21 March 2019

2019-03-21 morning mist  R E.jpg

Lovely morning mist this morning!

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I forgot to tell you that we have a terrific volunteer here named Faith!  I’ll introduce her properly next week.  I thought about her right now because of the walk we took.  We walked to the end of the road.  I was just exercising, Faith was looking around.

Look!  A goat eating the tree!

2019-03-15 kid eating leaves  R.jpg

Look!  The beautiful hibiscus!

2019-03-15 hibiscus in the sky  Cr-E.jpg

Yep.   I need to take folks on walks with me now.  It seems I’ve stopped looking.

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I see chocolate in our future

2019-03-13 rinsing cocoa seeds  Cr.jpg

This is Austin rinsing some cocoa seeds.  They’ve now been sun dried and are now stored in the freezer.  By and by we’ll take them out and roast them and make chocolate.  Yum!

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Progress continued with the tiling, and we were cut off from the kitchen.  But Rakesh is a clever fellow.

2019-03-17 bridge over fresh tiles  Cr.jpg

He made a bridge!   Glad I’m not afraid of heights – ha ha.

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We have a lovely couple of Teitei guests who are Birders, Spencer and Manda Simmons

2019-03-21 Manda Simmons our Birder guest  Cr.jpg

Manda is also a wonderful photographer.  She very generously shared photos of several of the birds right around our house.

This is the White Collared Kingfisher.

DSCF4615 - White collared Kingfisher in tree from Manda  Cr.jpg

The Spotted Dove

DSCF4730 - spotted dove from Manda  Cr  E.jpg

The Polynesian Triller in a soursop tree.

DSCF4661 - Polynesian triller in soursop tree from Manda  Cr.jpg

The Vanikoro Broadbill looking over his shoulder

DSCF4628 - Vanikoro broadbill from Manda  Cr.jpg

The White Throated Dove

DSCF4674 - white throated dove from Manda  Cr E.jpg

And, finally,  Junia’s family totem bird, the Wattled Honeyeater, sitting in a betel nut tree.

DSCF4583 - Wattled honeyeater in betel nut from Manda - also Junia's totem bird  Cr.jpg


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Sorry to say there are a few corrections to last week.  “Honorable Professor” wants to be known as “Barefoot Professor.”

And honorable Barefoot Professor tells me that O Rakesh sa cakacaka vinaka  means “Rakesh worked well.”  NOT “Rakesh works well.”   sa is past tense.   Dang it!  and there is no easy way to put it in present tense.

“Rain” is uca  (OO-tha)

“Fall” [literally “land” as verb] is  tau   (the “au” is prounced OW as in cow)

“It is raining” is  E tau na uca.     E  (eh)  is the present tense.

But you don’t use e  all that much.  Usually it is just dropped.

Sa vinaka na uca.    “The rain is good.”    That’s because you are not witnessing it live,  you are making a general reference.

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Happy New Year,  fellow Baha’is!     And happy week, everybody.

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14 March 2019

My other blog took up all my blog-writing attention this week – so (to me) it looks like the farm blog is getting the dregs.   Like this:

2019-03-07 paralyzed spiders 1 Cr

Paralyzed spiders.   The mud-dauber wasp makes the adobe house for its eggs, and it paralyzes spiders to serve as food for the hatchlings.    This is just unappealing to me on so many levels!

Or this one:

2019-03-09 edible-maybe puff balls R

Puff Balls – supposedly edible.  Austin was inspired to hunt for them after eating the yummy Fiji-grown mushrooms last week.   In North America all puffball mushrooms are safe to eat.  His Google research was that these are, too –  lack of gills is supposed to be some kind of proof.  I was unconvinced and didn’t cook them.   Finally they shriveled up and got tossed.  🙂

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I thought we were drowning in eggs last week – it was even worse this week.

Now 16 cartons in the fridge, trays 3-deep on the counter, and a basin of eggs.

2019-03-13 eggs galore 3 Cr

Plus a BUCKET of eggs clean enough and fresh enough to incubate.

There would have been a Really Big Deal this week, except Austin’s commercial lime powder was really crushed limestone instead of true chemical lime.  Austin learned that you can preserve eggs in lime water.  He was going to experiment with that bucket, but since his “lime” failed – the eggs just have to go in the incubator.   The experiment will have to wait.  But when it happens, we have hope that it will be spectacular !!!

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What else is going on here is a massive mess!

2019-03-13 tiling 1 R

That’s my floor!

2019-03-13 tiling 2 Cr

And my brother Rakesh and our neighbor Roneesh laying down tiles.   I have homestay guests arriving in six days – is this place going to be decent???

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FIJIAN Word of the Week

Cakacaka (THA-ka-THA-ka)   means “work”

O Rakesh kei Roneesh sa cakacaka levu.

[signifier] Rakesh and Roneesh work a lot.

O rau sa cakacaka vinaka.

They (two) work well.

(If Honorable Professor – Junia – gives me any corrections, I’ll put them in next week.)

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In my opinion, the better stuff already went out in my other blog, in case you are curious – here are the more “Flora and Fauna”-related posts:

2019-03-03 Betty hissing at Daisy Cr

Daisy cat  and   Courage

2019-03-06 nautilus Cr

The nautilus shell  in Gifts

2019-03-08 binding done R

My first stab at hand quilting in Fortieth

2019-03-12 black hands Cr

Mishap with the black paint in Crap Happens

Angel Junia effects

Daisy saved by a Hero in Avenging Angel

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Happy week, everybody !

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7 March 2019


2019-03-04 mushrooms of Fiji Cr

Fiji grown mushrooms!  Some visitors from Pacific Islands Development Forum came to check out the farm, and they brought these along.  Yummy!   Austin wants to grow some, and can learn how from the Agriculture Station in Nadi.  (a good use for the orchid house!)

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Chicken mower.

2019-03-02 Chicken mower R

Austin wanted me to take this photo of the big chicks in the mobile rearing pen and to show how tall the grass is that they eat down.   Slower than a weed whacker, but effective, and no raking needed.

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Empty nest syndrome.

The hatchery is closed because the fertility is low during the summer heat – so no new chicks – so nobody in these mobile rearing pens.

2019-03-02 empty nest R

It just seems so odd to have so many empty cages.

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Simultaneous “overstuffed” nest syndrome.

The hens have not stopped laying, just slowed down to about a quarter of their output, and it is already on the rise again.  So it isn’t that we don’t have eggs.  We do.

Good Lord, how many eggs can we eat?

Dr. Smarty Pants wants me to explain that it is our summertime, and it is the hens’ annual molt, when they change their feathers.  They do this every summer, and we close the hatchery every February and March.

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Bee Inspection Officers

I think these guys are with biosecurity.  Austin told me they were coming, but I’d forgotten.  They appeared one morning, checking the hive right beside our house.  Looking for some invasive mite that could cause the collapse of bee-keeping in Fiji if it gets out of control.

2019-03-05 bee inspector visit R

This was right beside our house, and you see the one guy leaving.  The bees had gotten really aggressive.  Because I stopped to get the photo, I ended up with a bee in my hair, and a kiss-sting on my head.

The good news is:  we do not have those mites.   Yay.

Dr. Smarty Pants:  it is the varoa mite, and is already on the coral coast in one village.

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Lala means “empty.”   Think of someone being in La-La Land – that’s kind of empty-headed, yes?   Lala is an easy word.

Vale (VAH-lay) is “house”.

Lailai  (LIE-lie) is “small”


Sa lala na vale ni toa.   is  “the chicken house is empty”  (is empty the house of chicken)

That’s not what I actually WANT to say.  I want to say the chicken CAGE is empty, but I don’t know the word for “cage” so I use the word for “house”

Normally, I would try “little house” for cage, but there is a problem with that in Fijian.

If I say “sa lala na vale lailai ni toa.”   I’m saying  “the chicken’s bathroom is empty,

because vale laiali  (little house) means “bathroom.”   Ha ha.

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Happy week, everybody.

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28 February 2019

No flora this week.  Instead two fauna and another language lesson.

Do I start with the sweet or the grim?

Ok, the grim.

2019-02-25 another dead bird  Cr.jpg

I found another dead bird on the main road.  Fourth find, fourth species.  Last time was two years ago (9 March 2017) a honey eater. Before that was an owl that Austin had probably been responsible for with rat poison, and before that was a kingfisher waaaaay down the road.


The one this week was a myna – right where the owl and honey-eater had been:  in front of Lata’s pink house, for those of you who know our road.   Dr. Smarty Pants says the only explanation is that they were hit by fast traveling cars along that straight stretch of road.

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Now for the sweet:


2019-02-26 Daisy R

Austin brought her home for a present for me.  She is a tough little feline.  She won’t give the dogs an opportunity to attack her, and Betty Cat has been dislodged from her favorite chair.    She also has the stinkiest gas of any cat we ever had – giving an ironic twist to the phrase “fresh as a Daisy.”   Ha.

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Mate (mah-tay) is “dead”

Sa mate na manumanu vuka.   The bird is dead.  Literally, “is dead the animal [that] flies”

Isa, isa.   Alas, alas.

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Happy week, everybody.

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21 February 2019

2019-02-18 blooming path to pavilion R

Lots of work done on the path to the pavilion, including putting in euphorbias.  Some are now in bloom – beautiful!

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A couple of months ago the US Embassy contacted Austin asking for our physical address, and Austin told them the address of our Suva house.  A few days later they delivered a present, which Akka received on our behalf, and held for us.  We got it this week.

2019-02-15 Embassy Xmas present 1 Cr

A nice gift bag containing a sturdy coffee thermos with US Department of State logo and a reusable tin of M&M’s with US Department of State logo.   Inside the tin:

2019-02-15 Embassy Xmas present 2 R

Darling red, white and blue M&M’s all saying “USA.”    Cute.

(Is it too grumpy to wish that the country of manufacture would also be USA?  It wasn’t.)

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Oh Boy!

2019-02-19 mangosteen 1 Cr

Mangosteens.  Fully ripe.  From our trees.   A little over a year ago I reported that they were blooming, but we didn’t get any fruit last year.  Now, finally – it’s been about 10 years since Austin planted the trees –  TA DA :

2019-02-19 mangosteen 2 Cr


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Yaca  (ya-tha) – means “name”

I’ve gotten pretty good at speaking Fijian finally, and when I picked up a lady who needed a ride, I chatted with her in Fijian and asked her name:

O cei na yacamu?    “Which the name-yours?” – the proper way to ask.

She replied.

Na yacaqu o [something really long I was never going to remember].   “The name-mine is…..”

So I asked her in English what people call her.  She replied in English that I should just call her by her last name.


Her last name is  Rabo.

If you remember what I’ve told you about Fiji spelling, you’ll know that her last name is RAMBO.


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Happy week, Everybody.

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14 February 2019


It was a good week for guests —  actually, it is often a good week for guests and I just don’t say anything, but this week most of my photos are guest related.

2019-02-08 HC workshop from Ba - Mere Ani Mere Jim Jo Epeli and Glenn Cr

We had another Happy Chicken workshop, this time with folks from Ba – a province to the west.   One of the gents is a close relative of Ratu, who works for us.  The ladies know Monica, my daughter-in-law, well because they all come from Vatukola, the gold mining village.

While they were here, we also got a Teitei guest – an intrepid elder from England, who both enjoyed the villagers AND wanted to go out and explore every day.  Somehow I volunteered to guide her to the waterfall.

2019-02-07 intrepid guest waterfall hike R

So did our younger dogs.

(Tarsi sat this one out, perhaps recalling her river tribulations from last month.)

I had forgotten what a long trek it is to the waterfall.   Really not easy.  Lesley was still raring to go, and I was pooped!  That’s what zumba does for her.  Wish there were a class here.

And more “guests” …. Kiki decided he HAD to come visit the farm, so his dad brought him.  In his explorations of the old home turf he found something incredible he just HAD to share with Grammy.

2019-02-10 Kiki's chicken house wasps Cr

A wasp nest!  In a chicken villa.

More folks – friends from the coast came up to visit, so Austin tried frying up some Malabar chestnuts to share with them.

2019-02-10 Malabar chestnuts Cr

We had eaten Malabar chestnuts (nuts from the “money tree”) before, but this was the first time we tried cooking them.  Actually when our friends came, we put them in the fried rice.

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Veisiko  (vay-see-ko) – visit

I finally did it!  I went and spent the night in a Fijian home and didn’t speak English …. called it my “stress trip” – to push me to use the language.   I’m much better than I thought I was!  Woo hoo!

Other words I learned on this trip

Vakarau (va-ka-rOW)  – ready    (au = “ow” as in “I got hurt, ouch!”)

Tubutubu (toom-boo-toom-boo) – parents

Taunamu  (tOW-na-moo) –  mosquito net ….  tau means “to land” and namu means “mosquito”

2019-02-13 waiting for a van at end of stress trip R

This was where I sat at 9 in the morning, waiting for a minivan to take me home.  I had no sooner taken this photo than a van pulled up, ready to leave right that minute.   Lucky me!   Kalougata!

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Happy week, everybody!

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7 February 2019

2019-02-04 Myrah feeding geese 1 R

We have a new helper.  In case you can’t see, here is a close up.

2019-02-04 Myrah feeding geese 2 Cr

This is Myrah – Vina’s little granddaughter – feeding the geese.  She is utterly unafraid, which is amazing considering how the geese scare off people much larger than she is.  The geese are nice and gentle with her.

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I got a lot of comments last week about the carved fern logs.  Some people were commenting on how well they held up.  Actually, “holding up” is an identifying quality of fern logs.  They are SOOOOO durable.  They have an honored place in traditional Fijian construction – they are placed at the ends of the thatched roof.  Not weight bearing, just decorative – and mandatory on the house of a chief.

bure with fern logs out the top stock

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Myrah and the geese made me decide what to share.   The word for “goose” or
“geese” super easy.  As are the names of a few more animals.

I will give you the names for   goose,  bull,  lamb,  goatsheep and  cow.   (One of the names does double duty – so there will be five names).   See if you can match the Fijian name to the correct animal:

Bulamakao  (bull-a-ma-cow)

Lami  (lam-ee)

Qisi  (ngGee-see)

Me  (meh)

Sipi (see-pee)

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Happy week, everybody.

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