Saturday, 5 September 2015


So, I'm lying awake in the middle of the night. Wide awake because I have jet lag after getting home from Europe. I've already tried a cuppa and a read but I couldn't focus so I go back to bed and listen to the radio.

Radio National entertained me for several hours. One show in particular I want to mention here. Ann Jones presents a program on Saturdays called Off Track and I catch it occasionally and download the podcasts sometimes. Last night I heard a repeat of  her Saturday 5 September program called The colourful life of the Australian Magpie'. In her opening paragraph Ann mentions that the long warble of the magpie in the morning is a most welcome sound to a weary traveller returning from overseas. She's right. Her program was most welcome to this weary traveller, especially the accompanying sound track. The magpie's carolling is indeed glorious.

Daryl Jones has been researching magpies for a long time and Ann Jones chats to him about the territorial behaviours of the birds. He calls them 'very unusual birds' because they defend their patch vocally every day of the year rather than just at breeding time, and a pair can hold the same territory for up to twenty years.

I'll have to pay more attention to the birds in my patch.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

A holiday in Europe

I'm out of the country for a few weeks, visiting family in Switzerland and exploring France.

If you're interested you can follow my travels on a blog that I published five years ago and have now reactivated. Boobook explores Europe.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Solar power research

At Bridgwater on Loddon there is an experiment happening. These dishes of curved mirrors focus sunlight on to photovoltaic cells. You can read more about it here. These are the views from the road but it would be good to see them up close. I wonder if they ever have open days. 

It's a pity that here in Australia the renewable energy target keeps changing - how can people invest in the technology and research with confidence?

Monday, 20 July 2015

Riverina cotton

Around Hay the land is flat, very flat, and there are large areas of saltbush country.

But it is also perfect for irrigation.

It's winter, so not the growing season, but as we drove on the roads near Hay we couldn't miss the fact that cotton growing is a major activity. There are cotton bolls lining the highways, debris from carting the large yellow rolls of cotton to central storage areas after harvest. I know cotton is an organic product but I wonder how long it takes to disintegrate. One plus might be that bird nests in the area will have soft linings.

Cotton debris littering the sides of roadways.
The hundreds of large cotton rolls are wrapped in bright yellow plastic. Is that plastic recycled?

Rolls of cotton
And there are 'turkey dams' everywhere - large dams that perch on the flat landscape, that must take an enormous amount of effort and resources to build. In my area the local water authority is closing shallow water storages because they are inefficient, the water evaporates too quickly. So why are they building shallow dams for cotton irrigation? I'll have to do some research.

So I'm morally torn today. In my hobby of patchwork quilting I only use cotton fabrics. In summer I love wearing cotton because it it so cool. But as I drive through the cotton-growing area I'm feeling a bit negative about how we grow the cotton.


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