Monday, 25 December 2017


An hour before I started to write this, it rained. We are officially now declared a drought area. We have had no rain other than a few early morning mists for nearly 8 weeks. The situation for farmers has been so desperate there have been suicides. Tragic and terrible.

So I'm here to state publicly how thankful I am. Today we have shared our Christmas lunch with friends, and we are very thankful for them. I have had a much better year health wise. I actually survived a trip to the UK without being sick and coped for two weeks on my own on my return whilst my husband visited relatives in the N. Hemisphere.

I still have work, and we have a wonderful home and the amusement of 3 cats (ours) and 19 chickens (not ours, but they think they are). I've taken hundreds of photos, written thousands of emails. I have had some sad milestones; two of my mother's siblings have passed away, an uncle and an aunt (both in their nineties) and my Dad's oldest friend. But there were lovely milestones too; one of my God-daughters became engaged, the other is due to give birth to her first child in two days. Also a friend has moved to NZ from the US, so it will be easier to see her.

So I am thankful and signing off for 2017.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Tree ornaments

For the last few nights I have been watching our neighbour's chickens put themselves to bed (i.e. roost) in our trees. It is really amusing and cute to watch.

Here they are:

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Beautiful gifts

Last year, about this time, our postbox started to receive additional decorations, after I had decorated it with tinsel. I would come home from work and find extra tinsel or a Christmas tree ornament added to the decorations from the day before. It was a mystery until the New Year, when the neighbour responsible confessed.

This year, I decided to covertly decorate a few of our neighbours boxes along our stretch of road with tinsel and a bauble or two, to give them the pleasure of a mystery too. A visiting friend helped me in the subterfuge and one evening around dusk, two middle aged women could be seen leaping in out of bushes to avoid being spotted as they wrapped the said boxes in Christmas glitter.

Day Two, my post box gained a glamorous strip of red tinsel and another ornament (of a small cat). Of course, this time I knew who the culprit was.

Today I received this amazing gift and can't resist showing it to the world as it is so delightful and creative.

The giver knew I love hares, and created this amazing scene inside a shoe box. They didn't dare leave it in our post box in case I was tempted to shake it and ruin the whole effect. The gift was from one of the tinselly postbox owners.

It is nice to dream up anonymous surprises knowing that someone somewhere is scratching their heads.

Happy tinselling!

Friday, 8 December 2017

Oven ready

We are living in an oven. We haven't had rain for 30 days, and our property is dry as dust and we are about to run out of water.

Our neighbours chickens have moved in to our garden permanently, or at least it feels that way. I put water out for them daily and they seem happy to snooze in our hedges and steal the bird food on the lawn.

Some of the girls are determined to be "oven ready" and park themselves decoratively inside a terra cotta pot. Sometimes they share, sometimes they don't.

Meanwhile the cats enjoy watching them, which is all they have the energy for in this blistering heat.

The sky has been full of rain clouds which promised much and delivered not a drop. On Monday we will need to buy a tank load of water.

Monday, 27 November 2017

The Wonderful Wairarapa

We have just returned from two days "over the hill" in the wine growing region of the Wairarapa. It has been very hot and we got home only to find it was even hotter here. Only one out of three cats has shown up so far, but it is so warm, I suspect they are dozing in a cool corner of the paddock - we will of course be cold shouldered for several days until they realise we are home for good.

This is the first time we have returned from the Wairarapa without purchasing furniture. I splashed out on some overpriced wooden spoons and a spatula - definitely a downgrade from the previous three visits which eventuated a French Dresser from the Loire valley, an American day bed and a 3m long table from France!

The amusing end to the expensive wooden items was that our friend who house sat left an apologetic note that she had accidentally set fire to my wooden slotted spoon on the gas stove. On its burned remains she had written "Honestly there are some people you can't take anywhere". I wrote her an email to beg her not to replace it, as I appeared to have had some kind of foresight and had already purchased its replacement.

Well, I'll let the Wairarapa photos speak for themselves. They include a few from Mt Bruce Wildlife sanctuary.


Martinborough vineyards

Monday, 6 November 2017

The invisible chicken & a recipe that came home to roost.

Pepper has 5 progeny and she keeps well to "her" side of our border. She thinks I don't know she's there. But her clucking is very different to Brown hen and her 13 rowdy nuggets (bigger than pom poms now).

Here she is hiding from me and playing statues in the undergrowth.

And completely off the chicken topic, this morning a university friend sent me a photo of her recipe book with my mum's recipe for Golden Crunchie biscuits in it. My mum gave it to her about 30 years ago, and somehow had omitted to give it to me. My friend sent a message with the photo "am about to make these again for the millionth time". Well she has 4 children, and I think the quantity isn't so far off... so today, I made them too and am delighted with the result.

In between baking and chasing chickens, I have been unpacking boxes with items from the UK. I feel that finally all of my history is safely tucked up with me in the mountains, and the feeling is very good.

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Paddock Diary

The foxgloves are sprouting everywhere, and the plum trees have some very delicious new leaves right at the very top. One of our local Kereru just chomped its way through some as a "side dish" with me underneath the tree telling him off!

The boys heard me giving the pigeon a telling off and came to join me. Mango got a bit stuck in the "V" of the plum tree branches, so decided the fence post was a better option - just; he is rather large!

Both boys are now patrolling the rest of the garden, checking for pheasants, chickens, rabbits, mice and rats. Her ladyship is resting in a box from the supermarket - clever girl.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Battle for the Post Box, year 4

For the last two years we have succeeded in preventing starlings grabbing our Post Box for their nest. Year one was a disaster, three months of dirt, twigs and dead progeny, not to mention a very smelly box afterwards. They nest in our trees, our eves, our verandah, but I draw the line at the Post Box.

This year, we may have cracked it, due to the innovation of our next door neighbours. Their eldest boy made a scarecrow and parked it next to their letter box. We are hoping its effect will carry over to ours.

Later in the afternoon, number two scarecrow arrived.

Sadly, it won't deter Egna the Hen who has now decided to take her progeny on a tour of our garden, which includes the newly dug over veggie patch!

Friday, 27 October 2017

Learning to perch and something to perch food atop

The pom poms are growing bigger and louder. Today they were practicing roosting on some of the old flax stems. They tried it out tentatively, one at a time, like kids hopping on stepping stones in a stream.

They happily slithered off when mother hen called them.

And in other news - home made digestive biscuits. Although quite why I decided to bake when we are already baking in 24 degrees in the shade inside the house, I'm not sure.

So tomorrow, friends for lunch and lots of toppings for the biscuits (of which there are several dozen!)