Monday, August 7, 2017

Bit of a catchup...


So things have been a bit quiet on the farm, two factors... first, loads and loads of rain making things difficult for planting, and second having the fencing contractors for the past six weeks has meant I have been unable to do any of the raised beds or put up the grow tunnels as they have required the room for their giant tractor to move around the paddocks to do posts and other jobs. Thankfully the fencing is nearing completion so I will be able to dive in to the construction projects.

We have also had two major jobs done to the house... the installation of the HRV and the insulation in the roof and under the floors... the house is so much warmer and drier as a result.

We went on a road trip to Te hana nursery to pick up the majority of our fruit trees... peaches, plums, tamarillos, passionfruit , pomegranate, blueberries, raspberries, and some of the olives... more to come in October hopefully. Our citrus arrived a couple of weeks ago thanks to our good friends coming to visit from Kerikeri, but alas due to the ground being too wet at present I have not been able to plant them out 😒. Don't get me wrong, we absolutely love it here, just wish it wasn't so wet... we are getting used to it but it makes planting a mission.

Anyway, this is just a quick update to say we are still loving our new life, and feeling blessed that we have been able to follow our dreams. Hopefully now the fencing is done I will be able to progress more with the infrastructure so I can get plants and seeds in the ground and growing for spring.

Catch you all again soon, brightest blessings to you all,
Bye for now.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Weeks three and four...


Sorry I didn't get a post up last week... not a lot to really report from week four due to bad weather... loads of rain and wind. On the other hand this has given me time to source the fruit trees and to figure out what seeds we need to produce yummy fruit and vegetables that are grown using permaculture organic principles. All of the roses we have ordered have arrived and are waiting for the raised beds to be built so they can be planted. The wood arrived for the raised beds as well... lots of building coming up so things will get exciting soon... planning is all well and good but when I can put things into action, it all becomes more real. I have also started the journey again of giving up smoking which has been a challenge at times... I am getting there though.


The garlic and shallots crops have begun to sprout... yay 😊 thankfully the beds are raised so drainage is better given the torrential downpours we have been having lately... it's not too cold to be honest... just wet, muddy and sometimes quite windy.

I have also started making our fertilisers... the first is comfrey tea... simply ferment comfrey leaves in water for a couple of months... I have used our old rain water tank to do this... we have a few comfrey plants on the property which is fantastic... I will keep adding leaves to the tank and topping up as need be to ensure a continual supply... the second is a seaweed mix... we collected some seaweed from Ngunguru (getting out and exploring our new home region whilst looking for potential fishing grounds 😁)... for this you need to rinse the seaweed in fresh water a few times then soak overnight in fresh water to remove excess salt... I then gather some dock leaves (great for trace elements and minerals) and add to the seaweed in a large bin... chop it all up a bit to aid breakdown... I also added so broken up shells for added calcium... fill with water... mix... and leave to ferment for a couple of months... when ready you dilute either mix with water at a rate of 10 parts water to 1 part fertiliser and water over garden beds... next will be the compost system and getting the worm farm going again!!    

I am also starting to get some home vege and herb beds sorted...

I am going to leave you with a few pics of the property for you to have a looksie at... including the progress on the fencing thus far... until next time, peace, love and bright blessings 🏡🌹❤️🌈 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Week three... the first crops are in :)

Heya... we have really settled into our new life here at Parakao Cottage Farm 😌 Loving every minute of our new journey.

This week saw the establishment of our first crops... garlic and shallots planted as per tradition on the shortest day of the year (the winter solstice or Yule for my witchy people). The weather this week has been rather dicey. Lots of rain has meant that the ground is rather sodden, but at least the main water tanks are full 😊. This week was also focused on planning the future crops and fruit trees, sourcing timber for the raised beds (lots of wild rabbits around so hopefully raised beds will deter them a little), and arranging our own custom soil blend to fill said beds with. While it is not entirely in fitting with the organic way of growing, bringing in soil to the property, it is more of a starting point... next on the agenda is the establishment of a compost system, the restart of the worm farm and the starting of our own liquid fertilisers using comfrey and seaweed, so that we can amend our soil as needed and feed our crops in a sustainable system. My plan is to create an organic system that supports itself for the most part. We will still need to bring in certain organic inputs such as copper and lime sulphur sprays to deal with fungal issues, organic spraying oils and pest insect control measures (at least until we can establish a good beneficial insect population to assist in control) and when we can animal manures for the compost. We also need to look at how to make the most of our tank water system which will mean a visit from a specialist soon to help us out.

This week also saw the start of us setting up the legal side of the business 🤗 Parakao Cottage Farm Limited is all official 😍

I am still fuming about the state of our old rose garden, but am taking solice in the fact that our new home will have a stunning rose garden once I get the beds sorted... lots of new roses to plant, many of our old favourites and a few new ones to cultivate 🌹🌹🌹🌹 The plan is to create various beds, including a rainbow gradient 🌈 bed, an old world/historic rose bed and a few others... I am also rejoining the rose society so that I can look into showing my roses in competition and to network with likeminded people... I am also going to get back into rose breeding as it is so much fun and could lead to another avenue of business if I get some nice new roses growing.

I thought I would share with you my process of regenerating a tired garden bed the organic way... this is my method after doing a lot of research and study (my MIT Diploma in horticultural management came in very handy here) but is by no means the only way to do things 🤗

This is what the bed looked like before I started... a weedy overgrown mess with wooden boards scattered through...

First job was to remove the weeds, boards and other bits and pieces from the bed...

I then applied lots of organic goodness to the soil... pelletised sheep manure, blood and bone, roksolid seaweed blend (a mix of natural fertilisers fortified with seaweed) and Natures own fertiliser (a blend of all the trace elements that plants need and would likely be lacking in the soil profile). I allowed this to settle for the night as we had a little rain come through which helped distribute the nutrients into the soil.

The next stage was plenty of compost (in this case 2 cubic metres or 17 wheelbarrow loads) dug into the bed...

Because the compost was well processed I was able to dig through and plant on the same day...thankfully the weather held off for me as it was the day of the winter solstice and I really wanted to get the first crops in on time...

Now to let nature do its thing so we have a wonderful harvest of garlic and shallots come the summer solstice 🤗😍

This week will see the start of the pruning of the existing fruit trees, finalising the fruit tree order, wood order, seed ordering, working out where the roses will go and if the wood arrives getting the beds built, soil ordering if time permits, and figuring out the grow tunnel set up, so another busy week in store... So, my friends, I hope you all have a wonderful week... until next time... peace and love xo

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Week two... All of our animals are home!!!


So, we are happily ensconced in rural life... have I said we absolutely love it here!!

This past week has been focused on fully settling in and getting the last of the main unpacking done... I still have my craft room to sort out but that can only be done once we finish off the refurbishing of the sleepout.

Our first crops (garlic and shallots) will be going in soon (aiming for the winter solstice), I have half the existing raised bed weeded and dug over ready to add organic goodness into, so this week will see me focus on completing the rest of the bed so planting can commence. Once this is done I can start on the first of our berry beds... yummy raspberries kindly given to us from our dear friend. She also gave us the shallots to plant too.

We had to make a last trip to Auckland on saturday to pick up our chooks and bunnies... our aforementioned friend had been looking after them for us while we got the coop sorted. We also ended up with a new girl,  aptly named road runner, raising our brood up to five... the girls,  as we affectionately call them, will hopefully love this first version of the coop, another run will be added sometime in the near future as we acquire more birds (particularly meat birds)... I also have plans to build a chicken tractor so the girls can do their part in the organic vegetable beds.

The bunnies are also very happy, though we have had a few funny looks when we have mentioned to the locals that we have pet rabbits... the thing is their manure is great for the compost and can even be added directly into the garden without having to age it first, so the bunnies play an important role in the fertility of the vege beds... and they are damn cute too lol.

This past week also saw the restart of my cheese making... Camembert and blue vein YUMMY 😋 hoping to maybe get hold of some raw milk from the locals so I can try my hand at farmhouse cheddar 😋

Other highlights from the past week include... new curtains in the lounge and bedroom... an enjoyable shopping day in Whangarei (knitting and craft supplies, house bits and pieces, clothes, and some Lego)... rose shopping (missing our old rose garden which has sadly been partly destroyed by the new owners 😔... we popped by the old place while we were down in Auckland to have a snoop... wish we didn't as most of the front garden has been removed including my favourite rose Love heart 😒grrrrr)... catching up with our wonderful friend in Auckland... finally getting the bookcase sorted (yay for home libraries).

We did have one small disaster though... due to needing to get the chicken coop sorted for the girls when we returned home from Auckland, we had to work into the night... we thought it wouldn't hurt to use the lights from the car given it had been run all day so the battery should be charged up... nope we were wrong 😩 Car would not restart so we had to make a mad dash into town for a new battery. Thankfully the warehouse superstore we have in Whangarei had the right one, especially seeing as we need the car and trailer to pick up compost and timber so I can continue my work this week... really gave us the food for thought re living rurally... small things if left unchecked or making assumptions can prove to be your own undoing... we are all sorted now but lesson learnt... need to invest in a long extension cord so we can make use of the work lamp whilst outside in the dark if need be.
Anyways a new week beckons... until next time, peace, love and bright blessings to you all xo

Friday, June 9, 2017

It all begins...

Heya ☺️

So, we are settling in nicely in our new home out in the wopwops, Parakao to be precise, around 30 minutes west of Whangarei. It's beautiful here, so relaxing and peaceful, apart from the odd possum... yes I had an encounter with one on our second night... popped outside and he was foraging in a tree for monkey apples, I obviously startled him as he let out such a shriek that I nearly pooped myself... I went back out with a torch to actually see the offending opera singer, he (now I am assuming it's a boy) grumbled at me having disturbed his forage and slinked back into the tree more. Speaking of local wildlife... so many birds!!! A full chorus of nesting birds herald the days end from the conifer shelter belt... this will be good when I am out working in the fields as it tells me I have around half and hour of good daylight left... we also have a lot of wild bunnies running around that tease Dakota (our beautiful dog... when she is behaving... although we can't really blame her or the cats for being a little stir crazy as they are inside all the time, apart from walks to go toilet or to let out some energy... for Dakota anyway... the cats seem happy enough lapping up the sun all day).

Moving was fun, but hard work, and we were lucky that we had no rain in Auckland while packing the truck, it pissed down on our way up, but when we arrived the rain stopped for us to unload, and low and behold the rain started again just as the boys were closing up the truck. A few trips back and forth to pick up plants, a visit from dear friends to drop a trailer load off to us and take us back to pick up the other car, then one more trip to get the last plants and of course he puppy!!!

The house itself is coming along nicely, kitchen, dining room (less the chairs), bedroom, lounge, bathroom and my altar room are all pretty much unpacked... a couple of boxes to go. We found that we have no linen cupboard so have had to improvise in the spare room (still a work in progress) so the wardrobe will be used for that (sorry in advance to people who come to stay... we can't have you for the long haul 😜). We are also figuring out the fire place... we started with some odds and ends from the farm, then bought some fire logs that were painful until we chopped them up a bit, then they burn too fast grrrrr so we bit the bullet and bought two cubic metres of hot mix (pine and eucalyptus) which should keep us going for a while until we get a chainsaw to deal with the large logs we have on the property.

This week my focus is on sorting out the last parts of the house that need unpacking... including sorting out the books for the bookcase; tidying up the sleepout so that renovations can commence; getting the chicken coop sorted; getting back into my cheesmaking; beginning the pruning and tidy up of the garden and orchard; starting to figure out the market garden and large orchard plans for the property now that I can actually see where everything is... so I will be busy busy busy!!!!!!

We really do feel like we are home and thanks to the cafe across the road we are feeling like a part of the community... Friday nights are our dine out night and with the cafe being straight across the road it's super convenient 😊 We have met a few locals and they are all so nice and friendly... real New Zealand hospitality!!

I hope to do weekly blog updates so please do check back... this will be updates, observations and occurances as we learn and grow in our new rural life 😍

So until next time (and hopefully will figure out how to attach photos in the next post)... love, light and brightest blessings to you all xo