Saturday, March 29, 2014

all that rain

Mirrhi was excited to find "her" park was a lake when we headed out for our walk yesterday morning.  Constant heavy rain for nearly 24 hours had resulted in some localised flooding and the river breaking it's banks.  This park across the road from my house is usually a grassy play area for the school on the corner and local dogs.....the fence encloses the playground equipment.
 North towards the bridge and 'Hospital Hill'......we usually walk under that bridge to a park on the other side....not this time, we'd have needed a boat!

Looking towards town across the river.....people come and fish at that gap in the reeds

I took these photos late in the afternoon when the water had already gone down a bit, it was still raining too heavily when we walked in the morning to take photos.  The reeds in the centre of the above photo mark the river's edge and stand about 2-2and half metres tall.  We usually walk along there, but stayed on the top of the levee bank yesterday.  Once the rain stopped the sun came out and the afternoon was hot and steamy.
 Looking west to Mt Warning and houses on the opposite side of the river
 Ibis flying home at sunset
 The road home....underwater, too deep to wade through
 Early morning today....most of the water has drained away and everything was quiet and spooky- looking with fog.  Birds come in from all over and enjoy the feast of insects and worms, frogs and whatever else lives in the mud.  One year when it flooded we had hundreds of pelicans swimming gracefully along the park, enjoying all the bounty.  The noise last night was deafening as the frogs...those not eaten.....came out to play.

The sun's out now and I have a muddy chook run to muck out!

Whatever your weather, enjoy your weekend..........

Thursday, March 27, 2014

It's curtains for you, chicken!

Don't worry, it's not as drastic or blood thirsty as the title suggests.  This handsome black chicken is Brenna...she's loud, greedy, a bit bossy but quite a character.  I also suspect she might be an egg eater!  She does all the right things...sits in the nesting box, makes appropriate noises then struts about looking very pleased with herself.  But when I check the box, there's just a soggy mess and bits of shell.  What little is left of the shell is quite hard, so she's not laying soft eggs that fall apart, and anyway, there's no evidence of yolk anywhere.  I did some searching online, and the only suggestion that I thought might work was curtains on the nesting boxes. The idea is that the interior is dark so the naughty hen can't see her egg and the curtains are meant to be on the inside and hanging down a bit, hence restricting the hen's movement....if she gets up and tries to turn around and fossick for the egg, hopefully she'll bump into the fabric and be put off going further.  My nesting boxes are covered cat litter boxes, and where the lid joins the base is too low to hang the fabric on the inside, and being plastic, no easy way to attach the this will have to do.  I don't know if it works yet, as Brenna decided today she was not going to produce ! So I'll have to wait and see if this works, and maybe try to work out a way to have the curtain hang down inside as well.
Early morning in the hen house.. with Lola photo bombing from the left
 Apart from annoying the chooks in the early morning, I've done some more dyeing in a jar.  This time some red cabbage plus a few red onion skins.  I folded the cloth around a lid as a resist, and I'm hoping I'll end up with a circle on the cloth.  It's only been brewing since the weekend, so I'll give it a few more days.  I hope the rich colour lives up to it's promise and leaves a good colour on my fabric.
I've not checked the blue -with -turmeric- to -get- green  cloth yet, maybe a job for tomorrow.

I go to a sewing group once a week, where we all just work on our own hand stitching projects, knitting or crochet.  On Monday night I quickly put this little cloth together so I'd have something to do.  I cut a number of patches roughly the same size and basted them onto a background cloth. As most were from thrifted clothing, I decided to make a feature of the hems and seams. I bundled these predominantly whites and creams into a jar of weeds and rainwater and left them overnight, then rinsed and ironed them, all ready for stitching on.  A couple of the pieces were already dyed so took the colour more strongly.  If you're looking closely for that stitching it's not there....I chatted all morning and did no work at all! Never mind, I now have a little cloth all ready to start on next week.

And I finished the prayer flag I posted about last week, and a friend snapped it up right away as a housewarming gift....

It has rained heavily on and off all week and more is predicted.....lovely for the garden, as I've just planted out silver beet, bok choy and cabbage seedlings....I hope they don't drown ....and my water tanks are full and overflowing.  There's been good steady rain out to the west as well, where farmers were suffering badly from drought, so it's good all round.  I have a day home tomorrow, so at the top of my to-do list will be the pink quilt which I haven't had a chance to work on this week.

take care, see you next time......

Thursday, March 20, 2014

pink scrappy quilt and blue to green

A nice pile of washed and pressed fabric. Some late night sewing. And patches and strips slowly coming together.  I've been gathering pink fabrics since last winter, planning to make myself a light weight summer quilt.  Well, summer is gone now, but no reason not to still make that quilt.  These fabrics are a mix of pieces from my stash, vintage sheets, pretty cottons from op shop clothes, pieces from used cushion covers and pillow cases, and some favourite pieces gifted from friends. Four and a half inch wide of varying lengths between 4 and 6 inches stitched together.  It's an easy, gentle project, perfect for a spare half hour here and there when I feel like being at the machine. 
There's been some chat back and forth between myself and Peggy (in Colorado USA) about how to get green fabric from dyeing with plant material.  So we decided to have a dye-along, to see what sort of colours and effects we each get, given that there are such differences in our water, plant sources and mordants and the effects these will produce on whatever fibres we use, whether silk, linen or cotton as well as the method used. 
I've started with a blue cotton, a cushion cover from the op shop cut into small strips. The front has interesting patches of a waffle weave in white and a deeper blue and I'll be interested to see how these take the dye. The back is plain blue. They've been soaked in vinegar then stuffed into a jar with a couple of spoonsful of and yellow make green right?...........and a piece of what I think is brass.  I'm just leaving this one in the sun to "cook".  India Flint talks about solar dyeing in her book Eco Colour and suggests "the process can test your patience as you burn to investigate the results".  I don't have much patience, I might leave mine a week or maybe two...have to discuss that with Peggy, it's probably best if we  leave our experiments for the same amount of time.

I want to do a couple more using different mordants and method .....not today though,  I have a puppy wanting to go for a walk.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

out of the dye pot

Two of these bundles contain lemon scented eucalyptus leaves, and one has morning glory.  I wrapped bark around two of them, and eucalyptus leaves around the other, and they were all steamed in a eucalyptus bath, then left in the cool for about a week to dry.
 eucalyptus leaves with bark - nice markings from where I folded it
Morning glory, wrapped with bark....I was hoping for more of a green.  I added alum to the pot for this one, so this might account for the more tan outcome, or the alum really brought out the tans from the bark....not sure though.
Other eucalyptus bundle....darker in real life, richer.  I added some crushed eucalyptus dried flower heads to this bundle.
I was pleased with the outcome, it's all experimentation.....unfortunately the colours aren't true, they're more tan and ochre in real life.  I need to sit and play with my camera settings I think. 

I mentioned in my last post about the tiny scrap dyed with tibouchina flowers.  here are the flowers before I bundled them....a beautiful rich purple.  These gave me some good colour.  The piece the scrap was from I'd added onion skins, but left them out this time.  I bundled these into a jar with water and vinegar, pushed more flowers around them, and steamed the jars for about an hour, then left for a few days before unwrapping them.

Darker spots are from loose petals I'd added......on silk
on linen
And an update on little bird........who I'm pleased to say is not an orphan.  I was lucky enough to be in the garden with my camera and catch this parent coming to feed him.  The other parent was in the tree above, keeping watch maybe. So relieved.
This is a little blurred, but I managed to catch him up on his tippy toes, furiously pumping his wings. He looks like he has some of his tail feathers missing, perhaps from one of the birds that was attacking him earlier.  I'm hoping they'll grow back.
Practising, exercising
Juno enjoying the late afternoon sunshine
Enjoy your weekend, I'm off to make a quilt.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A little orphan bird and some stitching

little watchful face.....he gets frightened and scrambles away up high if I get too close...
(taken with a zoom then cropped )
catching some early morning sunshine
little bird fell from way up in this poincianna tree
sheltering from a sudden and heavy downpour

 This little fellow, a fledgling rainbow lorikeet fell from the poincianna tree literally at my feet on the footpath about a week ago. After a chat to WIRES (wildlife rescue service) a friend and I attempted to get him to stay in various trees, as his parents flew frantically around. Too young to fly, he kept falling out and would waddle around my front yard, worrying me that he would come to a sticky end. He eventually settled on the one he's in now, and seems quite ok.  I watched him yesterday fanning his little wings at the very top, strengthening, practising for flying.  Unfortunately his movements drew the attention of other bigger wild birds, and he quickly retreated where they couldn't reach and attack him.  I'm relieved and pleased he's survived this long, although I see adult lorikeets flying around, I'm not sure if they're his parents and if they're feeding him, but he seems to be doing ok. I hear him calling at dusk, but can't bear to watch and see whether his calls go unanswered! I'm worried the next stage is going to be hard for him, as he starts to fly he's at risk from other birds, but I can only watch and not interfere, if he's going to survive he has to do it on his own and he's managed so far. 

early morning autumn rain.......
 and afternoon autumn sunshine, still warm but it's lost the fierceness of  summer
 red lentils, cooked, pack and ready for the freezer.....just add fresh vegetables and rice and a quick delicious meal

this little scrap eco-dyed with tibouchina flowers
 I've been enjoying some slow stitching, working on these prayer flags.  Individual little flutters of cloth and stitch with encouraging words to be sent off on a breeze, a sigh, a thought. Just made with scraps of recycled fabric gifted from friends, pieces from old doilies and lace and bits of op shop (thrift store) finds and some of my eco-dyed fabrics.


Enjoy your day.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A chicken and a dog - a look back

This is my little bantam Goodie, who sadly is no longer with us.  She began to stop eating, not get up, and I'd carry her from the henhouse to the back deck, where she'd spend her nights in a dog crate, tucked up safely, being fed sloppy warm porridge and milk.  Each morning I expected her to be gone, but no, she'd pop up bright as a button, ready to chat to Mirrhi and be carried back to the pen and spend the day with the other chickens.

In the afternoon, I'd carry her out to sit on the grass while the others free ranged around the garden.  She'd make herself comfortable propped up against Mirrhi and talk away quietly to her, while Mirrhi sat as still as possible and ate her bone, stopping every now and then to give Goodie's face  a good swipe with her tongue. 
Left to right, Brenna, Betty and Juno.....hoping for tidbits from that bone, or a chance to dash in and steal it.

Goodie would bounce back and be her old self after a few days of intensive care, but then the time came to decide it was kinder to let her go, so it was off to the vet for a little help.  Goodie was around 9 years old, and was my very first chicken, so it was sad to say goodbye to her.  She had a good life I think, and despite her tiny size, was always the boss of the hen house. Mirrhi still checks in all Goodie's favourite spots in the garden, perhaps hoping to find her little feathery friend.
and give her a big wet tongue kiss.
Mirrhi, nearly grown up now at 18 months and so pretty
Enjoy your day