Crazy Weather & The Changing of The Guard, Twice

A couple of weeks ago we had night time lows of 20-23degC (68-73F). 23C is the highest low we’ve had for some time. We are seriously thankful for air con, although it was still hard to sleep. But, icky heat and humidity aside, the rain did arrive, on numerous days that week. The rain was abundant. The tanks were filled, which is amazing for this time of year, and the garden loved the rain. I sowed the second round of beans at just the right time and the seedlings are doing well. Most of the climbing bean varieties from the first round have finished and the slowest (ahem, Ojo de Cabra and Genuine Cornfield) are still just getting to the dry stage. I sowed the next lot right inbetween the old plants. The bush beans are dotted around more widely than the first wave. Go beans, go!

The old beans are giving way to the second round of beans.

The weekend after that the wind arrived with decided force courtesy of Ex-tropical Cyclone Dovi. On Sunday we were shut inside with howling winds out there. We lost power, but not for too long. Whoever decided to make our stove run on gas was a genius. The tree out the front of our property had several large branches break and fall over the road. I’m glad I pruned the lowest ones off recently, and some of our walnut tree branches too. We had a family clean-up session after Miss Scarlet went to bed. The Little Fulla helped me rake and sweep the debris off the road while The Husband took to the branches with the chainsaw. We moved branches and carted off a barrow load of firewood but we couldn’t deal with it all in one session. We still have more to finish.

Dealing with the branch mess was a bit of a fun activity. To start with.

Aside from that, we didn’t have anything too drastic happen. We had a couple of short power cuts afterwards and the microwave and water pump played up temporarily. I had to collect The Little Fulla from school late morning the next day because they lost power and water again. One of the pullets ended up over the fence, we lost a bunch of apples and pears that were blown off (the chickens were pleased), some of the smaller trees are on bad angles and need to be re-staked and a bunch of the corn plants were flattened.

It might not be the best corn season but I did manage to get some watermelon plants growing, hopefully with enough time.

We had a powercut the week before too and that one killed my computer somehow, so The Husband has been kept busy. Apparently he had transplanted elderly parts from his computer to mine last time, so it was probably only a matter of time. I did not know I had an elderly computer on my hands. It has been properly fixed now.

I finally got over my rooster analysis paralysis and decided who to butcher. Jack of Spades walked the green mile to the freezer and his black son superceded him. His son had better overall body type. I was going to hatch some eggs out of Jack of Spades and some of the hens, particularly the blue ones who were bred to blue rooster Sage in spring. But I decided not to because there’s too much going on right now, some hens haven’t been laying well because of the heat or moulting, plus I couldn’t be sure that Jack of Spade’s was still the father. I’m glad I didn’t have eggs in the incubator with the power cuts.

Unfortunately, one week later we lost Jack of Spades’ big black son. It seems like cruel timing but I can only hope some good will come of the situation. We still have Judith’s younger blue son, so it isn’t the end of the world. He does have beautiful colouring. His mum is the best hen but his father was Sage, so I have no males from Jack of Spades now. My first instinct was, “Quick, start saving eggs for hatching!” Any male chicks could be backups in case anything else goes wrong, plus I could get some more females from that line. But I didn’t want to do hatching. I don’t want to make a decision out of fear, but out of wisdom. I’ve had a lot of things to deal with lately and I would really rather put some time into dealing with the big mess that is the garden. I mean, I’m sort of avoiding the mess but I want my nice garden back. Both kids are now sick, thankfully not badly, so that has added more to deal with, especially with the frustrations and delays of the covid testing system right now. I am glad I don’t have hatching to add to my plate.

We still have 10 pullets but I’m holding off selling any more for now, just in case… They are altogether in the main flock now and the blue cockerel has realised that he can be the boss now. Well, one day, when the hens let him. It is nice to have a bunch of beautiful young chickens. I’m going to have to start naming them.

It is elderberry time. And very timely too as our country is now in a big covid wave, although at least with a high vaccination rate. I harvested what elderberries I could reach from the neighbours’ tree that overhangs our place. It’s getting a bit crowded-out and tall so I could only reach so many. We should have plenty for making elderberry syrup though, as I still have some dried berries from last year. I still have some elderberry syrup in the freezer as well.

I picked out the ripe elderberries, washed them in a sieve and dried them in the dehydrator so I can make syrup later. There don’t seem to be a lot of places you can buy dried elderberries in New Zealand, but there are some. Elderberry bushes/trees shouldn’t be too hard to find to forage some fresh berries from or there are some places you can buy elderberry syrup kits. Even those are cheaper than buying elderberry syrup. Elderberry is one of the few natural products that has been scientifically proven to aid the body in fighting viruses. I have seen how well it helps us deal with sicknesses, reducing symptoms and duration, so it will always have a place in our kitchen.

I have been buying quantities of apples from the orchard to process while they’re in season, as we’re going through a lot of fruit with the two kids now. I got some bottled before I realised, part way into my 10kg stash of apples, that I did not have the capacity to bottle them all what with the baby, the young boy at home and all the other things. Instead, I’ve stewed most of the rest of them and put bagged portions of stewed apple into the freezer. I can use them for baby food, toppings, to go with meat, desserts and more. It was far easier to stew the apple in a pot and not have to worry about sterilising jars and doing a waterbath. The Little Fulla was keen beans to use the apple peeler/corer/slicer. He has taken the job of Operations Manager so I haven’t even gotten to use it yet this year. His enthusiasm has certainly helped with batches of apples. The freezers are just about full so I need to think about what I’m doing. The masses of tomatoes are partly to blame. We’ve got 20kg bagged and frozen so far this season. Maybe we need another freezer…

The apple peeler/corer/slicer is at work again.

I will leave you with a little story about what I encountered on the road one day. I was driving to get chicken food, on a country road, when I saw a line of cars driving slowly on the other side of the road, looking like they were held up by something. As I got closer there was a dark figure in the middle of the road. It was an emu! My jaw just about hit the floor. The emu was slowly pacing in my direction with its giant feet, seemingly unaware that it was holding up a big line of vehicles. When I got over my shock I felt like I wanted to help herd it with my car, but I didn’t know where it was supposed to be going or if anyone in the other vehicles knew what was going on. I slowly drove past and carried on, wishing I could have taken a photo of the bizarre scene. On my way home there was no sign of the emu or a traffic jam so I guess it ended up somewhere better. I feel a bit like I’m being held up by an emu at the moment, but it too shall pass so I’ll just keep doing what I can. Every day is a new day and another chance for wonderful things to take place.

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