Sunday, 11 November 2012

Birds and the Bees, Flowers and Trees

I have been watching a very determined shiney Starling trying to break into the Chook Tractor, and steal their food, for the last 20 minutes!!  What a funny sight - he is very very determined, single-minded as he hops around the cage, looking for the opening he discovered this morning when my daughter went to take them out and put them into mobile scratching cages, and forgot to close the door.  Having closed it, now the Starling cannot believe his bad luck, as he hops all along the chicken mesh - "Where is the opening, I know it's here somewhere.... I used it a little while ago....".  Quite comical to watch.

The chickens have become a nuisance, skrawking all day long.  They are driving us nuts!  They have begun to lay, but start to make a ruckus at about 5.50am, precipitating me having to rush downstairs in my pj's to feed them and shush them in case the neighbours complain.  Well, I am getting a wee bit tired of that.  Specially since they eat and then start to squawk and screech again.  All blinking day long!  If we were not vegetarian....... chicken potluck stew!! My daughter reckons they are just communicating with us.  Couldn't they just chat quietly amongst their own kind??

On the subject of birds, our last Helpxchanger, Mekayla, painted an awesome picture of my favourite  NZ bird, the Kakapo, for my birthday!  It is life-like and covered in gold speckles which catch the light.  Such stunning ability to capture the likeness of this endangered bird.  I once wrote a children's story about the kakapo and tried to get it published to raise the awareness of this incredible bird - but it was rejected!  Didn't try any more...............  Don't know how most authors managed to keep on going till they found someone whowould publish their work!  Too busy with other things for that!
Did you know the Kakapo is the largest flightless parrot?  It weighs up to 5kg and is nocturnal?  It is highly endangered, owing to the fact it only lays 3 eggs every 2-3 years (if my memory serves me well).  In fact, there are less than 150 left.

Beautiful, beautiful Kakapo.
Our lovely American couple who stayed with us, set to work on the first Saturday morning with great enthusiasm.  They stacked 8 cubic metres of firewood in our new wood store, in a fraction of the time it would have taken us!  We got the wood at a bargain price (redwood!!) as it was a fundraiser for the local school. They also managed to turn the compost, clean out the water fountain (full of builder's dust), paint our old garden bench a brilliant blue,  aerate the soil which became compacted around the building site, lay several large flagstones, which are a remnant of our building, cook up delicious meals restaurant-style (Justin is a chef), paint an undercoat on our new solarium roof, weed acres of garden and then some!!  We miss them already!  Communal living is definitely the way to go to reduce stress!  It's like living with extended family, with fringe benefits!  

Of Bees:
When out and about in the garden these days, it is wonderful to hear the drone of bees at work.  There is a incessant buzz and hum out there in the garden.  Knowing these little miraculous workers of Nature are setting about not only collecting pollen and nectar for making honey, but also pollinating all our vegetables and fruit trees at the same time brings a buzz of joy to the heart!  Every now and then I catch a glimpse of a fat-bottomed bumble bee.  Man, wouldn't they just make the greatest little cuddly pets if only a little bigger?  All fluff and bum.

Of Flowers:
Along with the season of the bees, the garden is dressed in her finest - flowers bloom in every little neglected corner - some "weeds" and others, wild flowers.  I delighted to walk around on the weekend and snap some of the different species...Where I don't actually know the name of a flower, I make them garden, my rules.....Forgive me.
I am sure to have missed some, and not all photos were usable - ever tried photographing flowers in a breeze - focus... click..... breeze.....blurred image!  Can be frustrating.

Cotton topped candyfloss poppies

Flanders poppies

Brilliant blue cornflowers

Sunshine WildThings


Ruby-red Geranium

Wildflower daisy

Starburst Firework Flower



Globe Artichoke

Globe Artichoke

Neighbour's overhanging Tea-tree.... too good to ignore


Fairy Party Hats

Chrysanthemum (Shingiku)

Feijoa flowers

Chamomile flowers

Phycellium (I think)





Wildflower Gem

Fragrant Orange blossoms


Pear blossoms

Strelitzia (Paradise flower)
If I didn't know it's name, I'd call it Rhinoceros flower

Rosemary geranium whirls
Of Trees:
The feijoas are in beautiful bloom - with gorgeous Pohutukawa-like blossoms.  I laugh at my ignorance a few years back when they were small trees and blackbirds kept on coming to peck at the flowers.  I would rush out and shoo them away, to protect the flowers, 20 times a day or more!  It was only later I learned that birds are the pollinators for feijoas - so now I let them nibble to their heart's content.
Sadly, the peaches and nectarine have leaf curl - badly!  I guess it is because we were unable to spray organic copper at the required stages (weather was always against us) and the extremely wet winter we had.  We shall see what impact this has on fruit set - oh well, can't always have everything go well.  Maybe our pears and apples will shake off the coddling moth this year to make up for this stone fruit set-back.  The plums have set little pinkie-finger-sized fruits................. bring it on!!

Most other trees are looking like they have set new leaves and or flowers.  The citrus trees are full of fragrant blossoms - quite a heady experience to walk past.  The bananas have recovered from the heavy frosts.  All is good and well.

Of Other Matters:
We have concreted a pathway to the front door, as well as a mowing strip around the new solarium.  We moved in on Monday evening, creating a great little place to read, relax or chat.  I rushed home on Friday to poke bits and pieces into the concrete, as the thought of endless grey would do my head in.  It was a bit stressful to get home on time, as the concrete truck arrived earlier than expected and was already starting to set!  Probably just as well, as I only just managed to set a few bits of tiles in at random intervals.  Had I had my way (not always a good thing), it may have ended up resembling a Thai temple!   Shanti the cat seems to think we put the couches in the solarium just for her, so we are continuously shooing her out.  (We have rules in this house.........she takes absolutely no notice of them!!)

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