“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Two years in New Zealand!

Wow, two years now. I think back to when I first arrived, and how weird I felt. I'm not sorry I moved, but I still think about and miss my friends in San Diego. I hope my friends and family aren't suffering too much from the historic failure of the US economy. I'm a bit freaked out by the train crash in LA that injured many and killed a bunch of people recently. The same thing could happen here- there are single tracks along the route that accomodate trains going both directions. Even the same company, Veolia Transport, is operating the trains here. I still continue to commute to and from work on the train. I pay $160 for a monthly pass. My drive to the station is about 3 minutes, the train comes every 15 minutes, and the ride to my stop is about 50 min. The walk to the hospital is about 10 min. I like avoiding the hassle of finding parking and dealing with traffic. As a bonus, I am getting a lot of reading done. I read The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and felt like I needed a companion Spanish-English Urban Dictionary to decipher some of the text. The book is about a Dominican boy/man looking for love, despite a curse on his family/culture. Lots of dark and dirty history there, too. I also requested the library get Mary Roach's new book, Bonk, The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex and they did! Yay for the Waitakere Library! I really enjoyed Bonk, but it could have been another 600 pages. I think I should write a sequel. Her first book, Stiff, The Secret Life of Human Cadavers, is still my favorite. Highly recommended. Now I'm reading Eiger Dreams by John Krakauer, a collection of short essays about men and mountain climbing. The book was handy, and is filling the gap until I get the next library book, Persepolis. This will be another history-rich fiction, which I tend to prefer.

Spring is definitely here. We've been spending almost every weekend at the farm. We just go for a day, stopping at the Italian Bakery in Kaiwaka on the way. Check us out in our new coveralls! We are kicking ourselves for not getting them sooner.
The photos below show the erosion along the banks of the stream through our property as a result of the heavy rains this winter, and the evidence of flooding. On the plus side, we now have a more sandy bottom.

We plan to put in a small bridge across the stream at the corner shown below, from the tree to where I and the dogs are hanging out. In our hikes around the land, we found that we have several more swampy areas than we'd known about. I hope they'll dry out some, or we'll be sucked dry by mosquitoes. Because the land is pasture for cows and sheep, there are ticks. We found lots of tiny baby ticks on the dogs and Darin. The dogs are getting treated with Frontline for the forseeable future. We've developed some ideas for where to put the fencing, to break the land into 4 grazing paddocks. The orchard is currently being fenced, thanks to assistance from our awesome neighbor Don. Darin planted two avocado trees last weekend, and there seems to be room for 2 more. I am advocating for an apricot.
In my previous blog I mentioned the 9 turkeys we shot and butchered. Their scent seems to appeal to Ruby, now that she's eaten plenty of raw turkey meals. We saw her tracking instinct kick in as we walked uphill toward where we'd seen the turkeys retreat when we arrived. I thought that they'd crossed the fence to the neighbor's paddock, but they were still there. She never saw them, only scented them in the grass, until they took off about 20 feet away. These wild turkeys can fly pretty well, but not very far. Still, we never expected that she would have the ability to chase one of them from one end of the property to the other, but she did. She must have surprised one on the initial charge, and trapped it in the ravine. Darin put the bird out of her misery, and butchered it for the dogs when we returned home. Ruby was so proud of herself! She and I are now going to the Dogsport (Schutzhund) club in Auckland, as a way to focus her drive into obedience training.
The following weekend we went to the land, Darin and I worked on her recalls, and I kept her on a short leash for a short walk. We didn't see any turkeys around, so I let Ruby off leash, and she was totally fine. I had been concerned that she would run off looking for the turkeys, but she didn't. She is getting so big.
We've done a bit of work in the garden at home. Darin put chickenwire around the perimeter to keep the dogs and chickens out. I turned the soil, pulled out the lemongrass (it might survive in the pot) and all the weeds, and mixed in the compost. We planted lettuce and carrot seeds, spring and yellow onions, silverbeet (chard), and garlic. I've never grown garlic before, and it may be too late to be planting it (should be put out in winter), so I'm curious to see what happens. I collected a bag of espresso grounds from the coffee shop in the hospital and put it into the new batch of compost I made.
My sister Barb was recently back in the US. I ordered a pound of the Bold Taco seasoning from Penzey's, had it sent to my sister in Minnesota, and Barb brought it back. Yay! Darin and I are huge fans. The fajita seasoning is also great.
Asparagus season is here, and I've been using our fresh eggs for asparagus and cheese omelettes. YUM! Tomorrow I'm going to make a (wild) turkey and asparagus strata with cheese.