The heatwave extended into Victoria and New South Wales with Sydney's average maximum temperature over 40 deg C during the third week of the month making it the city's hottest November day in 27 years. Added to all this were hundreds of bush fires breaking out all over the heat affected country.
While Melbourne's hot weather ended with a huge storm that dumped 55mm of rain (their November average) in 12 hours, we have had none.
This weather is a result of El Nino and is indicated by sustained negative values of the Southern Oscillation Index (SIO). These negative values are usually accompanied by sustained warming of the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, a decrease in the strength of the Pacific Trade Winds, and a reduction in rainfall over eastern and northern Australia.
Our main concern is the state of our dams for watering the cattle. This is becoming more critical as the 'big dry' continues but we are set up to divert water from our house tanks to enable us to trough water them. As they each drink 25 to 30L/day this of course puts pressure on our reserves so despite having more than enough for our domestic needs, we are once again applying 'restrictions' to have as much spare water as possible should it be needed. It is possible to buy water by the tanker load but we would like to avoid this considerable expense if possible. This is a part of our country life that bemuses some of our 'city' friends who think water continuously appears with a turn of a tap, no matter how much you use.
Apart from all that, the grapevines are enjoying the warm dry weather and we have been able to reduce the necessity of fungal sprays considerably.
The remaining 2009 vintage in the tanks is progressing well. The Cabernet Sauvignon seems to have a little more body than normal which is probably due to the grapes being that little more ripe resulting in a higher alcohol level. The Pinot Noir which I had given up on due to the development of a distinctive "sherry" nose (the result of oxidation) seems to have recovered. Dedicated Pinot winemakers will tell you this can happen and to be patient, all will be well. I was, up until now, a sceptic. So looks like we will be bottling these two after Christmas to make way for the 2010 vintage.
Our vege garden is progressing well despite the heat and the dry. For the time being we are 'allocating' irrigation water from our domestic stash.
We went beach fishing one day with Neighbour Bob and the co-driver in her first attempt at the this outshone us both with a good catch.
We caught good sized Australian Salmon which aren't really salmon at all but members of the Arripidae family. Early European settlers thought they looked like the northern hemisphere salmon hence the name. To my mind they are strongly flavoured, coarse and have a slightly oily flesh that makes them less than desirable as a food fish. But they put up one hell of a fight when caught so they are a great sports fish. We always throw back what we don't need for that night's meal despite there being no bag limit.
It looks like I may have to invest in some additional gear to keep the new fisherperson happy.
We have taken our first tentative dip in the surf. Cool but not painful. I think we lasted twenty minutes. The good news here is that the water temperature has increased by one degree in the last month. So it's all systems go for December.