Category Archives: Birds

Country Diary Summary of 2013

I took a bit of a walk round the property to check on our progress over the last 12 months.  We have seen a number of changes with the major ones being getting ready for our goats, hatching and learning about guinea fowl, preparing a new paddock for next year’s oats and bringing in a good hay crop.  

In January Goldie was killed by a snake, we noticed that Guinea Fowl have blue eyes and long eyelashes, I saw the kangaroo Mum and Baby for the first time and the Dung Beetles got rid of the flies.

In February, the young guineas had their first taste of freedom, a couple were killed by foxes and I helped two new guineas Bill and Ben from their shells.  We harvested lots of food from the garden and went to choose our goats.

Much of March was spent putting up the fence for the goat paddock, Red died, Flash was fit for work for about 2 weeks between injuries and we had extremes of hot and cold and the first autumn rains.

April started with giving Bowie a series of injections to combat a severe allergic reaction to a sting.  An unseasonable heatwave dragged on before we got our first real rainfall.  We built luxury accommodation for the goats – although they are a bit delayed as Midge didn’t get pregnant –  and the little guineas Bill and Ben met the older birds.

Poor little Ben got taken on the 1st of May and Billie only survived another 10 days, even though the others took her in and showed her how to fly.  The most exciting thing of course was bringing our 2 goats Midge and Smudge to the property. On the 8th we got the highest rainfall in the whole of WA at 78mm, the tanks were full by the 11th May and the dam was overflowing by the end of the month.  The wet weather brought out the first fungi.

June was all about identifying all the different fungi popping up in the forest, they came in a whole rainbow of colours.   The main jobs were the first 8 stages of producing oaten hay – weedkiller, raking, rock picking, sowing, harrowing, rock picking, rolling and fertilizing.  On the wildlife front, I learned more about the red-legged earth mite and a couple of kites.

July was awesome.  Looking back at the posts, there were great sunrises, our first frost, baby goats and while our oats sprouted we started cultivating a new paddock for growing them next year.  I got my first pictures of the baudin and red-tailed black cockatoos and had fun with a rogues gallery of chicken bottoms.

August was wet.  There were only 3 days when it didn’t rain and we got 50mm more than average for the month.  I took my favourite sunrise photo of the year, learned about my Holy Halo, and captured a beautiful rain drop.  August was focused on our future food security.  We put together our greenhouse, got some milking supplies, weeded the vege beds – with help from the chickens – and planted tagasaste for the goats.   The first flowers of spring appeared and we found out we had rabbits.

Midge had her twin girl kids in September.  Curious Rose and Gorgeous Crumpler were even cuter than I had imagined.    Poor Midge injured her udder,so I suddenly had to learn how to milk and the milking stand got built sooner than anticipated.  Mama Hen went broody so we bought a couple of day old chicks for her to raise.  It was a wild weather month with our first hailstorm and storms that brought trees down and blew a panel out of the greenhouse.

October was all about the hay.   Our kind neighbour lent us his mower, rake and baler and we got it in the shed after 6 days.    The kids and chicks are growing quickly and the horses were very happy to be back in the oat paddock.  The wildflowers were mostly pink and blue. The dry days that let us harvest the hay also gave a couple of chilly mornings and a record low maximum.

During November, the kids and chicks  started showing their independence. I milked Midge for the first time and garden produced potatoes, radishes, beans, peas and our first tomatoes.  We started trapping the rats which have made themselves at home in the feed shed.  We had an unusually hot spell for the first couple of weeks, but the rains returned at the end of the month.   We spotted an interesting range of wildlife including metallic birds and beetles and pink parrots and peas

In December, we started building the earth oven with our own clay and sand and put a drip irrigation system in for the vege beds and fruit trees.  The chicks are almost fully grown and we weighed the kids again at 3 months –  they were huge! We had 6 hot days in the middle of the month followed by a cool change and lower then average temperatures.  There were still some bright flowers around including the vivid orange Christmas Tree and the pink Pretty Honey Myrtle.  After a very wet winter, water is still flowing into the dam, so hopefully the level won’t drop as quickly next year, although we will use more with our new garden irrigation system.

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Country Diary for week ending 26th August

It was a wonderful week, full of variety:  with a cool foggy morning, more rain to add to the floods; and, two warm sunny days which made me look forward to spring.

I considered the future of some pests: lupins, rabbits and black field crickets; and photographed a couple of prickly customers.

There is a lot more obvious bird activity, and I recorded the warbling chirps of the Welcome Swallows as they rebuild their nest, caught a kookaburra catching the worm, and saw spots on the yellow-rumped Thornbill.

The most exciting thing was feeling a baby goat moving inside Midge.  There are only about 10 days to go, so I am checking for signs of impending labour morning and night.  If she has more than 1 kid, she could go early.

The sun rises before 7am as we accelerate towards spring.

Just click on any of the pictures for the full story.

Country Diary for week ending 19th August

Spring had a bit of a false start this week with the arrival of the Welcome Swallows and some perennials bursting into colour before rain stopped play and temperatures plummeted.

I captured images of some iconic Australian species and a rare phenomenon called a Holy Halo.

The sun is rising earlier and sliding round to the south, I was relieved to see just rabbits in the rockpile, but felt guilty admiring our most prolific weed.

Just click on any of the pictures for the full stories.

Country Diary for week ending 12th August

During the week, writer Jon Katz shared that photography was becoming more important in his blog as he was “learning the hard and difficult lesson that sometimes images tell a story much better than my words.”  I took that lesson to the next level this week and added sounds to a number of my posts.  I am not a writer or photographer and figured that an extra dimension would help convey more about life on the farm.

You can hear a pobblebonk frog, Baudins Cockatoos, and Rumples, Chicken and the Guinea Fowl singing for their supper.  The sound I didn’t get was the clapping pigeon as it took me by surprise.  I spotted a hover fly for the first time and had to chase a guinea fowl who had got trapped in the goat paddock.

It was a wet and cloudy week so there were not as many sunrise shots and four ducks photobombed one I did get and enacted part of Star Wars 4 as I tried to photograph the morning rays. I got caught in a real cloudburst and almost lost a boot in some quicksand.

I thought more about our future food supply checking up on the Tagasaste fodder crop for the goats and getting my milking equipment ready as Midge gives birth in four weeks.

Just click on any of the pictures for the full stories.

Country Diary for week ending 29th July

It was a wet and windy week with over 70mm of rain taking us up to 150mm for the month of July which is slightly above average.  The east of the property is under water for the first time in 4 years.

I got my first pictures of a family of red-tailed black cockatoos and a large flock of ibis, and some more pictures of a family of kangaroos.

We made good progress with the new oat paddock with the neighbour ploughing it for us.   I was pleased to see the richness of the soil and almost wept with joy that there were almost no rocks to pick up.

I am continuing my love affair with the sunrise, catching a beautiful silver sun and also caught my first sun setting over the horizon.

Just click on any of the pictures for the full stories.

Country Diary for week ending 30th June

This week I got up close (well close-ish) and personal with some kangaroos, spotting a big male one day, then mum and bub pretty close to the house.

We had a couple of light rain days with 8mm each time, but mostly it was a calm and sunny week.  The Oats are loving the combination of sunshine and rain and are looking good.

I captured some beautiful images of raindrops and reflections. The Guineas are courting,  the horses were relaxing in the sun and I bathed a chicken for the first time.    I found some large Laughing Jim mushrooms which are sometimes hallucinogenic.

Country Diary for week ending 10th June 2013

It was a busy week on the farm as we sowed oats for the hay to feed the horses and goats.  We killed weeds, raked the seedbed, picked up stones, then sowed, harrowed, rolled and fertilised.  It took 3 days – even harrowing after dark –  but we finished 2 hours before the rain came.

Brad cut firewood and filled the wood store, the guinea fowl were hunted by a variety of predators, we saw our first Whistling and Black Shouldered Kites and think we found our first edible mushroom