It is a tough first day at school, when your parents decide to kick you out of the nest and out into the big bad world. That first day is even harder when the midday sun burns intensely, the insects roar, the grass crunches beneath your feet and the day just feels overly hot and long. That is one tough first day at school for anyone.
The Kookaburra’s had been constantly calling to one another as they flitted in and out of the shade of the tall trees on that hot summers day. It is always wise to listen to the unmistakable call of the Kookaburra’s as they warn each other of predators and other unpleasant events that may otherwise go unnoticed by myself at Fernglade Farm.
However, on that particular day I reckon the calls were warning each other that my canine friends and I were working hard in the hot mid-afternoon summer sun in the orchard.
Initially, I believed that the Kookaburra’s were calling to each other to let them know that a snake was weaving its way through the grass. With that warning in mind and given the real risk of snake bite, I decided to stop work in the orchard and take a good look around.
And this is what I found:
|A young Kookaburra on its first day of independence from the parents nest|
My canine friends were quickly relocated into the confines of the house for the rest of the day, which allowed for a slightly safer examination of the very young Kookaburra on its first day at school here. I was mildly concerned for that young bird’s safety, especially given that two really small and very cute fox cubs freely roam the farm here at night. My first interaction with the young Kookaburra was to ensure that it knew how to fly. And I’m pleased to report that the young bird knew how to fly – for short distances anyway – on its first day at school.
|The author getting a closer look at the very young Kookaburra which calls this farm home|
As the afternoon progressed, the parents of the young Kookaburra swooped down and joined the young bird only to fly off again. They were clearly demonstrating to the young rapscallion how to go about conducting oneself as a mobile member of their species. As the hot summer afternoon wore on, the young Kookaburra steeled itself to ever greater efforts at flight until eventually it disappeared with its parents into the surrounding forest. May that young Kookaburra enjoy many tasty grubs, insects, and snakes at the farm here for many decades to come.
As this summer becomes ever hotter, more birds, animals and insects call this farm home as they turn up for the reliable feed and access to fresh drinking and bathing water. I am constantly amazed by the ever expanding variety of different species here and this week was no exception. A breeding pair of Long Billed Corella’s have been basking each day high up in the very tallest of the trees here taking in the first few rays of the early morning sun.
|Long billed Corella’s have moved onto the farm and bask in the first rays of the sun each day in the very highest of tree|
The long-billed Corella (Cacatua tenuirostris) is a very interesting bird species because up until very recently, they were very rare. As a fun fact, many Australian birds are exceptionally good at replicating human voices but the Long billed Corella is apparently the best of the best at that particular trait. That species of bird are now being bred, kept as pets, and occasionally released. And they live for as long as a long lived human too! From a purely practical perspective, what this means for me, is that I’ll have to be reasonably careful in the future with the sort of impressive oaths that occasionally may be heard issuing from my mouth as those birds may replicate those impressive oaths many decades into the future!
The animal action this week wasn’t all about the birds, because this week the dreaded BONE WARS took place.
Sometimes, nice actions on my part can rapidly turn into total disasters and such was the case this week with BONE WARS.
The whole sorry saga began a few nights ago at the local grocery store which was selling giant beef bones for the purposes of making beef stock. I spotted the giant beef bones and thought that my canine friends here would enjoy sharing one of those giant beef bones.
Sharing is clearly not in the canine vocabulary. Scritchy the boss dog kicked every other dog off the giant beef bone and spent several delightful hours in the sun gnawing away at the choicest bits. Scritchy was having a good day! And then the bone was passed downwards along the pecking order with each dog having a turn at the giant beef bone. Oh happy day for the fluffy collective of canines!
And so the day progressed. It was in the dark hours of the night when the forces of darkness wax and civility is not to be found. At about 3am, I awoke to the sounds of two dogs fighting over the now much diminished, but still precious beef bone. The beef bone was extracted and removed completely from the whirling dervish of teeth that was Poopy and Toothy. They are now both injured from their tussle, but slowly recovering.
Fortunately the following day, the genteel Sir Scruffy – who would never be involved in such base behaviour – and who is most definitely aligned to the forces of the light-side, solved the entire dilemma for the two ragamuffins by burying the massive beef bone (possibly for later consumption) in one of the garden beds.
|Sir Scruffy buries the now much gnawed beef bone in one of the garden beds|
Oh yeah, it has been quite hot here this past week. As part of preparations for dealing with the realities of the hot summer, I have been busily removing any and all plant competition from around the base of each of the 300 fruit trees. Once that removal of plant competition has taken place for each fruit tree, I then feed each fruit tree individually with approximately a third of a wheelbarrow of mushroom compost. It is also a good time to inspect each fruit tree and take any further action that is required such as pruning root stock or dead branches etc.
|A Chilean wine palm enjoys a solid feed during the heat of the summer|
The entire orchard requires about 5 cubic metres (6.5 cubic yards) of compost and the entire job takes about 5 days and so far I have undertaken 3 of those days. Other than that task and the occasional minor watering before an extended heat wave, orchards are very low maintenance.
|Over half the orchard has now been fed and inspected in preparation for a long hot summer|
As I was wandering through the orchard, I noticed that a small patch of blue corn flowers had expanded its range over the past few years. They are very beautiful flowers and I take their presence on such a hot year as a good sign because according to historical accounts the grasslands here were originally reported by early settlers to be a riot of various flowers.
|Blue corn flowers enjoy their spot in herbage here|
The food dehydrating process last week didn’t quite finish until about 3am and the lesson to take from that whole process is that it would have been far wiser to start the dehydrating process much earlier in the morning! On the other hand, the solar power system produced a phenomenal and record amount of energy that day and produced just under 16kWh (566Ah x 28V) and the batteries were still 100% full by 4.30pm!
|The solar panels produced just under 16kWh the day that the food dehydrator was used|
To bring some summer cheer into the readers of this blog in the wintery Northern hemisphere of this planet, I thought it would be a good idea to show a photo of some of the many and varied fruits that have ended up in my breakfast over the past week! Enjoy!
|Some of the many and varied summer fruits that ended up in my breakfast each day this week|
The very first harvest of blueberries is now only days away and I can almost taste the berries (in anticipation of course):
|The very first harvest of blueberries is now only days away|
Unfortunately, all of that fruit is many weeks early this year due to the heat, so I’m really unsure what will be in my breakfast fruit as the season gets even hotter.
The apples however are continuing to swell and ripen and as each year progresses, the apple harvest gets a little bit bigger:
|The apples are swelling and ripening as the summer season lengthens|
The plums are also fruiting very well in the early heat and there are hundreds of them still ripening and swelling on the various trees:
|The plums are performing well in the early heat this summer|
There was quite a lot of discussion about sugar maple trees in the comments section of the blog last week, so I chucked in a photo of the tree this week (it is in the foreground of the photo). Observant readers will note the Japanese maple in the middle of the photo.
|The sugar maple tree just below the cantina shed|
You really know it is an early hot season when the tomato plants have produced their first flowers this early. I have also noted the blue banded and also the bumble bees lurking around the flower beds so pollination of the tomato flowers is almost guaranteed!
|The tomato plants produced their first flowers this week|
And Tomato Cam ™ tells no lies as the early summer heat is making the tomato plants almost bounce out of the ground!
|Tomato Cam ™ tells no lies as the early summer heat is making the tomato plants almost bounce out of the ground|