Friday, February 20, 2009

Tiger in the orchard!

You know you’re getting your eco-habitat right when you have top-of-the-rung predators lurking amongst the foliage: this tiger turned up the other morning, to the consternation of the faint-hearted chickens! 

And then an ibis! Who seemed very puzzled at finding itself in such a lovely jungle of fruit and no garbage in sight…

I felt quite like David Attenborough, stalking the wildlife through the orchard with my camera. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Trendy brooding chooks

The chookies now have that staple of trendy 70s architecture: the split level. With Cam digging around in there and shoring up edges with salvaged sleepers we thought perhaps we’d ruffled a few feathers when we couldn’t find any eggs for a couple of days. Perhaps they were in the orchard instead…

Note the beautiful, dark humus
the chooks have already made.
Since dug out and put on the lower salad bed.

Now the chooks can scratch around to heart’s content – they like to scratch uphill so everything always ended up piled up against the bottom gate before, and the concrete footing of the top post was exposed. Now that it’s level, we’ve put in a good thick layer of straw (carbon) and chuck in our kitchen scraps each morning (nitrogen) and they can scratch around (aeration) and poo (more nitrogen) and as a reward eat the worms coming up for a bite a

t the scraps too. And over time they have turned and tossed and aerated and wet a lovely rich compost for us to shovel out and use on the garden. Thank you ladies!

And then we found the white hen was broody (again!) and on lifting her out of her box found all the eggs of all the girls from the last few days, neatly nudged from all the nesting boxes to keep warm under herself. She tucked straight into some grain and had a good drink – broody hens go for 21 days without eating or drinking, keeping their eggs a constant warmth – but of course sitting on unfertilised eggs there are no chickies tumbling out at the end and perhaps they will keep on sitting and sitting and sitting until…! And so out she must go, although I feel very rude to do it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Colour book

This is a little book I made for Yarrow when I was wandering round our house in Samoa, big and pregnant, finding little things to do to get ready for my new baby...

I scavenged old magazines from all the other ladies (when you're overseas a new magazine is like gold and gets passed around and re-read, and re-read and passed around, until it's completely tatty and sucked dry of any juicy gossip!) and cut them up to make a colour book. Each page has a funny little non-poem from cut-out words which will make no sense at all to a small baby (or most right-minded adults!). Eg:

I borrowed a laminator from a school teacher friend to make it tropical-humidity proof. 

Here are details from some of the pages: 

Friday, February 13, 2009

Thank you to firefighters

A friend heard a woman on the radio saying, “We were all packing up our cars and leaving, and as we were driving out through the smoke, there were all the firey’s driving back in, to save our homes.”

Thank you for your bravery and effort upon effort even in exhaustion and such terrifying conditions.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Getting cultured

The first time I've ever made yoghurt! 

Boiled the milk, let it cool til I could hold my finger in it for 10 seconds (just!) then added a dessert spoon of good, organic, whole milk yoghurt and wrapped it all up into a snug, warm bundle for the night with plenty of baby blankets:

Then Cam walked in to admire my handiwork and realised I'd carefully wrapped up the SAUCEPAN! 

So I had to unwrap it all, pour it into a container more appropriate than a saucepan to set in, and wrap it all back up again. Ah, the getting of (acidopholus and bifidus) culture can be a humbling experience!

The next morning, on porridge, voila:

(A bit runny! Maybe all the inadvertent cooling and warming... But yummy!)

More uses for zucchini

First food: zucchini!

Perhaps not the most exciting introduction to food...! 

He has been licking the juice of whatever fruit Cam and I have been eating for a while, especially mulberries and apple at his great nana's at Christmas. That mulberry tree has been feeding and staining pink many generations of Wilsons now!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


All day the garden has been glowering in a weird light, whipping in the wind, and I’ve had my heart in my mouth thinking of all the people waiting with the fires bearing down on them.

So many heartbreaking stories already. And heart-salving ones too.

God bless them and keep them, everyone who is frightened and everyone who is fighting the fires.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Unexpected delight

Sitting breastfeeding today – sat down quickly because Ro was crying, and forgot my cup of tea. Looked up from deep in the sofa with Ro now quietly feeding to see it on the table top, gently steaming.

Rising up in slow, graceful curls.

A beautiful and unexpected moment of meditation in my ordinary everyday:
sitting with my boy,
steam rising upward,
room still, and alight with sun. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The spice of life, via worms

Cam is reading Frank Herbert’s Dune and methinks he is picturing his little harvester worms as miniature Makers, turning lettuce scraps into spice for the garden… 

He has just made  an industrial-sized worm farm out the front, from salvaged hardwood doors and some nifty concreting. Now you can drive up through the pines and round the parking circle, tip a load of horse poo off your trailer directly to the worms, and carry on to your next appointments.

He uncovered the existing worm farm to let in the light and waited for 10 minutes while all the worms fled deeper to get away from it:

Then he scraped off a 10cm layer full of baby worms and put it into a separate container, and again and again until we now have seven little worm hatcheries hatching worms under wet newspaper. We are collecting vegetable scraps from the two fruit and veg grocers in our strip of shops and the worms are voraciously munching their way through it and fattening up in preparation for their big move out to the front.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Prehistoric mama

I feel like a mother lion, a cavewoman, when I look at this little boy today, his bright eyes and his trusting.

I want to wrap him in furs and bat him around between my paws, rolling across the dirt growling and laughing.

I feel my instincts whistling back through all the women who have given birth to me, my mother and her mother and hers and hers, back to caves with coals glowing low and fierce women giving birth in the wild of the first forests. 

This knowing how absolutely important he is.

They would love this little boy.