Another Country Diary gumboots
Another Country Diary

Links to images and other pages are in blue. These pages are broken up into weeks, or when the page gets too image heavy. 
Week of 13 to 20 October '02
blue wrenThis blue wren and its hard to see female mate have been collecting insects off the window frames of the shed. I managed to get some images of them together but unless there was an overlayed arrow saying 'female wren here' you wouldn't see it. That's obviously an adaptive pattern that allows her to blend with sticks and branches but the alternative bright plumage for the male must make him a better target. On the front lawn, I found the body of a silver-eye that must have been caught by a butcher bird or a hawk. It's insides were neatly ripped out, it's not at all like how a cat kills, where it spreads the feathers everywhere.
frog spawnWhen I cut back the pond reeds, as we have to do every year, the frog spawn is dotted throughout the edges. I tried to slash around the biggest lumps and not disturb them, but I'm sure I stirred up a few to be eaten by goldfish.

I've put a small sticky blob of the eggs into a bucket of pond water and I'll try and photograph the emerging tadpoles. 

Dust coated carsThis morning we woke up to a muddy world. Dry red dust blown in from the west in a windstorm, had covered Canberra and the valley, just after some rain. It stuck tight (and it's still there some days later). 

The windstorm lasted about two hours or so and only the daughter who was working late at the pub saw it. We were asleep unaware that our world outside was being clay coated.

I had to leave for Sydney early so I just cleaned the windscreen and rear window as I headed off. All along the highway I could tell the cars from Canberra as I passed. The local car washes did good business. I even thought seriously about it as I went past the carwash in the parking station in Sydney, but I drove it home dirty and aware of the stares.

dust coated garden furnitureHosing down the cars and the garden furniture seemed to wash it off but when it dried, the clay was back. You actually had to scrub it off.. We've been told that there is certain to be more dust storms this year because it's so dry out in the central NSW countryside. We've noticed how the fruit trees are looking distressed, and started to water the smaller ones. We've never done that in the time I've been here. Excess water charges coming up.

The grass didn't look that dirty, but some things in the garden stayed coated. These lily pads in the pond, and the surface of the water stayed coated. I sprayed them with the hose and watched the clay run off, but it will taken a lot more than that to shift it. 

The asparagus didn't suffer from clay-coating, the spears have been growing as you watch. We've picked a small bunch, cutting a few each day and wrapping them in a plastic bag and storing them in the fridge. We mixed them with a bunch of store bought spears and had enough for three of us for a good entree. The taste is stronger the fresher they are but the most obvious is how the commercially grown ones are not as crisp. I don't know how many days they take to get to my plate. From next week on there's usually enough for two snacks a week for a month. That's from ten plants. If you wanted to feed a bigger family you could double that number, just as long as they don't get tired of eating them (fickle kids!).  

The heron is having a great time with the goldfish. I found the first one on the bank, it was medium size, about six inches long. It had a speared beak hole in it, so that answers the question about fishing methods. I left it there thinking the heron would return and eat it rather than kill another. It went flyblown and was dried and smelly by the end of the day. Max, the younger dog had a great time rolling on it, and had to be washed before we'd let him into the house.


There's two young possums that live in the hollow wall of the shed and if they're just emerging, they get startled when I turn on the light. This one startled me because it was on the ground when I stepped in from the yard and reached for the switch. It raced past my legs and up the birch tree beside the door. It then stopped at eye level showing no sign of fear and asked for a portrait. 

The clematis is out in showy glory climbing through the red flowering quince and up the dead overhanging branch of the apricot tree. It seems intent on getting to the top of the forest canopy but somebody should tell it that there isn't a forest competing with it. It's also climbing artfully along the wobbly wire fence between our place and Val's next door, with the benefit of making even that look attractive.
Fred Harden  
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