Sunday, November 30, 2008

Last Day of Spring

3mm in the rain gauge Friday morning
and another
3mm in the rain gauge this morning
Total November rainfall in our backyard - 446mm

The two compost bins I bought earlier in the week have been assembled and set in place with the original one.

Australian Wood Ducks....
I spotted mother duck and the three ducklings out and about again yesterday. As soon as mother duck realised I was there, they were off!

Down the hill....

across the track....

towards the dam

Have a great day.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Australian Wood Ducks.... and more rain!

There was another 50mm in the rain gauge this morning.

Australian Wood Ducks....
We often see ducks in the paddocks or on the dam, but there is one pair of wood ducks that seem to be here all year round. I commented to hubby the other day that we haven't seen any ducklings this year. He reckoned they probably had them hidden after what happened last year!

You see, last spring we saw the wood ducks with a heap of tiny ducklings following them around, but unfortunately each time we saw them over the next week there were less and less ducklings, until one day there were none. We were left wondering which predator had snacked on the poor babies.... snake.... goanna.... or perhaps something else. Nature really makes me sad at times.

When I drove in the driveway this morning I spotted the wood ducks in the paddock and there were some medium size ducklings with them. As soon as they heard me mother duck was off down the hill with her babies following. I raced inside to grab the camera hoping to be able to get a couple of pics of the ducklings before she hid them.

It was my lucky day as mother duck must have stopped in her tracks when she thought I had gone. Here she is with three ducklings....

Father duck is further up the hill keeping a look out!

He makes a sound.... oops... mother duck knows I'm back and she's heading further down the hill....

behind some scrub....

across the track....

then the ducklings disappear over the bank of the dam as mother stands guard....
(can you spot the ducklings backside disappearing)

then mother duck follows her ducklings....

So it seems the wood ducks are being more protective of their ducklings this year. I hope I get to see them again before they are grown up :-)

Have a great day.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Morning Stroll..... and more rain!

After a few dry days we've had more rain overnight.
32mm in the rain gauge this morning, and it's raining again now.

Our dam is full....

.... and the wood ducks are loving it :-)

The agapanthus bud I photographed last Friday has opened
These are in flower now (not sure what they are)
.... and here's another shot of a gorgeous gardenia.
There are stink bugs in the mandarin tree
and this fellow was climbing the mango tree

Two bed frames are now trellises
We spotted them across the road from a friends house. They'd been put out for a council road side collection, so hubby grabbed them. The blue frame has Purple King Beans climbing up it, and the red one is waiting for the next bean planting day.

My 240lt compost bin
I have been waiting for hubby to make me a couple of compost bays from some mesh we are recycling, but he now has other plans for it! So I called in at Bunnings while I was in town yesterday and bought two more compost bins the same as the one above.

While I was at Bunnings I picked up this punnet of heirloom tomatoes
There's one plant each of Black Russian, Mortgage Lifter, Tigerella & Green Zebra. This will give us a chance to try these. I can then buy seeds of the ones we like.

Have a great day.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Greening My Insides #4

The Green Your Insides Challenge is about greening your home, and paying attention to what you put on your body, in your body, and around your body.

It is now six weeks since I started seeing the naturopath again about my dermatitis (see Greening my Insides #1). There has been a big improvement but I've had a setback the last few days. I'm not sure what has aggravated it. One thing may be the trigger or there may be a few contributing factors.... doing more housework than usual & preparing food last Saturday for a hoard of visitors.... eating some of the yummy food I'd prepared instead of sticking to my diet.... something I've touched.... or it could just be the heat and humidity we've had lately.

The naturopath had planned to start reducing the laser therapy and homeopathic treatment but after seeing me yesterday he changed his mind. He mentioned Hair Analysis so he will be looking into cost and the best place to get this done if we decide to follow this route. It is interesting to note that my Zinc levels were down again.

Wheat grass juice
A couple of weeks ago the naturopath told me if I was going past a juice bar that sold shots of wheat grass juice, I should stop and have one to increase the amount of chlorophyll in my diet. He recommended doing this twice a week.

Me, consume wheat grass..... I never thought I'd see the day!

Problem - The local shopping centres I frequent don't have juice bars and I didn't want to start going to major shopping centres as I'd be inclined to visit the other shops and spend money on things I don't need.

Solution - I went to a health food shop and bought some Organic Wheat Grass Powder
I told the naturopath what I had done. He said this is the second best option, then told me I can build up to taking it every day seems I now have it on hand.

So I put 1 teaspoon of wheatgrass powder into some juice....

Gave it a stir....
.... and down the hatch it went!

Well, it tasted like they had squashed a whole bale of hay into that teaspoon of powder!

This sent me searching Google for other ways to get more chlorophyll into my diet.

I found that -
  • Algae is the highest known source of chlorophyll (... yuck!)
  • Dark green veggies like spinach, Spirulina, wheat grass, broccoli and alfa alfa are also very rich in chlorophyll content.
  • Eat greens! This is the easiest way to make sure that you are getting plenty of chlorophyll in your diet. Dark greens like spinach, chard, collard, broccoli, green beans, peas, celery & parsley
I eat my greens so I figured there must be a reason the naturopath wants me to get extra chlorophylll, so I have perservered.

I have altered the preparation a little, I now stir the wheat grass powder into a little water then add some juice.

This makes for a smoother mixture and seems to have improved the taste.... either that or I am getting used to it ;-)

Wheat grass.... now if that doesn't make me green inside, nothing will!


Friday, November 21, 2008

Birds, blooms, bugs.... and more rain!

20.5mm in the rain gauge this morning.

Once a year a few Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos visit the trees across the road. They only stay for one day but I always hear them as they crunch their way through the gum trees.
This photo isn't the best as it was taken from across the road. I daren't go any closer in case they fly away.

The gardenia is in full flower and is filling the air with it's delightful perfume.

Close up of a gardenia
The first agapanthus bud of the season is bursting open.

You would think with all the rain we've been having the bugs would be gone, but they seem to have doubled in number!

The 28-spotted ladybirds are happy feasting on my eggplant bushes
I am finding loads of grasshoppers on the beans, eggplant and broccoli.
This cabbage moth was resting on an eggplant bush....
and this lycid beetle was on a lettuce.
Still trying to determine whether he's a good bug or a bad bug!

And who is this tough looking fellow playing in my beans?
Off to do some research now!

Edit: It looks like it is a Pod-Sucking Bug (Riptortus serripes), also known as Brown Bean Bug. This explains why I found it on my beans!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Growing Challenge #3

The Growing Challenge -
Grow one additional type of fruit or vegetable than you did last year, and grow it from seed.

All the sun and rain we've been having certainly makes the veggies grow!

The carrots are a little bigger, hopefully more is happening under the soil than above!

The corn is getting taller every day

The first Golden Nugget pumpkins
These brown onions were grown from an old packet of seeds that was a few years out of date. I didn't expect them to grow so any harvest is a bonus :-)
The potatoes need hilling up again
Two sweet potato vines are coming along nicely in the bath tub experiment

I planted more Baby Carrots and Detroit Red Beetroot seeds this week.


Dare I say it.... More Rain!

Readings from the rain gauge....
Tuesday morning 15mm
Wednesday morning 65mm
This morning 106mm

Total rainfall in our backyard during November is 315mm

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Award :-)

I've been tagged for an award by daharja at Cluttercut
Thank you daharja :-) I feel very humble indeed.

Here's the award....
This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values every day.

Now I get to tag others for an award :-)
I enjoy many blogs so it is hard to select just a few, but here we go....

Gavin at Greening of Gavin - for taking to "green" like a duck to water!
Rhonda at down to earth - for sharing her and Hanno's simple life
Rhonda at SubtropicalHappiness - for sharing her journey to self sufficiency

Have a great day :-)


Monday, November 17, 2008

More rain.... and more to come!

A mid afternoon storm yesterday and overnight rain has put another 51mm in the rain gauge.

We got off lightly as areas close by had damaging winds, large hailstones and flash flooding, with local news reporting "Storm fury worst in 25 years", "Super cell on brink of tornado" and futher north "Brisbane declared natural disaster area"

It's still drizzling as I type and the outlook for the next few days is bleak, so there won't be much activity in the veggie patch this week!

Friday, November 14, 2008

More rain.... and full tanks :-)

I thought I'd heard a long range forecast for a dry November but it must not have been for our backyard. Another 9mm overnight brings our total rainfall to 59.5mm in the last 10 days.

We rely on rain to provide our water so it's always nice to know our tanks are nearly full. We have two tanks which hold approx. 10,000 litres each.
The plastic tank is for the house, and more recently the veggie patch. The tin tank is the original house tank and now provides water for 3 cows when the dam is low.
We can switch the house over to the tin tank when needed but rarely do. Having a second tank has made a big difference as we haven't needed to buy water for over two years

A smaller tank catches any excess water.
I call this hubby's "play water" :-) He can use this to wash our vehicles and anything else he feels like cleaning. He uses a pressure cleaner and has become more conservative so rarely runs out these days ;-)

Have a great day.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

More rain.... and a few potatoes :-)

Very light showers earlier this week showed as 3mm in the rain gauge when I checked yesterday morning.
Overnight rain last night gave us another 25mm.

Here's the view from the back deck on this misty morning....

Yesterday I up-ended this large pot as the potato plants had finished dying off a couple of weeks ago.....

and this is what I got for the effort.....Not a lot, but still better than nothing!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Greening My Insides #3

The Green Your Insides Challenge is about greening your home, and paying attention to what you put on your body, in your body, and around your body.

Cleaning my bathroom

There was a time when I only used the latest chemical products to clean the bathroom. The bathroom has a lot of different surfaces so there was a super shower cleaner, creme cleanser for the hand basin & bathtub, spray and wipe type product for walls, towel racks, etc., glass cleaner for the window & mirror, a toilet cleanser and something fancy for the floor. That was six different cleaning products creating a chemical nightmare in the smallest room of the house!

It all changed when I went to the naturopath about my dermatitis 12 years ago (see Greening My Insides #1 ) and I started learning how to live chemical free. Slowly all those harsh chemical cleaners were replaced with greener products or homemade cleaners, then these were whittled down to the few items I use today.

Shower: I clean my shower with a cheap organic shampoo and a green scourer sponge.
Method: Squirt a small amount of shampoo onto a wet scourer and scrub the tiles, tap fittings and glass screen. Rinse off with water. Open the window so the breeze blows through and air dries the shower, or you can can wipe the shower dry with a dry cloth.
Hint: Once you have the whole shower sparkling clean, keep the scourer & shampoo in the shower and quickly clean one wall or screen each time you have a shower. You will never have to do a major clean of the shower again :-)

Toilet: I clean inside the toilet bowl (and under the seat) with cheap vinegar and a toilet brush.
Method: Pour some vinegar into the toilet bowl. Grab the toilet brush, scrub the inside of the bowl and under the seat, then let the brush sit in the bowl for a while. How long is "a while" you may be asking.... while I clean the rest of the bathroom.... or I just leave it there until the next time I need to use the toilet, this option works better if nobody else is home at the time :-) After a while, brush the toilet bowl again and flush. Rinse the brush in the flushing water. Return the clean brush to it's holder. Wipe the rest of the toilet over with microfiber clothes (see below).

Window, mirror and all other surfaces: I clean the rest of the bathroom with microfiber mitts and cloths.
Method: Dampen a microfiber mitt with water, clean the surface then wipe dry with a dry microfiber cloth.

Floor: I use a microfiber mop.
Method: Open the window, mop floor with a damp microfiber mop and allow to air dry.

Notes: This style of cleaning saves me a lot of money, helps the environment and it's better for our health. Not only does this help my dermatitis, I've also noticed we get less coughs & colds since I've reduced the amount of chemicals in our home. Coincidence, or not?
I'm not fussy with brands of microfiber mitts/cloths. I find the cheaper brands such Oates and Sabco work just as good as the expensive Enjo brand.
If you can't afford microfiber mitts/cloths, or you're a frugal shopper, try using face cloths. Just remember you need two cloths, one damp for cleaning, and one dry to finish off. This may be a greener option than microfiber and is what I plan on using when my microfiber cloths wear out.

Additional information on microfiber from
Microfiber textiles tend to be flammable and emit toxic gases when burning. They are made with synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon (often constructed from polypropylene), which are made from petrochemicals. Microfibers are not made from a renewable resource and they are not biodegradable. However, the petroleum energy used in fertilizers, pesticides, transportation and processing to produce cotton and other renewable resource fibres may outweigh direct use of the petroleum as base stock for producing fibre.

Have a great day.