23 November 2017

2017-11-12 purple black vinca  Cr.jpg

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

2017-11-09 beautiful local capsicums R

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

2017-11-09  VanLevu workshop  5 R.jpg

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.

IMG_20171020_103840 Xav 1 R

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.

IMG_20171020_103855 Xav 5 R.jpg

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

2017-11-03 Museum - bilibili 1 Cr

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!

2017-11-03 Museum - bilibili 2 R

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.

2017-11-03 Museum - bilibili 3 R

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….

2017-11-03 Handicraft shop - cinammon wood bowl R

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:

2017-11-05 avocado fruit Cr

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.

2017-11-08 mutant gecko Cr

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

2017-11-04 not MY fault this time Cr

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

2017-10-23 Kiki with new pink flower  R.jpg

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.

2017-10-28 plowing Cr


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.

2017-10-28 ducky cuteness 2 Cr

They finally decided on HER.

Then, in the hatching room, a first:

2017-10-28 egg after rat attack Cr

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.

2017-11-01 Resort Village R

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

2017-11-01 cycad tree R

as my landmark.

Happily I made a little friend

2017-11-01 Hermit Crab Cr


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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26 October 2017

2017-10-24 gazebo-pavillion is done 1 R

What a week!  The pavilion (formerly known as the gazebo) is DONE!  Well, done for now.  (Always more to do, you know – tiling the floor, putting in gardens, etc.  Not to mention that the varnish on the benches was still a wee bit tacky…  still “done enough” – and it was spectacular.)

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And the party!  For those interested in the more religious aspects of the celebrations, I dusted off my Baha’i blog and did a post Twin Holy Birthdays.   Here, in my regular Flora and Fauna weekly, I am showing you some of the behind the scenes Cooking Stuff.

2017-10-20 jackfruit for party R

Ladies with jackfruits from our tree that were to be turned into curry.  These two were over mature, and so we had to keep picking smaller and smaller ones til we got some that were the right size.  Cleaning those two small jackfruits took a team of ladies several hours.

This is my back porch before as it usually is, and then in use as a cooking site.  You’ll see that the ladies laid down some roofing iron and built a fire on that.  Then my friend Madhu – who is about 5’0″ has an oar and is stirring a huge pot, full of chicken, rice and spices: chicken palau.

2017-10-21 picking eggplant Cr

The eggplant we’d ordered was not enough and we could not find a supplier for more, so in the middle of cooking I took my friend Beauty to her own farm down the road – and here she is picking baigan, i.e. eggplant, a few hours before the party was to start.

On the Fijian cooking side of things:

2017-10-21 lovo - chickens defrosting for the lovo R

Here are chickens defrosting for the lovo.

2017-10-21 lovo - ripping feedbags R

Here are Junia and Akuila tearing damp burlap bags to cover the lovo.

2017-10-21 lovo - playing in the smoke R

And here is Ratu playing in the lovo smoke 🙂

(Thanks to Akka for getting these clever “lovo shots”)

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2017-10-18 cooks - thank you and a half hour of my life Cr

When the cooking was done, I gave the cooks a little gift I’d made for each of them – a little heart with “200” (for Baha’u’llah’s 200th birthday) on a hanky.  I’d never embroidered before, but thought about my grandmother who did embroider the whole time, a lovely meditation but not much help with all the preparations.  As I gave them out, I said with all truthfulness, “I’m giving each of you a hanky and half an hour of my life.”

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2017-10-23 new flower - shocking color R

FLORA – Austin got this new flower that he just loves.  The colors are even more vibrant than the photo shows.

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FAUNA –  Attention, Alice!  (my 7-year-old wannabe entomologist)  New bugs!

No, I don’t know what they are – either of them.  Maybe Alice will find out for me and have her mom send me an email.

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One other bit of farm news:  FIRE !  An irresponsible neighbor set a fire this week that crept onto our property and was climbing the hill and up the valley.  Junia and our neighbor Sanjay had to work for Three Hours creating fire breaks to keep it from catching out Sanjay’s cows, our coconuts and Junia’s permaculture site.  Sheesh!

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Happy week, everybody.  We have more official visitors supposed to arrive in a few hours.  If yes, you’ll get a photo and a report in the next blog.


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19 October 2017

2017-10-16 Biosecurity R

Real farm stuff – a Biosecurity team came from Suva to inspect Austin’s chicken operation.  So far so good!  He has to re-purpose one chicken villa that is too close to the hatchery, otherwise his set-up is perfect.   Now they need to send one officer to draw blood for salmonella testing, and if that is clear, Austin will have the permit to export his Super-Jungli chicks to other countries.  Yay!

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It is a mad house here as we get ready for a huge community celebration for the 200th anniversary of Baha’u’llah’s birth (a Baha’i holy day).   I planned to bake 10 cakes, and the oven door was falling off.   Luckily it is Diwali, and I could hit the DIWALI  SALES !

2017-10-18 diwali new stove

Ta da!

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More getting ready.   I was in charge of varnishing the pieces of a beautiful bamboo lamp that a Teitei guest sent to us.

2017-10-14 lamp pieces R

It took all my ingenuity to find a way to hang and separate them:  heavy thread, drinking straws, paper clips and indoor clothes lines.  (ok, Austin suggested the straws and Monica suggested the clothes lines….)   It was still a messy job!

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And now for the gazebo, henceforth known as the Teitei Pavillion – ALMOST ready to be unveiled.   The deadline is our celebration on this coming Saturday night.  I thought I’d have some All-Done photos, but it is still in progress.  Ha ha, Fiji time…

My dear brother Jeswant offered to let Austin buy the beautiful end of our hill, and our friends Patti and Poova Murday generously gave some money for us to build a gazebo.  Austin’s plan got considerably more elaborate – and I have a few photos that show the time line.

2017-07-19 gazebo 1 R

July 19  First posts in.

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August 1   Roof framing up.

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August 24   Framing for the cupola up.

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September 19   Entire roof is on.   This is a view looking up from the middle.

2017-10-11 gazebo 5 R

October 11   Floor is poured, benches are going in.

2017-10-18 gazebo 7 R

Last night!   Here is that beautiful globe lamp.   Unfortunately we cannot let it hang because it is so windy on the hill.

2017-10-18 gazebo 6 R

And the rope lights that Austin is having installed around the edges of both roofs – to be turned on for the holy days of all our neighbors as a source of joy to the neigborhood.   Note:  the photo shows work in progress – that will not be the finished look.

Will we actually be done by Saturday night?    …. Stay tuned.

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Happy Diwali.  Happy Twin Birthdays.  And a very happy week to you all.

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12 October 2017

2017-10-10 a kid on the road R

I’ve been out on foot a lot this week, and I’ve met some interesting fauna on the road.   I don’t know whose little kid this is, but he sure is cute!

And then there was plaintive mewling from the bushes – turned out it was our cat Teddy, very far from home.

2017-10-10 Teddy on the road Cr

He was scared of the dogs and scared of the cows, and wouldn’t let me carry him for more than a few meters at a time.  Anyway, I did finally shepherd him back to our property where he knows all the other animals.

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My first flower photo of the week was of this magnificent handicraft done by Aileen, mother of Kiki’s best friend.   She uses florist tape to put artificial flowers onto a large guava branch which is secured in a plastic potting bucket.

2017-10-09 Aileen's handicraft Cr

Aileen took her first flower trees to town last week and her first customer bought all five of them.

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The living flowers are loving the drought.

2017-10-11 bougainvillea a riot of color R

The bougainvillea is in full bloom everywhere – a riot of color.

2017-10-11 plumeria in the drought Cr

And the plumeria (frangipani) is still pumping out the flowers, even though the leaves are nearly all gone.

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It’s still cool at night, but really scorching by day.

2017-10-11 belly up in the heat R

Nuff said?

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May you all have a blessed and happy week.

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