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CHRISTMAS DAY WALK

On Christmas Day, we spent the morning slothing about opening presents and reading. After morning tea we drove down to Cosy Corner and went for a 10km hike along the clifftops, on the Bibbulmun track. The weather was kind to us; it was overcast and a cool 20 degrees C, or we'd not have done this, so late in the day - we usually avoid being out in the middle of the day in summer.

Very happy with a wonderful way to spend Christmas Day. The botanical diversity here is so spectacular that when I did go back to Europe once, I was really missing it... and the coast around here is larger than life in many ways; it makes me feel like a tiny ant, in a very good way! ♥

The steps leading up to the elevated coastal path from Cosy Corner:

Gorgeous woodland (Casuarina grove in this spot!) where the path runs between Torbay Hill and the sea - the hill sheds much water down to here:

This Dasypogon reminded me of Christmas baubles:

The trees grow every which way:

Old fire-scarred tree trunk:

Enormous dunes under coastal heathland:

The elevated track:

Extra-gnarly eucalyptus trees:

Dingo Beach. At the very far end, there's a little white strip you can see nestled in the headland. This is Dunsky Bay, which has a fabulous little beach where the wave motions are so amplified that when you're floating in the water just a stone's throw from the beach, you're going up and down around 4 metres, like a watery fairground ride ...I found this out when I walked there with a colleague who was practising for climbing Kilimanjaro in Africa 15 years ago - she was dragging me all over the place for strenuous walks, which was a good thing! :)

Migo and Richards Islands, off Cosy Corner, on the way back:

Eucalyptus "nuts" forming:


That's a little selection of photos; if you want a vicarious walk through our coastline, click on any of these photos to get to our Flickr homepage.
 

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Happy New Year!

I recently found a very lovely clip which promotes the idea of performing random acts of kindness as part of your daily interactions with the world. Brett and I cooed over this clip, and I got tears in my eyes, because I'm a big softie, but more to the point, because I really get, because I've been there, how little acts of kindness from strangers (that sometimes also end up turning into friends) can make all the difference to you when you're in a difficult spot in life; can keep you afloat instead of drowning, can keep you hoping instead of despairing - to be at the receiving end of kindness, but even just to witness it. So please, be a little lightbulb to others, because as we've all heard before, better to light a candle than all of us sit in the darkness. Kindness is the antidote to all the alienation, cruelty and general shiitake out there...


Plus of course, the music is great aromatherapy for the ears, as is much of the album it's from.
 

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Love that @SueC! Happy new year to you and Brett. Your post reminded me of a random act of kindness I experienced years and years ago that has stayed with me all this time...I was in my early 20s, and had a very painful breakup with the first person I really loved. I had given up my lease because I was planning to move in with him, and just before I was going to move he decided he really wanted to break up instead. My response- admittedly a bit immature and irrational- was to decide to move anyway, except halfway across the country. That turned out to be a great thing for me, but in the first couple of weeks after moving to this huge new city where the only person I knew was my roommate, I spent a lot of time sitting on a bench in the beautiful park across the street from our apartment, feeling very sorry for myself and occasionally sobbing alone. One day an elderly man, who was probably homeless, saw me sobbing on the bench and stopped to ask if I was ok. Even though I told him I was, he seemed very concerned. He continued on his way, but about 20 minutes later, he came back and handed me a bottle of orange juice, and told me that always made him feel better when he was down. It was so sweet and unexpected, and probably not something he should have used his resources on. But still, something that simple seemed to snap me out of my funk and helped me get in the right frame of mind to really enjoy my time living in that city.
 

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That's a lovely thing that man did, @egrogan. Thankyou for sharing the story! 🐙

I started my New Year with burnout, related to chronic sleep deprivation (hayfever season, October to mid-December) followed by acute sleep deprivation (three days out of four I couldn't have my afternoon nap after sleeping badly at night, because too busy with farmstay-related work) and lack of days where I was completely off the hook from all but the basic farm and farmstay work (1-2 days a week like that needed for me). I've really hit the wall, feel dizzy and sick waking up in the morning and tired, tired, tired all day, lack of interest in anything that requires energy expenditure - so I'm trying to just read novels or have naps in-between unavoidable stuff at the moment. We're booked flat the whole month but I closed the farmstay for the first two weeks of February, when Brett is taking annual leave - looking forward to that!
 

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I’m sorry too that you are down. I think I was with you around Christmas, but everything slowed down and I caught up, although I am a bit sick now. The girls left for a basketball tournament the last week of 2020, and I refused to do much. Lol. I rode and I cooked and the first day I cleaned, and that was about it. I even sat down to read!! I took a midday bath twice. It was lovely.

On a whole other note; I still like the hippy clothes!
 

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Thank you, @egrogan and @Knave - and I hope you're both well, and keeping warm! :) I'm feeling a bit better; also a guest had to cancel this weekend, which means we now have the next two weekends to ourselves for a much-needed sanity break (because I've blocked off the calendar for the cancellation).

No problems keeping warm here, quite the reverse...

HEATWAVE

It's 3.30pm and I'm happy because the wind has finally changed from northerly to easterly, meaning that the red-hot 39 degree C afternoon is going to start cooling off, now that the incoming wind is blowing from the Great Australian Bight, and not from the Central Australian deserts.

I've just come back off the roof of the house, where I've thrown an old blanket over the solar water heater, because the water was starting to boil in the unit, and if you don't stop that, the unit rattles on the roof, and starts losing water - neither of which are good for the unit or the roof (boiling hot water with copper ions isn't great for the zincalume).

If you've never been in an Australian summer heatwave in the Mediterranean-climate regions of Western Australia and South Australia, let me describe it a little. The heat is leaden the moment the sun rises in the morning, and escalates to giant-hairdrier/oven levels by midday. We're on a farm and on days like today, I'm in for 15 minutes on the sofa in front of a fan cooling down and relaxing (and writing :p), before going out again for 15 minutes with long pants, long sleeves and a big hat (the UV is brutal) to get our animals and garden through the day. I repeatedly check watering points to make sure water is available and cool, and that bees aren't preventing livestock from drinking. The cattle and donkeys are pretty good and will drink from the farm dam, but the (ex-race, artificially reared) horses are scared of the dam and rely on manually topped up watering points (large drums).

By mid-morning, every shaded building surface is covered in flies of all descriptions: Blowflies, bush flies, midges, seeking to escape the desiccating heat. Clouds of midges buzz around and settle in garden beds containing mint. Bees are flying in swirls all around the watering points, and are sitting on the rims of bird baths and at the junctions of tap fittings, imbibing all the moisture they can get before returning to their hives to help cool these down so the wax honeycomb doesn't melt and the bees don't die of hyperthermia.

I'm moving large-droplet sprinklers around all day to keep fruit trees and lawn alive, and hand-watering seedlings and thirsty vegetable varieties so they don't perish in the heat. On extreme days like today, I throw old bedsheets over the most recently planted vegetable seedlings so they don't die in the midday heat. Everywhere the sprinklers have been, bees are on the ground, drinking water. Little birds like silvereyes, New Holland honeyeaters and fairy wrens dive straight under the sprinklers to cool down; ravens lap from livestock watering points and puddles on the ground; any earthworms coming up in the wet are picked off by various of our feathered garden inhabitants.

It's so hot you can't stay out for more than 15 minutes without getting seriously overheated - leastways, I can't - I've got some Viking DNA and don't tolerate heat well at all. So you rotate your watering stations, do a spot of hand watering, then go back to the sofa and the fan and drink fluids and cool down again. If you stay out too long, you get dizzy - at that point, it starts to become seriously stressful, so you just avoid doing that, otherwise you'll end up with heat stroke and/or electrolyte depletion (and we keep electrolyte tablets in the house for days like today).

It's not like this every day, but this is the reality of getting a food garden and lawn areas through an Australian summer heatwave. We've had a mild summer so far; this is the first proper heatwave, of three scorchers like this in a row - December was mild, with only a handful of days above 30 degrees C. Last year, we had heatwaves like this from November through to March. Last year was also the third year of drought in our region; just 60% or so of normal annual rainfall, so last summer our landscape was parched, as this drone footage a guest took shows:


This year, we had a wet spring, and therefore a decent growing season. The bushland is green, and there is a good amount of green perennial grasses and legumes and dry annual grass in the paddocks. It will be interesting to see if the drought stays broken - that depends on whether the autumn rains come on time, and at normal rates - they haven't since 2017.

The green zone around the house is what I preserve through the summer, with the help of a low-capacity solar bore which gives us 8 litres of water a minute during daylight hours - that's enough water to run two garden hoses to watering devices throughout the day. That's the only way to keep things green in a summer-dry climate, and keeping the zone around the house green and lush is an important part of bushfire safety around here.

A few years ago I thought it was a bit crazy to spend heatwave days like this; a questionable use of my time, but then I saw the drone footage and realised what an oasis the green zone is, for hundreds of birds, dozens of microbats, thousands and thousands of insects; plus a garden that feeds us, and a safety zone from bushfires - and now I think differently. Computerised reticulation, by the way, doesn't suit our situation; you can spend as much time clearing ants from irrigation pipes as you spend rotating stations manually, and at the end of the day, an on-the-ground human makes better decisions about watering than pre-set time cycles, and can multi-task with other garden jobs while there.

I've just been back out to top up water drums; the bush flies cling to your face the moment you step outside, trying to drink from your eyes and crawl up your nostrils and suck up your sweat, such is the pressure for water on days like today. I wear a veil when that happens; so do the horses, who will come running if they see you with their veils, and literally push their own faces into them. Nobody wants to have flies all over their face.

The nights are getting warmer, which means the bush flies will very soon thin out considerably, courtesy of the dung beetles, which start to become active when the cold nights are over. We're looking forward to that.

I hope you've enjoyed this postcard from Australia. :)
 

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That is beautiful how you've made such an oasis for all the creatures. Glad you are taking some time for yourselves.

Your post reminded me of our trip to western australia and getting out of the car in the outback. That heat was just incredible. But I remember figuring out with shock and exclaiming to my husband that the flies were after the water in our eyeballs! Then I was feeling sorry for them.
 

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@SueC, your post made me feel sweaty on this frigid New England morning. I really can't handle that kind of oppressive heat. I'd much rather be layered up in fleece and wool :ROFLMAO: Here are some frosty whiskers from this morning's breakfast to cool you down!!

I thought of you when I read this article today- not sure if an experienced beekeeper would see it as a viable design, but it almost makes me want to give bees a try. Our resident bear population holds me back though...one more thing I'd have to figure out how to protect with electric fencing...
 

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It gets that hot here, but I think the hot is probably different than you described. It sounds miserable. We have the flies, but likely not the variety, and not many bees. Our hot is a very dry hot though, so it doesn’t feel as hot from what I hear.

I don’t like hot either myself. I’ve found that the hose keeps me from getting sick. Quite often I drench myself, and the water is very cold. I think it runs down my temperature. Riding I wet my clothes and stay close enough to a water source to occasionally redo the water. Most people seem to tolerate the heat around here, but little girl and I are like you and not made for it at all.

I have an air conditioner. I would die with just the fan!
 

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In Arizona's dry heat, what hammers me is the sunlight. I can handle the heat provided there is shade. More years ago than I care to admit I did a two week stint controlling A-10s working the bombing range near Gila Bend. In June.


Highs were 115-120 F (45-50 C). We went out for 12 hours. Once we were on the ground to control the air, they locked the gates to make sure no one wandered out there by accident. We set up parachutes on poles for shade, had LOTS of water and actually had a pretty good time. Of course, the humidity was around 5-10% so we didn't have flies to worry about! But I'll admit, our top priority when we got back to the dorms in Gila Bend was soaking ourselves in the tubs. We absorbed water like sponges.

But without shade? We'd have been turned into toast. And oddly enough, it seems to me the sun hits me hardest at mid-morning. We'll be below peak temperature but it is like the sun can burn thru my long sleeves and fry me at 10 AM. By 3 PM, I can do yard work. Well....for 30 minutes at a time. And as soon as the sun sets, I can go hang out with the horses. The wife and I have spent a number of summer evenings shooting the breeze at the corral fence while three horses listen carefully and agree with everything we say.

PS: I'm a desert rat. I often go jogging in the summer at 1 PM. But when temps drop below 70 deg F (21 C)? It 's getting chilly! The other day it was almost 70 when I went for a run. I wore a sweatshirt.
 

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Hello all! :) I'm missing our old "waving" emoji... It's hot here again on the next day, but not the 39 deg C forecast (102 deg F) - this morning the sky was overcast, and has stayed that way all day, thank goodness. Terribly humid and still now though, which is great for the plants and means I didn't have to water again - instead I've wilted all day, had a 4-hour middle-of-the-day nap to catch up on some of the sleep debt, read online newspapers (and been horrified), and toyed with the idea of going to the beach for sunset if I can muster the energy - have just fed the horses early to make that a possibility... but hooray, we've got a weekend off (and next weekend too).


@gottatrot, haha, you have acquaintance with our heat and bush flies! o_O I hope you're not too cold and wet where you are, and I know the battle with hooves in wet winters - not my favourite part of winter... Right now though I am hoping for a thunderstorm, because Sunsmart needs a trim and I'd really like it if the weather helped me out here... hooves are like marble... (I'll have to go see what you're up to later)


@egrogan, I can't handle that kind of heat either, thankfully it's only in waves and we always have a cool house. The forecast for the rest of the week is maxima in the 20s (68-80 deg F) - I've got so many things to plant out from the greenhouse and maybe that will give me a window. Thank you very much for the cooling photograph, it all helps! 🥰 Love all your snow photos, and probably even more so because I don't have to deal with the reality of it. I'm glad your stables aren't flooding this winter and your taps and buckets have been behaving. (I'll catch up with your journal soon!)

Oh, and re the flow hives - the problem to me is that the honeycomb is made of plastic, which is unnatural and as you know, plasticisers from many plastics have been leaching into food - some of them endocrine disruptors, others poisons. Of course, so much food comes in plastic these days... We have Langstroth hives, and yes, it's a lot of work to get the honey frames out, extracted and back in again. The bees certainly don't get made homeless (that was the early Medieval hives etc, they just crushed the whole thing), and fatalities are low - usually you lose a couple to half a dozen bees because no matter how much you smoke them, they manage to crawl over the edge just as you try to put the lid back on the hive. The hive has 50,000 plus though, and birds take way more than that every day. The main thing is to keep the hive healthy and making new bees.

We've got friends with flow hives - the plasticiser thing is something to weigh up; don't let it stop you keeping bees though, if that's a method that appeals to you. If it wasn't for the plastic, I'd convert to them myself because I'm always looking for ways to reduce the workload...


@Knave, maybe I'm just very good at describing the misery! 😉 Your heat sounds pretty hot as well. I've often resorted to your trick of wetting clothes (sometimes I even dunked my head in a bucket to cool down, and wet my hair) when I was a teenager and living on the West Coast, where the summers are much hotter than here - they're just consistently hotter with more and longer heatwaves, and no cooler breaks in mild temperatures. Yesterday I was walking right through the sprinklers each time I picked them up to move them, to get my clothes damp and then enjoy the cooling effect - and five minutes later, I'd be dry again...

I don't think you'd need an air conditioner at our place, yesterday it was naturally just 22-24 deg C (72-75deg F) indoors at the worst part of the day, even as it was cooking outside... the beauty of having a house designed for climate. We're always happy to have put so much design work and then labour into the house, when the summer heatwaves come - or the winter cold! :) (I wonder what Queen is up and and will need to find out!)

...oh and most of the bees are ours, we have four hives = about 200,000 of them, arranged in our green zone! 🥳


@bsms, you definitely have different heat tolerance DNA from me! 😊 We mostly have dry heat here too, and what kills me is having to go out in direct sunlight between 9am and 4pm, which I can't avoid when I have to water, so that's why I do it in 15-minute stints, and then go in again... and the hat helps, and my shirt is white. When I was on the roof yesterday, you could have fried an egg on it... reflective zincalume, which is actually great for keeping the house cool (and we've angled it away from the north here, which is our sunny side), but itself gets extremely hot! (Big insulating blanket directly beneath, and even thicker insulation on top of the ceiling itself, personally installed without any gaps!)

Those temperatures you faced were very extreme - the hottest we've had here has been around 43 degrees C, very rare and not for long. Good thinking with the parachutes.

I hope your move is going well and will have to go check it out!


Meanwhile, I know @bsms will get this because he's been to Germany, has anyone else here? This amused Brett and me to death the other day:

 
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