Sunday, September 28, 2008

flatworms and compost

Okay I am awake at the wrong times quite a bit lately. But anyway, here is some more blathering.
This is a flatworm. We have them in our garden. I've been feeding them to the chooks every time I find them. Apparently they eat earthworms. Which makes them very bad in my books. I've also encountered a couple of yellow oval shaped flatworm type creatures in the same habitats.

I have realised with great excitement that I am going to be able to start another new compost. Given the volume of grass clippings, chook house mix and manure I've collected of late, I think I've actually made one of those fast instant heaps they talk about in compost books where you build the compost heap in one day (well ours was in a week but close enough I think). So next lawn mowing day I'll start another one with the new grass clippings and the sheep manure which I bought from the local Lions fundraiser whcih is currently still bagged up.

On Friday morning I was working quietly on extending the garden which runs alongside the back of the house. I'm only extending it by 10-20cm width-wise in most places (it is about five metres long), but that is taking a while as I dig out well established grass and perennial weeds. I am appreciating how much easier the no dig method is. I've only dug two gardens in the traditional way at this home (I've got one more to finish after this current one), but they have taken immeasurably longer than the ones we built by the raised bed no dig method. I am excited that I now have my chooks to do most of the work for future plots for me.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

chookity chook

The lid is up on the coop in the photo above and I've mucked out the front half of the run. The terracotta pot works well as a water trough as they don't kick it over like the plastic versions and it is high enough that they don't kick straw into it.

Getting the old tobacco patch ready for potatoes to go in it.

Piccy time

Out the front. The beginnings of my yellow garden.
The herb and flowers strip near the kitchen. Chives, pansies, aloe vera, parsley and freesias.

You wanna be our neighbours? I abandoned the potatoes in tyres project and piled all these up to take to a friend's. Only they haven't quite got there yet. There is a lot growing around the chaos though - bay trees, a lemon, garlic, strawberries, miner's lettuce, spinach, calendula, onions, borage, silverbeet and chamomile.
Mint good, silverbeet good, wandering dew not so good. Getting there though. This area was overgrown invasive trees two years ago. At the top of the photo you can see the wandering dew peeking over from the neighbours. That source of roots and seeds isn't going to disappear any time soon. Lovely neighbours though.

back, going

The great news is my sick chook is now better. These things happen apparently. Yesterday I changed the straw in their coop and half of the run (the wettest half). I let them out to roam for nearly an hour. Then I carried on gardening. Fabulous for my soul. The mess inside is inconequential. Inside for lunch, I got a telephone call from my second cousin. My Dad's cousin who lives in the same town as me had been in A & E all morning. Brighid and I got clean and went up to the hospital, unsure what to expect. Mary is 81. She is good now, but I spent much of the day with her and stayed last night at her place.

Isn't life without children, away from home, amazing? I read an entire book in the morning while Mary slept and got about 20 rows of knitting done after that. I can now report that I loved Mr Pip. I'll be thinking about that book for a while yet. I must search out Lloyd Jones' other books.

Tomorrow we're off to the top of the South Island to see my grandparents. It is school holidays and we're all excited. After that, various other plans seem to be brewing around me. Hope I get more gardening done amongst them.

Friday, September 26, 2008

trouble in poultry paradise

One of our chooks is sick. She was very quiet all of yesterday and finally laid a shell-less egg in the late afternoon, just plop out in the open. She has a red anus and is clearly unhappy and only eating and drinking a fraction of her usual enthusiasm. My initial research online suggests an infection which should be treated with antibiotics.

My chook guru friend Raelene rang back with ideas once I was in bed asleeep with the children (I'm up in the middle of the night because I don't have sensible sleep patterns at the moment. Nothing wrong, just not sensible), so I'll have to wait until the morning to learn about them. Pending Raelene's views, I'll probably have to ring the vet in the morning (I have never had anything to do with a vet before. This appears to be more responsibility on top of having two children. Cue: goggly eyes).

I'll also be down at the feed shop buying straw to replace the existing straw in the laying box. It wouldn't cost a great deal more to replace the straw in the run and perhaps that is even more important given that is the wet area. Presumably the existing stuff will go on the compost and diseases heat up and die. Not sure about bacteria dying at temperatures which won't rise above 70 degrees celsius and may be quite a bit less. But then the chooks aren't going to be living on the 'made' compost.

I'm also thinkg garlic. Planning on cooking up some wheat with garlic and cider vinegar in the morning and feeding that to the chooks. Everything benefits from garlic in my world view.

It is par for the course possibly that the run is so wet and that is a breeding ground for disease. I am liking the idea that we could build our glasshouse this summer and use it as a chook home out of tomato season and a tomato growing house the rest of the time. Living in a bog was never good for Irish potatoes and neither is it good for chooks, or so I'm learning.

I do continue to get huge satisfaction from collecting slugs every afternoon and feeding them to the chooks.

Last night's dinner was quiche which included eggs, leeks, thyme and parsley from our garden. I liked it. Favourite Handyman liked it. The short ones demonstrated their lack of sophistication and class on the taste preferences stakes and were rewarded with empty tummies.

I am making progress on Fionn's knitted sleeveless hoodie. I'm up to the armhole shaping on the back.

I have started a great book called "Mr Pip" by Lloyd Jones. I should be reading it now instead of blogging and knitting. Or perhaps I should be sleeping. Being sensible.

We don't have a television so I was unable to form my own opinion about a programme which apparently aired here in New Zealand showing that plastics recycled in New Zealand are shipped all the way to China where the create a huge plastic city of filth and are recycled into more plastic in unpleasant circumstances. Maybe it is not so bad that our Smallwettown's council provides no recycling facilities.

Our one solitary feijoa tree needs some food and a friend. I didn't realise feijoas were hungry until recently. So some blood and bone and mulch will be coming its way shortly. I've weeded around it. It was sold as a self-pollinating variety but apparently even self pollinating feijoas do better with other feijoas for company.

My seedlings are coming along nicely. If tomorrow is fine, then I'll be able to plant out some borage, calendula and silverbeet.

Have I mentioned that the yams are showing above the ground now?

The comfrey has risen from its winter slumber. I want more of it though. I wonder how it manages in bog soil. It would be more useful than Wandering Dew.

Out the front I pulled more onionweed yesterday. I'm weeding around the wild blackberry, which I've decided to cultivate this year. In the background to the onionweed, blackberry and the plots which await pumpkins and zucchini are tulips and irises. I like the idea that there are somewhat hidden treasures of beautiful flowers here. I have silverbeet growing around the perimeter of the zucchini patch at the moment. No place too wet, cold, hot, dry, sunny or shady for silverbeet round here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

calendulas for love

I've blogged before about some of the challenges I feel when those I love are hurting and are also on the other side of the world. I've also blogged (not with a tag which enables me to find it alas) about the particular challenges friends in several places have faced this year with miscarriage. Right now I'm excitedly awaiting news of Molly's baby in London and of a friend's baby here in Smallwettown. A couple of months ago another friend in London had her long awaited baby after a history of heartbreaking difficulties.

It hasn't all been roses though and my heart is currently heavy for one friend in particular who is grieving for a lost baby now for the third time this year. Words are totally and utterly inadequate.

When I blogged on this topic last time, I talked about the enduring power of calendula flowers for me as an image of hope for those I love all over the world who are yearning for a baby. Throughout the winter which has just broken, we have had calendula flowers in my garden a lot of the time and we have more now. I have planted them in several places and have more seedlings in a pot nearly ready to be planted out. Most hopefully, some have self seeded. Only a tiny number have died. The strength and beauty of these flowers gives me hope.

May your desires to share your love with new life be fulfilled.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


There is one, possibly two, mice trapped in the wash-house cupboard. For the millionth time I think that I should buy a really decent torch and hide it from everyone else so I can properly investigate these things and deal to them late at night, without the assistance of my toddling daughter.

It is raining for the eighth time this week. It is only Tuesday. If I were to scientifically test the truth of this apparent hyperbole, it may turn out there have been more than seven periods of rainfall before now and since Sunday morning.

If my brain would function at a higher level than right now, then I would do a post rounding up the many blogs I have discovered in recent months written by New Zealand women that I enjoy. For the moment I'll just say how much I've enjoyed reading of other kiwi women gardening, crafting, thinking. The showcase will have to wait.

Onion weed. It is quite juicy. I think that it might not flourish in drought-prone areas.

Local shopping. I bought a piece of pork roast and a bag of soup bones from Jonesy the butcher. I told him (not for the first time nor for the last) that he is quite precious. We have lost our fish shop here in Smallwettown. I got the impression that many people are telling him this. No pressure Jonesy, only your butchery is on the market and we can't bear for you to go.

Nice piece of pork. Extravagant, even more so when I poured a 500ml bottle of cream into the pasta sacue pan and made silverbeet (home grown of COURSE) and pork pasta sauce. But we do have lots of pork left for dinner tomorrow night and lunches tomorrow.

Colloidal silver. I must read again how this works, or what the claims for it working explain. It does seem to be doing great things for my son's skin.

Holiday. We are going to visit my grandparents (how truly wonderful is that? I am 36 and I still have grandparents. Indeed I have grandparents who are still working and running their own lives.) next week for a few days. I'll be fitting in a visit to one of my aunts who is an ace gardener and poultry enthusiast extraordinaire. Last year when we visited, we drove up the drive to the farm they moved to the year before and saw on one side my uncle's vintage tractor collection and on the other many, probably hundreds, of chooks. Then in the house we watched the newest kittens beginning to explore. Enid Blyton, I've found your muse.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


12 silverbeet seedlings (me)
2 cabbage trees (Favourite Handyman)
3 coriander plants (me)
3 miners' lettuce plants (me, who is frustrated by my lack of knowledge about whether or where any apostrophe should be in the name of this plant)
3 aloe vera plants (me)
2 broccoli seedlings (me)

Then I weeded the potatoes out of one my compost patches (yes really. I have learnt beyond all likelihood of forgetting not to empty unwanted potatoes onto the compost heap)

I made another compost heap with grass clippings from yesterday (well FH and the children did that bit), mouldy sawdust and chookhouse litter from my friend Raelene.

Then I worked on my third (but really my original) compost, pulling out big branches which aren't decomposing suitably quickly, shuddering at the dead mouse in there, planning the garden I am going to put in its place soon. Some of the beautifully decomposed compost from this heap went in with the cabbage trees.

I weeded some creeping buttercup and docks out of the garden which will be home to potatoes next month.

Then it rained and blew and we all scarpered inside until I found my wallet and went out and bought some aluminium sulphate for the blueberries (probably evil - didn't ask about it's organic status) and a packet of sweet corn seed.

Now I am inside, drinking beer (weekend: 4pm rule does not apply) and refusing to go near facebook. I also bought a pile of baking goodies and am about to make a trillion school lunches' worth of muffins and pasties.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Miners' Lettuce

We went to dinner at our friends' place tonight and came home with two miners' lettuce plants. We also ate some in a lovely salad. I've eyed this plant up in the seed catalogues before as it grows easily right throughout winter. But I've not bought any, put off by my lack of success with Cornsalad. Apparently Miners' Lettuce grows in shady wet places so I have no problem with finding homes for it to flourish.

Also today, I let the chooks out for a longer session. They spent ages fossicking amongst the wet soil in the spot I buried Bokashi near yesterday. That has had the effect of aerating the top layer of soil. Turns out they love to eat Wandering Dew (or is it Wandering Jew?) which is great as we have plenty of it trailing around the unkempt wet bottom corner of the section.

One of our chooks produced a double yoker this morning.

Favourite Handyman mowed the lawn - first time since early winter I think. Everything looks heaps better almost instantly.

I set to weeding more onion weed. We do seem to have billions of the plants. The area I'm working on at the moment is one I cleared late last summer and sowed beneficial insect mix in. That cultivation resulted in many many onion weed seeds germinating and taking over the area. So this is the beginning of taking it back.

Made bread again, for the first time in ages. I do feel a bit domestic goddess when I make bread. Which can't be bad.

Starting to plan summer camping trips. The local summer only swimming pool is opening next week. Promise is in the air. I can hear it whispering.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

sewing up poultry palace

A week ago I put plastic over part of the chook run but various things meant I didn't get to cover that with shade cloth and secure it strongly. So much of it was flapping around not very usefully by half way through the week.

Today I got out the wool needle and some wool (as well as wire and pliers and twine) and sewed the plastic back on. Then I covered the first third with shade cloth and tied/sewed that on as well.

I set up a plastic plant pot tray with stones on the bottom and then plenty of grit and small rough edged stones and put in the sheltered part. I've made various experiments with making grit available to them but hopefully this one works. One hen layed a shell-less egg this morning so I know she at least is not getting all the calcium she needs.

In the afternoon I watched the three chooks having a dust bath together. I don't think I've seen this before. Quite cute, though I realise that may sound crazy. Now I know where they like to do this (I would have thought it not as dry as they would prefer), I'll put some sand in that corner.

I cleared out the top layer of poo and straw from the chook house. They poo in one end and lay eggs in the other. I'm not sure where exactly they sleep. They roost on the roof of the chook house in the day but they seem to spend nights inside the house part.

I fed the chooks lots of slugs and also some grass grubs and cicadas. I mostly found these as I dug up an area to bury bokashi in. The spot I chose is at the wettest end of the section and was pretty soggy. It isn't prime growing and the bokashi has to go somewhere right now, so I didn't worry overly about compacting wet soil. This area lost it's grass when I left the children's paddling pool on it for two long. It does have sun from 2pm until dusk at the moment though, so that means quite reasonable growing times in summer. More silverbeet will go in there I guess. That copes without full sun quite easily.

I cleared out various pots and made more. The three aloe vera plants are using up valuable sheltered sunny space on the porch windowsill and I've decided to plant them right up against the house in the herb garden. This spot gets very little rain as the eaves protect it, so the aloes may do well there. It greens up the strip where nothing else grows too. The coriander and one pot of lettuces have been evicted from the kitchen window sill. They are on the outside table now and in a couple of days will go in the garden. At least the coriander will, I may keep the lettuces in pots while it is so wet and the ground has so many slugs. I guess it is the slugs who are eating my pea shoots, but some are still surviving and growing.

In the large garden shed, the one with a window large enough to grow things, I have pumpkin and silverbeet seedlings. The silverbeet has gone under the cloche outside and I'm hoping the zucchini seeds will germinate soon.

Inside, I've potted up six basil and four tomato seedlings. I have more to do tomorrow. Like last year, space on the kitchen and study windowsills will be at a premium and the tomatoes will get the best spots.

Finished off the day with a family trip to Hokitika. After some errands, we bought fiosh and chips and ate them at the beach. We watched the waves from the car rather than invite the seagulls to join our feast.

A beautiful, perfect day. Thank you.


Small, significant.

After years of bad eczema, my son's immune system seems to have made a big leap to overcome some of it's challenges. We are no longer gluten free or egg free and his legs are the best I've seen them for nearly three years, possibly longer. Naturally I'm very pleased for him even if I don't know what's around the next corner dermatologically. It's changed my cooking, freed me up to play round with some old old favourites and experiment without recourse to some unattractive and/or expensive substitutes. I made quiche yesterday - two days' worth of lunches and the leftovers for dinner tonight. I've pulled out the Edmonds recipe book and as I type, Oaty Apple Loaf is cooling on the wire rack. It's made me appreciate some hitherto taken for granted ingredients, the 2-3 years we've spent gluten and egg free.

I let the chooks out to free range for the first time late this afternoon. They just followed me around! They also gobbled the grass enthusiastically. As I didn't get a chance to reinforce the plastice cover on the chook run by sewing some shade cloth on top in the weekend, vigorous winds on Monday and Tuesday have created gaping holes in the raincover. The rains which followed have really made the run very wet and I want access to fresh grass for them. I'll let them out for longer tomorrow.

I still haven't planted the latest silverbeet seedlings, but I did go slug harvesting in the early afternoon for the chooks. It really is a satisfying pastime, preparing the soil environment for safer planting and feeding much loved delicacies to my chooks at the same time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

more garden notes

For intellectual reflection, you will have to go elsewhere, possibly for a long time.

Bought more silverbeet today - 12 seedlings. The price of green veges in the supermarket continues to climb until I felt rather dizzy just reading the prices this afternoon. So I cannot possibly have too much edible greenery in our home garden. Most of these seedlings can go out the front and live there until the zucchini plants (which are yet to germinate) go in. Although I have some lettuce seedlings which I started from scratch, planting lettuce would be a waste of time at the moment. The slugs would devour it completely in one night. Once the weather dries up I'll be able to get the beer traps working.

I pulled more onion weed this morning - we have hundreds and hundreds of onion weed plants and I'm after making better use of the soil they are currently living in.

I cut my three yellow irises and three of my red freesias and put them in a jam jar in the kitchen. They are gorgeous and I get to enjoy them more there.

That's all. The rest of my life is getting in the way of me gardening. Rather unfortunate and I'm gagging to change that.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Palace maintenance

Poultry Palace is too wet. Not too wet to provide us with 13 eggs in the first week of production, but too wet for the general good health of the chooks as they are not at this stage allowed out to free range.

So today I started to cover the walls of Poultry Palace with plastic. I used some from my last mini-tunnel house experiment and hoped for better success with this project. I bought some tent pegs to secure the chook run to the ground so the whole plasticked-in palace does not become a sail and relocate to the neighbour's place. I went down to the garden nursery and bought more plastic and took the opportunity to buy some bright lights silverbeet seedlings and more potting mix.

I need to take photos and upload and download them. Or is it the other way around?

I spent some time on the small slightly raised garden bed I've made on one of the higher spots in the lawn. I lifted the logs and fed all the flatworms and slugs to the chooks and clipped the grass around the logs. I planted the silverbeet seedlings using lots of potting mix around each one. The bed is otherwise layered with pine needles, a bit of sand, chicken manure/sawdust, wood ash and pea straw. As is so often the case for me, I have heaps of tiny seedling plants which have just germinated recently and no larger plants. Enter the garden shop. Buying their seedlings has to be better than buying cut greens in the supermarket. I cannot bring myself to pay good money (indeed large sums of money) for heavily sprayed, not particularly fresh or nutrient dense, cut and plasti-wrapped spinach or silverbeet when I can grow it myself any time of year.

Yesterday I weeded out the front where I made a bed for pumpkins last Autumn. I pulled lots of onion weed out - that is the only plant which made it through the heavy horse manure and pea straw mulch I made back in March. I didn't need to dig it out - in this wet soil I could pull almost all of it out barehanded without breaking the plant and leaving the roots. I know onion weed is edible but I've done a few experiments with eating it and we really do have so much more onion weed than I can imagine wanting to eat. The horse manure has turned into lovely soil and I'm hopeful of a good pumpkin crop this summer. The pumpkin seeds haven't yet germinated at the tool shed window but there is still plenty of time.

I have two irises in bloom now - both yellow which is perfect given they are in the garden which I have long term plans for turning into a predominantly yellow garden. I have quite a few freesias out and many are flopping across the garden or adjacent path. But where I have some freesias growing up through the roses, the rose bush is holding them in place and they look lovely, white blooms poking through fresh glossy green new rose leaf growth. So I need to find some good companion plants for the freesias next year so they don't flop everywhere.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

peas and stuff

Germinated peas: lots
Eggs: 4 today; total of 10 since they began laying on Saturday.
Freesias in bloom: more every day
Irises nearly in bloom: 2.
Mouse traps laid tonight: 2
Slugs fed to the lions/chooks: more than 6
Leeks getting fat enough to make a decent soup: 2

Plans for the garden: many
State of the soil: saturated, every square centimetre is the very definition of bog.

biggest garden job and most urgent: to create a cover for the poultry palace and to stake the palace into the ground so that the cover doesn't just become a sail for the whole thing to take off. We get pretty big winds here.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Onion weed

I gathered an armful of onion weed this morning and cleaned and prepared it (like spring onions, chop off roots and about half of the green part, rest to be used) and put it in the roasting tray with some huge winter carrots from my Dad's garden and some celery from my garden. I drizzled them with oil and let it cook at 150 celsius for about 60 minutes. The roasting tray was quite full and the veges wet from being cleaned so they half steamed and half roasted. Then I whizzed the mix up in the food processor and wondered what I might do with it next.

Next I played round with broccoli pesto after seeing a recipe online which I didn't actually follow because I have banned myself from the computer for all but 20 minutes in the evening. But mine was similar except I used parsley for the non-broccoli green.

Tonight I cooked pasta and then sauteed some anchovies in a pan and added the onion weed/celery/carrots mixture and a bit of tomato sauce. I mixed that with the cooked pasta and then topped each plate with the broccoli pesto. It tasted nice. Not likely to win any awards and certainly not restaurant fare on aesthetics, but "Thank you Mummy, I like this" from the boy who was very doubtful throughout the cooking part did very nicely for applause.

We got our first egg on Saturday and then two yesterday and two today. The run is too wet for them though - increased vulnerability to disease. So we will stake the run into the ground and add plastic to keep it dry. We are now talking about building the glasshouse this summer and making that their winter home while I plant winter veges into the current run spot. Then swap over in summer so the glasshouse can grow tomatoes.

I gave my Dad two sub arctic oregon tomato seedlings which I had grown on Saturday. Mum and Dad were over to watch Fionn's final in the rugby league. Hoki dared to beat us once this season and they paid for that on Saturday. Those little 5 and 6 year old boys and girls in Fionn's team thrashed Hoki soundly. I never thought I'd be a sporting girl, but Saturday was full on excitement. Well well well.

Back to gardening. I also gave Dad some of my pumpkin and zucchini seeds. The climate in his garden is quite different to here and it will be interesting to compare results. My neighbour was talking about the article on heirloom tomato varieties and health benefits in the weekend but didn't know where she could buy seeds or plants. I lent her my Kings Seeds catalogue. Spreading the word on genuine food diversity one friend at a time.

Yesterday was the local Lions fertiliser fundraiser. I joined the queue for sheep manure, blood and bone and powedered sheep manure. I didn't want superphosphate, but happy to put the other things on my garden.

Friday, September 5, 2008

rich risotto

Tonight's risotto was very flavoursome. Possibly the richest rice broth I've made. I think these were the successful steps.
1. chicken stock with lots and lots of carrots. My Dad gave me some huge carrots from his garden recently and I used one raw chicken carcass ($1.49 from the supermarket), lots of carrots, bay leaves, black peppers, two onions and a head of garlic. Cooked in the slow cooker for about 20 hours.
2. I used lots of roasted garlic in with the broccoli and peas for the vegetable part of the risotto.
3. At almost the end of cooking, I added most of a packet of feta cheese and lots of black pepper.

In pursuit of poo

Today I raked out the floor of Raelene's chook house and bagged up the chook poo/bark mix and took it home. I've put one bag on my small (1 x 1 metre) new raised bed. I just spread it on top of the current layer of mulch. Under the pea straw mulch that was already there I could see plenty of worms, a few slugs that I gifted to my chooks and some utterly sodden soil. Too wet to be forking it over. I grew a zucchini in this spot last Summer and let the zucchini flop over the lawn. This time I'm trying to make a more distinct bed and current (but may change 17 times) plans are for herbs in there. Maybe I'll rescue the strawberries from their sad relationship with the garlic and move them to this garden, maybe not.

The soil everywhere is sodden, including the chook run. So this afternoon I shovelled some river sand onto it (we have a stash left over from filling the sandpit) and then a bale of straw. They had a great time fossicking in the new straw and I'm hoping prevention of a bog will be easier to manage than trying to unbog a chook run bog.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

At least it wasn't a rat

But it was a mouse. Alive in front of the muesli container at 6am this morning. Foot jammed in the mousetrap. I didn't even see it until I'd taken out the rolled oats container beside it.

I am really glad I am a married woman. Cos killing that mouse was a little beyond me, yet I sure wanted it dead. I get a bit girly about rats and mice.

Favourite Handyman killed it on the kitchen floor. I didn't query that - in no way did I wish to risk the job being handed back to me.

So now I have washed the floor where the murdered mouse .... was. I might even wash it again soon. Like before I go to bed.

It's expensive, being squeamish about murdered mice. I bought Indian for dinner at great cost to avoid using the kitchen before the floor washing. I couldn't wash the floor while I was at paid work and I couldn't wash the floor while my daughter was awake.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


I have six parsley seedlings. Parsley can take a long time to germinate and I often find the germination rate is not fantastic. Two plants (I have the giant Italina flat leaf variety) are enough to see us through the year. Last year I had too much from my enormous plants and gave heaps away. This year I am putting parsley in hummus every week and finding two plants perfect for a fresh supply of medium aged leaves. It seems to grow even in winter.

I also have tomato and basil and lettuce seedlings, a few of which have reached the two true leaves stage. I'll be keeping them inside quite a while longer. Quite apart from the risk of frosts and the endless rain still keeping the gardens in a bog-like state, the slug population is still too sizeable. There are many more to be found and fed to the chooks yet. Once the weather dries up I can start using the beer traps as well.

My potatoes are sprouting nicely. They'll be staying in the shed for a while yet. No point planting them in a bog.

The onions are doing fine in their new plastic medium sized home. I think I'll leave them there for at least another month. I've changed my plans for where the chooks and the spuds and the onions are going yet again. I think I'll keep the poultry palace where it is for six months and put the potatoes in their initial spot (which they've moved in and out of in my mind about six times now). They're going where the tobacco went last year. This is the spot which will become a glasshouse, probably in Summer 2009-10. The chooks will move up to this spot after potato harvest, probably about February.

Saw Raelene the wonderful yesterday. I'm going out to her place to clean out her chook house later this week. More compost. Mmmmmmmmmm can't ever have enough of the fabulous compost which chook house clearings make.

Ros-from-work got chooks the same time as us. And one of her chooks has laid an egg already. Sooooooooo. Maybe we'll get our first egg soon. Round the smoko table I've been collecting tips on the best foods for encouraging egg production.


I've finished my cardigan. Photos will come. Photos do eventually get posted here on most projects, just often verrry late. It's lovely and warm and I think even styley and I'm wearing it now.

I had been looking forward to a break from knitting so I could read some books, advise some people on cloth nappies, maybe even do some mending. But I missed knitting. Don't know what's going on there. I have started reading The War for Children's Minds by Stephen Law though. Stepehen Law's website is here. Not that I've read that properly either yet (been knitting my brain away) but it's there if you feel like it. I've been thinking about education issues until literally my head has started to hurt and his book gives me a chance to think about things from a different perspective, one not rooted in questions about where my children should spend their days.

My current knitting project is a sleeveless hoodie for Fionn (5). I'm knitting it in black and yellow stripes. They are his favourite colours and he has chosen both the colours and the stripes so that when he lays on the grass wearing it, he will look like a bumblebee. I'm using Perendale wool, 100% wool and New Zealand made. It's lovely and soft. I bought it locally at the lovely wool shop here in smalltown where the ladies are fabulous and these days I even have a discount card as I'm a member of the local knitting group. While I was at the shop buying wool the other day, the owner showed me a sample of the new range about to come out. It's called "Charity" and it is 100% wool, New Zealand made and designed for making charity knitting affordable. It will be $2.99 for a 50g ball (if I have remembered correctly) which is truly fantastic. Wool at functional prices instead of expensive leisure craft prices.

There are some wools on the market made (or at least processed) in China. I've made my disapproval known. I don't spend money on wool and time on knitting (both of which surely could be better spent on red wine) in order to support sweat shop labour and excessive fossil fuel transport costs.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Lucy Jordan

When I was 23, I bought a tape of Marianne Faithfull's greatest hits. I went around Central Otago doing paid research and getting to meet fascinating people and see some of the most awesome vistas I have ever seen in my life. I decided I wanted to try smoking cigarettes. So I did. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the legal kind. I never told you I was a sophisticated thrill seeker type teenager did I?

The Ballad of Lucy Jordan song has always stuck in my mind, both the snatches of lyrics which have stayed with me and the tune. A couple of months ago I looked up the full lyrics online - it is after all less than 12 months before I hit 37.

I'm not sure about the lyrics. As in I'm not sure how exactly to interpret their meaning. I'll come back to that, especially next February I expect.

But I do remember the sense of freedom as a young woman with a degree and the conviction that I could do more or less anything that my male peers did. Peeing standing up absolutely anywhere being the main exception.

I'm wearing purple as I write and I describe myself as a feminist with pride.

Wanna know what I did today? got Fionn ready for school - changed lots of nappies - washed everyone's clothes - made school lunch - made hummus - made chocolate chippie biscuits - made pizza for tomorrow's lunches - made apple crumble for today's lunches - made stirfry beef for dinner - fed chooks - collected Fionn from school - collected slugs for the chooks - fed the chooks twice - sowed borage, pumpkin, zucchini, chamomile and swiss chard seeds - tidied up part of the lawn - bathed children - knitted - listened to the National Programme - wondered when Winston Peters will ever disappear from the face of NZ politics - pondered various issues in education

I have choices regarding how I participate in this world. Choices granted partly by virtue of living in a wealthy democracy and partly due to the hard won achievements of women before me who believed that women should be able to inhabit the public space. Helen Clark is where she is as a result. I have choices too and the fact that my current choice is that my world is largely domestic and involved in looking after children makes me no less of a feminist.

So, back to the garden. Spring doesn't warm up particularly quickly here on the West Coast and although there are spring bulbs out and the air is warmer, the garden isn't exactly rushing headlong into increased productivity. The soil is very wet and lots of rain is forecast for this week. Fionn and I found a lot of slugs today and I squashed a number of slug eggs. We also found an ants' nest.

I'm not sure what kind of day today was lunarly, but there are plenty more things to plant/sow next week. Next year I think I'll get a lunar gardening calendar. I never know what the best practise recommendations are at the beginning of every second month when I'm waiting for the next issue of Organics NZ to hit the newsstand at my local health shop.