Another Country Diary gumboots
Another Country Diary


Links to images and other pages are in blue. After about a week of diary entries, they go to an archive.
8 November -22 November.
This has become a 'weekend country diary'. That's when I can get to the garden and often when it's written up. I can sometimes squeeze time after dinner at home. Now that I'm in prime observing mode, getting time during the week to check out all the developments in the garden morning and night is frustrating. It's a most pleasant way to start a work day but you don't get enough time to explore everything. A few times I've missed a bug or caterpillar (like the one that almost stripped one of the blueberry canes of leaves) and the result is that there will be no small yellow squash this year. This tiny beetle seems pretty harmless ...
..but I'm not so sure of this one. Fantastic shape however. Scarab, shields?

 

 
There's a climbing rose along the old  chook yard fence that snags me when I'm grass cutting. At this time of the year I can almost forgive those scratches. The tiny buds are yellow and open out and turn white. I much prefer these old fashioned 'single' roses.
There are some seed pods on the iris. I've never noticed these before but apparently you can grow irises (and other bulbs like tulips) from seed.
These large orange/red Oriental poppies, besides having colours that fall outside any digital or video 'safe' colour saturation, have beautiful pods. I'm imagining the steps that lead to discovering the opiate in them. Would you start by eating them? Watching animals after eating the heads? Histories I've checked don't tell much about 'discovery' of a drug. Just that people knew about if for ever. I'd like to offer the theory that it was the attractiveness and fantastical shapes of the seed heads that, 'doctrine of signatures' like,  lead to discovering it's ability to create trance states and fantastical images.
The artichokes are ready to start harvesting, but maybe I'll wait another week. This year I'm determined to not let them go to waste, even if it means baking them. Carciofi Ripeni,  where you throw most of the heads away and stuff the centers with breadcrumbs and seasoning.

Boiling, dipping into melted butter and scraping the flesh off with your teeth is the preferred method. But you have to work at it. A weekend lunch with the fresh Silo sourdough bread, olive oil vinaigrette etc. sounds ok to me. Next weekend.

File this in the 'lettering inspiration' file. This is an old suitcase that Jan has had for twenty years. It had a Indonesian customs security check sticker on it. We took the three girls there about 10 years ago. If we had taken them this year, all of them would have been out at some nightclub getting away from their parents. It made the bombing a lot closer to our lives just to think about that.
The few potatoes that were looking wilted from lack of water, I dug up just before dinner. They were all small and I just scrubbed off the dirt and steamed them. They went well with...
..the new broadbeans that we've had a couple of feeds from. There's probably two more 'family sized' portions left on the crop. That is, if the family would all eat them. Even these tender fresh picked small ones don't attract the girls. There's no bitterness, the skins are so soft you don't peel them, it's hard to understand. More for me I reckon. 
What a difference a week makes. The sweet cherries were green like this...
...and pink just a week later. I've covered them from the birds (too late for some at the top) and they'll be ripe and edible next weekend.
On the front porch of the shed, the climbing rose I photographed/ wrote about a while back has these small pink buds amongst the white flowers. I was struck by how much the single open flowers look.. 
...like these flowers on the new Youngberry plants we put in. I'm sure they're related, the thorns, leaves are all similar, but the fruits are miles apart in design and function but both depending on being edible to birds to spread and propagate.
The possums are snacking on the roses they can get to from the shed roof, I can't get close enough to tell if it's just the petals they eat or the whole heads. There are no rosehips left, the smaller birds have finished off those.
Mid week and a full moon beside us to head home. A few days later the sky was heavy and brown with smoke blowing in from the east. I stepped outside about 11.00pm when I smelt it through the workroom window.  Our neighbour opposite saw me standing in the street and called, saying that she'd been woken as well. There seemed to be no sign of fires and we decided the smoke was carried in on the sea mist. Next day we heard about the bushfires along the Shoalhaven coast.  
I've had this tin of old 35mm footage stored away to give to Screensound for their archives for years. Someone gave it to my father and he to me. I recognised immediately that one of the short items was by early Australian cartoonist Harry Julius. From 1914 to 1925 Julius was commissioned to create Cartoons of the Moment, patriotic short films during the first World War  and this is one of them. The other bits are newsreel and documentary images, not as significant, but I felt I should transfer them to tape before donating them.

Some of the small rolls are on inflammable nitrate base and I've checked occasionally to see if it's deteriorating, (I've had some awful headaches handling decomposing nitrate film) but this is all in very good condition. Now that I've scanned some of it, I'll take it in to Screensound. From the records they have online, this seems to be a new example judging by the titles of his work they have. They were done with a broader brush in white  and photographed stop motion so the screening time was compressed. To keep up the interest, he leaves white shapes and final details were added with a black brush. They would run less than a minute or so.

Grape blister mites. Along with the first heavy crop of grapes we've had the leaves started to show signs of these 'blisters' nearly a month ago. I didn't do anything about it.
Then suddenly the tops of the leaves showed the white fungus and the edges shrivel up. The bugs and diseases book says use a sulphur spray at budburst but that's too late. It warns about spraying in heat and so burning the leaves. It's also been very hot. 
The local nursery doesn't have sprays like that so I'll try a rose spray that we do have. I don't want to pull off the leaves until there are some fresh ones but that may pass it on. It's a dilemma. I want the grapes.
The harlequin bugs are mating. This puts them at a speed disadvantage, so whenever I see them, I flick them to the ground and stomp on them. The female seems to do all the forward navigating and even lifts her tail, and the attached male, so she can run faster with his legs off the ground. I don't know how long the copulation goes for but they're everywhere and hardly ever seen as a single bug. They destroyed the raspberries that were planted when we came here, sucking the plant of moisture in a week. We didn't plant raspberries again but I'll keep a vigilant eye on our current berries. Squashing seems the best method, the pyrethrum sprays don't deter them much. They have a distinctive acrid smell when squashed, it's why I tend to avoid using my fingers. That's their protection from birds.  
Max, the smallest of the two dogs sometimes decides that he wants to catch flies. He'll run around trying  for ages unless we stop him, 'doggedly' darting back and forth and  never getting near. He was irritated by a noisy blowfly inside and couldn't get to it. Jan picked him up eventually to stop him and lifted him near the window. he almost jumped from her hands, and snapped the fly off the glass. We've made jokes about how annoyed he gets by the cockatoos that fly out of his reach. And how the only way he could get at them on the trees, is if we toss him up into the air at them. If we can show him how to land, maybe we could train him as a flycatcher. Low level ones of course.
Fred Harden  
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