Ratus ratus or Rat

Ratus ratus or Rat

“There’s a rat – look!” cried someone sitting at a sidewalk café table in Main Street. And sure enough, heading towards them and pirouetting beneath moving vehicles was a big brown disheveled ratus ratus. And not just any rat. This was heritage from the ends of its fishing line whiskers to the point of its scaly tail.

I couldn’t count how many generations this beastie would represent but we can guess that its ancestors surely reached back to early settlement and the diggings. Think of Dickensian London; think Black Death or Bubonic Plague. Remember those black and white lithographs in old books showing the rat-infested lanes of cities in Victorian England before the days of sewerage and rubbish collections.

Our unhappy rodent did not finish its run but instead turned and headed back to where it had set out from, then disappeared beneath a gate between two shops.

Now for a reality check. All animals groom themselves constantly, even rats and their smaller cousins, mice. So why did our rat look so scary? The most likely reason is that it was scared and it happened to also be in an agonizing death throes. Its crazed dash into what it would normally consider an exposed and dangerous situation came about as it made its final desperate attempt to find water to quench the fires burning in its belly as a result of eating a poison bait. Amen.

In the book ‘Nothing But Gold’ and in a chapter entitled ‘The Neighborhood’ that talks about daily life in the early days of the gold diggings, local author Robyn Annear mentions the problems that the diggers had with rats. While guard dogs were popular, they were too big to be effective ratters. Terriers were few and far between and there were no cats or at least they were rare.

It is on record that an enterprising miner took a dray to Melbourne and returned with cages of cats rounded up in the city’s back streets and lanes. He supposedly sold them for a pound each to residents who, on returning to their quarters, offered their new pet a saucer of milk and a comfortable place to sleep. As we can imagine, moggy had other ideas and quickly disappeared to rejoin the rest of the newly liberated feline gang which then collectively reduced the rat and mice population while at the same time driving the dogs – and residents – mad throughout the night.

A final note from the above mentioned book (available from the Athenaeum Library in Maldon) tells of the many feral dogs. Bitches would have litters of pups in the nearby bush and these eventually formed packs which attacked the miners’ dogs and roamed through the diggings looking for food. The Council put a bounty on dogs, in return for tails, and this brought about the desired reduction in wild dogs at that time.

A Good Year

Does summer really end at the end of February or should it more naturally end at the Solstice on March 21th? I don’t know.

It seems that farmers are generally happy with the summer we’ve had so far and they now look forward to the Autumn Break when the first heavy rains provide green pick and an opportunity to work the land.

Most people probably do appreciate what farmers provide for us but just sometimes we might forget. Next time you buy fresh food at the butchers or the greengrocer, spare a moment to think about where your food comes from and what it took to present it so beautifully in front of you. It will taste even better if you do.

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Mosquitos and European Wasps

Mosquitos! Have they bothered you recently? They confused me this year; they were different – big, black, and stupid. I didn’t get bitten once. A couple of them landed on me briefly and tried to look threatening, wobbled about on super long legs and then flew clumsily off into the night. It could be that I’m too old and bony and they like something a little more interesting or more bloody.

Our local supermarket and chemist ran out of insect repellent products on the Friday the Folk Festival began as did shops in Castlemaine.

So what will come after the mozzies? Locust plagues are a common occurrence in some summers as crops start to ripen and dry off. For most of us the only inconvenience is the splattering of bodies on the car windscreen and front lights although clogging up the radiator can lead to the motor overheating. Attaching a commercial radiator grill protector thingy can be handy.

Put another Wasp on the Barbie

Wet conditions over recent months have raised the question whether to expect more or less European wasps this summer. One view is that heavy rains will have drowned the occupants of the ground-based nests. The opposing view suggests more moisture means more insect life, the main food source for wasps.

I remember 2014 being a bad year for wasps and having lunch with a smoker who insisted we sit outside in the café garden. I still carry this vision of her gently blowing the wasps from her Hungarian sausage focaccia between mouthfuls.

Many cafés suffered considerable financial losses that year as customers sitting outdoors whose jam and cream scones had suddenly become landing pads for wasps, tried to find seating inside but couldn’t. When they could not find refuge they left and some never returned. It seems that we can manage the odd single wasp but multiple beasties on our food is just too much to bear.

Reducing European wasp numbers is much discussed on-line so I won’t go into too much detail here. Sufficient to say that we should invest in wasp traps which you will find in the hardware shop and, importantly, we should set them early, even before you’ve spotted the first wasp. Theory has it that we can reduce the number of nests by catching the newly hatched queens in our traps before they establish nests.

Another theory that I have not tested is that when you see a wasp feeding, it is within 300 meters of its nest and when it flies away after feeding, it flies in direct a line as possible to its nest.

Our fun suggestion is that you feed small amounts of minced steak in sizeable pieces that the wasp can just carry causing it to fly more slowly. Get some kids to follow it if you don’t think you’re up to it. If they complain, tell them it is like a game of Pokémon Go only it’s all natural and really good for you. Come to think of it, there really should be a wasp tracker app for your smart phone.

When you find a nest, hope that it is on council land so that you can call the Shire office and ask that they come and remove it. More likely, it will be on your own or a neighbor’s property in which case, if you or they are not able or are disinclined to risk removing it, then you will need to contact a pest remover.

On a lighter note, frogs are the great beneficiaries of a wet year. I wonder if they are joyfully feeding on the mozzies? They certainly sound happy. Certainly the Grey Box and Ironbark forests which surrounds us has enjoyed the exceptional wet weather.

Chocolate lily and Mosquito

Alive with wildflowers. Dichopogon strictus (syn. Arthropodium strictum), commonly known as chocolate lily,

Whither the Weather?

All this talk of exceptional weather brings us to the fraught question of climate change. That the climate is changing is now much better understood and believed by ninety percent of the population. However, things we can do to help reduce it, are actions which most people refuse to implement or are simply unable to face.

We are told on good authority that we can now expect to experience 10 extreme heat days more than usual in most years. Add another 1 degree and that becomes 20 extra extreme hot days in most years. I wonder how much extreme weather we will endure before we change some of our lifestyle habits?

Environmental degradation around the world is happening at a very fast rate, much of it caused by industry but much more by you and me. We buy all the stuff that industry produces. Those smoke stacks and jet aircraft exhausts belong to us.

What are some of the lifestyle changes we can adopt to make a difference other than the obvious one of refusing to buy into the fashion products market?

I have three suggestions to get you started. 1. Reduce your red meat intake as much as you can, by 75% if possible. 2. Avoid air travel if at all possible. You probably don’t need to see the Mona Lisa, shop in Paris, sample a curry in Chandrapur or a burger in New York. 3. Vow that you will not replace your pet dog or cat when the current beloved fur ball passes on.

I still can’t get the image out of my head of watching 20 tons of pilchards being offloaded onto trucks in Eden and taken to the pet food factory up the road. Two boatloads a week the crane operator told me. That’s 40 tons a week 52 weeks of the year. And that is just one fishing port.

If that all seems a bit hard, wait until you get the power bill for the air conditioner or be unable to use water except for drinking.

Magic Folk Festival

Congratulations Maldon on the wonderful Folk Festival. The atmosphere was ever congenial and despite the mozzies, visitors I spoke to assured me that they would return again next year.

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Jet-ski YouBeaut Bumper Sticker

This Real men don’t Jet-ski bumper sticker is a response to the reduced pleasure of other peoples nature experiences and the bad behaviour of many jet-ski drivers. We have had a number of nasty experiences in Australia recently one resulting in the death of a woman kayaker and the other involving the deliberate destruction of a rare birds nest. Our belief is that a real-man takes others and the environment (above and below the water) into consideration when thinking about their sporting adventures.

From the Sydney Morning Herald – February 2016

“My view is that jet-skis should be banned on the Georges River,” Steve McDonald told Fairfax Media.

“They have been banned on the Parramatta River [and Sydney Harbour and Lane Cove River] since 2001.

“I did a community survey on this recently and more than 80 per cent of people agreed that should occur. Parents say to me they won’t take their kids out on canoes any more because they are scared.

“I think the time has come to ban it. If it’s good enough to ban them in the Parramatta River, it’s good enough to ban them on the Georges River.”

Further Jet-ski reading

Jet-skiers on the Georges River

Injured by speeding jet-skier

Osprey chicks destroyed

… and in the USA

Student kayaker killed by jet-skier

And a coffee cup too!

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Alpaca Products from YouBeaut

Our ever-popular Alpaca is on the move appearing on even more products. All can be customized to suit your particular design requirements.

New Products:

Yes, sometimes we do design a Christmas card. Here is one for 2016. Happy Christmas everyone!

This beautiful customisable wrist watch lets you add your name or the name of someone you wish to give it to. The colour of the watch displayed here is Clear but you will enjoy playing with the colour options available. The animal in the image was photographed by Richard Lee in rural Australia.

You can modify this watch by changing anything on the watch face to other images or colours to suit.

Watch colours

This Pet Party Customizable Hat can be changed to show your very own pet photos and pet name in the text etc. The ultimate custom pet party hat from YouBeaut Designs.

This Backpack is an ideal gift for your Alpaca loving friends or for your very own outdoor activities.

These Custom YouBeaut Designs Slip On Shoes are a delightful addition to you wardrobe or an ideal gift for your friends.

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Hipster Delivery Bike Metal Photo Print

This Hipster Delivery Bike picture from YouBeaut Designs, shows a bicycle on a rainy day in central Sydney. You can change the image or add a message if you wish. Photo by Richard Lee. Copyright Richard Lee.

Product Details

Size: 10″x 8″ Metal Wall Art
Go for a sleek modern look with these stylish metal prints. The high gloss finish accentuates rich colors giving any space an urban vibe, while the metal adds energy and cheer to your design. Lightweight, durable, and easy to clean, these metal prints are perfect for fast-paced, everyday life!

Dimensions: 10″l x 8″w
Made of 0.045″ thick aluminum
Glossy finish
Pre-fitted mounting frame that floats 0.75” away from the wall
Corners rounded for safety
Fitted with an easy to mount hanging wire and wall hook
Water resistant and easy to clean
Full HD color printing, perfect for art and photography

Available in other sizes:

Aluminium Picture sizes.

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Customize YouBeaut Designs Backpacks

This new range of backpacks allows you to mix and match and customize your mood to your style! Introducing the first line of custom printed backpacks with exchangeable and customizable front “faces” from Boldface! A rugged backpack that allows you to easily change the face to fit the whatever style you want to sport!

Dimensions: 17″h x 13″w x 6″d
Front flap of backpack easily swaps out in seconds. Pull one face off and put another face on while keeping the same backpack
Quality, rugged polyester canvas exterior is weatherproof, durable and built to last
Vibrant sublimation printing allows for your images to pop
Roomy main compartment, large zippered front pocket, and convenient side pockets matches your active lifestyle
Built-in laptop sleeve; fits most laptops up to 17″
Comfortable wide padded shoulder straps
Printed in Redondo Beach, CA, USA

Customize I love Japan Backpack
I love Japan Backpack by Youbeaut
Check out more My city town Backpacks at Zazzle
Customize Australian Outback Calling Backpack
Australian Outback Calling Backpack by Youbeaut
Find more Youbeaut designs Backpacks at Zazzle
Customize I love Romantic Movies Backpack
I love Romantic Movies Backpack by Youbeaut
Shop for My city town Backpacks online at Zazzle.com
Customize I love Scary Movies Backpack
I love Scary Movies Backpack by Youbeaut
See other My city town Backpacks at zazzle
Customize Don't mess with me backpack
Don't mess with me backpack by Youbeaut
View My city town Backpacks online at zazzle

Customize with words and pictures of your choosing.

See more Bags & Wallets

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Your Named Watch from Toronto

Your Named Watch

Your Named Watch is a fashion accessory for a man or a woman – a custom timepiece and a style statement, May28th watches are the perfect gift for trendsetters! Customize the face of this watch with your name or the name of a loved one. Mix and match watch bands to create a one-of-a-kind, fun timepiece. Color options include: Top Band, Bottom Band and Keeper – Red, Yellow, Purple, Green, Blue, Pink Clear, Turquoise, Orange, Light Pink, Grey, Lime, Coral and Brown. Watch Hands can be Silver or Black.


“YouBeaut


“YouBeaut


“YouBeaut


“YouBeaut

Style: May28th Toronto Watch

Dimensions:
Diameter: 1.2″
Band Length: 9.5″
Band Width: 0.65″
Water resistant
Battery included
Japanese quartz movement
6 months manufacturer’s warranty
Choose from a variety of watch bands, keeper colors and finishes
Band Material: Choose from Glossy or Matte plastic
Hand assembled and made to order in Toronto
This product is recommended for ages 3+

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Customize: A New Zazzle Location

We have added a detailed page which allows visitors to customize a range of products – YouBeaut Designs Best 50 Customizable Gift Products – at our Zazzle online store. We will expand this product range over the coming months. Do call in and check it out.


“YouBeaut

Fabrics can be purchased as a fat square, a swatch or by the yard.

What Products can I Customize?

Here is a list of a some of the products you can easily personalize at the YouBeaut Designs online store: Postcards, Drink Coasters, iPhone Cases, Posters, Ceramic Ornaments, Magnets, Keychains, Stickers, Kids T-Shirts. Bumper Stickers, Mouse Pads, Jigsaw Puzzle, Greeting Cards. Clocks, Coffe Mugs, Tote Bags, Doggie Coats, Ceramic Tiles, Teapots, Dinner Plates, Belt Buckles, Throw Pillows, Suit Cases and Fabrics (see the image above).

More Products?

More Homewares and Interior Design products will appear soon.

About the Fabric

Inspiration is at the heart of every DIY project. Whether you are creating a beautiful quilt, refreshing your home décor, or making crafts, our custom fabrics are uniquely designed to inspire you. Our high quality fabrics are fully customizable and printed on demand with eco friendly inks, creating fabrics that are ‘sew’ perfect for any project.

Select from 7 fabric types.
Available as swatches, fat quarters, or by the yard.
Fabric widths vary by fabric type. Details available.
Fabrics by the yard print on 10 continuous yards.
Customize a design from YouBeaut Designs.
Eco-friendly: Printed with water-based Inks and contains no added chemicals or toxins. Fabrics are not suitable for children’s sleepwear or crib use. Amount of selvage on each piece of fabric will vary. Printed in the USA.

Enjoy the experience!


“Kerry

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