Rain Tree


It’s probably not a good idea to sit under a  Philenoptera violacea unless you have an umbrella.

Thousands of tiny frog-hopper insects – called Ptyelus grossus – live off the sap of these trees. And as fast as they are sucking sap they are also peeing, forming almost pure water puddles on the ground under the trees.

This is one of the reasons the tree earns the nickname ‘rain tree’.

The other reason is that for a couple of weeks a year, around the beginning of November, the dull, grey bush suddenly erupts with splashes of violet and blue, and we know that the rains will soon be following.

That’s unless the crows have anything to do with it …

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It looks inviting, but you really don’t want to sit there

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Why the Rain Wont Fall


One of Rustle Crow’s relatives – or it could be Rustle himself! – has set up a maternity unit in Rustle’s old home.

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From the various clicks, caws and chuckles that have started to drift down from the nest it would seem the happy event has taken place and we have some proud crow parents on the property once again.

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If you look very carefully at the top centre of the nest, you can just about make out a baby crow beak peaking out

On Friday, while I was peering up at the nest and trying to see if I could spot our new arrival, Raymond – our garden helper – sidled up to me, shaking his head and tut-tutting.

“What’s wrong Raymond?”, I asked, expecting him to tell me that worms were eating the oranges again, or that he needed more fertilizer to put on the cabbage seedlings.

Instead he pointed up at the crows nest and answered ” Those birds, Madame. They are bad. We must chase them”.

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What?!

“Oh? Why? What is bad about them?”

“They are keeping the rain away. Every time the rain starts to come they flap their wings like this” and he demonstrated, a pretty good impression I thought “and then the rain is afraid and it goes away”

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“Rain rain go away, come again another day”

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A crow with a view; making sure the rain has gone

Share Your World – August 27 2018


I don’t really have a favourite time of year – all seasons have their beauty and appeal – but one of the things I love most about August is the smells.

In our back yard we have 33 citrus trees and at the moment the oranges are in flower. As evening approaches the intensity seems to increase until all I am aware of is the exquisite, sweet, heady orange blossom aroma – you can almost taste it.

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In this week’s Share Your World, Cee has asked three questions, with a bonus fourth added on.

First she asks if I prefer eating food with nuts or without nuts.

We are peanut farmers, so I get more than my fair share of nut-eating at harvest time but I wouldn’t say I would choose to eat peanuts if there was something else on offer.  When our Spanish partner visits he always brings a bag of almonds, which he roasts with salt in the evenings for tapas and those are always yummy. However, if I was to choose a favourite nut it would be the pistachio; there’s so much work involved cleaning and de-shelling them that I never feel that I have eaten too many.

The next thing Cee asked is if I sleep with the closet door open or closed.

As I child I was convinced monsters lurked in the cupboard in my bedroom at night and the door HAD to be firmly shut. It was part of our night time ritual that after story-reading I would always ask my Mum to check that the door was closed tight, and if there was a key she would have to lock the door. I could not and would not go to sleep if I could see even the tiniest open gap.

Although I no longer believe there are monsters in my cupboard this habit of closing bedroom cupboard doors before bed time still persists to this day, although luckily now our walk-in cupboard is not in the bedroom, so I can’t see the door. It is actually more like a small room anyway so the door being open doesn’t bother me at all, and it mostly stays open.

The next question is am I usually early, late or on time and that’s a loaded question in this house.

Piet complains that I have no sense of time and he usually starts chivvying me up hours before it is time to leave for any function in the hopes that we might, one day, be early. This seldom works. However, around here there’s seldom an occasion where we have to be anywhere at a specific time so it’s not really a serious problem.

Finally, what did I appreciate or what made me smile this week?

This cute boy.

 

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And this little family.

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An Ancient History Treasure Trove


Kilmartin Glen is a small village in Scotland somewhere between Oban and Lochgilphead. The Glen is home to more than 800 ancient monuments within a few square miles, and is said to have one of the richest concentrations of historical sites in Scotland.

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Starting between the 7th and 8th century candidates for King would place their foot on the sacred Dunadd’s Inaugural Stone, signifying he was now married to the land.

Last summer I was fortunate enough to visit this area with my family, all of us in one way or another tracing our Scottish roots.

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Nether Largie South Cairn is the oldest of the series of cairns found in the valley, probably dating back to the fourth millennium BC. It’s incredible to think that structures such as these still remain standing after so much time.

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The small entrance to one of the cists, or coffins, found at Nether Largie South Cairn. Was a King buried here?

Along the lane from the South Cairn to Temple Wood, even the stone walls are ancient.

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Temple Wood – or Half-Moon Wood – was so named only in the 19th century, after the planting of the trees around the circle. It is thought that the site was first used for burial around 3000BC

No-one is really sure of the significance of the Nether Largie standing stones, but it has been suggested they were erected 3,200 years ago and used to predict the movements of the sun and the moon.

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Reaching back in time

Even a year later, looking back on these pictures I am left feeling nostalgic for a time and place I have never really known.

 


To see more old things, head over to Terri Webster Schrandt’s Sunday Stills: Objects over 100 Years Old challenge.

Not so Neighbourly


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We are now on the warmer side of winter; nights are not as cold and days are getting longer. There is not long to go until the wheat starts to senesce and we begin preparing for harvest.

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We have not had any rainfall since March and it’s pretty dry, so until the drying out period for the wheat begins it’s important that we keep on top of our irrigation program.

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Power outages are normal around here. They happen almost daily and although we usually receive notification in advance, they can be quite disruptive to farming operations. When we woke up to no electricity this morning – with no prior warning – Piet contacted our local electricity supply company (ZESCO) who told him that power was out for maintenance. He then posted a question on the WhatsApp ZESCO chat group and got this response:

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Which was quickly amended to:

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Having elephants as neighbours can be rather trying at times!

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Some Odd Balls


Every Sunday Cee’s Photography hosts an Odd Ball photo challenge.

Odd Ball Photos are those great photos that you take which really don’t seem to fit into a common category. We’ve all taken them and like them, because we just can’t hit delete and get rid of them. If you have any of those type of photos, this challenge is for you.

Because of time zone differences I am too early for today’s challenge, but here’s my contribution for last week.

The pictures speak for themselves in terms of odd-ball-ness.

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