Wednesday, 30 November 2016

cockatoo nest in dead branch

Yesterday we walked in a nearby park, and I was excited see a cockatoo nesting in a dead branch of a eucalypt.

Penny didn't notice because she was, as usual, looking around on the  ground for anything edible.

But I noticed and thought it was a beautiful sight.

That's why it's important to leave dead branches on gum trees.

Friday, 18 November 2016

dogs and bug poisons

It mystifies me why anyone would want to kill the bugs that share this planet with us, but I guess we are all different. Our garden is run on organic principles and we aim to have a variety of plants that will attract birds and bugs to keep the 'bad' bugs under control.

Imagine my dismay, therefore, when I saw a guy getting ready to spray bifenthrin all around a home near us. When I confronted him - politely, I hope - he said the homeowner needs to get rid of the ants and spiders on her property.

Get rid of all ants and spiders? Wow! Armageddon for insects and arachnids.

And, in the long run, death for every fish in the local waters, danger for local cats, and - sadly - eventual death for birds, as they gorge on the dying insects.

In the long run, of course. All these effects won't be immediate. And as long as it's rare for anyone to create a kill-zone in their garden, I guess the results will be minor and will be dealt with by Mother Earth.

But what about Penny? She's been locked inside the house all day, with all windows closed, and she's desperate to go out to relieve herself, so as soon as I finish typing we'll hop into the care and walk somewhere distant from our now poisoned street.

Here's an interesting and informative site that discusses bug sprays from a vet's perspective.

And here's a toxipedia article that I found helpful.

You know what? That house nearby will soon have lots of new spiders and ants as the local survivors move in to their garden.

By the way, it's deadly for bees.

And bad for cats.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Grasses as allergens for dogs

When I was at the Diggers Botanic and Rare Plant Fair today (in the freezing rain and wind), I bought a gift for Penny.

It was labelled as Pet Grass. I know Penny likes to eat grass, so I thought it was a good purchase. Here's the label:

(If the label's too hard to read in this photo, you can click on the photo and it will open in another window where it's easier to see.) 

The name is: dactylis glomerata.  

Always keen to collect information about plants, I Googled the name. And found, to my surprise, that the grass is an allergen for many dogs (and humans).

Nelco-Vet, in a brochure called Allergens and Your Pets, under the heading Orchard/Cocksfoot Grass, says: 
the flowering heads are clustered in irregular, rounded shapes, coarse in texture, and resemble a thumb sticking out of the side of someone's hand. Widespread throughout the world, Orchard produces pollen that is well known for its hay fever causing properties in Europe and North America. It starts out in early spring and has tenacious re-growth after being grazed upon. 

Well, that was a waste of four dollars. I thought of tossing it in the green bin for garden waste, but on second thoughts, I'll let it grow in a pot and cut the seedheads off. 

Thursday, 20 October 2016

the big storm

Yesterday Penny went for one of her favourite walks, along the Yarra River at Warburton.

But what was this? A big mess at the entrance!

But no worries. Someone had been very busy clearing up the fallen trees after the big storm last weekend, so we could get through easily.

Many of the fallen trees were enormous. They must have been many decades old.

'Come away from this one,' I said to her, because it looked ready to fall the next time the wind blows.

Every fallen tree we saw was a eucalypt. Here's Penny examining the roots of one of them. This one had fallen across the river.

But here's something interesting... That tree was right beside a stand of Californian redwoods planted early last century. Not a one of them had fallen. (Can you see the fallen eucalypt across the path in the distance?)

I searched for references to this little glade of redwoods in Warburton township, but most sites direct to the bigger forest of redwoods in East Warburton,

Yarra Views Blog is the only site I could find that has information about the trees beside the Yarra River in Warburton itself. The writer says these trees were planted by a group of American Seventh Day Adventists. I recall from a previous blog post of my own that they were planted about 1922, which makes them older than the ones at East Warburton, I think. (I'm not sure about that.)

I think this site, about the forests ofWarburton, is fascinating.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Getting ready for summer

Penny is rarely clipped, but we knew we'd better bite the bullet and do it, if we want to check for ticks, now that they are in Melbourne.

So, this is Penny a few weeks ago...

And now...

Waste not, want not - we put her fur in the compost.

All of my composting books agree that pet hair is a great source of nitrogen.

The 'Bible' of composting, The Rodale Book of Composting, says: Between 6 and 7 pounds of hair contain as much nitrogen as 100 to 200 pounds of manure. Like feathers, hair will decompose rapidly in a compost pile but only if well moistened and thoroughly mixed with an aerating material. Hair tends to pack down and shed water, so chopping or turning the pile regularly will hasten decay.

Hmm... after reading that, I realise I'd better get out there tomorrow and break up the clumps of hair.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

the eastern paralysis tick

Up until now we haven't worried about ticks attacking Penny, because they had not been reported in Melbourne. However, when we holidayed at Best Friend Retreat we put tick prevention on Penny, because we had heard the creatures were gradually encroaching into Victoria along the coast from the east. Penny had a bad reaction to Advantix, so I won't be using it again.

Which leaves us with a dilemma, because by all accounts the eastern paralysis tick has made it to Melbourne now. I guess we'll have to have her coat clipped shorter this year, and we'll have to check her regularly in the tick season.

We do have a tick removal tool, which a family traveller brought back from NewYork. We thought it was just a novelty until now, and when we looked at it, we'd feel so smug that we don't have to worry about ticks. What a pity we've now joined the majority of dog owners in having another thing to watch out for!

I've read that dog owners should keep the vegetation clipped in their yard. Not a hope of that here, because our garden is based on the 'food forest' concept.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

a dog as music connoisseur

Penny's recovering well from her strange limping problem, we hope. It's good to get her up and about as much as possible, with gentle exercise.


Am I hurt about what she does when I play the piano? Get up from her mat and take herself out of the house?

No, not at all...

Worst of all, she comes back in when I stop playing.