Life, with my dogs, living on one acre in Tasmania. Living on a low income, and with Complex PTSD. I write about all sorts of things. I called my Blog Echidna Home because I have echidnas that live here
I am so thankful to the Goddess for all I have harvested enjoyed and prepared for later on. Thankful to having the space, the provision of food helps me on my low budget. It is a blessing to be able to grow what I have and share and enjoy it.
It is Lammas the celebration of the harvest. The Godess, (Mother Earth) Gaia, thank You for all I have harvested over the summer. Sweet tasty peaches 18kgs so wonderful to share with friends. My attempt at dehydrating my peaches was a failure. I have picked 4.5kgs of plums.
My garlic and the scapes wonderful. A few green peas grew and were lovely as were the broad beans.
Lettuce and spinach, kale, silverbeet. Rhubarb Apricots from a friend, nectarines and cherries oh my delicious cherries from a local orchard and blue berries sigh summertime fruit in a temperate climate. Lemons, the flowers sweet peas, corn flowers, nasturtiums.
I notice my wattle trees are in flower! This is really strange as they usually flower around August. In fact September 1st in Australia was known as Wattle Day.
Wattle Day is a day of celebration in Australia on the first day of September each year, which is the official start of the Australian spring. This is the time when many Acacia species (commonly called wattles in Australia), are in flower. So, people wear a sprig of the flowers and leaves to celebrate the day.
Mother Earth is in some turmoil.
While some Christian communities may still practice a “blessing of the loaves” on Lammas, it is a tradition that is beginning to diminish. Nowadays, most Christians who want to celebrate Lammas do so by attending mass or by adorning their house in fall symbols such as corn husks, wheat strands, apples and other traditional harvest symbols.
The loaf was blessed, and in Anglo-Saxon England it might be employed afterwards in protective rituals: a book of Anglo-Saxon charms directed that the Lammas bread be broken into four bits, which were to be placed at the four corners of the barn, to protect the garnered grain.
Lammas has coincided with the feast of St. Peter in Chains, commemorating St. Peter’s miraculous deliverance from prison, but in the liturgical reform of 1969, the feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori was transferred to this day, the day of St. Alphonsus’ death.
In the Northern Hemisphere it is Imbloc on the 1st February 2020.
Imbolc today for those in the Northern Hemisphere
Unlike Samhain, which transformed into the much loved night of Halloween, Imbolc is one Celtic festival that hasn’t quite survived through history. Although Christians still celebrate St. Bridget’s Day in Ireland and children still learn how to make crosses at the start of February, little else remains of the ancient Celtic spring festival. However, Saint Bridget’s cross, made from rushes and hung around the home just as the Celts would have done, is as good a reminder as any to the festival’s ancient and mythological origins.
I went out about 9;30am daylight saving time, to water the veggies in the garden and those in pots on the deck .
Miss Treacle chose to stay in the cool of the house. All curtains drawn, windows facing the north and west(southern hemisphere so these are the hot areas) I place those windscreen sun protectors the foil ones on them as well. Works wonderfully, but the house must look like a meth lab. So far no police ramming down the doors!
Busby and I ventured out. It was not too bad at that time, but you could feel it was going to heat up fast. I went to water my watermelons plants. Not holding out hope for watermelons. As I watered Busby was wondering down a path, and just out of the corner of my eye, I saw a swishing movement on the ground, Busby also saw it. I realised quickly it was a snake. There are only three types of snakes found in Tasmania. All snakes in Tasmania are poisonous
I was only afraid that Busby would be curious and go closer to it. He did, and so I sprayed him with the house. I told him to go up on the deck. He looked at me stunned..that look what I didn’t do anything wrong! I felt really guilty as Busby has always been very scared of the house when I am watering. I don’t ever recall spraying him , but I must have. As I have had him since a very young puppy. (fostered him and his two siblings). He was great he did as asked.
I was not worried about the snake for my sake. It was moving away from us and heading for cover. I did spray water about a lot to discourage it from hanging around. I did feel very sorry for it too. As it was just sliding along enjoying the sun and heat. It also did the right thing.
I have lived here for 20 years and this is the only snake I have ever seen in my garden. I have water about for the animals and birds. I am assuming it came out to get a drink.
I wished it well, and told it that I would do it no harm, please do me and my dogs no harm either.
I have only seen one other snake the dogs and I were walking up the road our house is on. about halfway up the hill is a dam. It was another hot day and I am thankful that my dogs were distracted by some smell.
The snake slithered across the road to the dam. I could no longer see the snake but knew it was down closer to the water. So I encouraged the dogs to come and off we went. On the way home no stopping at the dam for a drink today.
Snakes generally don’t want to bite. They only do if cornered. Generally. So my Poppy who was a bushy taught us. He also taught us that if you have a snake living near your house, it will get to know your routines, and try to avoid being around when you are. So I will be making thumping the ground ,as snake have no ears so cannot hear when we go out side. I doubt I will leave them outside on their own for a while.
I love Echidnas! (also known as Spiny ant Eaters colloquially ). I have Echidnas who live and visit my garden and in the surrounding bush. I wanted to share what makes these animals so awesome.
The Long beaked (nose) Echidna found in the Highlands of New Guinea, Indonesian Papua, and the Short beaked (nose)found in Australia. Even though some people call them Spiny ant Eaters they are not related to them at all! Nor to Hedgehogs, Porcupines or Pangolins.
Long Beaked Echidna. are in danger even as they are eaten by indigenous people in the hills of New Guinea and Papua, They are also in danger from deforestation.
The Short Beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) is the smaller of the two. In Tasmania you can often see them especially by the edges of the roads and even crossing the roads. Sadly as they move slowly they do get hit by cars.
I am very fortunate to have at least one living in and about my property. I will go into more about their territory and life in another post.
They are amazing and fascinating animals.
Mammals are a diverse group, but all mammals-
produce milk to feed their young
have hair or fur
have a unique jaw structure
Echidnas are mammals? Yes.
But they have spines (which are actually tough hair folicles). Yes but they also have fur to keep them insulated so in colder regions you will see that Echidnas have longer fur covering some of their spines. If you compare my local Echidna with the picture below of an Echidna from NSW with a warmer climates you can see that it has less fur covering its back. So yes they have fur. Check. You can see more of it in the curled up photo on the right below.
Mammals are warm blooded, yep Echidnas are warm blooded.
Echidnas and Platypus are Monotremes, they lay eggs and their babies hatch.
Echidnas breed in Winter. Now the mother doesn’t have a pouch all the time. It is pretty amazing how she creates one; she does this by contracting her abdominal muscles which then forms a fold which is secure enough to hold the egg and puggle after hatching. (WIRES Northern Rivers. http://www.wires.org.au) and a single soft shelled egg is laid (like birds and reptiles).
The puggle (a baby Echidna) hatches out of the egg after about 10 days. As it is developing the puggle will grow a tooth structure, like chicks have, known as a ‘egg tooth’ a small sharp structure on a chicks beak to help it break the shell and hatch. Watch the video (below) of a puggle hatching and see if you can spot its egg tooth. Puggles are born blind with no spines or fur and it will be about the size of a jelly bean 1.45cms and can weigh in at as little as 380milligms/0.0134041ozs! (https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/native-animals/native-animal-facts/echidnas)
Since there is no nipple for the puggle to cling too it will cling to its mothers fur about her belly with its front legs that are incredibly developed and strong. but clings with its well developed front legs to the hairs on the mother’s belly.
Mammals feed their young milk. Check.
Whilst most mammals have nipples Monotremes do not. Instead in Echidnas the mother produces milk and it is excreted through the milk patches. Areas of the mothers stomach flat skin on either side of the pouch about where you would find teats or nipples on other mammals. The milk is excreted and the puggle will suckle at the patches not lick them. Patches are located on either side of the pouch approximately where one would expect a teat or a nipple to be.
The young laps at the milk patches, it does not suckle. Echidnas, the Different Mammal Dr. Peggy Rismiller OAM Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005
The puggle stays in the pouch for a further approximately 50 days until it starts to develop its spines, at which time mum will dig a nursery burrow in which she will leave the puggle. http://www.wiresnr.org/echidna.html The Puggle suddenly finds itself no longer clinging to its mother feeding when ever it desires warm snug and safe in its nestled in its mothers pouch. It now finds itself alone in a much cooler place where its mother will only return to feed it once every five days and it will only be with the puggle for a few hours. Echidnas, the Different Mammal Dr. Peggy Rismiller OAM Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia 5005 (Rismiller 1999; Rismiller and McKelvey 2009)
It goes from clinging to the belly of its mother and having access to the milk patch at all times to being left alone in a cool (15 – 18°C) chamber .
Many of us have had encounters with these animals in the garden, where they may dig them selves in to the ground, if this happens it is due to the animal being frightened, leave it alone, remove the threat (usually the family dog) and the echidna will go on its way once it feels secure. We can not relocate an echidna, they are solitary animals and have a territory, and if removed from this territory they will make every effort to return, crossing unfamiliar territory, also as we do not know if it is a male or female it could have a puggle waiting in a hollow for the next feed. wires.org.au
If you are interested in reading more about Echidnas and their lives I will be posting more on these endearing unique animals.
I shared about my vegetable garden and some issues with coldness gale force winds a few posts ago. I am happy that now with the warmer weather arriving things are happening. The plants are taking off. As I sit here typing the temperature is 31dC/87.8dF at 19:00/7:00pm day light saving time.
On my deck some seedlings still wait for planting out. As it way too hot today, they sit in water and I hope they will be ok. I have quite a lot of self seeded things growing as the carrots in the small pot, some lettuce (mentioned further down that I think was called mother in laws tongue) I noticed a tiny tomato seedling in another pot that I did not plant so it is most likely a cherry tomato. I am thrilled about it as I don’t recall getting any of these and they produce fruit for so long. The potted tomatoes are growing somewhat better than the tomatoes in the vegetable garden. When you look at the photographs and compare there are numerous flowers on the vegie (vegetable) garden ones, yet no fruit development as yet. Which is quite interesting as these are identified as an early fruiting variety. On one of the deck tomato plants you will notice one single tomato with some damage. I put it down to the dramatic change in temperature we had last week. It is all I can put it down too.
You may notice the plastic containers the seedlings are standing in. I have fostered kittens and these are repurposed kitty litter trays. The white bucket is free with a lid from one of my regional cafes. Thanks D.S Cafe in Huonville. who often put out food grade plastic containers with lids and handles rather than throw them away. They will also save up their coffee grounds for you if you ask. You take turns in this as a few people know of them doing it now.
This area of the garden is a mostly a blend of natives and some winter and autumn flowering shrubs along with bulbs such as daffodils, jonquils, iris, grape hyacinth, the pelargonium. Salvias. A self seeded wattle grove has established itself. Rreplacing the one that fell a few years ago as most wattles (Acacia) only live 10-20years. Blackwood trees which are Acacias (wattles) too, live much longer. I have found them a little annoying in that they spread their roots all under the garden, apparently not liking competition. Though my two seem not to be to bad with some things about them.
I have noticed that if I do hit a root, they will sucker. As I prefer to be a no dig gardener I don’t encounter this issue often. I have planted a cherry tree way too close well it was not when I planted it but the tree keeps on growing. Weird that; chuckle. The time I do come across the roots are when I am removing onion grass. that sends out deep connecting roots to create a new bulblet and more grass. It is one of my main challenges.
If you look at the photo on the left above you will notice it has many things growing in it. Self seeded lettuce borage, marigold small flowers I have forgotten the name of, there is even a potato plant in there. I must have chucked one in to see what would happen.
I decided to have some1/2 wine barrels for pots. (picture below) They were relatively cheap when comparing them with pots of the same size. These were purchased when I was working. These have had no treatment to protect the insides from continual moisture, and are over 10 years old now. When I got them the smell was awesome, it was almost port like. I did get them filled fairly quickly as I did not want the smell to turn into vinegar and attract vinegar flies. I love them and over the years I have grown many different things in them. Greens but they had to be protected from possums and wallabies, also the possums and other critters used them to get up on the deck escaping the fencing which is why I have pots right on the edge of the deck now. Greek Oregano grows amongst the barrels as a ground cover, with parsley and coriander self seeded coming up when ever it likes. I have a cape gooseberry plant in the garden here and one in a pot on the deck.
I am really hopeless at labeling the plants in my garden, I have had plans of ensuring that I will keep a record of everything I plant, where and when. It begins well yet every year I get lost. It has been worse the last few years since my breakdown, it does bother me at times. I look at the seedlings I have now and note several have lost their tags in the wind. I have no idea what they are. It is made harder as I have lost quite a few due to the wild and changeable weather we have had over the past weeks. I recall reading and watching videos and all gardeners said the same thing LABEL LABEL label. sigh. I can not worry or allow myself to get distressed by this as I will fixate and this is not good for me. So I am fortunate that at the moment with medication that is helping me (even though some of its side effects not so good) I prefer me now to me before this medication. I am able to ustilising my work that my psychologist has helped me with to be aware of when I may be starting to fixate, and I acknowledge that I am, that I need to do something else to move my mind brain and bodily reactions away from what ever I was doing. It is working generally so I am pleased.
Looking at the photographs of my garden you will observe that it is not a neat and tidy garden. It is a work in progress yet it will never be a tamed garden. Nature is not tamed, and I do not believe in mono-culture as anyI healthy way to grow anything. I want and encourage all sorts of birds, insects, wild life to visit. The garden has many areas (or the trendy word rooms) native areas, sunny areas, areas I am happy to share with the wild life such as Echidnas, possumes wallabies, bandicoots. Others such as the vegie garden and deck seedling area and lemon and lime trees are fenced to discourage wallabies and possums.
Notice the mish mash of garden structures and items used. Over the years I have gathered pots from the Tip Shops (rubbish/Waste tip shops that sell items that can be reused or repurposed at a reasonable price(though like many charity shops prices are rising). I use unusual things that are not actually designed for this use but do work. If I happen to be out on a big rubbish pick up day in Hobart I will have a bit of a drive around to see what is out there. I also purchased the corrugated metal garden beds at a huge discount.
Again purchased while I was working. It takes a lot of time to make enough soil to fill them that I have at times resorted to buying bags of the cheapest potting mixes and adding my leaf compost, worm castings, mushroom compost, sea weed, and other nutrient rich items such as weed tea, worm tea, manure, and straw, wood fire ash from my wood heater. I use it because I don’t get the bark taken off my wood. I also end up due to the process of my excellent North Pacific Wood Heater with charcoal (bio char) brilliant also for the garden. (No affiliation with North Pacific Wood Heaters. I also add the dogs chewed no longer desired bones to burn in it as well. giving calcium.
Everything is beginning to really take off now. It will be interesting over the next few days to see how everything is going. I refilled the Ollas (see previous garden post) and watered with seaweed tea before the hot day today. In Tasmania it may seem like the temperature is way hotter than what the gauges actually display the sun seems to have a stronger heat here. It was not unusual to get folk from Queensland (and other places)here on holidays coming in to Emergency with some serious sun burn blistering and or dehydration.
The corn has taken off as have the beans and some of the pumpkins and zucchini have flowers but they have not taken off as yet. I am happy with this bed so far so good. It is interesting isn’t it to plant out seedlings from the same punnet that have gone into a bed that you have made to be suitable for growing these vegies, watered each one similarly only to see some not thrive or die. I am pondering what I was growing in that bed last especially in the bottom left hand corner as that area is not doing so well.
Interestingly the brassica beds seedlings of broccoli and red cabbage are developing at very different rates. One of the broccoli seedlings already has a head beginning on it?? The red cabbage seedlings are struggling. Unlike the seedlings on the deck. So I am not sure what is going on there. I have left a kale to go to seed in this bed. It self seeded last year here but other than it I did not grow brassicas in this bed.
This is three bushes here a red currant and two jostaberries. The Jostaberries are a gooseberry black currant cross. They have fruited super early and not huge volumes. I seem to have an influx of (Imported sadly)black birds and they seem to have managed to beat me this year at them. Glad I had a good crop last year and made some jam and froze some. They all need a prune and you will notice the very long grass about them. I was going to remove it, until I noted the seed head were formed and that many smaller birds are eating them. It will be cut soon as it is a fire risk. I have so much stuff about that I have been hand pulling the grass, about a lot of this area. I do tend to mulch in place. Last year I forgot to turn the piles and keep an eye on sprouting things. The strange spring and early summer has seen such huge growth in everything. I kind of blinked and missed it ooops tooo late! At least the birds are getting food.
My fig tree which had figs on it but with the cold snap then hot days and cold again the baby figs dropped. I am hopeful that it will fruit in Autumn. It is in a half wine barrel. The Gooseberry bush did not produce many flowers this year, I have managed to eat four gooseberries which were delicious. Perhaps again the black birds beat me. I am not going to let them nest in my eaves next year if I can get out on the roof and fix where they are getting in.
Tragedy alas and alack, my poor neglected passion fruit is really struggling. I have bananas ready to go in to give it some nutrients, but I really think I need to move the poor thing. I have a place in mind, but…I may have missed the boat for this year. It was doing OK last year, flowered and I got a couple of smallish passionfruit off it. For some reason I added a lot of old manure to the bed, and I have a feeling that it needs to be not as well fed as it is at present. It is on my list to keep an eye on it and a possible move as I do believe I am likely going to loose it if I leave it here. In the bed just at the back of this photo is a plum tree from memory I am hoping it is a prune plum. I cannot see any fruit on it at all. This is only its third year so it is still young. It is very healthy.
The Rhubarb on the other hand is doing brilliantly . I harvested so much from it recently taking it back to maybe two leaves, and look at this baby it has flourished in the last three weeks. Go baby go.
jWhat can I say about these tow magnificant hard working life saving structures in my garden. These and the plastic one near the fig tree are my total water supply they stand about seven feet tall and in a previous post I said how many litres/gallons they hold when full. I am so very very appreciative that they are all full to the brim. I am very very fortunate, and feel incredibly wealthy knowing all being well I will have plenty of water to see me and my garden through summer and autumn. I had to buy a new tank two years ago, just over $1400Aus/$965USD. I am thankful I could do it without having to borrow money. I was very lucky in that it was developing a leak on the side, and the roof of the tank had rusted really badly. I could have just put a tarp over the tank top but with the leak in the side it was best to save for a new one. The tank was over 30 years old and it gets a lot more wear and tear than the second one, as the run off water from the roof nearly all runs into this one directly and is connected to the second tank and they fill up together. Currently the third tank is not connected to my pump, the plan is to connect it as I now have hosing long enough to reach the whole of my garden on an outside tap that is on the pump pressure and not gravity fed.
Part of my more natural and native garden area, if yo look closely you can see a huge pile of chipped material, bark branches, from all sorts of trees. The local council or electricty company were clearing the trees and branches any were that were impinging on the wires. I heard them and went down to chat to the guys as I had two things I was wanting to ask them. First one I had a tree that had self seeded and would grow into a huge tree, it was under the power lines, on my land (just). I asked them how much they would charge to take it out. At this moment it was only a sapling, in another year it would be a big tree as Acacias develop fast. I sort of said if they could help me now it would not be such a task next year. The lovely man grabbed a chainsaw and took the tree out. Big thanks. I then asked if the truck would be full of the chipped tree material before they left and if so would I be able to have it. He said he would just check with his boss. The boss came over and said yes I could have it as it would save them a trip to the tip. When they dropped it off I was again very appreciative and offered to pay them. The boss said nah it was ok, and one of the young guys said its usually a slab of beer. lol (carton of beer) the boss smiled as I apologised and said nah it was fine. I do believe that most people are lovely. I hate to think how much it would cost to get so much delivered to my home. Again I felt fortunate and wealthy.
This is a very small thing to many people, for me it is massive a joy and I am in great awe. After 20 years of trying to grow nasturtiums. I gave up and just through the left over seed in this east southerly position and shrugged my shoulders. Look look I have nasturtiums! (is it wrong to be disappointed they aren’t the brilliant red I really wanted)? I will look past this and just celebrate that I finally have managed to grow a plant that is in many peoples mind a bit of a weed. The bees love it and I am going to try and make poor mans capers out of the seed balls. Happy dance..
Philadelphus mexicanus Evergreen Mock Orange. A beautiful plant, with a delightful aroma. It is in a pot. It was going to go in a sunnier location. (east-south location ) morning sun and protected from most gale winds here. I thought it was the Philadelphus coronarius Mock Orange, which is an old fashioned plant in Australia. That is deciduous. I wanted it to loose its leaves and let the winter sun in. It also appear to have more flowers. Mine is flowering and the perfume is lovely. For summer it would be more appreciated growing on a western or northern face to give some sun protection. I will have to look up and see if both the roots and plant can be cut back so I can move it to a more suitable location for us both. I also am not able to move it as it has grown into a hellibore that is covering a porch roof and there are some wee birds nesting. There is no urgency as it will always be the native birds over plant location/pruning.
This photo is still in the east south postion and you can see a maple in a pot, more nasturtium a salvia that gets huge a native that I can not recall its name but has a lovely lilac flower and the birds love. You can also see in foreground are mushroom compost blocks I get from a mushroom grower in my region. For a gold coin donation. They are made from sawdust untreated, lime and something else that I can not recall. I get mushrooms from them for ages when I look after them I have heaps of dried oyster mushrooms in grey and white, along with brown mushrooms . Brilliant kitchen and garden resource especially as oyster mushrooms are $18AUS per kg /$12.21 USD 2.20LbS . I put it in the composting areas with manure and let it combine with other things as I mentioned previously. The only problem is they sit in plastic bags and that is a concern they cant be reused and end up in my rubbish. Or If I can I leave them behind in the bins when i pick them up.
In a pot near an entrance way to m home sits my bay tree. It is 13 years old and is a wonderful addition to my kitchen garden and as a plant. Bay trees can be huge so having it a pot keeps it manageable. It get pruned and is recovering splendidly after it had a severe prune in winter. Near bye are two Daphene plants that when in flower give off a enticing perfume as I enter my home.
I have not included my orchard area, in this post, nor my paddock I will keep that for another day in the future.
The final photo for this post is a small selection of flowers from my garden. I love the scented flowers and these varities of sweet pea are so strongly scented. I have a vase in my upstairs toilet and they perfume the room, no need for artificial chemicals here at Echidna Home.
I do hope all who read this post are safe from the fires across Australia, and I continue sending my rain dance and thoughts to drought and fire ravaged areas. Having been through the fire and smoke issues and the concerns packing up and unpacking several times myself and not certain what might be happening I am happy to support anyone if you need to just share your concerns.