26 November 2015

2015-11-26 huge beetle  R

Last week my afterthought was the huge helicopter beetle – but I realized I didn’t have anything in the photo to give perspective on its size…. so here we are, a dead member of its species, which you can now see is nearly as big as Brazil !!  For the insectophiles among you, I asked Dr. Smarty and he says it is a Fiji Longhorn Beetle.

2015-11-26 mighty moca  R

Continuing with the theme of HUGE – this is the amaranth plant beside our house.  Practically a tree.  Austin is saving it for seed.   The local name for this is moca (MOE-tha) – and the leaves are our local cooked spinach.  Yummy, yummy yummy – which is why plants are never seen this big.

2015-11-24 Auntie & Kiki & rain stick 1  Cr

The only other actual Flora and Fauna photo I have this week is this exceedingly clever combo of bamboo (flora), chicken feathers & shells (fauna) and duct tape.

2015-11-26 Kiki and rainstick  R

Filled with pebbles, it is a rain stick.  This was birthday present from one of our Teitei guests to Kiki who turned just turned THREE.   (Happy birthday again, Sweetie Pie!)

2015-11-26 sign vechiles  R

For the proof-readers among you here is an amusing sign outside the Samabula Post Office.  (Interesting that the problem word appears in bold.  I didn’t do that.)

2015-11-26 paper low mileage  R

For the thinkers among you here is an amusing headline from an ad in the Fiji Times a few days ago.   (Just what I always wanted in a car….)

And to close the week

2015-11-26 honeyed sunset  R


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Have a happy week, everybody.

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19 November 2015

2015-11-19 chick vendor 2  R

Austin got back this week, but before he did I had to sell last week’s hatch or try to.  There were about 2 dozen special chicks not for sale (don’t know why but Austin had put an X or a P on some shells and those were the not-for-sale ones), and there were TEN DOZEN to sell.

2015-11-19 chick vendor 1  R

Akka helped me pack them two dozen to a box.

2015-11-19 chick vendor 3  R

When we got to the market, this was the view from the table where I parked the boxes.   An hour and a half later I had given away one dozen to an 8-year-old boy who kept coming to look at them because he loved them so much and sold three dozen at last year’s price to one fellow who was willing to buy three dozen but wanted a “deal.”     Enough of this!   We went to the beach.

2015-07-02 upright driftwood R

Do you remember this picture from last July?

2015-11-19 tree from 2015-07-02 taking root  Cr

Well, here is the same tree now.  I was WRONG AGAIN last July.  It must not have been set-upright driftwood – it must have been the result of severe erosion just as Austin had thought, because the tree is full of foliage now.   But I swear I do not remember a tree in that location before July.   We’ve gone to that spot of that beach a LOT.

2015-11-19 beach tree  Cr

Here is a cuter picture of a tree at the beach.  This little friend has gone to check if there are any eggs in the nest (sadly you can’t see the nest well behind the leaves …. I need a better camera [ha ha])    The report came down:  nest empty.

2015-11-19 beach fire  R

Ok – here is the beach itself – this photo taken because of the smoke.   There was a grass fire a bit down the road as we came in.   By this point that grass fire was working its way over to where Akka had parked the truck – in tall grass.   This led to an urgent sprint down 300 meters of beach to move the truck and its vulnerable tyres.

2015-11-19 burning cane 1  R

Plenty of fires going on – have I mentioned how dry it is?

2015-11-19 burning cane 2  R

These are fires in the cane fields that were in progress…

2015-11-19 burning cane 3  R

…as Austin and I were driving home from the airport.

2015-11-19 Pool progress 1  R

Taking advantage of the drought, we are finally painting the pool.   Can you imagine the fumes in that bowl?

2015-11-19 Pool progress 2  R

Can you imagine the heat?  (Ah, but the bougainvillea is so pretty!)

2015-11-19 Pool progress 3  R

And I close this week with a final shot of our trusty “sasa” – coconut rib broom.

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2015-11-19 big beetle  Cr

I forgot to mention THIS fellow!   Geez Lousie – it sounded like a helicopter was trying to land on me and it was this beetle.  He’s huge.  Huge and did not hurt me – just made his way out the window after I got him his publicity shot.  I hope any troubles affect all of you the same way – briefly scary perhaps, but ultimately harmless.

Lots of love to you all.

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12 November 2015

2015-11-12 still hatching  R

“Hey, leave me alone – I’m hatching here!”

Yes, Austin is still gone, and I am still on duty as Queen of the Incubator.   This little chick did get out okay, along with more than 14 dozen little friends.

2015-11-12 long body wasp.  Rjpg


Akka and I were cleaning a guest room when he noticed this dead wasp.  He mentioned it had a skinny waist.  They all have skinny waists – hence the term “wasp-waisted” for an exceptionally thin woman you don’t like.  But the wasp contrasts nicely with Akka’s other big find under the louvers ….

2015-11-12 Fiji bumble bee  Cr

A dead bumblebee !   Whoever knew Fiji has bumblebees?

2015-11-05 big fat sunlit raindrops  Cr


This shot is of raindrops that I took last week, but did not have space for it.  Never mind my slow shutter speed — that is exactly what those sunlit raindrops looked like to my eye as well.  Those few drops were the only rain our farm has seen for the last three weeks.

2015-11-12 Diwali morning  R

This is how Diwali (Indian “Festival of Lights”) looked yesterday morning.  That was the last of the sunshine – it was cloudy all day.  But no rain.

2015-11-12 bamboo fireworks 1  Cr


Speaking of Diwali – “Festival of Fireworks and Homemade Candy”  (Dang!  I should have taken a photo of the candy! – well, something for next year) –  along with the crackle-crackle-crackle-KAPOW of fireworks, we also hear a series of sonic BOOMs here.   Well, those BOOMs are coming from Fiji Bamboo Cannons.

2015-11-12 bamboo fireworks 2  Cr

They are made of green bamboo which has a fuel chamber cut into it.  A bit of kerosene plus unleaded petrol is poured in the hole.  A few seconds are given for some of the fumes to leave, then fire is added via a long stick.   The fuels combust in the green bamboo chamber and

2015-11-12 bamboo fireworks 3  R

a wall of sound comes out the open end.  Obviously this was between booms.   I can’t believe the cannon is just pointing parallel to the ground rather than up into the air.

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I’ve been asking my daughter about bears around the grandkids’ school – there have been several.  But this week there was something new – not a bear.  Here is her forwarded email:

Dear Parents/Guardians,

Please be aware that we have received word from a neighbouring condo strata that there was a cougar sighting in the area this morning. As a precaution we will ensure that students are not playing in the back parts of the school this morning for drop off. We will monitor the situation in regards to recess.

Thank you

stock cougar

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5 November 2015

2015-11-05 foal catching up Cr

“Wait for me !!” – a foal trying to catch up with his mama and seven other horses in the middle of Valley Road.

2015-11-05 candling egg R

Guaranteed:  a new mistake every week!

I told one of our guests that in my blog I can guarantee a mistake every week – because if Dr. Smarty Pants isn’t telling me I flubbed the science somewhere, I find out I’ve made some other little error – like saying a guest was “stationed” on Udot when it turns out the men were all “trained” there and then dispersed.  Rarely are mistakes a big deal.

But the photo above is a REALLY NEW mistake.  Austin was pulling trays from the incubator to put the eggs for this week’s hatch in the hatching trays (they are not to be rotated for the last 3 days).  Well the second tray he pulled and emptied was for the WRONG WEEK.   So what he was doing here was “candle-ing” the eggs, in an attempt to determine which ones were ready, and which were a week less developed.   It was not as easy as he expected.

However, in the process he discovered all his duds – which was a good thing – instead of just waiting to see what doesn’t hatch.

2015-11-05 run-in with wheelbarrow R

And here is Another New Mistake –  Truck vs. Wheelbarrow.   The Wheelbarrow won.  ( And most importantly – I was completely uninvolved!  [for a change] }



Do you remember Austin’s huge cheque from last April?  It was for a Chicken Project Plus at the nearby school.

2015-11-05 HC school project 1  R

Seven months on:  the pond is dug, stocked, and fenced.   This week four strapping secondary students came to help Austin catch a dozen ducks – 2 “kings” and 10 “ladies” for the project.

2015-11-05 HC school project 2  Cr

This was the ducks’ first time in water.

2015-11-05 HC school project crowds gather  R

Crowds gathered.

2015-11-05 HC school project 3  Cr

After Austin had told all about the ducks, he started explaining how to catch the fish – some of which are now eating size – with the trap he brought.

2015-11-05 HC school project fishing gear  R

Here is a student with the trap and with Rakesh’s loaner net.

They could not catch anything with the trap Austin brought.

2015-11-05 HC school project 4  R


So in they went with the net.  When the kids went in, the ducks went out.

2015-11-05 HC school project 5  R

It took at least five minutes to catch one fish.  This was the catch after ten.  The kids were extremely persistent.

2015-11-05 HC school project 6  R

There should be thousands of babies in there now and hundreds of frying size fish.  According to the gatekeeper, he has seen fish considerably longer than his hand.

2015-11-05 HC school project 7  R

This was the catch by the time we left – and Austin didn’t have the heart to ask for Rakesh’s loaner net back.

What about the CHICKEN project, you ask?

2015-11-05 HC school project future chicken pen  R

These are the materials for the chicken house to be built soon.  All in good Fiji time….  (final report due last week – ha)


For the third time a Teitei guest has asked if we’d publish a cookbook of dishes we cook at the farm.   Well nobody ever measures here.  But if I get any encouragement at all, I’ll put in a slipshod recipe a week in the blog.

These are AKKA’S PANCAKES  – and I do measure the mix, adapted from the recipe from Joy of Cooking.   I make the dry mix – and then he adds the wet ingredients when he’s ready to go.

Dry Mix:   3 Cup wholemeal flour, 2 tsp salt, 3 Tbsp sugar, 2 Tbsp baking powder, (4 Tbsp full cream powdered milk)

To make pancakes for each 1 cup of the dry mix add 1 Cup water (or milk), 1 egg, 2 Tbsp melted butter or coconut oil.

He adds sliced bananas to the mixture and fries them in coconut oil.

2015-11-05 hatching  R


Austin has gone to Vanuatu to take Happy Chicken there.   This leaves me in charge of the blinking incubator and the last 36 hours have been “hatching day”

2015-11-05 hatchlings  R

I took these photos last night.  Now almost all the eggs are hatched and the warming box is crowded with chicks.   Tomorrow I drive the lot to the airport where they’ll take flight to Taveuni.

2015-11-05 eye of guest 1  R


I’ll close this week with a few shots of the farm from a recent guest.   Above is a view toward the southeast

2015-11-05 eye of guest 2  R

A three-in-one shot of yard fowl, solar clothes dryer, and Austin’s weird topiary.

2015-11-05 eye of guest 3  R

And finally – the kitchen staff.

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