NZ farm


What do you reckon Dear Reader? Think I should cook these up for dinner tonight?

I haven’t seen these sorts of mushrooms on the property before. I’ve seen other types of mushrooms – like these and these red and white spotted numbers. When I saw that last mushroom in the front yard, I nearly had hysterics as I was pretty sure (after Dr Googling) it was a toxic Fly Agaric.

As luck would have it, a high school mate of mine is an expert on fungus. Even has a PhD in fungi. We recently reconnected following a high school reunion in Australia (which I didn’t attend). She saw my name on the list and then found me on Facebook. We had a Skype chat and it was like yesterday talking to her. The years just melted away.

So I posted the photo below to her page and she told me that the mushrooms look the Armillaria species, which grow on living wood/roots. She also advised not to eat them – ah, wasn’t planning to anyway!

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Regular readers know that every October, I wait for the cherry blossom in the front garden to awake from its Winter slumber. For me, it signals the start of warm weather. This week, I started to see buds and, a few days later, some blossoms.

The tree is not yet in full bloom and I’ll post a photo when that happens. In the meantime, there’s evidence of Spring all around!

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Cherry Blossom is waking up!

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No idea of the name of these flowers but they are a gorgeous fuchsia colour.

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Quince tree.

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Zeph is enjoying more time outdoors to explore.

 

If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember the bottles of Aussie milk home-delivered by the milkman and usually left by the front gate. By the time you went to pick up the bottles, you’d probably find the local Currawongs had pecked the pretty silver tops of the bottles and presumably taken a sip or two. The funny thing is that the milk might have been left out for a couple of hours but no-one freaked out about this. And the top of the milk was what every kid wanted because it was creamy.

You also might remember glass bottles of full cream milk being delivered in crates to Aussie schools. It was common to see the crates lying out in the sun, maybe for a couple of hours before recess. But we kids still drank a bottle a day and lived to tell the tale.

And then the local milkman and the school milk disappeared and you schlepped to the supermarket to get your pasteurized and homogenized milk, which in comparison to the full cream milk I grew up with, is well-nigh tasteless.

Since arriving in NZ, we’ve gone back to real milk. In this case, raw milk. Straight from the house cow (a cow that provides milk for the household). The ideal raw milk is taken straight from a cow that has been fed only fresh, organic, green grass. The milk is rapidly cooled and doesn’t require any form of processing.

Of course, the medical community waxes lyrical about the dangers of unpasteurized milk. There are dire warnings that raw, unpasteurized milk can carry dangerous bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. And yes, raw milk can contain bacteria IF certain high standards are not followed and if cows are commercially raised, fed an unnatural diet and pumped full of BGH (bovine growth hormone).

Recently, a raw milk venture set up at a local farm, complete with milk vending machines, and we get our milk from here now. In glass bottles and from grass fed cows. To ensure no contamination, very high standards of hygiene have been put in place. You can about it here. On Opening Day, people came from Christchurch to get litres of raw milk and all the milk was sold out by 2.00pm that day.

Interestingly, I’ve had no hayfever this year and we’re well into hayfever season. We have three hayfever seasons here – September, December and March – and you can literally see all the pollen floating in the air. I’ve been taking a teaspoon or more of locally-produced honey every day since August. I read if you ingest small amounts of local honey, it might encourage your immune system to build up resistance to the pollen you are allergic to. Local cows produce their milk after chomping their way through the local grass, so it makes sense that drinking raw milk may also help to build up the immune system. Raw cow’s milk has all 20 of the standard amino acids and there’s a ton of other benefits, although it might be advisable for pregnant women not to drink raw milk.

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Zsa Zsa is a mighty huntress. She can spend HOURS in our three bay hay barn, patiently waiting for pesky barn mice. She’ll stand on top of a stack of hay and listen; turning her head ever so slightly as she hears the movement of tiny mice deep in the hay stack. I imagine it’s a city of mice within the hundreds of bales.

Barn mice are a part of farm life, like it or not. I’ve occasionally seen mice quickly scurry into a hay bale as I approach the barn. Zeph leaps onto a stack of hay and furiously digs. He just likes the action and the excitement of possibly finding barn mice. Zsa Zsa, however, has a strategy – she goes to a particular section of the hay barn, then she listens and waits. For as long as it takes.

The other day, I saw her literally leap from on high and then she froze, with her front left paw extended. Turns out it she was pinning a barn mouse to the ground (having already killed it by what means I’m not sure). Zeph rushed to her side and tried to wrestle the mouse from her vice-like grip but to no avail.

Zsa Zsa took off with the mouse and it ended up on the grass in front of the hay barn. She was no longer interested in it but was not about to let Zeph have fun with it. I’m afraid the poor mouse was left by Zsa Zsa as the mighty huntress returned to the hunt. All this hunting is tiring work though and Zsa Zsa was later found snoozing under a blanket.

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Zsa Zsa brings her kill to the grass in front of the hay barn.

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RIP poor dead barn mouse.

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The mighty huntress returns to the scene of the crime and buries her head in the hay stack.

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It’s tiring work; I need a snooze.

Way back in 2011, when Mabel had her goat babies, they were tiny little kids. Now look at them!

When Marty came with Cathy on his latest visit, he checked out Mabel, Rupert, Latte and Cocoa. All four are the sweetest things. Very affectionate and tame. I love playing and spending time with them. Cocoa (the brown one) used to be very shy but she’s far more confident now and is usually first to come up for a pat and cuddle. Rupert likes to butt his head against my leg occasionally, whilst Mabel and Latte demand to be patted under the neck. Too cute!

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Marty checks out the goat family.

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Mabel and Cocoa pose for the camera.

Zsa Zsa is NOT happy. We’re into our second day of wild weather. One minute it’s snow; the next minute it’s rain; then strong winds. A polar blast has most certainly hit us.

Zeph LOVES running and playing in the snow. Zsa Zsa goes out for one moment but then rushes back inside to the warmth. She spends her days snuggling into a variety of fleecy dog blankets. Zeph will come inside every now and then – usually to get a bone so he can spend an hour or so in the warmth.

By all accounts, we’re two thirds of the way through this blast of foul weather. On Sunday, we are expecting to see an unusual object – THE SUN. Yippee! And we will get at least four or five days of sunny weather.

I’m just hoping it’s enough to dry things out. The horses are doing okay. They turn their backs to the rain and snow. I stabled them all the first night because the wind chill factor was a bit worrying.

It would be all quite exciting – this snow stuff – if it was only for one day. But three days is starting to get on the nerves!

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Outside is a blanket of snow but inside is a very happy English Pointer, snuggled up.

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What’s a dog to do when it’s snowing all the time? Come inside for a bone of course!

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First light of Day 2 – Zsa Zsa inspects the scene outside and is NOT happy. Look at the top of the photo – brrrr!

A local farmer has his herd of cows with us at the moment. It’s one of those value exchange things that rural New Zealand loves. It goes like this – to have your lady cow serviced by a bull costs X amount of money. But if you provide grass for the bull plus some other cows and if the bull accidentally services the lady cow, then there’s no exchange of money. The bull and cows get a holiday on another property, chew through the grass and the bull has its way with lady cows on that property.

Everyone is happy. Our lady cows enjoy the company of a handsome bull and hopefully we end up with calves in nine months. The local farmer who owns the bull is happy because his bull is enjoying a holiday on a property with lush grass (and his other cows who came along are also munching). And, of course, the bull is ecstatic.

But Bridget and Francis are far from happy. These two cows belong to a friend of ours. They long-term graze with us in exchange for various tasks such as helping us at hay-making time, moving cows, spraying weeds and so on. That’s how it works in rural NZ.

The bull made eyes at Bridget and Francis but they are having no part of this bull business. Both of them remain apart from the herd. Normally, they’re glued to our cow, Splash, and our steer, Jack. But Splash has abandoned them in favour of the bull.

Every time I check on the herd, I find Bridget and Francis lurking around the gate whilst the rest of the herd is way down the paddock. As you can see from their expression, it’s no bull for these girls!

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