Turtle Time

I was servicing Maple Cottage recently when I saw someone had dropped a hat outside on the grass 10m in front of the kitchen window.  I really don’t need any more hats.  Closer inspection showed it to be a turtle apparently trying to dig a hole, but it froze and regarded me suspiciously as I had a look.  I have lived at Possum Valley for 42 years now and this is the first time I have ever seen a turtle. 

Unknown Turtle

I knew they should be here in the rainforest creeks and have seen pics from guests to confirm their presence (thanks Martin & Marco), but have never laid eyes on one till now.  I would like to tell you the species, but there are many and I’m no expert.  I did a bit of web searching and discovered that freshwater turtles go nest-building in November and also there is a web site TurtleSat to report sightings which I duly did and uploaded the pic here to aid identification.  So I may yet learn what species it is.  You can see some damage to the top of it’s shell.  That would have taken considerable force.  I also learned on TurtleSat that many species are under threat from habitat loss and foxes.  The foxes can find and completely consume all the eggs in the nest.  I have seen dingos, but never a fox at Possum Valley.  

I was also on the web recently to find spare parts for my gas stove at the homestead as the larger front burners were well …… burnt out.  Totally crumbling away so the lazy yellow flame burnt inefficiently and curled round the saucepan to burn the handle.  First thing I found was that I needed model numbers and serial numbers long and complicated enough to describe the position of every subatomic particle in the known universe, let alone a gas stove.  ‘Simpson Super-Nova’ wasn’t going to get me anywhere near my target.  There were any number of hits, but they all had only the small back burners in stock.  Of course the back burners are much cooler and less used, so why didn’t they keep the burners people would actually need?  Then I came across a site that helpfully added “model out of production”.  Ah! that explains it, I was chasing remnant spares already exhausted, so I had only two chances and one of those was ‘Buckley’s’.  I wasn’t impressed with the exorbitant prices asked for these scraps of metal anyway. 

new stove burners

So out to the workshop and my teetering mountains of junk to find a thick metal tube outside diameter 59mm to fit the stove aperture, that abruptly increased to about 70mm for the burner.  I turned over half a ton of assorted junk before finding a 2 inch BSP nipple.  For those of you not initiated into the arcane language of plumbers, a nipple is a pipe joiner with 2 male threads.  Writing this, I contemplate why plumbing has such gender specific jargon, and just how does two male threads make a nipple?  Or how I can, and have, gone into a hardware store asking for a ‘ball cock’.  “How big?”  Oh, 3/4 inch will be enough for me.  I think I would get an entirely different product in an adult shop.  So I chopped up the nipple with a hacksaw, and cut slots with a thin cut-off blade in an angle grinder, and Bob’s your uncle, I had 2 new burners.  Bodging, and world affairs generally, would be much enhanced if everyone had an uncle called Bob.  In the picture upper left is the nipple alongside the discarded bits (I had several nipples). Middle, the new burners, and bottom the crumbling remains  of the 20 year old burners.  It took me no money and less time than I spent searching the web to produce the required items.  Two obtained from 1 nipple.  They burn with neat blue efficient flames.  I will also have a little glow of satisfaction each time I light them up.  Which I will do right now to cook some fish and vegies , perhaps with a cheese/curry sauce.  See you later.

Possum Valley Heat Wave

Today is the hottest at Possum Valley in the 42 years I have been here.  The temps in the last three days have been:- 32C the second hottest day ever, 33C equalling the hottest recorded over a decade ago, and today 34C for a new record.  That is outrageous, especially as it is still October and technically still spring, not that season names or periods imported from Europe have much relevance here in tropical Australia.  It doesn’t bode well for the coming summer.  Nor does the BOM outlook bode well, with an El Nino developing and less than average rainfall going into Jan at least.  The ground is so dry and crunchy underfoot as many of the trees look limp and stressed out and have shed a lot of leaves.  

bring back the leeches

I have responded to the searing temperatures by not doing much, which works for me.  Unfortunately I didn’t have much warning and didn’t get enough books from the library for some serious lazing about.  To compound the problem, I have also completed the 880 Times cryptic crosswords from the books I ordered a few years ago.  In desperation I have looked back through them to fill in some clues I couldn’t get the first time around.  Two weeks ago I put in an order over the internet for another 800, and saw estimated delivery time 3-4 days.  I had a good chuckle at that.  Perhaps, maybe, if you live in a capital city which company websites and even government websites assume you do.  If you live in a rural town you can double that and if you live at Possum Valley you can read it as 3-4 weeks.  It might be a week between me checking my mailbox which is a modified beer-brewing barrel stuck on a fence post 4 km away at a windy road junction.  I only get a delivery service once a week, so if me and the dear lady who delivers are out of sync, that’s two weeks blown right there.  And I’m not even out bush! 

I just had a flashback to the early 1970’s when I caught a goods train from Port Augusta to Alice Springs in a carriage straight from an old western tacked on to the end of long long goods train where the engine was a distant rumour over the horizon.  It slammed to a stop in the middle of nowhere.  The slamming was the distant engine coming to a stop, but there was enough slack in the chain connections for it to take a minute before the message got to the back.  You could hear it coming as each carriage crashed into the stationary train with increasing force.  Enough warning to brace yourself except when deep asleep and I got thrown out of bed a few times. On this occasion we stopped we stopped in a bare desert that went forever without tree or bush or blade of withered grass.  The only feature was a post with a barrel on top, right by the tracks.  The guard stepped out of the last carriage with a handful of letters and a dozen eggs.  I have no idea how the engine driver over the horizon managed to pull up the train so the guard could just step out and put them in the barrel.  The trip took 3 nights and 4 days with BYO food and drink, or die.  The connection in my mind was the barrel on a post and erratic deliveries.

It is not quite true that I have done nothing in the last few days.  On the first day of the heat wave I woke to a temp of 10C.  At 6.30 am I actually needed a jumper so decided to use a time with no guests and very moderate temperature to do a bit of hard yakka and make the world hideous with noise.  So I made a selection of a couple from my extensive range of chain saws and went off to chop and haul some logs from fallen trees in the rainforest.  It was a good move to get going early as the temp soon pushed on to 32C.  Such a temperature range is rather unusual.  The wood is for the sauna, but it requires chopping, humping, stacking, splitting with an axe, re-stacking and drying for six or more months before it is good to go.  

I have on several occasions taken my grandsons, 2 1/2 and 4 1/2 along when I do this macho power stuff with the chainsaw.  Also their father on the farm does the same for firewood for the house fire.  It is not surprising that they both have adopted toy chainsaws when they stay with me for the day.  Henry uses a bit of junk I think might be an insulator for an electric fence, but does have some resemblance to a miniature chainsaw, and Philip nominates a back scrubbing brush from the bathroom but insists I detach the brush from the long handle before it is fit for use.  They then go off into nearby bushes to go to work with very realistic buzzing sounds.  The good news is that they respect work and are doing their best to emulate their elders.  The bad news is that unless I can educate them in the appropriate use of chainsaws, I may have created eco-monsters.

Memories, memories

It is often said that memories fade with age, but I have very vivid memories of some places and the places have faded within my lifetime rather than my memory.  I find that very sad.  I am forcefully  reminded of this by recent news … [Continue reading]

A Ramble

Nothing of great significance has been happening at Possum Valley, so if you are looking for drama, change channel.  Certainly nothing much in the way of rain.  Hot and dry for the last 4 months and I've just looked at BOM forecasts and … [Continue reading]

Spring Has Sprung

..........the flowers is riz, I wonder where the birdies iz? They say the birds are on the wing, But that's absurd, the wing is on the bird. This piece of doggerel from my father was my first introduction to poetry.  Then came … [Continue reading]

Ram Works

When I first came to Possum Valley 40 years ago, there was no road in and no even a walking track.  I hacked a way through the rainforest, set up tiny tent and a few sheets of tin on wobbly poles for a kitchen and started building a house, now … [Continue reading]

Little Angels

Last week I had the pleasure of a visit from my youngest daughter Josie and her two grandkids from Darwin.  They are Huon 5 and Evie 3.  What a pleasure to see them again.  I regularly babysit my other grandkids, Henry 4 and Philip 2, … [Continue reading]

Sauna Reconstruction

In the last few years the sauna firebox has been springing leaks that let out smoke and made the experience less than optimal unless one wants to be cured like bacon.  My welding repairs have been successful until the last few months when it … [Continue reading]