Family creativity

I know I didn't knit this enthusiastically when I was 8 years old. PJ caught the knitting bug in the last week of the school holidays and worked for three days to create a jersey for Willow and blankets for her favorite soft toys. I kind of bungled away nearby trying to set a good example and to be on hand to help while trying myself to perfect my Continental style knitting.

It was OK on these simple singlets:

I found the pattern for these after advice from Melissa who pointed me in the direction of Soule Mama whose archives I searched until I found this from The thrifty knitter , perfect for a newborn and a new knitter.


was a little more difficult, I've been doing it on and off for about three weeks. I found myself switching back to the English style knitting that I learned around 8 years old myself, because the weight on the left hand needle made it harder to get into the swing of Continental style. Knitting two stitches together for the pattern slowed me down to a pain full beginners pace, though it did make me appreciate PJ's efforts alot more, but not enough to ignore my impatient streak. Back to English style to get it finished, both she and I are really pleased with the result. She helped me sort through some light weight fabrics to choose the blue floral which tones in beautifully with the cotton knit. I got the pattern from a book which I have since returned to the library, I think it was this one. I've put it on my wish list now because it's full of similar delights.

The paua shells I used as props with the singlets are from skatey's trip over the bay, his creative streak lead him to borrowing a grinder from the neighbour to grind off the grey shell to reveal the beautiful colours beneath. Then he varnished it to make the colour "pop". He gave me some to have in my bedroom. I treasure them as an expression of his creativity.

Faries Dance Here

A nice thing about the holidays has been that PJ hasn't had the influence of other girls telling her how she should be. I've finished a couple of dresses for her that have been half done for several months. She's been through her dress up box and added her Granny's apron over the top of them, then quietly acted out the stories she has made up, including her little brother when he is in a co-operative mood. It's a little sad that this week she will go back to school and start stressing about the outfit to put together so she doesn't get called a baby. Sad too that those other little 8 year old girls want to wear short shorts and tops instead of the lovely dresses I'm sure they'd all prefer. We're working on confidence so Pj can be a leader instead of a follower.


Oh I wish I had a WOOFER

I know, I'm repeating myself. It's just that time of year where a pair of extra hands would be helpful. I've picked a lot of huge tomatoes which need to be made into sauce. I'm not sure how many more I will get as I think the plants have blight. The symptoms are browning leaves and fruit browning before it goes ripe. A Woofer could pull out the affected plants and burn them, plant some seeds for winter crops, turn compost, summer prune fruit trees, pick gherkins and bottle them, dig the rest of the garlic and clean it up, pull the shallots and string them up, pick the last of the currants and preserve them, clean the chookhouse, weed and water, then mow the lawn. They'd deserve a good dinner and a swim after that.
You'd think two teenage boys would be pretty useful around the house wouldn't you? I haven't got the knack of how to get them motivated to help. Skatey has gone off adventuring again anyway, over to Anatori to collect Paua from the sea over there. One last adventure before school starts. Can't believe I'll have two at High School, I'm really hoping Skatey will find a lot to inspire him there. The teen is looking forward to going back now that we've sorted out his timetable clashes and bought the new uniform and supplies for school. He's doing English, Math, Physics, Computer Studies, P.E and Outdoor Education so I reckon he's in for an awesome year.



Last week I packed up all the children for a journey over the nearby Takaka hill. It is not a trip I have done often despite living in this area for much of my life. Stopping me has been fear. It's not a particularly treacherous drive but I do hold onto a quite irrational fear of edges of hills from childhood.
Our destination was through winding roads to beautiful beaches beyond, in the Golden Bay. Summer camping spots full to the brim with tents don't hold much appeal to me though the beaches, wildlife, galleries and roadside stalls will now I'm sure tempt me back again. We past Pohara, Tata and Wainui at which point I wondered why I'd waited so long to go back to the area. We thought of their Dad and how much he loves adventure, a contrast to my homebodyness, as I willed myself through the fear to set a good example to my children.
We arrived at Totarnui and spent awhile on the beach watching the waterskiiers at full tide. A girl fell off and was knocked out. It was comforting to watch the rescue helicopter arrive what seemed like about 20minutes later. Skatey found a bike park where he attracted a crowd of adoring 8- 10 year old boys to watch his unicycle stunts.
The event that bought us to the bay started at 1pm. We were there to farewell the teen on his rite of passage to manhood. We didn't know what to expect really, though the course had come highly recommended. As his mother I can't explain the experience but from my perspective it was a very powerful and spiritual journey. Boys leave their mothers for the rite of passage with their fathers or mentors, other returning "trackers" and a group of Elders, for their week long rites. As a mother you say goodbye to the boy in a ceremony and welcome back a young man as we did yesterday. It seems all involved including the fathers gained so much spiritually from the experience that I would recommend it to families with teenage boys. Our extended family and even one of the teen's teachers was there to welcome him back as a young man. The love and support was almost overwhelming. We were also very touched to see the impression it had made on the other young men involved.
For me personally it was a joy to see respectful, spiritual, kind, caring, strong men are for real.
I applaud Tracks Trust for the experience they gave our family.


Using Rotten eggs

So it goes along with hatching eggs that a few may not hatch for one reason or another. The kids now view these as quite a treat, we collect them ever so carefully so as not to crack them and get covered in the stench of rotten egg, and go for an evening stroll down to a small stream nearby.

We had a "real" farm kid staying with us this week and he certainly showed us what separates the farm kids from the townies.
You can just see the farm kid in the stream, while a former farmers daughter sits on the bank wishing she still jumped in streams, climbed trees and chased other kids with weta's and hu hu grubs.
We waited and watched for eels coming upstream attracted by the smell of the eggs, while he just waded on in bare toes only covered by orange "crocks" and broke the couple of eggs that hadn't exploded when they hit the water. Though instead of high -tailing it out of the water quickly, he stayed in to look for koura or fresh water crayfish. It was nice to see that our stream is so healthy with wildlife, he found 5 in a matter of minutes. He also informed me their Maori name was "koura" as in "Kaikoura" on the South Island East coast, renowned for it's lovely sea crayfish and whale watching. We spied about 3 eels (in Maori tuna )make their way upstream to our eggs, but they weren't as big as the ones we saw last summer. We also discussed the New Zealand place names we know which include the words Kai (food) Koura (crayfish) and tuna (eel) and came up with quite a few from the areas we had lived and visited. These give a good clue to the history of an area. We deciphered another Maori place name we know. The road where we live translates to: dog oven!! So we speculated that probably this area may have been known in olden times for eating dog. For the boys especially our evening excursion in cooperated some great lessons that they just wouldn't get if traditionally stuck in a classroom to learn local history and ecology. Parents, never underestimate the value of family life and what kids can learn by"living"
We all came home glad to have taken the time to do it.
"Stuck to the computer boy" formally know as the "teen" sadly didn't join us.
Though at least I could also refer to him as "passed NCEA, stuck to the computer boy". Exam results came through yesterday.
Or to be specific, I should describe as: "often grouchy with mother, doesn't want to work, obsessed with a nice girl, talks to her online, thankfully passed NCEA, stuck to the computer, teen, lovely,boy"



Late Dec saw the majority of my chooks sitting on eggs or clucky. The three old ladies shared two eggs between them and by chance I noticed the hatching happening on Christmas eve. It's pretty mean but I whisked the 2 hatching eggs off the old girls and put them under the clucky bantam to hatch. She had six due also to hatch that day. I did this because I've let the big White Leghorns and Light Sussex hatch eggs before and found that their mothering instinct is nowhere near as strong as the bantams. They've stepped on the babies, left them out in the cold and while their backs were turned lost them to hawks and cats. By contrast the bantams puff up and attack when you come within a few feet of them. They are so hilarious to watch, the way they fuss about showing the chick some tid bit they've found. Clucking, scratching and flinging things everywhere with their feet as they call them over. Remember too if you are raising chicken to give them fresh water every day in a shallow bowl so they don't drown in it. Also while we do love hedgehogs in out garden we have to keep the chickens caged at night as my neighbour reported a hedgehog attacking her chickens again last week.So now the nests are empty and the egg production has stepped up a bit bacon and egg pie, scrambled eggs and Pavlova with fresh berries are back on the menu.

This week in the garden I have harvested: a cauliflower, about a bucket full of spuds, 1 cucumber, 5 tomatoes, 5 gigantic marrow fed to the chooks, 2lb of raspberries turned into 4 jars of jam, an ice cream container of red currents popped into the freezer, a feed of beans, poppy seeds, lemon verbena leaves for tea, St Johns wort for oil and too many garlic bulbs to count. Alot of them have some kind of fungal disease resulting in a sort of grey smelly bulb beginning to rot, they must be burnt quickly or I think the disease could spread to the rest of the garden. Their beds will have to be rotated for about 3 years, which makes finding enough space for next winter's crop quite difficult. I think it has happened because we've had a wet spring/ summer here and my garlic beds were well mulched to keep them moist for more typical dry summer weather.
Planted: spring onions
Planning: to plant more corn and leeks. Prepare beds for autumn/winter crops.
Enjoying: Watching the cat sitting under the fejoia tree for hours staring up into the tree which is flowering and wishing she was quick enough to catch herself a wax eye (bird) which is helping to pollinate the flowers.