The Blood Tests are a Yes!


If all goes well, fingers crossed, touch wood and without walking under any ladders or having any black cats walk in front of anything and with some luck and good management she will be having her calf late May.

May is a super time to have a calf as it will be warm, not too many nasty bugs, she can calve on the grass which is so much more hygenic than being huddled in a dark barn with storms raging outside and the mess of birth just everywhere. And if assisting Mama sheep have her quads last March is anything to go by, it is a messy business indeed. Plus she will be eating good grass and good grass makes the best healthiest creamiest milk.

So in May 2012 I will start milking. Then we will have our own raw milk and make  all those lovely milky products. Now I  know you are all going to be looking forward to that performance because I have NEVER MILKED a cow by myself before.  But getting a house cow is central to my plan for feeding the sustainable crew.  Milk will tie our cycle of food in a little tighter. The milk will be a good food for the pigs, cats and dogs will drink it, it will feed calves and baby animals, the chickens have the yoghurt and custard and the milk will supply all the butter and soft or hard cheeses for the homes. Plus raw milk sprayed onto pasture is another super fertiliser as it wakes up all those microorganisms that have been laid to waste with industrial farming.  And did you know you can make vodka from whey, John is investigating.  Here is the new wine working merrily in the snug. 

If they don’t close my post office then more chickens will be delivered soon.  They come in the mail you know. Oh, and they deliver bees in the mail too. John once came home from work and found a tiny box with a very bossy queen bee and her five attendants sitting waiting patiently in the mail box at the end of the drive. I know that the Post Office closures will affect us out here in the country but I have my fingers crossed that our Post Office stays open.  It is so short sighted to let any of them close.

When I first started raising bees I ordered three pounds of bees from an apiary about 100 miles from here and for some reason the Mail God sent them to a big Post Office in a big city. A man called me and said he had the bees. As it was a Saturday, did I want to come and get them myself so that they did end up sitting in a little Post Office all weekend.

When it was our turn at the counter, I said to the little man. Hi, I have come to pick up some bees.

Bees, said the little man.

Yes, I looked at his name badge, um Warren. Evidently you have a package of live bees here for me. I put on my most dazzling smile, that usually speeds things up.

He gaped at me as though a cat had walked into his Post office and begun to speak in Greek.  A pause. Name?  He said, returning to the safety of his keyboard. I told him, making sure to speak loudly and clearly. Maybe he was a little deaf.

He misunderstood me, as they all do (you will remember that I am a foreigner out here, in fact I think I am the only foreigner out here), so I gently corrected him,  and told him my name again. Then with my smile still brightly attached to my face, I carefully spelt it for him.

And you are collecting bees? He said.

Yes, a package of live bees. I got a call that they were here.

You got a call? They said that the bees were here?

My fixed smile slipped into a grimace trying to be a fixed smile. He squinted at his screen. Tapping at keys. At this point Our John began to Loom over my shoulder. People began to shuffle in the line behind me.

So what are you going to be doing with these bees?  He said.

Make honey I hope, I said.  I’m sorry, but am I confusing you? Am I in the right place?

Oh No.  He said. I mean Yes. With a sheepish smile. I just love your accent and wanted to keep you talking. My smile closed then moved to my eyes, I cocked my head slightly. How annoying but sweet.

At this point Our John did that shoulder and neck stretch that men do and the Little Warren realised that there was a really big bloke in Full Loom right at my shoulder. John grunted. The man rose onto the balls of his feet, opened his mouth,  thought better of it and turned and raced out and into the mysterious regions of The Back.

The people in the rapidly growing queue went into mutter and extended shuffle mode.

Warren returned quite smartly with a  wooden box held at the end of his fully extended arms. A little bit of theatre. He placed it very carefully on the counter. We all looked at it. It was about as big as a shoe box for work boots, up on its side and had netting on both sides. Inside was a swarm. A very annoyed swarm of bees. Hungry bees.  Three pounds of bees. They were tightly bunched into a large ball inside the box, every leg and wired head moving and wriggling. The box was alive with movement and sound.  The entire post office went very quiet.

I lifted the box and turned from the counter to find the entire queue had silently dispersed into groups and flattened themselves against the walls.  Mothers holding their children. Ladies clutching their purses. Men attempting to appear nonchalant while pulling down their sleeves and checking out the exits. That lid looks loose John said, careful they don’t get out. Our audience attempted to step further back into the wall. John leaned over and tapped innocently on the box, how ya doin in there? About nine thousand bees turned and glared at him then raised their buzz a decibel. Two men broke ranks and swooped for the doors so we could see our unimpeded exit. You would think that I had a wild rattle snake on the end of a shovel. I turned and thanked the man in my sweetest NZ accent, and serenely, in full procession, we walked between the shrinking people. I smiled and nodded like the queen mother and exited through the two sets of double doors held open by our friendly doormen.

Behind us our little audience released one collective breath,  gliding back into their rightful places in the cue, as the doors swung shut behind us the little man called: Next!

Oh and my good camera is back in action. This is the sunrise this morning. So it is time to go and feed the animals. I shall pass on your regards to the naughtiest Pregnant Cow in the world.