The Passive Birdcage War

I was chatting with a guy about the no-cats-and-dogs rule in Crystal Waters. He wasn’t impressed, which is understandable. He said he couldn’t live without his dogs. I said, I totally relate and I love dogs so much. (I really love dogs so much.) And then I said, but you know, I can really appreciate the difference in our relationship to wildlife here by not living with cats and dogs. He scoffed. We have tons of dogs, and we still have wallabies all over the property.

Later, we were walking in a field with a group of friends at dusk and came across a troop of kangaroos grazing. Softly, I recommended to walk right by them without altering our path, and keep our gaze forward instead of gawking. We walked within touching distance past the females and joeys, but they didn’t budge an inch, lazily regarding us while chewing their supper. The same guy, a bit awed, genially conceded my previous point.

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a Lewin’s honeyeater needed some water
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hello!

dsc03720I love the communal aspect we’ve got going on with the natural world. Mothers bring their young close to personal homes for respite from predators while grazing and sleeping. They like being near us; I think that’s cool. During mating season, males chase females boisterously and are single-mindedly ignorant of human-people gaping at them as they stampede through and under human-people verandahs. It’s very entertaining. And it’s touching that they don’t mind, or sometimes even care, that you’re there. When an animal allows you to help in a time of need, that’s touching. And it’s touching when they simply don’t run away from you, like the human pariah you are, and just let you do your thing while they’re doing their thing. It gets me right in the heart. Because that’s what we gave up for the safety of our lifestyle: trust and communication from other species.

But man, does it make gardening more of a challenge. Good lord.

Wallabies eat your rose bushes and mulberry leaves and whatever-else leaves you’ve got growing. Kangaroos will eat your greens and not care about your mesh garden fence walls as they bounce on through. Brush turkeys will gather the entire top layer of your garden together, helpfully, into a massive nest-mound. Sorry human-person, you may not have that mulch back. Bandicoots will attack at root-level. Flying foxes, lorikeets, and parrots will eat all your fruit off your trees. Possums may scratch up a tree or two. Add all this to the snails, grasshoppers and other abundant insect life that comes with a healthy ecosystem, and the enjoyable and productive pastime

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Old Man Wallaby making himself too much at home

of gardening becomes a game of tactical defense.

(Echidnas are lovely.)

This video of a wallaby mum calmly eating the very last leaves off a rose while I was practicing some Bach illustrates two points I’ve made. One, it is a simple joy and a pleasure to spend time in nature with wildlife. Two, wallabies will wreck your garden and enjoy themselves while doing so.

 

 

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plant children – so hard to see them eaten by animals after you’ve put hard work into getting them to grow

One male kangaroo once destroyed a whole garden bed of mine after he tripped over it chasing a female, an experience Flynn described as the only time he’s seen “a kangaroo fall flat on his face”.

So I took a page out of Flynn’s mum’s book and started looking out for birdcages at markets and antique stores to protect plants. Annie’s got a great collection.

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Birdcages have a fourfold advantage: they are protective, they are attractive, they are easy to move around, and, when they’re protecting a plant, they’re not likely to be caging a bird.

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broken teapot

 

I am but young, and my collection of birdcages is small yet.

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mesh, other bits of the birdcage

I also have used pretty much whatever wire mesh I have lying around to fashion temporary fences, so that each small section of my garden is in someway (and in varying degrees of effectiveness) protected. Annie has some odd bits and pieces too, but she paints them blue so they look pretty.

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I think this must be the front of a fan?…

I got some birdcages at the CW Market and got Flynn to play with the power tools to cut the bdsc04875ottoms off. I’m using the bottoms for plant protection, too. This may sound crazy, but I swear the plant knows when it is protected. The ones in the birdcages or other make-shift fencing just grow better than those going it on their own, even if the ones on the outside have no evidence of animal-tamperage.

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So this is how my garden looked, up until a day ago. Yesterday, we built a shade house on the end of the garden, to protect from animals, but mostly to protect against this heat that has been raging down. I’ll show you later. Until then, use what you’ve got!

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Happy guerilla gardening,

Ally

P.S. I dedicate this ode to wildlife to my dearly departed sister-dog through childhood, Sandy. Rest in Peace.

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photo by my dad, Richard

Meet Our Kitchen Snake.

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Her name is Kitchen Snake. And I am entirely unsure as to which gender she is inclined. Here she is, just recently, and just after shedding her skin. Look at her eye! She looks like a silvery dragon!

Kitchen Snake found our way into our lives just at the beginning of last winter, an unforgiving time for little pythons like her. At that time, of course, she was just Snake.

A little earlier before Snake, Flynn had adopted a confusion of guinea fowl chicks. Our friend had stumbled upon them as eggs, probably abandoned by the mother after being scared by mowing that had happened nearby. So Flynn stepped in and stuck the eggs under one of our chickens. When they hatched, they followed their chicken mum around everywhere, learned how to scratch, and were generally adorable. They helped me turn over a whole load of compost and hay into the back of my garden; so thanks, small birds.

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Not to get off topic from Kitchen Snake, but this little buddy we actually helped from the egg during hatching because he had struggled to exit on his own for a couple of hours. The little fellow was completely exhausted afterwards, although before long he was magically as fluffy and as energetic as his fellow nestmates that hatched before him. Imagine if we had to fight our way out of a suit of calcified armor instead of being popped out a shoot! Hardcore.

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So we had these guinea fowl.. And they grew larger and larger. Pretty soon Flynn let them roost in trees during the night instead of

dsc03974cooped in a cage, which is their natural predilection. Plus, we heard that guinea fowl are great as watch dogs and alarms for when predators are a-foot

(a-slither?). I had yet to hear a guinea fowl upset, but figured we would be able to discern if they were alarmed or no. Oh.

Oh, we were able to discern.

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gettin’ cramped in there

Cut to 11:45 pm on a random night.

It is dark. We are peacefully doing nothing. Suddenly, a sound like five or six car horns blares out into the quiet. It sounds like this.

Like a shot, we stop what we are doing and run towards the direction of the noise, because we all know exactly what is happening. A predator is attacking a pet. At our place, we have all felt this dread before – it is the most new to me, but even I have had at least three animals die to the jaws of a wild animal. Flynn’s instincts and also legs work the fastest and he arrives to the scene of the crime first. When Flynn’s brother and mom and I arrive, slightly out of breath, we take in a very bizarre scene indeed. I so wish I had had my camera, but that’s not how emergencies work.

Flynn recounted the details to us afterwards. When he had arrived, he saw that a small python had attacked one of the guinea fowl fledglings and had its jaws around its foot. Flynn grabbed the python (do not try at home) behind its head, and the freed bird hopped off its branch and onto what it must have seen as a safer option; meaning that, when we all arrived to take in the unfolding catastrophe, what we saw in front of us was Flynn, standing majestically tall with arms stretched out, one hand steadying himself on the tree, the other with a writhing snake gripped firmly in paw, confusedly balancing a heaving guinea fowl perched directly on his head, illuminated eerily by the bathroom light I had hurriedly switched on. For just a moment, he looked like a holy, back-country Jesus. I mean, before we cracked up laughing.

And that is how we met Kitchen Snake!

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This is a recent photo, NOT in the hunting pose we normally see her in, freshly-shed of skin and bringing new meaning to “glassy-eyed”

Flynn said that when he pulled her off of his bird, he could feel every rib bone underneath her skin and muscle – she was close to starving. That is not a good position to be in for a snake when winter is setting in, as those familiar with snake’s blood movements would know. In winter time, a reptile’s movements slow right down with the dropping temperature, and they find it more and more difficult to remain alert. Without a full belly, there was no way Snake would make it though the months to come. We had happened to become extremely tired of certain rodents scratching away at the back of our pantry. So, we simply deposited her into the back of the kitchen and hoped that one problem would solve another. We left her to it.

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Kitchen Snake’s entry into the Kitchen: put snake in esky (cooler). Tip over cooler (esky). See snake on floor? Resume normal business.

dsc04426  The next morning, I opened the bedroom door, looked down the stairs, and my heart dropped. There was Kitchen Snake, outside on the cold ground, completely unfurled and sprawled out in the open, unmoving. dsc04436

I was shocked by the sadness I felt at her death. Obviously the cold had gotten to her overnight; there was no way that a snake would stay vulnerable like that if it had a choice. If only she had stayed in the warmth of the kitchen, with a whole store of warm-blooded winter meals nearby. I swallowed my dismay and went on with my life. No use crying over dead snake, as they say. But when I came back from work that day, Kitchen Snake was gone. It was wonderful. She had been affected by the cold overnight, so much that she had lost the energy and the ability to move. But once the sun had come up and the earth had warmed, she regained her strength and carried on. And apparently she had also seen the sense of staying in the warm Eden to which we had brought her, because frequently thereafter, we see Kitchen Snake in a hunting pose on our pantry shelves.

We do not interact with her or touch her. She appears (occasionally) at dusk, usually in a completely vertical hunting pose, not on the shelves but hanging off one with body of a muscular tail, head towards the floor anddsc04425 tail coiled above. Perfectly frozen against the wood panelling, I can almost hear her annoyance when we turn on the pantry light and catch her at her trap: the annoyance of a stealth predator whose camouflage is given away. I can imagine the quick, quick strike of her jaws in the darkness to silence a squeak she sensed skittering about below her, a fraction of a second before. Thanks, Kitchen Snake.

 

 

But stay away from the birds, m’kay?

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BONUS

I can hear you asking if the hens have been mother to strange orphans before. Yes, they have, and they will again!

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This Little Ally Went to the Market: A-Marketing in America

Hello all!

Firstly: Click HERE to learn more about a detention centre on the island of Nauru and how you can help reverse inhumane treatment happening currently.

Now, Farmer’s Markets.

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Mt. Pleasant, SC

My family and I went to a few farmer’s markets on my recent trip home to the States. I’m involved with my community’s monthly market back here in Australia, so when we stepped out of the car at a new community market location I couldn’t help but take lots of pictures and gently interrogate stallholders and market organizers about food licenses and methods of payment and whatnot.

Farmer’s markets naturally reflect the region’s local agriculture and industry, right. But while every market is unique, I also wanted to see if I could recognize any similar small enterprise behaviors that southeastern American people are doing that could help out a small local enterprise in a little permaculture village in southeast Queensland.

We ended up attending, like, three and a half different market areas: two in Virginia, one in South Carolina, and one in Delaware. In one case, visiting a market led us to a farm, and on a different occasion, visiting a farm led us to a farmer’s market. Also some flat-footin’ ensued and I ate a honey-n-lavender lollypop. READ ON.

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Stately, yet adorable, grandmother, Bingmu

Wytheville

DSC05179 (1)The first market we attended was in Wytheville, Virginia: the place of my grandmother Bingmu (Beulah)’s childhood, a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Appalachian Range. We found the farmer’s market inside, in a large garage / warehouse- type structure with smooth cement floors that was not completely closed off to the outdoors. DSC05189 (1)

In Wytheville, there are two main places to get your food. The one grocery store is the Food Lion. I had a look inside it to look for some herring for my grandmother. A store DSC05194 (1)manager I asked about chicken regretfully had never heard the phrase “free-range” before. He also didn’t know what herring was. So that sent me to the other choice for produce and meats, Super-Walmart. It is rather large.

Wal-Mart does offer a minute organic section of produce. But the choice in packaged snack and dry-food goods, in contrast, takes up half of this enormous space. For eating out, fast-food restaurants make up a majority (it seems) of Wytheville’s dining-out options.

I’m not hating on Wal-mart and Food Lion; the businesses employ a lot of good Wythevillians (“Wythevillians” would also make an AWESOME band name for any enterprising Wytheville musicians, just saying). But here’s why I find Wytheville Farmer’s Market to be a very special entity: Wytheville is surrounded by farm area, just like our market here in Crystal Waters. And it was only at the Wytheville Farmer’s Market that you could see the wealth of produce and meat animals being grown and raised in this region. If you looked at its mainstream choices, you’d think that DSC05209 (1)Wal-mart and fast food restaurants are Wytheville’s main industries. If you go the farmer’s market, you realize there’s actually fresh meat available that was raised right here by farmers that treat and feed their animals well. There’s fresh vegetables from farms and home gardens. There’s local honey. There’s American-made clothing from home-spun yarn. In a small town where corporations have moved in and claimed responsibility for feeding and providing for locals, these local industries and products are something of better quality for people to consume, and creations for which Wytheville citizens can take pride. This is a revival of what my grandmother would be quick to tell you it used to be like in Wytheville, when people came, built houses, worked the land and grew food to survive.

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“Bring Your Pets to Work” Day at the Wytheville Farmer’s Market

DSC05193 (1)  DSC05210 (1)DSC05207 (1)DSC05211 (1)So What I Learned at the Wytheville Farmer’s Market: 1. In Wytheville, the Market is essential as a provider of a variety of fresh and hormone-free chicken, pork, beef, and lamb. 2. A talk with the organiser showed me how she does a cash-for-chips system through her bank for people that did not bring cash with them to the Market. 3. I saw someone selling worm castings, which I haven’t yet seen at the Crystal Waters Market and think it would be a great idea of which dedicated composters and worm farmers could start taking advantage!DSC05191 (1)

So, one of my family members got to talking with someone who worked on her family’s farm, and before I knew it we were piled back in the car and on our way to go visit the actual farm. The backseat was not informed of what was going on; I don’t actually know how it happened. Long story short, my 93-year old grandmother found herself on the passenger-side of a farm buggy at an organic family farm called My Shepherd’s Farm, being led on a tour by a sister who bore striking and surreal resemblance of the young lady that apparently told us about her farm in her first place.

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Said Farm Buggy: I act like an idiot but also as a barrier between my grandmother and the ground; My grandmother looks right at home, my dad is happy to be driving a buggy
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There’s my mom Michelle looking right at home on her tour vehicle. Aunt Cedar will also be sitting on the back of this one. Photo by Richard Bing
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Auntie Cedar and mom Michelle

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Chicken Farm 8 copy
photo by Richard Bing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We went to see the chickens, and then we went to go see the pigs – first the mommas with their offspring, and then the yearlings, the year-old males. It was a real treat to see a permaculture-style agricultural venture in Wytheville (on their website they say “Rather than following the trend of the modern monoculture farm, we are returning to the self sustaining, multifaceted, traditional family farm” (link). Sounds like permaculture to me). Bingmu ended up ordering a chicken from them the next week. I know there’s an amazing organic meat farm nearby to Crystal Waters, and it made me wonder why we don’t have stalls selling fresh pork and chicken at our market – I wonder if Council food license regulations get in the way of such endeavors in Queensland. I will call and ask them.

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The view from the back of the Buggy

Floyd

We took a side excursion before we left Virginia to Floyd, another small town and hometown of the popular Floydfest Music festival.

Now, their Market wasn’t open, but we did pass their site, which doubled as a parking area when the Market wasn’t open. Multi-purpose; smart.

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Floyd has a history in bluegrass and old time music, which my parents and I enjoyed partaking in mightily at the Floyd Country Store. There was a big jam circle happening with people dancing in the middle of the circle.

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A gentleman and others were demonstrating some real Appalachian flat-footin’, which was incredible. Check out them moves:

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Beautiful and talented Grandmom Cecilia, showing off my lavender-and-honey lollypop

Next up.

My mom and I exit the South for a while to travel to Delaware on the middle-east coast to visit her parents, my grandparents, Ceil and Casimer. We had set out that day to visit a lavender farm, actually, and at the farm shop we happened to see a notice that the lavender farm would be having a stall at today’s Farmer’s Market. The sweet and calming scents of lavender had relaxed us and made us happy, and also hungry for lunch. So off we went.

This Market by the beach had it all. Duck eggs. Produce. Olive oil. Teas. Flowers. Seedlings. Lavender products, of course. Meals – my grandparents had fresh oysters, while my mom and I went for curry IMG_1539samosas and fresh guacamole. They also sold fresh meat. Again, I was in awe that meat and oysters were available for sale, as I just don’t know what would be involved for that to happen around where I live. But the fresh oysters were an indicator of our location, as Maryland and Delaware are well-known for their abundant and fresh seafood. Seeing as Crystal Waters is an hour and a half inland, oysters would not fly with me.

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This Market: outside; still paved

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This time, I had the thrill of going from the place of production right to the market place – and it was a twenty minute drive. There’s so many people on the beach and on the coast, eating and consuming and eating and consuming. How many never think about where their food and products come from? Everywhere, I’ve learned, just a step out of sight, are the people growing the food we eat. Grounded people. Just a little further into the country than ordinary life takes most. Their lives are beautiful and tiring and hard, and it’s good to check in with them.

Mt. Pleasant

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So paved!

Finally, we retuDSC05216rned home and I met my mom for some lunch at the Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina farmer’s market – one of many markets in the various satellite towns around the historic city of Charleston. Mt. Pleasant, rapidly growing and just a little trendy, has got their own farmer’s market area now. While meals and snacks like popcorn, popsicles and fancy soda are seen on display, farmers of the rural island areas around Charleston made up at least half of the market as well.

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Soda Bottles

DSC05219I enjoyed some barbecued pulled-chicken, green beans and macaroni that definitely made me feel right at home. Regional styles of cooking make a big impact – there is the environment of a certain locale, there are the languages spoken – and then, there is the cooking that truly makes a place feel like its own. Mmm.

I learned also that I missed my market back in Oz on its grassy Village Green. The town of Mt. Pleasant has obviously designed for a community market and made this whole big space, with a nice big roof and a cemented sort of common space for people to mill about. But this was my fourth paved market now, and with my tolerance weaning down what I wanted was a beautiful day out with grass beneath my toes. Call me spoiled. But am I? Surely it’s a lot more work to pave the whole area? What made this Market nice was the lovely, graceful Oak trees remnant DSC05221of the natural environment, standing tall despite their hardened external landscape. What made it hearty was produce from farms surrounding the Charleston metropolitan area where it is grassy and hot and gigantic bumblebees find refuge in the blooms of magnolias.

On the other hand, the Wytheville Farmer’s Market showed me that it is not the space that deems the quality. At Wytheville, there’s no popsicles, no lunches, no beach for tourists nearby. But what is offered is a reclaiming of industry and an opportunity for healthy food. That is the reasoning of the return of the Market Place; that is the need. DSC05220

Before I leave, let me rave about a couple of organizations. On my trip home I caught wind of a new farm in the North Charleston area of South Carolina that is offering fresh produce in an area where fresh food is scarce: The Fresh Future Farm. According to their website, not only are they growing chemical-free produce in an area described as a “food-desert”, they seek to create job opportunities within the community and ultimately become a “regional training center for other urban entrepreneurs, community gardeners and permaculture advocates.” Support!

I also am a big fan of Grow Food Carolina, a local food and farming hub in Charleston South Carolina started by the Coastal Conservation League that acts as a link between rural farmers of the Charleston area, commercial produce sellers and restaurants, and the public. What a great resource for a community. They also keep an educational veggie garden that has been used in the past to teach garden lessons to kids from elementary schools nearby – I know because I volunteered once with Crop Up helping out with the classes, and it was a blast. Learn more; support good things! Yeah!

Oh, and my home market for those of you back in South-East QLD: The Crystal Waters Market. We love it. Come join us sometime; every first Saturday of the month but January. Cheers and see you later!

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The Flowers of our Lives, in Rainbow Order

 

Hey flower-lovers, if you know the name of a plant pictured here, please share in the comments!

Whaaatup! 

(Pretend the flower is shouting that.)
My camera has come back from camera-hospital and all the settings work again, so I took it out for a test with all the beautiful flowers blooming around the house currently. I’d also like to introduce some resident guinea pigs: Mogli, Lemur, and Roo.
They said to say, squeak. 
That’s Mogli.
That’s Lemur.
That’s Roo.         

I’m totally kidding; those are two wallabies. Roo is not pictured, because Roo refused to pose. Whatever, Roo.

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Okey-doke.

Flowers, in Rainbow Order

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Monstera Deliciosa –  submitted by Judy and Valerie. Otherwise known as the ‘fruit salad plant/tree’ (seriously!). The latin name is true to the plant’s size and to its fruit’s taste! (but make sure it’s ripe or else you’ll be in for a world of itchy tongue!)

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I thought this one fascinating from a few different angles:

It’s got to look insane to butterflies and bees.


   
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End!

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rainbows are regular customers at my barista work in Montville, QLD.
 ~
 Aand Bonus…Birds in Trees!
Today, the lorikeets were loving the pollen and nectar of this flowering Paulownia.

If you squint, you can really notice the lack of a zoom lens there.

Bye, guys! My life is not idyllic! but aren’t dem colours pretty. 

I’ve been your host, Mogli, and this has been another episode of blog. Back to you, Facebook!                

 



 



  

A year’s catch-up, in photographs

My friends, and family! 

Good evening to you, in whatever time zone you may be. 
 
I am going through photos I’ve collected over the past year, again, like someone would a collection of baseball cards. I found myself wishing that I could share them with you, and then I realised that..I obviously can! 

So here they are, reflections of some impressionable moments.


Morning 
 
The road out to work – always a source of beauty and inspiration for gratitude.
 
And sometimes a pain in the arse.
 
Past work: a year-and-a-half of quiche, crepes, and vol au vents. I’m done making quiches there, though. 
 
Now, when I make quiches, I make them for me. 
 
I work somewhere else now, and make coffees. For other people. I don’t mind though. I like it. 
 
This is work, too. Want to make a booking? 
 
These are…these are actually work moments, as well. 
 

 

Nature workshops, for the kids. Building cubby-houses, taught by ROVIELLE
 

…River Explorers, led by ALLY. 


Midday

Kookaburras, hungry but polite about it

Squiggle Gum 

 

Found friends
 
Friends found
Found other things, like a poisonous centipede. (Oooo.)
Foundling things that don’t want to be found. 
And Dalias. 
A hutch on a long-term loan, for three hutch-inhabitants:
Other co-inhabitants, each with their own consciousnesses and priorities. 

 

 

Spending days with Nature, outside…
 
Nature, occasionally inviting itself inside…
Embracing the microbial world, by learning to making bread! 
 
Embracing the microbial world by then eating bread. 
 
 
A rare occasion where Flynn and Ally are left unsupervised to babysit

 

Evening
Bunya season: the most delicious time of year.
The most-anticipated time of year: my family visiting from South Carolina. 
It was weird and wonderful to have them try on in my Australian life. I welcomed my family members’ uniquely goofy, but witty, sense of humour into the country along with my family members — there’s one quality about them that I didn’t realise I appreciate so much. 
Have a good day, everyone! For me, it is, once again, time to sleep.
 

Broms and Babies

 
G’day, y’all!
 
The other day, I found some super-weird lookin’ aliens growing in the garden, was shocked and amazed, snapped some photos, and then uploaded them onto the computer! All. in. one. day. I really am growing as a person.
 
Check them out!

 

Oops, sorry, that’s just Flynn and some adorable pink crocs. 
 
THESE are the aliens I was talking about: 
 
Whaaaa-?!
Spider’s like, I’M ON A DIFFERENT PLANNEEEET
If I were more science-y, I would include the species name
Fine. This is a Billbergia pyramidalis. Write that down.
Seriously, how weird and amazing are these blooms!? They’re not all soft and petal-y like other flowers, either. They’re sort of rubbery and slick and sometimes spikey. I PRESENT – the flowers of Bromeliads.  
 
What are Bromeliads, I did not hear you say? Bromeliads are a 3,000 species-strong family of diverse and colorful plants. Like myself, they’re not native to Australia; in fact, every single species but one is endemic to the Americas. The black sheep species of the family is a native to Africa. And that previous sentence does need rephrasing, yes. Broms, as they are affectionately called by people who like Broms, are pretty new to the plant world on the grand evolutionary scheme of things and – this is pretty cool – they seem to have co-evolved with hummingbirds! But shut up, hummingbirds, this is even more exciting: they’ve got pineapples on their team! 
 
Pineapples are Broms! 

 

Our fat, tiny pineapple that grew by itself in our garden! Also, Spanish Moss is also somehow a Bromeliad. JUST SO YOU KNOW.

Here are some more photos of Bromeliads that I’ve taken in the past. Because.

 
That’s a Brom. And look, it’s got its own little environment going on in its centre! You know what that’s for? Luring bugs. MmMMm. Protein. ALTHOUGH bugs are good for dissolving and turning into yummy nutrient mush, it’s a bat or a bird that is required for a Brom’s pollination! Who knew. (More links here if you like reading about microenvironments and hydrophobic leaves, carnivorous plants, and/or genetics and pollination. And, I mean, who doesn’t.)
Another Pineapple Brom. Fun fact… THE species of Bromeliad that the whole dang FAMILY is named after, Bromelia, is the only other plant to produce an edible fruit. Buuuut the internet says it’s sort of bland (“like a pineapple but less tasty”)

 

Those pink ones. Those are Broms. (That thing on the other side of the pond is a massive pumpkin vine that was determined to kill us all and take over everything.) (It died back BUT ITS COMING BACK NOW – AAAA)
 
I THINK that’s a Brom. But you know what, not sure. Someone find out for me!

 

And hey, we also found one more type of alien growing outside that day – not a Brom, but still awesome. Tree babies! 

Otherwise known as sprouts, y’all.
Aw woops, sorry, that’s the little human sprout again. Plus some model; I don’t know how he keeps getting in the house. 
 
Different kind of tree baby.

She had her picture taken on the same day as all the other little garden aliens so I thought I would throw her in the blog as well. She’s not a tree, but she is named after one, ..so. 


ALLY OUT!
 
LOVE!
 
 
Someone ask me what an epiphyte is. 
 
SOMEONE ASK ME WHAT AN EPIPHYTE IS
 

This Week in Annie’s Garden…

Hey all! Let’s not waste time on apologizing for not posting anything for maaybe six months. Eight. Whatever.

Yeah, I started a Tumblr site too with the promise of “one photo every day” and my two followers must be crying real tears of hopelessness and desperation by now at the way that people LIE. Will check on them…soon.

This morning I was lucky enough to wake up leisurely to a beautiful, sun-shiney day with no things to do! I finally made it out of my bed and outside around 10:00 and noticed immediately the insistent buzzing of lady worker bees, hard at work. They obviously had NOT slept in until ten but probably popped out of the hive the second the temperature rose above 18 degree Celcius to hit the nectar (64 degrees F, guys.) Did someone say SPRING?!

Have you ever seen a bee like that before? That’s a species of native Australian bee, and get this – it’s black, tiny, and STINGLESS. That’s awesome, everyone.

There’s about ten native species of stingless bees in Australia (out of roughly fifteen HUNDRED native species), and they all live in the tropical-ier areas, like Queensland.

They are honey bees and can be bee…kept? I’ve heard their honey is more zesty-tangy than their European honey bee counterparts.

Genus: Tetragonula; Common name: Sugarbag! Comes in the adorable size of 4 mm long.
15 to 17 seconds of bees
In Flynn’s mum Annie’s garden there are nasturtiums and calendula flowers, and those yellow ones above/ these orangey-pinky ones below she thinks are most probably poppies. But the other flowers are the ones of the broccoli and bok-choy plants that have gone to seed. That means that they’re pretty much done being good for eating for the year, and now the plants are completely focused on reproducing  – flowers and seeds all the way.

Some gardeners would kick the broccoli out of Eden once it’s done giving actual broccoli, and make space for some other plant. But who cares if the broccoli plants are done growing their fruit? There’s loads of broccoli seeds hanging down in little baby pods now that could be collected if so chosen, and the light yellow flowers of the broccoli and the darker yellow of the bok choy are one of the main attractors to the bees and other beneficial insects currently visiting Annie’s garden. There’s a reminder for all you neat and proper gardeners out there to not weed out your old vegetable plants once they stop feeding you and start sprawling. There’s usefulness in all stages of growth, and of decay. Let them go to seed!
Watch the first video if you want to see the flowers and seed pods on broccoli. Watch the second video if you want to see this awesome mantis I just saw one day. BYEEE
-Ally

Your Words of Wisdom for the Day

Hey, you guys. I looked up the chords to a song I haven’t heard in a while, and then I filmed myself practicing it, and then I uploaded it onto the internet. I would like to think that I may have filled four minutes of someone’s time nicely, or reminded someone of a classic Billy Joel musing that most likely relates to their life experience in one way or another. 

Here’s to Billy! Here’s to the banjo! Here’s to sadness and euphoria. 
 
Love, Ally 
 
 

The Holiday Season is Starting to Affect the Locals

Hello there! It’s still 2013! Not for long!

Flynn happened to record an awesome video one early morning of some of our neighbors, not getting along. Apparently somebody had too much dirty eggnog at the Christmas family dinner and had nuzzled somebody else’s female?…Not sure about the details. But the fighting doesn’t start where you think it will. That’s all I’ll say.
Enjoy! 
 – Ally 
 

Crafty Women Power

Hello Hello Hello!

 
I have been making things, and want to show them to you now! BE IMPRESSED. 
 
We had a farmer’s market stall at the December edition of the Crystal Waters Farmer’s  Market. Flynn gathered up a lot of plants and choice bonsais, Annie made some stellar ointments and jams, and I printed out a lot of my photography and made some homemade postcards. I also handcrafted some journals, which I am about to show off to you ad nauseum. 
 
Look! Look! I made them! 
 
Journal 1
 
 
Cardboard box holding tidbits in our garage, covered with a paper bag that once brought us delicious food. Decorated with a map that taught me about habitat restoration and tidbits from a Maleny fabrics shop. Filled with the leftover and lonely paper from the backs of Flynn’s old drawing pads and the brown paper covers in which Annie’s National Geographic magazines get sent to her. Fastened with a Paua shell button “proudly made in Carterton, New Zealand”, but found in the drawer of an old sewing machine.
 
Journal 2
 
 
The cover is cardboard from an old art drawing pad; the spine is a toothpaste box! Decorated with wrapping paper I found in a Maleny shop on the outside, and my own old music sheets on the inside. The paper inside includes butcher paper saved for to-do lists that were never gotten around to-doing. 
 
Journal 3
 
 
The cover is part of a Thanksgiving care-package box sent to me by my awesome mom in South Carolina. Decorated from the bottom slips of the pages of Journal 2. The pages inside used to be in a legal pad, but I think they enjoy being part of a tiny diary much more. 
 
Journal 4
 
 
Was a less interesting student’s notebook that I decorated with a subtle stripey pattern of strips of recycled paper and my own sketches on card stock. The robin is one whose nest I found inside the Mary Cairncross Rainforest Reserve; the butterfly bookmark is from an illustration in a book about herbs. The flowers and stem tucked into the back is the top end of a spoon-leaved sundew, a sticky but adorable carnivorous plant. I pasted pictures I liked out of a local magazine on some of the inside pages, for inspiration while writing.
 
Mother Journal 
 
I learned how to make books out of recyclable materials when I went to Women’s Camp, a small, food-for-the-soul gathering of women for a weekend of supporting each other and having fun. It was great. Here’s the journal I made for myself that weekend. It’s not perfect. Eh. Neither am I. 
 
quick tour around women’s camp – main stage and hangout area
kitchen! Birth place of the most delicious porridge I’ll ever taste. 
costume area. that’s right, costume area. 
I am proud to say that after a beautiful and enjoyable day of sales-mongering and socializing, our beautiful farmer’s market display earned us about a hundred bucks and some new friends. We sold lemon balm plants and Annie’s homemade Jaboticaba jam and syrup; her homemade comfrey, chickweed and calendula ointments were also quite popular. Flynn’s gorgeous bonsais got a lot of attention and admiration. After all that work, did I actually sell any journals? Yeah, no, I didn’t. But they, too, received compliments and looks of yearning from people like me with big dreams and no money, and I enjoyed making them far too much to be discouraged about them not selling in one day. They’ll have new owners sometime in the future, one way or another. I did sell postcards but still have many, so if you’d like to receive a hand-made postcard postcard from me with some sweet Crystal Waters photography, send me your address. Somebody, please send me your address. If you don’t my parents are going to be getting, like, twenty postcards. Each. 
 

I love you all so incredibly much. Happy Holiday season to you and here’s to a wonderful rest of your day. 

Ally xx

(a little taste of Women’s Camp – silliness, friendship, and good times.) (we totally wrote this song. I fought hard for the inclusion of the round.)