BACK IN THE …

USA.

Back in the USA. And guess what- they are still sniping and arguing with each other. Same words, same tone, different subject, same soundtrack. Radio – off.

And it snowed and the temperature plummeted just as I got off the plane.

All is well on the farm – even Mr Flowers who was not doing well after an altercation with Boo, just before I left, has improved out of sight. He is still hopping about on one foot but getting stronger and will now launch himself into the air and is back roosting in the barn alongside Mrs Pania Flowers.

Jill from the Mill looked after Godzilla my sourdough starter while I was away so I was able to bake two days after I landed. A really lovely loaf too.

BooBoo trying to speak.

While I have been away the winter weather has been unusually warm here in Illinois – staying above freezing most of the time. Kind of a NZ winter here. But today it is frozen and very cold. Back to the usual Illinois weather.

The chooks are laying more eggs and the ducks are starting up again as the days lengthen.

I added more straw already to the beds of wai and tane. Wai loves a mountain of straw so he can crawl into it. And they are both doing really well. Tane is a bit slow but now that I am back he will get hand fed again, so Tima does not steal his food. Tima is fat and happy!

The Farmer was out last night in sowing red clover into the wheat fields. Now that the wheat is established they lay in the cover crop seed so they all come up at the same time in the spring – crop and weed protection together.

The seed will lie dormant on the cold soil being moved down by the thaw and freeze and melting snow, until spring then the cover crop will germinate slightly behind the already established wheat enabling the wheat to rise up above the clover. That’s the plan anyway!

It is cold and blowing outside. I will do the rounds with extra straw. Time to get out there again.

Have a lovely day.

Celi

WELLINGTON

I have had these photos in the can for a few days now and what with one thing and another have not got this blog post out to you.

Wellington has so much water around it.

We have had an unusually calm few days with yesterday and today returning to the high Wellington winds. We went out foraging for blackberries the other day along the banks of this little stream.

We were very close to the site of an old mill that was milling flour up to the twenties a hundred years ago. I wonder where they got their wheat. Everything was organic so nothing was called organic and the majority of food was locally grown in those days. They would wonder what all the fuss was about as we try to claw our way out of the chemical food jungle the civilized world has trapped itself in and try to get back to clean fresh food. We are so dependent on each other’s choices. We are all connected.

Much to my surprise the quality of light here fluctuates, influenced by the smoky haze from the fires in Australia.

Australia’s bush fires have been fuelled by a combination of extreme heat, prolonged drought and strong winds. The Bush fires of the last four months have released nearly 900 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, equivalent to nearly double the country’s total yearly fossil fuel emissions, according to scientists. We are not complaining, I mean our country is not on fire, but the smoke from these terrible fires ( Canberra has most recently declared a stare of emergency as they battle new fires) travels in columns like swirling rivers across the sea and if the winds are right and there is no rain the smoke arrives like a yellow haze as far as New Zealand spiking air pollution readings. Connected.

I am very surprised the fall-out from these awful fires has got this far. Humans are naturally egocentric and we forget how connected we all are. That we are all stood on our own two legs on the same small planet.

If we get on a plane in one country with bacteria on our shoes or an infection in our lungs we will carry these things to the next country and release them. I wonder if in the not too distant future medical certificates will be requested before air travel. I wonder if we truly understand how the saying ‘no man is an island’.

Also may I say it is deeply refreshing to be out of the endless intense all encompassing political dark atmosphere of the USA. I am not looking forward to going back to that.

Anyway, time for me to get busy.

I hope you have a great day.

Celi

SUNDAY MORNING FISHING

I am now in Wellington, where I hope to get into the routine of working remotely for a few hours every morning, then in the afternoons gather my baking apprentices and get lots of baking and recipe making done.

Yesterday my son took me out in his boat to do some fishing! Now, you and I know that I ‘don’t do well’ on the water but he had been watching the weather and his special ‘wind app’ and was excited to have discovered what is almost impossible in Wellington – a calm day. Perfect for shipping.

And it was incredibly calm. We started out really early. Getting up at 4am to be at the ramp by 4.30 and we were on the water setting up lines at 5 am.

We caught a few small sharks and elephant fish and threw them all back then after a few spots and with me at the helm of our little boat we trawled a line through a school after school of Kahawai.

I discovered that if I am skipper I don’t get seasick!

No one argued with that – I grew up literally on a beach beside the sea so I know the sea but have no ‘sea legs’ – manning the bridge was perfect for me.

We stopped to fish in a few more of my son’s favourite spots but the fish were not biting. Later when we motored back to the marina we discovered that many of the other fisherman also had no luck. ( We all blamed it on the previous nights earthquake.) We did catch a few kahawai to smoke that evening – just enough for a perfect feed with a salad of garden vegetables.

My goal was to go fishing with my fourth son and that goal was achieved! Of course my Fourth Sons goal was a bit different. But never mind.

I just loved it out there!

Above is a small shag in the water. He spent a good deal of his time floating about by the boat diving every now and then to check our lines. I am fairly sure this is the little New Zealand shag. See what you think. Tig told me that when you throw a fish back into the water the shags will often collect them and swallow them whole.

We weren’t catching much so the shag soon got bored and flew off to check out some other fisher people.

It stayed beautifully, eerily calm until lunchtime and as the wind picked up so did my sea sickness.

So after packing up the boat and stowing everything away on our little tidy deck – we came about and raced for shore!

A perfect morning in Wellington Harbour.

And now to work!

Love love

Celi

LUMSDEN

A typical small town in New Zealand.

Absolutely all New Zealand towns, no matter how small, have a playground. Playgrounds are a global experience.

A line of shops down the main road with a chemist, a butcher, a cafe, the post office and a pub and a bakery. We bought pies: potato top mince and vegetable pies to be exact and ate them by the playground.

An artifact.

Outside of Lumsden I found my first field of golden wheat.

The next town had a little museum house.

There is usually some kind of recycling station somewhere close by.

More wheat because wheat on the cusp of harvest is so beautiful.

It is raining on this morning’s camp site so we are moving on.

Down the road.

Have a great day!

Celi

MILFORD SOUND WHICH IS REALLY A FJORD

But fjord was not in the English dictionary yet!

We decided to take a boat into the sounds as our one and only touristy experience on this trip.

It is a two hour drive in from Te Anau to Milford Sound.

Mirror Lakes.

A Kea found us in a car park. The kea is a very clever and very naughty bird – we adore them. Though if you are not careful they will steal the rubber out of your windscreen wipers and any shiny metal attached to the side of your car. Or your car keys! There are endangered but very adaptable and as NZ continues with its mission to rid the islands of rats we hope they will build their numbers again.

This one is in the wrong place but like I say they are adaptable and with the tourists I bet this guy is being illegally fed heaps!

After an hours walk from the parking area and out of sight on the right is the terminal.

Here is Sinbad our guide boat.

The Sounds were all carved out by glaciers that ground their way through here 20,000 years ago they had all melted by around 2,000 years ago I think and then the sea back filled into the resulting U shaped valleys. Very deep. In the Sounds it rains 200 out of 364 days on average. We got a dry fine day which was incredible luck.

Conservation is very close to the human condition in New Zealand so all this bush is native and original. And you may remove nothing. And leave behind nothing.

It is protected fiercely and shared generously.

Then two hours later – back on dry land.

I am going to send this to you now! Battery v. Low. Hold that thought.

I hope this vid of the tunnel goes through – The Sounds are incredibly isolated- which is good- and difficult to access – which is good too. Keeps out the riff raff! But also a very old fashioned place to visit.

This tunnel was punched through in 1954.

I am almost out of battery on my phone so more on that tunnel here and I will push Publish then go in search of my charger pack. I hope to come back to this post later today with more notes.

We shift the bus today – I am not sure where to but the pack up will take a while. I paid 5 dollars to have a shower in the Te Anau Visitors Centre yesterday, which was very welcome and hope to find a laundromat today! Bus life is not a clean experience.

Love love

Celi

TE ANAU LAKE WALK

Just pictures. Unedited.

This walk way is a good long pathway well used by cyclists and walkers.

This whole walk is through the bird sanctuary area.

Today we take the long drive into the fjord and have a look see. Later in the afternoon we will take the boat ride into Milford Sound. Evidently it is a once in a lifetime experience though I am not too good on the water. Hopefully it is calm!

But I hope to get you some good pictures.

Love love

Celi

Te Anau

We have not got into town yet.

People letting people stay for nothing in their backyards. If you are part of a NZ camper van association or something like that you have access to a list of other campers and landowners who will rent a field or yard to you for a donation or gold coin or even free. As long as your vehicle is self contained. It is an amazing system of generosity.

So much feed. The fields around here are heaving with grass. I would never get this much pasture by mid summer in Illinois.

If you are part of a NZ camper van association or something like that you have access to a list of other campers and landowners who will rent a field or yard to you for a donation or gold coin or even free. As long as your vehicle is self contained. It is an amazing system of generosity.

This place has chickens! And a duck.

The further South we travel the longer the daylight. Last night I crawled into my tent at 10 pm and it was still light enough to read.

OK – Today we will go for a walk into Te Anau. Topo Map here. We are right on the doorstep of Milford Sound. There is a lot to explore here – but more on that later.

Also today we are going to make bagels! Plus more bread. My bread is very popular here.

The bus people sleep in! It drives me crazy! This is why I am happy in my coffin tent. Just me and noisy chickens out here this morning.

( I saw my son lock his car last night in case of thieves but leaving his mum to sleep outside under the trees with nothing but a piece of nylon for protection – I raised my eyebrow).

Talk soon.

Celi

GARSTON, SOUTHLAND

We left Canmore yesterday. and came to rest for the night further down the South Island of New Zealand in a one horse town called Grafton. We are officially in Southland, New Zealand now.

This has always been a staging stop or rest stop between Queenstown ( our last stop) and Te Anau (our next stop). Around Te Anau we hope to park the bus for a few days and then take day trips in the car into the Milford Sound.

See the ranges we came around! These are called The Remarkables. We wound our way around the base of them.

Garston

Above is a link to a topographical map of where we are. I will link back to this map frequently so you can follow the route we take.

I love topographical maps. It is interesting to note the height of the hills and mountains that crouch around us as we drive through this valley later today.

I hope to be able to blog daily for this next week. After all you and I have never been here before. But if we get too far into the wopwops. We might be cut off. We’ll see.

Our only actual destination is Invercargill by Friday (6 days away). Then I fly to Wellington via Christchurch. But until then we are wandering about down here in my son’s bus.

Well, he drives the bus and we drive in the car.

Now! Let’s get on the road!

The weather is hot and delicious!

Celi

MY LITTLE HOUSE IN THE MOUNTAINS

In the South Island of New Zealand. Above Wanaka, New Zealand.

Welcome to the boonies!

This morning I am beginning to bake bread without my favourite Janie’s Mill flour is proving to be a bit of a challenge.

Baking bread for my family is my favourite thing. ( I have many favourite things). The house we are staying in is on a road called Gin and a Raspberry Road just up the road from the Canmore Pub. And – unforgivably we forgot the gin – so someone had better drive down into Wanaka today!

I stayed at the Cardrona hotel my first night in the South of NZ because I changed my flights to avoid being caught in an ice storm in OHare, Chicago and arriving in New Zealand 24 hours early i treated myself a night in this lovely hotel. It was not expensive and was perfect. The Cardrona is an icon in the South. Everyone knows it.

The rooms opened on to the beer garden and the garden had a playground so all members of our family were happy.

And now we have relocated just up the road ( straight upwards I might add) so we will be returning! The Cardrona is actually hidden behind that group of tall trees down in the valley. This shot is from the bottom of the wild meadows that surround our mountain house.

So here I am – surrounded in colour and slopes that in the winter are covered in snow and skiers. I am more than happy to be here in the summer.

Now, I need to go and roll the dough. I am working with a relative of my sourdough Godzilla, so I am feeling confident – but the flour is from Turkey which seems a bit weird and I have no idea of the milling date the use by date is in 18 months and of course no mention of the grain the flour was made from. How quickly I have become a flour snob!

Talk soon

Celi

TWO OWLS

Last night there were two owls with two distinctive voices calling for hours in the night. They were in the big tree-house tree outside the kitchen door. This tree is close to my bedroom too, I opened the window so I could hear them call in and out of my dreams. They both used the same range of notes in the same order but one was bell-like in the ( kind of) A minus range and one in ( maybe) a middle C range with a smaller triller sound except that last note that drifts into a sad lilting minor chord.

Why does the word ‘dreams’ describe the uncoordinated uncontrolled images that play into our sleeping heads plus the same word is also used for our aspirations and carefully thought through plans. “I have always dreamed of having a little farm” is not the same as the choppy dreams I have of flying from the top of the barn in a graceful arc to a lake that was never there. Or my dreams of connecting with wild animals – walking with wolves or owls at the window. Wake up! wake up!

I am not afraid of owls anymore. Now that they have invaded my dreams.

Mr Flowers is up in the barn recovering, I hope, after an altercation with Boo.

One thing farming has taught me is that no incident has only one reason or answer. Most accidents or events are the result of a perfect storm of small incidents or conditions.

A. I was not there to keep Boo in check.

B. Mr Flowers has taken to stalking Boo lately and flying at him.

C. Boo has become increasingly vigilant about guarding a pigs food from the birds.

Then D. the trigger – something totally unrelated to the skirmishes between Mr Flowers and Boo: Wai tried to fight Tima ( through the fence of her new home) and got his tusks caught in the fence. Wai was screaming, John was shouting at Wai to stay still while he wielded wire cutters trying cut the fence to release the potbelly, Ton was circling and whining in horror, Tima was roaring and trying to get at Wai from the other side of the fence and the peacock got too close to the frey. Boo reacted to John’s shouts for help, the bucket of feed was unguarded and he attacked.

John did not see what happened but I think Boo heeled the big bird. Literally bit at the birds heels to move him along. Not good. Now the peacock is hopping – one injured leg and one wing not tucked in properly. So Boo must have attacked from the side.

Yesterday Mr Flowers spent the day sitting quietly under the tractor – food and water within easy reach. And last night when I did my last check I found that he had flown up into the top of the barn to perch awkwardly in his usual sleeping spot. This afternoon he was in another spot up high in the barn.

Let’s hope Mr Flowers stays up there while he recovers. It is cold which is good -no flies – he has blood on his injured leg. And it is easy for me to feed and water him up there away from predators – Boo being one of them. And the peacock is moving about on his one good leg – so I can only wish for the best now.

From now on Boo stays in the truck or inside the house during feed time when John is in charge. This is an old rule, that I have re-read aloud. Boo is tricky to manage when the buckets are out for reasons A, B and C. This was terrible luck but at least now my co-worker will be more aware that he has to have Boo in full control and when there is trouble – lock the dogs down first- in the truck, in the house or leashed, John always wondered why I did this – now he knows.

Let’s hope Wai does not try to fight Tima through the fence again. The first time he got his tusks stuck in the fence was the day before this incident and I literally held Boo by his collar while I cut the pig free with my other hand. Boo is high maintenance.

But what a kafuffle.

I leave in a week for my longest trip home in years. I will be there for a month. And I will take you with me!

We will know if Mr Flowers is going to be ok by then. But birds are pretty resilient if we leave them to themselves to recover. I learnt that from The Duke.

Talk soon

Celi