30 November 2017

Let’s just call this week WILD THINGS

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This is a wild anthurium growing in front of our house.

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This is what a common anthurium looks like (stock photo from google images).  You’d think that the major difference would be color and size.  I disagree.  The main difference is that our wild anthurium… Smells like Cow Manure.   Next difference is that our wild one is Floppy.   Why does Austin bring me a flower like that with excitement in his eyes???

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Ok, a lot of this week is going to be further info on photos that made it to my OTHER blog.   First up, the passion flower:

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Actually, this was a different variety of passion fruit called a garandila.  I think this is the wilder, older version.  The fruits are smaller than our usual passion fruits


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And TOUGH.  Really, really hard to open.  I didn’t have a hammer, so I used this heavy glass paperweight.

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But inside — passion fruit!  Yay!

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Next up: cats in boxes

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That was from this morning.  Akka actually pointed this out to me and made an astute observation:

He has seen cats in boxes, in baskets and in plastic baskets – but he has never seen a cat in a bucket.  I haven’t either.   Must feel claustrophobic.

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Next: the mouse rescued from the washer.

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In that same blog I also mentioned RAT GLUE ….

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Yep.  Austin took care of it.  His method is to turn it over onto cardboard and put the trapped varmint out of its misery with a swift kick.  (And he didn’t think my rat glue would work).  (For readers from the other blog – I am considering this a kindness to people…..)

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Wildest thing of the week:

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This thing is a FLOWER – the flower of a cycad (strange palm-like tree).  It looks like a huge pine cone.  Austin says it is going to do more strange stuff.  I’ll keep watching.

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Wishing you all a very happy week.

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23 November 2017

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A new shade of vinca flower.  Austin found it, loved it, put it on Beamer’s grave.

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I’ve got heaps of photos to share this week, but first a little life lesson:


Austin and I were driving to Suva yesterday and it was raining and – OH DRAT – there was a leak from the door dropping right onto my thigh.  Austin told me to paint it down the door  I had no idea what he was talking about, and got a bit irked … but he kept explaining.  So – ok – I ran my finger with the water across the door rim toward the front – and it made a new path for the water.  The drip moved to beside my feet.  Way cool!  and way better!

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Teak seeds on a leafless tree, and the same seeds in Kiki’s hands.   We had so many leafless trees, it looked like autumn.

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Kishore and the digger,  because Austin always sees more possibilities.

So now better access to the lower areas, and a big level site right below the pavilion.

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From Junia

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His pumpkin crop.

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An exceptionally stubborn weed he wanted me to photograph – look at the size of that root, and it is not edible – darn it.

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At the market

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Magnificently beautiful capsicums [bell peppers] grown locally!  Yummy levu!

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At the neighbors’ places

House blessing ceremonies – I attended two of them in the last 2 weeks.  Everybody has put up much fancier prayer spots, the “Hanuman flags” have gotten way fancier too…. and for the first time I noticed how much green bamboo is used.

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Born Yesterday.  Literally.

(I was out with Kiki, and he is the one who first saw the calf – and he was so excited.  But what interested him even more was the neighbor squirting the milk from the udders into a bucket.  🙂 )

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Happy Chicken Stuff

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A workshop with ladies from Vanua Levu.  Here Austin has them in the pen with chickens and many different leaves, letting them see which leaves the chickens like best.  This is practical training in learning to use local wild plants for chicken food.

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The most recent version of the “wire circle pen” –  an engineering marvel!

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And – the big granddaddy rooster – 6.7 kg  (nearly 15 pounds).   Wowsers.  Probably the largest chicken in all of Fiji.  He developed a foot problem and was becoming lame, so Austin had to slaughter him, and this was his memorial photo.  Resting in peace (in our stomachs).  (Is it ok to mention he was tender and tasty?)

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In the orchard

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A big crop of sapadilas (sugar plums) – yay!  We visited our Malaysian friend Shantini yesterday – she and her father got all excited when they figured out we had chicu, their word for this fruit.  The way we knew we were all talking about the same fruit is by agreeing it “tastes like molasses.”  Yummmmmmmm.

Finally –


Best News of the Week!

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Mangosteen is flowering!   Austin planted it eight years ago.  It usually takes about ten years to start fruiting.   Mangosteens are God’s absolutely most delicious fruits on this planet.   I’m salivating in anticipation!

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A very happy week to you all.

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16 November 2017 – the complete post

First of all – to those who get the blog in their inbox – I apologize that a DRAFT got posted.  OOPS.

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This is Xav – and he was a guest at our farm a few months ago.

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He loved the chicken project.

His mother is an artist and his father works for the company that makes the beautiful bamboo lamps, and somehow Xav managed to put it all together in his own idea to raise money for the Happy Chicken project.

This is his mother’s description of Xav’s project:

Xav has a little surprise for you all, we hope you are happy about it.

This morning Xav dropped off a selection of decorations to an amazing local gallery called Birdwoods.

Birdwoods is run by a wonderful family who we have know since we arrived in the Hawkes Bay, 12 years ago. Louise and Bruce are the owners (Louise is in the pic with Xav). Louise agreed to stock Xav’s creations and not take a cut of the profits. Xav has created these to raise money for your Happy Chicken Project.

Xav first drew the animals and then we had them made from bamboo. Every packet has information about the project, farm and a link to your facebook page. Xav is working on the next designs of a chicken and a kiwi…

Xav just wanted to help Austin and you all to keep doing what you are doing. One dollar at a time, but I hope we can get a bit of (at least) local press about what Xav he is doing and the Happy Chicken Project.

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We are  delighted and overjoyed on so many levels by this act of sweetness.   Words cannot describe.

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Normally I would go on at this point to describe a few other things, but because of the misfire, I want to get this out quickly instead of spending another hour getting the rest together.  It can wait til next week.

So – happy week everybody.  Lots of love.

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9 November 2017

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Long week!  Right after we got back from Plantation Island, I went to meet Canadian friends who were in Suva for one day on a cruise.   Some ship!

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Actually, this is not the one they came in on.  This is a bilibili, a bamboo raft, which is what really caught my eye — and almost all of the photos I took at the museum.

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We have bilibili races in the Sigatoka River every year, mainly the hotel staffs competing against each other.  The idea that people could really, REALLY travel on bilibilis, and have a cabin of sorts, AND have cooking facilities … that blew my mind.

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Also in Suva – at the handicraft shop – something I saw for the first time….

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a bowl made of wood from the cinnamon tree.  It smelled yummy, and the vendor said that the smell would last for years.

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Back on the farm:

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a baby avocado outside my kitchen window.  Last time I put up a photo of a baby avocado, a storm came and knocked the tree down before the fruit matured.  I hope that does not happen this time.

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Bad news on our four-legged chicken:  it was stolen by a rat (of the human or animal variety, not sure which – except why would an animal only take the one and not leave any trace either?).

Happily, nature always provides.   We have a new mutant.

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This is the second time since I started blogging that we’ve gotten a fork-tailed gecko.  Last time it was titled “Look What the Cat Dragged In”  (If you are curious, look here )

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The  NOT  MY  FAULT (this time)  DEPARTMENT

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This wouldn’t be funny except  (1) it is “the fault of the Town Council for having a stanchion that is not visible”   and  (2) when we were dropping off some chicken pen wire, the Driver tore out of their driveway when a neighbor who does body work was walking over to give an estimate, insisting that the dents and scratches give our farm truck “character.”   🙂

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Happy week, everybody.

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2 November 2017

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Kiki with some flowering wild turmeric on some neighbor’s land near here.  Akka took this photo.  I asked him why we don’t have these flowers – we have lots of wild turmeric.  He says it is “Fijian wild turmeric” – not real turmeric.

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The official guests I told you all last week that might be coming Did Arrive.

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They are members of the U.S. Embassy staff – from left to right Simi, Tiny, Mark and Maria.  They came to see Austin’s work.  He was hoping they would tell him there is funding available – but mostly Mark, the main guy, was telling him other places he might be able to find project funding.  So it goes.

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This week Austin got the far field plowed.  You can see some of that burned hill I was talking about last week.

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The main purpose of this plowing is to have a place to grow coconut trees without the weeds choking out the saplings.   We still have 10,000 saplings that are supposed to come from Taveuni, since before TC Winston.  Maybe soon.

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Ducky cuteness in the chicken pen – a clutch of ducks eggs got hatched there.  Problem was the ducklings did not know which duck was their mother.  They followed one and then another, never sticking.

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They finally decided on HER.

Then, in the hatching room, a first:

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A rat came and ate from an egg in the middle of the night.  We’d never seen that before.

And a Four-Legged Chicken!  We really had never seen THAT before either.

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A coral work consultancy for Austin and an overnight vacation for me.  We went to Plantation Island Resort.

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Into a resort village of sorts, where it was a bit of a challenge to find our “bure” (house).   I relied upon this cycad tree

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as my landmark.

Happily I made a little friend

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thought my friend didn’t like me at all.   Oh well.  Farewell, my hermit crab.

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Happy week, everybody.

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Oh – PS.   We saw some new roof construction with fake thatch over roofing iron.  There is a stage that plyboard goes on.

2017-10-31 fake thatch roof construction Cr

Austin thought the plyboard went OVER the iron for the thatch to attach to, I thought it went UNDER the iron as insulation.  Looking at the stages and even taking a photo, we were not sure.

On the boat trip back I talked to two fellows who are from there … and I WAS RIGHT!   The order is framing, plywood, iron, then thatch.  So now you know  🙂

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