Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another Visitation

Surprises!! Two days ago Dave was sitting out on the verandah enjoying the warm weather and I was reading the newspaper at the table. Suddenly Dave called out, "Come and look at this!"

I looked up from the paper, adjusted my spectacles, and noticed a blue tongue roaming the kitchen.

"I can't just now," I called. "You come here and see who has come to visit!"

Dave replied, "Grandaddy is here."

"He can't be! He is inside with me!"

Both of us moved towards the door. Sure enough there was one large blue-tongue lizard on the concrete near Dave. And ... there was another, slightly smaller, but not one of the juvenilles, on the carpet near me. A hurried consulation followed. We came to the conclusion that we not only have Grandaddy, but Grandmammy as well. Later we decided that perhaps they might be Daddy and Mammy ... that way the family of blue-tongue lizards will continue to increase.

Since then both lizards have wandered around indoors, eaten apple cores left out for them, and one yesterday stood under the tap looking up as though waiting for the drips to fall, its feet in the plate of water, and every moment or two sipped from the edge of the plate.

This afternoon one came inside and proceeded to act like a mini-vacuum cleaner, roaming around picking up crumbs dropped to the floor in preparation of lunch. It appeared completely unafraid ... until ... I moved across the room. It took of at great speed, racing for cover under my computer desk. Later in the afternoon as I was sitting sewing I noticed it peek out, but noticing me, it retreated. I have a feeling this blue-tongue is sleeping in the corner near to the desk as I type. As it is now dark, no doubt it will sleep inside for the night, and once tomorrow warms up, hopefully will find its way outside.

The smaller blue-tongues roam outdoors, but as yet haven't ventured inside the kitchen.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lizards love Strawberries

I am constantly amazed at the wild life that abounds around here. I have written before of 'Grandaddy'. He, or perhaps she, as we have no idea how to differentiate males from females in the lizard species, nor does it matter, has truly made our environment his, or hers.

The gas bottles at the side of the house appear to be a favourite place. They sit on concrete slabs, and concrete slabs warm up quickly. In spite of the fact that lizards are wild creatures that probably should not become reliant on the human species for their nutrition, Dave began leaving out scraps of food. Not much ... just a few tasty morsels from his plate, specially cut into small pieces for a blue-tongue lizard.

From the deep recesses of my mind I recalled being told, "Blue-tongues love strawberries." We did grocery shopping in the city earlier in the week. Strawberries were a reasonable price, and make a simple but delightful end of a meal ... I prefer them served with yoghurt and [sorry, but this is the evening meal, and not breakfast] muesli. You haven't tried that combination as a sweet? Scrumptious!!

One of the larger, juicier, strawberries had 'lizard food' written all over its dimpled redness. I nibbled a small part of the top off and tossed the rest of the strawberry out by the gas bottles. Within moments Grandaddy had discovered his treat. As I watched he stretched his mouth wide and tousled with the quite large piece of strawberry, managing to swallow it once he had squeezed and squashed it with his jaw. Grandaddy loves strawberries!

Today he wandered indoors. As I sat stitching my swap hexagon flower, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a movement. It was Grandaddy strutting across the floor completely at home. I was crunching a Pink Lady apple at the time. Being of a scientific mind [a synonym for nosey] I wondered what the reaction would be if suddenly a piece of apple landed near him. I bit a small piece off and tossed it to where Grandaddy was sniffing at the chair leg. It took less than ten seconds for him to pick the apple off the floor and swallow it. Now we have Grandaddy eating healthy!

Of course water is an essential for life. Grandaddy isn't keen on being picked up and offered a drink from the bird bath. Yesterday he found his own drinking fountain. Dave is growing tomatoes and has a drip feed watering system set up ... Grandaddy found the tap where the hose is attached drips when the cycle is on. He stood under the tap; water dripping onto his head, which was held up allowing the droplets to run down his face. He stuck his blue tongue out capturing the life-saving water.

I think it would be a truth to state ... Grandaddy is quite at home here!

I can add that there are two other blue-tongue lizards that frequent our yard as well; one is quite small, while the other is larger, but not as large as Grandaddy. It is the presence of these other blue-tongues that makes me wonder if perhaps Grandaddy is actually Grandmammy ... it doesn't matter ... what is important is the fact that we are privileged to share our space with these lizards.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Clearing Sale

To me, October seems to be hot this year. Little rain has fallen in the mid-west, and while the crops are looking OK around the district, farmers further south and inland are finding it a difficult situation. It does appear they may be given an option ... choosing between hay or a grain crop.

Yesterday we travelled north east to Tardun where a clearing sale was held at what once was Christian Brothers Agriculture School, but has recently closed down. The clearing sale was mainly 'odds and sods' ... bolts, garden tools, tyres, and numerous sundry farming items that would fill a page.

Once Tardun was an offshoot of Catholic Orphanages, and an amazing account of one student's days there is recalled in "The Bush Orphanage" by John Hawkins. He was an English lad, 'seconded' to Western Australia, and after spending time in an orphanage [for younger children] in Perth was sent to Tardun to complete his education. His recollections make enthralling reading. Scary in that what happened to him as regards his being shipped to Australia simply should not happen to anyone, little alone a small boy. Thankfully his story did have a happier ending ... Tardun was a good place for him.

So when the subject of a clearing sale at Tardun was raised I was keen to go. Not to view rusty old farming equipment, but to get a feeling for the place.

We drove along narrow country roads, some sealed, some not, arriving a little over two hours after our departure. Few others were there ... as is usual we were early. The little bush flies were active! Open windows were, to them, an invitation to enter and nose around. It was too hot to close windows, and instead of concentrating on a cryptic crossword that I had brought to while away the time, I decided to view the items for sale. Dave had looked around, and although he is an avid clearing sale/garage sale person, nothing captured his attention.

We departed ... however the day was not wasted.

I found Tardun to be a place of immense peace [apart from those flies, which I don't think I will ever get used to]. The air was clean and fresh. The birds, corellas and galahs, and a few 28's flew around content in the knowledge that this was their place. [Incidently John Hawkins has a fascinating antedoct about the ancesters of these birds.] The buildings, some in need of a lick of paint, probably have changed little over the years. We didn't drive past the main buildings, considering we had no right to be nosey ... but they looked imposing from the near distance. I was rather amused to see a multi-purpose TV atenna boldly pointing its shiny exterior to the heavens. Tardun is many kilometers from the nearest town, but is part of the modern world.

Our trip to Tardun was made exceptional! Not far from the 'farm' turnoff we noticed a triangle of logs on the roadside. Pieces of bright pink ribbon fluttered in the strong breeze. It was obvious this was a marker of some type. We turned back and there, growing within the triangle, on the roadside was a wreath flower. I had seen one before in a hall in Mullewa in a wildflower display. Never did it cross my mind I would see a wreath flower in the wild!! The roadside for some distance was colourful with displays of blue and yellow flowers that pushed their brilliant blooms up out of the red dirt.

After leaving the as-yet-to-begin auction we cruised around a side road discovering the remains of the Tardun General Store. Perhaps it is being done up as there were signs of activity, or perhaps it is in the process of being completely demolished. Presumably this General Store was once the place where local farmers collected their supplies. Now, when travel is quicker, they must travel to a nearby town, or perhaps every so often to the city.

The day of the Tardun clearing sale was a gem of a day ... spoiled by the amount of traffic we encountered on the Midlands Road on the way home. A bushfire on the Brand Highway closed that highway, plus the new Indian Ocean Drive, putting all traffic onto a detour via the Midlands Road.