Surveying the site from scratch

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Having grand plans is all very fine, but there comes a time when one must make the first, single, decisive gesture towards action.

For us, this meant placing a small wooden peg, painted white, at the southern boundary of Milkwood. And then surveying a contour which continued aaaallllll the way around the hillside at the same height as that first peg, right around to the other boundary of Milkwood on the western side of the ridge.

Baby birds in the Loquat tree

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baby wattlebird


The Loquat tree next door at Kirwin is a mighty beast – and it is much beloved by many of the birds hereabouts. Its got dense green foilage year round, doesn't give a toss about frost, becomes a humming tree in winter as the bees go crazy with all of its blooms, and then has masses of fruit before Christmas. If only I could strike it from cuttings… but apparently it grows well from seed – yay. It is definitely a power tree and i want as many as i can possibly have all over Milkwood.

While poking about in my nursery, which sits underneath this great specimen, today I discovered a new little friend on the ground. He'd fallen out of his nest which is way, way up at the very top of the tree (a sort of messy openwork arrangement of sticks), and from the look of his anxious mother, he is a red Wattlebird. Given that Cobba, the kelpie sheepdog, is also housed under the Loquat, i thought I'd make the little cheeper a temporary nest to prevent him from becoming Cobba's supper.


loquat tree


So now he is happily housed in a shoebox on a branch, and his mum comes and feeds him regularly, along with his sibling who is still way up in the tree, wobbling precariously on a branch. I take it both babies are out of the nest and stretching their new legs, although both can't actually fly yet, it seems, and the little cheeper got a bit ahead of himself and ended up on the ground. I don't think they're far from flapping about though – maybe a couple of weeks?


wille wagtail nest


On the other side of the same tree, the willie wagtails (just about my favourite bird) are setting up home in the cutest little nest. Lots of calling and fussing, but not much actual sitting on the nest as yet. I check it every day for signs of family action. Fingers crossed. All this makes for a quite communal feeling in my nursery, in which the fig cuttings are actually GROWING! I feel like a right professional.

How to: grow Figs from cuttings

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As I think I’ve mentioned, this part of Australia is, although it doesn’t look it at first glance, a labyrinth of abandoned settler’s orchards. Every farm around here seems to have at least two of these gnarly fruit-thickets over in a back paddock somewheres. These old orchards are the only sign left of previous shacks and farmhouses which dotted the landscape here over a hundred years ago, during the gold-rush years.

How To: identify that un-named plant

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some sort of burrI am often coming across plants and trees that I don’t know the names of. Which isn’t very unusual, i know, but once you start wanting to figure out how your surrounding environment works, being able to identify what plant is growing where leads to why that plant is growing there, which quickly leads to the beginnings of an integrated understanding of one’s surroundings. Hopefully.