Saturday, September 27, 2008

Compost Magic

What you see here is a happy child, knee deep in the piles of 'Brown' (leaves) and 'Green' (lawn clippings), helping me to make our inaugural compost pile, of which we have 11 or so to make over the coming months.

We had a lot of fun constructing our 'pie' with the aforementioned ingredients, as well as buckets of seaweed tea and a large amount of dried cowpats, which I'd mown to the texture of dessicated coconut. It was kind of like making a giant lasagne, only a bit smelly and not too tasty looking. I'm sure all the funghi and thermophillic bacteria were licking their lips, though, as that thing has heated up very well and a day later, it was steaming and almost too hot to put my hand in (did I say that???)

Anyway, this was momentous and exciting for me - almost as exciting as getting the chook dome made.

Cherry Blossom Festival at Morere, Hawke's Bay

On a sunny and warm Spring Saturday 2 weeks ago, we packed up some food, donned sunhats and crossed Tunanui Stream from our place over to Geoff and Yuki Prickett's land to meet them under their Cherry Trees for our very own version of the Cherry Blossom Festival, right here in Morere, Hawke's Bay.
The tui sang loudly, the bees buzzed around the blossom above us and we enjoyed celebrating Spring in the sunshine with excellent company, great food and even a glass of local wine.
Alyssia wandered about delighting in so much pink.

Phoebe wore her sweet Cherry dress, now sized as a top, as she has grown lots since last Summer.

Umbrella Houses

Neighbours, Phoebe and Kade, having their morning tea in their "umbrella houses", which they like to have set up quite often for their houses. There is a lot of family role-play type of play happening at the moment, which I think is rather lovely. There are always lots of babies and cooking and making a pretend fire and going to the shop to buy some plants...

Phoebe and the Waterfall's Gift

A sudden downpour the other day led to immense pleasure for Phoebe as she discovered the pure joy of sticking your tongue out and letting the rain water cascade from our bit of un-plumbed guttering down on top of her, her head and then her whole body. Finally, amid shrieks of delight and non-stop giggles she was standing there, shivering, soaked and happy, as naked as the day she was born!

Her favourite book lately has been The Waterfall's Gift, which we finally had to take back to the Library, after extending it's issue already... a waterbaby for sure.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Phoebe's Tree Mural

Inspired by an article in the July 2008 edition of Your Home and Garden magazine which showed a beautiful girl's bedroom with a giant wallpaper tree, I decided Phoebe's bedroom might enjoy being given a painted version...Wendy style... had to have a nest, Mummy...oh, and a butterfly and a Mother bird and a Daddy...

Crabapple Blossom...aaah

We have been blessed with some very warm Spring weather (22 degrees yesterday), perhaps causing such a lot of dew overnight? I had to share the shear beauty of these crabapple blossoms and am wondering, perhaps even salivating at the thought of jars of jewel-coloured crabapple jelly in the Autumn...nature is amazing!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Parsnip ?Person?!

Our inherited garden is generously seeded with parsnips of all ages and stages and as you can see from this (sorry, a bit out of focus!) pic, some curious shapes. I think, judging by the 'state' of the top of it, that it could even be several years old and have re-rooted...I just couldn't help giggling, scrubbing "HIM" up and taking the pic. The parsnip chips we ate with our evening meal last night were the best tasting yet...Phoebe helped chop them into the 'chips' and we roasted them for only about 30mins at 180 C with a lovely coating of olive oil and freshly ground salt and pepper - simple and YUM! (oh, and very low GI, apparently, too).

Slug Patrol

The chookies have had breakfast and a high-powered protein hit at that - and we haven't...yet!
I got very excited this morning as we did our regular Slug Patrol and counted up 39 slugs - that is our record here at Possum Bend.

Our method comes from a neat little book I was given at Christmas time - Trowel and Error: Over 700 Tips, Remedies and Shortcuts for the Gardener - I highly recommend it.

Trowel and Error: Over 700 Tips, Remedies and Shortcuts for the Gardener
And it's simple.

When we eat oranges and grapefruit we cut
the flesh out and leave the skins as 2 cups...or Slug Lures which we place around the garden upside down...and on wet nights (so that is most nights here) the slugs slither in underneath them, making them easy prey in the morning for us to find and dispose of them....and who gets them?

The chooks!

It's a win-win situation...we don't even mind their slimy feel anymore...mmmm.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Snowdrop Child

A few weeks ago I finally made my first "Flower Child" - just as the snowdrops were appearing in abundance all around the gardens. She is residing on the Season Table in our entrance.

Cow Pats and Upside Down Swinging

Today has been another gorgeous Spring day. Sunny and warmer - I even have sunburn across my cheeks and nose - or is it windburn?? Time to apply the sunblock in the mornings again...
Phoebe has had a LOT of fun today - she developed upside down swinging - complete with the special facial expression...
Later we went on a dried cow-pat hunt (I use them mowed to a crumb as part of the seed-raising mix) down the easement to the river with Kade...

Strawberries au naturel

Apparently, strawberries are a forest floor dweller who root rather shallowly...and following this concept, today Phoebe and I planted these into the leaf litter amongst the white violets, fuschia-coloured polyanthus and pink Chatham Island Forget-me-nots under an old grapefruit's hoping!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Spring Lamb

The latest arrival to Possum Bend is the new lamb, next door at number 11. Kade is the proud owner of a very beautiful 1 week old lamb and she is such a joy to watch and be around.
Here Phoebe and Kade are down at the river with the lamb, the dogs and the Dads - the Aarons - both named Aaron, coincidentally.
We have decided we will wait until next Spring to have the lamb experience ourselves - they are quite a commitment at 3 feeds a day - just like a baby.

Kade is Phoebe's special friend and this is a cute pic of him cuddling his Dad, Aaron. Noice.

Further Gardening Update on the 2nd Day of Spring!

The lush vegetation in the glasshouse is a nice crop of Brassicas and a very vigorous crop of celery. Earlier we were buying Awapuni Nurseries seedlings from Pak 'n Save and for $2.97 we were guaranteed at least 12 plants per bundle - well - we counted 30 celery seedlings that have all grown very well. We've done sharesies with the neighbours several times now on this basis. There is always MORE.
Outside the glasshouse is Phoebe's Patch and here you can see the rhubarb we have divided and replanted into her patch as well as the MANY small crowns she has potted up completely by herself. We counted 23 pots and they all look lovely and healthy. Great gardening Phoebe.
At last we are into our own seedling production.

The chook dome is in position number 7 (which represents 14 weeks - 2 x 7 - of gardening in the system) and the bed in the foreground is bed number 6, freshly planted with seedlings including the first tomatoes and capsicums, protected inside their plastic bottle cloches.

The Babies are now 15 weeks old

A goodly portion of Phoebe's day (when not playing with Luke or feeding Ginger) is spent right here inside the little chooks' A-frame tractor in the Orchard.
Having handled them constantly since Day 1, they can only expect to be picked up, cuddled, cossetted, fed and talked to - surely! She is mostly very careful and loves them to bits.
Sometimes it takes prising her out of there...
In 2 of these pics she is holding a speckled boy we've named Pecker (don't laugh - he Pecks alot!) and the dark bird is Rusty - another very sweet-seeming boy

Pretty Eggs - thank you chookies!

So this is what we are getting - lovely semi-organic, cruetly-free freshest eggs with yolks a rich orange-yellow that stand pertly when good! We are particulary taken with the blue/green coloured eggs... we believe "Perky" is responsible for one of them and we are still doing the detective work to discover who lays the other one.

As you can see inside the girls' Chook Dome, there is an old lawn mower catcher, which is what the hens are laying their eggs in - it has a handle, is dark, cosy and weatherproof if faced away from the wind and it was FREE! (from the Dump!).
In the background of the photo, you can see a beautiful house truck, which we are taking care of for some friends who are busy wine-making in Oregon at the moment.

Some of "The Girls"...



Gladys and Goldie

foraging in this pic are Toffee and Rosie...lovely.

My Wheelbarrow from Huhana is Pink - ROOLLY Pink!

Sometime ago, Huhana gave Phoebe a lovely wooden wheelbarrow she'd found along the just needed a bit of TLC. Finally Phoebe's Dad has found the unique solution to the rotten barrow in an old drawer bolted on instead - PERFECT! And today it had to be made pretty...PINK, of course!

Monday, September 01, 2008

The First of Spring

Because it is the First of Spring, there MUST be a blossom pic.

This ballerina pink beauty is from our orchard....

fresh, warm breeze, sunshine, petals floating, grass growing, lemons gilding, bees humming...happy days

The Permaculture Mandala Gardens are Progressing

Here I am watering in some more seedlings - which mostly by now have probably been munched by the slugs who must believe I am very silly by providing them with such a delectable banquet on a fortnightly basis - seedling we are hoping will begin to feed us soon.
What may look like a bunch of sticks poking out of the ground is starting to have significant meaning for us at Possum Bend. These sticks are marking out our circular beds, partly so we know where to step and also to guide our excitable canine friend, Luke in his lolloping across the lawn.
We now have 6 beds planted and the chooks are into their second week on what will become bed 7. We are steadilly creating paths from untreated macrocarpa sawdust, the waste from a local sawmill at Mahia and the whole garden is now beginning to take shape.
We've definitely been finding out through a bit of trial and creativity what is needed to make gorgeous, nutrient-rich beds for planting into - some of what we are gardening on has been a bio-dynamic, organic vegetable garden before and some is lawn in grass, including couch.
We are now piling as much "bio-mass" as possible into the chook dome each time they are newly on a fresh 'patch', with the intention that volume depth-wise will kill the grass below and create a thick, lush carpet of richly-fertilised mulch for planting directly into.In the foreground of this pic is the newly planted crab-apple, it's placement timed for it to be fruiting (hopefully!) when the chooks return to this bed on their 3rd rotation in Autumn next year. (yes, this is a long-term project :) )
Phoebe is very keen in the garden and this is the beginning of "Phoebe's Patch", just outside the glasshouse. Quite often she is quietly rescuing babies of this and that and potting them up - she has an area of the glasshouse and now this patch, which she has already snaffled up some of the seedlings for.


Yep, so this is a VIP in our household - Very Important... PET!
Ginger has risen to heights one can only dream of in petland. Luke is still number one, of course - the first thing Phoebe does in the morning is run down the steps to cuddle Luke!
And yet, Ginger has something that is bringing out such a caring and nurturing quality in Phoebe, previously unseen quite to this level.

As I'm absolutely sure you will all KNOW that goats will eat ANYTHING! Well, apparently, Ginger really likes it if you pick pine branches for her - "she's small Mummy and she can't reach them". As well, "Karo leaves are her favourite, Mum - I've got to get them for her", ETC!!!
They talk to each other. They really do. Ginger says "Maaa!" and Phoebe says "Maaa". This is repeated many times and they say a lot - just what exactly is completely beyond me.
And blow me down - Phoebe has tamed this once wild beast. Ginger, our cloven-hooved clover hoover now does not run to the end of her chain at break-neck pace each time she senses us moving somewhere vaguely toward her direction.

James McIntyre

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to have young James McIntyre stay at our place while his Mum and Dad went out. Phoebe especially enjoyed his company and loved doing things like reading him stories in bed in the morning. James turned 1 in May this year and comes along to Playcentre at Nuhaka as well.