What's out there?

28 December 2007
I spent some time over the past couple of days slowly wandering around the yard, just looking to see what’s happening out there. I was going to cut back rampant plants and tidy up, but I went on a voyage of discovery instead. It’s a wonderful thing to really know the land you live on – whether that be the land you have purchased or the land you rent. We are part of the natural world, we should be familiar with our land and what's on it. Of course the common feeling is that if we are living on the land, we own it and it's own home. But there may be animals, insects and maybe even some reptiles sharing your land, and therefore it will be their home too.

My main quest during this time was to see if I could find any native bees. When we first came here there were a lot of them buzzing around, but lately I haven’t seen any. I found them almost immediately! I started looking in the vegetable garden, and there they were on the tiny yellow choko flowers. It's been raining overnight so there were no bees out this morning when I took these photos, but pictured below is the little flower favoured by our native bees. These bees don't sting and they produce honey that the aboriginess call sugarbag. It's generally found in hollow hogs or in the hollowed out skeleton of trees. No doubt, if I looked further, I might find some. Check out this wonderful post about native bees on Shell's blog Macadamia House.
A couple of days ago, when we were at my step son's home, I saw he is growing one of the trees we have in our yard, one that I never knew the name of. It's in the chook run and was planted by the people we bought the house from. It's a pecan tree! It's now in flower so I'll be keeping my eye on it to see if we get some pecans in late summer or early spring. Apparently they don't produce well until they're fairly old so we may be in luck. If you click on the photo below you'll see it more clearly. If you look at that upturned pot on a stick in the middle of the photo, immediately behind that is a lemon three, on the left of that is the pecan (light green) and the dark green tree on the far left is a fig tree.
You can see by the photo above how messy the vegetable garden is right now. We'll clean it up fairly soon but there is a cyclone forecast in the next couple of days so we'll wait to see what damage that does and clean up afterwards. We might not have a garden. ; - )

Do you know what is growing in your yard? Do you know what critters are out there? We have large pythons, tree snakes and, at times, brown snakes, water dragons that live in the creek but come up the sun bathe in the back yard. We have bandicoots, possums, echidnas - these are monotremes, there are a lot of funnel web spiders near the creek, we have a few red back (black widow) spiders near the house, skinks and larger lizards and many birds. We leave water out for the birds and this keeps them flying in to drink and bathe. I just heard the distintive call of the kookaburra and turned to see one sitting on the back fence. There is a family of them living on our land (ours meaning the land we all live on), they eat snakes, lizards, mice and rats, and also grasshoppers and large insects.

I think identifying what lives on your land would be a good project to get the kids involved in. I know my kids would have loved that kind of thing, especially as it serves a practical purpose. It would get them connected to their land and show them the diversity of life around them. All you'd need is a book for displaying specimens, some glue, a digital camera to photograph what is found - these could be printed and glued in the book, scissors for cutting leaves and flowers, and the internet for identifying what's in your area. Don't forget the night time animals too. I think a book that identifies all the living things on the land you live on would be an excellent resource to have. It could sit along side your homemaker's manual - a book for inside and out.


  1. Hi Rhonda,

    How marvellous to discover you had a pecan tree and didn't even know it! I hope it bears for you.

    I was glad to see you mention native bees. I have been having a love affair with these little creatures for many years now.

    I have two rescued hives in my yard that have been saved from land being cleared. I did a post on one of my hives a couple of weeks ago. They are the most adorable little things.

    It is so lovely to see everything so nice and green. It is hard to believe we are still in a drought with things looking as lush as they are.

    Take care, hope your husband's gout has eased.


  2. Hi Shell

    I just read your native bee post. It's a beauty! I've added the link in my post. : )

    The gout is almost gone.

  3. Rhonda, Thank you for taking the time to send postcards to my children. They were in the mail box on Christmas Eve. They were so excited that Santa was going to be able to see your cards where they put them on the wall next to the Christmas tree with all the Christmas cards that they had received.

    I love the pictures of your garden, ours is muddy and brown, but the days are getting longer! The mailbox is now full of seed catalogs. I love planning next year's garden. I found loofa seeds and the children are excited to try them.

    Glad Hanno is recovering!

    Best Wishes,

  4. Great post! One needs to know what is out there for the benefits and the dangers.

    We have rattlesnakes and several dangerous spiders where I am, and I have never reached into a plant for the veggie without brushing a stick on the outside.

    Like you though I have come to look for the faithful friends that make my outdoor life so special, the bees, the hummingbirds just to name a few.

    Have a happy new year!

  5. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    What a Lovely post. I love teaching children things of nature, teaching to look at a leave and name the tree it came from, insects, flower, veggie etc. they love it. we have a nature park close by and Love it.
    Have a great week.Blessins', Lib

  6. From the looks of it, your pecan tree is still young.
    I lived for 16 years in an area that was rampant with pecans. The trees were 70-100 feet high. It takes a pecan 4-6 years before it even begins to produce nuts and about 10 years to really get going.

    They have trouble self-pollinating. Here's a website that might help you deal with your tree so that it produces well for you. You may need to plant another variety of pecan to get nuts from either. And mind the squirrels!lol one can eat the out put of 2 mature trees per year!

  7. Hi Rhonda,

    I'm glad the gout is easing. My dad used to suffer terribly from gout and I remember him sleeping with his foot in a box so the sheet wouldn't touch his big toe as it was so agonising.

    Thanks for adding the link!

    Your blog is looking great and very different, I keep thinking I've clicked the wrong link!

    Also, thanks to you I'm about to make my third batch of soap and I'm loving it! I've read a lot of different recipes and soapmaking books and your tutorial is the easiest to follow hands down.



  8. I'm glad they arrived in time for Christmas, Christine.

    Welcome Ma Kettle. Thank you. :-)

    Hello Lib! happy new year to you. : - )

    Hi Darlene, we've lived here over 10 years and owned the house about 3 or 4 years before that, so this tree would have to be at least 14 years old. We cut it back once and the bit you can see is that growth. Flower tassels are forming. We have no squirrels in Australia. Thank goodness. Thanks for the link, I'll ready it soon.

    It's good to know you're making soap, Shell. It's a lovely thing to do.

  9. Rhonda-you can make some pecan pie! Be sure to keep all the pecans in the fridge or the freezer so that they last a long time. Your land sounds so wonderful and is filled with such neat critters. Take care and I hope Hanno is feeling better.

  10. What a lovely wild mess you garden is atm! - my favorite way for a garden to be, although I guess up there in paradise things can get away very quickly.

    Good luck with the storms tonight Rhonda - hope the winds don't get too wild.

    thinking of you
    duckie xxx

  11. Rhonda, what on earth is a 'water dragon'?

  12. Hi duckie, all is quite at the moment. : )

    Jules, here is a picture and info of a water dragon.

  13. Hi Rhonda,

    Love your blog, very inspirational. 2008 is the year my family is getting serious about simple living and all the joys it brings. I found a website where you can buy native bee hives, no idea of the price though.

  14. Hello Rhonda Jean, Tully here :-)
    You mention a 'homemaker's manual' at the bottom of your post...I'm sure you'll have written before about these and how to make them/set them out, but I can't find where. Can you point me to it please, it sounds like something I'd like to start in 2008.
    Thanks, Love Me x

  15. Hello pippy! The links to homemakers journal are:
    http://down---to---earth.blogspot.com/2007/05/being-organised.html and


  16. Thanks Rhonda, found it (and then lost myself for ages reading old posts!!)
    Pippy x

  17. Hi Rhonda. I was out at my choko vine this morning, and, yes, there were plenty of native bees to be found. Also plenty of chokos.

    I don't suppose you know a good recipe for choko chutney or choko pickles or something else choko related? If you do, I would really love to know it.



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