Flossie's Scare - when your dog is frothing at the mouth

That split second of panic
Had a bit of a scare this morning. I am in Perth, Western Australia, visiting family and hubby rang to say hi. We chatted, laughed at Harry's antics and then said goodbye. Twenty seconds later Hubby rang back. Flossie had come into the shed and was lying on the ground frothing white stuff from her mouth. He panicked, thinking in a flash - It's rat poison! What's the phone number for the vet? Kidlet will kill me for not looking after her pup! Where did she get rat poison? Argh! 

And then he spied a bag on the floor. Lamb raising mix - powdered milk.

Harry's coping strategy
Apparently Harry is missing me terribly. He keeps wandering up to the study to find me then wandering back again. This morning he crawled up to sit on Hubby's shoulder and was licking his ear, then tickling him with whiskers. He sat there, claws in for balance, while Hubby went about his morning chores. What a funny little fellow!

Here in Perth it is blessedly cool a…

Burning Stumps from the Inside Out

Ever since we came to Crumbleton Manor I have been itching to remove a row of large tree stumps at the front of our house. They are remnants of a windbreak which was planted last century, at least fifty years ago. Native to California, these Macropcarpa Cypress trees have flourished on Australian and New Zealand farms as wind breaks and have been favoured for wood crafts. They can grow to 133 feet tall and 8 feet in diameter, so are firmly rooted and have immense strength. Thus the task has eluded us to date. There is evidence of a previous unsuccessful attempt to burn them out.

Below is a short video, showing the stumps and our magnificent view over the valley.

watch stumps and Birdsong video here
I was counting on neighbour Rob's massive big earth mover to do the job but decided to give fire a go.

From the inside.

I discovered it works! But the key is to treat it like any other fire - keep loading fuel onto it. Once the inside shell has burned out it needs fuel to continue to bur…

Pumping Poo and Cat-in-a-bag

It's official. The septic poo tank is full. Last weekend the toilets ceased to flush and we were left with NO FUNCTIONING TOILETS for a day and a half. Kidlet was unimpressed with having to find a spot out in nature. A very nice plumber called Trent came to look at it for us and said we needed to have the tank pumped out before he could fix anything. The tank holds 2,500 litres (shudder) and filters out to a shallow rock filled area called a leech drain. I finally located a fellow who could come out with a pump truck and he turned up around 5.30 pm on Saturday, just as the sun was disappearing. We're getting mixed estimates on how frequently we need to have it pumped, ranging from 5 - 15 years. Eek.

On a lighter, more fragrant note, I have been planning and working at garden areas closer to the house. We've planted more London Plane trees, four Golden Elms, some evergreen Alders, a hedge of viburnum and more. It's slow work, as I have to get the tractor to do the heav…

Catching Mice and Cracker Night!

Cracker Night! That legendary Tasmanian custom. It was a first for me the other night. We had neighbours over, about 15 of us with their families, a BBQ out in the open air on a perfect winter's night. Calm, clear skies and a massive bonfire! We'd purchased a fireworks licence, cos that's how they roll down here, and then ordered our fireworks online before picking them up from the official outlet.

And then Hubby happened.

While I was was cooking and preparing the food for HOURS, hubby was setting up and was supposed to READ THE INSTRUCTION SHEET on how to set up the fireworks safely. Erm. No. That didn't happen. Instead he spent ages setting up lights, tables etc. When it came to cracker time, one of the neighbours helped him. They had a fabulous time setting fire to stuff and nearly setting fire to each other. They were giggling their heads off and we were all keeping our distance.

We even had fireworks sitting upside down for a while until someone suggested they mi…

Foodie Food, Food, Food!

My mum thinks it's absolutely hilarious that I, yes I, write about and show photos of cooking. I used to hate being in the kitchen, hated cooking. Cooking was a chore and a bore to me. But as I've had to change my diet, I've been looking at simple ways to obtain the nutrients I and my family need. But it has to be simple and quick to make, otherwise I lose interest.

Lately there have been lots of colourful, fresh, delicious vegies available. Just look at this enormous bunch of Brussels Sprouts! I've never seen them like this. I'd always assumed for some reason that they grew singularly. Not so. But tightly packed onto this thick stem. You just snap them off and pop them in boiling water. Yum! Soooo good with a little butter and salt, or gravy.

Warm, hearty soup was so easy the other day. All I had to do was chop, add to the pan and bingo! Yummy soup. One pot dinner. A little leftover roast, finely chopped, added depth of flavour. I also splashed in some Worcester …

Planting for the Future

We are acutely aware that the top 50 acres of the farm is basically barren. Over the years wallabies and stock have denuded it and the wind charges up the valley straight to the top of the hill and blasts the house. So we're in the middle of planting trees and hedging plants and leafy corridors for the birds to control a little of that impact, improve the soil and in  general improve our experience of living in this beautiful place.

So far we've planted:

London Plane treesMaplesLuma Apiculata - native hedging plantsPittosporum Tasman Ruffles - native hedging plantsEvergreen Poplardeciduous Poplaroaksilver birchgrapefruitTahitian LimeImperial mandarinappleViburnum
I love London Plane trees and they have been used extensively in rural NSW and even Perth W.A. as street trees because they are, believe it or not, drought resistant. Their shade is lovely and can reduce temperatures in built up areas dramatically, aside from their sheer beauty, of course. As strong, tall, trees with …

Drenching sheep and crawling in the dark

We had a busy week with my aunt visiting, exploring lots of beautiful places we haven't had a chance to see yet since moving here 13 weeks ago. We have been itching to visit the Gunns Plains caves and were not disappointed. The stunning formations quite took my breath away and it was at times a challenging walk. No flat floor like you see in the movies!
The stunning crystallised miniature forest you see in this photo to the left is a close-up of a formation called “the wedding cake.” It is magnificent, stretching from the floor to the roof of the cavern.
These caves, unlike many others in Australia, were not used by indigenous inhabitants because the only access was through a small hole high up in one of the caverns. Thus, the formations have remained intact for 100,000s of years. we were delighted to hear this is ideal habitat for platypus. There is a permanent stream running through these caves with pure, sparkling water and lots of hideyholes for her to burrow. These caves are…