Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Flood at PVAS

By Chris R.


The day started cloudy and still on Saturday the 19th of March – a welcome relief from the ongoing hot weather and strong east winds experienced over the past few months.

Light drizzle began to fall by mid-morning. Our dedicated volunteers continued with their work, enjoying the cool change. By 1pm, distant thunder could be heard and some spectacular lightening seen to the north and east, illuminating the darkening sky.

By 2pm, storm clouds had arrived. Overhead lightening cracked and we wondered which of the trees in the forest overlooking the Valley had been hit. Thunder shook the windows and text messages arrived from the local fire brigade, alerting us to the fact that the lightening was causing fires close by. Shortly after, power was lost, which in turn meant no phone or running water. Then the heavens opened. The rain was deafening, especially for the PVAS creatures, sheltering under their tin roofs. Lucas Lamb, residing in the lounge with Pearl, became highly unsettled. His loud baa-ing followed each bang of thunder.  The chickens and roosters took cover in their night quarters. Flora the tawny frogmouth enjoyed the downpour, stretching out her wings and bathing in the rain.

The watershed from the west came down the hill in a rush, carrying much debris on its way. Pots, tool boxes, feed containers and hay were all washed with it, the surprising stream gaining momentum as the rain continued. Gutters overflowed and gumboots were needed to allow us to check that the animals were coping with the storm. Sheep in the paddock had water above their ankles. The donkeys evacuated to their shelter, most upset at the swirling, knee deep water flowing through it.

After half an hour, the rain softened, although the lightening continued. A large amount of debris was washed up against fences and gates. The eastern paddock fence bordering the brook was washed out, taking soil, leaves and even Digby’s soccer ball with it. Fortunately, his much loved ball was located down stream and retrieved for him to play another day.

The afternoon was spent fixing holes and regaining access to paddocks. The following day was also filled with cleaning around the house, grading fire breaks and driveways and attempting to fill in wash-aways in the paddocks. Despite our best efforts, Albert the donkey presented with a sore foot on Sunday evening, resulting in the vet attending Monday. It was confirmed to be a sprain, most likely from a slip on the newly altered surface.

Once many of the repairs and cleaning were complete, we took a walk through the Valley and noted that the dam had risen over 30cm. We spied pieces of wood on the roads where lightening had struck the highest of trees and the neighbourhood was a hum with road workers clearing and patching damage. Just five days later, a beautiful green hue can be seen in the paddocks, heralding the welcome end of a very long and hot summer. 

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Vegan Recipe: Dutch Savoury Pancakes

By Chris R.

- 1 2/3 cup (175 g) plain flour (all purpose), sifted
- Orgran egg replacer (equivalent of 2 eggs)
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 tablespoons (25 g) Nuttelex Light
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 110 g mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 110 g peas, frozen are fine
- 3 cups of grated Biocheese (original or cheddar)
- 4 asparagus spears, finely chopped
- 1 cup vegan chicken, finely diced (Fry’s strips or equivalent)
- Salt and black pepper
1. Beat the flour, eggs and teaspoon of oil together. Then beat in enough water to make a batter the consistency of single cream.
2. When smooth, place aside in the fridge for one hour.
3. Finely chop the onion, slice the mushrooms and grate cheese.
4. Take a large frying pan, 25 to 30 cm in diameter, and heat the tablespoon of oil and the Nuttelex Light until the Nuttelex Light stops sizzling.
5. Add the onion, chicken and peas and stir until the vegetables begin to soften and the onion becomes translucent.
6. Light the grill, as you will need it well heated. 
7. Give the batter a stir, then pour it into the frying pan with the vegetables. Add the frozen peas if you are using them, the sliced mushrooms and the cheese. Season generously and press the cheese and vegetables into the pancake mixture.
8. Cook over a very gentle heat for 4 to 5 minutes. Put the frying pan under the hot grill for about a minute, until the top becomes golden brown and just a little crusty.
9. Serve it straight from the pan in wedges, like a cake. It will be quite thick, approximately 1cm.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Pearl - The Wiltshire Lamb

by Chris R. 

Pearl at 6 months

Pearl arrived at Possum Valley in August of 2015. She had been hand reared for a week by a farmer’s wife on a property in Harvey, after being left orphaned by the mother ewe in the paddock, presumably due to her poor vision.  She was unable to walk and had fallen ill at just a week old.  The fantastic crew at Greener Pastures Sanctuary assisted in getting Pearl to Murdoch Vet, where the resident veterinarian stayed with her overnight in the clinic, ensuring hourly feeds to re-hydrate her.  After coaxing with a bottle, Pearl took her first steps and began walking unassisted the following morning.  While diagnosed with congenital blindness, she was bright and alert and travelled home that afternoon.

Pearl has fitted in well at the Valley, becoming immediate friends with Lucas Lamb.  The two are an inseparable pair and spend each day sitting together in the lounge or house paddock. Pearl received two hourly feeds for her first two weeks, which extended to four hourly feeds when she became stronger. She accompanied us to work, to functions and on holidays, making many friends along the way. 
Pearl and Lucas 2016

At five months of age we noticed Pearl’s mobility was becoming difficult. Her legs didn’t appear to be keeping up with the growth of the rest of her little body and she was reluctant to walk.  X-rays and examinations by the team at Murdoch Vet revealed that her development was delayed for her age, possibly due to genetic differences which were also related to her blindness, or a lack of colostrum as a new born.

Pearl at ten days

Pearl at six weeks

Being blind and partially immobile presents challenges for young Pearl but the vets are confident that with ongoing care she can lead a happy, comfortable life.  She has lamb ‘physio’ twice a day, walking laps of the lawn area under supervision to keep her legs muscles working.  She has the comfort of sleeping in the lounge and bed and enjoying outings when the weather is mild and cool.
Pearl in the garden

Pearl often accompanies us to outings. She is very relaxed around people and loves pats.  Follow Possum Valley’s Facebook page to keep up to date with Pearl’s adventures and her ongoing care with Lucas and friends at the Sanctuary.


Saturday, 5 March 2016

Vegan Recipe: Cruelty Free Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

By Chris R.

Everyone love cheesecake and we especially like this one as no animals were harmed in its making.  It is delicious and easy to prepare and also makes a fantastic birthday cake!

Cruelty Free Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

- One pkt vegan arrowroot biscuits, crushed
- 20 Oreo biscuits, crushed
- ¾ cup light Nuttelex, melted

- 4 pkts of Tofutti cream cheese (plain)
- 2 tspn vanilla essence
- 1 tbsp Cadbury drinking chocolate, sifted
- 5 Oreo biscuits, roughly chopped
- 1 tbspn dark chocolate, grated

- 100g vegan dark chocolate, melted

- For the base, mix all the ingredients together and press into a spring form tin.  

- Place in the freezer while preparing the filling.  

- Meanwhile, drizzle the vegan chocolate for the decorative topping on a sheet of baking paper, in a pattern of your choice. Place in the freezer for the garnish.

 - For the filling, mix all ingredients well and then pour on to the base.

- Put the cheesecake in the freezer for at least an hour before serving. Complete the cheesecake by placing your chocolate garnish on the top.