It’s now August, the last month of winter here. And how invigorating, indefatigably so, has autumn & winter been here after last summer. I know my northern hemisphriends are experiencing a big heat up there as they enjoy their summer months.
As autumn came & the days got shorter & cooler here, we would sit on our north facing front veranda, in the late afternoon, watching the sun slowly sinking, hanging, in the west.
Daily, I could see the sun, slowly, making its way northward, up to the equator & further to make its home in the northern hemisphere for the next 6 months or so, foreshadowing the cold days of winter for us here in the southern hemisphere.
The cold, wet days & nights, the wood fires are so enjoyable right now. Just ask our three feliscatus inhabitants, Hattie, Edie & Gracie, right now lined up in front of the fire as though cars in a parking lot.
Its easy to plant, to garden, in this weather. As much as I hate gardening, there are things that have to be done such as weeding & planting. The damp wet soil makes it so much easier.
Autumn signalled the end of vintage around here, that time of the year when the grape harvest ends in the Barossa. No more picking grapes, no more carting, crushing, no more pipes, pumps, pips & stalks in the wineries. That’s partly what autumn means.
Autumn reminds me that its time to be thankful for the plenty that has been reaped during vintage & now being made into wine to be cellared & later savoured. It means the end of a bountiful grape harvest for another year. This year meant the Barossa Vintage Festival, a local celebration held every 2 years.
But of course we cant live on wine.
Autumn means filling the cupboard, the pantry. We celebrate our own harvest by reaping, picking, gathering, preparing & storing what has been grown in our gardens, or the fields, during spring & summer, things like pumpkins, squash, gourds, corn & so much more. Abundance from the garden, the trees, the hives. Honey is harvested in the summer. Autumn means collecting the food bounty for our cold winter months when everything is dormant.
And we can’t forget to put away the keepers of the vines, the scarecrows, for another year. Every 2 years the Barossa hosts a giant Scarecrow Competition to coincide with the vintage. One only has to drive around the Valley to see all sorts of odd & funny creations plonked among the vineyards, standing vigil, a real hodge-podge of fun & amusement.
Then there are those of us who have scarecrows at home watching over our vegetable gardens and/or on the veranda. These odd & funny looking sentries stand tall throughout the ripening season keeping guard.
Autumn also means chopping the wood in readiness for the coming winter cold.
Autumn also brings out the crows & ravens, my beloved corvidae.
And so here I was not long ago, playing around late into the evening. Faffing as they say. Faffing? Dictionaries seem to say ‘faffing’ is when you spend time in ineffectual activity. Hmph! Ineffectual activity? What’s that? I think it means wasting time 🙂
I guess I was faffing when sorting out this large pair of crows & pumpkins on the mantel in the kitchen recently.
Basically, I was trying different display arrangements, a sort of vignette I guess . . . assuming four pieces constitute a vignette.
The birds are now ensconced on the west-end veranda (porch) adding to the simple rustic ambience so suited to the season right now.
I re-invented the pumpkins (made of a hard foam-like substance) using Porters Rust & Iron medium to get the drab, rustic sort of primitive finish. While I prefer to use real pumpkins for autumn decor these lovely ornamental pumpkins had been sitting in a box in the shed & deserved to be given a new life.
I kinda think that using Porters for this project was probably not necessary as I could easily get the same finish using other mediums like chalk or milk paint or ordinary artist paint or house paint. Any clear sealer would work.
What about the crows? Not long ago, I found the quite large, lifelike pair of birds at ‘Early Settler’ in Adelaide. Being a lover of these special birds in real life, the raven & crow, I had to have them.
I know not everybody regards crows with benevolence especially vineyard owners & farmers.
My research indicates, however, that native rosellas, musk lorikeets & rainbow lorikeets cause most damage to crops. They are protected under the National Parks & Wildlife Act 1972 & destruction of them ‘to prevent damage to commercial crops can only be carried out if a destruction permit has been issued by National Parks & Wildlife (South Aust).
Any exemption from permit does not alter legal protection for that species. Nor does it represent an open season approach. Rather, it allows those persons with a valid need to reduce damage to their commercial crops with a legal means of doing so.
There is no single solution able to address the pest impacts caused by abundant birds. However, destruction of birds by shooting can improve the effectiveness of other control methods, particularly when integrated with the use of specialist scaring devices. Control methods such as exclusion netting may also be effective. Landowners would be well advised to investigate integrated management programs. (via National Parks & Wildlife South Australia) now the Department for Environment and Water
Certainly the sulphur crested cockatoos take our walnuts, at least the top 1/3 of the tree! I’ve seen flocks of them around here recently so something must be attracting them.
… and we all have to co-exist. I try to abide by the ‘living with wildlife’ philosophy. I believe in caring for animals, in animal welfare, in loving them as sentient beings like you & me.
Naturally, I love seeing the corvidae around here, in the vineyards, near the dam & the pond, exhibiting their slow, rather high territorial “ah-ah-ah-aaaah” with the last note lasting longer or more drawn out. You get accustomed to their call if you listen & watch for it. Of course I’m no ornithologist & not sure if the large birds around here are actually crows or ravens or both. My reading suggests there are five native crow species in Australia:
- Australian raven Corvus coronoides
- little raven C. mellori
- forest raven C. tasmanicus
- little crow C. bennetti
- Torresian crow C. orru
I’ve now learned that the ravens are much easier distinguished by their calls than their physical appearance. Australian little ravens usually make a “kar-kar-karr” sound, & forest ravens a deeper “korr-korr-korr”. Go figure . . . I do know the corvidae around here look like large black crows & are generally regarded as crows.
Any difference is not noticeable to the naked eye and, anyway, the words raven & crow are English language common names. These birds are all in the genus Corvus, part of the family Corvidae. Corvus is a Latin word which means crow.
Crows & ravens are native animals here, a protected species under Australian law, requiring approvals & licensed commercial pest removers if damaging property or affecting health & well being. Attempts to harm or kill these birds could land you in trouble.
. . . indeed I digress. Made of some sort of resin blend these faux birds came black but with a sheen that didn’t quite work for me. Some time ago I purchased (at a good price) some jet black ceiling paint from the local paint shop. You can’t buy jet black ceiling paint off the shelf. When I saw the solitary can on the shelf, a markdown, I knew straight away I had to have it. The paint store attendant told me it had been specially ordered by a tradie who didn’t need it in the end. Black ceiling paint is so good for so many projects. I swear by it. Certainly, these 2 birds appreciate their more authentic crow black coat.