Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Today was made for pies

Mmmm... pies. The rain has been bucketing down since yesterday so as today progressed we watched the garden filling up with water and little rivers running down the paths.
We visited the boys to make sure they hadn't drowned in a puddle and found them standing at the top of the hill looking like a couple of soggy quadrupeds. There was quite a lot of splish sploshing around but they were grateful for the apples we provided.

So we waded back through the undergrowth to the warmth of the fire and really there was only one thing to do - bake! So I got on with making crumpets from scratch and (stupidly at the same time) mushroom and pinenut pies. I have never made pies before but was inspired by many of the numerous cook books that line our shelves. And I have to say they are thoroughly enjoyable to make. I made the base pastry myself as well which makes it all the more satisfying.

I got Marty to start cooking the crumpet batter as, by this stage, I had too many things on the go and couldn't keep up with it all. They turned out really well but only having 2 tuna cans with the bottoms cut out made it quite time consuming as we had to clean them out between each batch.

The pie filling was ready and we loaded up the bases, flung some puff pastry over the top, carved a little 'V' into the top of each and off they went into the oven. Half an hour later we were eating (well, first photographing) delicious home made pies. Now I just have to think up some more yummy fillings and we will have a lifetime supply of pies because I think I just want to make them everyday.

Having gorged ourselves we went off to feed the boys and check out the flood damage. When we got to the horse paddock there was about a foot of water lining the fence and bottom of the paddock and we noticed a mound of grass that was seeping (bit of an understatement, really it was a torrent) water into the enormous puddle. We questioned whether the mound had always been there but discovered that it was just a huge build up of water under the ground so you could stand on it and it was like a water bed, all squidgy. Marty wandered around on top of it...

We thought we better check out the driveway to make sure we weren't stranded. Between the horse paddock and the diveway was like a mangrove and our cattle stop was completely submerged. The paddock on the other side of the driveway also had a large river running through it from the water that was pumping out of the horse paddock.

Down the road a bit there was a big waterfall that is usually a trickle and the Makaretu river is enormous! A speeding muddy current that is 4 times it's usual size. Luckily the bridge is still there unlike a previous storm according to our neighbour who we bumped into while we were admiring the fast flowing water. Apparently it took out half the bridge and piled a huge amount of driftwood and debris up in its place.

We then went back to the house and thought we'd have a look at the view over the river from the back paddock. The Ruahines looked beautiful covered in fog but there was nothing particularly impressive.

So I'll add a few photos of our soggy day. Minimal in comparison to some places it seems!

Soggy boys having a feed


Flooding in horse paddock

Flooding down by the bridge

View from back paddock. Invisible Ruahines

How much stuff can you fit in a Mazda Familia?

I feel today has been productive but really we haven't done a lot. The locals came over to cut down a dead tree a few days ago so this morning Marty got stuck into chopping the very dead wood to pieces. I managed to pile up most of it in the wood shed but there is still a bit more to do.
The weather warning again is not looking great so we decided to take the boys out for a ride down Snee rd. They were surprisingly eager to head out - very different from the battles we had trying to get them down Spedding and Trig Rd - and loved the new scenery. Dino was a little bit too excited by it all an wanted to gallop the whole way which at times proved difficult but by the time we turned back they were pretty knackered so were quite happy to plod.

We had a few errands in town to attend to so we got the boys tucked up and back in the paddock and headed off to Dannevirke. Mitre 10 is our new home away from home. We stocked up on all sorts of bits and pieces, including some gun staples which Marty has just found out don't fit the staple gun. Gutted.

I needed to find some sort of rectangular metal ring to fix Dino's cover. Mitre 10 was no help so we went to the guy who just has lots of 'stuff' in a shed and found a few things that might do the trick. We will find out tomorrow if they work.

Then began our freebie foraging. We've been looking for pallets to help build the nesting house of the chicken coop. I've ordered 5 from RD1 which are being delivered on Thursday along with a bag of horse feed but we needed more anyway. I scampered off to The Warehouse to try and nab some of theirs and Marty wandered over to Beaurepaires to source some free tyres for the worm farm. We loaded up the car with our findings and headed off to the supermarket.

An extortionate amount of money later we were back on the road to Takapau. We'd also managed to pick up 6 'Marcy' and one 'Ivory' raspberry plants (I'm very excited about the Ivory - yellow rasperries!) and somehow had found room to fit 5 tyres, 4 pallets of various sizes and enough food and wine to sink a ship into the little Mazda. It really is true that you can fit anything in there. We proved that with the two 4 metre flowering cherry trees that we lugged back with us on our last trip to the viking city.

The boys were happy to see us return because, of course, it meant food. Marty scared them mid-meal by picking me up and spinning me around upside down. Took a while to calm Dino down but Brother was far too interested in the food to be scared for too long.

Anyway, bedtime now. I hope we don't wake up to flooding.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

And the wood pigeons supervise from above

The tuis are so tame. Not a care in the world

The boys know the grass is greener down there

Friday, July 25, 2008

The calm before the storm

Mum and Richard arrived yesterday again. This time on a mission to sort the house out once and for all. So this morning, while the storm held off, we were in the garden pruning the apple trees and attempted to tame the mass of kiwifruit branches that stretch over the garden shed and the aviary. It felt like we cut every branch but when we stepped back to take a look at our handiwork we had hardly made a dent. Back to it tomorrow provided the house is still standing and we're still alive.

Marty and Richard got stuck into some good manly work - chopping down a tree in the back paddock and it sounded like their efforts were more successful although they too have not yet finished the job.

After the previous owner visited to give us tips on what needs to be done - an overwhelming amount - some other distant neighbours visited in regards to a tree that needs to be cut down (although after tonight we may not need to!). That is meant to happen on Monday but I think we'll play it by ear due to the weather forcast of the worst storm in a decade ready to come crashing down on this area tonight and tomorrow.

We have managed to completely rearrange the kitchen today. New (to the house) comfy sofas for in front of the fire and a rotation of the rugs and a complete overhaul of the pantry - I have never seen so many szechuan peppers (ground and whole) in all my life. But at least now we can see what we're looking for and there is some order to it all.

The first of the cluster flies are upon us, buzzing and spinning around on their backs. They aren't arriving in droves yet but obviously the heat of the fire is too good to resist. When we first arrived here we were told that the cluster flies arrived annually, lured in by the heat and once inside instantly drop dead. But, in fact, they don't drop dead instantly, they will spend forever dying on the window sill in a very elaborate display of death.

I went for a ride on Dino to visit Marty while he was working up the road. I whole-heartedly thought that Dino would have a bit of a fit being in a new place with unfamiliar scenery but he was so good! Even when we were crossing the bridge he took a little bit of gentle persuasion but he seemed to respond to my kind words and, with his nose almost touching the ground, cautiously picked his way across taking in all the new experiences as he went. I was so proud of him. I think this is more the landscape they are used to - quiet roads and rolling hills - rather than the hustle and bustle of Trig and Spedding Rd in Whenuapai, Auckland.

It's been a busy day and now is the time to relax and reflect (or at least see my reflection in a glass of wine) so tra la from Makaretu for another day


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The first week

The first week has come and gone. A lot of work has been done but not a huge amount to show for it. The trip down wasn’t too bad. We drove in convoy most of the way with pre arranged coffee and food stops along the way. The horses had departed a day earlier and were living in luxury at the Woodville Horse Transport base. They were to stay there an extra night and be dropped off on Friday.

Friday arrived along with the horse truck and off scampered two very enthusiastic horses. They basically dragged me from the front gate to the paddock and, once freed, galloped the perimeter of their new home several times just to get a feel for the place and mess up the grass to make it feel more homely. At the time, Marty and I were busily raking out the sheds and piling debris into the detached trailer in the corner. The horses looked on eagerly but didn’t offer to help.
The same day Mum and Richard arrived and the rest of the night is a bit of a blur. Saturday morning Marty’s family – mum, dad, aunt and brother – turned up and were given the grand tour of the place. The weekend didn’t really turn on the weather but much fun was had.
Once a vague sense of normality returned on Monday morning, Marty and I got to work on the garden. The citrus grove, or ‘Orangerie’, is now complete with Kaffir Lime, Mexican Lime, Tahitian Lime, Clementine Mandarins, an orange tree and a soon to be hedge of garlic along the fence. It is being well fed by the enormous amount of sheep poo and dead leaves that we raked up from the sheds with a good base of blood and bone to get the party started.

The horses followed us around curiously for the first few days making sure that the wheel barrow and other various tools were in order. Brother is particularly interested in black plastic and never misses an opportunity to get his nose into whatever the item may be – wheel barrow, rubbish bag or bucket. Dino, on the other hand is slightly more cautious when it comes to foreign bodies. He prefers to eye them up from afar – except, of course, the bucket which often contains food.

This morning we visited our neighbours – a mere kilometre away – to discuss the possibility of Marty doing some work for them. All is going to plan so far. Marty will wander over there tomorrow morning and I may have a sleep in. Also, the previous owner of our house visited to give us some advice on what we need to do with the vast garden. We definitely have our work cut out for us. And today the internet was set up which will hopefully make my work a little easier and means we can keep in contact with the outside world. Hello world! I also finally got around to planting some tomato and eggplant seeds which are now tucked up in the green house. Hopefully they will sprout.

But now...the time has come, the walrus said, to head to the other room and settle into Home & Away and the news. The walrus was very wise.