Showing posts from May, 2009

Ten Dead Chooks

Raelene and I have been discussing the fate of her eldest chooks for the last few months. Much as I would have liked all those old bones for making stock, my killer and plucker was just too busy. So today someone else killed ten of her oldest birds and put them in a couple of large feed bags. I collected them and buried them throughout my garden. As I was burying number nine, it occurred to me that I could have cut off the feet, or feet and heads, for stock quite easily and then buried the rest. So I might try that next time. Meanwhile, I'm expecting some bonza growth from my burial ground gardens come spring.

I also spent a bit of time tending my live chooks. I pulled all of the peastraw/chook poo out of the coop and spread it around my rhubarb. Then I tipped a big bag of wood shavings into the coop.

Yesterday I also squeezed in a little garden time. I weeded around my hydrangea cuttings which have taken nicely. I noticed that some of my rose cuttings have new growth on t…

Hello Garden

Hello Garden. I thought I'd write you a letter, seeing as I spend so little time touching you lately. I haven't forgotten you, in fact I think of you every day. I watched you and planned for your next shapes through the rain, through the miasma of suspected croup, suspected impetigo, suspected chest infection, definite hail and now I watch you as I feed the chooks and think of you as I seem to cram in everything else which was neglected and yet still neglect you, my favourite.

You are still so generous. I've dug potatoes, cut broccoli, picked stalks and sprigs of celery, kale, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and chives throughout the week. I dug yams and realised I must slow down and be patient. It must be winter proper, not winter early, before I harvest the yams. We had a frost yesterday - Favourite Handyman found the water sitting atop the chicken coop and the trampoline frozen. The vista of bright orange chillis nestled in amongst the celery and the kale that mornin…

Small irritations

It is not the cold or (at least initially not) the wet of winter which grinds me down. It is not the slower pace in the garden or the short days of light.

What grinds me down is the slow and incremental loss of control over my family life, my household responsibilities which comes with a lurgy which never quite disappears. Not for days and so far this time we are now on weeks.

Every winter.

Missed days of work for myself, days of carrying on to save my sick days for the inevitable of sick children. Days of soup and recuperation followed by days of that little bit too much done during the day and no energy left for cooking.

Bought dinner, dishes not yet done, a sleep in on a busy work morning leading to yet more bought food.

A determination to continue as normal leading to some achievements and still fatigue at the end meaning a household of grime, dust, scary kitchen, overdue library books.

It will come right but I'll admit to considerable impatience for it to do so. I'm awake …


Im sure there are readers out there who know the answers to these questions (e.g. Sharon, Nova, Gill?).

1. I have recently been given a lovely wool jersey, man size. It is made from homespun wool and handknitted. The wool was from my friend's parents' sheep and it was his Mum and her friends who did the spinning and the knitting. He doesn't wear the jersey and would I find a use for it?

Yes. Only I need to change the collar from the high round scratchy one to something more open, and given I want to wear it out in the cold when I'm gardening and tramping, I want to change it to a more practical colour than white.

I would like suggestions on how to dye this jersey and also on the best way to change the neck to something more comfortable. No, more than that. I would love any suggestions on this.

Hunger - the only certainty?

I've been reading my history books this weekend, looking at the 1930s depression and the 1951 watersiders' strike. There are indeed blessings to being too poorly to get out of bed much.

On Saturday I read a historical novel called Union Belle by Deborah Challinor. The romance part of it was pretty trite - bored housewife falls for handsome new bloke to town, handsome bloke has no scruples at all about chasing and screwing his mate's wife. So much for solidarity. But the context of the miners supporting the watersiders and the endless perhaps crazy battles between the big union guys and the government, well that got me looking for a bit more information from the non-fiction history books. The other aspect of the novel which struck me was how the men kept on going to the pub through weeks and weeks of strike. Had they no shame? There might be blogs aplenty out there talking up the old days when people had all these wonderful do it yourself skills, but it seemed to me t…

skin deep supression

It's been a shade frantic around here since we found what we thought was impetigo on Fionn's legs. Amidst his tears of sadness at the prospect of missing school, a birthday party and league practice, I managed to get him into the doctor's first thing this morning.


I am getting way too much experience of locum doctors being mad or bad. Mostly bad.

Good news was that it wasn't impetigo, the dreaded highly contagious school sores which would have meant quarantine at home. The bad news from my point of view was that the doctor related badly to both of us, wouldn't answer my questions properly, claimed that his legs had bites on them from unnamed general household 'things', that I should clean the house more, and prescribed a corticosteroid/antibacterial cream without any guidance on how often or long to use it for.

We saw Dr Locum at the surgery. Yes I do need to clean my house more. Those marks on his legs are definitely NOT bites. Actually given the …

Winter tactics

1. Finely chop one large clove of garlic, and the same amount of ginger. Then add a heaped teaspoon of raw honey and a tablespoon of plain yoghurt. Mix together then spoon into your mouth.

2. Warm house. After Fionn's scary asthma bout just before Christmas, I have lost the drive to minimise wood consumption. The fire is currently burning every evening and sometimes during the day as well. If you live in the UK, you would still think our house is cold during the day. if you are a traditional New Zealander with a hot lounge and cold bedrooms, you would think our bedroom is lovely and warm. Our insulation efforts each year keep paying off in terms of reduced heat loss. The kitchen (blocked off after dinner) is the only room without pink batts. In Spring, we will get pink batts for the kitchen and then start saving for underfloor insulation. I think there is more curtain work to be done yet also. The lounge and the bedrooms all have heavy duty blackout lining to add to t…

May Day in Blackball: photos and a link

It was a beautiful day in Blackball. The top picture shows us marching with our banners from the Working Men's Club to the Community Centre. I've put the bottom picture in as well cos I like the banner and the young leftie leading the way. I'm on the right, holding Brighid, the youngest leftie there. Next year I'm thinking we will do something especailly for the children, we'll be bringing both of our children and we'll make it part of the rituals of their childhood. Should have the shrine and the museum open by then. For more on May Day at Blackball, see here.


People have to choose what they are going to struggle for. Life is always a
struggle, whether or not you’re struggling for anything worthwhile, so it might
as well be for something worthwhile.

Quote from Carla Emery, via Sharon Astyk, with thanks to Johanna Knox for giving me the link.

I love this quote. It reminds me of Paulo Friere, who also talked about the need for struggle in order to achieve change and said (paraphrased here, not quoted) that struggle is constant, there is no nirvana or rest place where the work of enfranchising the disenfranchised is finished. Life isn't about finding a way to spend your whole life on the golf course. I expect to work and I expect that requirement to be universal to us all. What I think is worth fighting for, what I like to imagine I am trying to do in my own small way, is to give dignity to the work and struggles that mark the days and months and years of each of us.

I think of my cousin when I look at the quote above on struggle. Vanessa'…

A change from screen time

My computer died last week. Yesterday, our other computer could not receive the internet for the entire day. By evening, I decided that as we have no television signal and there were no dvds I wanted to watch and I'd read for a while already, I would enter the short story competition advertised in the Sunday Star Times. So I've started writing that.

We're well into the sniffle and vomit season here and today three out of four of us were poorly or just beginning to recover. By 3.30pm however, it was warm and sunny outside and I finally got to spend some time getting dirt under my fingernails. Oh the sweet satisfaction. I trimmed some very overgrown edges and did a little weeding. The rhubarb we got given at the beginning of this year has adapted to southern wetville life well and the rhubarb I was given last spring is looking very very good. I need to empty the chicken coop poo and peastraw onto the rhubarb plots - apparently rhubarb loves manure.

I eyed up the garden…

May Day at Blackball: Part One

My 'provocation' which I shared at the forum at Blackball today:

Invisible work

I’ve got a friend in Greymouth who cares for her baby granddaughter, her ten year old son and her suicidal adult son. Can someone tell me why this woman, this mother, grandmother, carer of our most vulnerable, is being badgered by WINZ to get paying employment?

With unemployment rising weekly, it is difficult to understand what prompts WINZ to badger and harass like this. I guess there won’t be a WINZ deputation at Steven’s* funeral. I forget who was the last extremely well paid consultant to suggest we rename and rebrand our government departments and focus on “joined-up thinking”. CYFS might have very good reason to hope that my friend can be home and provide continuity of care for her family. But WINZ appears not to have spoken to CYFS.

We live under an economic system which talks of labour units. I flinch when I hear the term. But of the people who care for the elderly, the very young, the n…

Organic NZ magazine

The May/June issue is out now, with some very interesting material and stories of great developments throughout New Zealand, stories which uplift compared to the articles on GE trials and expansion.

One of the valuable sections to me is the classifieds. This is where I've found sources of quality New Zealand produce. I first found Eco-avo organic avocadoes in this magazine and since then we've received hundreds of kilos of avocadoes over the last few years - they are delicious, and much appreciated by many coasters. This month I see an Opotiki place called Fruit Forest also offering avocadoes for sale. They have other seasonal fruits such as mandarins, feijoas, tamarillos and persimmons and offer mixed boxes. But the ones I have just placed an order from are South Island growers of organic feijoas. We like feijoas here at the messiest house in the world (Fionn has decreed it thus), and I am often looking for replacement fruit instead of the imported oranges and bananas wh…