My granddaughter found this poor little chick today, after the sheep had been rounded up and it had been left behind by its parents who had fled.

I visited one of the church ladies today and delivered some of my free-range eggs. She wanted to show me her gardens, which I was happy to see. "I love my gardens but am finding I have too much weeding now", she said. So I suggested that she try the Ruth Stout method of heavy mulching with spoiled hay.

Looking up some links for her to learn about Ruth Stout and her gardening method was good revision for me.

I checked out the Swallows' nest again today. No sign of any birds but I got an even clearer photo of the eggs in the nest, still three of them.

I've found this information on-line:

"The female lays 3 to 8 white eggs that are spotted with reddish brown about 1 - 3 days after nest completion.

The eggs are incubated for 14 to 16 days and the young will leave the nest in 18 to 23 days."

I guess that the female starts to sit on the eggs when complete

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When we arrived on our farm five and a half years ago there was a grape vine on a fence near the house, almost completely buried under a mountain of Jasmine.

When we had cleaned it up and pruned it a year later I planted some of the canes in our lower garden and they have become quite successful in establishing themselves there, growing up a wire-netting deer fence.

This Spring they are looking very promising: all I have to do now is to protect the grapes from the possums.

I checked the nest again today. The gap between the nest and the roof iron is small but, fortunately, my cellphone camera can get in.

I've just checked the photograph now on my computer for the first time and to my delight I see that there are three or more eggs laid!

When I passed by the gazebo a little while later I saw a Swallow fly off as I approached so, hopefully, my presence isn't too much of a threat to them.

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I managed to get a peek into the nest with my camera and, yes, the nest is nicely lined with soft materials and feathers.

I didn't see the parent birds about today and hope that I haven't scared them off by too much presence in the gazebo.

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This orchid plant, one that I inherited in 1974, although now much neglected, produced a spike with 22 flowers this spring.

It was growing on a table on a shady side of the house but I brought it out onto the rear deck where we can more easily enjoy the beauty of its flowers.

I used the panoramic function in my cell-phone camera to get the whole spike into one photograph.

All my orchids need re-potting but have continued to flower despite my recent neglect.

The Swallows are building a nest in our gazebo, basing it on last year's nest but pulling it partially apart and building onto it with fresh mud.

Two days after I first saw the nest it appears to be complete, on the outside at least.

I think, from memory of earlier nests, that it will be lined inside with soft material and feathers.

Deciduous trees store much energy in the upper branches ready for the spring growth. 18 + months ago I ring-barked this Poplar tree and it put out its spring growth a year ago unchecked.

This spring, though, the tree is bare and the branches are beginning to rot.

Recently I used my nice pruning hand-saw to remove two lower branches that I could reach from the top of a ladder.

I made sure that the ladder was tied at the top and formed a temporary harness to keep from falling while sawing.

These onions were growing through the winter and I divided them and transplanted them hoping to get clumps of perpetual onions but they are all going to seed!

We have sheep. Sheep are browsers, not grazers. As such there is little that they won't browse on.

When the flock was around the house recently I covered up some rhubarb plants that are recovering from the previous time but didn't think to further protect the strawberry plants that my wife and daughter had transplanted. But the sheep didn't miss anything. They didn't leave much either.

I have subsequently transplanted the rhubarb into the lower garden where the sheep can be kept out.

Peterson Family Update June 2020

I had no idea about this: wonderful to hear that he is getting better after 18 months of extreme suffering.

"This video discussion was previously released (June 30th, 2020) on my daughter Mikhaila's YouTube channel and podcast Since it is World Benzodiazepine Awareness Day (July 11th), and in light of the seriousness of the public health related information it contains, I have decided to also release it here.

The 'weed' or 'wildflower' growing on our deck turned out to be a radish.

It had finished flowering and was setting its own seed which I was eagerly looking forward to keeping and sowing in my garden.

The birds that are daily fed on the feeding platform, with bread and seeds, thought otherwise and have mostly eaten the ripening seeds before I had a chance to save them.

I love the wildlife but there just aren't enough flowers and seeds in the habitat to feed them, yet.

I caught this honey bee working over a flower. The flower was dancing in the breeze.

The original video, from my cellphone, was 43 MB but by cropping it and scaling it down I have reduced the file size by 94% to 2.4 MB.

I learned a lot besides how to sprout peach seeds from this video, including that a peach grown from seed has more flavoursome fruit than that of a grafted tree. Less quantity but better flavour! Who knew that!

In another video about recovering a damaged rose bush I also learned that self-rooted roses can perform better than grafted plants.

So maybe propagating my own trees isn't such a bad trade-off as I had been led to believe, after all.

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I have to post this before I forget!

How to germinate peach in 15 days
[English transcript]

Crack the peach stone and extract the kernel.
Soak in water for about 20 hours to soften the covering.
Carefully peel off the covering, starting in the middle and taking extreme care not to damage the tip where the growth emerges.
Put folded paper towel in plastic container, dampen, place seed, cover with another dampened paper towel. Cover, inspect and wait ...

It is wonderful what can be found when you go looking for something else!

Here is a copy of a photograph that I took of a dragonfly that chose to alight on the shoulder of a niece of mine. It stayed resting on her for many minutes during which time I was able to run and get my camera, take multiple photographs and videos before it finally chose to fly away.

Again, this is a lost photograph that has turned up as a copy from somewhere on the Web.

Just now as I was browsing an old folder I discovered a scaled-down version of perhaps my favourite panorama, now lost, created from a number of shots using Hugin.

The thing that I like so much about this panorama is that I can zoom in on it and see yachts and other small boats on the water between the mainland and Rangitoto Island in the background. I took many shots using the 20x zoom on my camera, a Panasonic DMC-LZ20.

More information with the pictures.

I am keeping a watch over these beautiful little trees. So tiny and vulnerable now and so potentially productive in the future.

One, not shown in the photo below, has been either broken off or eaten off at the growing tip and I presume it to be no longer viable, but I still have four tiny lemon trees coming on nicely.

I put them out in the sunshine or rain each day and bring them in at night out of the cold.

They are still so small that they are hard to photograph.

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A group of top German lawyers who have deeply investigated the Coronavirus pandemic is preparing a class-action lawsuit against the perpetrators of the mass panic and lockdowns which are causing far more harm than letting the SarsCov-2 virus run its course without any intervention at all.

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