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July 27, 2015 / diannegray

Holy Smoke

I hate fire. It’s on the top of my Things to Avoid list, like cyclones, earthquakes and having to punch a shark to stop it from eating me.

Due to the ongoing fight to save our environment the sugar cane in Australia is rarely burned these days. Gone are the evenings you could drive around here and spot cane fires igniting the landscape (literally).

One regular occurrence however is the burning of the ‘trash blanket’ – the leftovers from cutting (dead leaves, etc).

Normally I would scream and run if I saw someone with matches trying to torch the fields, but last week this was totally under control so I got some pictures from the safety of my Writer’s Nook.

Just starting

Just starting

Getting bigger

Getting bigger

I'm glad the wind is blowing a southerly

I’m glad the wind is blowing a southerly

Don't you just love the Rural Fire brigade

Don’t you just love the Rural Fire Brigade

The next day I did my regular dog walk to Scary Gully. The sugar cane has been cut there as well and the dogs loved rolling around in the trash blanket.

I couldn’t find the farm dog, Tammy. I call her the farm dog because she belongs to my parents-in-law and was here before my dogs came. She is a rescue dog, but still has some very bad habits (like chasing cars). I don’t want my dogs to follow her paw-prints example so this is one of the main reasons I have put up the fence.

I figured she must have gone back to the creek for a dip, but then I spotted her.

Can you spot Tammy? I’ve given you a not-so-subtle clue with the arrow ;)

Tammy3

Have a great week!

July 20, 2015 / diannegray

The harvest has begun

The sugar cane harvesting season has started. This makes the dog walk even more interesting. They think they’re being taken to a brand new place because some of the sugar cane is gone and the landscape has changed.

We need to get them to the creek without having to walk down the road. So they now get a ride as well!
We converted the old trailer to a travelling dog cage to keep them safe.

trailer2

They love the ride as much as they love the walk

With machines like this around there is no room for puppies on the road

Harvester

 

Now that some of the sugar cane has been cut there are new smells and things buried underground that they never knew existed before.

I watched my dog Casey get very excited about a new find on Saturday. She knew there was something hiding in the newly cut cane field, but she couldn’t find it – no matter how far she dug.

Casey digging2

If I hadn’t called her off she may have dug all the way to China.

Casey digging1

Her sheer determination reminded me of myself when it comes to work and writing. Once I get a sniff of an idea or a story I’m like the proverbial dog with a bone.

Something we don’t often see in the tropics is the cool temperatures. The children bought me a weather station for Mother’s Day and this gave me the opportunity to capture a rare event last week.

Temperature

5.9 degrees in the tropics – unheard of!
Brrrrrr

In truth I’m absolutely loving this cool weather. In a few months I’ll be wishing for the relief!

In case you’re interested – this is what the weather station looks like outside. You never have to empty the rain gauge and the wind spinny thing can get up to about 240kph (hope I never see that!)

Weather station2

Have a great week!!!

July 13, 2015 / diannegray

Scary Gully

I was walking the dogs around Scary Gully on Saturday when my hubby decided to take a rear shot of me. He says I’m a serious walker.

Serious1

Scary Gully is to my left and curls around in front of me. I’ve never been down there because, well – it’s scary…

It’s a fifteen metre (50 foot) drop into a gully that looks like Jurassic Park. One day I’ll take it on and get some pics for you (just joking mum)…

The dogs have ventured down there – only once which tells you something because they’re pretty stupid brave

Do you like my boots? They’re purple with green polka dots.

I carry refreshments in my backpack (beer, water, biscuits).

I carry weapons in my side pack (machete, secateurs, small spade, nail file) – don’t mess with me.

Note to mum: I’m not wearing a hat because our walks take place late afternoon.

BootsThese boots may be old, but they’ve still got that razzle-dazzle.

The laces may come in handy one day if I have to lasso my way out of Scary Gully.

I’m sending out a big thank you today to Carrie Rubin (do you follow her blog? if not, you should) for her review of my novel Let Sleeping Gods Lie.

Have a great week!

<3 <3 <3

July 6, 2015 / diannegray

Building fences

Because our dog Casey thinks she’s half kangaroo we’ve had to build a higher fence around the RUC. It’s not that she wants to escape (I’m sure she could do that in an instant) it’s just that sometimes creatures run by and she wants to chase and play with them (bandicoots, wild cats, pigs). She just can’t help herself.  This concerns me because there is a danger she may inadvertently knock over my mother or father-in-law in her excited state (and they’re not very steady on their feet).

Hence the fence:

Fence1

It’s very straight (that’s probably important when it comes to fences)

Fence2

We didn’t have enough wood so we inserted some of the iron that was left over after we put on the new roof.
I think it looks kind of trendy.

My daughter has also been putting up fences around her house because she has just welcomed a new pack family member.

He’s huge.

He’s ferocious.

His name is Boris.

Here he is with my daughter, Chrissy (from Little Food Blog).

Chrissy & Boris2

 

Boris is a Toy Cavoodle. He Skyped us the day he arrived at his new home with my daughter and her hubby. He wasn’t very talkative, but I’m sure he’ll be yapping at us through the screen soon.

He’ll love going on our daily dog walk (in my back pack) when he comes to visit.

I don’t have a picture of Boris’ fence because it’s not as HUGE as the one I had to build.

Welcome to the pack family , Boris!

 

 

June 29, 2015 / diannegray

A spring in my step

After my last post I was thrilled to see a ‘lion eye’ post from Rob (The Photographic Journey of Bulldog). Rob is a brilliant photographer and one of the main reasons I decided to try my hand at photography. We don’t have lions in Australia so Rob added the missing piece for me from his Kalahari trip last year. Check out his blog – you won’t be disappointed with his amazing pictures.

The snake from last weeks post was terrifying a big hit. I didn’t include the back story in the last post but I did mention it in some of my comments. I saw the snake in my bathroom five minutes before I was set to do a Skype job interview. Like a true professional I ran around the house screaming and flailing my arms until the Skype call came through.

The good news is I got the job and the job is not snake wrangler.

The job is content writer for a company who does a lot of work for not-for-profit and Government disability websites. The icing on the cake is the fact that I don’t have to leave my Writer’s Nook to do this (a huge bonus when you live way out in the bush).

Yesterday’s dog walk was interesting because I could clearly see the waxing moon in the early afternoon.

Moon over cane2

Then I saw some wild flowerswild flowers

I heard a noise above and saw a strange tree I’ve never noticed before. It’s a Redgum that has been taken over by some kind of Strangler Fig. It’s beautiful, but looks like something out of a horror movie.strange tree2

Then I saw some blue Quandongs – quite beautiful! …and they’re edible (but I wasn’t hungry) ;)Quandong3

Have a great week!

June 22, 2015 / diannegray

You can’t hide your lion eyes

We were watching David Attenborough last week on the TV. This particular program was about lions. When the camera zoomed in on the lion’s eyes, hubby commented that Casey (our dog) has the same coloured eyes as a lion. At that point he started singing (hubby, not David Attenborough)

¸.•*¨*•.♪♫♫♪¸.•*¨*•.♪♫♫♪   You can’t hide your lion eyes   ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸  

If the kids (now adults) were there they would have groaned and said, “dad’s joke”. Now every time I look at Casey that song comes into my head.

Last year I blogged about Casey when I took a photograph and noticed my reflection in her eyes. I won’t bore you with the same pictures again, but if you’d like a memory jog they are in my Interesting Reflections post.

My main character in the novel Let Sleeping Gods Lie is obsessed with eyes. They say we insert a bit of ourselves into each of our characters, so I guess my eye obsession is revealed through this particular character. I wrote Let Sleeping Gods Lie soon after my hubby was assaulted and lost his left eye. I’m yet to write a blog post about that awful time, but the words will come one day.

Last week I tried (in vain) to get a picture of Green Ant eyes, but the bodies are far more interesting than those beady little eyes. Here’s my attempt:

Ant

 

I couldn’t get any closer because these little critters are savage and move fast. Their nests are made by sticking leaves together and they are highly defensive and will attack in numbers. I found myself doing the green ant dance to get them off me several times! The great thing about green ants is that they keep the birds away from the fruit.

You can also eat green ants (the abdomen). They are a good source of vitamin C, traditionally used by Aboriginal people. They have quite a refreshing citrus taste, so if you’re ever lost in the Australian bush…. (ahem – let’s hope not)

The next eye I captured was of a snake. I’m not telling you how I got this one and where it actually was in case my mother is reading. Hey mum – I’m safe! LOL

I made it smaller than my other pictures to lessen the shock value.  If you want a big shock close-up, just click on it. It’s just a friendly python :shock:

Olive python eye1

 

Now I know what people mean when they say you’re giving me snake eyes.

I tried to get pictures of butterfly eyes, but they wouldn’t stay still like the snake.

Butterflies3

Then I saw these two finches who refused to make eye contact with each other.
A male and female – lover’s tiff I imagine.

Finches1

I received a message from WordPress last week.

Happy Three Year Blogging Anniversary!

I’ll skip away now singing…

¸.•*¨*•.♪♫♫♪¸.•*¨*•.♪♫♫♪  Happy Anniversary Baby ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸  

Have a great week!

June 15, 2015 / diannegray

Some birds and a bird-catching spider

The picture of the spider is at the bottom of this post,
so if you’re an arachnophobe – Run. Away. Now.

I see loads of birds on my daily dog walk around the farm. I try to get pictures of them, but sometimes they’re just far too elusive.  Some look pensive, some look cute and some look annoyed.

I thought I’d start off with the annoyed ones. I could just imagine the first two birds could be the baddies in a Pixar movie.

This is a Metallic Starling which is native to Northern Australia and New Guinea

Metallic Starling3

This Figbird looks like he’s had a big night out on the town with those eyes!

Figbird4

The Kookaburra below must have felt very pensive that day

Kookaburra2

This little cutie is one of my favourites – the Olive-backed Sunbird chick

Olive-backed Sunbird2

The Cattle Egrets often walk around the freshly cut cane fields looking for insects

Egrets

There are over 630 bird species in Queensland, Australia. I need to get a little faster with the camera so I can get more pictures for you.

But in this beautiful bird paradise there are also bird predators. The Golden Orb spider is one of my favourite predators because it’s so awesome to look at. Many years ago I ran straight into a golden Orb web and I didn’t think it was great at the time! Neither did my neighbours who thought I was being murdered. But I’ve learned to keep an eye out for large webs now. These spiders will hurt if they bite, but they’re not aggressive (unless you run through their web) and their venom is potent but not lethal to humans.

The Golden Orb spider can catch small birds as well as snakes.

Hubby came across this fine specimen on the dog walk (I told him not to leave the trail!). He noticed it an inch before it touched his face  – maybe he needs glasses.

The photo is taken from the underside of the spider. It was about the size of hubby’s face.

Golden Orb spider1

Can you notice the gold web? This is why it’s called a Golden Orb spider.

Phew – you made it to the end of this post! :D

If you love cooking, check out my daughter’s Little Food Blog. But if you’re going to make dangerously good strawberries and cream hotcake, remember to put on an oven mitt to avoid second degree burns!

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