19 April 2018

2018-04-13 bulls on the edge

You can’t tell from my poor photo – but that is a pair of yoked bulls, and I was really nervous that one was going to slip and pull them both down.   They aren’t goats, for crying out loud!

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On the bright side, Akka figured out how to charge our phones while the power was out without draining the truck’s already-dicey battery.

2018-04-13 charging phones from the battery Cr

Ta da!  He wired the charger directly to the battery, bypassing the starter since we have a radio that cannot be turned off.    Mr. Mechanical Smarty Pants.

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I don’t think I complain too much, but I am distressed at the appearance of potholes … a LOT of potholes suddenly … on Valley Road.

I don’t think I’d mention it except that I bragged so much about how PROUD I was about the “best road in Fiji” back in the 6 February 2014 post HERE   Dang it all.

Somehow this became a topic of conversation as I was bringing son Guy, daughter-in-law Mami and two grandsons home from the airport.  They don’t have potholes in Japan – and, guess what, they don’t even have a WORD for “pothole” in Japanese.

Guess what they DO have a word for:   “death from overwork.”   For some reason neither English nor Fijian has a word for that  🙂

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Mami decided that while they are here, she and Leo would make a garden.

2018-04-18 Leo garden 1 Cr

First question – Where to put it?

2018-04-18 Leo garden 2 rep Cr

Junia said there was a very good place where many papaya trees fell during the storm.

2018-04-18 Leo garden 3 R

Next step, dig the plot.  That was a LOT of work.   It turned out that Mami and Leo got a little help from Guy and Junia.

2018-04-18 Leo garden 4 Cr

And plant the seedlings.  Mami needed something like popsicle sticks to label the trays.  I asked her if ten or so would be enough.  She said yes, so I told her to check in the door on the driver’s side of the truck, because Somebody likes to eat popsicles and he always drops the sticks there.  She came back to me very surprised … there were more than fifty!  Ha ha ha.    Great conservation effort!

2018-04-18 Leo garden 5 R

So she and Leo made a little nursery in the orchid house – and those bok choy seeds were already sprouted in only three days!

2018-04-18 Leo garden 6 R

Meanwhile, the new garden had to be FENCED – otherwise the chickens will scratch out the seedlings.   All that’s left now is the gate and the planting.

To be continued…..

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A little note to Deb:   Your parents got here just fine 🙂

2018-04-18 Deb - parents made it R

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Happy week, everybody.

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12 April 2018

2018-04-05 The Claw  Cr.jpg

The Claw!  It just appeared at the foot of my driveway.  What Does It Mean ???

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Keni, a cat 3 storm, was headed in our general direction.  Enough of a threat we had to prepare:

2018-04-10 storm - me boarded R

My house got boarded.

2018-04-10 storm - chicken prep  Cr.jpg

The mobile chicken pens got wrapped and weighted.

2018-04-10 storm - kitchen tarped 1  R.jpg

And the porch/kitchen where we LIVE got a tarp (but not in front of the sink.  Sheesh.

Luckily, the winds were east-west instead of north-south, so the tarp was fine.   And it didn’t rain too much, so we didn’t flood much.

It didn’t rain much, so why was there the sound of rain, Ju asked

Aha !  The pipe on the roof (for hot water ) had broken.  He ran up the hill to shut off the water.

2018-0-10 Storm - Ju on roof  Cr.jpg

After the storm, he got up on the roof to repair the pipe.  An easy fix, hallelujah.

2018-04-10 storm - 2 casualties  Cr.jpg

The trees took some hits with the gusts.

2018-04-10 storm - teak wth  Cr.jpg

And – good grief – the dead part of the teak tree “survived” while the living part hit the ground.  Go figure

We somehow neglected to bring in a table and chair.  This was the result (not like that cheesy staged meme)

2018-04-10 storm - not staged  Cr.jpg

We will rebuild.

Still no power.  But we figured out a great light:

2018-04-10 storm  candle bucket  Cr.jpg

Candle in a bucket.  We have lots of candles and lots of buckets.

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Picked up family at the airport yesterday. .. and looked up.

2018-04-11 airport fan  Cr.jpg


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Happy week, everybody.

From my phone….

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5 April 2018

2018-03-29 mangosteen 1 R.jpg

MANGOSTEEN !   The yumiest fruit ever.

2018-03-29 mangosteen 2 Cr


The inside.  We do have mangosteens growing, but have not harvested a fruit yet.  This fruit was a gift from a day visitor from Home of Hope.  I’m hopeful he will return with even more of these!

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COCONUT TREES – some stuff I may not have shown yet.

2018-03-30 coconut short Cr

Shorty.   Many of the coconut trees Austin has planted have been “leka” (short) ones.  They give fruit after only 5 years, and they are easy to pick.  Also don’t break roofs or people’s skulls when they fall.

2018-03-30 coconut cloth vulo Cr

Cloth.  I had never really looked at how cloth formed – and got a good look this week on a little nature walk.  Here is a photo of how it is made.   See how the fibers come off of the base portion of the large frond.   Amazing that it comes out looking woven.

I’ve been proofreading a book on local medicine for a friend, and it is amazing how often the coconut cloth, vulo, is used.  It is used to carry the leaves and to strain the leaves.  Many times the portions seem to be measured by the vulo.  Really neat stuff.

2018-04-04 coconut beetle damage Cr

Damage.  I just took this in the neighborhood yesterday.  We still have coconut rhinoceros beetles in the area.  You can see the damage in this leaf.  It looks like it got whacked with a cane knife.  Instead it got chewed across when it was still inside the tree. (heart of palm: “millionaire salad”).

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2018-04-01 flood Cr

FLOOD.  I think most of you have heard that Fiji got hit with enough rain to cause flooding.  We did not get it as bad as some areas …. but this was Valley Road when we went down to look.  The photo is of a couple of youth wading toward Narewa Village.

2018-04-01 flowerpot snake Cr

Meanwhile, beside the truck, Austin found a “flowerpot snake” and put it in the hands of our 11-year-old guest … who freaked out for a minute…. and then liked it.  I couldn’t tell the head from the tail!   Had to wait until it moved to see which end took the lead.

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2018-03-30 giant cassava Cr

FATSO.   Junia is so proud of this gigantic cassava root that he made me take a photo of it, with a skinny normal one beside it for comparison.   Glad to have the cassava – though most of it was “kadrala” (kan-DRA-la,  a candle, i.e. waxy).  Still tasted good.

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2018-04-04 roadkill butterfly R

ROADKILL.   That same little piece of road where I have seen a dead kingfisher, a dead owl and a dead honeyeater.  Now there is a dead butterfly….

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FIJIAN WORD OF THE WEEK:  Moce  (MO-thay).   It means Good-bye.

And I have a kind of sad reason for teaching you Moce this week.

Suresh, a really nice farmer, came to buy a bunch of chicks again.  Suresh has been here before – he is a really nice man with a sweet wife.  And he and Austin talked and talked.  And then, somehow, it was agreed that he could adopt our dog Gogo.

He has one female that needs company.   I actually thought that sounded like doggy heaven for Gogo!  But the female is neutered – and that’s where he was going to be taking Gogo as soon as he got him home.    Suresh needed a second dog.  Gogo needed to be somewhere where he wouldn’t always be attacked as Not-the-Alpha male.  Too bad the big beautiful female is not in the mating game though.

2018-03-30 goodbye Gogo Cr

Moce,  Gogo.   Isa!  Isa!   I hope you like it at your new home.

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Happy – and good weather – week, Everybody.

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29 March 2018

2018-03-25 river swim Cr

We started having swimming lessons with some of the young neighbors in our pool.  But the pool got yucky and we had to drain and clean it, so now we are going to the river.  I find this a bit worrisome, but with Junia along, it is less scary.  He’s one strong swimmer.

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A dear friend showed up, and so I decided to go on the farm tour with her.   Here are a few photos I grabbed from that walk.

2018-03-26 young birds what is coconut Cr

Actually, we had only gone to the hilltop when I already wanted a drinking coconut.  Junia obliged, getting some for all three of us.  Afterward he opened them for the chickens … and these young chickens had no idea it was food.  Some mature birds outside were going for another half that Ju put there, so the young ones finally got the idea.

2018-03-26 cocoa pods Cr

Cocoa pods hanging on a tree.

2018-03-26 near ripe rabotan R

Rabotan – ready for harvest in another ten days or so.  Woo hoo.

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OUR DOGS – from oldest to youngest

2018-03-29 Tarsi R

Tarsi – the mother, grandmother, great grandmother of them all.

2018-03-24 Torsett Cr

Torsett – the oldest of the offspring, and alpha male

2018-03-29 Gogo Cr

Gogo – dog facing down.  He is a sweetie, but gets really beat up by Torsett.

2018-03-24 Po Cr

Po – the female that Junia insisted on keeping.

2018-03-23 Winky and babes 1 R

Winky – daughter of Po and Torsett (or maybe Gogo).  Just had her second litter.  First litter was born under breadfruit tree roots, if you recall.  There was room at the inn this time.

2018-03-23 Winky and babes 2 R

The pups nursing.

2018-03-23 Winky and babes 4 Cr

Lightning – Austin’s favorite of Winky’s pups.  But he got lost and cold.  Austin gave him a warm bath and put him in the incubator with the baby ducks … but he didn’t make it.  Too bad.

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In twelve weeks it will be the FIFTH ANNIVERSARY of me writing the Flora and Fauna Weekly report.  I have not missed a week.  That’s plenty.  So for now and the next eleven weeks, I will do the blog and feature one aspect of the farm (this week: Dogs).  At the end of the 12 weeks, I will probably leave this as an archive, and move on to something new.

Happy week, y’all.

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22 March 2018

3-20-14 Welcome sign Sgtka Cr

Our province is Nadroga.  The provincial symbol is the “Nadro Stallion.”  I took a photo of this welcome sign four years ago, and never used it  Now it has been painted over.

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25485335_10155106585173779_513106714_o flame tree flower Cr

Here is the beautiful blossom from our flame tree that Akka took about four months ago.  The tree is not blooming now.

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20170524_165038 Banaban VCO R

This sign is from Rabi Island when my grandson Victor and I were there almost a year ago.  I loved the fact that they have a virgin coconut oil factory there, but figured the oil would be insanely expensive.  Months later, when I was in Labasa (city on the northern island, Vanua Levu), I saw the Banaban VCO being sold at a street stand for less than $10/500 ml.  I bought some.  It was GREAT!  I really wish they sold it here.  Magnificent product!

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IMG_0826 Hindu mango leaves at a jewelry shop Cr

Mango leaves hanging in a jewelry shop.  This is a Hindu custom to ward off bad spirits or something.  I took this photo in May 2013.

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20170927_120734 geese under bougainvillea Cr

Finally, a goose couple under some bougainvillea, from last September.

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Have you noticed the pattern?  Every one of these photos has been sitting in my “on hold” file for weeks, months or years.  I did not take a single photo this week.  Fact is, I’m pooping out.  Soon, maybe very soon, I will do a final issue.

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FIJIAN WORD of the Week

Kalokalo –  means  “star”

Kaloko – means “clock”

There is a village that was supposed to be name Big Star but got named Big Clock by accident because folks left out a syllable –  Kalokolevu.

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Happy week, everybody.

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15 March 2018

2018-03-09 reject eggs R

When Austin candled the eggs – this is how many were duds – about half of the eggs that were set for hatching.  The hot weather is causing low fertility in  the roosters, plus it is the time of year for the hens to molt and over half of them have stopped laying.  So Austin is closing the hatchery for a few weeks.    These eggs became dog food, but the ones that are being laid now are CAGE FREE EGGS FOR SALE.  Great price.  Come and get ’em.

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We had a bit of a miracle.   Bees had crawled into the wall of the cottage.  The wall was too strong to open without a lot of damage, and we couldn’t just leave them in the cottage to threaten our guests, so we were going to have to use insecticide.  But then….

2018-03-09 bees crawl out at wall R

they crawled out!   Big big balls of bees climbed back out the wall.  The whole colony!   Our professional beekeeper friend was amazed.  Told us this just doesn’t happen.

2018-03-09 bees crawl out boxes R

Austin got a bee box and coaxed them to stay with some honey.  The colony was so big, he had to get a second box.  They settled in.  Next step, put the bee boxes on a wheelbarrow and slowly move them to a new location a few meters a day.

But it was only a bit of a miracle.  The queen must not have joined them, and a few days later the whole colony swarmed off again.

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2018-03-10 Indian engagement and cake Cr

We went to an Indian engagement party this week.  There is no end to the imaginative ways to make an elaborate occasion even more elaborate.  The engagement party usually involves a cake.   At the previous one I went to the fiance and fiancee each fed it to each other, and then each parent fed some to each child.  At this one, there were FIVE cakes, and not only did the fiances and the parents get in on the feeding, but also the aunties, the uncles, and every other guest who wanted to share sweetness with the happy couple.

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FIJIAN WORD of the Week

Yaloka – it means “egg”   Definitely a word we need here at the farm.

Mata – means “eye” and it also means “face”

Put them together – yaloka ni mata – and you get “eyeball”

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Happy week, everybody.

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8 March 2018

2018-02-06 lily bud Cr

A beautiful, unopened wild lily on the road to the baipound (horse jail).

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So it was a hard day here – the power was out all day long, and that is why this blog is 12 hours late.  But the day ended with a bit of a bang, which I’ll tell you toward the end.

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After weeks and weeks of rain, this week took the prize as the rainiest short of causing a general flood.   Austin had to run dig some new drains and filled his camera with photos of the water world.

IMG_7111 Mar 2018 Deluge 1 stream floods R

Our creek that has been bone dry for almost a whole year is about to jump its banks.

IMG_7131 Mar 2018 Deluge 2 new stream develops R

A new stream develops, carrying gallons of water toward the fish pond.

IMG_7128 Mar 2018 Deluge 3 fishpond about to jump banks R

Our fish pond is just about to overflow and join the creek – in which case all the fish swim out, and the neighbors have happy fishing in the drains.

IMG_7138 Mar 2018 Deluge 6 waterfall R

We have our own waterfall (for an afternoon).


IMG_7149 Mar 2018 Deluge 7 Neighbors bindi R

The neighbors’ okra crop is under water so long it is probably dead.  There goes a full three-months income.  Sigh.   I hope it survives.

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2018-03-08 new royal palm roots R

Brilliant discovery …. royal palms break out a new set of little roots periodically.   I had seen the hair-like roots around its base and never thought about it … but today – Wow!

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The promised “bit of a bang” – we had roadkill for dinner tonight.  It was killed in our driveway – a duck that failed to clear the tires of a visitor who came to ask if we were selling roosters.  <mutter mutter, bad driver, mutter mutter>   Akka noticed the dead bird and grabbed it, Austin cleaned it, and Akka cooked it, and it was yummy.

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Fijian Word of the Week  (in honor of our dinner guest)

Duck is ga  ,  pronounced “nga.”  That “ng” is the sound at the end of  “ring”

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Happy week, y’all.

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