Thursday, 10 December 2015

Berries in the Valley

By Chris R.

The cool nights and rich soils of Possum Valley are fantastic for growing plants which we have had little success with in other locations.  We were especially excited to give berries a try and planted both blackberries and raspberries last year during winter months.  The plants were purchased while dormant, then placed in soil enriched with well composted sheep and chicken manure.  A thick mulch of spent hay was also added in spring when the first leaves appeared. 
The excitement of raspberries was short lived, with Gus and Chloe and their youngsters (the peacock family) taking a liking to the new growth.  A mesh guard has since been installed - watch this space for raspberry recovery news.  The blackberry, however, is amazing.  Note that we planted the thornless variety - take great care, especially in rural/bush environments that the thorned variety is not introduced, given it can rapidly become a weed.  The thornless variety is just as prolific as the thorned, yet much easier to manage.  
The blackberry is providing excellent shade to the north side of the hen house, great for cooling in summer and letting sun through in the winter when its foliage becomes sparse.  The hens enjoy the berries in reach and we don't mind sharing as the remaining crop is generous. 

We are enjoying fruit freshly picked from the bush and it is also delicious with vanilla Soy Good or in a crumble.  The fruit also makes a tasty jam, easy to make and store for the coming months. 
- 1 kg blackberries
- 1 kg caster sugar
- 3 teaspoons powdered pectin 

- Place the blackberries into a large heavy saucepan, crush lightly. 

- Add the sugar and pectin then heat slowly. 

- Stir until all sugar is dissolved, allow to boil for approximately  5 minutes on low heat. 

- Remove from the heat and cool for 1 minute then place in jam jars. Lid promptly while hot.

(This recipe is adapted from the CWA Cookbook).


Advent Activities at Possum Valley

By Chris R.
 Christmas is a special time for everyone in the Valley.  The lead up is busy with fundraising events, the volunteer team working hard to earn funds for the coming summer months.  A range of Possum Valley Christmas Cards were produced and have been very popular, as have our locally made jewellery and craft items, at recent market stalls and events.   
 We have fitted in time to pop up our Christmas tree and have paid special attention to keep it high up and out of the way of the lambs and goat kids who reside in the house.  They love nothing more than to chase a stray bauble on the tiles each evening with one another.   
 We have a fabulous group of helpers who we could not go without - especially our amazing volunteers, friends and vets, who we rely on daily.  We have had fun hand making personalised cards for each of these, using images of our residents in festive flair. 
 Merry Christmas! 

The PVAS Logo

By Chris R.

We have had much positive feedback on our logo and also many questions as to its creation.  We are very grateful to local artist Helen for designing and producing this amazing artwork, which captures the life and diversity of the Valley perfectly.  Helen has met many of the creatures featured on the logo and she presents them true to life. 
The centre piece of the logo is the brush tailed possum.  We have cared for a number of these beautiful creatures over the years, each with their own character and story.  Whenever possible, they are returned to the wild, to continue their life in the tree tops.  Adjacent to the possum is our beautiful Digby Damara Lamb.  He was the first sheep to move to the Valley, coming into care after being orphaned over three years ago.  He was just a tiny lamb when losing his mother to a dog attack, but has since grown into a 75kg plus sheep who loves a hug and to take a drive in the car.  After Digby came a steady stream of lambs and sheep requiring care, including a family of Shropshires,  a heritage breed from the UK, all with a wonderful character and temperament.  Ryan was the most needy of these, coming into care at just 15kg.  He is now a full grown ram and features at the bottom left of the logo. 

A hen and duck feature in the centrepiece of the logo.  The Valley is home to a number of ex-battery hens, who now spend time in the sun and scratching in the orchard.  A large area of the Valley is also devoted to wetland bird rehabilitation.  Each year brings many orphaned or displaced ducklings, who are reared and released on the Valley dam, allowing them to depart or stay at will.  Gum leaves around the logo border symbolise the bushland location of the Valley, essential for the native creatures who come into care. The famous Max the sugar glider is depicted amongst these leaves.  

‘Valley of Hope’ is the mantra we work by each day at the Valley.  Animals are welcomed and treated with kindness and respect while in our care.  All are able to  rest and recover without fear.  Sometimes hope is all that we can offer, and it abounds at Possum Valley.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Broad Beans in the Garden

By Chris R.

In late winter, we always sow crops of broad beans.  Not only are they easy to grow and highly productive, but beans also enrich the soil for future plantings.
We are fortunate that Dad collects the end of season beans and dries them for following years, so we know that the seeds are fresh and chemical free.

Prior to planting, we till the soil and add compost.  Broad beans can benefit from staking in windy areas, although the Valley is quite protected and our crops are often self-supporting.  Germination is rapid and little maintenance is required, aside from a quick watering of Seasol on occasion and some hand weeding.


The crops are almost ready for picking now and we are looking forward to broad bean bruschetta once again! Simply blanch your shelled beans, then roughly mash.  Grill slices of Italian bread or sour dough and after a generous brush with olive oil, top with the bean mash. Add freshly ground sea salt and pepper to taste. Delish!

Saturday, 31 October 2015

PVAS at the Cruelty Free Fair 2015

Possum Valley will be attending the Cruelty Free Fair 2015!

- Sunday 15th November 2015. Open 10am until 4pm.
- At Pioneer Park, Fremantle, Western Australia.

Perth Cruelty Free Fair is a free and fun day out for the community to demonstrate that a vegan lifestyle is easy and great for health and the environment.
There will be vegan food, information stalls ranging from animal rights to animal rescue groups, live entertainment, activities for the kids and cooking demonstrations.
PVAS will be selling a range of great items including artwork, jewellery, books and Christmas cards to fundraise for the Sanctuary.

Handmade Lamb Earrings
Handmade Rose Earrings
You can find out more information about the Fair on Facebook:

Spring at Possum Valley

By Chris R.

 Spring at Possum Valley is accompanied by colour and bird song.  The soils are rich and both native and exotic plantings do well, helped along with regularly added straw and manure from the animal enclosures and some occasional watering.

Beds of roses have been planted throughout the Valley since our arrival.  These are primarily old world varieties which are much hardier to the heat and require less water than their highly bred cousins.  David Austin Roses are some of our favourites.  These form massive shrubs and the flowers are laden with hundreds of petals.  Our plantings serve as fodder for possum joeys and also as an attractive, fire retardant buffer to the house.  Underneath roses, perennials such as statice and geraniums thrive.  If we look hard enough, most days a bobtail or two can be seen resting amongst the colour.
The deciduous trees are now leafy and will provide shade for the coming months.  The species selected, like the roses, are chosen for their fire retardant properties.  Young golden elms line the driveway and have only just sprouted their new leaves of the season (pictured).

Genesis in the Hills (Roleystone, WA)

By Chris R.
Recently we visited 'Genesis in the Hills' for an early Saturday breakfast.  We don't get to visit as often as we like given the ongoing nature of work at the Sanctuary, but the trip is always worth the wait. Described as 'delightful' and 'picturesque' in restaurant reviews, we couldn't agree more. 

Located on the scarp of Croydon Road in Roleystone, a trip to Genesis can be organised along with a walk in any one of the surrounding parks, including Araluen.  It is child and dog friendly and the gardens are beautiful.  If the weather is kind, we recommend sitting on the outside deck to listen to the bird song in the tree canopy overhead.  Come wintertime, enjoy the cosy warmth of the cottage, decorated with the works of local artists. 

The menu has something for everyone.  Vegetarian and vegan options feature local produce and can be ordered as a take away for those fortunate to live close by.  For breakfast we love the vegan omelette (pictured), served with an amazing homemade hummus, although there are also cereals and the 'big' breakfast for visitors planning walks.  
The lunch menu is equally as extensive and features daily salads which are colourful and healthy.  The cakes displayed on the counter are made in house and have a vegan option available.

We hope you enjoy your visit to Genesis in the Hills and are certain your first will not be your last! 


Friday, 30 October 2015

PVAS at Swan Valley Cafe Market Days

By Chris R.
Swan Valley Café
Possum Valley is excited to be attending the Swan Valley Café Market Days on 7th of November and 5th of December. The Market will be open from 10am until 3pm. Be sure to come down and say ‘Hi!’ to the PVAS volunteers and also meet some of the Sanctuary residents, including Pearl the lamb and Gertie the goat. 

Swan Valley Café offers an extensive and delicious vegetarian and vegan menu, so stay for lunch or a cake after perusing the market treasures. 

Possum Valley will have a range of items on sale, with all sales funding the ongoing costs of animal food and veterinary care.  Items include beautiful locally made jewellery, Christmas Cards featuring PVAS animals, prints, books and key rings just to name a few.  Come and stock up on Christmas presents for friends and family while helping the animals!

Swan Valley Vegetarian Café website: 
Swan Valley Vegetarian Café on Facebook: 
Handmade Bangle

Possum Valley at The Whim Festival 2015

By Chris R.
On Sunday the 25th of October, the Possum Valley Crew spent the day at the Mt Helena Whim Festival.  The Spring weather was lovely as a brief shower of rain was followed by an afternoon of sunshine. The Festival crowd was enthusiastic and plentiful. 
Visitors to the Festival were interested to hear of the work done at the Sanctuary and many were generous with their spare change in the donation tin.  Pearl the lamb and Gertie the goat enjoyed pats and photographs, as did Noodle and Rio the roosters, who announced our presence throughout the day, surprising many who thought roosters only crowed at dawn! 

Thanks to all who came down to visit us and the animals. It was a great day for fundraising and community outreach, not to mention a great deal of fun!

Saturday, 10 October 2015

PVAS at the Whim Festival 2015

PVAS will be at the Mount Helena Whim Festival this year.

The Whim Festival is a community festival featuring entertainment, activities, competitions, displays and food.

We will be fundraising at the festival for the PVAS animals in care. Come along and buy some wonderful Christmas gifts, art and craft at our stall. We will have something for everyone!

Date: Sunday 25 October 2015
Time: 9am until 4pm
Address: Pioneer Park, Mount Helena, Western Australia.

For more information, see the Festival's Facebook page:

Pizza in the Valley

By Chris R.
We’ve been enjoying the warmer spring evenings in the Valley and making use of our barbecue pizza stones.  Being in the bush, we don’t have a pizza oven, given the imminent fire risk. A covered barbecue and pizza stones produce an amazing crust as good as any professionally made pizza.  

A variety of toppings can be added to homemade pizza, including English spinach, roast pumpkin and red onion. We make use of any spare produce from the garden, including freshly shelled broad beans, Tuscan kale and cherry tomatoes, topped with cracked black pepper.
Cheezus Cheeze makes a fantastic pizza cheese and can be blended in with tomato paste when preparing the base. Alternatively, spoonfuls of Cheeze can be added to toppings to produce a melted cheese effect.  You can Friend Cheezus Cheeze on Facebook:

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Recipe: Mulberry and Apple Cobbler

At this time of the year our fruit trees are producing an abundance of fruit. Here is a cobbler recipe which is delicious served hot or cold.

- 1 cup of self-raising flour
- ½ cup of white sugar
- ¾ cup of soy milk
- ½ cup of margarine

Fruit filling:
- 2 cups of mulberries
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and quartered
- ½ cup of white sugar

- Set oven to 190 degrees C.

To make batter:
- Melt the margarine. Pour into a baking dish.
- Mix the flour, ½ cup of sugar and milk. Pour this batter over the margarine in the baking dish.

To make the fruit mix:
- Wash the fruit thoroughly. Snip the green stalks from the mulberries.
- Cook the apples in the microwave with a little water until soft. Test with a fork.

- Combine the mulberries, softened apples and ½ cup of sugar in a saucepan until mixed together. Stir to avoid burning.

What a beautiful colour

- Pour the mulberry mix into the baking dish, on top of the batter.
- Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until the batter is cooked through.

Serve warm with your favourite coconut or soy icecream. Can also be sliced and served cold as a cake the next day.
You can experiment with this recipe by adding different fruits. You may also want to experiment with the sweetness by using more or less sugar depending on the types of fruit used and the ripeness of your selected fruit.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Summer Treats: Iceblocks for Chickens

By Chris R.  

Overhead sprinklers

Summer is on the way and many animals can suffer in hot conditions if not given appropriate care.  Birds can become ill and even pass away during hot spells, so it is essential to keep them as cool as possible.

We use a combination of methods to keep our feathered residents cool.  We ensure that chickens have an overhead sprinkler which is activated every few hours and frozen cool drink bottles are placed in water containers to keep water palatable – hens will often refuse to drink hot water, resulting in dehydration. 

Frozen food blocks are great fun, providing a cooling treat for heat weary chickens. Ice treats for chickens can be made easily - place frozen corn, peas or muesli (or a mix of all three) in a takeaway food container (filling about half way), top up with water and freeze overnight. Offer different ingredients throughout summer to maintain interest and also include your chickens' favourite foods. Some people hang treats from a string to give birds a challenge.

Frozen corn treat

During the heat of the day, nothing beats a few hours in an air-conditioned room or a cool bathroom to comfort heat stressed poultry.  A retreat inside, especially for older or ailing individuals, can save their lives.

Recipe: Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

By Chris R.

Sweet potatoes can be inexpensive and are delicious in many recipes, especially soup.  Here we have used white sweet potato to create a quick and simple taste sensation.

-1kg of white sweet potato, peeled and diced
-1 brown onion, peeled and chopped
-750mL chicken stock (Massell chicken stock cubes have no animal content)
-1 tbsp vegetable oil
-Salt and pepper to taste

-Saute onion in oil over a low heat until transparent.  Add stock and potato and boil for an hour, covered, on low heat.
-Cool slightly then blend well in a food processor or blender until creamy, adding salt and cracked black pepper to taste.
-Serve with warm garlic bread.

World Animal Day - 4 October 2015

By Chris R.
Sunday the 4th of October marks World Animal Day. This event was developed with a mission to raise the status of animals, in order to improve animal welfare standards around the globe.  World Animal Day is celebrated in different ways in every country, irrespective of nationality, religion, faith or political ideology. Through increased awareness and education we can create a world where animals are recognised as sentient beings and full regard is paid to their welfare.

Possum Valley will celebrate World Animal Day by spending the day planting a range of possum and bird friendly shrubs, including bottlebrush, emu bush and banksia.  These plants can be used for forage for both the wild animals with which we share the property and also for the enrichment of animals in care. 

We ask our supporters to post a picture of their favourite animal on our Facebook page, sharing their love for the creatures with which we share the planet. 

Finally, we will also be attending the Human Chain Rally to prevent live exports, see: for further information.

For more information on World Animal Day and how to get involved, see: