25 June 2015

2015-06-25 milking time  R

This morning during my walk I saw my neighbor out with her cow.  It was only after I took the photo that I realized someone was with her at the time and was squatting down milking the cow.   Of all my years here in the countryside, this is the first time I’ve seen a cow being milked … actually in my whole life, come to think of it!   Maybe some day I’ll go and ask to give it a try!

2015-06-25 Nika-s bug 1  R


My sweet daughter-in-law keeps her eyes out for plants and animals of interest.  She stuck this teensy little bug in a jar with a wad of tissue for me.

2015-06-25 Nika-s bug 1 Cr

What a weirdo!

2015-06-25 Nika-s bug 2  Cr

Like a land lobster and so, so tiny!

2015-06-25 gimpy goose  R


There are a pair of female geese that hang out in the yard.  Unfortunately this one has a bad wing and she’s kind of lopsided all over.   Austin told me this morning that another goose is hatching and that it is another female, darn it all.  We have nothing against females, just that we do not have enough males.  We need mating pairs – and two females do not a “mating pair” make.

2015-06-25 hatching helper R-marked

While I’m on poultry, I’d just like to mention that the gizmo in the circle on the incubator had made a HUGE improvement in Austin’s hatch rate – from less than 60% to about 75%.  It is a humidity indicator, since the one on the cheaply made incubator never worked properly.  Hooray for better hatches!

2015-06-25 from pond 2 pond 6  R


The lack of rain drove Austin and Junia to the point of having to carry out a fish rescue operation.   But the first thing I noticed …

2015-06-25 from pond 2 pond  a  Cr

… were these huge holes in the side of the dried up pond.  What the heck?

2015-06-25 from pond 2 pond b  R

I guess this must be the explanation.  But what is Po Dog going for?

2015-06-25 from pond 2 pond 1  R

Okay, so Austin is shin-deep in mud and has a net and is trying to scoop the fish up.

2015-06-25 from pond 2 pond 2  R

Not good enough, so he has Junia slapping the water with a stick to drive them to his end of the puddle.

2015-06-25 from pond 2 pond 5  R

By and by they have 4 buckets of fish…

2015-06-25 from pond 2 pond 3 R

and start to hump them over to the deeper pond.

2015-06-25 from pond 2 pond 7  R

I’m guessing it is about 100 yards away – but getting there is not like walking on a manicured and flat football field.  This is the stretch in the dry creek bed.

2015-06-25 from pond 2 pond 8  R

Here is the deeper pond, the bank is maybe five meters above the creek bed.  When Austin had the digger here to make this pond, they dug into the water table.   Lucky for the fish!

2015-06-25 from pond 2 pond 9  R

The bucket sits in the water for a little while and then a bit of water is mixed so the fish can adjust to any change of temperature, and then the fish get to swim into their new home.

2015-06-25 wild pumpkin 1 R


At the new pond I saw this pumpkin gone wild – fruiting where no one had planted it or expected it.  Charming, methought.

2015-06-25 wild pumpkin 2  Cr

And then walking up from the new pond, I came upon this other unplanned pumpkin – all collapsed in on itself.   If only we’d known, it could have at least been chicken food.

And now – for those who are interested….

2015-06-25 puppies week four 2 Cr


I think they are all spoken for and have homes to go to.    I’m trying not to get too sweet on any of them.

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Have a happy week, Everybody.

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18 June 2015

2015-06-18 Vatulele chickens 8  Cr

“Guess what, Chicken Butt !”    That’s what Akka and his friend Benjamin used to say in 4th grade all the time that drove me nuts…..  but this week it actually fits:  this week it is almost all about chickens.

2015-06-18 three chicks  Cr

Last Friday, before I left for Suva, Austin got me to take this picture of his new two-color babies.   He thinks they are totally adorable, and is planning to breed them to see if he can establish a penguin-patterned line.

2015-06-18 sand for the chix 1  R

A beautiful Monday afternoon driving along the coast.   Austin wanted to pull off.

2015-06-18 sand for the chix 2  R

onto a beach where the tide was coming in quicker than we expected.

2015-06-18 sand for the chix 3  R

so that he could get sand for his chickens to eat along with their food, because they need the calcium.   He gets more sand every month or two – I think this is the only time I got photos of it.

2015-06-18 Vatulele chickens 1  Cr

When we got home, he had to show me the chickens he bought on Saturday.  He paid a HUNDRED DOLLARS for this pair of chickens.   They are from Vatulele Island and they are (he believes) 100% genetic descendants of the first chickens to come to Fiji.

2015-06-18 Vatulele chickens 2  Cr

The rooster has got some impressive spurs!

2015-06-18 Vatulele chickens 3  R

And really fleshy white “ears” (so I guess they produce white shelled eggs).   Austin is totally indifferent to what humans wear, but he is totally smitten with chicken feathers.   “Make sure you get a photo that shows how his feathers gleam.”

2015-06-18 Vatulele chickens 4  R

“Oh, and the tail – make sure you can see the beautiful green in the tail – and the orange feathers.”

2015-06-18 Vatulele chickens 6  Cr

“Get the hen from her pretty side.”

2015-06-18 Vatulele chickens 9  Cr

“And make sure they see the interesting light mid-ribs on her feathers.”

2015-06-18 Vatulele chickens 7 R

“And she has such a long tail for a female!”    (That’s why the chicken butt photo at the top – trying to get a good photo of her impressive tail.)

Since I was down in the chicken pen, I decided to get a few Ugly Chickens for comparison purposes –

2015-06-18 Vatulele chickens contrast turuka  Cr

I’m calling him Tom – he reminds me of a turkey.  Such a red, bald neck.

2015-06-18 Vatulele chickens contrast tailless  Cr

And I’m calling this one Stumpy – he’s got no tail!  It’s not an injury, it is a genetic feature.   There are several Stumpies in the chicken yard.

That’s it for chickens … finally.

2015-06-18 whatsit bush 1 Cr

Here is a weird thing blooming right by the house.   The stalk with the “blooms” if that is what they are, has fallen over and is being propped up by a dead lawn chair.

2015-06-18 whatsit bush 2  R

Here is a closer look.

2015-06-18 whatsit bush 3  Cr

And this is the plant they came from.   The stick thing at 8 o’clock is the stalk holding the blooms.  Austin did tell me that this plant is in all the Fijian villages – and the black points on the leaves… turn into ROOTS.   A new plant can form from a leaf!

For a bit of human interest – Junia and I were out with Monica as she was exercising her brand new, first ever Driver’s License  (clap clap clap clap clap),  and we were on the following unpopulated stretch of back road ….

2015-06-18  there was a house here  R

… looking for a place to turn around.   Junia saw THIS (above) and exclaimed – “There used to be a house here !”

“Huh?”  I replied.     “The croatans,”  he responded.

2015-06-18  there was a house here  Cr

That’s these vine covered plants.    “Somebody had to live here and plant them. Croatans can’t grow so far from mumble mumble mumble.”      This was with the car moving.   I don’t get how people can know the plants so well and identify them under vines in a moving car!

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And now for the puppy update:

2015-06-18 pups 1  R

Getting bigger – napping under a plywood.

2015-06-18 pups 2  R

Austin has made them a nice little puppy yard, outside.

2015-06-18 pups 4  R

They woke up when they heard me… and came out to investigate.

2015-06-18 pups 5  R

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11 June 2015

2015-06-11 cocoa pods  Cr

This is a happy sight: a bowl of cocoa pods.  I hope this week Akka will process these into “hot cocoa.”  If so, I’ll try to document the process.

Akka came home all excited about a new hibiscus flower he saw at the neighbor’s at the beginning of our road.

2015-06-11 new hibiscus  R

Here it is.   Yellow borders on creamy petals with brilliant red in the middle.

Austin saw it and wants it, too.  He talked to our friend, the owner of the flower, who lives right down by the temple and the main road.

2015-06-11 new hibiscus 2  R

“Take the flower off, or someone might see it and steal your plant!    Don’t let it show flowers again until it is a big bush!”

We’ll see how that goes, and see if the bush survives long enough to give us a cutting.

2015-06-11 chayote 1  R

More in the flora department is this strange white fleshy vegetable that someone brought home from the market last week.   Austin says it is “chayote” that we used to have in Puerto Rico, and that Cesar used to put in his sancocho.   To be honest, I don’t remember it.

2015-06-11 chayote 2  R

Thing is – this one was hanging around and nobody used it, and so it started sprouting.  This is the first time we’ve seen a sprout like this growing out of a fleshy vegetable.

2015-06-11 leaf bug 1  R

Monica got all excited about this Flora-Fauna … it is a “leaf insect” or “leaf-hopper” (related to grasshopper).    She put it in a jar to save it for me.

When it spreads its sides down and puts its antennae together, it looks just lie a leaf with a stem.

2015-06-11 leaf bug 2  Cr

I couldn’t capture a photo of that.   But you can see how leaf-like he looks, even from the side.

2015-06-11 Fiji hawk Cr

Fiji hawk on the power line in front of my kitchen sink.   Yeah, it’s grainy – but I’ll keep trying.

And now …. what you have all been waiting for.


2015-06-11 pups all 8  R

Here is the tangle of the eight of them.   They are in an area bordered with paint cans and an ice chest, as one wandered off and got lost from the last location.

2015-06-11 pups two black  R

The eyes are just beginning to open.  Here are Austin’s favorites – a boy and a girl.   He is talking about keeping the girl.  I knew this was coming!

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4 June 2015

2015-06-04  parrotfish 2 R

Guess who came to dinner.

2015-06-04 parrotfish 1  R

Austin picked up this beautiful parrot fish (and his kindred in the sink behind him) in the market last week.   Cooked in a big soup with very rich coconut cream – yum, yum, yum!

This also is a good intro to the venue that caught my interest most this week:  THE AQUARIUM.  (“How is this a good intro?” asks Austin.  “Because the aquarium is for FISH,” I reply.)

2015-06-04 aquabele 1 R

This is the young leaf of a bele plant (that is “tree spinach”).  that someone threw into the tank several weeks ago – Austin thinks maybe he put it in for fish food.  The leaf should be gone or at least decomposing..

2015-06-04 aquabele 2  R

Instead it is growing roots!   A leaf !

2015-06-04 aquabele n friend Cr

Providing something of interest to the little fishy inhabitants.

They need stuff to keep them entertained in their confinement. Maybe they are interested in the baby snails.  There are 10 or so of them, though the tank was started with only 3 adult snails.

2015-06-04 baby aquasnail 22015-06-04 baby aquasnail 1

Here are two of the baby snails with the small gravel providing perspective. ….

But wait – in the aquarium there is more!   But first we have to go outside.

2015-06-04 explo-seed 1  Cr

This unassuming pale purple flower lives in the front of the house.

2015-06-04 explo-seed 2  R

It has these plain looking seed pods.

2015-06-04 explo-seed 3  Cr

Here they are in Akka’s hand.  The very entertaining thing about these seeds is that they explode a few seconds after getting wet.   You’ve seen the “fireworks” in A Bug’s Life – it’s like that with these seeds.

So what does it have to do with the aquarium?   Some visiting kids threw exploding seed pods into the aquarium a few weeks ago…. and TA DA …..

2015-06-04 explo-seed 4  Cr

We have a ball of “exploding seed” sprouts in our fish tank.

2015-06-04 explo-seed 4 R

Honestly, I never saw this coming when Austin brought the “good deal” aquarium home.


2015-06-04 all puppies.  R jpg

Po is still very protective so I couldn’t get all the pups out.  A black one died, and here are all the survivors – eight of them.  Four black and four white.   You may not be able to make them all out so I have cut out their close ups.

2015-06-04 all puppies  w-12015-06-04 all puppies. w-2-3 jpg2015-06-04 all puppies w-4

From the back forward, here are White Pups 1, 2-3, and 4    You’ll have to work to see white pup 3.

2015-06-04 all puppies  b-1-22015-06-04 all puppies b-32015-06-04 all puppies b-4

From the back forward, here are Black Pups 1-2, 3 and 4.   You’ll have to work to see that there are 2 black pups in the first photo.  I did the best I could.  But now….

2015-06-04 two pups R

Here are two of them I took outside to the grass yesterday.

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Hoping you all have a week that is puppy-wonderful.

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