Tuesday, June 19, 2007

All is well in the Adelaide Hills where we are now ensconced. The farm is not big, not by real farming standards, only 106 acres, but it is some of the most beautiful land in the world.... rolling green hills which are now lush with grass after a bad drought.

We had some good rains in January which gave us a boost but then in April the season broke and we had torrential downpours…. The creek was raging , from nothing, up to full height which is about three feet and within days the bottom dam (lake) was full and the two top dams were 80percent full. We are now having intermittent rain…downpours and sunshine so the grass is growing as we watch.

There are issues for Australia in terms of water management but we are fortunate where we are because the Adelaide Hills are traditionally a high rainfall area. It’s a lovely time of year here with the leaves turning through gold and red, the hills lush green, and the mornings misty with a touch of frost. We are still having temperatures though of the low to mid twenties during the day so it is very mild and even better for grass growing. But Autumn is the best of seasons in my book anyway because the days are cooler but still mild and the sun still shines through clear blue skies for a lot of the time.

Molly, the new pup, has turned out to be a brilliant cattle dog …. All instinctive …. And is very helpful with the cattle. This is not surprising as a blue heeler/ border collie cross. We are taking her to training lessons soon though. She is a lovely dog, very smart, and really, for a puppy, not much trouble although she has ruined one of my doormats and started on another …. Expensive ones too so I have moved them into the shed for the duration. But, touch wood, there has been no digging holes or trashing garden beds so we cannot complain. Vince the ancient beagle trudges on, literally, as he goes into his probably 17th year but he is still quite active and runs after Greg when he takes the hay out to feed cattle. Although we are in the last weeks of handfeeding cows so Vince will soon get a rest. Well, apart from Molly who drives him crazy at times. But all that youthful enthusiasm would drive any old dog crazy, even a patient beagle!

Peppa the cat without a tail is doing well and seems, for the moment, to have given up killing birds. Perhaps the tail helped in that particular task in ways we do not understand. We did put a bell on here for a time but finally decided we really need to take advantage of her mouse and rat-killing abilities and the place is awash with birds at the best of times so we took it off.

The four black chooks, Millicent, Madeleine, Muriel and Maude are probably four of the happiest chooks in creation …. And healthiest …. I never realized how fluffy chooks really were. I guess most of them are not in our mass produced and less than kind world. I now know the true meaning of ‘bum fluff,’ as they have these little ‘skirts’ of soft feathers which look for all the world like black tutus atop scrawny legs. And they are good egg layers. Four a day is more than enough and the yolks are almost fluorescent…. Yummy and super healthy I am sure. They have fitted into the local menagerie. Molly and Vince ignored them from the start as did Peppa but Morgan’s dog Holly decided they should be dealt with when she first met them although they are a feisty foursome and Holly has given up and now also ignores them.

It is probably the magpies who are most out of sorts with the chickens and when they first arrived could often be seen ‘herding’ them back into the coop when we let them out. Even the magpies have given up although two crows have now taken up residence and so there is a foodfight between magpies and crows which takes precedence over chicken control. Greg feeds the magpies mincemeat and they really become quite tame. They are very intelligent birds and a serious match for the crows. They are all very fat and no doubt over-fed.

We now have plans to get a couple of goats to take care of the blackberry infestation along the creek. We are in the process of fencing off the creek area and will only put a couple in but apparently they love blackberries and should keep themselves busy for quite some time. It’s a weed here and one is meant to control it but we don’t like to use chemicals and anyway, the creek, is part of the Hills water catchment so goats are more eco-friendly. And more cost-effective because even if you haul out the bushes and poison the roots they will come back because in nature’s inimitable way, birds keep eating blackberries and birds keep shitting.

So, all in all, it is satisfyingly busy and life in the Adelaide Hills is sublime. This is such a peaceful part of the world that one feels quite fortunate. The black, silent nights beneath star-filled sky is the bit I think I like best along with misty mornings and sunny afternoons drinking coffee in the garden, with a gaggle of chooks, a couple of dogs, two resident magpies and two recently arrived crows all fighting for any dropped crumbs.

One is reminded that what really matters in life are moments of peace and people. At the end of the day it is the memories which will last into our tomorrows and, if there is a world beyond this one, and I believe there is, into the eternal now!


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