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.