Tuesday, 25 October 2016

October 23, 2016

Back in August, Heather received this beautiful statue as a birthday gift from her sister-in-law.  Head, tail, and legs are metal, but the body is stained glass and the back contains a solar power cell to charge a light bulb inside the body.  Here is Mike attaching it to the post at the gate of the chicken yard so the chickens will have light at night (I guess)!!!

Here is Jimenez, but usually called Mr. Purr, who is recovering from a blood parasite that made him pretty sick.  The vet says that his blood smear shows no parasites and he is looking and acting so much better.  But he still has to take antibiotics for another 4 or 5 weeks.

Last week I planted 13 more toe toe (pronounced toy toy) plants, but these are along the fence line behind the Wee Mansion.  Here are two of them. They look so small but they will grow to over 6 feet high, in a few years!

Finally, the raspberry patch is now for real!  Mike cut the grass down, plowed the furrows, and put up the stakes.  And here it is.

The raspberry stalks were taken out of the ground before the fencing was put in and they wintered in boxes on the porch of the Wee Mansion.

Here are Heather and Mike planting about 60 of them.  

We had a quick visit with Mike's sister and her beautiful family, (left to right) Ryan, Christina, Sean, and Tristan, with Heather and Mike.

And of course, the obligatory Kiwi crazy face picture!

And the day ended with a beautiful sunset.

More to come!!

Thursday, 13 October 2016

October 13, 2016

Two weeks ago, just after my last post, Steve and Michelle came to visit with their new baby boy.

And here is Marcus alone.

Then we had several days of cold and stormy weather, including wind, rain, and hail.  

Heather and I spent indoor time knitting and baking. But finally the weather cleared and we were able to get back outdoors, and the planting began again. 

Most of our flowers and vegetables are started in small planters early in the spring and they usually go into my room to sit in the sun by the sliding glass door and stay warm over the cold nights. 

Then when the danger of frost is past, they will be transplanted to the beds outside.

Sometimes full grown plants are passed along from someone else's garden or yard, and they go directly in the ground.  This happened with a kowhai tree (pronounced ko-f-eye) given to Heather and Mike by Simone and Kylie.  When I arrived, it was already in the ground and they were just hoping that it would survive the transplant.  It did not look great, with most of the leaves brown and falling off. But then one day Heather noticed that one of the flower pods was beginning to open, and in a few days it was covered with yellow blossoms.

The white birch trees, planted along the driveway, are all covered with leaves and seem to be doing well. We did have a small issue with a wild hare clipping some lower branches and chewing on the bark, but Heather mixed up some repellent and painted the trunks of all the new trees.  Since then, no new damage.

A friend of Heather and Mike has parked her van next to the Wee Mansion for safekeeping while she is traveling in Europe.  Mike starts it up every couple of weeks and opens the doors to air it out.  Jasmine takes this opportunity to settle down on a new and different perch!

Mike was preparing a venison roast for the slow cooker and Jimenez was treated to a large bone to chew on.  You would think he was never fed!

Jimenez is currently being treated for a blood parasite that made him quite ill. He is now doing much better, but it will take eight weeks of antibiotics to knock out the parasite.

Unfortunately, we have recently lost a chicken and a turkey.  The Giant Chicken died about two weeks ago, and Honkie, a large white female turkey, went to sleep last night and did not wake up this morning.  She was full grown when she was purchased in 2011, so she was probably around 7 or 8 years old.  When one of their animals dies, Mike and Heather bury it in the yard or garden and plant a tree or large bush over it.  Here are The Giant Chicken's and Honkie's resting places.

The Giant Chicken is buried under a small copper beach tree.

And Honkie is under a magnolia tree. Heather placed one of her tail feathers in the ground next to the tree.  This was a particularly hard loss for Heather.

I love the cloud formations in New Zealand.  They are just so different from what we see in the states.  My favorite is one I saw yesterday.  Heather says it is a lenticularis cloud, but I just call it a space ship cloud!

That's about it for now.  We still have to finish the garden beds and the raspberry patch, so I'll post more pictures when we get those done.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

October 2, 2016

Yesterday turned out to be a very busy and productive day. Mike was able to get pallets that were designed to carry long pieces of wood for decking.  The pallets measure about 15 feet long and 2-1/2 feet high.   Mike and Heather positioned the first four pallets in the garden on top of a layer of weed screen. Mike connected the pallets and added the bracing.  Unfortunately, I did not get out there with my camera until this was all done. Mike's parents and brother arrived to help out and that is when I remembered to start taking pictures.  

 Mike connected each set of two pallets lengthwise to give us a bed length of about 30 feet.  The pallets are set apart approximately 3 feet, giving us a raised bed with about 90 square feet of planting space.  This is the first of two raised beds we expect to have in the garden.

Here is the Carrigan work crew!!  Left to right:  David, Mike, and Richard.

And here is a wide view of the first pallet in the project.  

And of course, Bebe was in the middle of it all, supervising as usual.

Meanwhile, Mike's mother, Rita, and Heather were working at the plant table. Every year, Rita brings us seeds and/or cuttings from her garden.  Here they are transplanting cornflower plants to larger containers and planting 3 different kinds of tomato seeds.

And Heather recently discovered the perfect plant holder!!

The insides of the pallets are lined with plywood, to keep the dirt in, and then covered with plastic, to keep the water from rotting the wood.  Here is before the plastic lining.


And here after it is lined.  Sorry the picture is not great, but the sun was so bright!

And then the filling begins.

First a layer of wood chips, to help maintain moisture, generously donated by our neighbors, Rick and Michelle.

Then a compost mixture, Mike's parents brought for us, is added to cover the wood chips.

Richard fills the wheelbarrow . . . 

. . . and Heather helps him dump it into the raised bed and spread it evenly.  

After everything is covered with wood chips and compost, bags and bags of 
planting soil will be dumped into the planter.

This is as far as we got.  If any of us can still walk tomorrow (??), we'll continue with the filling process.  After the bags of planting soil are dumped and spread, we'll cover it all with topsoil saved from the old garden beds and additional soil purchased and delivered from a garden center.

After spending most of the day on the garden project, I took a walk around the yard to check our previous plantings.

The artichokes we transplanted into the garden last week are doing well and sprouting new growth.

This is one of eight flax plants we placed at the base of the water tank.

This is the mama turkey sitting on the nest that I posted a few days ago.

One of the white birch trees is already sprouting leaves!!

And the tulip, pictured in a previous post, has bloomed!

More to follow.

Friday, 30 September 2016

September 30,2016

It's been a while since I last posted.  We've had about 5 days of clouds, wind, and rain off and on.  But we did manage to get some work done.

The planting of the 10 Japanese white birches (pictured in previous post) is complete, with posts in the ground and trees attached for support.  They arrived with bare roots and no leaves.  You can hardly see them in this picture.

But, they have already begun to sprout new growth.  Here is just one branch of one tree.

The trees that Mike cut down to make room for the birches are now fire wood, thanks to Mike's hard work!

Spring bulbs are coming up.  Daffodils are already open, 

and tulips are getting ready to bloom.

The fruit trees are in full bloom.

And some of the turkeys and chickens are getting broody.  Here is a turkey nest we found behind the wood shed.

Mike and Heather stumbled onto a fantastic sale at a local nursery and were able to buy (really a steal) 65 toetoe (pronounced toytoy) plants.  We have planted 30 of them so far. The remaining 25 will go along another fence line. 

Here are two of them and they now stand about 10-12 inches high.  The rocks around the base of the plants are to keep the chickens from digging them up!

This is one of my favorite plants in New Zealand.  The picture I found of the full grown plant is copyrighted so I can't post it.

There are also 15-20 flax plants waiting to be planted and that should happen sometime next week.  Colors vary from green to golden to brown.  We'll see what ours turn out to be when they are grown.  The pictures I found of the full grown plants are copyrighted so I can't post them.

The garden project that was going to happen a couple of weeks ago has been changed to this weekend.  I'll take lots of pictures as the work progresses.  I'm anxious to start planting the vegetables!!

And, next time I might have pictures of the raspberry patch!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

September 18, 2016

On Saturday morning, Mike was taking the tractor across the road to Sean's house to help him move some brush.  Heather decided to tag along!

They had only been gone a few minutes when Mike called to tell me there were four baby goats born just the night before.  I walked over and this is what I found!


The other mother goat had a swollen teat and Sean had taken it to a different pen to try to clear the blockage.  So Heather was comforting her "kids".

When I got back home, I found that one cat sleeping on my bed had become two cats sleeping on my bed!

Saturday afternoon, Mike took down three trees at the end of the driveway to clear that area for the white birches we were going to plant on Sunday.

And then he dug the ten holes to plant the trees.  Sunday morning, Heather and Mike planted all ten trees and I took the pictures!

The weather has turned cold again.  But when it warms up, we'll be planting spring flowering bulbs around the base of the trees.

That's it for now.