Childhood Wildlife & Treechange or Urban Homesteading

When I was a little girl I lived in what was smaller than a village. The "village" had a crossroads in it. To go home from either the river in which I swam with relatives mostly, or the shop or bus stop, I went up to the crossroad and turned and rode my bike down this road until I got home. I followed a table drain until it met up with a overflow from a swamp that went into a culvert under the road to turn into a very small creek that flowed under a handbridge past my Grandmother's chook house, down past her house, our orchard, then into a larger creek.

The hand bridge was beautiful, it was put there to enable people to feed the chooks of course. The chook shed, the creme de la creme of chooks sheds. My Grandma once gave us some meat cut find to put on some cotton I think to catch the yabbies in there. They were only small ones. My husband has crayfish nets in the shed. We have used them sometimes. The most fun was standing on a disused bridge looking for yabby claws (attached to the yabbies of course). They were big ones, and the white claws stood out amongst the river stone very well. I am sure yabbies are still in dams, whether they are in every day, I don't know. I wonder if they let you catch yabbies at the yabby farms? I found this video that is very good.

Anyway, in spring, the table drain had tadpoles in it. Past our house was a hayshed, and indentations and table drains there too, until the road turned into dirt and off it went around the corner. I don't think we actually collected the tadpoles but we did have fun for a few days in the year. Not sure if it was every year.

During our practise seachange year I kept looking along the dirt road that lead from our house to the bridge and over towards the school. I was looking for shallow indentations that the tadpoles might live in. Couldn't find anything. It did rain quite a lot at one stage as the water went over the road one day. No tadpoles.

The farm had a lane outside our fence and stockyards down the front that the farmer used. We used the lane sometimes to take our wood to our woodshed etc. Although on the other side, we could cut across the back on the farmer's side where he had his chookhouse and cute orchard and huge sheds with bays in them.

One day someone found tadpoles in the round trough that was for the cows. I sat with the kids while they played there. At school I think they were told very solidly that they couldn't catch them that it was illegal. The school was great, they also told the kids a lot about snakes, as there were snakes at the school. Our school at the new house is the same. They usually tell the kids where the last sighting was and tell them to avoid that area.

I remember writing for a family history about the joy I felt as a child listening to frogs outside. We lived beside both the small tiny creek and the normal sized creek. Where we live now that would be considered a small creek too. They are much larger here and colder I think.

What I remember is the soft blonk blonk, which I think is the frogs in October in the slow nearly still tiny creek that was ready to dry up for the year. At that time of year, all the white petaled trees are out in flower like the acacias etc. I used to sit on the sheep pens with my cousin and stick acacia thorns on my nose like a rhino.

We have frogs here where we are now in town. I am glad they are not close because they are very loud. What we have found with every house we have lived in, that eventually after living there awhile we get frogs in particular those delicate ones, and we get crickets. Why, because we water the garden or mow the grass taller, or whatever we do. We also mulch and keep purple bromeliads and an elk or stag fern. Whatever it is, it always happens the same way with the night sounds of summer. Usually you hear the loud frogs in winter at night, around the places outside the yard if you have a toilet with louvre windows etc. If you have a quiet house you may have to go outside, don't know. I know hubby sometimes goes out with scraps and things like that. Today at our new house we could hear the frogs in the late afternoon.

Some things relate to high rainfall like 36" areas or mountain areas. I think special butterflies and blackberries are in that category but would like to know if that is not the case. I know there is a white, black and red butterfly I have seen here and when at my Nana's house when I was little. The monarch is easy to encourage into the garden with a swan plant. The red and white one, not sure what it eats. I remember when at our hometown in our last house I read butterflies like scabiosa which I had, and citrus, which I love to have in the garden. My Nana certainly had lots of citrus. Maybe one of the reasons we don't see those things in our gardens anymore is because we tend to have different plants in the garden that the standard plants of the 60s that everyone had.

I like watching Eco Eden. It shows all the different things you can do to attract wildlife into your own garden. You can watch it here. I am not that green compared to others but I like the show a lot. A few days ago I watched the episode about ponds.

I like blackberries a lot. Blackberry jam is my favourite jam. The bought stuff of course is not as strong tasting. Though, when I shopped in Coles last, I found the cheap plain label jams very good. We helped one year, while Nana & Mum picked blackberries. When my Dad went fishing it was quite a challenge to get to the creek edge to fish. The blackberries had to be burnt every now and again. Then there were still sticks left behind. I still see small amounts of blackberries near creeks here when we go swimming when the kids talk us into it. All the different kids around have their favourite swimming places.

There are other things you can find in the garden like stick insects. I have seen those since I have been married. We had an orb spider on the side of our house once, and I noticed at the Canberra Zoo they have made one an attraction and put a little sign under him. Maybe they should have called it Charlotte.

I know of something that Mum always talked about and that is mopoke (sp?) owls. I have heard one since I have been living here, maybe three years ago I think in the neighbours yard. I have mentioned blue-tongued lizards before, the first time I saw one was at the hotel in the village my Nana lived in. We also had one in our first married house. Blue-tongues here lives under shops!

There are also things like scrub worms. They are just beautiful. The first ones we saw in the soil in the teatrees around the river in the village I grew up in. We have seen some here, not sure where now.

I enjoy march flies, but don't like how they feel much. Leaches, yuk. Have had one encounter with those I think in a very small creek near where my other Grandfather had his farm, near the bush.

Once day some of us children decided to play in the culvert under the road. That place was nice because it had small rocks or pebbles, and the red ones you could draw with on the concrete that the culvert was made from. I was really scared. Why? Because my gumboots filled up with water, and I knew I would get into trouble. To dry out gumboots they were filled with scrunched newspaper and put near the fire to dry. Well, that is the memory and they are getting more fuzzy all the time. I used to teach my kids all these things. They don't get to wear their gumboots much so unlikely they will remember.

The table drain was lovely. It had nice grass, I love native grass, and it had seedling apples growing alongside it. I think I was told the apples grew from applecores thrown from car windows, is that right? I like this song about table drains. Where I Come From by Lee Kernaghan on The New Bush album.

The little creek that run past our house paddock astounded me one day. One of my Mum's ducks was in there and it came out with a fresh water mussel stuck to its webbed foot. Yes, they look like sea mussels.

There are other things that are not common but I have seen them on a blog and at my Mum's house she had until recently, goannas. That is what my father called a piano.

I haven't been making the most of my opportunities here. One thing I have to do is plant up those citrus trees, when the money falls into my lap. I hope to get at least a lemon, and possibly a cumquat, because I like picking one and carting it around with me to smell, possibly while I sit in the garden. Usually a small piece of skin comes off and you can smell the cumquat inside. My first experience with cumquats was here on a short visit in the early 80s. The trees were cut down very recently as the children were using them in inappropriate ways. I had some from those trees for many years in a kilner jar with brandy. Yes, it had to be decluttered because I didn't use it for anything, but I enjoyed it while it lasted. It sat in my Nana's kauri pine dresser up the top.

The tabledrain I mentioned was always neatly mowed right up to it. Each farmer in those days mowed the edges of the road near their property. You don't see so much of that now, though it is pretty hard here, the edges are rough in places. Some use their rider mowers, which is a shock to me. Yes, I am a winger obviously. I'll just to accept they have their reasons and that I am out of date.


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