Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

We survived Xmas and New Year. Much food was cooked and consumed, many local wines and exotic cocktails were downed, all with great company.

Temperatures now a festive 36 degrees, and shorts and T shirts have been retrieved from the wardrobe.

The Sydney Harbour fireworks were the best ever- cannot believe that it was 1996 when we were there to see them live. A lot has happened since then.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

home alone

Things ticking along quite well on the homestead in the absence of the Kiwi. I managed to find the blown fuse and restore the electricity supply after the last deluge.

The amount of water around the place has caused a population explosion of large aggressive mosquitoes which appear to have the ability to bite through clothing and are resistant to Aeroguard and all other repellents. As I write this I am sitting uncomfortably due to a nasty clutch of raised itchy bites on my right buttock. Ness may take some persuading that I have not been frolicking around outdoors naked at sunset due to their position!

We have a second bright sunny day today, so I may even be able to mow the lawns.

Australian sports lovers are in a trough of despond after the last 2 Ashes Test matches, and I am banned from discussing cricket and trying not to be too smug- very difficult with a Nation of highly skilled sledgers


Thursday, December 9, 2010

...and there was rain

I know I have been banging on about the rain, but it has been quite extraordinary. Our little water filled ditch which we rely on to provide water for the garden is now an impressive lake with an overflow that tonight is a serious canal flowing down the hill.

From Protea Farm 1

The kangaroos do not quite know what to do with the rising levels

From Protea Farm 1

Ness is now in NZ for a couple of weeks so I am home alone watching the rain and hoping we do not get flooded in again.

Had a great night out in Sydney last night...thanks to all the friends involved,

Monday, November 29, 2010

new toy

From Protea Farm 1

Ness has a brand new toy. Now she can zip around the property at speed ( admittedly she does that anyway, but engine-assisted she is now just a blur ). Tiresome jobs such as collecting alpaca poo and disposing of large piles of prunings now great fun!

Meanwhile we have now exceeded the annual rainfall for Blackpool, with no end to the storms and rain in sight. Could be worse, I suspect that this week Blackpool is covered in snow.

Monday, November 15, 2010

a new life in the sun

Rainfall in Mudgee to date in 2010 850 mm

Average rainfall per annum in Blackpool 871 mm

Should have stayed in Lancashire?

At least the olive grove that Ness is planting is being very well watered in.

Just need to plan the Protea Farm Illuminations- they may catch on.

Friday, November 12, 2010

betty pinder 1930-2010

From Protea Farm 1

Farewell to Mum who passed away this week.

Friday, October 22, 2010

spring news

After a few weeks back in the UK it is great to be home. The weather has not been particularly spring-like so far, although it is warming up well this week.

The drive home from Sydney up over the Blue Mountains was unusual- climbing to a height of 1,000 km to make the trek west to Mudgee the scenery is always breathtaking, but when it is 1 degree C and most of the trip is dominated by driving snow and hailstones it is not a barrel of laughs.

The lambs ( 6 in total ) are rapidly becoming sheep. and the mothers are now shedding their wool and having permanent 'bad hair days'

From protea

From protea
The bird population are building nests with the sheep wool, and the king parrots are gathering in groups and eying up the young fruit on the apricot and peach trees.

From protea

They have no fear and get bolder by the day

From protea

A western spinebill has made a nest in the climbing rose right next to the house.

From protea

The cacti are flowering well

From protea

....and the big news is that ducks have started to take an interest in Duck Island.

From protea

Thursday, September 16, 2010

duck island

Duck Island had an uneventful launching this morning.

God Bless her and all who hatch on her!

From Protea Farm 1

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

veterinary work protea farm style

We had an enforced veterinary day this weekend, with 4 boys to castrate and a ewe with diarrhoea to drench. If that was not enough there was also a friend's sick lamb to treat and then Peggy decided to attempt to give birth to a monster goat-like creature. This was way too large to enter the world unassisted, so was manually delivered by torch-light.

From Protea Farm 1

Monster goat like thing pictured above at 3 days old. She is much larger than the 12 day old Bellamy twins and Grundy boys.

All the ewes are spending the days outdoors now, but due to torrential rain and the fox threat they are housed in the barn at night much to the amusement of the locals who find the molly-coddling of sheep most unnecessary.

From Protea Farm 1

Ness has started 'Operation Wood Duck'. Each year the wood ducks that live on the dam hatch out their ducklings and proudly show them off. Within 24 hours there are no ducklings and 2 distressed parents, so we assume that the fox has a poultry dinner. The plan now that the dam is a large lake is to construct a floating island out of recycled plastic items to provide a fox-proof refuge for the duck family, complete with plant life and a 5 star ducky environment. Hopefully the island will be successfully launched later this week.

From Protea Farm 1

'Lake Protea'

From Protea Farm 1

Duck Hilton under construction.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

it is julia by a short head

After an interminable debate , Tony and Rob have given Julia Gillard the thumbs up to remain as PM. Queensland Bob obviously was not impressed with her checks and balances regarding the flying fox threat and backed the coalition.

Back at the ranch we have 2 sets of twins ( The Bellamys and The Grundys ). Clarrie is not doing too well and I have had to go back to the text books to remind myself how to deal with explosive diarrhoea of an ovine nature. Not pretty.

Speaking of diarrhoea we purchased a second car today whose colour could well be described as 'sheep scour' yellow.

From Protea Farm 1

The supply of second hand vehicles which are not utes is somewhat limited in Mudgee, but I am quite excited about my 'hot hatch' with 17 inch alloys and boy racer speeds. It is also fitted with a sound system that any teenage boy would be proud of, with volume controls on the steering wheel for easy access! ideal old lady shopping car.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

new arrivals

Having had doubts about the sexuality of Brian the ram when he first arrived, the girls have started to fill out and look pregnant, and yesterday morning Lilian gave birth to twin lambs. The dorper/wiltshire horn cross lambs look extremely goat-like, but we are happy to report that the 'Bellamy boys' are doing well.

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1

We were somewhat taken by surprise by the birth, my calculations had the due dates a few more weeks away, so Lilian dropped them in the paddock and we had to hurriedly erect maternity units in the shed because there is more bad weather forecast over the next week.

Despite the forecasts of more rain we have just had a couple of lovely warm days, and the first week of spring was heralded not only by lambs but also the return of the first tree frog on the verandah sending Ness scurrying back indoors!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

tony, rob and bob

Still no further on with sorting out the hung parliament over here. The situation is very similar to events in the UK earlier this year, although in a country with a much smaller population ( just over 14 million people voted- and voting is mandatory here ) the Independent candidates hold the balance of power....

..... That is 3 blokes called Tony, Rob and Bob.

This gang of 3 are in talks with Gillard and Abbott and these kingmakers will decide who to side with and dictate which party takes power. As rural independents they are interesting characters, old Bob having some particularly peculiar things to say about the state of the country.

"You know we're not allowed to fish much at all, we're not allowed to go camping or shooting or even boiling the billy. We've got a terrible problem with the deadly flying foxes. They're going to kill many more people than Taipan snakes do in Australia."

Above is a video of Bob's election campaign.

Glad 'Bob is on the job' to save us from the terrible flying fox threat.

Rob, on the other hand, makes a mean vegetable pie.

My “life dance card” is pretty full at the moment where its either work or family or sleep, but where possible, I love my downtime with close family and friends, beach and surf, or bush and bikes. My world famous vegetable pie is also ready to be cooked at a moments notice, much to the growing concern of the kids!

He has the square-jawed looks of an American game show host, and apparently is the only MP who wears a tracking device so any constituent with an iPhone or Smartphone can instantly know where he is. Handy for Mrs Rob I suppose, though with 3 kids already and a 4th one on the way she is probably glad that he is anywhere but in the bedroom.

Tony seems quite ordinary- no tracking devices, concerns about flying foxes or famous recipes as far as I can tell.

Basically all 3 are independent for a reason- they despise party politics and have fallen out with labour and liberal so their remit is very much to represent local rural affairs.

It is gripping stuff.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

election fever

Awaiting the results of today's general election here and it is looking like a possible hung parliament.

James dog is taking it in her stride....

From Protea Farm 1

Still very cold and windy and wet, August has notched up over 100mm of rain, so we are planting trees and plants all over the place on the assumption that if we cannot grow them in these conditions we may as well give up all together.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

tree hugging

After a very wet July we are having an August of torrential downpours. No longer are we complaining of drought and empty water tanks as we squelch around the boggy garden and watch the small rivers flowing down the hill and into the dam. A few more days like this and we will be complaining of flooding and gathering together the animals two-by-two at the top of the hill.

The lovely yellow wattle tree in the garden is disappearing in a pile of sawdust. At first we feared termites, but on closer inspection it is blighted by 'stem borer'- a nasty bug that eats the tree from the inside out. It is currently a mass of yellow flowers which I fear is the swan song performance. However I have googled treatments, and despite all the Aussies we know thinking we are demented foreigners trying to save an infested tree which grows like a weed and is not worth the effort, 'Operation Tree Hugger' started today.

This involves identifying the source of each pile of sawdust, excavating the hole then inserting a piece of flexible wire to track and impale the bug within. Then prepare a paste of Dolomite and Derris ( that well known Music Hall double act ) and fill the hole. Finally use wood filler to seal the damage. The assistant in Bunnings ( a DIY superstore chain ) backed away very quickly when he spotted me in the wood filler aisle and asked what I needed the filler for. I plumped for exterior wood filler in pale teak.

Friday, July 30, 2010

farewell geoffrey

It has been an unusual July, with a great deal of rain. The tanks are full, the garden is lush and green and everywhere is rather boggy and soggy. If we get the frosts predicted in a few days the whole place will be like an ice block. Hopefully the weather will benefit all the new plants that we have put in and get them off to a good start.

The end of an era was seen this week when we decided that Geoffrey the Winnebago was a luxury that we could no longer afford and he was collected and taken to a dealership in Sydney ( hopefully for a speedy sale ).

So long Geoffrey, and thanks for all the fun. We are now officially grown-ups of fixed abode.

christmas in july

It is only in the past decade or so that Australia has embraced the fact that Christmas is hot and sunny and ideal for prawns on the barbie style festive dining. Many of our friends have strong childhood memories of being forced indoors on Christmas day to eat a hot meal around the table, with great tales of spending the day with semi-permanent red and green dye stains on their heads and down their faces after being forced to wear party hats which melted in the heat.

Christmas cards remain traditional, with pictures of snow covered houses, holly and red breasted robins.

Recently 'Christmas in July' has become extremely popular. The weather is suitably cold, with snow on the Victorian ski fields and log fires burning. Also the festive fare is all in season- turkeys are born in Sep/Oct so too young to eat in December and too old and stringy to eat the following Christmas. Sprouts are fresh and ready to pick, the trees are covered in mistletoe berries and holly trees are a luscious red.

So on tv for most of July we watch Nigella, Jamie Oliver etc cooking all their traditional British Xmas recipes while families are decorating their trees and boiling sprouts.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

pinder ponderings

The mighty shade house has now been constructed and anchored to the ground, so seed planting has started on an industrial scale. We only need to grow and harvest around 100 Kg of salad leaves to break even on the cost now.

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1

I have started the Thursday morning tennis competition, and I am being constantly berated for not playing 'patient tennis'. This involves lots of running around, prolonged rallies, large numbers of lobs and generally trying to stay in the point as long as possible. This philosophy does not come easily to someone who is lazy, unfit and impatient, and whose definition of good tennis is to try and hit the ball as hard as possible and get the game over with minimal effort.

As I pointed out, the word 'patient' in my vocabulary means a sick cat or dog, not a lifestyle choice.

Patient tennis resulted in my losing 3 out of 4 of my sets. However on Saturday where the tennis is social and not a competition the aggressive approach notched up several wins.

A weekly trophy is handed out ....namely 'the drill'

From Protea Farm 1

...and I am this week's proud recipient.

I should add that 'drilling' is hitting a ball exceptionally hard directly at an opponent in an unsporting fashion and a way likely to cause extreme bodily harm. Extra bonus points were added due to the fact that my 'target' was the club President.

Therefore I should not feel proud. Not at all. Not even a tiny bit.

Monday, July 19, 2010

small farm field day

The weekend was a busy one with the small farm field day in Mudgee- a sort of agricultural show where you can buy all sorts of stuff from combine harvesters to frozen sheep sperm and all things in between.

Our guests were the regulars who attended last year, although this time they were a bit more flash and arrived by helicopter.

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1

We have decided to keep the car parks for the riff raff, but would prefer it if in future all guests used the helipad facility.

Vanessa has purchased an enormous shadehouse/greenhouse for industrial vegetable growing, so we started the kit assembly yesterday. It was slightly baffling, but the skeleton has now been assembled.

From Protea Farm 1

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

autumnal Mudgee

Ness has taken some great pictures of Mudgee in autumn.......including finally the superb Mudgee post office and the deco picture theatre.

From protea

From protea

From protea


Of course I also need to add a big thanks to my fab niece and nephew and family for all the entertainment during my stay in the UK....pictured here in World Cup pose.

From Protea Farm 1

Monday, July 5, 2010

home sweet home

After a prolonged break from blogging I am back home. It has taken 5 days to get the body clock back in sync, partly due to sitting up half the night to watch Wimbledon and the World Cup and partly due to the dramatic temperature difference. Heathrow was over 30 degrees and I arrived to the coldest day in Sydney in over 60 years. Fortunately Ness and james dog were waiting at the airport with a thick coat and woolly hat for me.

We did not realise just how mild our first winter here was until now- regular frosts and even snow forecast this week.

Ness has not been idle in my absence- not one for just keeping business ticking over, under the new management there have been many changes........ a major one being the provision of breakfast baskets on request. So at 7 am this morning I was taking a fresh loaf from the breadmaker and preparing sausage and bacon packs for guests next door. Being up this early has its advantages-sitting on the verandah with my coffee watching a large roo hopping up the drive and king parrots screeching in the trees.

Having been in the UK during the fascinating general election and all the shenanigans with the coalition I managed to miss the fact that back home little Kevin Rudd has been ousted in a bloodless coup and we now have our first ever woman prime minister.

It was great to catch up with a few people back in the UK, particularly Nancy and family in Lancs and the mad bunch in Tuxford whose company was a lifeline in difficult times, but there was not enough time to really see many other friends which was a shame.

However, despite the freezing cold and the large pile of end of financial year paperwork to tackle it is great to be back in the country that now feels well and truly like home.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

election, dejection, connection

A reasonably uneventful flight apart from 2 hours on the tarmac in Bangkok while BA technicians tried to decide whether to take off again due to 'hydraulic malfunction issues'. If this meant that the landing gear would not work, or the flappy bits on the wings would fall off, then I was all for disembarking but the masses in economy had no vote so eventually we took off.

Still a bit jet-lagged, so I am up at 6am ( those who know me would realise how exceptional that is ) and asleep by 10pm. The biggest problem at my mother's house ( my mother notwithstanding ) is that it is a technological black hole. No mobile phone reception on any network, sending my international roaming facility into meltdown, and no internet access. I have discovered that at certain times of day if I stand in the far corner of the garden amongst the weeds I can send and deliver text messages....sometimes. I suspect that mother has cast a protection spell similar to the one that Dumbledore put around Hogwarts, or that the cavity wall insulation is packed with tin foil, egg cartons and selenite.

So, in the absence of a viable mobile internet option, I was forced to do something I swore I would never do again and spent a week waiting for BT to supply the equipment for me to install broadband. After 2 days of apparent non-delivery (' if you are experiencing problems please visit our website' ) I discovered the BT Home Hub parcel hidden behind the wheelie bin, and today have finally made contact with the outside world.

I am not an internet addict, I can cope without it. 7 days abstinence? worries, plenty of other things to do. So now I am up to World 3 level 7 on 'Super Mario Brothers' on my Nintendo DS!

It appears that BT have not improved their service. After a massive 4 hours online, my Wifi is malfunctioning and connection is intermittent.

Meanwhile it has been a fun time to be in the UK with all the general election shenanigans. It is like a fly on the wall documentary about a group of boys in the playground. David and Gordon have new footballs, but they need to be inflated. Nick has the bicycle pump and is everbody's new best friend, so is being offered the team vice captaincy and all the sweeties he can eat. Great fun.

It has been one of the coldest Mays on record here, with no sunshine and even snow in the north east. I went shopping with my sister-in-law today, and she took me to a surf gear shop to help with the home sickness! The guy who runs the shop said he went to Scarborough to surf yesterday and just as he donned the wetsuit he was struck down with freezing hailstones and had to abandon the beach.

.......more tales from 'up over' to follow

Saturday, May 1, 2010

leaving on a jet plane..

New date for my flight is Tues 4th May, so I will be leaving the lovely autumn weather behind and heading for the UK- hope that the English spring has some sunshine for me.

So, I will try to see as many people as possible while over there, although I will not know until I get to Preston just how much care Mum will need.

Ness and the gang will be home alone- pics below taken this week and show Ness and her mob going for their morning constitutional. Daft creatures follow her like a pack of dogs!

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

volcanic disruptions

Currently stuck here in Australia, flight to UK canceled, and the damned volcano in Iceland is causing major hassles. There is no way to contact BA at the moment- the website is being deliberately obtuse and the phone lines permanently on hold.

So, not a lot I can do but continue to enjoy the fantastic autumn weather here.

Vanessa got a birthday gift from Georgie ( hereinafter known as 'the animal hoarder by proxy' ) of 2 guinea pigs. She is refusing to call them 'Kath & Kim', so they have been named 'Myrtle & Sorrel'.

The new 'pig palace' is currently having coats of yacht varnish before the ladies move in.

From Protea Farm 1

Brian the ram has settled in well, but there has been no obvious procreative activity to date. he may turn out to be an Adam or this space.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

kiwis and sheep

It was an Easter of kiwis and sheep ( always a good combination). Friends from NZ who we have not seen for nearly 15 years arrived for a holiday. When we were last together in the UK there were only 2 of them, but times have moved on...

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1
It was great to see them and get to know the 3 boys, who were incredibly well-behaved apart from regularly bringing bugs and creepy-crawlies for us to admire.

We also collected our new dorper ram. Sticking with The Archers theme he needed to be a bit of a Lothario in order to perform his duties, so we have named him Brian.

From Protea Farm 1

He is currently following Lilian around with a stupid amorous look on his face.

From Protea Farm 1

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy Easter!

From Protea Farm 1

quote of the week

This week we went to the pre launch party of the 'Gourmet Pantry' at Thistle Hill, one of our local wineries. Obviously the main reason for attending was free wine, but an additional bonus was the chance to catch up with locals in the hospitality industry and swap stories about the joys of dealing with the public ( running this business has so many parallels with running a vet practice, and the delightful general public are the common spanner in the works ).

Having vented our communal spleens about feral children, obnoxious over 60's, and people's inability to understand basic rubbish recycling, Kate's sardonic comment was a belter.

' I mistakenly thought that Fawlty Towers was a comedy; I now know that it was a documentary'.

Blogs have been few and far between recently, mainly due to the fact that my Mum is seriously ill and I have to return to the UK in a couple of weeks. So Ness is having a crash course in all the business/internet stuff that I primarily deal with and trying not to panic about flying solo.

Fully booked for the Easter holidays, but hoping to get a little free time to go shopping for a ram- the girls are fat as houses after the rains and accelerated grass growth, and they need a man soon. Looking into getting a dorper boy and breeding wiltshire horn x dorpers, working on the principle that they will look very stupid and taste good.

Monday, March 22, 2010

biblical plague events

We appear to be living the plagues of Egypt at Protea Farm at the moment.

The frogs have returned with a vengeance and are keeping Vanessa a hostage in her own home at night by suckering themselves to all the windows and peering in with little froggy eyes.

The plague of flies are a given at this time of year, but the locusts are exceptional and hopping all over the gardens. Tonight on the tennis court under the floodlights the locusts were swarming and almost stopped play. Difficult to return serve when locusts are crawling all over your head. we await the hail, livestock death, and boils.

I was interested to read in the UK news today about the lovely lady B & B owner in Berkshire who turned away a respectable middle-aged gay couple who had booked a stay for the night at her establishment because allowing them to share a bed under her roof was 'against her convictions'.

I wonder whether we should stop allowing rampantly heterosexual people utilising our facilities. Actually, while we are at it we could preclude children ( noisy,messy things ) ladies with long hair ( too much bathroom cleaning afterwards ) people with irritating laughs, men with beards and sandals, and all those who have religious beliefs, orange cars or sisters called Gladys.

Welcome to the Inhospitality industry, nice one Mrs Black.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

art of glass

Paul the furniture restorer from Dubbo returned a van load of revamped items that Pickfords trashed somewhere between Lincoln and Mudgee, and he has done an amazing job with all the furniture.

The major triumph was the large antique gilded mirror frame, which had big chunks of plaster moulding missing. He has managed to reproduce the missing bits extremely well.

So today we had the unpleasant job of mounting said massive and very heavy mirror to the wall. This procedure has been performed after many house moves and involves Ness balancing her own body weight on her head while I mark out where to position the screws.

The mirror is now up, no damage to report.

From Protea Farm 1

On a glass theme, we went to our favourite scavenging/recycling shop yesterday at the tip. We source all our wine glasses/crockery/books and sundry items from here, it is amazing what people throw away. I spotted a tangerine glass vase priced at $2 and decided to take a gamble on it being a piece of 70's Whitefriars.

......Google confirmed that it is a Whitefriars 1971-74 Geoffrey Baxter 'double diamond' vase, market value $250-300. I love a bargain.

From Protea Farm 1

Saturday, February 27, 2010

wise words

A wise man once said ( well, it was Max the old bloke at the tennis club yesterday )

'Worry is like a rocking chair- takes a Hell of a lot of effort and gets you nowhere.'

Very philosophical, the Aussies

Monday, February 22, 2010

melon harvest

You have got to love a country where you can grow these.

From Protea Farm 1

....tastes delicious too...

From Protea Farm 1

Saturday, February 20, 2010

snakes in the grass

It was an ambitious project, but we managed to get all the rooms apart from one bedroom painted, a new toilet installed and all 80's pelmets dismantled and replaced with sleeker poles. Just the rest of the woodwork and 1 bedroom to go before the next booking at the weekend.

From Protea Farm 1

It all looks cleaner and fresher, and all ready for guests to trash.

From Protea Farm 1

From Protea Farm 1

The vegetables are thriving, and Ness is selling weekly veg boxes to The Farmer's Pantry and rather ambitiously taking orders from a local chef catering for a wedding next month. I can see her eying up any raised bed and border containing ornamental plants preparing for a cull in order to accommodate more profitable planting.

The disadvantage of experiencing such an unusually green and lush summer is the need for regular lawn mowing, long grass being an ideal habitat for the fully warmed up snake population. Obviously killing a brown snake in NSW is against the law and hefty fines apply, so when Ness found a brown snake in the storage shed we did not don sturdy boots and arm ourselves with shovels and other garden hardware, and I did not stand a safe distance from the shed in the middle of the field quaking like a girl and shouting words of encouragement to Ness who did not chop it to pieces with an axe. So that is OK.

The new website is coming along well, and will hopefully be launched soon. Could do with a professional photographer for the pics, but the budget is running low and the only one we know has selfishly chosen the live in the UK, so for now we will make do with our snaps.

From website pics

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

protea farm cottages relaunch

It had to happen sooner or later- attention has moved away from the garden and towards redecoration of the cottage next door while we are guestless. We have less than a week to repaint a whole 3 bedroom house, slightly daunting as we discovered yesterday that a minimum of 3 coats will be required to cover the beige with a hint of filth that currently covers the walls.
From Protea Farm 1

We have invested in some new furniture, and we are also working in conjunction with the lovely Cletis to redesign and relaunch the website.

So, come and join the Protea Farm Cottages Mudgee group on Facebook and look out for the changes.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the grape vine moth

You have to accept in Australia that the native wildlife will be more venomous, more stingy and bitey, and more scary than anywhere else in the world, and generally best avoided whenever possible. After today we are also beginning to realise that if the native creatures cannot kill with a single bite then overwhelming in groups of hundreds of thousands will suffice.

So, what can turn this.......

From Protea Farm 1 this, in a matter of hours?

From Protea Farm 1

Answer- several battalions of these fat juicy grape vine caterpillars.

From Protea Farm 1

So now we know what those pretty black and white butterfly/moth things have been up to for the last few days. It is impossible to describe the numbers-maybe the fact that Ness spotted the linear mountain range of caterpillar poo on the ground before she spotted the denuded grape vine may give you a clue.

We used the small amount of pymethrum spray we had (which was as effective as pissing in the wind) before admitting defeat and cutting back the vines which had not yet been totally stripped and giving the prunings to the chooks who are still happily scrapping over fat, juicy ( and hopefully non-venomous ) caterpillars.

Those which did drop off and die were pounced upon by a platoon of our least favourite garden pest the purple ant.

From Protea Farm 1

Ness has been banned from going near the cottage until the purple ants have gone because she has alarming allergic reactions when bitten by one.

What a fun day.