DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

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8 December 2009

The natural world - we are all part of it

We have unique wildlife in Australia.  There are birds, reptiles and marsupials here that are not found in any other country.  We used to be part of a huge land mass called Gondwanaland which also included Antarctica, South America, Africa, Madagascar, Arabia, India, New Guinea and New Zealand.  When the land mass broke up millions of years ago, into what are now those countries, many of the animals started changing into the unique species we have today.  That is why some of our animals and birds are similar, but different.


And what is this, you ask?  It's Alice poking her nose through the bedroom curtains while she watched Koda.

Hanno and I both love animals and we care for those we've brought here to live with us, as well as those that have always been here.  Our family has only lived on this land for 12 years, our backyard wildlife has been here much longer.  It's sometimes a balancing act to keep both the domestic and feral living in harmony because usually when a native species makes itself know to us, it's here for a feed.
A couple of nights ago, Hanno went down to the chook house when it was dark to lock the chooks in for the night.  He saw a rat there, which is fairly normal. He grabbed the spade and as he did, heard a snake hissing.  When he turned he saw in the light of his torch a snake curled up and ready to strike.  He hit the snake with the spade and killed it.  :- (  We have to be careful, we have brown snakes and Taipans here; one bite can be deadly.  But when we looked at the snake the next morning, it turned out to be a small python.  Pythons are one of the Gubi Gubi (aboriginal) totems for this area.



Last night Hanno went out to put the chooks to bed before it got too dark. All of a sudden, he was back in the house looking for the camera.  There was another python there, a big one this time.  Again, not after the chooks but looking to clean up a few rats for us.  Hanno locked the door to the chook house, the snake came out to the vegetable garden and there we left her.



We'll have to think about breaking that food chain.  The rats come at night to eat the chicken feed in the hopper, the snakes come to eat the rats.  When the snakes are big enough, they will come to eat the chooks as well. I think we'll have to take the food source away at night so there won't be a reason for the rats to be there.



I love how Hanno is with animals.  He's quiet and gentle and they seem to respond to that by  slowing down and being responsive.  In this photo here he's training Koda, our visiting Airedale, to walk steadily with the chooks and not to rush at them.  Koda has just recently had chooks introduced at her own home and she's always wanted to chase them.  By the time Jens and Cathy come back in January, I'm sure Koda will be a reliable guardian of the chooks and not a potential predator.


The other wildlife we've had the pleasure to see lately are the birds that come to eat the sunflowers.  The first of these photos was taken last Friday.  It's the very shy blue rozella (above).  It had a nice feed of seeds and then flew off when I went too close.  The next bird is a King Parrot (below) - another one of the four Gubi Gubi totems.  The other two are the wedge tail eagle and the sand goanna (lizard). 




I know about these totems because my good friend Beverly, elder of the Gubi Gubi, told me about them.  She has such a wealth of knowledge and I always learn something from her every time we meet.  Yesterday Beverly came to visit me at the Centre.  She brough some bunya nuts with her.  Bunyas are the native nut from one of the pine trees here.  And as we sat under the tree at the front of the building, with her shelling the hard nuts with her hands, we both had a nice feed of the high protein nuts and talked about several projects we have planned for our community next year.  It was a beautiful and relaxing break from an otherwise hectic day.

We are all connected on this land - humans, birds, wildlife and all the domestic animals.  I have always respected and cared for the animals that surrounds us, both seen and useen, feral and domestic. Over time, Beverly is slowly teaching me the real significance of those connections.

24 comments:

  1. Hi Rhonda, Bunya nuts are one of those treats living in this area. Last year I made chunky bunya nut pesto, lots of work get the nuts ready, but well worth the effort. - I''m just wainting for some to show up.
    Jacky

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  2. gosh, reading this post, makes me wish even more to visit Australia one day.... wild life, great weather and most of all, the great people living there.... you're one lucky lady, with your husband, children, animals and good heart!!

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  3. Is Hanno available for training a bouncy little dog? :) I must be more consistent with Bill's training with the chooks. I see Jacky (above) has mentioned bunya nut pesto, I tasted some at a food show once.

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  4. Hi Rhonda
    We have a python living in our roof, who works tirelessly to keep our chook pen rat-free. Before the python moved in, I had all sorts of trouble with the rats - the biggest being how to kill them humanely. In the end I consulted my vet, who also keeps chickens and only uses chemicals when there is no alternative, who advised me that the most humane method was the use of those wax tablets of poison that cause the rats to bleed internally and die. I think I prefer the python, even if it gives me a huge shock every time we cross paths.
    I also love bunya nuts - my favourite way to eat them is to fry them up with garlic. Yum! I'm very impressed though that your mate Beverley can shell them by hand......
    Reyna

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  5. I used to live up your way and we were woken to some excitement coming from our goose house late one night. We ran down and found a snake like that wrapped around our female gooses neck. Her mate was trying to save her. In the end it was her or the snake. We saved her.

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  6. Oh I love the wildlife you have there, sorry to hear of the accidental killing of the first python and the second one is a beauty. i'm pleased to read of someone who doesn't see the wildlife as menacing because they are doing what they need to do to survive and think your solution to remove the rat attractor is a good one.

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  7. Hi Rhonda, I'm not sure if it works with pythons but we have redbellies where I live and we hose them with some water and they go on their way, if they come back closer to the house though we feel there is little option other than to do as Hanno did with the first python, I have young children around and they are a deadly snake to have lurking in the yard. I do love your birdlife too. We have galahs (which come and hang off my back wire door each morning), rosellas and I just love the king parrots too! At the moment we have our second family of wild ducklings for the spring/summer wandering around, just too cute.

    Susieq.

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  8. I know and understand that snakes serve a purpose but can I just say "EEEEEEKKKK!!!!" lol We have garter and bullsnakes in my part of Nebraska and they completely scare the daylights out of me!! Beautiful photos of the birds, though!

    Kristina

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  9. You've yet again unintentionally made me homesick for Australia! At this time of year my parents house in Sydney has lots of beautiful Rosella's feeding off their grevilleas. We just sit and watch them while having a cuppa it is very relaxing. I really miss the birdlife as there isn't much here in Japan :(
    Miss the cricket too!

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  10. We would put the chooks to bed alright! Koda, are you not even tempted to chase them?

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  11. Although I didn't know it at the time, I was raised with Cherokee beliefs about animals and the natural world. I strongly believe that we are all connected, we are to be the caretakers of the earth and the animals but the animals also have a special connection to us. Some people refer to them as spirit guides. It's more that each person has an animal that is special to them, sort of an animal guardian angel in a sense. In my case, it's tortoises/turtles. My brother's is probably the coyote. My daughter's is most likely otters. I am Christian, it's not an un-christian belief but it would take up too much room to explain it here! But our animals have always been very special to us, my father had a similar gift to Hanno - being able to charm them and all animals (and kids!) were drawn to him.

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  12. I forgot to mention that snakes are very important to the eco system. We try to leave them alone, unless they are venemous. We also have quite a bit of wildlife in the area, coyotes, possums, skunks, assorted birds and various birds.

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  13. Rhonda you mentioned you will have to take the food sorce out at night. Can you do that? The feeders can be taken out. Yet haven't the crooks flipped some out of the container around on the ground enough to still be there to attract the snakes? I was just asking so you could inform us. We haven't had a snake problem yet but was wondering. I know we have some snakes here but I have only seen a few. Jody

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  14. Your comment about removing the chook food reminded me of why I no longer leave the girls food out for free choice... The first time I saw a big rat in the daytime, sit up in the middle of the garden and look at me, then amble over to the feed dispenser in their pen and chow down, was the last time my girls had the food dispenser sit there. I am not going to pay my hard earned cash to feed rats! I'd wondered how they managed to go thorough so much food so quickly. Now I feed the chooks twice a day, and of course in betweentimes they can forage as well... It is a little more work on my part, but also a special part of my day.

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  15. I left a blog award for you! Your blog is "Over the Top"!

    You can pick it up here:

    http://homeward4.blogspot.com/2009/12/over-top-blog-award.html

    Janet

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  16. I can't believe the birds you Aussies have in your yards :-)

    Reyna, I don't know what the wildlife food chain is like in Australia, but using the poison that causes rats and mice to bleed to death in the U.S. means that animals that prey on them, like hawks, some endangered, can die as well. It is also reportedly a pretty bad death, according to a raptor rehabilitator I know.

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  17. I agree -- when the 'rat ecosystem' develops, it's time to remove the food source at night! The chooks won't miss it as they don't eat once they have roosted.

    We don't need to store much feed (only 2 chooks) so we keep it in a lidded plastic bucket in the laundry. I don't expect rats to go there as it's too 'human' an area.

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  18. Eck! I think I would be happy with just the Airedale and skip the pythons! Airdale vs. python--that would be interesting.

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  19. What a wonderful post, and a wonderful way to live. If more humans respected the other life forms that inhabit this earth, we would all be better off!

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  20. Everything looks so ALIVE where you live. We have had dreary rain, which makes everything look dull and gray. It is suppose to turn to snow tomorrow.

    My son is thinking of taking a semester of college in Sydney his junior year. I'll have to show him a picture of your snakes. :)

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  21. what a beautiful place... i cannot imagine seeing those beautiful birds flying wild like they do there. It is cold and rainy here and I bought bird seed today, trying to keep a few small birds around for the winter here.

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  22. I've been reading here a while, but I've never commented. I think this is my favorite post so far here! I'm an animal freak, and I must admit that I'm a little envious of those fabulous birds and such that have been visiting your home! Such wonderful pictures! Thanks for sharing them.

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  23. You mentioned Hanno training your dog to not charge the chooks. I was wondering if you would know of any more information that would be available to train dogs on how to act around the chooks. I have not found any and I am at a loss of what to do with our dogs around our chooks. They are not nice to them at all. It would be nice if they could both live together peacefully and I would not have to worry so much. We are in Michigan in the US. Thanks Aimee

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  24. I love the sunflowers and the birds. We get the same birds here at Rosemount (near Nambour) and I especially love the blue rosella we see year after year, who likes to sit in the same spot in the broken section of a wall.
    I've often wondered if it's possible to train dogs around chooks as I'd like to have chooks, but we have an old Staffie, totally movement orientated and I think it's a bit too late for him. The kookaburras fly low over our paddock looking for snacks and I think they secretly enjoy the dog chasing off after them without a hope of ever catching up. An audience of kookaburras in the trees almost applaud. Nature is a delight.

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