Sunday, July 31, 2011

Naked Tree Climbing

ALEXANDER was having some fun running away from his bath. Up a tree was an excellent place to hide.

While there he noticed the dogwood berries just beginning to form and was quite intrigued about what might eat them. Not content with "squirrels and birds", he wanted to know what kinds of birds. I said we'd have to wait until they are ripe and watch to find out. He wanted to wait there until they were ripe but looked like he just might reconsider when I said he'd have to sleep in the tree for many nights. A warm bath did sound preferable, after all.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Grrr! said the Tiger

WE tried for ages to identify this interesting fly we found on our window screen. It was on something white and we couldn't tell if it was feeding on bird droppings or if it was some kind of nest/egg collection. Whatever the white patch was, the fly was quite attached to it. We picked the fly up to examine it, and it flew away, then a short time later was back again and even returned the next day.

It was quite large - maybe 2cm. Plump and black, with a fuzzy body, huge eyes and a curious pattern on its wings. We couldn't tell if the wings had patches of white or patches of see through.

Finally a few days later we found a picture of the tiger bee fly Xenox tigrinus . Emma astutely pointed out that tigers have stripes not spots and why wasn't it called a leopard bee fly? Apparently they lay their eggs in the nests of carpenter bees and their hatching larvae then eat the bee larvae. The white stuff on the window screen wasn't eggs, then.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Not Playing Possum

AN unexpected encounter greeted us recently at the woods - one who was not playing possum. Instead of playing dead like this animal is wont to do when threatened, this possum was very much alive and snarling. A shuddering lady was trying unsuccessfully to release it from a trap she had laid in her garden. Its strong fingers and sharp nails clutched fast to the wire cage as she tried to gently shake it loose. Alexander's eyes grew wide as the scared creature hissed and bared its extremely ferocious looking teeth. With the aid of leather gloves and a stick, the lady and I managed to pry its feet loose and the possum backed out of the cage into its new habitat. Needless to say the encounter with "the animal with the triangle mouth and lots of teeth" has been the talk of the week.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Summer Breakfast

ONE of the best things about school holidays is that there's no rush in the morning! That means there's plenty of time to prepare a breakfast feast. One morning Emma fancied fruit salad "with all the fixin's" and, oblivious to the fact that it was still dark, set to work preparing it, her sous-chef by her side.

Unable to contain my curiosity any longer, I peeked into the kitchen and was crossly dispatched back to my bedroom. It was worth the wait.

A delightful healthy breakfast, beautifully presented and prepared with pride by an almost-6 and almost-3 year old, awaited the family on the dining table.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Lamb's Quarters

AFTER purchasing lamb's quarters Chenopodium album, also called goosefoot, several times at the farmers' market, what a great discovery to find it growing wild in a bit of scrub land behind our house!

It sat on the window sill in a glass of water for a while until we'd had a chance to be sure of the identification, then I cooked some and cautiously sampled. Yep, tasted the same. Into the soup it went! Who doesn't love free food?

Reading some more about it, it seems that the seeds too are edible and very nutritious. It's closely related to quinoa, one of the only complete proteins. The plant can become very tall - up to 3m - and as it ages, the stems become woody enough to be used as walking sticks! I think I feel another gathering trip coming on.