31 December 2015 – the real one

2015-12-31 goose egg ornament 1  R

This is a goose egg – risen to glory as a Christmas tree ornament – courtesy of Austin, Junia and some homestay guests.

2015-12-31 goose egg ornament 2  R

And another.

2015-12-31 goose egg ornament 3  R

And the one I am considering a jinx – as he not only caused a whole lot of others to fall off the tree …. I also think he made me hit the “publish” button WAY too early…..

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It has been a crazy week and I have not been taking photos, even though Akka, Junia and Austin have been telling me so much.   I haven’t been listening.   Only one farm thing really grabbed my attention: CHOCOLATE

2015-12-31 cocoa 1  R

Akka learned on line that he has to ferment the cocoa beans, so now he puts them in ziplock bags to age.

2015-12-31 cocoa 2  R

This is what they look like a week further into the process.  (Yeah, I know, it looks putrid … but the result is terrific.)

2015-12-31 cocoa 3  R

These are parts of remaining bricks from two different batches of cocoa Akka has processed.  Really chocolate-y tasting.  Yum yum.

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What has been distracting the tar out of me (besides the minion on the tree) can be symbolized by THIS

2015-12-31 bunk beds  R

Preparation for an influx of more than 25 guests to the homestay!   (I start losing my mind at 7 guests.)   We got these very sturdy bunk beds on sale, and just went to town today to buy FOUR MORE.   Oh Lordy.

The photo above is in the room we always planned to house up to four local volunteer/trainees on the farm some day.   Also prepared for that day is a closet with four lockers.   Our dear artistic guest took charge of painting the lockers.

Thanks, Rennie.

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Happy, happy New Year to all.

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24 December 2015

2015-12-24 first avocado  Cr

Just this week:  our first avocado !   Hooray !

2015-12-24 mango  Cr

Also NOTICED just this week:  we are going to get mangoes again this year; the tree by my house has quite a few.  I hope the delicious (peachy-banana) mango from our far land is also bearing this year.

And for the utterly sublime….

2015-12-24 sapadilla 3  R


Technically (if Austin is right) they are called “sapadillas.”   It is growing under our chicken pen and I’m tasting this fruit for the first time in my life.  WOW.

2015-12-24 sapadilla 2  R


Here’s a shot of the flower end for anyone who knows how to classify fruits.   Anyhow, the sugarplum-sapadilla is sweet like brown sugar, has a unique flavor without tasting perfumed.  It is moist without being juicy, and slightly mealy without being unpleasant.

It also has a thin brown skin similar to a kiwi, seeds like a soursop, and when I peeled the first one with my teeth, my lips stuck together with a bit of invisible latex sap.

I’m in love with it, warts and all.

But speaking of mealy ….

2015-12-24 sweet sop  R

Here is a sweet sop (a.k.a. custard apple, “corazon”) growing right by my porch.  It is sweet, very mealy, full of seeds, and does not float my boat.  But it is here for others who like it.

And the biggest news of the week …

2015-12-24 water in pool  R

It is raining.    Starting to be good news for the pool.  Already great news for the crops and grasslands.    Should I tell you about how it has affected the smells from the chicken pens?  Nooo … why spoil the mood?   Ha!

Happy Christmas Eve, Everybody…. and …

~~~~~~ MERRY CHRISTMAS ~~~~~~~



17 December 2015

Patti & Kim in saris Dec 2015  R-smiley face

It’s WEDDING SEASON – and so there have been marriage ceremonies night after night after day after night (each Hindu wedding takes 3 ceremonies, plus now they have added engagement ceremonies).  Sheesh.  Anyway – Someone dressed up in the blue sari suit I was given last August, along with visiting friend Patti in the first sari I ever owned.

2015-12-17 dressed for a wedding  R

And here, the next night, are a bunch of people dressed to go to an Indian wedding:  Patti in a different sari of mine,  two dear neighbor girls all dressed up,another American guest in my fuchsia sari (that sari has never been happier!),  and me in the Gopee Suit I was given as a present – wearing it for the first time at long last.   Now I know why my brother keeps giving me dress suits – they are so much easier and (in the case of the cotton gopee suit) more comfortable.

If you are looking for bugs or weeds or chickens this week, you are out of luck.

Next up is traditional outrigger canoes.

2015-12-17 traditional boat 1  R

When I was in Canada, I met a First Nations master canoe builder, Bear Sam.  I wanted to introduce Bear to my friend  Semiti Cama who is a master canoe builder in Fiji, but I had not gotten over to see him until this week.

2015-12-17 traditional boat 2  R

There were canoes all around his compound.   Canoes are brought to him to repair.  I think these two are almost ready to go.

2015-12-17 traditional boat 3  Rjpg

Here is Semiti, with a model he recently made.   And here is an article on line about him.  http://www.pacificbluefoundation.org/2013/08/secrets-of-the-camakau-builders/

(I’m going to try to get this foundation to pay for Bear to come to Fiji and share experiences with Semiti – but that is our little secret until I do the paperwork – ha ha)

2015-12-17 traditional boat 4  R

I’ll close the canoes with this shot of the hull of the outrigger that Semiti’s grandfather used to sail from the Lau islands to Suva over 50 years ago.   That vesi wood holds up a long long time for being in the tropics!

2015-12-17 intense rainbow 1  R

One evening Akka screamed out “RAINBOW”   It was the most intense rainbow any of us had seen.

2015-12-17 intense rainbow 2  R

Austin grabbed my camera and took about 30 photos – but alas my camera is not doing well.

One guest took some shots with her Tablet –

2015-12-17 Intense Rainbow - Rennie  R

photo by Rennie with superior equipment


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May we all have a week of rainbow joy.

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10 December 2015

2015-12-10 pineapple season Cr

It is pineapple season again.  This is one of many heaps at the market.  You can buy a nice large pineapple for one dollar (or US 50 cents).

2015-12-10 field fire 2 R


A couple of days ago I was showing my friend around and I heard something like running water – and saw flames across our field, on our little hill on the far side of the land.

2015-12-10 field fire 1 R

Flames, I say !!      Apparently a neighbor had lit a fire to burn off his own grass and didn’t stay there to contain it.    I saw a lot of green so I wasn’t worried.   Austin on the other hand thought the flames were already too big to fight.

I didn’t understand the danger.   If the flames jumped the drain, the fire would go into the flat field where we have the coconut trees that have been growing for 5 years, the coconut trees that Austin is counting on to nourish our chickens and stop our dependence on commercial feed.  Sheesh!  Five years of effort about to go up in flames!  (I was thinking how I wished our old friend Buzz Teter, the smoke-jumper from California, were here.  He would, no doubt, have a plan of attack.)

Half an hour later Austin and Junia decided to brave it.  And an hour or so later they returned with good news – they had beaten the fire back.   Junia described winding long green grass onto the end of a long stick and using that as a beater.

But when Austin finished his shower, he yelled to Ju that the fire had broken through again.

2015-12-10 field fire 3 R

And so Austin and Junia went down into THIS.

We were just so lucky that there was no wind.

2015-12-10 field fire 4 R

Next day – the burned part.

2015-12-10 field fire 5 R

It doesn’t look all that bad, but it was such a big threat there for a few hours.   I’ve never felt threatened by fire before, so this was quite an eye-opener.

2015-12-10 flame tree Cr

THIS is the kind of flame I prefer on our farm:   a flame tree.

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I sent Austin out with my camera to get photos of the fire damage, and he brought back his idea of “beauty shots” as well:

Kids in trees, and chicken legs.

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2015-12-10 dappled beach R

Our week started with a picnic on this shady beach.   After all the heat and excitement in the last few days, I want to go back!

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3 December 2015

2015-12-03 feed me  R

“Feed me!” … babies just a few meters from my porch.

Or maybe they are saying, “Give me something to drink!”  Did I mention how DRY it is?

2015-12-03 waste not want not  Cr

The bees have discovered a water source: the leaky joint at my kitchen tap.  Now they drink from it every day.  When Austin was having a lot of back pain, we considered “bee sting therapy” – and if we ever decide to go for it, we will be able to easily grab a bee from here.   Austin, however, decided that his back isn’t hurting all that bad.  (Do we call that “aversion therapy”?)

2015-12-03 sand story 1  Cr


First, beach sand from the coast.

2015-12-03 sand story 2 R

And a magnet picking up what it can.  Why?  Because a foreign company recently got rights to dredge the mouth of the river to get the iron.

2015-12-03 sand story 3  R

A bored guest harvested this much pure magnetic material out of the sand.

2015-12-03 sand story 4  R

Now look at the hair on this magnet!   (I want to make a Wooly Willy toy out of this!).   Anyway – the plan is to try to get this stuff tested to find out what other minerals are in it that the government may be just giving away….

2015-12-03 horse jail  R


Our “bai pound” (which is a horse jail) has been untenanted for months, and then this week we got SEVEN CLIENTS, so to speak: seven loose horses poised to damage everyone’s crops.   Austin, Akka, Junia and neighbors herded them into the fenced off compound that Austin got designated as a government detention facility.  Here we waited for someone to come bail them out or, more likely, bust them out in the dead of night.  (Why would I even THINK that, you ask?  Don’t ask.)  Anyhow, the situation was worse than usual as most of the grass in there was dead, and Junia was dreading the thought of hauling water repeatedly to the seven very thirsty critters.   This time, praise the Lord, there was actually a VERY HAPPY solution!   The owners came and all details were written down about each horse – they then signed an agreement that any horse that was found on anyone else’s property within one year – that horse would immediately be turned over to the government.   YAY.  Horses are gone – and with luck, the crops are safe for one year – at least from these guys.

2015-12-03 first fruits R


A few days ago Junia came up from the farm with these huge fruits, the first harvest from both a new papaya tree and a new strain of pineapples.  He said that traditionally the first fruits are presented to The Father – but I couldn’t find Austin, so I snapped them with The Grandson.

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