We don’t need to go too far out of town to be able to see Kangaroos.

They mingle in the fields with cattle and sheep, grazing on the grass and lazing under trees in the heat of the day.

Much the same as our guinea pigs and rabbits. Eat, eat, eat, slumber. Rpt.

Our rabbits and guinea pigs have their work cut out for them. They really are working animals for us, as well as pets. It’s not uncommon for us to arrive home to a bag of green waste from my Dad’s garden or pruning material from friends. As the grass rapidly encroaches on the hillside at the back of Tillellan the day is drawing closer for the g-pigs and rabbits to get into gear and keep things in check.

The grass, though not a favourite element of mine if requiring regular mowing or trimming, is proving useful in keeping the sand down. It is also going to be a solar energy trap for us. As it grows and grows it will be a food source for our animals which will convert it into manure, eggs, meat and such things. All very, very handy stuff.

In maintaining the grass (not to be confused with lawn) I usually trim it down and leave the clippings in situ to fall between and build up the soil. Recently I have also raked up a bit and used this to cover areas of sand to keep it down.

I’m also keen to get the quail onto some grass and dirt. They are doing fine, but I think they will benefit from having some regular, fresh grass to pick at. I’m sure we will notice the change in the quality of the eggs. Much as we do with our own chicken eggs in comparison to other sources we receive eggs from. Free-range, bio-dynamic or organic. For some reason, our own chooks provide us with bright, orange yolks. We love them.

Perhaps that is the secret ingredient.

Rabbit Welfare

petitparadis kit outing

Today the rabbit kits are thirteen days of age. Their eyes had now opened and they are moving about.

One of the kits was making its first outing into the hutch from the nest. Prodding Blackberry for a bit of milk, though Blackberry was not willing to allow such a treat without the other two kits partaking as well. Good mother! She has done better this time around and has taught us that intervention is possible and that kits can be handled if done sensibly.

Part of our success appears to be the very early handling of the kits by Mrs PP and getting our scent on the kits so that Blackberry had some sort of reference and familiarity. When Mrs PP attends the hutch to check the kits she allows Blackberry to greet her and smell her hand first, then she can handle the kits easily without Blackberry fretting. 

It was a good thing that we managed to do this because one of the kits was not getting fed adequately. Possibly due to its size, though it certainly wasn’t the runt, which sadly did not survive. To save losing any more kits we would regularly move this smaller kit to the ‘top of the pile’ in their nest so that it was closer to Blackberry when she came to feed them. This approach has apparently worked due to a healthy three remaining kits and would not have been possible without the early intervention and ‘marking’ of our scent on the kits as soon as practicable. There may be something further to this approach, but that is our explanation.

Some of our recent dealings with the rabbits have gone against the information that we have found on-line. We can inform ourselves to some extent but there is also still much to be learned from real life observation and thinking things through.



A Nest of Kits

petitparadis kit

Blackberry has three remaining kits. All looking well fed and healthy so we are hoping she will nurture them through successfully. Mrs PP has been placing the smallest of the three on top of the other two at regular times throughout the day in the hope that this smaller one will be closer to a feed when Blackberry does her feed time.

So far this had worked and Blackberry is quite accepting of the interference and of us handling her kits despite them being less than a week old. In fact they are a week old today. I am managing to keep the feed up to her as she is eating quite a bit more with milk production happening. I’ve harvested fresh grass from Tillellan to keep her and the other rabbits and guinea pigs happy. Hopefully soon we can move this menagerie to their new location where they can get fresh grass and greens more regularly.

Spring Cleaning


So we’re two thirds through Spring and after being out of action for a few days I was ready to set a new course. I wasn’t sure how to articulate this to the rest of the family, so I just started to do it anyway. I guess you could say it was a bit of Spring Cleaning mixed with high expectations to be moving house shortly. There was lots to do after a few days of absence.

After not visiting the garden at Tillellan for a few days I noticed the difference. Taller greens and some flowers blooming. New leaves on some cuttings. Most of the ‘normal’ fruit trees are well advanced but I’d taken a fig that was really just a stick and had been for some time. I thought I’d give it a chance, burying it deep into the richer, wormier* soil. It’s sprouted to life. With this, I have taken over the rest of the tamarillo and mulberry cuttings and planted them out too.

Not surprisingly, the garden was dry after the relentless wind we’ve had – that has persisted the last few days. The garden beds were given a good soak once we’d planted out more propagation pieces and some seedlings. I’m looking forward to having the watering a little more automatic once we move in.

It was really nice to spend some time in the garden. The silverbeet is coming along nicely and we delivered a bunch to the neighbours. Shortly afterwards they gifted us with two baskets from their attic clean out. Perfect for collecting the garden produce as the one we had is rather small when harvesting great bunches of silverbeet. These baskets have been given a wash and dry and are ready for their new and busy life. A lovely little memory too of Grans dear friend who had used the baskets previously.

There were all sorts of different insects making appearances and our first frog in the vegetable garden. This is a good sign. Frogs at our current garden have been a bit hit and miss. Mainly just the burrowing frogs. I suspect that cats may have something to do with it. The frogs just never seemed to stick around.

Surveying the garden scene also gave me some ideas of where to initially move the rabbits when we make the shift. The chickens may be a little trickier at the moment and I may need to make a temporary enclosure for them.

With some decent bunches of silverbeet in hand I had a moment of ‘I’ve made it’, as I reflected on the great bouquets of silverbeet that my grandfather would bring to my family from time to time when I was a youngster. A small but significant gardening moment. And so many more to come as the garden continues to evolve. It’s early days yet.


Mother Hen took her five chicks out for a walk this afternoon abandoning the last egg in the nest and stepping out to take a long overdue dust bath. The other hens are being a bit mothering also, which is nice. Amazing to realise that over night our chook population has doubled.

A hutch was set up with fresh straw ready for keeping them secure and safe at night. I ventured down to the garden in the evening to find her and her brood already nesting in it and ready for nightfall.

*wormier – as in, filled with worms!

Moments of Awareness


grevillea olivavea pp

Grevillea olivacea – note the olive-like leaves.

Hints of Spring are everywhere.

In the early morning I could hear a Shining Bronze Cuckoo down in the valley. Caroling magpies are louder and there is an endearing quality about their song. They have started calling later into the night this past week that I have noticed.

The frog calls from the valley are persistent and pulsing. A nocturnal chorus like the magpies, to vocalise the coming Spring through the night time hours.

I could hear the rasping calls of young Silver-eyes in the garden today as parent birds delivered grubs and feed. They are somewhere towards the front of the garden, either in the tree or the low bushes. They have nested in the garden most years, often raising more than one brood.

The Grevillea olivacea is in abundant yellow flower near our garden shed. It is a beautiful medium-sized tree that I am very fond of and so have planted one in the front garden and plan to put more into the new garden where possible to pamper the native birds. The New Holland honeyeaters love the flowers. As do the Western Rosellas who have moved into the area over the last week or so on a regular basis to delicately feed on the blossoms. The ground below is feathered with dissected yellow flowers from the feeding hoards above.


Western Rosella

Today, being my sole day at home this week was filled with a quick look through the renovation and a chat with The Builder. The place is really shaping up nicely and will no doubt be picking up pace with the coming month as we draw towards a completion date. I then spent some time looking over the garden.

Mrs PP has sold all the young rabbits this past week, so the garden looked rather different having some empty hutches. There is the little black kit from Blackberry still remaining with us, but she is sold in advance. So we are back where we started which is kind of nice because it will make moving the rabbits a little less complicated – and the garden account is cashed up with money for feed.

I was also lucky enough to have my Dad save his green waste for us. So this got picked up and delivered to the new garden. I also saw a neighbour piling up waste ready for a trip to the waste site. I managed to take that off his hands also and saved him a trip!

Some of this got mulched into finer pieces and will be added to the garden bed. I also set up two compost bins and took over some soil wriggling with compost-worms to start off with – plus our kitchen scraps.

Over the next few weeks I plan to shift more of the garden ‘waste’ I have collected over to the new garden. Already several large piles of green waste, waste paper and wood/timber has gone into the garden. This should create a favourable base for the creation of our garden soil. Offers of other materials are coming forward as work colleagues hear of the garden with the large appetite.

At some point I am going to have to start the construction of swales and mark out a garden design that accounts for the change in the upper part of the block due to the large pad and embankment that has been created to accommodate the temporary placement of the water tanks. Then we can start to prepare for planting out the nursery of plants, cuttings and fruit trees.


Silver-eyes are nesting at the moment.

Our plan for this is to involve friends, family and those that took part in the transformation of the house to plant trees and plants with us. A kind of garden blessing.

Before any of this however, I will be clearing up the garden at our current house. I has had me reflecting on the many different guises it has had over the years. From a garden of grass and sand and trees to a flourishing oasis of diversity, to a seed saver’s workshop, to an abandoned backyard (when we rented elsewhere), to a child’s playground and nature play area. Slowly it is starting to revert back to an average looking backyard which doesn’t sit well with me. So I am focussing on the new garden.

I hope to do a bit of a post on the changes to the garden over the years. And finally, I planted out some tomato and chilli seeds today. It was quite a hot day towards midday so I thought I’d get some seedlings happening in advance.