I couldn't help myself, really. I was down at The Homestead at Struan Farm, walking around the roadside wooded garden, when I came across a huge infestation of weeds. To make matters worse, in addition to the usual suspects, I found clusters of onion weed and aluminum plant, two invasive pests I have been working hard to eradicate for the past two years.
What else could I do but jump into the fray? I'm well and truly into the post surgical recovery period when one is supposed to be able to resume "normal activities." However I'm concerned that my "normal" might be just a wee bit different from the average "woman of a certain age," at least in terms of physical work...
I did stop after awhile, since I did start to feel it. (Plus, the trailer was pretty much full!)
But the good news is that I've done some work outside in the gardens and have had dirt under my fingernails again, hooray!
Found this little critter in my travels recently at the local Te Kuiti Warehouse store.
There were pink, purple, white, black and green versions, which made it very hard to decide. The green girl came home with me, since friend Cathy Bebelman has a knitwear design company called, coincidently enough, One Green Sheep. I whipped up a quick knitted lei of roses for her neck; it is a belated birthday present after all!
I haven't named her, will leave that one to Cathy.
I've been threatening to organise my yarn stash for quite some time now, and my recovery from surgery has (finally) provided that opportunity. With thanks to Tracey at NZ Fabrics & Yarn, who told me about discount plastic shoeboxes available at Howards Storage World.
It had been chaos, skeins of yarn had fallen off the shelves in a jumble on the floor, making it almost impossible to open the door! So a vast improvement.
If I get bored during winter I may get out the label maker and try to label the yarns, but that may be a wee bit compulsive. Plus, I've got so much weeding, planting and general gardening backing up that I don't think I'll have the time....
The Pet Paddock at Struan Farm is finally starting to reflect the changing season. If I had to choose, the Dawn Redwoods would be my favorite trees in this paddock, much as I love the huge oak trees too. In the past week they have turned a lovely golden brown:
"Metasequoia" dates back 100 million years by fossil remains. It was thought to have been extinct for over 5 million years when it was rediscovered in China in 1946. While it still grows in Hubei and Szechuan, China, it is considered critically endangered due to poor regeneration in the wild. These are very special trees!
Finally some sunshine this past weekend after days of heavy rain at Struan Farm! I was able to get out and explore the Homestead gardens, especially the trees in seasonal transition near the front gate:
Apologies that I've dropped the ball on posts for today and tomorrow, there hasn't been much happening at Struan Farm. But then guess what happened this morning?
A huge tree was uprooted from the bank across the road and fell onto SH3, blocking all of the state highway. Our rural courier came up the drive and asked me to ring emergency services, right as she was doing that we heard a crash. A pickup truck with trailer had driven right into it. I stayed on the line with emergency services while the postie went down to assist the motorists.
The good news is that while their truck is history, the occupants were fine. A very lucky turn of events! After the wife was helped out of the ute, she came up to the house out of the rain to calm down and have a cup of tea while police, road contractor, tow truck and husband worked to clear the tree, open the road, and get the ute onto the tow truck.
And here I'd thought it was going to be a quiet, rainy day!
Sometimes this blog works in mysterious ways, and this would be one of those times. Last week I was contacted by a lady from Australia, with a fun story.
She had been asked by an elderly friend to finish an embroidery piece that the friend had had languishing for some time. The piece had been given to her by her aunt when she was five years old. The aunt died in childbirth, and the piece had never been finished.
Out of curiosity, the lady googled "Two Little Girls in Blue apron," and came across my blog post of several years ago about a vintage apron of Two Little Girls in Blue I'd found in Nelson.
And guess what--they are the same girls, same design! She contacted me to share her photos of the piece, in progress and finished:
And here is a detail shot from my apron, which isn't nearly as glam, really more an embroidery outline:
I would love to find an original transfer of this design if it still exists out there....but it was neat to have the girls connect with whanua across the Tasman, and to know they are nearing 80.
Couldn't avoid this for too much longer, really. Plus, I've just read in the current issue of Lifestyle Block Magazine that walnuts are commonly viewed to be the oldest known food tree, dating back to 10,000 B.C. Wow!
It was time to get cracking the walnuts gathered from our trees in the Pet Paddock at Struan Farm, and so I have.
I've learned to use a cheese knife with a sharp pick at the end to assist with the shelling, it saves wear and tear on the fingernails. This is a job that will be accomplished in waves, too many nuts hoarded away to tackle in one sitting (the basket above is the smaller of two that we have filled with nuts....). But I've started, now have a ziplock bag or two in the freezer.
You will know I definitely haven't had enough to do of late. Can't work outside, can't lift anything, blah, blah, blah. I love to knit, read and needlepoint, but there's only so much of that one can do in a day without going seriously batty if you're not a sitter. Plus I'm on a first name basis with all of the chefs at FoodTV, much to my chagrin.
I've had this project on my winter to do list, when it rains for days on end. However, this past week I took the bull by the horns, fired up the washer and ironing board, and tackled the linen closet. Before it was chaos, everything had been shoved in when we moved in, it hadn't been organised properly at all. Here it is now:
Yep, washed, ironed and folded everything. Major clean out, even made LABELS for the shelves. John would say that last one is over the top, even for me. Martha would probably say that I haven't folded the fitted sheets properly, but I had to draw the line somewhere.
I'll be very glad when I can get outside, at least to start weeding if not digging or pushing barrows or trailers around. Soon, very soon, thank heavens!
p.s. there is one other major clean out/organisation project I've yet to do, and that would be my yarn stash/closet. Watch this space.
Over the past week we've (finally) started to see some autumn color appear at Struan Farm.
The big oaks in the Pet Paddock are also starting to drop their leaves. These are rapidly being redeployed by nephew Mike as mulch around the gardens, both at the Homestead and up at the not-so-new house. In my eyes these are a valuable commodity!
Walked down the drive under the redwoods at Struan Farm to discover a whole colony of new visitors!
According to my NZ field guide, these are Shaggy inkcaps "Coprinus comatus." They are meant to be edible when quite young, before they 'autodigest' and start dripping black liquid. I haven't been brave enough to test this out, but think they're quite interesting looking.
The gardens at Struan Farm have been suffering with my recent surgery, the veggie garden included. The weeds are definitely winning, and they know it. I've had a look around, but since I really can't even lift and push a wheel barrow, I'm basically taking cleansing breaths and moving on.
The good news is that the veggie garden has told me that it's okay (for now) with my benign neglect:
Perhaps it's taken pity on me, knowing I need lots of just picked, organic veggies! I've promised it I'll get onto the mulching just as soon as I'm able.
I'm remembering that Tiny Tim, in Charles Dickens' classic story "A Christmas Carol" loved his plum pudding. And while that would have been the traditional English Christmas plum pudding, the one I've just made isn't quite that.
Just thought I'd share with you a bit more from my recent trip up north to Kaipara. John and I were able to drive along Baylys Beach in our 4WD to Glinks Gully. We then took the road to the end of the Pouto Peninsula, and also went out to Mangawhai and Mangawhai Heads.
I had a bit of an adventure this past weekend, with John at Baylys Beach in the Kaipara District, north of Auckland. It was meant to be a somewhat subdued birthday celebration for me, and wedding anniversary celebration for us, along with the ANZAC commemoration.
Here is the rather spectacular view from the bach where we stayed:
This beach is known as a great spot to find "tua tuas," a local shellfish, something that neither of us had tried before. So of course we took the opportunity to do so!
The shellfish are meant to stay in saltwater for 24 hours before they are cooked and eaten. I steamed them in white wine, and served with butter and fresh herbs. Another option is lime juice and chile, I'm thinking perhaps coconut milk, ginger, chile and lime juice and zest would be delicious too.
Wow. It was a fresh, light, delicious dinner, right from the front doorstep.
This past Saturday, April 25th, was both ANZAC Day here in New Zealand as well as the 100th year commemoration of the New Zealand and Australian landing at Gallipoli during the First World War.
I travelled north to Kaipara with John to attend the service in Dargaville, which had record attendance, and was quite moving.
Further to the national "Call to Yarn" effort I've blogged about previously, these are hand crafted poppies made by various members of the local community to honour local servicemen and women killed in service. This was done throughout the country, what an amazing effort!