Paula Stevenson Writer

Buster’s Journey So Far

‘Buster Follows his Nose’ has been made Book of the Moment at my local bookstore, Huntabook Scone!

 

Then he was off to Sydney, visiting a number of bookshops, where he met lots of great booksellers, who were very welcoming.

He was discovered on the shelves at Novella in Wahroonga, then at Dymocks in Chatswood..

Then he was found at Dymocks at Neutral Bay and chatted with fellow author Deb Tidball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off to Crows Nest where his cover was blessed with a special autographed banner by the lovely staff at Constant Reader.

 

 

Then a trip to Berkelouw Bookshop at Hornsby where he not only met the wonderful Ann but also ran into Sara Acton signing copies of Mr Walker, written by Jess Black

 

Now that school is back, Buster has some bookings at Scone Public, Tamworth Library and Scone Library.

He loved his time at Blandford Public at the end of last term , a small school with a great history.

Launch of ‘Buster Follows His Nose’

At last the day has come!

My debut Picture Book, ‘Buster Follows his Nose’ was released into the wild and I had a book launch in my local town Scone at my local bookstore Huntabook.

I had been preparing for some time, so I had my appropriately themed jumper with dogs, ready to wear and a large banner featuring the cover of the book.

Ian and his staff had the shop open and ready for us and we welcomed many from the local area and from Sydney. The illustrator Jenny Hale came up from Sydney with her husband and stayed with us at our farm then came with us to the launch, so we could share the excitement. Members of the writing group I have belonged to for more than 20 years came along for support and it was great to see so many familiar smiling faces. They even helped with the catering and one clever cook made some fluffy scones with jam and cream…totally appropriate for Scone!

I talked about my journey to publication, and the need for persistence and dedication and Jenny explained some of the processes involved in the creation of her wonderful illustrations.

I donated copies to local schools and libraries and I am getting ready to do some presentations at Scone Library and at local schools.

Buster is on his way!

 

 

Creeks Up!

My driveway looks like a river as the water rushes to the creek below.

The family of roos stand quietly waiting for me to pass. The creek is up, not running too fast but it is impassable.Never mind, nowhere to go today.

The creek crossing is looking a bit vulnerable with water up to the logs and wire. We will probably need to do some repairs again.

My morning walk has to be abbreviated as I can’t get across the first gully which is roaring and I should have worn my wellies!

 

But it is minor compared to the scenes from further north at Lismore.

And we always have our spirits lifted when our rain gauge spills over!

 

Eagles Tales

We are blessed in having quite a few wedge tailed eagles soaring in the skies above our property.

Of course the recent mouse plague has been a god send for them!

After the latest flood, Dave 1 and 2 were inspecting the destroyed creek crossings, when they spotted an eagle, perched low on a tree on one side of the creek. It just sat and watched them.

The next day we went down the road to look for it. I spotted what seemed to be a log on a rock.

It was the eagle, quite small really and with dark feathers, well camouflaged.

When we approached it hopped away in an ungainly fashion and flapped its wings ineffectively. It must be injured we decided.

We rang Wild Life Aid and were helped by a lovely lady who searched out raptor experts. One was Ben from our local vet so I chatted to him and told him the location.

He came out and went to the site with my husband, Dave 1. They approached quietly and threw an old towel over it so they could handle it.

Off it went to the vet clinic at Satur, to be x-rayed.

Ben rang later to report that it had a chronic break in a joint and they were seeking advice from the Dubbo Zoo.

Sadly the advice was that it could not be mended and the mighty bird was euthanised.

 

 

We were reminded we had a happier tale from a few years ago.

Dave 2 found an eagle on the road on the way to work and lifted it into the back of his ute.

It sat there till lunch time, then we spotted it lifting its head up. It was very much alive! Then it hopped onto the tray and jumped down.

We caught it in an old towel and secured it in a box.

The Wires team came out and took the bird off for any treatment.

A few weeks later they rang to say the eagle was ready for release and asked where it had been found.

We drove down to Kars Springs Rd and with camera ready, watched it being released.

It soared into the sky and then to a nearby tree where we had often seen other eagles.

Now we see a pair in the sky checking out the paddocks below and circling back to their eerie.

It’s a great sight.

A Walk in the Wild

A few days ago we drove out to a back paddock as David had noticed a tree with an unusual mass of blossom.

It stood near a dry creek bed, Rocky Creek, an old tree with bunches of pink and white fuzzy flowers hanging down with fine drooping leaves. We brought some back and scanned the reference books.

 

 

 

 

 

It was a Yellow Box tree, Eucalyptus melliodora , meaning honey scented and we could smell the nectar in the air. There used to be large stands of these but now they are threatened. They are crucial to the long term survival of a number of birds like the superb parrot and the regent honey eater.

In the adjacent paddock, we noticed a mound with plants and flowers; they were wild iris, these ones with blue flowers. We had found a mound before and I had transplanted a lot to my garden, where they now flower well, having changed from white to purple. I have also gifted some plants to friends elsewhere and they are growing happily in Maldon.


These patches of plants must have been the site of huts many years ago when casual workers lived near the creek and springs, without electricity and helped out on the property maybe eliminating the plague of rabbits. We have some paddocks named after these families: Haywards, Keys and Doolans.

This spring, we have noticed swarms of bees in the paddocks and these Yellow Box and later flowering White Box, will provide a great source of food as well as being a patch of beauty in the wild.

 

 

 

 

Review of ‘I Wonder’, by Allison Paterson, Illustrations  by Nancy Bevington; published by Big Sky Publishing 2021.

This review is hosted by www.justkidslit.com/blog and Books on Tour Marketing.

This delightful picture book has a serious message. It explores the theme of the pollution of our oceans and clearly explains to kids what simple steps they can take to protect the land and sea.

The central character is a small red toy boat which is left behind on the beach and as the days go by, it worries that it has been totally forgotten. It is joined by others, a chip packet, a take away cup, and a plastic bag and these items are blown into the sea. The little red boat ponders the idea that these objects are rubbish, litter or waste and so he has to consider his own state.

Luckily he is picked up by a child, repaired and repainted so he can resume his love of the beach and bobbing about in the water.

The illustrations are quite lovely with soft pastels and many full page images. At the end of the story there are two pages with issues to discuss with others.

One is ‘What steps can you take?’, such as not leaving rubbish but using the bins and re cycling broken things. The other asks a series of questions. Did you know it takes years for plastics to break down? Did you know thousands of marine creatures die each year from pollution?

This picture book provides a new perspective on recycling efforts and relates to the everyday experience of many children as they play on our beautiful beaches in Australia.

September 1st…Wattle Day

When I was a kid, my family went for a short holiday to the Southern Highlands, and we stayed in an old hotel. One night was set down as a fancy dress competition and parade and some families , who had been before, had brought costumes with them.

We had to be inventive.

I wore green shorts and top and mum pinned swathes of wattle over me. I carried a sign that said ‘Wattle I wear‘. I thought it was funny but I didn’t win.

Now in the country we celebrate Wattle Day often. Acacias are native to Australia and the Pacific Islands are are a fitting emblem. The common name of wattle seems to be of Old English derivation relating to the wattle stems used to weave and form fences, walls and roofs.

 

 

In August the Cootamundra wattles in our woodlot are covered in flowers and they last for ages. Aboriginal used to harvest the seed and grind them into flour or use them to bake a cake. You can now buy such wattle seeds from bush food companies, like @melbournebushfoods.

In our paddocks, there are yellow wattles springing up everywhere providing nectar for the bees and near the road leading from Scone, at Owens Gap, the land is dotted with the same variety, highlighting the hills.

I was drawn to a vibrant plant and stopped to take an image. It was a large plant, with huge caterpillar like flower heads and strappy leaves, a Sydney Golden wattle, a bit out of its territory. But just in time for Sept 1st.

We have two other varieties in our garden, a longifolia and buxifolia, so as Spring races in, we always have bright patches of colour and the air is filled with their sweet perfume and the constant hum of the bees.

 

 

Bee Creations

Dave 2 discovered them first.

While checking on the cattle, he spotted a strange shaped object hanging precariously from the trunk of a towering white barked eucalypt.

On closer inspection it was a beautiful, fragile creation, white folds of wax creating a hive for many busy bees inside. The wax was built in layers and when seen up close, they were like the chambers of a Spanish cathedral or the stalactites of the Jenolan Caves.

Dave 2 came back on Saturday with one of his bee boxes, a ladder, rope, wire and all the gear a beekeeper needs to ward off stings.

While Dave 1 held the base, Dave 2 propped the tall ladder against the tree and tied it on with rope. Having lit the smoker, he climbed back up and puffed away at the bees in the white wax creation. He slowly cut off one of the shells and brought it down to the box, lowering it and the bees into one of his frames.

He did this one other time then climbed back up with the box under his arm.

He wired it to the top of the ladder and puffed a bit more.

Then he scooped up the last of the bees on the wax shells and found to his delight, that he had the Queen.

It was an easy step then to persuade the whole colony to follow her into his bee box.

We checked the next day and they seemed very quiet and happy with their new home which will not be as fragile as the original, but of course not so beautiful.

We hope that the flowering clovers, vetch and blossom will provide food and nectar for our relocated bees.

And one day, we might be able to taste the honey.

 

 

Monday at Thistle Farm

The wind has dropped so we pull on beanies and coats and set off to move the weaners.

Dave’s two dogs are keen to work so they leap in and out of the side by side when ordered. They keep the cattle on the straight and narrow. Dave kindly opens the door for Gidgee while Wattle has more energy, and leaps into the back unaided. Maybe Dave will enter her in the high jump at the next Merriwa Show!

Dave 1 has opened all the gates along the road, so there are no problems.The cattle slide happily through the last gate and onto the luminous green paddock of oats.

Heaven!

Then it’s time to rattle up the hill to check the other Spring mob who are very pregnant. Most at just lolling about under trees and not as frisky as the youngsters we have just moved.

There are even some new born calves to be spotted. One near the trough is tiny and still wet. Mum keeps a close eye on it and after a rest she will move it to a warmer, less congested spot.

We check the tanks and troughs, though thank goodness, water is not a problem this season, as the creek is flowing with cool, clear water.

We return home to the cacophony of mobs of white cockatoos, corellas and galahs, all feasting on the left over hay in the now empty yards. That just leaves delivering hay to the lone bull and the partially blind heifer, who is doing a great job looking after her new calf. She is a survivor.

That sums up our day and life. Surviving all the slings and arrows and then enjoying the good times.

 

 

Lost Child

The sound of tractors and rollers grading our road this morning, made me recall an event that happened many years ago.

I lost my son…

 

We were living in a town called Colchester in the UK while my husband was working as a locum at the hospital.

We were given temporary accommodation in the hospital grounds, above the audiology clinic…but that’s another story!

My son was two, nearly three and we had just finished a year long trip around Europe in our campervan.

He had been a happy camper and sat up with his Richard Scarry picture books, calling out all the tractors and trucks he saw as we drove past fields and paddocks in rural areas.

Colchester was not quite as interesting for him but we went out each day into the town to shop.

I was pregnant with twins…explains a lot!

We had joined the queue in the fishmongers and after I ordered, I looked around and my blonde headed son was nowhere to be seen.

I dashed outside and scanned the square. He would stand out!

I scurried up and down asking anyone if they had seen a small boy. No-one had.

I then fell apart and began to cry.

A lovely local PC spotted me and shepherded me to the station where I was given a cuppa while I gave all the details of my lost child.

Soon two bobbies appeared with my blonde child hand in hand and looking quite unconcerned.

‘We found him near a building site,’ they said. ‘He was entranced by the tractors and the machinery.’

Of course he was!
I gave him a big hug and the kind coppers saw me home.

We sat up in bed that night and read another page or two of his favourite Richard Scarry book and I resolved to keep a tight grip on his small hand when we were out!