Several months ago, we were sent a box of Covid tests by the government, because we live more than 20 km from the nearest testing station. They expired in December, and we had never so much as opened the box, so I let the school children experiment with them. They tested all sorts of things… lemon juice, kombucha, whey, broth, mud, cow poo, the cow’s nostrils (the milk cows were right outside our windows that day). Much to their disgust, nothing tested positive! I enjoyed watching them write down their predictions and the results they got.
Activities at Home
We got some good pictures of our little girls over the past couple of months! This was an evening we went to visit some friends. One of their children spread dish soap on the trampoline, and the children all had great fun! Later, we bathed Miss Joy and the youngest of the children of that family.
The little girls occasionally make soup. Here, they are stirring soup in “pots” over “stoves.”
James bought a new backpack, and put Miss Joy in it to test it out. She was delighted!
The girls were walking around one day eating sorrel leaves and checking the strawberries for ripe fruit.
One of her brothers gave Miss Joy a camera, and she had great fun playing with it for a few days.
Elijah arm-wrestled the little girls one day! I was too late to get him wrestling with Miss Joy; she needed some quality time with her thumb and blankie after losing.
Miss Joy put this cloth on her head one day, and then brought me the camera and asked me to take a picture of her.
Somehow, I ended up with a lot of pictures of animals this month.
One of the boys borrowed my camera to take pictures of the cattle to share with his cousin. This is the two milk cows. Bluebell is on the left, and her mother Poppy on the right.
The young stock were on top of the hill that day. The two biggest ones are steers, and the two smaller ones are heifers. The Jersey heifer is Poppy’s calf from this year, Rosie. The other is a beefy that Simon brought us from the farm on which he worked. We assumed it was a bull, and gave it a masculine name…until Gayle and Elijah went across the road to castrate it two months later. That’s when we realized that no one had ever looked to see what gender it was! We changed her name.
The calves. Rosie and Ramona are best friends.
These cats are not best friends, but they do end up sleeping in close proximity sometimes, when conditions are right! This is my miniature greenhouse. It was getting too hot to start plants in it, so I left it propped up. Now, I have a frame covered in shade cloth, in the same place, to start the summer’s crops.
This cheeky weka lives in our garden. It scratches the mulch away from the plants and eats the tomatoes.
The flax in front of the house are in bloom, and we often see a tui drinking from them.
I was hanging laundry one morning, and one of the tuis serenaded me from a nearby tree. It went on long enough that I was able to get a video of it!
One day, the boys took Mom on an adventure. At one farm, they saw this family of pigs.
At another farm, they saw these deer.
Someone was moving an old wool underlay one day, and discovered a bumblebee nest inside. We had never seen such a thing! Thankfully, no one got stung.
October 2022 Photos
As usual, I have a number of photos from October that didn’t fit into their own posts!
Gayle often walks somewhere with the little girls on Sunday afternoons. They like to go down to the bridge, and one time he took a picture of them on the sign for our little town.
One evening, Miss Joy requested that someone take a picture of her holding Princess!
One day, we saw helicopters flying over the river. The next day, they were flying over it again. We watched closely, and saw them following the riverbed exactly. We couldn’t figure out what was happening, but then we started hearing jet boats, as well. I searched online for awhile, and finally found information about a jet boat marathon that was happening. One leg of it was up the Grey River, and into the Ahaura! We went down to the riverbed to watch the boats go back downstream. They move fast!
Our heifer Bluebell had her calf in October. It was a little bull, so we decided not to keep him. We were glad that the farm Simon was working on wanted him for breeding!
Someone gave a battery-powered car to the family in whose home we meet for church. The little children love it! It can be operated with pedals and a steering wheel on it, or by a remote control. Here, Miss Joy and another baby were riding while one of the older children operated the remote.
I think these pictures are actually from September. The greenhouse was looking pretty lush! Since then, I have ripped out the old lettuce and planted peppers along the right-hand side.
I did an experiment with onions this year. The ones to the left were planted from seed directly in the ground in May. To the right, the top tray is ones of the same kind that I planted in that try in June, and the others were a different variety, planted in the tray in July or early August. We set them all out in the main garden at the same time, in September. I am hoping for larger onions than usual! So far, the ones I started earliest are doing best. The ones started in June mostly died, and the red ones, started last, are doing fairly well.
This is how I plant onions. I dig a shallow trench and lay the roots in it, then cover them with soil. After a few days the plants stand upright, and, theoretically, start growing!
The last morning I walked down to the bottom paddock to milk the cow before we brought them up here for grazing for a few weeks, I noticed a pair of Paradise ducks with a new brood of ducklings. They were swimming out of our small creek into the big one. A few days later, when the boys went down to play, Mr. Imagination soon came up to get his camera because they were back in the small creek. He got these pictures. Aren’t they cute!
Yesterday was my birthday. It was a perfect day–a normal day! I did school with the children in the morning, and that went well. We’re winding down our school year already, finishing a few of the subjects for the year, so we don’t have as much to do. In the afternoon, I got to play in the garden for awhile, and got some more things planted. Then, I cooked one of my favorite meals in the evening (steaks from a steer we raised, roasted kumara/sweet potatoes, and Silverbeet/Swiss Chard, with a delicious dessert I hadn’t made since I did Home Ec in high school). I was amazed at the gifts my family gave me. Mr. Sweetie gave me that beautiful bouquet, Elijah gave me a bay tree, and James gave me a lavender plant. Then, Gayle brought in a gift, which I didn’t expect: he replaced the touch lamps on our nightstands, which came with the house and were much the worse for wear since they were loved by a toddler, with new ones! I feel very spoiled.
August/September 2022 Photos
It’s time to catch up with the pictures I have from August and September. When our blogs went down, I quit posting on the weekends like I had been, because I couldn’t for a week and then had to redo two months worth of posts. Then, because we changed hosts, we had to pay hundreds of dollars for the new hosting service. There was no way we were staying with a company that frequently had downtime and then completely lost everything for a week, and didn’t have it all backed up when they got it back! We realized that my blog is taking up most of the space we need, because I have so many pictures. Esther found a program that compresses them to a much smaller format, so I’m working my way through the archives, finding all the pictures I used in old posts and compressing them, removing them from the blog and uploading them again. It’s fun to see all those old pictures from when my now-10-year-old was tiny, but it’s a lot of work! I have made it through almost the first year of blogging so far. As you can imagine, that takes a lot of time, which means I haven’t been thinking so much about putting up new posts. At the same time, seeing what I did with my blog back then in 2011 and 2012 has inspired me to put up more frequent, shorter posts. What do you think? Would you rather that, or longer, more infrequent catch-up posts? Comment and let me know what you like.
One evening I went into Esther’s room to talk to her about something and looked out her window. The clouds were incredible! I tried taking pictures with a camera and my iPad, and this is the best one I got. The clouds were even more spectacular than that!
We did this craft when we studied Uganda. It’s supposed to be a lion with a mane! I didn’t have the right colors of paper, so we made do with what we had.
Poppy had her calf on the first of August–another cute, tiny heifer. We named the new baby Rosie.
This is Mr. Imagination, Miss Joy, and Little Miss going across the road to visit the new calf.
The magnolia tree bloomed. That’s always beautiful! Half the tree seems to have died, though, which we can’t figure out.
Miss Joy loved her puzzles! She has three or four that she knows how to do, and some days she has put them together half a dozen times in a row. I think she’s gotten bored with them, though, because she hasn’t asked for them for awhile.
A few weeks ago, a friend called us to say that someone had a lot of wild pigs that had been killed in a competition, and they were available for anyone who came to get them. Elijah drove the 15 minutes to pick up three for us and two for another friend. We won’t turn down free meat! We got ours skinned that night.
The next day, Esther and I spent the morning boning them out. Wild pork has a rather gamy flavor, so I wanted to make most of the meat into sausage. We saved two legs for ham, and threw away one entire pig because it smelled so strong we couldn’t stand it. We ended up with 70 pounds of meat to make into sausage! She put it through the mincer, and then we weighed the meat and mixed in the seasonings. Then, she put it through the mincer again.
After Gayle and Elijah got home, we stuffed the sausage into casings.
Miss Joy had a great time helping to package the sausages!
Now, we’re enjoying (only slightly gamy) delicious pork sausages!
It’s that time of year when we start all the tomato plants we need for the upcoming summer! This year, Esther wanted to help, so she could learn how I do it; most years, I do all of this project by myself. Late in August, we put the seeds into the soil.
We put the tray of seeds in the greenhouse under a second layer of plastic until they germinated. Esther cleaned out that corner of the greenhouse. There are several tomato plants there that she transplanted in there from the garden, where they started growing late in the summer. We had kept an extra layer of plastic over them all winter, and they lived, although, with low light levels for a few months, they didn’t thrive. One has a green tomato on it, though!
About a week or a week and a half later, the tiny seedlings were ready to prick out and transplant into individual punnets. It was a beautiful day, so we sat at the picnic table to do this job.
I took this picture on the 25th of September, about a month after we initially planted the seeds. The plants had been in our hothouse, a frame covered with greenhouse plastic on our back step, which faces the sun.
Today, the 29th of September, five weeks after starting the seeds, I decided it was time to transplant the little tomatoes into bigger pots. Little Miss helped with this job; she loves writing the labels! We didn’t get the entire job done, but did about a fourth of them, choosing the largest plants to start with. Now, they get to live and grow in the big greenhouse until time to plant them in the garden.
We decided to set up our milking machine down in the paddock where the cows live, at least for now. We’re only milking one cow at the moment, and she walks so slowly that it’s hardly worthwhile to bring her up here to milk with the machine–but my arms can’t hold up to handmilking. So, right now, I’m walking down there twice a day. It’s a lovely walk most of the time (except when it rains). I took my camera along yesterday morning when I went down at 7:00 for the morning milking.
This cherry tree is in bloom along the roadside. I have been thoroughly enjoying the beautiful flowers and the fragrant aroma!
This is the view from the gate into the paddock. I love seeing the range of mountains to the west of us–the Paparoa Range.
There’s Poppy, waiting for me. Behind her are the young stock. The one in the middle is Bluebell, who will have her first calf in the next few weeks, and the two yearling steers are on either side of her. Bluebell is Poppy’s daughter. Notice the nice roof James built for the hay, to keep it from spoiling so fast?
We moved the old milking shed up from the low spot where we had first placed it, to this place on the stopbank, where it never gets mucky. James built a shed up against it to house the milking machine.
Meanwhile, the calves wait for their bottles. The brown one is Rosie, Poppy’s latest calf, and the other is a beefy that Simon brought home from the farm he works on. They are best friends, and Rosie gives the bull calf a good scrubbing with her tongue every day.