Thursday, November 29, 2012

A November Update

Summer is here on some days, not on others.
But the few hot and muggy days remind us what is ahead over the next three to four months.
We are just waiting for the ocean to warm up a bit before we start our daily surfing adventures.
The grapes are all growing well. We have managed to keep the spray program to schedule with no thanks to the weather bureau's forecasts. I can't think of another period where they have been so consistently wrong.
Working under the increased net height has been a godsend so all the work involved with that was worth it. And the power sprayer is also proving to be a great investment.
I am a bit surprised at the lack of fruit on the Tempranillo and the Pinot Noir. Maybe that has something to do with the poor season we had last year which may have caused the lack of initiation of fruitful shoots. I need to go back into the text books to find out for sure but what is there is there.
We may have to produce a Pinot/Tempranillo blend this year to get a reasonable quantity of wine from these two varieties.
On the other hand the Cabernet Sauvignon is loaded with flowering bunches. Let's hope the fruit set is good.
I had pruned them really hard this year to increase spur spacing in an effort to decrease quantity and improve quality. This has resulted in an explosion of shoots other than the two required on each spur which has necessitated a fair amount of shoot removal work.

It is interesting to watch our small resident kangaroo family attempting to get under the nets to get at the fresh green grass shoots of the inter-rows as well as the grapevine shoots. They move along the row ends using their noses to try and lift the netting which this year is securely pinned into the ground. The buck is small but quite powerfully built and I don’t think he would have much trouble ripping the nets with his very long sharp claws but they never seem to try this.
We had a bit of drama with the white newborn calf. She suddenly became quite sick and I found quite a number of paralysis ticks on her. She displayed the same symptoms as dogs and cats when they succumb to this parasite ie. back leg paralysis. The vet said she had had a few calves and alpacas go down this year from ticks and it has been a very bad year for them. The only thing they could do would be to give the calf some tick anti venom at $500 a dose and even then they could not guarantee survival. So Doctor Bob and I began hand feeding her 4 times a day with her mother’s milk to prevent dehydration but she got weaker and weaker and eventually died. Sad for us and sad for the cow which has been mooing plaintively for the last two days. But as Farmer/Doctor/Trainer Bob said “that’s life on the land.” The other four calves are doing very well.
The Suspected Culprit

We are gearing up for the tourist season. It was reported today in our local paper the population of the Shoalhaven Council area is expected to increase from 97,000 to about 320,000 from Boxing Day and will probably be at that level for the following 4 weeks.
I am not going to have my annual whinge about the ‘touros’ but as usual we will be glad when we get our beaches, town and roads back in February.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

More Books

It's not often I abandon a book half way through but Steve Job's biography is one.
It is an interesting enough history of Apple but the repetitive description of Job's manic and self obsessed behavior wears a little thin after a few hundred pages.

                         "Flight 32" is the absorbing story of a QANTAS Airbus A380 flight from Singapore to Sydney that suffered an almost catastrophic engine explosion a few minutes after departure.
Written by the flight's captain, it is a detailed story of how the crew kept the plane in the air and eventually landed safely without injury to anyone on board. Some people on the ground in Indonesia were hurt by falling debris.
It will either put you off flying for life or give you additional confidence in the air crews who pilot us around the world, usually without incident, on a daily basis.
It has a six degrees of separation element for us. Stirl's nephew was cabin crew on that flight. A little known fact is that after a few days rest and recovery in Singapore, the crew was put on another flight which also had to return to Singapore with mechanical problems.
The nephew is still flying.

George Smith is one of Australia's all time great Rugby players.
He played 110 times for his country as well as numerous Super Rugby games for the Canberra Brumbies.
Raised in a large Tongan family on the northern beaches of Sydney, he had a checked youth, falling in with the wrong crowd and getting expelled from school.
But Rugby saved him from an uncertain future.
An interesting biography from a social and sporting point of view but really one for the Rugby tragic only, one of whom resides in this house.

"Revolutionaries" is a detailed account of both the American Revolution and the Revolutionary War concentrating on those who went into battle, those who kept the country running during the conflict and drew up the states' and national constitutions (and subsequent amendments), the diplomats seeking foreign support abroad, the treaty makers and those who took up the challenges, political, social and economic, of making a success out of a newly formed nation.
A lot of well known names and some not so well known. For a change this book delves into their personalities, motivations and private lives, not just their actions.
Hard going in a lot of places, especially when it comes to constitutional matters, but rewarding in the end.
Definitely one for American history buffs only.

My daughter bought me a Kindle for my birthday.
Takes a bit of getting used to but I am warming to it.
Lots of free books available as well as latest releases.
We buy most of our books from Amazon USA and even with freight added they are about 50% of the prices in Australian book stores.

So with a book being downloaded within a few seconds, we will now be saving the freight costs.
The upshot of all this is my 'reviews' may now be minus a cover shot although I have a lot of real books stacked up to read. Hopefully I can work my way through them all during summer.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Calves! And More Calves

Obviously the bull we sold back in June had had one last fling with his girls.
The first calf appeared a few weeks ago.
And then another a little later.
And one last week.
Last night we had two.
One of those had to be helped a little. It was the mother's first and she was struggling a bit.
Neighbour Bob (a cow man from way back) thought it was good idea to do 'a pull'.
So we did.

A bit of a struggle at first but finally with our help she pushed out a very healthy looking bull calf.
Mother was exhausted and it took some expert wrangling to get her to her feet. Bob could also be a rodeo star!
Another one born a week or so ago wasn't looking that good so we have kept her and her mother up around the house paddock to could keep an eye on her. The two have bonded well and now the calf seems to be out of the woods.

Neighbour Bob has been promoted to Doctor Bob......for a little while anyway.
We wish him well with his horse which is racing today up at Nowra as part of the Australia wide racing carnival based around the Melbourne Cup, a famous race run on the first Tuesday of November at the Flemington racecourse. Today is the 152nd time the race has been run.
And seeing we have just touched on gambling, the Oz Lotto draw tonight is worth $100 million.
You have to be in it to win it!
7th November Update: Bob's horse ran 6th. So it's back to Seldom Winning Trainer Bob. The Melbourne Cup was won by 19-1 outsider Green Moon.
And the $100 million OzLotto was shared between four. Sadly, we weren't one of those.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Sculpture by the Sea

There is a wonderful walk along the coast line of Sydney's eastern suburbs from southern Bondi Beach to Coogee and on to Maroubra
The first part covers about 6 km and winds its way around rugged headlands, down to some of the city surf  beaches and past some of the most expensive real estate in the world.
You can stop for a coffee or a meal at the many beach side restaurants, cool off with a swim in the surf or an ocean pool or just sit and people watch.

Every year on the Bondi to Tamarama section they hold a 'Sculpture by the Sea' exhibition.
It is very popular and gets really crowded especially at weekends.
We had to go to Sydney for an overnighter and decided to see if the parking fairy would be with us in the area.
We were in luck! We managed a spot just a short walk away.
Bondi Beach from Marks Park

It was a perfect day with the crowd at a minimum, the sea blue as blue and the sun shining in a cloudless sky.
Really the star of the show is the walk itself but some of the work on display was interesting.
Our favourite was a collection of 222 bamboo poles with wind driven fans on top. These were attached to a clapper which hit the poles, each of which had been cut to a certain length, to produce a different tone.
It is a memorial to the 222 victims of the two Bali bombings nearly a decade ago.
The stiff northerly breeze produced waves of Indonesian sound and it was a weird sensation to walk through.

A close second for me was a man made completely out of staples.
We spend a couple of hours there enjoying the view and starting our summer tan.