of the Australian landscape and are uniquely Australian being an important plant to the Aborigines where they used the long slender leaves in the making of baskets as well as consuming the soft new leaf fronds for moisture.


These plants also fascinated the early European settlers, the artists and the Botanist alike as they were unlike any other known plant seen at the time. 

Their botanical name is Xanthorrhoea and they are prized here in Australia for their landscape attributes and unfortunately there are scoundrel’s out there that will remove this wonderful very old and very slow growing plant for financial gain destroying certain species from their natural habitat in the sandy woodlands that they love and thrive in.  


And ofcourse there has been large scale clearing here in Australia for Settlement as well as Stock production and as a consequence large masses of the ‘Grass Trees’ have been lost.  Consequently, as you can imagine we are very mindful, careful and almost guarded and secretive of our own little communities of ‘Grass Trees’ that we have hidden on our Property.

So together with ‘V’ we have been busy making soil to put into another 44 drum that El Ranchero cut in half for us and creating soil we have.

Before placing the beautifully made soil into the containers we have not to only level them out, we also create a base to stop snakes from making an abode underneath the containers … much to ‘V’s astonishment.

Then we collect a number of rocks to place inside the drum …


… upon which we then place torn up pieces of cardboard which has been wetted down to help in keeping the soil mixture moist in times of not much rain …

… then that beautiful soil mixture that took three days to make and another two days to collectWe collected humus dirt from the creek, raked up cow manure from the stock yards, leaf and bark matter which was collected from underneath the small groves of Gum trees along with some dry clay - beads - collected from a number of dams.  All these materials are then slowly combined in all different ratio's that I have experimented with over the years, with a mixture of water containing seaweed and fish emulsion, ‘V’ can hardly believe that this is what I undergo just to get some soil to plant all my lovely plants into.

…and after a topping off with more leaf matter we then plant ...


 ... and here we have the finished product another beautiful Bougainvillea …


… these two are called ‘Red Dragon’ and they should look fabulous once they get going, they sure have had a good 'start'.

And then we go through the same procedure all over again, this time however …

… we have had two Terracotta pots soaking down at the dam for two days …


… we go down to collect them and they are all well soaked now ready for their planting of...

… some wonderful Geranium cuttings that have survived here for the past four years and I know they will be glad to finally be in their very own pots at last, as  I now wonder where the two weeks have gone as we say Goodbye to 'V' 

We will all be sad to see her go, all being very grateful of her wonderful and cheerful help, though we wish her an enjoyable journey as she continues her travels exploring Australia






Wednesday, 1 June 2016

... the full Moon rising ...



by Simone McPherson
 
Of late the days here have been just magnificent a little on the cool side in the mornings however once the sun begins to shine the days are just pristine.

While checking the cattle in our Creek paddock for we had a number of stragglers that had missed the muster …

… we came upon a small mob of young Billy Goats …

… along with an old piece of timber that caught my eye.

El Ranchero went on to tell me that back in the 1930’s this log would have been used as a sheep feeder with the holes having all been cut out with an axe.

The lovely little grass finches in particular the Double-barred Finches – Taeniopygia bichenovii – have been prolific in searching out all the grass seeds that are about at this time of year.  And unfortunately every now and then we get one or two that crash into our windows, and I have taken this opportunity to show you just how beautiful these little birds are and sadly this little one I shall bury in my little garden.

The Basil has been abundant with its leaf production this year even though I only planted out four plants that …

… I have taken the opportunity to make yet another small batch of Pesto with Pine nuts this time and a little chilli, and this will be my first batch for the year can’t wait to try it …

We have also been busy with the cattle bringing in the mobs and moving them onto fresh pastures …

 … and with that we have also increased their feeding regime with more deliveries coming out to the Property.

And fortunately for us we have had a lovely visitor from Germany who has come out to help me in the garden for a week or so and her first introduction to our life out here was to hand unload 6 tonne of feed, “now that will separate the boys from the men … “ was what El Ranchero told ‘V', I do think that 'V' showed El Ranchero a thing or two being able to keep up with the boys ...

So after that day ‘V’ was rearing to go which was a delight for me, so we cleaned out the cattle race by collecting and bagging …

… the manure for the garden – and we also made soil with parts of manure which I will go into detail in my next post.

‘V’ helped me with the grooming of the horses in this case this is Porky girl who has had a complete make over – a lovely wash, including all her hooves with Iodine and then a towel dry, finishing with coconut oil which we put through her mane and tail and brushed it all in – Porky girl was in heaven, in fact she went to sleep.

Even Rocky was in on the act giving ‘V’ a little tour of the yards on his back, which 'V' was delighted in.



... and showing ‘V’ how well behaved he is with the hovels and why and what they are used for which is to get your horse used to waiting and standing without wandering off all saddled and bridled up.

‘V’ also helped out with the weighing and the drafting of the weaners in the yards.

We also went down to another part of the property were we have a large piece of the creek running through the place showing ‘V’ the difference in the terrain and Maxi boy also demonstrated how well behaved he is too. 

There is still a natural beauty in the ecological life down there, with some of the big old River Gums that are still abound which is wonderful to see.  El Ranchero also gave ‘V’ a number of lessons in the safe use of my old 410 shot gun which ...

... she was delighted to learn about and of the reasons as to why it is that we carry a firearm whilst traveling through this country, which I have mentioned in my last post …

Then as we started to climb back up to the homestead we were overjoyed to see the full moon rising in the East, what a lovely way to end the day.