So There Was a Mouse in The House

After a few days of not seeing the mouse that Nala had brought into the house, we started to think it was gone. Somehow. Although it really only could have snuck out the open door. Then I heard scuffling in the laundry one evening, coming from the vicinity of the washing machine. Shining my phone torch around, I couldn’t see the mouse, but I did discover a little pile of cat biscuits and some mouse poop in one corner behind the washing machine. The smart little mouse had made its way down the hall and discovered the fur child’s bowl. I had to get The Husband to peer under the washing machine but he couldn’t see the mouse either. He set the two traps on either side of the washing machine, baited with peanut butter, and we waited for the scavenger to be caught.

The mouse did not want to be caught. After a couple more days of not hearing or seeing it, I thought it must have moved on to a new hiding spot after being discovered. The pile of cat biscuits was no longer behind the washing machine. But then, one night, the mouse was caught! Hooray! No more mouse in the house. I have been keeping a close eye on the fur child and the door since then to make sure she doesn’t bring any more live presents into the house.

The Husband has been undergoing the necessary investigations at the hospital to rule out any further problems. I wasn’t particularly well during that time so it has been a stressful and tiring time. These were not things that I wanted to be dealing with in late pregnancy but that’s life sometimes. Hard things don’t come at convenient times. The Lord carries me when I can’t carry myself and I am learning to keep casting my burdens at his feet, even when they seem so big. So far, The Husband’s results are clear, and I am extremely thankful for that.

His second investigative procedure was done the day before the hospital spun out of control thanks to an incredibly callous and extensive ransomware attack. Someone had rescheduled their appointment and God was really looking after us by getting The Husband seen sooner and giving us peace of mind heading into the final weeks of pregnancy. The majority of procedures and treatments have since been cancelled as patients’ details have been lost. This is an unbelievably cruel attack to make on a hospital as so many people are suffering from it: people who need cancer treatments, people who need surgery, women who are due to give birth at any moment, people with mental health issues, children who need medical procedures, people who are waiting for results… And their families and all the hospital staff. If you are a prayer, please pray that the attack will be ended and that all the crucial data will be able to be re-stored and people treated swiftly.

Verbena ‘Merci’. Lord, have mercy on our hospital.
Garden

When I was feeling more energetic a couple of weeks ago, I had a good run of getting some pruning done. I pruned all the young apple trees, the ‘Matapouri Blue’ totara and the corokia hedges along the front fence line. Not all at once, and manually. One day it would be nice to have a powered hedge trimmer. The bigger fruit trees that require more than loppers to cut will just have to wait.

It isn’t easy pruning the ‘Matapouri Blue’ totara into a conical shape with hedge clippers, but it’s a good challenge. If I don’t keep it pruned it will turn into a bushy tree.

The Little Fulla de-seeded the sunflower heads that had been drying in the shed into a bowl. He has cracked some of the seeds but they seem to get eaten rather than ending up in the jar. Fortunately, I remembered to save some seeds for future planting before all the biggest ones disappeared.

I was starting to feel like the rest of the garlic would never get planted. I planned to plant the three remaining varieties in April but it didn’t happen. The trouble is the beds in the Front Plot needed compost added to them to feed the hungry garlic, and shovelling compost wasn’t on my list of capabilities. Fortunately, the family came to the rescue one Saturday and we got it done. The Husband and The Little Fulla shovelled two wheelbarrow loads of compost out of one of the compost bins for me. The Little Fulla helped to prepare the beds by hacking out weeds with the hoe, with great enthusiasm.

I was originally going to space the garlic varieties out more to reduce the risk of rust transmission but I opted to plant them where the rows had had spent chicken bedding piled on them for a month or more. The garlic trial won’t be as fair a test as I had originally intended as these three varieties won’t get the trench of scraps that the two early varieties did. However, they will get more bioactive soil as the spent chicken bedding has brought worms, fungal webs and other good life to contribute to the soil environment. And one variety did have a chicken buried under it earlier.

The old wood shavings were raked back to allow a layer of compost to be put onto each planting spot, then raked back on top of the compost. I planted the garlic cloves 25cm apart as I did for the early garlic. I did 20 cloves for each variety, except for the last one, which had beautifully large cloves, but only 10 that could be planted. And now, we wait. I was so stoked to get all the garlic planted and the rows in the Front Plot tidied up too. It is nice to have crops growing in the ground even when I feel like a mess. The early garlic is growing well and we transplanted self-sown kale seedlings into the row between the early and later garlic. I had purposefully left one seeding kale plant in there after summer and it rewarded us with kale seedlings that meant I didn’t have to sow any for the cold season.

The remainder of the second row, which has one variety of garlic up the back, was sown with an autumn cover crop mix. I want the ground to be covered with something other than weeds and the cover crop will add organic matter to the soil when it is dug in later.

The brassicas are the only other things that need to be planted for now. I planned where to put them all on my spreadsheet. The majority will fit into the last two rows of the Front Plot and the rest will go in the main Veggie Garden. I don’t know if I can physically plant them so I will enlist The Little Fulla to help.

We’ve harvested a bunch of green beans from the second round of bean crops and some I’ve left, trying really hard to get to the drying stage as the temperatures plummet close to or just at freezing some mornings. Generally, May has been quite mild so that has helped the beans. I decided to dehydrate some to save freezer space, so The Little Fulla and I sat at the table and chopped them into pieces. I needed to dehydrate the last few cayenne peppers, then we filled the last of the trays with chopped celery. I figured I should dry some while there’s plenty in the garden, as it can then be used in soups, stocks and meals at any time.

We’re getting a small amount of big feijoas off our young ‘Golden Goose’ tree, which is nice, since the older tree is producing progressively smaller and more useless feijoas thanks to my lack of pruning. They all taste good though.

Feijoa ‘Golden Goose’.

The chickens are enjoying the change to the other pen, swapping a slippery, muddy feijoa mess for at least some green stuff.

Indoors

There hasn’t been much extra food-making going on lately, aside from a batch of bean soup I made from our homegrown dried beans. Sometimes it’s hard enough getting dinner done. But the freezers are almost full right now. We have a bunch of soups in the freezers, plus stock (broth), meat that I’ve been stocking up on when it’s on special, and a bunch of vegetables like corn kernels, broccoli, tomatoes, etc. After a bout of pain that prevented me from cooking dinner one night, I bought something I haven’t bought for many years – some packets of frozen vegetables (ones we don’t have or mixes) and some chips. I always use what we’ve grown or fresh veggies we’ve bought. But I was suddenly aware of the fact that spending a lot of time chopping and peeling vegetables wasn’t always possible at this time in life, even with The Little Fulla’s help. I couldn’t bear to buy ready-made meals with all the unwholesome ingredients they contain, but vegetables that are ready to tip into a dish or oven tray will at least help on hard days.

The dried beans are rinsed, then soaked in a bowl of water on the bench for about 8 hours before cooking.

The yield of tomatoes that we put into the freezer or made straight into soup was 44kg (97 pounds). That isn’t including all the tomatoes we ate fresh for snacks and meals through late summer and autumn.

I have continued to chip away at clearing and organising the baby’s room. It has been a big task, but something less physically demanding. Most of the time… Getting everything off the bed, having the guys dismantle it and putting up the cot was a big milestone. One side of the room is pretty well sorted with the baby things, including the armchair that was relocated from The little Fulla’s room. The other side of the room is the work-in-progress, with the desk, the bathroom sink, toilet and mirror still waiting to be installed and a few last things that need to be sorted.

The baby’s room is actually a thing now, at least on this side.

In the evenings, and times when I’m more incapacitated, I continue to knit the baby wrap, which is basically a small, soft blanket, slowly but surely. It feels like it’s taking a long time because I have been spoilt with easy knitting achievement lately, having knitted a bunch of baby hats. I hope I can get it finished in time. I like how it’s turning out. It has a basketweave pattern and I settled on a knitting needle size that makes it more loose and drapey. With the merino wool, this makes it feel soft and light.

The low-riding baby has been sitting decidedly low for a couple of weeks now, so it is harder to get things done. Or to walk around in a dignified manner. Lightning pains are a real thing and sometimes force me to crumple on my side on the couch. There are many days when I feel like I can’t do anything properly, but if I can manage to write down what I have done well, even if it takes me a while to finish a blog post about it, it reminds me that I have done some good things. I try to keep doing things when I’m able because:

  1. Being active is good for me physically and emotionally.
  2. Doing tasks helps to keep my mind off other things.
  3. There are actually things that need to get done.

I’ve had a lot of errands and trips to town lately for various things but I think I’m almost at the end of the main things that need to be done before the baby arrives. I definitely need to get chicken food and oyster grit. Just one month to go! Maybe…


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