Campfire, community gathering.

Screen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.31.54 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.32.03 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.32.10 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.32.19 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.32.26 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.32.34 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.32.45 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.32.53 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.33.04 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.33.18 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.33.38 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.35.35 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.38.59 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.39.22 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.39.51 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.39.59 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.40.12 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.40.39 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.40.48 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.41.02 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.41.19 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.41.27 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.41.36 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.41.45 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.40.25 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.40.18 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.38.34 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.33.28 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.31.40 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.31.08 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.31.24 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.30.50 amScreen Shot 2018-08-11 at 8.30.57 amThis past week we had so many sweet little moments savour.  We’d planned a community gathering at the house to enjoy a bonfire and marshmallow roasting.  20 people came out (including kids) and enjoyed a roaring fire (on a cool windy day).  There was a bit of a spread of food too – there were cookies, pastries and savoury quiche to have too.

The kids had so much fun chasing each other and enjoying little “Spud” a mix terrier that was brought along to enjoy his first outing.  They also enjoyed some mammoth sized marshmallows.  They were literally about 4 inches long!

Mike and Wesley and I did a drive to the coast about 20 mins away and found this Arrowsmith Spider Orchid, enjoyed a delicious lunch at the beach and then travelled onward to Lake Indoon on a dirt track.   It was on this path that we came across over 200 endangered, Carnaby Cockatoo who were munching away on the bushes quite happily.

As I hopped out of the ute to take a photo, they took flight and oh my god – it was breathtaking.

There are orchids all over the place and each time I get the chance I pull over to see what’s about.

We’ve been also checking a site nearby for the Queen of Sheba orchid – and think we may have found the spot.  Fingers crossed it opens soon!

Lastly, Wesley had a little friend sleep over this week and they were having a blast together.  They had cots in the same room and fell asleep talking to each other.  They also bust into hysterics when I took them for a drive up our bumpy, sloppy, muddy road.  Since his mates gone back home, Wesley has woken each day saying “Reuben, where are you?” and searches the house for him.  It’s sad, that he misses him that much!  We’ll have to do it again – they were so good together.

Also pictured:

  • This month’s waxing crescent moon (it rises this way each month, this is the first time I’ve been alert enough to grab my tripod and brave the cooler temperature to get the shot).
  • A tribonanthes flower (with the native bee pictured) is so fluffy it could be a teddy!
  • Wesley enamoured with the tiny puppy
  • Two little monkeys jumping in the spare bed
  • Catspaws between my toes
  • A tiny black mushroom sprouting from the sand.
  • Arrowsmith Spider Orchid (opened and closed)
  • Some sort of nymph bug – red and strange looking with large antennae.

Farm endeavours.

Screen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.18 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.35 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.57 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.59 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-14 at 5.11.23 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.55.40 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.13 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.07 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.54.29 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 6.00.20 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.41 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.53.32 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.14 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.48 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 6.00.42 pmScreen Shot 2018-06-13 at 5.52.59 pmIn a few short months we’ll have been living in this little house for a year.  When we first arrived there was considerable time spent drafting a plan to rejuvenate the sand filled yards surrounding us.  It’s been many years since someone we here to properly tend to the gardens, and even 7 years ago when we first lived here we made several attempts to tame the landscape and they all failed (apart from this one strange tree that is overtaking part of the house and more pest than shade giver).

We have dreams of an orchard, lawns, veggie gardens, native flower gardens, trees to provide to luxury of shade and a new chicken coop,

With no one living in the house for a few years nature had crept in and the interiors and they needed to be reclaimed by mankind.  That would involve fixing a leaky roof, cleaning dust laid windows, vacating the space of vermin and spiders as well as painting or repainting several rooms.

Tackling these projects solo with a toddler (as a part-time single parent) is no easy feat!  Mike is away at work in the northern tip of the State every second week leaving Wesley and I to our own devices.

Thankfully we have a very happy boy who loves to participate and join me outside.  For this I am ever grateful as it’s allowed for a few projects to begin and move in slow but steady stages.

This week I’ll be painstakingly dragging a wheelbarrow back and forth 150 metres to the old shearing shed near the house.  It’s a treasure trove of sheep manure!  To make this monotonous task more fun, I’ve given Wesley a harmonica and he hops into the wheelbarrow as we traverse back and forth.  He plays a little tune, and sometimes will stop and yell at me: 123 GO! When I set the whole thing down to give my arms a break.

It’s hilarious, and frankly Wesley’s company during the whole task has made it so enjoyable that when I went to do a load during his nap today – I missed his music and silly personality keeping us both entertained.  The job seemed a real effort without him.

We’re only into the start of winter, but with these beds not completed we’re going to be missing out on crucial rains!  We should have pushed harder to get this started but it was contingent on a lighter wheelbarrow (that only arrived this week).

Our chicken coop is up and working fabulously.  There are two separate pens one about 3x bigger than the other.  Our hens are all very happy laying at the moment.  They have such a grand, shaded space that Mike and I are both very proud to have built together.

Three bottlebrush trees, 4 macrocarpa trees, and one silver princess have been planted around the yard.  Several more will go in as we see how things fare the next few weeks.  Shade around this house is lacking so it’s an ongoing project.  All of the trees are natives and should be very hardy for drought.

Our mango, feijoa and avocado trees are another story.  These are doing ok – but only time will tell if they survive.  To have these fruits at our fingertips would be so wonderful.

Some of the plants mentioned above were given to us at a native plant giveaway last weekend by a group based in Jurien Bay (of which I’m now a member!) who survey the local flora and do bush tours together.  I’ve found my people!  They were given a grant to grow and distribute these native plants to locals to encourage more people to keep drought hardy species and grow native gardens, which is a fabulous idea.

Pictured are some trees, plants and bugs found around the farm the past couple of days and some of the aforementioned projects!

Huge thanks to Sally’s Baking Addiction for sharing her insanely gorgeous white cake recipe online.  We made it for Wesley’s birthday party.  It was so so so good.  Check out the recipe here. A testament to it’s goodness – I woke 2x in the night to polish of a few more pieces of the vanilla buttercream cake.  Wesley crammed much of it into his mouth during the cake cutting ceremony and discovered a love of frosting!  Even now a week later I’m still drooling thinking of it and I’m not even a baked goods person…

I’ll share more on the progress of the house and yards as we soldier onward!  For now, even though progress is slow – it still feels oh so good to see hard work coming together.  Even if it is inch by inch.

Verticorida, Pink, Red and Yellow

Screen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.48.13 pmScreen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.46.03 pmScreen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.45.36 pmScreen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.46.26 pmScreen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.46.40 pmScreen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.46.50 pmScreen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.45.24 pmScreen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.48.03 pmScreen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.48.28 pmScreen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.47.28 pmScreen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.47.45 pmScreen Shot 2017-10-30 at 1.48.53 pmThis morning before Mike left for work, I went to the spot where he found the pink verticordia that were featured in yesterdays bouquet that I posted.  There were some really stunning bugs flying about, and the colours of freshly popped flowers made it looks like a fairy tale – somewhere that we could only imagine.

It’s been a whirlwind week being home – and the past 24 hours particular were social, busy and brought many creatures into our travels.

Whilst I did not have my camera, I did manage to spot whilst driving:

  • 1 ornate dragon lizard
  • 1 thorny devil
  • 1 yellow pale snake that I’m not sure of what it’s called
  • 1 other new lizard that I have never seen before soaking up sun on the way to Coorow.  Next time I’ll stop and see what it actually is!  It sat near the edge of the road doing what in yoga is called cobra pose.

Did you see the scorpion above?  This is the first ever live one I’ve seen, and it was using it’s stinger to keep me away!  It was just underneath a box that was left in the sun.  I was getting ready to clear away some rubbish when I saw this strange form moving in the dirt.  Yuck!  I’ve always been afraid of them but this one being only 2 inches wasn’t very intimidating.  Note to self though – keep your eyes on the ground for Wesley will certainly try and mush it or eat it.

We met Mike in Coorow yesterday for his cricket game, and then travelled onward to our friends farm to have a little hang out in front of the lake.  The kids were all entertained by the water and dogs.  They had a huge sail put up for shade and a fake lawn with a boat to play in and a bbq for us all to enjoy.  We didn’t stay as long as we would have liked, but did travel back home before the sun got too low.

There is one type of verticordia in this batch that I’ve not yet spotted before.  It almost looks like a cross between a tea tree plant and a larger verticordia.  The colours out in this patch of bush are incredible at the moment.  The yellows, pinks, deep reds and creamy pale flowers stand out amongst the thick shrubs and deep blue sky.

There hasn’t been a cloud in sight the past couple of days, and yet again the temperatures are beginning to rise.  Summer… is almost here.

The jumping spider is one of the larger that I’ve spotted.  It had a glossy almost waxy spot on it’s back – I chose this photo because of the aqua thread coming out it’s rear…looks like a star trek beam for teleportation ahah.

Well – it’s been an epic week back, and nature has also not disappointed!

Pukaha Mount Bruce

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-43-48-pmWesley and I visited Pukaha Mount Bruce this afternoon whilst Mike was helping some friends on a farm nearby.  Mount Bruce is a wildlife restoration centre that focuses on reestablishing endangered and rare New Zealand birds.  The centre spans some 940 hectares of dense native forest and is a beautiful place to hike and enjoy a native forest.

We spent a few hours walking around taking in all the gorgeous colours and sounds.  At the moment the forest is absolutely teeming with cicada.  The sounds of summer calling in the humid air!

screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-34-35-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-37-14-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-08-pm Conservation has been taking place within the park since the 1960’s and is maintained by international volunteers throughout the seasons.screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-43-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-38-55-pmHere you’ll find encounters with endangered (and rare white) kiwi, eels, and quite a few beautiful birds including: kokako, kaka, hihi, takahe, kakariki and whio.screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-34-18-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-27-at-9-56-55-amThe kaka particularly captivate me.  The dark wine colours of their feathers paired with their cheeky personalities make them irresistible to watch.  There are roughly 160 kaka in the forest that are all free to travel and are indeed quite wild.  They have an impressive range of calls…some almost gremlin like and others quite sweet.  screen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-40-42-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-41-55-pmscreen-shot-2017-02-26-at-5-42-08-pm

If you are near Masterton, I highly recommend checking this place out.  It’s not to be missed!

The Flax (Harakeke) & The Drunken Tui

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-8-45-20-amMost days when we walk along the river there is always a fluttering of tui around the flax plants.  Watching the tui balance itself just quick enough to dart from frond to frond is quite impressive.  They are stunning little birds with a unique look to them, the plant too is quite striking and looks very closely related to the kangaroo paw plant found throughout Australia.

I’ve not yet managed to capture the lovely birds to highlight here but this is a link to some information and beautiful images of the tui.

Apparently the pollen inside the flax can sometimes ferment, which causes the birds to fly around in a drunken manner.

This morning I took a stroll up our property to check out the bees.  I heard a noise behind me so turned.  A tui was collecting food from a flax plant right in our driveway!  I’d not even noticed that this was a flax plant – when we moved in, it was a huge flower of white that I was positive that was all that lived in that spot.  Whilst the bird appeared sober, I do believe if it were later in the day he would have found it a respectable time to indulge his love for alcohol.

The flax is quite an iconic part of Māori New Zealand culture and trade as it has many important uses.  It is prominently featured in Māori clothing, baskets and was even used as a trade item as it was quite a formidable product for making rope.