Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Choko

Jonathon came back from his trip South. He visited the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney, and the botanic gardens in Canberra and Melbourne. Being from sunny Scotland he was entranced by the gardens and especially the native plants. The beans went into the pumpkin patch and peas into the spare bit where the  Paw-Paws expired. 
Annie has been defending her choko's honour nobly - don't know why, death to all chokoes I say. Googled Choko. The Age website described it as an "unusual climbing plant, Sechium edule, which belongs to the pumpkin family and is a single species native to tropical America." Did Mother Nature conduct an experiment that wasn't worth going on with? Should we buy all chokoes a ticket back home???  Stephanie Alexander has devoted a whole chapter of one of her books to the choko, goodness knows why.
It is known as Chayotl,  christophine, vegetable pear,mirliton, mango squash, Buddha's hand gourd and Alligator pear - still a choko though. 
So in case we have the expected glut, here is one way of pretending what you have is not a choko 

Choko Pickles


1.5 kg chokos
1 kg onions
½ cup salt
1 l brown vinegar.
1 cup plain flour
2 cups sugar
1 dessertspoon each of turmeric, mustard powder, curry powder
½ teaspoon ground ginger


Peel and slice the chokos and onions and sprinkle with salt. Leave them to stand overnight, then strain and rinse the next morning. Place in a saucepan with the brown vinegar and simmer until tender.

Mix the dry ingredients to a paste with a small amount of vinegar, then add to the choko mixture, bringing it back to the boil for about five minutes. Cool a little, then bottle into clean glass jars.

Now that the warm weather is here we have murmured about meeting on Wednesday in the late afternoon/evening for a social session - Mocktails and Nibbles as the sun goes down maybe? Also a yearning for bird baths. A large shallow terracotta dish is just right and won't breed mossies. And - when we are sitting on the benches near the old hall we would just love to look at something green and growing up against the cream brick of the new hall - Passion Fruit vines? Might inhibit the outdoor artists with their spray cans too.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Spring is when lots of birds get into trouble!!

As a wildlife rescuer/carer I get a lot of calls in Spring. Noisy Mynahs particularly get into trouble - more of them so more calls to rescue them. The best rescue is, make the baby call out and feathered rockets will appear from nowhere, put the baby back up as high as possible in a tree (away from roads if possible) and let them get on with it. The babies flutter around quite early in life, not very expert pilots but they get by pretty well and don't need humans to "rescue" them unnecessarily. If a bird has been traumatised - hit by a car, bashed up by butcher birds/Indian Mynahs/ Kookaburras or whatever  - the only treatment initially is a dark covered box with a heat source at blood heat and left alone to get over the initial shock. They won't starve or die of dehydration, over-kindness WILL kill them. If they survive and perk up to what looks like normal, let them make the decision when to leave, but let them go pretty well exactly where you found them. A lot of birds are territorial and release into "foreign" territory WILL get them killed. Any vet will treat a native animal or bird for nothing but some vets are better at it than others - ask them, don't assume  and be prepared to take them to a properly skilled vet with a genuine wish to look after native animals. Puppies and kitties are more profitable than cold charity. We have an obligation to our native animals because we've done so much to wreck their home.
The Australian Maned ducks in the video had very caring parents who chose to nest in palm trees next to two lovely blue suburban swimming pools - the humans weren't happy to share with them for six weeks or thereabouts until the babies were fully feathered and could fly. I would have just banned humans from the pool for that time and then had it cleaned! So, they became a rescue and will be released at the Wetland Centre, Shortland, NSW when they are fully fledged and flying as they came from close by.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Potatoes and Spring

Ros, Judy and Julia did a lot of weeding, watering and planting. The silver beet is starting to go to seed so some was replaced with mixed lettuces. Some of the potatoes looked scummy and some had lost their leaves but underneath was a nice little harvest of potatoes to share.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fair day at St Andrews October 16th

The medieval dancers and Annie's circle dancers combined later and swapped steps and music.

The belly dancers performing "The Volcano"

Carol was quietly and efficiently busy all day flitting around like a beautiful purple butterfly

The wind blew cold and fast all day

Andrew as Court Jester from Mongolia????
It was a very cold and windy day and most people stayed warm in the hall. The SCA medievalists bravely stuck it out until just after midday.Despite all of the weather problems, and maybe the takings for the church was down on what they hoped, it was a lovely friendly atmosphere and people who came enjoyed themselves. A group of young teenagers dressed in full Punk gear with trio spiked hair and plenty of metal bought soft toys, Pius, Doris and Mabelle overspent their budget a bit and were treated by the gardeners and others to Chocolate Fountain marshmallows - and more. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Spring planting

Like the two circles, this looks very boring but just wait a few months!
Strawberries on the vines. Wonder if they'll be nicked like the agave's and some of the daisy bushes along the fence? Oh well.....
Sadly the swallows - previous post - died. Tried very hard to do the right thing by them with temperature and feeding, clearly not enough. "Survivor Guilt" clicks in. Currently have a Little Wattlebird chick, a Noisy Mynah chick, two Australian Maned Duck ducklings, a White Faced Heron and a Ringtail possum in care - it's Spring!!