Collecting Seeds & Observations

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Last week I harvested some seeds from our sage and cilantro plants.  I just adore the flavour of cilantro.  I know it’s love or hate for most.  How do you feel about the herb/spice?

The petite seeds are now drying in our kitchen window.  As I harvested the seeds, I made a small observation and then tucked it away in my mind.  Several of the sage flower stalks had spiderwebs throughout.  On those particular parts of the plant, there were very little seeds.  In a way, it’s a small price to pay for the grounds keeping skills of the spiders.  There were still plenty of seeds to collect from the rest of the plant.

Our agapanthus are just about to bloom, and are crawling with little spider friends.

The hive is well and happy.  Mike took a peek inside and saw they were beginning to shape comb.  Yey!

The garden is cranking out food – so much so that we’ve not bought any type of leafy green in nearly 2 months.

Our little patch of baby monarch butterfly caterpillars are all gone.  Sadly, they were munched on by some very clever birds!  The only reason we know that’s what happened is a bird left the decapitated head of a caterpillar for the sake of giving us a rather brutal clue.

Some really good food has been masterfully (totally bragging here) created in our kitchen over the past few months.  I’ve taken to making buttery and garlic naan bread, palak paneer (with tofu) and Jamaican patties (with stuffings of spiced beans or even left over palak).

Here are some of the vegetarian recipes we have been leaning on:

This super easy naan recipe is completely vegan and crazy delicious.  We often don’t have any left by day 2!

These Jamaican patties took me back to my teen years microwaving pre-made patties from the supermarket.  We didn’t use mince, but chickpeas and beans instead.

This last recipe is for palak paneer.  My all time favourite Indian food.  I thought this might be quite difficult to make at home but it’s very simple and cheap too.  I’ve made it with the paneer but found it’s just as good with tofu.

When bees swarm

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The other night Mike rushed out and caught a hive that was swarming.  He had a bee hive box ready and promptly brought the lot to our house.  He found a nice place for them and hoped that the queen was inside.  When we checked in the morning it looked like all was well.

Yesterday afternoon however, as I went out to hang some laundry to dry, there was a mass of bees frantically flying around the house.  They were moving so erratically that I stayed inside until they settled on the trunk of a tree in our driveway.

I’ve not been stung by a bee in a few years now (despite having spent plenty of time around native bees in Western Australia by the thousands) I learned early on – it is true if you stay calm you’ll be of no notice to them.  These images and video were taken only one foot away from the swarm.  Mike and his brother called the “bee doctor” (a relative) after work and got some advice before they collected the bees, conditioned the hive again and transplanted them back

Collecting them is quite simple.  In this case (we had a bee suit) the guys placed the hive back under the low hanging branch and gently pulled the swarm from the very top of it’s perch downward.  This causes the bees to fall en mass.  Which is actually a really cool thing to see happen.

So far this morning… all is well.  Hopefully soon they will start to tend their eggs and begin to gather pollen and nectar.

Jumping Spider Courtship Dance

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His yearning is very real…screen-shot-2016-11-25-at-5-20-09-pm

This afternoon I witnessed this little jumping spider desperately try to capture the attention of his female love interest.  He may have been putting on the moves too quick… In the end she literally jumped off the leaf and left him there alone, with a broken heart.

Prior to this encounter, I thought the amazing videos I’d seen floating around the internet of peacock spiders dancing and then mating, would have been hard to film and required plenty of time in the bush observing the spiders with infinite patience.  I’m super patient, and have scouted for a few years but never saw anything that looked like courtship until today.

Mr. Giggles

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Mr Giggles.

This little giggly one is now near 6 months old.  He finds plenty of amusement in the silliest of things.  He’s curious and is constantly trying to work things out… like his jolly jumper.  I’ve caught him a few times looking up at the main spring and trying to wrap his mind around how he gets the bounce in it and nothing else.

He has a really enthusiastic deep hearty laugh, that I don’t think we will ever tire of hearing it… Some nights before bed I play videos and Mike and I relive the little victories we’ve had getting to this point.  He’s gotten so big.  He’s now over 20 pounds!

Garden Update:

We’ve been harvesting (and eating) loads of kale, spinach, rocket, watercress and multi-coloured frilly lettuce.  The little caterpillars are growing on our swan plants and just about everything we’ve planted has taken root and is growing really well (apart from our eggplant – can’t figure out what’s up with them!).

The sheep have grown just as quickly as Wesley…they are so plump now!

Last Nights Earth Quake in New Zealand

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Last night like the rest of the Nation, Mike and I woke to a light rumbling.  At first I thought it might be the train down the road…but this began to feel just a little bit more aggressive.  Very quickly that vibration started growing and turning into rolling movements.  We ran to Wesley’s room and scooped him up.

I was utterly hopeless in the situation.  I just said “Oh my god” and tried not to fall over.

It was as if our house had turned into a boat on rough seas.  I felt like I couldn’t keep my footing.

Mike calmly got us to the front doorway leading into our home, it’s large and sturdy and the safest place to stay.  He learned in school what to do in these times, I might need a crash course!

As we stood in the doorway the house continued to roll with the earth.  We looked outside and sparks were flying off the power lines up our entire street.

The moon was full, round and bright.  It lit up the trees around our home and filled the sky with a pale light.  Wesley woke quite stunned at the thought of being taken from bed before he was ready.  I saw him look at the moonlight in awe.  Mike ran back and grabbed a wool blanket to keep the baby warm.

Looking out into the sky, we saw the silhouette of pine and aspen trees against the moonlight.  To look at them, the world seems so steady.

It was in this moment, I realised how small and insignificant we are against the power of the earth, nature, gravity…  I just wanted us to be safe and hoped that no one was in danger.

It didn’t last too long, and caused no damage here in this area.  We checked online and saw that the rest of the country was doing ok around 1am, but saw that there were much worse movements in the Southern Island that did cause some damage and evacuations.

I did not sleep well.  My brain was spinning.  Mike promptly feel asleep and Wesley did too (he even sung himself to sleep).

Waking this morning the ground is still and steady the trees are tall and firm.  Almost as if nothing had ever happened.

If you are in New Zealand or even abroad and want to see what is happening this website will give you the location and seismic details of each earth quake.  We live in the North Island several hours North of Wellington.  Checking the GeoNet site it looks like the South Island is still experiencing moderate to severe quakes this morning.  There are reports that state New Zealand experiences up to 15,000 earth quakes each year, but that only 100-150 of these are felt by the population.

We are now going to prepare an emergency kit just in case and are relieved to hear that most people got through this in good health.  To read more about the damages click here.

About the photos:  A very tiny monarch caterpillar is living with it’s brothers and sisters on some swan plants Mike planted when we first arrived (the butterflies love them!).  An apple seed sprouts to life in our kitchen…and the view from the front porch this morning.