Saturday, 22 June 2013

the slough of despond...

Sorry to sound gloomy. I am. 

Pat the local businesswoman has been stuffing me around for over two weeks now, still owing me about $600. Oh, boy, a great fundraiser that wasn't for us! I won't bore you with the details of how she messes with one's brain, going to come, not turning up, not answering her phone, then turning up and not having the money or the list of items. It goes on and on, and I severely want to scream, but it would worry the dogs greatly if I vented!

On a more cheerful note, my harvest goes on going - I have an embarrassment of crops, varying from the potatoes, oca, yacon to a huge yam bean root I found today quite by serendipity, and the winter salad leaves are just starting to approach picking stage. So far I have only gathered rocket leaves, but very friendly they are picked fresh from the plant. The first radishes are not too far away now also, though my peas are still thinking about life. The broad beans are looking happy, not at all minding the frosts. Amazingly there are still a few tomatoes hanging on, though most of the poor things have to be picked up green as they fall off after the heavy frosts. I have discovered that goats adore green tomatoes and squelch them up with a faraway expression of bliss. I also managed to pick the last of the capsicums despite them being frosted. Add to those El's excess purple yam and sweet potato and I will scarcely go hungry. I have a problem with the yam, though, as it sort of exudes snot all over one's hands during preparation. Not only is this very off-putting but is very hard to get off skin! Oh, well, look not a gift yam askance...

The magpies are once again singing my praises as they have a breakfast of pet mince, their baby growing daily. I'm quite expert now at flicking a surreptitious spoonful to the butcher-birds so they can have food without it being taken by the much larger magpies. The wallabies are a bit hungry by now, but there's little I can do for them apart from putting out water regularly.

And I must go again. I thought I'd look in though with a whinge - hopefully I'll be back a bit sooner next time! I have just had scratching on the door, groaned and got up (I am a revolving dog door) so Mischief and Cody could come in and look reproachful because they reckon it's time to go out - but I only took them out an hour ago. Sigh. They keep me exercised!

with apologies for pinching this!

Very best wishes to everyone, and I hope you are all surviving the rush of dramas that seem to be affecting every country at present.

Cheers - Fliss

Saturday, 15 June 2013

...and we very nearly had a tornado!

Hi all,

And folk in Oz would know about the tornado that flattened Pratten. It happened thus: on Wednesday the forecast for the Southern Downs was for clear weather with a cool change coming in overnight. Then a weather forecaster happened to glance at the radar.

'I wonder where that band of storms came from?' he wondered idly before it occurred to him that the storms were about to hit an area not forecast for rain. The met office then hastily, and somewhat late, issued a severe weather warning; but they later changed their minds and cancelled it - before the storm hit!

On the ground we knew that there was severe weather happening, from about 6.45p.m. onwards.A line of storm clouds rumbled to the west, with lightning constantly flickering brightly across the night sky. The dogs said they didn't like the sound of it at all, and it certainly looked and sounded ferocious. It roared steadily across so I went to look up the radar, puzzled by the huge impending storm. The picture was certainly fierce, a line of storms working from west to east. The severe weather warning had appeared on the screen forecasting the probability of heavy rain and hail.

Dogs and I watched it come over until it hit, when the driving rain was too heavily lashing for us to stay out on the verandah. I felt very sorry for the poor goats up in their pen as they hate storms, but I definitely do not have goats in the house. Not only was it intense, but the booms and flashes went on far longer than usual for thunder storms.

Eventually it calmed down and I was able to squelch the dogs up the paddock for their nighttime relief before bed. The goats were wet but philosophical.

Come the morning news, and Pratten and Bony Mountain, both close to here, had been hit with a small tornado. I tried to import a Google map to show you but, sigh, I couldn't do it. Instead here are photo's from the news:

This was a mostly-built dream home that the owner-builder hadn't got around to insuring. There's a moral there!

This is a little girl and her pup Market, who had been tethered to his kennel. Dog and kennel sailed 30m through the air... the dog bit through his tether and fled, taking some time for the owners to find, poor thing.
And this was what a few houses looked like, rather demolished. While it doesn't compare to the US kind of tornado, it still was very unfriendly. Amazingly there was only one casualty, from flying glass, and he was alright after treatment.

We were so lucky here with just heavy rain, plus today we had a few hours without power from damage done to the power supply. That's life - bored with drought one minute, squashed the next!

I hope I haven't made this mailing too heavy, but I hope you enjoy the news report...

Take care of yourselves. everyone -


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

omg, what a week!

Hi, friends,

And as I predicted last week was a doozy - though not all in the ways I had expected. The people supposed to view the house didn't show (what's new?), so that work was wasted.

Then on Friday, when El came to work with me to price everything up for the garage sale, someone left a gate unlocked. Banjo the boofhound forced his way through and ate a whole rat bait - the only one I had laid, in the best spot for waylaying the mice - and so I had an emergency visit to Warwick to visit the vet's. Banjo thought it all quite an adventure, except for being made to throw his nice bait back up again. Sigh. the idea of a garage sale was to make money, not spend it on vet's bills.We were also about four hours behind with our timing.

Somehow we managed to have everything doen and ready for the 7.30 a.m. start on Saturday, and it all started off fine. Then there was a lull, as people whistled past on the main road to Allora to view the auction things laid out for Monday (it's a huge, once-a-year fundraiser). I figured the folk would call in on their way back from the viewing, which started to happen. Then a local businesswoman bustled in - and cleaned us out! She has numerous children and grandchildren, and wanted nearly everything we had for them all. It was highly embarrassing having other people standing around open-mouthed and unable to buy anything. So we had to close the sale early - I have never heard of that happening before. 

Next the lady, P, said she couldn't actually take everything that day but would return on Sunday morning to pay and take all the stuff. She did return but only paid part of her dues, saying she would come back this morning and pay the balance. Guess what? No sign of her. Granted I still have a lot of the things she bought, but it's a bit of a worry. She didn't answer her phone, didn't show, nothing. Given that she has a frantically busy life there may be a good explanation; I do hope so.

Tomorrow I have to take Banjo back to the vet for his check-up, which will make him a happy doggy but me not a happy owner! And I caught bronchitis from some sweet soul at the garage sale... Bah, humbug!!!

As it's cold and raining, why not smile?

Take care, everyone - 

Cheers - Fliss

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Garage sale... help!

Hi, all,

You may have noticed my absence (or not). This week is total chaos as El and I are preparing for a garage sale, both of us short of time to do it, plus the space in my workshop is rapidly running out too. They currently have one of those renovation competition shows running on TV, and I can for once really relate to the hassled people trying vainly to be ready in time.

In addition I may have someone coming to view the house as well. Oh, my ears and whiskers, too much happening for me - how do I focus on pulling stuff out of the house while trying to make it respectable for a viewer at the same time? The two don't mesh!

So, having said this, please forgive my absence from now until after the garage sale...

 (isn't that a gorgeous depiction of chaos?)
Love you all, speak to you soon...

Fliss the hair-on-end feral

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Frosty gardens mean harvest!

Ugh... and now I have dirt all over my desk! But this was some of today's offerings - lots of beans, a tailing off for the tomatoes (that's a pretty big one, but I'm having to pick them as soon as they have some colour) and the first of the oca.
Oca, you say? It is actually grown pretty much worldwide and is another of the amazing Andean treasures that are becoming known for their hardiness and versatility. We bought ours from a farm in Tasmania after we failed in our first attempt, bought from the Sunshine Coast. Its botanical name in Oxalis tuberosa, the same family as sheep's sorrel, and as its name suggests it does contain some oxalic acid. Apparently you can eat the foliage but I think I'd give it a miss - apparently pigs adore it, so good luck to them! However, the tubers, which are only just forming as the foliage starts to die back, are delicious. Like most of my vegetables I steam them, after a quick wash - the skin is waxy so washes clean easily. I eat them like small potatoes and they have a slight piquancy, very, very nice!

This year, between us, El and I made just about all the mistakes you can with the oca, but mine survived to give  a harvest at the end of it all. El unfortunately has gathered hers a bit too soon, but will try again next season. Such fun to try exotic plants and find them truly interesting.

On a different topic, Mischief gave me a giggle this morning. There is a lounge on the front verandah that is much competed for among the dogs but will only seat two, or one if particularly possessive. This morning Mischief dipped out and was lying crankily on the floor. I invited her inside but she ignored me. She wanted to go up on the lounge. A couple of minutes later she started up a ferocious pack bark at a possible alien intruder at the far boundary. All the pack rushed over and barked furiously for a minute or two before deciding there was nothing in sight. They wandered back, to find Mischief smugly ensconced on the lounge. It works every time! The only other dog to have figured this trick out is Virginia, who will also occasionally use it - usually to acquire an old bone, but she still falls for the trick when Mischief does it.

And a groan from behind me notifies me that dogs like to go for regular walks. Sigh. Outside is not appealing at present, with black clouds around, but dog walks are an essential thing - for the dogs.

Take care, please stay in touch, overseas and interstate friends and visitors.

Cheers - Fliss

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Magpie season again

It may seem strange to have magpie season in winter, but my magpies are individualistic...

The history is that I used to feed them every morning, until not only did they become obese but they decided that the yard was their own place, so happily dug up my garden. That was when I discovered that magpies love newly planted peas and beans. Last year I did not get a single pea from a whole packet planted. I was severely displeased, so from then on ignored the birds - until this week. They have been singing frantically to me every morning, with a definite edge of 'we are soooooooo hungry...' so finally I surveyed the sad creatures. They have a nearly grown baby, hence are finding it difficult to find enough food in frosty times.While sensible birds may produce their young in spring, my residents have no idea of season.

Sigh. I am still ignoring the raucous crows, who want to join in, but am giving the magpies little meat offcuts each morning when I feed the dogs. I am watching them closely, however, as I have just sown some broad beans. They had better behave themselves!

On a quite different topic: I entered a podiatrist's premises yesterday. How can say one has lived without having visited a podiatrist? What an awful job to have, though, sorting out people's smelly feet! The nice young man who was to look at my pods disagreed, however, saying that people's smelly mouths would be much worse. What a choice. Oh, well, I submitted to having my feet checked over and groomed for me. It was mostly quite fun, and I ended up with such neat toenails that I felt maybe they should also be painted decoratively. It appears that podiatrists don't offer that service, however, but do finish off with a quick rub-over with massage oil. Cool. I feel, though, that they need a lot more people than me to keep all their people employed - I don't know how long it will be before I think to visit them again as I have a nicely healthy pair of feet to continue my pottering around the paddock.

And it mists outside. Everything is dripping and the goats' fur is standing up in little spikes. I am comfortable in my waterproof house!

Take care, everyone. Talk to you soon.Oh, and it's son Duncan's 45th birthday today. I said how good he's made it halfway to 90, but he says things like joints are wearing out much too fast!

Cheers - Fliss

Friday, 24 May 2013

How Mischief got her name

Our rescue dog was a delightful puppy, very cuddly but highly energetic. At the time I had several foster children, one of whom, Kyle, was especially interested in the new resident. We reached bedtime and the pup was tired out. I thought I'd settle her in by having a bed next to mine where she would feel secure. I was wrong: she hated her bed. I leaned down and stroked her to settle her, but she wasn't interested, squirming and crying so I was worried she'd wake the children up.

'Hey,' I said, picking her up and giving her a cuddle, 'whatever is the problem with you?'

She promptly wriggled down next to my armpit and cuddled in. This was where a puppy slept, not in a box! Uh...that is basically where she has slept for the rest of her life, so in due course I had to buy a bigger bed so we could share in comfort. It did make house-training her a breeze: every time she needed to go out during the night she would give me a kick so I woke up and carried her down to the grass.We never had a puddle in the house, ever. This was despite her having a weak bladder, so when we were out anywhere and she was nervous or excited I would have to apologise and mop up. At home she just took herself off whenever necessary.

The next bit of training I attempted was to leave the pup at home when I took the children to school in the morning. The other dogs were placid and laid back about it, but not the pup. How could I abandon her, she demanded? I shut her in the front porch to keep her safe for the ten minutes or so I'd be out and her frantic screams resounded around the whole road. After a few days of that I thought she might settle better if I left her in the house with the other dogs. I arrived home to find the bed sheets shredded. Back to the porch and the screams again - she was too young to take with me at first so I thought she would eventually settle down. She never did, sigh.

Then I took the pup to training school where she caused great amusement by whirling around madly, wagging her little tail like a whirligig. The trainer used her as a diversion to test whether the other pups could behave with a lunatic in their midst. This pup would only do what she chose - she'd sit, drop, come, shake her paw but absolutely not stay and absolutely not lead. She caused havoc when anyone tried to lead her. I practiced with her over and over again but she still never accepted the lead. The only way one could make her walk on the lead was by using a Gentle Leader, which goes over the dog's face, and her face was totally mutinous! If I stood still for too long she would simply bite through the lead and then race round in circles happily. If the pups had been marked out of ten, Pup might have scored maybe one, for amusing everyone.

At home she was also determined to do her own thing. This could be tugging over a large and very heavy pot so she could pull the tree out of it and chew off all the roots, or she might do some creative gardening which involved very large holes throughout the vegetable bed. I went so far as to advertise holes for sale the first April Fool's Day she was with us, but I had no takers.

Kyle and I discussed what we would call this bundle of misplaced but mainly joyous energy. Between us we arrived at Miss Chief, aka Mischief, and later Chief as she made it very clear she was top of the dog clan. This she has remained. Life with her can be frustrating but it is never boring, even now in her older years. She still tells me loudly if things are not to her liking. She walks well and obediently free, but to use a lead is to ask for elongated arms. However, part of Mischief's package is that she is acutely intelligent, understanding English very well and answering if she thinks it necessary with yawps, squeaks or yaps. Mischief knows exactly what she can do or won't be able to get away with, and if she decides to cooperate can be very helpful. Once I asked her to perform in a dog show, putting her in the obedience class. She sized up the situation, looked at the other dogs and then behaved impeccably, taking out the prize for most obedient dog. It was done on the spur of the moment, with no prior practice, but she thought it would be fun so that was that.

Demanding, frustrating but always an affectionate, amusing and intelligent companion, Mischief is the complete dog package!

Stay safe, everyone, be happy -

Cheers - Fliss