Friday, January 29, 2010

Puppy Love

I'm not sure what you'd judge to be the 'cutest' about this pic...the cuddles, those big puppy eyes on the girl, the snuggling of the puppy's coat by Phoebe's friend, Kade, or the apparent implicit trust deep within those big doggy puppy!
SO - here we introduce...WINSTON, a lovely little 8 week old Pomeranian puppy...+ our neighbour, Peter's, latest addition and new companion for his other dog, Ivan.

pure appley fun!

one day last week, I was a little pre-occupied, working away steadily with my seedlings or seed sowing or something...and a little voice asked "Mum, what can I do apple-bobbing in?" Quite a surprise and yet, not. We have apples dropping in luscious red and green striped blobs all over the ground under our old Cox's Orange Pippin at the moment...and I now remember we'd thought about this game for playing at Phoebe's party...and not followed through...
So, as resourceful as Phoebe is, it wasn't long before she'd filled this large container with water, watering can by watering can-full, found said apples and begun anticipating and dipping and dripping and giggling and wiping and beginning all over again...for a very long time, it seemed...delicious, pure appley fun. Of course, the apples in a game of apple bobbing never get cornered with a nice, wide, round barrel for playing with...
All the same, it was her fun, generated by her and she thoroughly enjoyed herself and even built a little more confidence with getting her face wet...+ some progress in that department is wonderful!

the kitchen table

...where we find ourselves writing, reading, creating, (homeschooling), eating, communing and generally living the most...the kitchen table... built lovingly by Aaron from reclaimed timbers, bolted solidly together - he would call it "rough as guts" - I call it a little bit of "French Country Chic". Anyway you look at it, it sits very happily amid the cosiness of our tiny kitchen in our "worker's cottage" in the country.
The center of our home, the centre of our lives, much of the time.

Creating with My Cousins

what a fun and creative week we've had with two of Phoebe's cousins, Ben and Briana coming to stay...and the weather being rather inclement. Oh, we had plans!...big plans... to make a huge teepee playhouse outside from all the kindling wood needing to be gathered (two birds with one stone - and fun, too, I imagined!), to go for bush walks, gathering forked branches to then weave with, to paint our new fence with rainbow stripes, to flop in the river when we got too hot and needing refreshment...but Mother Nature had her own plans for us...she wanted to rain and rain and rain and then rain some more, just when we all thought we'd begin to dry out a bit.... before mealtimes whilst the cook was busy concocting delectable meals the children spent their waiting time drawing on a large sheet of plain newsprint, a whole roll of which cost the princely sum of $2.00 from the office of the Gisborne Herald. This idea came from the ever-resourceful Amanda Blake Soule and her book "The Creative Family".As it became clear we were in for an extended rainy time we came upon another idea "Calvin's Papier-mache bowls" from Amanda, this time from her second book: "Handmade Home"... and made glue on the stove-top...
...cut up loads of old newspapers and pasted and moulded to our heart's content, outside, under the cover of our (very well used) lean-to, off our downstairs living area. We blended Amanda's ideas by cutting up one of the mealtime art sessions into pieces for the final layer of the papier mache...all ending up with a unique bowl [albeit square bowls!], including pieces of each other's art - something to remember the fun week together in the school holidays...
And, here they are drying in one of the rare moments of sunshine this past week.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Stunning Crisp Cox's Orange Pippin Apples

We have this gnarled, old apple tree, which I'd have to admit was a large selling point when we purchased our property. We think it is a beautiful old variety, the Cox's Orange Pippin. Very tart and very crisp when it is ripe and striped with red over the green. I've always loved the sensation of munching into the first first apple of the new season.
There's something so magical about this great providing tree, standing solidly on the land, changing with the seasons, getting even more beautiful with age, giving shade in Summer and many, many happy hours for Phoebe.
Aaron found an old ladder and has lashed it (gently, yet firmly!) to the Apple's trunk and Phoebe climbs up and hangs out up there in her kid-sized nook. The foot of our large apple is where we chose to site her sand and mud play area - much industry goes on underneath her shady boughs.
And the apples - so many - we've been almost teased by the apple tree this year - so many undersized/immature windfalls falling over the past several weeks - from a bumper crop. It could look like waste, there are so many - they carpet the ground in places - yet we collect them and crush them up for the girls in the Permaculture Chook Dome and send them off in buckets for the neighbouring pigs to feast on. And we've waited and waited patiently for our great old apple tree's apples to finally be ready...
Phoebe's beam says it all - first apples to eat! YUM!

:: red + green ::

just because...I love RED + GREEN...I love what our Permaculture Mandala Garden grows...I love the abundance, especially that which comes from a luscious slurp of that free wet stuff...RAIN...this is the best broccoli we've grown - and I think I've even managed to get a variety-timing correct for our situation - WOOHOO! So no guesses to what I'll be doing tonight...! (mmm...plum jam..!)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Very Pretty Experiment...

We love putting bursts of colour around our home. One of Phoebe's favourite past-times is wandering around the garden, cane flower basket over her arm, carefully holding her scissors by the blades, looking for just the right flowers for all of her arrangements. Little smiles pop up all over the house.
We had these 'surprise' Calla Lillies shoot up along the eastern side of our house, after re-locating a huge patch of Rhubarb, lest the painter trample it all, whilst painting our house. [we've finally decided on colours and have gone with a charcoal grey for the main timbers, a dirty white for all the window surrounds and other trims and a Brick Red roof - so still with that country solid strong colour and white demarcation - just not the verdant green I'd originally had in mind!!] Ok - so I the Calla Lillies artfully placed in the retro milk bottles and holder were looking pretty cool (well, we thought!).
And then an idea... 'cos they were kinda plain...let's add colour to the water!
SO the food colouring came out - with suitable protections in place for clothes, precious ancient terrazzo surface on kitchen bench, etc - and the experiment began.
What we did was create the 3 Primary colours straight and then the 3 Secondary colours from proportions of drops. Very simple, very effective - and a neat home school lesson for Phoebe where she made colour using particular numbers of drops. So we counted as she droppered the colours. Since the instructions on the food colouring packaging for how to create the secondary colours were in different proportions, I worked them out so we would get the same dilution. And then I thought of the extra lessons in the future - adding in the concept of proportion and eventually teach Phoebe how to do this herself. And then another time we could work the tonal concept of colour - with less and less number of drops for a weaker dilution, etc... We love home schooling - and it is still, technically, the school holidays - why oh why do we need a holiday from learning ;-) ?? It doesn't stop in our home!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

wonder plant

there's a very special plant in my garden. I wonder whether you'll guess what it is?
It is a perennial. I can rely on it to shoot forth in early Spring, beginning it's annual role. It doesn't merely shoot forth, it means business - it catapults above the earth - literally it erupts! And from that moment of sunshine meeting first pale green tips - it is relentless until the cold weather claims it back into the earth's blanket.
It has become an essential ingredient in the mix of the Permaculture Mandala Garden we have here at Possum Bend.
It encircles the garden beds in a protective, sheltering way, bunching up and enclosing, securing the contents from invading weeds and grass and helping create just the right conditions for all the other plants to thrive.
I can trim it over and over and over and OVER! And then the resulting piles of biomass I use as mulch, chook fodder, a compost ingredient, or to make compost teas...
In the Home Orchard, when planted to encircle a tree, it can drill roots down to 3 metres, depending on the soil - and then mine valuable nutrients in the form of vital minerals back up to feed the fruit trees...
... it also is a harbinger of reproduction in the gardens - it brings the bees to it's delicate pale pink bell-shaped flowers, floating like dancing girls above the foliage...
...and I have a very healthy respect for this plant, - it definitely means business - woe betide the unsuspecting gardener - with sensitive skin - wearing anything less than their full suit of protective gear to engage in a game of trimming it! (Personally, I had welts everywhere that wasn't covered by clothing - and that day I'd chosen short shorts and a singlet to work in!)
Ironically, this plant contains a skin soothing component, called allantoin - and I treated my 'burns' with a cream emulsion containing a part of the very same plant!
As well, and now I really will give it away, it is useful for helping mend sprains, bruises and one of it's names is 'knit-bone', as it does exactly that - mends broken bones!!
have you guessed? Yes, it's Comfrey - wonder plant! Love it!

the baby fell asleep on ME!

this would have to be one of life's very special pleasures, don't you think? (well, in my opinion!) smelling their special baby smell, feeling their burrowing in for maximum cuddle-factor...YUM!
And before anyone thinks anything other than what/who this is...this is Miss Leila Olive - and no, she's not some mysterious secret we've hidden from everyone - she belongs to friends of ours and I was lucky enough to be her cradle on Sunday evening for awhile while she caught up on needed zzzzs...just her "Morere Aunty".
PS - not clucky, either!

Orchard Girls...

here's an update on the ducklings...yep, they're now quite confirmed as DUCKS! they are named officially "Poppy, Pansy, Marigold and Asha (the little black Cayuga)". In the foreground is Phoebe's most beloved chook, Fluffybum, an almost purebred Black Orpington (her comb is not quite perfect, apparently! Perfect enough, we think!). And in the background, taking care of everyone and everything is Fluffybum's man, Frank (also a purebred Black Orpington) . These lucky birds have a fairly blissful existence in our Home Orchard, which is progressively becoming our Permaculture Food Forest - certainly with their addition to the mix we are another step along the path to the required result!

Poetry from Aaron


I love your smile
Draped in sun
+ nature's kisses
Disappearing deep into the green
Bees + birds
reflect your blisses


Either side of me
Two angels sit
Discussing gardens
And ducks and sip
On coffee and Cake
Making preparations
And discussing dates
For doing stuff
And those sorts of things
That they do so well
While sun shines + birds sing