Wednesday, January 21, 2009

R.I.P Gizmo

Oh, poor Gizmo. Last night she got really sick and could hardly stand up. We had her drenched at 9.30 in a desperate attempt to perk her up a bit but unfortunately this morning we found her dead in the paddock. So sad. She was such a lovely lamb. She will be truly missed.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hot 'n' cold

Well, having moaned about the heat it is now raining and cold. Marty and I have been inside having a lazy Sunday. Playstation and poker have been the main events.

A few days ago I changed the bedding in the chickens' nesting boxes. They were highly unimpressed by the cleanliness and have boycotted the nests. Even Blanche, who was broody, has up and left (at least now we know how to stop them brooding!). So because of their dismay they have stopped laying in them altogether. Instead, everytime we go to let them out, they crowd around the door and then make a dash for freedom and instantly disappear into various parts of the undergrowth. They have obviously made much better, dirtier nests somewhere else.
So this morning we decided to stalk them to find these new hidey holes. We followed the black hen to a patch of long grass behind the greenhouse (we left her there to lay) and then I stalked the brown hen to a little nook by the swimming pool. I obviously disturbed her because she came straight back out wandered around. I found 4 eggs in her nest though and went back to get the black hen's goodies. 4 more eggs there. Blanche, we think, has a possie in amongst the jerusalem artichokes (which are now about 7 feet high!) and I'm sure the others are laying but they are just not as desperate as the others to get to their nests. The brown hen, since I disturbed her, must have made yet another nest somewhere so we'll have to find that tomorrow. But we now have 3 dozen eggs so we're going to have to make some icecream to use them up. Most of our girls are still laying the most ludicrously small eggs. Marble size almost. Here are 2 of ours next to a normal sized egg...

And there is one that is even smaller still.

There is a rose at the front of the house which has grown over a foot since Dec 30! I am amazed at the speed. You can almost see it growing! And the stem is flat and covered in rubbery thorns. Spectacular!

The veges have gone mental. We have so many zucchini now. And there are more coming through every day. The tomatoes... oh god. So many plants all crowded together. What are we going to do!? There are little canellino beans, borlotto fire tongue beans and butterbeans appearing all over the place, 2 ears of corn are forming, tons of little gherkins and cucumbers and we just made 2.5 jars of raspberry jam from the bushes in the aviary. The so-called 'cherry tomatoes', Tiny Tim, are actually forming full sized tomatoes in the aviary and the new vege garden. Maybe I read the label wrong?? Surprisingly the Ace tomatoes are the slowest to develop. Even the Great Whites are ahead of them. I will have to find an earlier red tomato for next year. And the green tomatoes still haven't been planted out. Oh dear.

Rosie and John bought us tickets to the Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra on Friday to say thanks to Marty for all the work he's put in this year. It was so cool. It was in an old woolshed, built in 1900, out at Aramoana. Amazing woolshed. Huge! And the orchestra was amazing. I think I saw some of one of their gigs at the Soundshell in Welly a while back but we were sitting right at the back and I don't think we were there for very long so this was fantastic to see a full show in such a beautiful, rustic venue. Here are a few photos...

And just one more of Dog gazing lovingly out at a game of rather vicious croquet...


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I'm Melting

Oh god it's so hot. 31 degrees today and I haven't plucked up the courage to venture into the sunshine yet. It's 3pm. Actually, I lie. I went for a wander to check everyone had water and to let the chickens out but other than that I have been cowering indoors.

Yesterday we went for an afternoon walk to the river. Marty took Dog and I rode Dino down to see how he reacted to running water. I wasn't expecting such enthusiasm from him! He walked through once with his nose to the water, went a little way up stream on dry land and when we got back to the dam he wouldn't get out. I had to force him out before he lay down in it saddle and all (and me on him!). I had thought about taking his halter just in case he did like it and wanted to have a splash but decided against it due to his terror at crossing the bridge a couple of times. I got off him and took his saddle off and he tried to head butt me into the water so he could get in too. Next time I will take his halter and let him go wild. I will take photos too. And Brother to see his reaction to water. My old horse, Shandy, used to love water and my other pony, Hogan, hated it. You never can tell. Dino is like a big Hogan but I guess the water thing is their defining difference.

I think Marty and I will head down their again today for a swim with Mono. It might be the only thing that saves us from this heat. But first on the agenda is compost removal so we will also need a good scrub in the river to remove the stench of rotting foodstuffs. Mmm...

All our fruit and veges are doing really well now the weather has cleared up. We've eaten so many raspberries already and the bushes are not even close to finishing. The grapes are growing steadily, zucchinis are just about to overwhelm us with their produce, I am terrified of all the tomatoes - they are big now and I don't know what we are going to do with them all - and the corn, I noticed this morning, has it's ear coming through. There are tons of little homemade pickle cucumbers with spikes all over them, the loganberry has finally produced a few big juicy berries (it looked a bit unwell at the beginning of summer), the chillis are coming along nicely and the capsicums are still trucking along slowly. Whether they will produce anything is unknown due to their slow progress but we'll wait and see.

As for the greenhouse I am feeling very guity about the lack of effort I've put into there. There are 4 million things that need to be planted out desperately. Great white tomatoes in tiny containers that are over 30cm tall already, the same with Aunt Ruby's German Green tomatoes, some very unhappy looking lettuce and rocket, a tamarillo that is being tortured by lack or space and heat and well as dehydrated basil and strawberries. There are more chillis, eggplants and beetroot in there too which need bigger homes. Oh dear. The only thing that seems to enjoy the sweltering temperatures and lack of water is the luffa which has suddenly taken off. It took about 4 months for it to do anything at all and now its about 40 cm tall and in need of a stake. I'm not sure whether that will produce anything either but it would be awesome if it did.

Sadie and Clyde, the pheasant chicks, are still doing well. They're not the friendliest of animals and try to escape through solid kwila everytime we go near The Ritz. But they're very cute.

Mono has just had a gad about the garden unsupervised and obviously nearly died from heat exhaustion because he is now lying at my feet panting as though he's been running all day without water. It' definitely too hot for a black pup. It has been decided that he is crossed with some sort of hunting dog. Maybe a weimeraner or a pointer. He's got really long legs and isn't nearly as stocky as a lab. And he's very long when he stretches himself out. He's going to get the snip soon. Shhh... don't tell him. He also had the last of his monthly vaccinations yesterday and put up a lot of protest about the needle. That was until the vet gave him a biscuit to distract him and then he couldn't have cared less. He definitely got that labrador trait! And he has conjunctivitis and a rash under his front legs from all the long grass and seed heads so he's got eyedrops for the next week which he's actually pretty good about.

The sheep are so hot at the momemt. I feel really sorry for them. Marley is covered under a mountain of wool and spends all day in the sheds panting. They'll be shorn soon though. I though they weren't shorn the first year but apparently they are. Spencer is ok because she's still quite little but she's feeling a bit boney so I hope she's ok when she loses all her wool. Gizmo wouldn't care eaither way, she's pretty easy going.

Eidel has become such a smooch. She's as friendly as the sheep now and loves a good scratch and a cuddle. Amazing the transformation from psychotic wild mountain goat to doclile friendly pet goat. And it didn't take that long either. Fungus is still a snob but she's not scared of us.

Anyway, I think I am going to have to start to do something now that I have prcrastinated for an hour on the blog. I don't think it's going to get any cooler for a while. Oh well. Better enjoy the sunshine while it lasts because winter will be freezing and I'llbe praying for a day like today.


K :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Life, death and a whole new year

Welcome to 2009! I trust everyone had a good Christmas and New Year? There are a lot of photos from the festive season and I don't know if I'll be able to upload many of them but I will do my best. Also, so much has happened that this post may turn into a novel. Apologies in advance.

Mum's assurances that things were 'going to be simple this year' fell by the wayside at spectacular speed. On the 22nd we had a High Tea for all the neighbours which was fun but Mum and I spent a full 9-4 day (without breaks, it seems) baking way too much food - cupcakes (icing, spinkles and all!), 2 types of scones, muffins and 2 kinds of sandwiches. By 4pm, when people were meant to start arriving, we finally tore ourselves away from the kitchen and sat down for a well earned glass of wine.

4.05 came, 4.10 passed and by about 4.15 Mum was starting to worry that no one would turn up. By this point we were all waiting patiently for any sign of life coming up the drive when finally Walter appeared around a corner and the festivities began. For such a slow start, a good number of people arrived after a while and it was all very jolly (I have become my mother).

So the High Tea was a success apart from the fact that we only served one cup of tea all afternoon/evening. Everyone got straight into the stronger beverages and became merrier as the hours passed. What was supposed to be a simple afternoon tea turned into a most-of-the-night party. By the time everyone had left we were all too knackered to even think about dinner and went to bed full of cupcakey goodness instead.

The next day Mum and I had decided to go to Hastings to get all the food for xmas (this is after a ridiculous trip to Dannevirke on the 21st to get things for the High Tea. We created havoc in both Dannevirke and Norsewood after a forgetful 'incident' on Mum's part involving a bag of pills that she desperately needed, a very tolerant bus driver and a nonexistent bus stop - I may have to tell that story later if I have time!).

So we left home at about 10.30am and expected to be a few hours. Ha! We didn't get home until 7.30 that night and that was without a vineyard stop! We scoured Hastings and Havelock for various items that they didn't have - raspberries (I was not prepared to pay $8 for 15 raspberries when we have 1000 on the bush outside - why were we buying raspberries??? Who knows), pomegranates (bye bye pomegranate punch), turkey roll and bagels. That was 1/100 of the list of items on the shopping list but those 4 took the most time. And the crayfish of course.

Hastings New World is really amazing... just not that close to xmas. There were so many people there that by the time you got to the last aisle you felt like you'd made a couple of hundred new friends, you'd seen them all that many times on your journey about the store. Mum and I were screaming at each other from one end to the other, "Have you got the tofu?? What about the yoghurt!? You're on that section... don't forget the goat's cheese!!" and we'd fly past each other, knocking people out of the way, terrified that they would get the last loaf of Vogels. I have never seen anything like it. At least in Takaka, where we used to shop for xmas in Awaroa, the population is substantially smaller and most people there don't buy things like tofu and goat's cheese! Anyway, we did it. Just. And we got the crayfish after a huge debacle at the fish shop where the girl said she's do it all while we went to New World and then we'd come and pick it up but she had failed to inform the other staff about this so Mum went in to get it and they said, "Hmmm... no, I don't think we have your order". You can imagine the panic. But, they actually had done it. Maybe they were looking for a fight?

We also, quite apart from the food shopping, had not yet finished xmas shopping so had to ran back and forth between Hastings and Havelock trying to find things. It was a nightmare. I was about to cry and/or punch someone. But we did mangae to get everything minus the 4 items mentioned above so we had to delegate those things to people who were coming up from Wellington.

So, Xmas was fun. Jen and I found ourselves mid morning in odd outfits with a glass of bubbles and Grippa-Ball on the front lawn. Ok, maybe it was only me in the odd outfit...

For the first time in years we had nice weather on Xmas day so brunch and lunch were eaten outside on the lawn. We even had some refreshing Glogg that I had made a few days earlier. I am now a fan of glogg. It's meant to be a mulled wine kind of thing from Sweden but I found a summer version of it. Yum.

Dinner was crayfish instead of traditional turkey and it was actually a nice change (quite apart from the fact that I don't eat turkey). It wasn't that deathly ill full feeling I used to get when we had turkey. It was just enough for us not to want to throw up at the though of Xmas pudding. The dog, however, obviously overdid it...

Carole, Michael and Lily arrived on Boxing Day after gathering some of the ingredients that we were unable to find in Hastings. Xmas day had given me a horrible throaty sickness so I wasn't a box of fluffies while they were here and tended to stay home rather than head off on walks and things. But it was great to see them all even if it was only brief.

On the 28th everyone started arriving for New Year so there was no break in between. Marty arrived with Costa and Gretchen that day and few others arrived a bit later. Carole, Michael and Lily very wisely left that day as well as from then on in it just got busier and busier.

On the days leading up to New Year, Pete got back onto dam building. Our last one from a couple of years ago has been washed away (which is probably a good thing because the river has also changed course so there is no water there anymore). I think Pete spent more time telling people to put rocks in different places than actually building but the building team this time was considerably larger so it didn't take them very long. Actually the first dam they built was in the shallowest, widest part of the river in an area that had not many, if any, big stones around. Marty went down, pointed out these flaws and they moved it up stream a bit. So now it's looking good. So good, in fact, that Mono has had a couple of swims now even though he's not a big fan of the water. He's getting better though.

On the 30th we all (about 15 of us) went to Lime Rock vineyard in Tikokino for Jen's birthday lunch which was nice. I think a lot of us were a bit worse for wear from the night before (lots of people who haven't seen each other for quite some time) but it was really lovely. We took a picnic (well, we ended up buying a whole picnic from Waipuk because silly me had forgotten about that minor detail of a picnic!) and sat at their old wine barrels under umbrellas (it was so hot!) and had a wine tasting and bought some wine and just had a nice afternoon out.

By New Year's Eve there were about 25 people staying with us. Some people had come passed on their way to other places for New Year but there was a solid 20 at all times. And, excitingly, on this day 2 of the pheasant chicks hatched! So cute! Babi and Dinky happily sat on them that day and we left the eggs under them in case any others hatched. I had given up hope of any of them hatching but the wait was worth it. But with new life there was also a death in the family. CJ, Jamie's dog, on his one untethered foray into the garden made a beeline for Foghorn Leghorn, our big white rooster. The rooster stood no chance and CJ had a play with him. He died instantly from CJ breaking his neck so at least he didn't suffer. We buried him out in one of the paddocks after everyone went silent when I asked if anyone wanted to pluck and eat him. Jamie felt bad but it was probably for the best. We didn't want roosters to start with and I wasn't sure what we were going to do with them. One rooster is manageable but 2 could be bad. They would probably start fighting. But on the whole New Year was fun. We tried to write Happy New Year with sparklers but there was a lack of organisation so it fell to pieces a bit.

We missed the count down because we were too engrossed in Lionel Richie but that didn’t stop 2009’s arrival. So here we are in a new year with new resolutions (I have none yet... I will think about it) and new additions to the brood.
On New Year’s morning, Fi and Tim came in to our room and said that there was a problem with the pheasants/chickens and that Babi and Dinky had kicked the chicks out. One was almost dead and the other 2 were ok but the chickens had already given up on motherhood. So they had picked them up and were holding them trying to keep them warm. One more chick had hatched and it was looking pretty unhappy. It was freezing cold and hardly moving so Fi and I both had a chick in our cleavage for an hour or so to warm them up. The other one was ok temperature-wise so Tim held onto him/her and we set up a box for them with a light in it to keep them warm. Vicky came over with some feed for them a while later and they were looking very happy with themselves. Fi and Tim named their two Noel and Sadie and the other one I named Clyde. Unfortunately, a day after Tim and Fi left, Noel went really strange and clumsy and gradually just got weaker and weaker and eventually died. I don’t know what happened. Poor little guy. Sadie and Clyde are both looking healthy though. Marty and Mark built the The Ritz yesterday so soon they will be outside (still with a light to keep them warm). They are in the inside part at the moment but I think they’ll get a bit cold outdoors at such a young age so we’ll keep them in for a bit. I hope they survive.

New Year’s Day was fairly relaxed. Some people stayed up to greet the sun and others didn’t last quite that long. I went for a ride on Dino down the road which was nice. He thought the cows were trying to race him so jig jogged the whole way to Vicky’s place and then calmly walked back as if to gloat about beating the cows. Strange horse. While I was gone everyone sat on the deck and chatted and Rach did some flax-weaving...
A New Year
Everyone left on the 2nd or 3rd. Pete and Rach stayed on and Mark and Tracy made it to Waipuk before their car broke down and they had to stay for another couple of days. They all left yesterday and it’s quite bizarre having the place to ourselves again. We got into the aviary today and did some serious weeding. I did a bit yesterday as well but today was a mammoth effort. Didn’t take that long but it’s made a huge difference. We can see the veges now! Amazing!

We went for a swim in the river just before and took Dog Dog with us. He came in of his own accord which is good. It was so warm down there today. Like a bath. Now dog is asleep and has been dreaming about exciting things. Marty is about to make dinner and I’m going to watch some TV I think. Pete and Rach may come back in a couple of days. They’ve gone to Auckland but may decide to come back via the bay.

This has been quite a post. If anyone has made it this far congratulations!

See you all soon I hope

Kerry :)