Saturday, August 30, 2008
Anyway, Mum came up on Thursday this week to get an extra day's work in up here. That probably hasn't helped with my knowledge of time either. But we've finally planted the last of the raspberries, the 6 Marcy and one Ivory that we bought close to a month ago. And I have planted another row of garlic which may or may not survive due to the late planting. The broad beans that I mentioned in the aviary, that I had lost all hope for, sprouted one solid shoot today which is hugely exciting. I will never judge the beans again. And the greenfeast peas that we planted in the greenhouse are showing their little heads already, well ahead of anything else in there. Although the basil has started setting it's feet in the soil but I have a feeling it will be a slow process. As for the other exotic seeds we planted, I have my fingers crossed and will keep you posted.
Marty and Mum build a 'superstructure' next to the garden shed for the newly acquired tecomanthe climber to sprawl over. I think the plan is to build an arch with the climber with a little walkway underneath to visit the plum trees and one of the flowering cherries. And also as a scenic adventure around the aviary.
The chickens had their first completely free range day today. We've kept them in the coop this week so they get to know their area but today was the big release. We opened the door at midday and Blanche, Dinky and Babi gingerly stepped out into the paddock for a scratch and a look around. But it wasn;t long before all 3 of them had scuffled under the gate and were noseying around the aviary digging holes and chasing each other around. They have completely cleared the weeds around a bulb by the back fence and loosened up the dirt around the superstructure in anticipation of more poles going in to support the climber. Rita and the chicks (who are growing SO quickly!) stayed closer to home. They ventured out of the coop but didn't make it past the gate. One chick got stuck on the other side of the coop fence and was making a terrible racket. Rita didn't help it so I picked it up and put it back inside and off it scurried under mum. But surprisingly the other 3 went back to the coop of their own accord at about 3pm so we didn;t even need to round them up. Gosh they are good!
Here they are by the garden shed rumaging in left over Jerusalem artichokes with the superstructure visible in the background (2 poles with a plant in the middle):
Yesterday we caught Dinky, Rita and the chicks and put them inside the aviary to give us a hand with some weeding. They are the funniest things to watch. They were in seventh heaven with all the prolific bugs in the newly turned soil.
Mum went for a walk yesterday as well so I took Dino out with her. Dino was much better behaved than he had been the day before when I had a battle trying to keep him under control. He's funny in the fact that he is insanely keen to walk away from the paddock but not so keen to walk back. Most horses, including Brother, are the opposite - reluctant to leave their home but race to get back. I'm not sure why that is. I'm hoping to get back out again tomorrow but it's weather dependant.
Last night and this morning has been focussed on curtain and cushion making. Mum has been in fornt of the sewing machine for hours. Marty and I have done varous bits and pieces ironing and pinning. One cushion has been completed and I think there is only one remaining curtain to do. It will be a relief once it's done. And it will be so cosy in the kitchen.
Anyway, there is a game of Scrabble in progress (which I have politely backed out of in order to write this) but I think I'm off to bed.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
So he sorted out the maze of hoses by the tank in the shed paddock and informed us that it was empty even though we thought it was feeding the other tank. Hmmm... anyway, we now have pressure for the greenhouse hose, the tap on the corner of the house and also found that we have another tap down by the garage and that too has pressure. And he fixed the hot water cylinder so now we have consistently hot water in the kitchen and the 2 downstairs bathrooms. No more filling the bath up with the kettle. And we learned a bit about the layout of the pipes around the farm and the different valves. Very exciting!
I watched the chickens fluffing around for about an hour today. Babi gave herself a dust bath while Dinky made a huge fuss trying to sort out a nest in preparation of egg laying and Rita took her tiny flock on an outing into the long grass of the uncovered part of the coop. Blanche occupied her time pushing Babi out of her dust bath and generally looking at me sceptically. But it looks like all the girls are laying (minus Rita while she raises the young 'uns) somewhat consistently. We were told it would take about a week for them to settle in and therefore lay but, as I said before, we had eggs the morning after they arrived. They obviously approve of their new home.
We gave the boys a groom as well. Brother is losing an astonishing amount of fur now that the worst of the weather seems to have past (still raining but nowhere near as cold) and he has gone a beautiful dark bay, almost black on his neck and oh so soft. Dino didn't build up as much of a winter coat but he is still shedding a significant amount as well. And because of all the loose fur they have been quite itchy and ever coverless opportunity they get they are nibbling at each others shoulders, backs and tails. Brother actually had Dino's entire tail in his mouth the other day which was rather amusing. Dino loved it.
Marty finished off cleaning the greenhouse today and I got back into the aviary while the rain held off and continued trying to clear around the 4 trillion raspberry bushes so that we can plant another 7 just beacuse we don't have quite enough yet. And a gooseberry bush has popped up in the middle of them all even though it was never planted there and the closest one is about 20 metres away on the other side of the garden shed and a fence. How it got there is beyond me. Not to mention all the kiwifruit roots that have burrowed under the concrete foundations, the garden shed and the undercover part of the aviary to pop up in various places. I have no idea how we're going to control them. Rampant roots.
Whenever I write the chores of the day it seems like so little but it has taken us all the daylight hours to complete. I guess the work is on quite a grand scale at times. The chicken watching was not helpful on my part. Oh well. If you saw them you would undertand. A constant source of entertainment.
Mum arrives tomorrow morning and Richard is up on Friday so we're in for another busy weekend. I will write about it soon.
The earthquake the other night was quite scary. We are miles away from where it was centred but it was still strong here. Apparently not as long as it was in Hastings but it gave us a good jolt awake. 5.9 is pretty big. I am hoping for no more. The previous owners of the house told us that there were frequent earthquakes here but that is the first we've felt. However we have only been here full time for 5 weeks!
Monday, August 25, 2008
Pete and Rach came up on Monday which was great. They both took a week off work to come and hang out with us. There were a few board games as well as impromptu Trivia question readings and quite a few glasses of wine. It felt a bit like a holiday for us as well.
Tuesday was the snow which I have already written about, Wednesday I had to work and also had a meeting to discuss further work which was great. Rach and I went up to Napier briefly to do that and didn't end up getting home until the evening. Thursday seems to have been erased from my memory and Friday all hell broke loose.
Friday, as usual, mum and Richard came up but this week there was a twist. Angus had just arrived (literally that morning) back from Canada and had arranged to come and visit us because his parents were going up to Hastings anyway meaning they could drop him off. So Mum decided to get a lift with them as well leaving Richard to come up on his own after work.
Pete, Rach, Marty and I spent all morning cleaning the house because Mum wanted to 'show it off' to the visitors and when they finally arrived at about 1pm, Sherry and Roger didn't even step foot inside the house. They dropped and ran (very wise).
It was great to see Angus and we gave him a tour of the land after there was some confusion over how big 25 acres is. It was easier to just show him.
The rest of the day faded into night and Richard arrived later on after Angus had passed out on the sofa and the game of Trivial Pursuit had become tiresome.
Saturday proved to be a little more interesting. The boys (Marty, Pete and Angus - not the horses this time) woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed realdy for a mission up into the Ruahines. Rachael and I headed off to the paddock to tack up Dino for Rach to have a ride. It was all going quite well when she first got on bgut something happened and to cut a long story short we ended up driving to Waipuk to find a doctor but were told that the closest place was Hastings for a possibly dislocated shoulder. So Rach was dosed up with pain killers and bundeled into an ambulance which I followed to Hastings. Once there, there were more painkillers and a lot of waiting before finally getting x-rays done and surprising us with the results which showed she had broken her shoulder in 4 places and had a severely bruised ankle from Dino's hoof. So they got her plastered (in more ways than one) and shuffled us out the door 5 hours later. Poor Rach. It's her right arm as well so I think she'll be off work for a while.
Sunday saw Marty and I leave before everyone else. Mum was driving Pete and Rach home because Rach couldn't drive but Marty and I had a meeting with our new chickens in Lower Hutt at 3pm so we took off at about midday. We got to Lower Hutt and were offered plenty of chickens but we ended up with 4 hens and 5 two day old chicks. We almost couldn't find the last brown chick but he started cheeping loudly just as we were about to leave so we spent another 10 mins crawling around in the bushes trying to find him amongst the undergrowth even though he was completely camouflaged. But we got him in the end. I would have felt awful if we'd left him behind! But thank you to Judy and John for providing us with such lovely chooks. They will be well cared for
L - R Blanche, Dinky and Babi.
So we have their mother, Rita, and 2 other brown hens, Babi and Dinky, and one beautiful grey and gold girl called Blanche. The chicks don't have names yet as we don't know if they are really chicks or if they're dudes.
We got them back to the farm and it was raining and dark so we piled the 3 chickless girls into the coop and kept Rita and her brood in the laundry in a box overnight. Rita doesn't seem to mind us too much but it may be because she's more worried about her little ones.
This morning we reunited her with her friends and watched a frazzled Babi wander around in search of a good egg laying spot. She finally kicked Rita and the babies out of her nest and within a minute had laid an egg. Our first home laid egg! Blanche had been making a bit of a fuss for most of the morning and so at about midday she produced our second. Eggs for breakfast tomorrow!
We got back into the farm work today with a bit of a touch up on the chicken coop and a massive poo pick (I am astounded at how much poo those horses produce). We actually had too much to fit in the trailer. What are we going to do with it all!? It took us most of the day.
While I was gardening, Marty cleared all the wood in the back paddock and found this beautiful, enormous native slug. He was about 12cm long. Very pretty though and apparently they don't eat garden plants. Only fungus and stuff so he can stay. He's back in his homely wood pile now.
The Mighty Boosh is about to start so I must be off.
Au revoir :)
Monday, August 18, 2008
In between snowfalls more work has been done on the chicken coop and now all that is left is to put the roof on and black out the door with something so the girls will be snuggly warm when they turn in at night. And providing all goes to plan we could have chickens as soon as tomorrow. A couple of riflemen came to watch over the work which was nice. You don't see many of them around here although there have been more than usual in the past couple of weeks. They are so tiny it's unbelievable.
The tuis and bellbirds are EVERYWHERE but I think the wood pigeons have flown to warmer climes for the timebeing. I don't blame them really. Although it's sunny it's still bloody cold. Numb extremities and ice cream headaches are becoming a bit of the norm now. Hopefully next month will prove to be slightly warmer.
As beautiful as the snow was, I don't think it's done our garden a whole lot of good. The onions I planted not that long ago don't seem too pleased about the situation. The garlic is as big and strong as ever though, thank god. And the rest... we'll just have to wait and see.
The boys (Pete and Marty, not the horses) have taken off to Dannevirke to collect various bits and pieces hopefully including the quince and almond trees that we bought last weekend but couldn't fit in the car and a selection of jars so we can start seriously on our "Un po' di" jam and preserve making ideas. Of course we'll have to do a few trial runs first!
Last weekend we also bought a Loganberry plant, another Tahitian Lime, a chestnut tree and more lettuce. I also ordered a ridiculous amount of seeds over the internet that should arrive today or tomorrow. I am so excited. I will put a list of them up if anyone is interested (surely not!).
We also had another horse incident, this time involving Marty, on Monday. BUt we have figured out that it is not Brother just being flighty or mean - he has a sore shoulder. So if pressure is put on it through the saddle when you lean forward, he gets a fright and takes off. So he has been turned out for a few weeks and we will be massaging Arnica cream into it regularly to try and help the recovery process. Poor boy. He tripped in the arena at the weekend and we think that is what caused it. He may have just pulled a muscle. Hopefully nothing more sinister.
Anyway, here is the list of seeds that have been ordered. I am particularly excited about the Great White Tomatoes, the Luffa (going to make my own loofahs) and the artichokes. I think they forgot to add a Thai Hot Chilli onto the list as well. The chillis grow upwards. Who would have thought I'd get this excited about seeds! Half of them probably won't grow but we'll try it anyway.
1x Carrot Berlicum
1x Pepper Marconi Red
1x Pepper Californian Wonder
1x Tomato Great White
1x Artichoke Green Globe Imp
1x Zucchini Black Beauty
1x Radish Cherrybelle
1x Chamomile Roman
2x Tomato Ace
1x Pumpkin Queensland Blue
1x Basil Dark Opal
1x Basil Sweet Genovese
1x Cucumber Homemade Pickles
1x Lettuce Lollo Rossa
1x Lettuce Summer Queen
1x Leek Carentan Giant
The birds seem to love it. They're all swooping and diving around and the waxeyes got into a piece of frozen bread by the aviary. There is no stopping them!
I got so excited this morning. I thought Marty was joking when he said everything was white outside. I jumped up and went screaming down the hall onto the front lawn in my PJs and gumboots. Pete and Rach were thinking something really bad or really good had happened. I had to wake them up as well because it was just too good to be true! I am like a little kid.
Anyway, I'm off to help Marty finish the last of the chicken coop and then it's into Dannevirke for a spot of shopping.
Sunday, August 17, 2008
We transplanted all the strawberries in the aviary so now they are all in one place rather than scattered about and this afternoon found a little chaffinch had squeezed its way in there somehow and was having a nibble on the garlic and the bean/pea seeds we planted a while ago but have failed to do anything as yet. So Marty and I tried to coax him out through the open door but the chaffinch got himself into a bit of a state and ended up trying to get through one of the tiny holes in the chicken wire so I ended up catching him and taking him out. His little heart was beating so fast, poor boy. Hopefully he will warn all his friends not to go in there though.
The wood pigeons are back in full force. When we first got here there weren't that many of them but they have appeared out of the forests and are happily getting drunk on the tree lucernes and then launching themselves into the air only to drop to within a metre of the ground before finding the nearest tree and crashing through onto a flimsy branch. They bob away there quite relaxed for quite some time. Both Marty and I have nearly been killed by low flying wood pigeons. One actually hit Marty from behind a while ago. We thought we'd left the low flying objects when we moved the horses away from Whenuapai airbase but apparently we were wrong.
We are still fowl-less but I am hoping to remedy that this week. The chicken coop isn't quite finished but it's very close and I will take a photo of it tomorrow if the weather is nice. But here's a before photo. We have now enclosed the part that is in the front of this photo and added nesting boxes for the girls. I hope they appreciate the work that has gone into it!
And also just a quick photo of the spectacularly coloured rhodo by the shed paddock (but far enough away from our boys' chomping teeth). More and more rhodos are coming out as the weather begins to get warmer (supposedly!) but this one is by far the best at the moment.
We have a busy week ahead of us. Pete and Rach are coming up tomorrow for at least a night but maybe longer depending on what the weather looks like up the mountain and then this Friday Angus is coming back from Canada and spending the weekend with us (as well and Mum and Richard) and Sherry and Roger will be here on Saturday night as well so we'll have a full house. It will be great to see everyone though. I'm really excited about it all!
The boys were in a funny mood today and we had a bit of an incident which has led us to decide that we won't be letting other people ride them just because it's a bit risky. All is fine but I think it's for the best. I think we'll wake up early tomorrow and take them over the hills to tire them out a bit.
Marty has fallen asleep next to me so I think that signals bed time. I will try to keep more up to date though.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Anyway, a lot of work has been done this weekend, no thanks to me. Because of my late night last night I had a bit of a sleep in and woke to find everyone working busily. But their efforts will be rewarding. The chicken coop is almost ready to go standing proudly in the back paddock looking like a D.O.C hut. I will add photos once it is completely finished. But possibly this time next week we will have chooks laying happily.
I also took Dino for a much needed ride. He wasn't happy to be taken off the long grass in the bottom paddock on his own and neither was Brother who paced backwards and forwards the whole time we were gone, whinnying nervously (he has such a funny raspy whinny - so cute). Dino was so good. I made a make shift arena in the arena paddock and, inspired by the minimal equestrian I have seen from the Olympics, tried to do a bit of simple dressage with him. He did very well for an old boy who's been used primarily as a farm hack. I think he must have had some arena experience before.
And tonight we have made a little map of the land here. I love Google Earth. So here is our land...
Time for bed now though. The last of the new plants will be put in tomorrow and I think Marty is off to work if it's fine weather. And I will also fill you in on the events of the weekend.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
Anyway, it has been rather cold here today. In fact, it snowed. Actual snow on the farm. It didn't linger but was very pretty to see it sprinkling down upon the land in full sunlight. It is quite a surreal feeling standing in a paddock and watching the snowflakes fall like tiny bits of fluff from the heavens. Still, we got a lot of work done.
I was kicked off my post of chicken coop duty with Richard as my replacement so I sauntered between the garden and supervision of the aformentioned coop. My chickens will have no less than the best! But, Mum got to work on the various large trees that we scattering the driveway - flowering cherries, 'Compassion' rose and 2 Lemon Lodge rhodos - and also spreading a few large clumps of dahlias around the garden. In my 'garden' time, I started getting some of the herbs we bought on Monday into the ground/pots. Thyme, oregano, mint and white alpine strawberries are now happy getting their feet wet in their new home.
When it started snowing I brought the horses back up to the shed paddock to put their under rugs on but as soon as we got there the sun came out so I left them there, even toying with the idea of taking thier covers off altogether. Luckliy I didn't because as soon as I left it started snowing again. It can be very deceptive here. The boys were happy to be back in their old haunt and galloped a few laps - I'm sure they were playing a game of tag - before stopping on the 'road run' and peering at me through the leggy trees. They are so funny. I just love them to bits!
As for the first day of the Olympics, I am unimpressed with TVNZ and their lack of information about what is being shown. I even rang them to ask for any clue as to what was possibly on in the 6 hour blocks they have between news items. They told me to 'just watch it'. Ok, 12 hours in front of the tv. Cool. Just might get a glimpse of something interesting. All I want to see is Mark Todd. I love him. Good on the rowers though. We are doing quite well. Still not a fan of the Evers-Swindell twins though.
People are off to bed now. I can't believe it, they are leaving before the equestrian. What are they thinking. It is the only really exciting thing in the Olympics other than the gymnastics in which there are no NZ competitors.
Ok, time to go. Hopefully (although no guarantee) the equestrian will be on sometime in the next 6 hours so must watch consistently until it is. Must get the matchsticks under my eyelids. I will not miss it. I missed Mark Todd on Gandalf and Heelan Tompkins on Sugoi this morning in the dressage so I want to see the rest of the team at least. But the most exciting thigs are yet to come -show jumping and cross country. Cross country particularly. Oh god I can't wait!
Thursday, August 7, 2008
Marty and I spent all day away from the house. We needed to go to Waipuk (I tried to go yesterday but my mission was thwarted by the car not starting) to pay off a vet bill and stock up on a few things but we got waylaid droppig off a cactus to Robyn and having tea and a tour of his amazing garden (with a bit of pig canoodling thrown in) and before we knew it the afternoon had snuck up on us and the day was looking long.
We got to Waipuk, paid the bill and set off on our supply hunting. Mitre 10 bought us more joy in the form of one of their workers who was hilarious. I was actually crying with laughter. He apparetly had a lot of experience building chicken coops so had a lot of information to pass on. He sent us up to an engineering place in search of 'flashing' for the nesting boxes but it turned out to be a bit of a wild goose chase so we had to head back to a plumbing place where we changed our mind and didn't end up getting anything.
We got some food, fixed the brake light on the car and started the journey home. By the time we got here it was almost 4pm and I had semi committed myself to making muffins (bananas needed to be used), bread (we had none) and soup (capsicums and pumpkin needed to be used) and Marty had started making lemon cordial a few days ago (one of the few items put on hold by the car dilemma yesterday) so had to finish that off. It is now 7pm and the bread still needs to go in the oven. Better get onto that.
Ok, I don't think the bread will turn out very well. It doesn't seem to be rising as it should. Hmm... not sure what I did wrong.
Yesterday I managed to get all the onions in. Way too many for us to get through on our own so we may be sending some off to other locations.
The weather has packed in again so I think there are pies on the menu again for tomorrow. I've been getting into the baking and cooking recently. We picked some of our own rocket and silverbeet last night (really the only 2 things that are growing in the aviary at the moment) and had them for dinner. Yum yum. It is so nbice eating home grown stuff.
Marty and I went for a really good ride on Monday. Down Ellison Rd, along Bergeson and then back over our neighbours land. It was awesome. The horses adored getting out into the country - Dino went crazy trying to gallop the whole way - and it was really nice for us as well because we haven't been over the hills on them before so it was a new experience for us all.
Anyway, I'm exhausted now. Going to watch Back to the Future and then it's the opening of the Olymics which should be interesting. The equestrian is all on this weekend so I'm super excited about that. I'm so happy Mark Todd is back. I can't wait.
Monday, August 4, 2008
Anyway, we have begun planting a few things here and there. We finally got some garlic in the Orangerie a week or so ago and then when the weather cleared up a bit after the storm last Thursday we got the first of the climbers into the aviary - snow peas, broad beans and sugarsnap peas - and also planted a second row of garlic. The first row we planted is already sprouting. It has grown so much in 3 days! Soon we shall be gorging ourselves on homegrown produce!
On the way back from Welly today we were going to meet Marty's mum in Waikanae at a cafe but it was closed so while we waited for her to arrive we had a wander around the garden centre next door. We picked up some brown onion seedlings and broccoli seedlings. When Renata arrived we headed off to another cafe IN a garden centre and had some breakfast before loading our car with more seedlings - oregano, thyme, mesclun, curly parsley, borage, red onions, white alpine strawberries, pak choy and mint. So we will be back in the aviary planting everything when the skies clear again.
The boys were very happy to see us when we got back. We did a big poo pick and fed them and then retired to the indoors, partly to shelter from the rain, and partly to make pizza. Pizza was awesome! As was the Mighty Boosh.
But I think it is now bedtime. I'm exhausted. It has been a bit of a big weekend. Hopefully we can take the boys for a ride tomorrow and plant at least some of the plants that now line the deck by the kitchen. It is getting slightly ridiculous. And still need to get the flowering cherries into the garden somwhere. We finally managed to get the plum trees in last Thursday as well.
Ok, sleepy :)