Monday, May 28, 2012

How to stop a python eating your bantams

A large-ish python lives near our chook pens ('henhouse', for the non-Australian readers). For many years he did not eat any poultry, verified by the Battistuzzi family who kept hens here for many years and watched the python grow up. But now, he's even larger, and I have been breeding Barbu d'uccle bantams which are a much smaller breed of poultry.

It's just too tempting for him. Bigger mouth and tum + smaller birds = easy dinner pickings for the python. (Mieke pulls a sad face ... ). I don't begrudge the occasional egg, but I've lost four bantam hens and two roosters in a short space of time. But what to do? I know if we move the python, he will come back. If we move him so far away that he can't, then (a) he will spend his whole life miserably trying to return to his territory; and (b) another snake will move in (maybe a venomous one, so no thanks). And really, he has as much right to live on this land as we do. After all, he's lived here all his life, many years more than we have.

So I decided to cross breed my bantams with bigger birds in the hope that I can stay one step ahead of him, while retaining the genetic diversity of a rare breeds flock. From Cromwell Farm, a local farm specialising in rare breeds I purchased two lovely Plymouth Rock hens and two very affectionate Orpington pullets.

This Orpington pullet is very curious and affectionate

Orpington pullet number two, still a baby really (says cheep-cheep still).

A young Plymouth Rock hen

This lady is a fair bit older (maybe two years?) and shows the full plumage of the Plymouth Rock.
Yarrow bought me this pullet as a present from the markets. No idea of the breed, but nice delicate colouring. The young Barbu bantam rooster likes her as well!

So here's hoping that the flock stays well and happy ready for the laying season!

Ballina to Byron marathon: some more photos

These lovely photos were taken by our team member Catherine during our walk.

Just after sunrise, just north of Ballina ... despite the cool look, it was lovely weather.

Coming over the headland from Flat Rock towards Angels and Boulders Beach. Lennox headland ahead.

This striking view of Lennox headland ... just stunning. It's a delight to walk in such surroundings. Lovely photo, Catherine!

Willa and myself striding along Seven Mile Beach (erm, it isn't seven miles long actually, it's a bit shorter).

Looking back on Broken Head... this is just past the 25 km mark. It was *very* tempting to go for a swim!

Coming up to Byron Lighthouse, about 32 km into our walk. These last 5 km were quite tough ... very steep and rocky in places and quite a lot of uphill work. After the lighthouse there was only one small headland to go (Watego's Beach headland). Once up there we had a bit of a breather at the lighthouse, in any case, and we were fortunate to see a whale breaching as well. I found that seeing the whale drove all thoughts of tiredness out of my head! We also saw rays and turtles, as the water was crystal clear.

It was a wonderful experience and I'm surely signing up for the marathon next year!

Monday, May 21, 2012

We did it! The Ballina to Byron Marathon Walk

I survived the marathon walk! In our team of five ("SCUrriers"), we hiked the whole marathon distance from Ballina to Byron Bay, crossing five(ish) headlands along the way. It was challenging, but great (I was hindered by laryngitis and bronchitis; Willa ended up with a trapped nerve).

Catherine, Kathryn, Betty and Willa at the start
Our beneficiary: our local Rescue Helicopter swinging over the Bay.
A closer image of our rescue helicopter who accompanied our start.
Boulder beach coming up to Lennox
A closer view of the lovely Lennox headland

 At the 20km mark we stopped for a break and some lunch. On my sandwich packet (delectable roast beef, salad and beetroot sandwich), made by Tess Hayley Mol), was written "xoxoxo I LOVE YOU! xoxo ♥ POWER ON!! xoxo YOU CAN DO IT!" ... and inside that on the interior wrapping, written in ink "I ♥ U" and "STERKTE" .... Others looked on and one of our team said "my sandwich is nowhere near as special and wonderful as yours..." (I must say, I agreed ....).

Footprints in the sand: this was about halfway
Until the 25km mark we were well up on time, but after that we slowed a little: Willa's trapped nerve was really slowing her up...  The last headland, at the 32 km mark, was "a killer" as one of our team put it...

Coming up to Byron headland
Looking back southwards, from whence we had come: our starting point is in the far far distance (I think ... it might be out of sight)
The gorgeous Little Wategoes headland: a special Aboriginal sacred women's site

SCUrriers at the Byron lighthouse
I don't have a photo that I can upload of us crossing the finish line (when we did, I had tears in my eyes anyway) but the one above was taken at the Byron lighthouse, about 2km before the finish.

We finished the 37 km walk in 8 hours 41 minutes...  I admire our team!! Thank you Betty, Willa, Catherine and Kathryn, for a walk of a lifetime.

And we are so so lucky to be able to live and walk along one of the most beautiful and pristine coastlines in the world ...