Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Fox Visits

Black Australorp Hen
Black Australorp Hen pecking

MOST MORNINGS, I LET the chickens out after breakfast, but on Sunday I did something different.  I let the chickens out early, before we went to Nippers at Bar Beach.  So they were scratching around outside before 8am.

Sunday was an overcast day, grey skies lingering until late afternoon and some decent showers before sunset.  I worked inside all day, barely going out except to have a stretch at lunchtime.  I did notice some kerfuffle with the chickens early in the day, with some clucking and squwarking, but then that was sort of usual after one had laid an egg.  It wasn't until late afternoon when I noticed old Rosie clucking around at the back steps by herself, that I gulped and felt a squirt of adrenalin - where were the other birds?  Nervous it wasn't a red fox

I grabbed my daughter and we trudged down the backyard.  Just one other bird.  10 gone.  It was obviously a fox.   We walked all around the property and along through the bush - all we found were a couple of wispy feather rings and one cold corpse with the head missing.

So long chichens - is always sad to lose a brilliant egg team.  And we had just been sharing a dozen eggs every few days with our friends.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Merewether Baths Surf House

Merewether Surf House from the beach
 SOME LOCAL SECRETS are worth sharing.  Just underneath Surf House at Merewether Beach is a pizza and fish and chip casual eats spot where you can feed a family of four for under fifty dollars. 

Once I got a taste we ate here every week for about six weeks straight - so we enjoy a nod from the waitstaff and know where to sit to catch the perfect nor-easter on a Friday afternoon.

The new walkway takes you effortlessly to Surf House from the Ocean Baths, so it has become an established habit for use to trudge up with sand between out toes and eat.

There is a relaxed friendliness about eating pizza with your hands whilst the kids scuttle about over the rockpools and drip ice cream on themselves.

Here's a sentimental image of the baths changerooms - slated for demolition/removal in 2014, we will probably miss the mustard ugliness and awkward design of the building. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Jacaranda Carpet

lying down amongst Jacaranda Merewether
This morning the Jacarandas at the end of the street had carpeted
the grass with blooms.  It took a little coaxing to get Isla to
lie on the dew wet grass but she grudgingly agreed - maybe that's why she's not smiling!
Jacaranda blossoms on grass
Jacaranda blossom carpet the grass.
Have learned a lesson about warming up the models - this shoot
was impromtu - we had to put down our spoons during breakfast
and run up the street - before the blooms faded in the sun.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday in Spring 2013

The 12 chickens are eager to get out for breakfast and lay their eggs

This is the steel chicken coop - it works really well and keeps them safe at night - plus it is simple to clean.

Here is one of the silver wyandottes I bought from the NSW show - can you tell she is a show bird?

Here is the new laying house for the chickens to lay their eggs
it is an old dog kennel I got from the side of the road.

Look at how the tree ferns shade the egg house!

You can see how the tree ferns are thriving -
they all shed some fronds in the extreme heat over the last week.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Oil Painting

Isla holding up the oil paint after she has used it all in her painting.
Nothing better than getting hold of some oil paints and learning the difference between "washes off in water" and "washes off after you try a few different solvents" - still, managed a great result and learned that all of the colours mixed together come out a sort of olive/brown.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Merewether in Spring 2013

Spring is here with warm weather in the high 20's and not a drop of rain.  After the dry winds of August we needed watering about five times over the month to keep the ground from drying out completely.  With the 12 chickens roaming as a flock they have started to lay with the warmer weather and we are getting 9+ eggs each day.
Tonna australias new spring growth emerging

In the Garden everything is showing signs of movement, especially the red cedar which is covered with new growth

I went and bought another dozen rough tree ferns (Cyathea australis) which I have found grow best in these conditions or perhaps are best suited to my garden management style.  Cyathea australis was first described in 1810 from a specimen collected in the Bass Strait.  It is hardy and will tolerate full sun so long as moisture is consistently available.  I prefer to establish them in the understory and let them find their own full sun as they emerge through the undergrowth.

Cyathea cooperi planted with rocks and water well

I planted them throughout the garden in spots that I have previously overlooked, in 45cm square holes with 25 to 40 litres of well rotted cow manure as a growing medium. 

Then on top I built a well or contour bank to collect water and then covered this with sticks and leaf litter, then bricks or rocks as available.  I have to take such protective measures mainly to deter the chickens from scratching too vigorously around the new plantings, but also to act as a water retaining and mulch base to keep the moisture in.

15 months back I planted four Cyathea cooperi and they have grown well - the two getting the morning sun have done much better than the two getting the afternoon sun, all things being equal.  Nut the different growth rates will give some interest with different heights.

 The birdsnest fern is growing well, attaching itself to the tree after a good 18 months of growing.  It gets direct morning sun and filtered afternoon.  You can see where it has started to cover the mesh I used position it.  All I have put behind it is scrunched up leaves from the mulch - and these appear to be effective in giving some moisture base for the plant to grow from.

Finally, here are some of the flock scratching about in their natural habitat.  I can see four from left to right a New Hampshire, two silver wyandottes and a white leghorn.  Bring on the eggs I say!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Newcastle Live Sites

newcastle live sites
newcastle live sitesEvery year we go to the Winter Heat Festival in Newcastle and every year we bump into Ben and his kids, and Clare and Ross. 

Goes to show there are a loyal band of followers of this mid winter event and that the energy of flames always draws people in.

This year, the event was alongside the Honeysuckle precinct and there was a definite gourmet edge to the stalls - we missed the little pancakes on a skewer - and trying to get a cool non-alcoholic drink was simply not possible. 

That said there was a stunning parade of bamboo and tissue paper marine creatures - held aloft by a dozens of primary school children.

Is worth visiting every year and we were very grateful for the lady handing out free glowsticks. 

Also, on asking a man where he bought the flashing halo head piece, he said there weren't any left, and then gave us his! 

So we were once again impressed with the good nature of the people of Newcastle.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Keeping New Chickens in the Backyard

 Here are the new chickens - some fourteen week old pullets I bought off a lovely lady at the Maitland Wyandotte Show last weekend.  They are settling in nicely with the established flock and will soon be free ranging with the rest.  Oh, and you pronounce it Why-an-dot.

The Wyandotte Show was my first real chicken show and it was crowded with chicken fanatics from across the state.  We saw some impressive roosters (the noise was unbelievable!) and many lovely variations on the typical Wyandotte form.

I learned that the fluff of feathers at the bottom of the Wyandotte is called the cushion - and it is particularly pronounced in this type as well.

Here is an update on the growth of the backyard - the tree ferns are thriving and the red cedars are getting established too.  I have not watered for months but will start now in preparation for the spring as the drying winds of August make for slow growing weather.

Here is another image of just how thick the tree ferns are getting with regular cow manure, chemical all-purpose fertilizer and deep watering.  Oh, and the little garden fairy is growing well too on a diet of freshly laid warm eggs and plenty of cuddles!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Good Morning Chickens

Her name is Goldie, Rosie or Ruby, depending on who you ask
Here is one of our layers coming into her second year just after moulting.  She is still producing as well as ever and has learned the lay of the land at our place, so she knows where all the free range food is.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Free Range Chicken Friendly Garden in Merewether NSW Australia

Here is my first vision of the backyard - I am learning a lot.  Have a look and share your feedback!

This is the start of something!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Web Designer Newcastle

Promoting your website online is as simple as regularly updating your blog, keeping tabs on a Facebook page, maintaining a presence in industry forums and submitting relevant articles and authoritative advice.  Sounds confusing?  Well it can be to those who have to maintain their business in the “real world” and then find there is a parallel “online world” that demands the same level of commitment and accountability.

So you are best advised to outsource you online web promotion – or at least get steered in the right direction with an introductory training session with Newcastle Digital.

But back to the fundamentals of online web promotion - which is the basic truth that a website just left to it’s own devices will not magically flourish and attract traffic and convert sales – it will slowly wither and age and not really do much at all.

So what we need to do is get your website out there mingling with the crowd – with like minded similar sites brimming with customers and sales reps from your suppliers and your tradeshows and conferences and the like.  Someone has to be putting your website out there so it is slowly building an presence in your chosen niche and most likely growing in authority and recruiting for itself a higher flow of link juice.  Which roughly translates into being high in the search results.  Which is what we want, after all.

So with some regular training and updates, like reading the Newcastle Digital newsletter and following the hints and tips for increasing your organic ranking, you will soon be practising online web promotion without even knowing it.

And that’s when you start to see some really dramatic results and entrench your site at the top of the rankings for your most lucrative keywords.  So the prevailing advice it to get off to  flying start with some sustained online web promotion for at least the first twelve months so your site gathers some initial momentum.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bench Seat Installation

Here's how I installed a 2100mm sandstone bench seat as a retaining wall. I found it at the local hardware as a discount piece with broken legs - it was $80 marked down from $399. First, I prepared the site by measuring the layout of the bench seat, and putting that in place over the site intended for it. Since the site is on a slope, and would be working as a retaining wall also, it had to be back filled with well draining material. I put down a base of 3 dozen bricks and broken roof tiles, then backfilled this with six bags of blue metal screenings - small gravel. On top of this I spread three bags of sand to give a soft base for the bench seat to rest in.
Putting the sand on top will fill in all the little cracks and gaps so that there is no movement after settling in.
Getting the bench seat to the site was a job in itself - I made a stretcher type set up and carried it along like a sled, dragging the base along the ground. It worked pretty well and I only needed help to position the bench seat into place.
Once in place it was just a matter of settling in. I have since moved more rocks around the edges to protect the site from my scratching chickens, who can excavate amazingly well when they have time. I will post more updates of the garden as I have planted more palms and grasses too.
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