Friday Morning. I am sitting outside the Immigration Office this morning – at least a building called the Application Support Center where we are sent for the official beginning of the agreed Card process. There are quite a few of us foreigners sitting here, waiting in the freezing cold for the office to open.
I am to have my biometrics exam here. They take fingerprints and pictures and I have brought documents to prove I am who I say I am. All this stuff goes off to the FBI so they can check that I have not accrued some kind of criminal record since I last applied for a green card.
Phones must be powered off and inspected.
Later: Well, after a lovely 30 minutes with a really nice group of people, immigrants and staff I have a stamp on the back of my Green Card that is not really green, giving me a 12 month extension. The nice lady told me that if all goes well with their investigations into my behavior in America during the previous ten years, I should have my new ten year green card by next February.
My overriding feeling as I went through the process of mild questioning, fingerprinting and photo was a surge of joy for the little children running about the offices. No-one hushed them or shooed them back into line – they were safe. Safe and warm and happy.
After all they will have gone through I could not help but smile for them.
I read American Dirt while I was away. That book reverberated all through this day.
Sunday Morning. Today has dawned clear and sunny with a proposed temperature of 53f/11 – warm – we will hang the washing on the clothesline. It won’t last long enough to bother the trees but I am glad I don’t have bees because by next week we fall back into the 20’s.
All the animals are present and correct and will love this warm sunny day.
Now I am going to start two new loaves. We are rolling out a new rye. Bono. I baked a fast yeast loaf yesterday and it filled the house with the scent of honey. It is pretty low in protein and really light and fluffy to bag but has a delicate rye taste, with some really sweet notes hitting in with the rye. I really like it. I have a rye sourdough starter ready for this morning so we will see how it goes.
The glass house is waking up.
Plus as an experiment Jill the Miller ran a small batch of oats through the flour mill. Without a sifter. With the stones wide. We made a kind of rough oat flour – really rough. I am going to bake it into a loaf ( with raisins and walnuts and honey scented rye) and see what we think. The crushed oats are Not for Sale at this point but I think it has real potential.
So into the kitchens with me! Then out into the farm.
Take care! If I can I will collect more farm photos today and put them up tonight before the work week descends! Still working on a routine that suits my hours!
Though today it has done nothing but rain, which is kind of nice when I am out of the rain working in the cold dry mill, though the rain was falling on snow and tonight the whole slushy mess will turn to ice and though yesterday was blowing snow with a little sun chiming in: Mr Flowers came right out into the yard, to sit.
He holds his bad leg up and uses it as a crutch when he walks. Poor old fellow. He is lucky he has the barn. He would not last long in the wild. Though he appears to have a cat friend.
His wing is still wonky but I think a lot of that has to do with balance, because it does not seem to impede his ability to fly. He flies down for breakfast in the morning and flies back up into the upper reaches of the barn to sleep at night. The ability of birds to overcome adversity never ceases to amaze me.
The guinea on the left of this picture has no feet at all!
Einkorn Pancakes. Einkorn is a beautiful ancient wheat. Actually Einkorn would make great pikelets.
Even spell check does not know what pikelets are! Though the recipes are not much different. Pikelets and pancakes are pretty similar except pikelets are smaller and eaten warm or cool with butter and jam.
It is evening now – the rainy day after the slushy day after the snowy day.
I got a lot of things started today but finished nary a one. Tomorrow will be a good day too I think, as I start to finish each of my new initiatives.
You have a lovely day too.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!