Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Piglet pics

Here they are enjoying some crab apples.
They are getting a little tamer, and now letting us get a bit closer!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

We have pigs!

Woohoo! Great excitement today as we have at last bought x2 piglets. They are Tamworths - a rare breed, originating from England. We've got them in with the chickens at the moment, while they are small. We've been wanting to get pigs for a while now, so are feeling very happy to now have them and a very fine pair they are too. These pigs are destined for the table so although they are very cute, we have to always bear in mind the reason for getting them. If you haven't already watched the River Cottage series (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) and the segments about keeping pigs, I highly recommend it.
Anyway, here they are just after arriving:

And a little later, after a bit of a feed, relaxing in the afternoon sun:

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Solstice and garlic

Yesterday was the shortest day here in NZ. So now we can look forward to the days getting a little bit longer, although winter is by no means over! However, here in the 'winterless north' it is pretty mild. This morning the sun is out and I had a quick wonder round the garden. The broad beans are doing well:
They are a dwarf variety so I'm hoping they won't need any support. They do need a bit of mulch, I've read seaweed works well, will have to go on a forage soon.

Now that Solstice has passed, it will soon be time to plant the garlic. There seem to various schools of thought on when to plant, but generally around Solstice is the norm. I probably could have put them in sooner since we are in a milder part of the country, but I wanted to make sure they had a few weeks in the fridge prior to planting as this is supposed to work well (not tried this before). Also I've read that it's a good idea to soak them overnight in a weak cow manure solution before planting out. Will let you know if I did this, now that we have the cows there will be manure!
Here are some of my pot plants, mainly succulents, a small bay tree on the left and some dwarf sweet peas to the right. In the middle of all these is a small clay dinosaur from G's aunt L and his late Uncle M. Also the barrow at the back is made by the same uncle and now resides with us. All of the jade plants and a lot of the succulents came from this uncle's garden, so it's lovely to keep them and it reminds us of him on a daily basis.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A better photo of the cows

They seem to be enjoying their new home.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

We have cows again!

Will get some better pictures, but here they are arriving. We now have x8 South Devon heifers. We have lots of long grass on our property and so offered to 'look after them' for a friend for a while.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What a lovely day

After the frosty start, the day turned out to be just beautiful, calm and sunny. I was heading back indoors early this evening after doing a few jobs outside when I noticed a small bird in the Raupo (bullrushes) that grow in our pond. On closer inspection (and from previous sightings on the property) I discovered it was the native fern bird! Hopefully I'll be able to see it again, although I don't have the camera to capture it on film so here's a drawing I found on the net (Fernbird is the bird at the top of the picture):

Also as the sky was so pretty tonight, with the new moon and Venus shining bright in the western sky, we lit the brazier and sat outside for a while, rugged up against the cold.
I have put the frost cloth back on the citrus trees again tonight as I'm pretty sure we'll get another frost!

Chicken pics on a cold frosty morning

Last night we had the first frost of winter this year. Fortunately I suspected it might happen so covered all of the smaller citrus trees with frost cloth for some protection. Just as well I did. Here are a couple of pics of the chickens as I just went down to see to them:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Matariki - the Maori new year is today

Today is Matariki - the Maori new year.

Traditionally a time of remembering the dead, celebrating new life and honouring Papatuanuku or Mother Earth.

This site has a great description of its meaning.

So today I will be thinking of loved ones who have gone, and those who are still to follow.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Galangal - Thai ginger or Kha

I harvested my 2 year old galangal today and got several nice rhizomes which I have trimmed, cleaned and peeled and cut up into pieces for the freezer. I'm going to be moving the plant to another spot soon so hopefully it will flourish again, meanwhile I have a few shoots that I can pot up and start a lot more plants. My clump of galangal has not flowered, I guess had I left it alone it might have done so in summer, but I need to shift it, plus try out the root in some Thai cooking - homemade curry paste soon to be on the menu! Now I just need to grow some lemon grass....

Here is what the pulled rhizome and stem looks like:

And a close up of the rhizome itself (the pink shoots I remove and will try to propagate more plants).

Friday, June 11, 2010

A photo of the Shavers

I forgot to post a pic of the new hens...!

Here they are:
We now have x4 Shavers, x2 Araucanas, and we also kept the Indian Game rooster and x1 purebred hen (not sure what to do with these as yet!).

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Weekly roundup

A few more days down time from the blog as we had to reset our PC from scratch, having too many problems with it as is wont with computers!

Over the weekend we had a big cull of our chickens, long overdue. We had such a mixed bunch and had made the decision to change over from mainly Indian Game birds and some IG crossed with Araucana, to Brown Shaver hens, which are a commercial breed reknowned for their high egg production. So now we have another x14 chickens in the freezer and plenty of roast chicken dinners to come! They ranged in size from a tiny 800g bird to a more sizeable 1.5kg!
While they don't make a pretty picture, as a record and point of interest here they are (the X's didn't pluck well leaving lots of quills which was annoying)

G was out working on a farm and a nice farmer gave him several blocks of homemade butter! It tastes a bit sweeter than shop-bought, and is a lot paler in colour.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

This is what greeted us yesterday morning!

This was the sight that greeted us yesterday morning, loads of woolly sheep off down the road to be shorn. When we got out onto the road they were all massed up ahead of us, and up above was a big cloud of steam that was generated from their fleece! It looked quite spectacular against the morning sun and fog.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Sunshine after the rain

It poured and poured with rain this morning and then around midday the sun came out and so D and I went for a walk.
The water runs down from the surrounding hills into the 'wetland' (or this part once was but sadly now looking like this as a result of grazing) and then into the Te Opi stream and out into the Kaipara harbour.
It was just glorious.