This past week held a few milestones for me. Some of of the tasks worked well and some were a bit of a fail. Either way, in taking these tasks on I’ve learned quite a lot and grown even more confident in what I can accomplish.
- Drove on my own for 1000km over the course of 6 days. To Perth and Back and then to Geraldton and Back. My solo venturing for longer distances is giving me this sense of freedom and adventure that I really love!
- I picked up a large table and 6 chairs from Perth with Wesley. Strapping the set on and driving 6 hours was a huge day but so worth the adventure! At one point I had zero battery on my phone (no charger despite topping it to 100%) and it felt like I was in mission impossible driving up the highway wondering if I was going to find the house before the battery died. It made for an exciting last 25 minute stretch of road.
- I removed a screen door from the front of the house and then helped Mike me install the new door and lock.
- Caught a photo of a baby mulga.
- Fertilised the lawn with organic lawn feed – but completely over measured and put the entire bag onto the grass (despite using a scale to weigh out a small portion). The good news – we hope is that organic fertiliser is a lot less likely to burn your grass/garden as it’s slow release. Fingers crossed!
- Strapped on a screen door and drive 4 hours to bring it home. When I undid the strapping it had sadly been punctured through the box as I’d strapped it too hard!
- We dug in and installed a brand new line of sprinklers which will seal off the grass in our yard to fill in the edging.
- Tomorrow Mike is going to attempt to harvest his first ever batch of honey from his 5 hives that have been placed on a farm 20km up the road in a dense patch of Red Gum Trees.
Wesley has had some firsts here too! His past few weeks the words have been spilling out and he’s starting to connect two words together now. Here are some of the latest words:
Blue, Blue Fish, Eyes, Nose, Hair, Up, Down, Shiny, Yellow, 1,2,3 Down, Yah, Bye Bye Daddy, Roll, Frog.
We have some ongoing projects at the house at the moment, one of them I work on each week Mike is away – and that involves painting the trim and doors of the interior of the home. That’s really freshening up the decor, I love seeing it all come together. The project is taking a while but I am enjoying taking the time to put love into each project.
Till next time!
We’ve been away from the farm for two weeks in New Zealand. I’ll post more about that shortly, but for now I’d like to highlight some of the cool moments from the past few days back on the farm.
First Wesley has jumped into his groove and is a happy little chap running around playing with his bike, the chickens and swimming at the pool.
Last night we witnessed an incredibly beautiful lightning storm come through the region. We woke this morning relieved to see that there were no lingering fires on the horizon.
I also managed to spot this rather impressive jumping spider, a female Sandalodes Superbus (Superb Jumping Spider) on the back gate of the house.
The chickens were very well taken care of during our trip, but sadly we’ve had to kill 5 roosters (saved the meat for the freezer) as they had completely destroyed several of the females. We’ve got the numbers down so that the girls can recover and the balance of male to female will be appropriate.
We’re stoked to be home to enjoy the quiet space and the ease of life here in the country. It’s clear to see that Wesley while he enjoyed New Zealand – loves his time here on the farm too.
On our second day home he pulled me close to him and said to me “I luh you” which oh my god I’ll never forget. It was just so sweet and so beautiful.
This week Mike and I passionately worked to complete our chicken complex. The idea originally came to us when we first moved in, that summer was particularly hard for our last lot of chickens due to the sun exposure of the last pen.
We tore down the old space and placed our 16 chickens into a temporary shade sheltered pen for the past 5 months. In the mean time Mike, Ashley and I have worked together to meticulously measure, concrete and assemble a sustainably recycled shed and pen for our little chooks.
It’s just in time as these birds will begin laying soon.
When we first got them they were teeny tiny chicks. Wesley harassed them quite a bit with love during their time in the back porch and I was more than happy to take the chicken poop smell outside and while I can’t speak on behalf of the chicks I feel they might have been relieved to be away from prying fingers too.
This pen has ample room and a large shed for the birds to roost and lay their eggs in each day.
We’d love for them to be free range, but learned the hard way a few years back that fox and wild cats are always looking for an opportunity to get to birds left out in the open. There is already evidence that they have tried digging and also pulling on the chicken wire.
The concept for fox proofing the space involves laying the chicken mesh in two layers about half a foot below the sand and two feet away from the structure.
Quite a bit of sweat went into this project and I think it’s one of the biggest projects we’ve undertook as a couple together. I call it a sustainable effort because we salvaged the mesh doors and built the hut entirely from other peoples left over metal. Pretty awesome way to recycle and save some $ too.
For now there are three roosters testing out how fox proof the space is. Tonight is our third night and I really believe they will be safe.
The other night I heard some terrible screeching outside by a fox and took a headlamp to investigate. I found it climbing up a fig tree! The sound is similar to cats fighting.
Speaking of figs, we are now collecting fresh ripened figs in the quantities of about 20 a day. It might be time to make some jam.
- 1 tiny chunky jumping spider
- 1 large crevas dwelling jumping spider (the spider with the white line)
- A three inch long little lizard
- Beyond the bamboo and gumtree there was this wonderful creamy sunset.
Yesterday I sent off a brief email detailing the behaviours of this unusual red and black spider. It was found about a month ago at the front of our home here in Warradarge. I first noticed it as it was scrambling in the sand (quite frantically) as soon as the sun started to dip toward the horizon. It was new to me at the time. Initially I thought it was an orb spider as I’d been referencing an Australian spider field guide and it was the only image that seemed to match my red and deep black spider. Being the curious person that I am, I decided to contact the author to see if he knew what it might be.
The author (Robert Whyte) confirmed with me this morning that “It is an as yet unknown, at least as far as live photos are concerned, species of Tharpyna, you are the discoverer! It looks like it is a mature male, so it may have been frantically out and about for a quick shag before bedtime. Many crab spiders are daytime spiders, but Tharpyna are often under bark and may be night hunters. It is one of the prettiest Tharpyna I have seen. ”
So my first question to Robert was a little egotistical: Could I name it? He wrote me back saying that technically I could but it would need to be scientifically named and also peer reviewed. I let him know that I’m no scientist – and he was able to share with me the details of another expert based in Poland who might be able to help.
I also asked how he was able to distinguish that it was a crab spider and not the orb I’d originally guessed at. He informed me that there were several identifying features that clued him into the species. You see, I am a literal amateur.
“The eye tubercles, eye arrangement, general flatness and shape, shape of male palpal (sex) organs, arrangement of legs (laterigrade).”
I’m quite thrilled to share this news with you all. It is a really great to know that there are new species out there for discovery, and that there are resources out there to help novices like myself.
I’ll update you if this little beauty gets a name.
If you have a love for spiders, or want to look at some examples of them from across Australia this book is worth every penny. I also want to thank Robert for being so kind and taking the time to help me with identification and steering this newbie in the right direction.
Here is an assortment of spiders that I’ve managed to photograph of the past couple of years from Perth, to Coorow and Warradarge. They come in all shapes and colours… Stay tuned I’ve got some exciting news about spiders to share with you in my next post.
Robert Whyte, author of the field guide “Spiders of Australia” has kindly helped me identify these beautiful spiders. From top to bottom:
- Lycosidae A Wolf Spider
- Sandalodes scopifer
- Thomisidae Tmarus sp.
- Araneidae Araneinae Araneus arenaceus relative
- Thomisidae Zygometis xanthogaster
- Thomisidae Stephanopis ornata or close relative
- Salticidae Apricia jovialis female
The comprehensive field guide he wrote has been incredibly useful, and comes with very clear images of each spider and categorises them in a straightforward and practical manner. I imagine even people with spider phobias would enjoy the maratus jumping spider section! If you’re looking for a copy take a peek at it here.