Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Birthday Mountain Wildlife!

It has snuck up on me! My Mountain Wildlife blog was officially 1 year old today :)

I can hardly believe it's true - this past year has flown since I made my very first entry HERE. I did remember sometime last month that this anniversary was coming up - and of course I planned to do something special.... but .... well, it kind of slipped away and now it's here and I have nothing special for you!   :-o

I am pleased that I have managed to keep it going though, as blogging this time last year seemed like a very mysterious kind of process, and I wasn't sure if anyone would even be interested in reading my ramblings! But here we are, and I have certainly had some readers.....

I have a stat-counter at the bottom of my blog which I can log into for lots of nerdy info- nothing personal of course but they do tell me for instance which countries my visitors have logged in from, and how many new and return visitors I have had.

At the time of writing- I have had 3,935 visitors in 12 months which truly amazes me! Over half of my visitors are 'return' visitors, which I guess means you have liked what you've seen and want to come again, and over half of those return visitors have been here more than 10 times.

And you have visited from Australia, UK, (not so surprising as my family are there) but also from Portugal, New Zealand, all over USA, Canada, Thailand and the most surprising - a handful of visitors from South Africa including Sudan! WHO ARE YOU?? !!! Pardon my ignorance, but I wasn't even aware there were many computers in the Sudan!

It is really interesting to know these stats, but I would truly love if more visitors would leave a comment when they visit my blog.
I do have 18 'followers' at the moment, (only 2 of whom I have met in real life!) who are more regular readers and some of whom do comment. I really appreciate your comments and input, it makes blogging a little less 'one-sided' as fellow bloggers will know!

I've found some great blogs through the year too, I really enjoy reading others efforts and experiences of gardening, chooky exploits, sewing, baking, thrift shopping, building, green living and generally trying to make their own part of the world a better place.

So here's to the first year, and apolgies for the lack of party-ness! Maybe I'll be more organised for the 2nd birthday..... :-)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mamma Mia! - It's some real Mountain Wildlife!

The past couple of days I have noticed a couple of areas in the back garden have been mysteriously overturned ... too small an area for our dog to be the culprit, and our 2 chooks haven't been out of their fenced off corner. So we thought maybe a possum....?

But today our cheeky visitor showed his face - and his HUGE body !!!

brush turkey

He was running around our garden like he owned the place, then after a quick chase from our dog (with some panic on my part!) it jumped up onto our fence. Initially we thought it was a lyrebird while it was racing around, but once it settled we could see it was very different. (BTW- I know its a 'he' from the colouring- yep, we are nerdy enough to own a field guide to birds!)

As far as I know, brush turkeys are not usually found around our area. They are more common further north right up the eastern coast of NSW and Qld in warmer coastal-bush areas. I've certainly never seen one in the 10 years we have been living in the mountains.

Anway, he was helpful enough to stay perched on the fence long enough for me to get a few photos, then he hopped off into next door's garden and away. He had obviously been here before and was not at all bothered by us. I also realised later that our dog obviously hasn't been too bothered about the turkey's presence either (until we got all excited -oops!)

Despite their tendancy towards destruction, it was really good to see a brush turkey in the garden! (I am sure those who have them all the time will definitely disagree!)

In other news ....... on Friday night I went to Star City with a couple of friends to see Mamma-Mia- the musical, on its opening night. What a fantastic show! I am still smiling :)
It was a great night out, with a quick dinner before the show and then almost 2 and a half hours of amazing performances.

The cast were brilliant, very, very funny! Lots of dancing and of course - loads of Abba songs woven into the story, which was done really well.

If you liked Abba even a little bit- you will love this show! And I defy anyone to not at least do a little jiggling in their seats, if not a full-on dance in the aisle!

My Abba Gold CD had a dusting off and been played today, and my kids were dancing their little legs away, arms waving and bums wiggling! (I don't know where they learnt to dance like THAT! lol!)

The show started on Friday and will be touring Australia for almost a year, and in Sydney until next Feb. Get some girlfriends together and go see it - release that inner-Dancing Queen !!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheeps!

OK, get ready for the cutest fluffballs you've ever seen!

lunchtime in the brooder box

Finally yesterday (on day 22- 1 day late!) we hatched 7 out of our 8 chicky eggs. It was so exciting! The first one was out by the time we got up (at 6am :-o ) lying in the incubator ... I was worried for a second but when I shone a torch in it jumped up so quick and ran around chirping madly .... and then hardly stopped for the next 12 hours !!

pair of fluffballs

The next 6 we all had the amazing privilege of watching them hatch - it was really fantastic. After waiting all day Saturday with nothing happening (very frustrating!) at last we had our little chicks.
The 8th egg is still in the incubator, however its unlikely to hatch now, it was the only one that didn't 'pip' (start knocking a hole in the shell) and no chirpy noises from inside. I'll leave it until tomorrow.

After fluffing up and drying out, we moved them to their new residence- the Brooder Box. Ours is a very low-tech cardboard box, although it is prettied up with coloured paper around the outside. Newspaper and 50mm wood shavings in the bottom, then some non-slip matting on the top, (for the first couple of days while they find their feet, avoids leg problems later).

Heating is provided by a heat lamp very kindly loaned to me by the wonderful Jacqui from Life in the Dome blog, who lives nearby and helped me out immensely with some chicky things (I think I may have found a kindred chicky spirit LOL!) While I am giving out honourable mentions (!) Big thanks and a virtual bouquet to Chris from Bushlandproject blog for giving me lots of info and tips and whose emails calmed me down! You are wonderful women! I also got heaps of help and info from Backyard poultry - how amazing technology is that we can share so much information at the press of a few buttons!

Now, here is the ID parade! I don't know at this stage whether they are male or female, though I have my suspicions so I will share them here and you can come back later and see how right or wrong I am!!

So here is the line-up.... they are all Wyandottes, a mix of gold, silvers, blue-golds and blue silvers!

First to hatch- The Boss. Not sure if its a rooster (I suspect so!) or a future mother-hen but this is one lively chicky. After hatching ran around constantly helping the others out of their shells, pecking anyone who dared lie down for a rest (although this is apparently good to keep them moving after hatching) and once in the brooder box -even taking food to the other chicks who hadn't found it yet. Amazing behaviour!

Second out is this blue/grey beauty (I'm suspecting roo as well!) The fluffiest thing on legs. Actually its legs were a little weak for a while, but it is good now. Helped by The Boss to get to its feet.

Boss look-alike. Strange how similar they look as one came out of a Silver-Laced egg, the other out of Blue-Laced-Gold egg! It decided to sit nicely for its photo :)

This little one has the most stunning stripes and dots on her head - so pretty she just has to be a girl !!
This is my one Gold Laced Wyandotte, the photo doesn't show it but she is gorgeously reddish brown with stripes through her back. Another girl I think - look at that beautiful face!

This cutie having a bad hair day has a racing stripe down its back (boy racer with hair gel?)

And lastly, little Blondie - she is so cute! Very light with almost yellow underneath and wings.

We are all so in love with them, I'd love to keep them all! (not likely unless there is only 1 rooster) It has been an amazing project to incubate them and fantastic for the kids to watch.

So cuddly :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Day 14- 8 out of 12 going well

I had meant to blog earlier about candling our eggs ... however as often happens life seems to have got in the way (and loss of it, poor Emily.) Thanks to all for the lovely comments BTW on my last post.

It's not as if we weren't candling, in fact I was so impatient there was no way I could wait a week so we had a look on day 4! and day 6 .... and day 8 ... and day 12.... and tonight -day 14 ! Apparently it doesn't harm the eggs, they don't spend long enough out of the incubator to lose heat so lots of people (impatient ones like me!) candle them often as the development is pretty amazing.

There is a lot of info on the internet about candling, so I won't go into it too much here, but basically it involves shining a light through the egg to see whats going on inside. It needs to be done in a fairly dark room, with a torch or lamp that can concentrate the light through the egg -not around it. We used a normal torch and it worked fine.

Unfortunately I haven't got any photos as they wouldn't work well, but even at day 4 we could see a dark mass inside (on non-fertile eggs there is just light). We could even see the eye which is one of the first things to develop. At day 4, it seemed there was maybe 10 out of the 12 developing, though some were more obvious than others. From day 6 onwards, there has been 8 developing out of the 12, which is a pretty good rate. Wyandottes are rose-combed which lowers the fertility rate (strange but true) so I wasn't expecting all of them to work, but hopefully these 8 will make it to the end.

Tonight (day 14) there is not much left to see. The chick has grown into most of the egg, so its very dark, with just a small space left to grow into, and the bigger end of the egg has an air sac which lights up really well.

As I mentioned in my original post I have mix of silver-laced (3 left), gold-laced (1 left) and blue-laced-golds (4 left).  BLG parents have chicks of BLG's, gold laced, and splash (which is gold/white with blue) so I'm very interested in what is going to come out!

There is still another week to go, fingers crossed that the remaining 8 will all make their way out of those shells, and that they will all be hens!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

RIP Emily

Our beautiful Emily

Our lovely Australorp Emily, my most favourite chook, died today.

Our dog managed to dig out the bottom of the fence to their chook pen, and pushed open a gap for them to come out and play. Of course, his idea of play is not the same as theirs.

I came home and heard the unmistakable awful noise of a very scared chook, and missed her by a second. I actually saw her still alive and picked her up, but only for the last seconds, and then it was too late.

Our children didn't see it happen but there was no getting away from it- I had to explain. I really didn't want to have a talk about life and death to them at 4 years old. They are both very sad about Emily but seem to be accepting and understanding it.

She was the best of the 3 chooks we have left, a beautiful animal, gorgeous peacock green sheen to her black feathers, and lovely temperament. She was the best layer too, eggs almost every day (unlike the two remaining who give us 2 or 3 eggs a week). We would have had her a year next week.

Emily was always our favourite, we are all upset and will miss her. Gone but not forgotten.

Sleep peacefully little chooky.

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's waratah time

Todays rain on one of our waratahs

It was a public holiday here today, and we spent some of it up in Blackheath at our land - the land we bought over a year ago now to build our dream home on. I haven't blogged much about this at all, partly because I want to keep it as a private place for now, and partly because not a lot has happened on the building front.

We go up there a lot because it is such a lovely place, a big quiet bush block with hidden tracks and mountain views, full of beautiful native flowers and trees, and various wildlife including lyrebirds (although there were a lot more around last year compared to this year).

Today though, we were thrilled to find some of our many waratahs were flowering- they are my favourite flower, so spectacular in the bushland against the green gums and the huge blackened tree trunks (the big fires went through our land a few years back) There was also a light rain when we were there, not enough to spoil anything, but enough to add interest......

So of course, we took some photos.....

I love the way the bracts on this one seem to swirl around the centre -

And this one with it's dancing flames

And finally I'll leave you with this macro-shot (courtesy of my husband!)   Amazingly on our big photo, we can even see him INSIDE THE RAINDROP taking the photo- so cool !!! 


How beautiful are they with the raindrops on them? I'm always amazed to see them growing in the most rugged landscapes.

(PS- the waratah I have as my blog-photo was our one and only flowering one this time last year!)

Friday, October 2, 2009

September's sewing

Time for a sewing update I think... here are a few things I made last month.

A couple more aprons for 2 little boys (brothers so I made matching but different trim) ....

A new bag for myself - smaller than a tote bag but like a large handbag/shoulderbag. It's the first bag I've ever made and just made it up and figured it our as I went along. I put a little pocket inside for my phone, and that used up every scrap of this fabric- perfect!
The fabric is a lovely thick and strong woven cotten, from my little stash I received from freecycle a while back.
I am really happy with it, fits all my bits and pieces as well as snacks or drink bottles for the kids in it.
Total cost- nil (except time and brain-strain!)

Feeling so pleased about making my everyday bag, I made a shopper/tote bag the following week, which was very easy in comparison!
The fabric is actually a lovely old pillowcase I picked up in Vinnies (charity shop) for 50c. I have bought a few different ones for various projects, no-one seems to buy them (maybe don't like second hand bed linen?) but all you need is to think outside the square ...." now, what else could I make this into?" !!!

I cut open the flap and then sewed it to the open end, then folded it in on itself to become self-lining. This also makes it stronger as the cotton isn't very thick. I 'boxed' the corners so its wider at the bottom rather than 2 flat sides. No pocket in this one, and the handles are just unbleached calico from my stash.
I just love the fabric, I thought it was very Spring! Have used this one heaps already too.
Total cost - 50c.

I didn't get as many projects done as I would have liked this month, what with other less interesting things to do (general life stuff!), trying to get on top of building plans so we can get them into council (still working on them-groan), learning about incubating eggs, a boomerang-migraine that just kept coming back every few days, and then sick kids this week :(

Anyway, I'm happy with the few things I did make. And my pile of 'waiting to be mended/ altered/ created' pile sits happily waiting......