24 May 2018

2018-05-19 training bulls 1 Cr

This was a first for me – seeing bulls getting put into their yoke.

2018-05-19 training bulls 2 Cr

What a mess!   They were going this way and that – not an easy process at all.

Then I thought, “Gee, these bulls look small.”  And so I asked.  Turns out these are young bulls (a little over a year old), just now getting trained.   They don’t get put to work until they are full-size, at about 3 years – but if they are not trained young, they are useless for farm work.

2018-05-19 training bulls 3 Cr

So for the next year or two, these two boys are learning to pull a tire around the yard as a team.

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Sorry, guys – I never did get photos of the Permaculture workshop (too disorganized to get the shared ones from the cloud).   What I did get, though, was one EXPERIMENT.

This is a comparison of the soil from an organically farmed patch and from a conventionally farmed patch.

2018-05-19 PC soil experiment day 1 R

Each soil is in its own jar with water and is all shook up.  (The organic one is on the right in this photo – on the left in the others).

2018-05-20 PC soil experiment day 2 R

On Day 2 the organic one is settling out nicely.  You can see the bits of “organic material” (grasses and the like) which will hold water and provide more nutrients for the crops.  You can also see that it has divided into layers: water, fine silt and heavy soils.  The conventional one is just a murky mess with no organic material.

2018-05-23 PC soil experiment day 4 R

On Day 4  nearly everything has settled to the bottom of the organic one.  The conventional one is finally beginning to clear just a little, but has never really settled into layers like the organic one.

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PIZZA  OVEN  UPDATE – because I KNOW you want to know!

2018-05-20 pizza oven sand out Cr

Four days ago, Guy decided it was ok to take the sand out.  But it still was not drying so well.

2018-05-22 pizza oven coconut husk smoke Cr

So two days ago he decided to make a fire of coconut husks.  Lots of smoke and not too hot.

2018-05-23 pizza oven with homemade door - and smoke Cr

And then yesterday, more coconut husk fire, plus his homemade pizza oven door.

Stay tuned.  My hopes are high!

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Did you ever wonder who came up with the idea of an Easter Egg hunt?  I think it was chickens themselves who put humans up to it.

2018-05-20 egg hunt 4 R

This is not last week’s photo.  This is a daily occurrence now.  Plus this:

What the heck?

It turns out we have a MONGOOSE problem again!  The eggs in the hen house are getting stolen.  These mamas are just trying to find a safe place for Granddaddy Austin to be able to steal their eggs.  So, okay, I can live with this until we get the mongooses eliminated again.

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Egg is yaloka.

Eye (also the whole face) is mata.

Eyeball is yaloka ni mata  (egg of the eye – what a lovely picture that is!)

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Happy week everybody.   Mo mamarau tiko!

2018-05-23 slip hem signature Cr

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PS – it is also a Holy Day today … so Happy Declaration of the Báb to my fellow Bahá’ís.

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17 May 2018

2018-05-16 oven 13 R

What could THIS be???

Answer: a BIG project!

Lots of steps to it, starting with Haul Sand from the River.   Collect clay.

Build base.  Fill in base.

Stomp clay and sand together.

2018-05-12 oven 5 Cr

Make clay floor.  Wait for chickens to walk on floor.  Smooth it out again and cover it with feed bags and tarps at night after that.

Make clay animals and handprints for fun.  Find out that the clay that dries too fast in the sunlight cracks up!   Therefore, put up the coconut frond cover in top photo.

Build a dome with packed sand, cover with wet newspaper, and cover it with the stomped clay/sand mixture.

2018-05-14 oven 9 R

Get dried grass to add to the second layer of clay and sand for strength.

TA DA –  a Pizza Oven!   (We’ll know in a few weeks if it works.  I’ll give an update.)

2018-05-15 oven 10 R

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The Permaculture Workshop is here and is going on.  Here are some of the gang.

2018-05-16 Beqa Boys Cr

I’ll grab photos from Junia showing the different projects for next week.

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Saturday morning I woke up from a dream where I’d been driving our truck on a pebble road,  lost control, struggled for control, fishtailed, finally got off to a safe spot and quite relieved, but then somehow I was nose down in a deep drain.  There was no damage but it was going to be difficult to get the truck out.

I told the dream to the family, whereupon Akka told me that he had just had a nearly identical dream:  Austin was driving the truck on a muddy slope.  He ended up losing control of the truck and it went nose down – then it flipped end over end, and it broke completely in two.

Needless to say, as I drove to town on Saturday, I was exceptionally careful, feeling that an accident was on my heels.  All was well until it was time to leave the very crowded parking lot.  Another car had come and blocked me and two other cars.  Finally the car flanking me left.  With the help of Junia and the parking attendant, I wriggled my tail out, and back and forthed to straighten up.  I was home free.  Then needed to back just a little more.  CRUNCH!

2018-05-12 accident Cr

Brand new Prius car for hire, with the driver right there.   No “damage” … but it was going to be expensive to solve.  DANG!

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With the crowd here we needed to use the big urn, but  it was time to become more energy efficient.   An old towel, a sulu in the give-away pile, and stitching that would make my grandmother shake her head.

2018-05-16 tea cozy Cr

And baby Noah – the youngest grandson.

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Sit down is dabe.   (DAm-bay)    Chair is dabedabe  (DAm-bay-DAm-bay)

2018-05-16 egg seat R

So, please dabe in my dabedabe.   Enjoy yourself.  It is a very popular dabedabe.

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Happy week, everybody.

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10 May 2018

2018-05-04 cake spa R

We have a very classy place here…  Where less imaginative massage spas use hot stones, we use hot CAKE.  🙂

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2018-05-07 cocoa processing on one leaf R

Akka went back into cocoa production this week.  Guy set up this clever photo to demonstrate the stages.   From bottom to top – you have the Cocoa Pod, the fleshy seeds fresh out of the pod, the seeds after fermenting, the seeds after roasting, and finally the milled chocolate – yum yum.

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2018-05-09 making compost Cr

This week Ju started the permaculture compost.  What I understand (and I might be wrong) is that he’ll chop a lot of vegetable matter and add papaya leaves and stems to it to speed it up.  All of it will be on a tarp so that the liquid stuff is not lost.  I’ll let you know how it goes.   He has his very first Permaculture Workshop here at the farm next week!  Oh boy!

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I wanted to avoid hearing about creatures that I couldn’t see myself, so this week I had Leo point out things for me to photograph, and the challenge was to remember at least three of them.  He nailed it!

Here is what he pointed out.

1- leaves he picks when Uncle Akka makes pizza (oregano),  2- baby ducks with the mother,  3- an old duck,  4 – geese!,  5 –  What’s that? – oh it is water for the chickens,  6 – chicken food!,  7- a Big Tree,  8 – spiky seeds on the big tree.

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All the puppies have homes.  The boys are gone already and the girls are claimed and soon to be picked up.  Hooray!

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Meanwhile in Leo’s garden ….  Success!

Baby tomato plants and baby radish plants.  Also baby choi sum plants (not photographed).

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Austin talked to Suresh, our dog Gogo’s new owner, to find out how Gogo is.  Guess what.  Suresh decided not to have him neutered.  So Gogo is a VERY happy dog!  He’s been going around the neighborhood having lots and lots of girlfriends.  All the neighbors think he is very handsome and are happy to be having him improve the gene pool.   And there is no alpha male around pushing him around: he is now Top Dog.   Hooray, hooray!   And soon he’ll have his little sister (or daughter) around.  Suresh is getting Chubby Bear.

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Fijian Word of the Week

So on that note, I will give you “happy” – marau 

Are you happy?   O mamarau tiko?

Be happy (or “happiness be with you”)  Mo mamarau tiko.

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Mo mamarau tiko  this week, everybody!

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3 May 2018

2018-04-29 bird tree Cr

That dead teak tree still has some life in it: birds at sunset.

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GIFTS FROM KIRIBATI – out of Austin’s suitcase and now in use.

2018-04-29 rock salt R

Valuable crystals!  Sea salt from pristine water.

2018-04-28 skirt from Kiribati Cr

A patchwork skirt sent as a present.  (Shorter than I’m used to wearing, so I got a half-meter of matching cloth to make a bottom panel.)  What a fancy patchwork the top of the skirt has!

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I challenged Leo to look closely as we took our walk, and when we got back to tell me what he saw.

As we walked, what I noticed was that the grass was cut, that he was so cute running ahead of me …. and that the small sensitive plant I had seen but not pulled

2018-04-27 sensitive plant in bloom R-filter

was now in flower.  Darn it!

When we got back I told Leo what I saw and I asked him what he saw.

He said he saw a lizard.  “Where?,” I asked.  I had not seen a lizard.  “In the pavilion,” he told me.  Okay, I thought.

What was the second thing he saw?   He told me he saw a mongoose.  That was rare but possible.  “Where did you see the mongoose,” I asked.   “At the pavilion,” he told me.  Okay – well maybe, I thought.

“What was the third thing you saw,” I asked him.  “A monkey,” he told me.

I didn’t bother to ask where he saw it …. it had to be “at the pavilion.”   Ha ha.

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1.   How did this fish tank get so clean?

2018-04-27 clean tank R

2.  What are these poles for?

2018-05-01 what are these poles for R

Seriously – I thought they might be flag poles, but that didn’t make sense, and then NO explanation made sense.

3.   Where is the rest of this man?

2018-05-01 pavement glasses Cr

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We see big floods here – water creeping up the road, up into yards, up to the doors, sometimes to the windows, to the roofs.  We know what a flood looks like from the land.  However, I was shocked when Austin pointed out the flood level from the river itself.

2018-04-29 flood gauge R-marked

This arrow points to the flotsam that was caught in the trees.  The photo was taken from the bank, about three feet (1 meter) above the water level (couldn’t risk getting my phone wet).   From mid-river the sight was appalling.  That water would have been about 20-30 feet higher (6-9 meters).   The thought of that much water in that place was deeply unnerving.

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Water is wai .   

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Happy week, everybody.

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26 April 2018

2018-04-19 Nica's goldfish Cr

Fish baby-sitting service.  Monica parked her goldfish here as she gets ready for a trip overseas.  Pleasant upgrade from the little tilapia that used to be in this tank.

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I’ve shown you the lovo (underground oven) before – but forgot to take photos after it was opened.  Also, before we used store chickens.  So here are a few shots of our lovo this week, that Ju made to welcome Guy and Mami (belatedly) and also to celebrate a Holy Day.

2018-04-20 lovo chicken plucking R

Our OWN chickens – I think Dad and Junia killed and prepped eight chickens.  Turned out four of the folks we were expecting ended up not coming, so we stuck three cleaned carcasses in the freezer, and Junia lovo’ed five of them – for the 9 adults and 2 kids that were here.  Half a chicken each!  That’s how Fijians think!

2018-04-20 lovo grandsons Cr-adj

Oh, here are those two darling children pushing a wheelbarrow … in the kitchen!

2018-04-20 lovo wheelbarrow R

Aha – So THIS is the cooked food from the lovo, transported to the house.  Some of the food.  Much of it was still in the pit at this point.

Yummy, yummy.  Maybe next time I’ll take clear photos of the unwrapped food on the platter – somehow my photos all turned out fuzzy this time.

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Still on a food theme:   TOAD IN THE HOLE

You know, that famous British dish of sausages and pudding batter?  Yeah.  Now I know the inspiration for it.

2018-04-20 toads in the hole Cr

That’s my creek!  Yum yum!

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The PUPDATE:  feature presentation for this issue

I know some of you have been wondering about Winky’s litter.  So feast your eyes on a Pile of Puppies.

2018-04-19 Puppy pile Cr

Austin had the great idea of naming each one and putting their pictures up for an auction.  He got as far as naming them.

The boys:

2018-04-23 puppy little Gogo Cr

Little Gogo

2018-04-23 puppy little Muffin Cr

Little Muffin

And the girls – who were way more active and harder to get photos of:

2018-04-23 puppy little Winky Cr

Little Winky

2018-04-25 puppy chubby Bear Cr-adj

Chubby Bear

I don’t think Austin will ever really get around to an auction, but if you live in Fiji and want one of them – send your bid to me!

Here is a final shot of the four of them on the move:

2018-04-23 puppy four Cr-adj

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A last little happy shot for the week.   Our butcher’s sign.

2018-04-21 sign has all the right letters on it Cr

Somebody knew all the letters that they should put in it.

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Keeping with the same Lovo and Toad-in-the-Hole theme –

Kana – means “eat”

Vakalevu – is literally “with big”

So  Kana vakalevu  means “Eat plenty.”

(I’ve been slacking on learning Fijian, but am trying to get back on task.)

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Happy week, Everybody.

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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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