Sunday, November 25, 2012

Summer is on the way

Excuse my lack of a post yesterday. I had a very busy afternoon because I escorted Zanny to her maternity paddock over at Becky, the specialist equine reproduction vet's house. She went in the big horse truck, and needed two horse cubicles to accommodate her big tummy. She wasn't too pleased about the whole business until she disembarked and saw the lovely grass in her paddock. I am so glad that she is safely at Becky's house now because she will have the best of care. Becky said she has a few days to go, so I'll be popping in to visit during the week because she is five minutes from here. 

Delivering Zanny was only part of my interesting afternoon. We drove to Astek Stud after the drop off to check out an extremely handsome 3 year old gelding. This photo is off the Astek website. 
He was having a nap lying down when we arrived, and was super friendly when we went to catch him. Astek is a very posh operation. They have three amazing Warmblood stallions, and produce top quality horses. The owner was absolutely lovely, and obviously loves her horses. She took Wilbur, as he is called (Gemtime is his show name), to a huge rectangular arena where he was let loose to do his own thing so Emily could check out his paces. And he certainly put on a show. He is unbroken and was rather desperate to get back to where he could see the other horses, so thundered up and down calling, spinning around, and generally looked extremely handsome and powerful. I think Emily would have written out a cheque immediately if she had the money. He is certainly a gorgeous boy. I'd love it if Em buys him, but one of my other horse friends might have to go first. 

Mousie has been enjoying life, as usual. He likes to lie on Miss Dog's various beds. 
 Inspecting the backyard from Miss Dog's trampoline bed on the deck.
 I have been fortunate enough to be given several bunches of peony roses over the last fortnight. They grow well around here, but we don't have any in our garden, yet.
 We're having salads from the garden most days now.
 I ate the first snowpea today. I'm always fascinated by my artichokes too. I didn't realise that they come in lots of different shapes and vary in colour. I have three different kinds.

 The raspberries in my rampant raspberry corner are just starting to colour up. Summer is on the way.
And my roses are so divine this year. This is Grace in bud. 
 Then she opens up like this...
Here is Charlotte. She has this beautiful buttery colour when open. 
But before she opens fully she is very pale. Oh dear, don't look at the blackspot. I rarely spray.
 So pretty. I feel like getting married again so that I can have a huge bouquet of my roses.
 Or maybe I could save my money and buy more plants. I'd love lots more beautiful delphiniums. I only have this one.
 Now I've got clear evidence of stealthy pilfering by my strawberry thief. No wonder I never get any. Next year I think we need a raised strawberry patch. With burly security guard.

 The Crafty Family came over yesterday and helped clear part of my garden and The Crafty Neighbour cleaned out my pots ready for summer planting. What wonderful friends we have! Look, due to reminders from The Crafty Neighbour, I finally got my fence pots planted and the petunias are peeking out now. Exciting. I must keep them fed and watered.
 Well, this weekend has been Thanksgiving in the USA, and I am thankful for lots of things.

  • Johnny. The best husband in the world. 
  • My family - I can't wait to see them at Christmas time. 
  • Friends. It is lovely to work with my friends and to see friends every weekend. We've got wonderful friends.
  • Our lovely house and garden. My favourite place to be. 
  • My dear animal family- Miss Dog, Mousie and Zanny. Plus all of my other animal friends. 
  • Being interested in so many things.
  • Being able to create and learn new things.
  • Having a job that is usually interesting and worthwhile. Plus it pays for the above. 
There are so many things to be thankful for. No need to stuff and cook a turkey to remember that. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Big Vege Patch

We started the day with a bike ride around our village today. I loved it, and my bike, Aggie, zoomed along without a squeak or rattle. She had a service fairly recently, so she's lovely to ride. There have been some roads near the village that I have wanted to explore for ages, and today we did just that. There were lots of things to see, including horses! 

When we got home I had a panic because Johnny's laptop cord wouldn't fit my school laptop, and I needed to do some work on it. We ended up taking a trip to John's school to find the cord I needed, as my one was too far away for a quick trip, and my laptop was completely flat. The local Standardbred farm has masses of  mares with their dear wee foals, and we drove past on the way home. 

While I finished the last major paperwork job of my school year, Johnny whipped up some cupcakes. Aren't they gorgeous? 
 I love the spotty paper cases. We shared them with The Crafty Neighbours this afternoon over tea and coffee. Then we went over to admire their new tunnel house. It is big and fabulous. There was much discussion about how to support tomatoes and planting tasty things like passionfruit. I decided that my greenhouse is a little small for a passionfruit, so I have high hopes for the one across the road!

My Vegetable Empire is looking good, with plenty of things growing. This is the view from the back door. The lettuces are providing plenty of leaves, and I'm trying to think of good things to do with rainbow chard.
 Today I planted the first things in the large raised bed in the back garden. It was quite a battle to make the tepee as I had a fancy gadget to hold the poles together, and it made things a bit difficult for me. The plastic joints on the beast kept popping apart. I think old fashioned string may have been the way to go. I caught Johnny laughing at me struggling with it from the bedroom. Hmmm.
 The big bed above now has one cucumber, three squash plants (not trailing), peas, six tomato plants and six celery plants. There is room for more stuff too. The smaller of the back beds, shown below, has onions, cavolo nero (Tuscan black kale) and spinach plants. The climbing frame is just perching there temporarily
 Johnny got the automatic sprinkler controllers set up today. There is so much garden to cover that it is good to have part of the garden watering itself. We carefully bring the battery operated controllers in over winter because they are rather expensive to have facing the elements all year around.

Mouse thinks the pea straw on the big bed is very nice to roll around on. He had a great time racing around and hiding in the undergrowth today when I was weeding.
I'm very lucky because Johnny is so handy and made my raised beds. They are made with interlocking landscaping timber with decking timber (grip tread side down) on the top. He made boxed corners to finish them off to match the house. Because the timber is treated we lined them with plastic. We have lined previous beds with cardboard sheets on top of the grass, but didn't this time, due to the vast expanse and lack of available boxes. There is some soil in the bottom, along with green material like grass clippings. Then they are filled to the top with a mixture of pea straw and well rotted horse poo. I don't find I have any weed problems with poo. It stays moist underneath, but does tend to become very dry on the top on hot days, so is not so good to germinate fine seeds in because they sit in the dry layer and the tiny shoots die off. You could put a nice strip of seed raising mix into a trench set into the poo. 

I will need to keep working on building the soil regularly in my raised beds by adding compost, and basically anything nutritious that I can get my hands on. I like to feed my plants with organic liquid fertilizer too. Tomatoes enjoy their own special fertilizer for maximum fruit production. 

So I had a great afternoon digging for victory, and we had lettuces and radishes from the garden for tea. Come on tomatoes!  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Me and my girl

Today is what we call Show Day around here. It is a holiday in Canterbury, and the Canterbury A and P show is on currently. I went on Wednesday with five of my students, and we had a lovely time. We patted horses, donkeys, lambs and llamas and held baby turkeys. It was sunny, but not scorching hot or windy, so it was a very pleasant day. 

So, of course, I had to take advantage of the opportunity to go and visit my darling girl, who I think is rather fed up with being pregnant. She was very obliging, as always, but just looked a bit jaded. She also had the indignity of being given a drench in a big syringe, which she wasn't exactly delighted with. She looked like she had toothpaste around her mouth after that. 

Today Mrs CT was out visiting too, so she took some photos of Zanny and I having our usual brush and cuddle session. 
 Zanny wasn't smiling for the camera, as usual.
 Of course the cuddles were appreciated. By me, anyway.
 The foal was lying to her left side so her tummy stuck way out towards the left.
 Mrs CT was busy finding interesting things.
 After her drench, Zanny had a quick sniff at the grass and decided that she'd rather go straight back to the paddock. Usually she eats and eats in the lovely long grass. We're going out there for tea tonight, so I'm sure I'll get a chance to sneak out to the paddock to check on her.
I've been pottering around doing some scrapbooking when I get a chance. I finally did a wee page for Mr Mouse. These photos were the first ones I took of him when he came to visit. Dear wee man. 
This is a 6 pocket photo page. I put a panel in to write a note, which matches the borders on the other page above.
I got some very pretty papers recently. I have a matching pair of these lovely botanical style pages.
 They are tricky to use because they are just too pretty to cover or chop up.
 I found some lovely rose ones too. The front of this page is gorgeous.
And it has this on the reverse - the flowers are much smaller.
 This would have to be one of my favourite papers ever. I am planning to record all of my roses, and this would be the perfect paper for the title page or cover of a mini album.
 This is a cherry blossom paper. Of course I will put this year's cherry blossom photos on it.
 This paper is fun, with lots of old New Zealand stamps printed on it.
 And this one will probably come in handy for a beach trip or for a fishing photo. It probably won't be me fishing, but it could be Fisherman Jim or Cam and family.
 Mr Mouse and I had a little accident last night. He was being a very naughty boy about coming inside in the evening for bed. He evaded me for quite a while, then lay under a lavender bush, so I grabbed him. As I cuddled him and took him towards the door I realised that he was weeing. There was a trail of wee from the lavender bush all the way to the back door, and soaking through all of my clothes. Now, what cat wees lying down? Just another ridiculous cat related mishap in our time together.

I have been wanting to show off his beautiful tail for quite some time. He has it all bushed out constantly, and it is just divine to stroke.
His fur is very dark grey along his back and on the top of his tail.
But underneath it is very white. Surprise!
He really is a constant source of love and amusement. We treasure him every day.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cat in a Bag

Mr Mouse is a nosy little man. He decided to help me with some jobs and discovered that there was a lovely empty bag waiting just for him. 
 It is very cosy in a bag.
 And it even helps to hold a wayward tail in place for a wash.
 Today we got very busy on my new raised beds. We needed a final rich, four year old horse poo layer to give my vegetables a delicious nest to grow in. I threw in some pea straw too, for good luck. This photo is a bit of a shambles, but you can see how  things are shaping up.
 It won't be long before I can harvest things from these gardens, but meanwhile I am enjoying the divine blooms opening in lavish fashion in the back yard.

Grace  is rather late this year, as she is usually one of the first roses to appear. She has grown very tall, so I'll need to do a good trim at the end of the flowering season.
 This is Cornelia (or possibly Felicia), with Gertrude Jekyll  in the background. Stunning.
 And Penelope is always so pretty.
 The foxgloves are keeping the bumblebees busy.
 I have this climbing Cecile Brunner which is rather small currently, as I haven't had it long. I'll have to make sure it doesn't get ideas above its station.
 This is Perle D'or I think. I brought it from my old garden, and it is finally deciding that it likes it here. I love the soft apricot colour.
I can't believe the weekend is almost over. I have made a big pot of minestrone soup for tea. We have a holiday next Friday around here, so I'm already looking forward to that. At least I managed to see Zanny twice this weekend, because I headed up the paddock after our poo hunting mission, and handed out some apple to a very happy pregnant lady. Frazer wasn't impressed and spat it out, then harassed me all the way back down the paddock until I had to growl at him for nipping at me. He wanted carrot - none of that apple crap for him.

Mmm soup time.