Day 1 – Otamatea

We arrived at Sabine and Wolfgang’s house in Otamatea eco-village at 12.30pm for a week week stay. We were greeted with a wonderful lunch of homemade cheese, chickpea casserole and bread. with coffee and tea afterwards. After lunch we unpacked and then got right into work.
Firstly I deflowered all the Chamomile bushes then did the most physical labor I have done in a very very long time.

With gardening fork in hand I loosened up the soil of a new garden bed. This involved digging the fork into the firm soil, wiggling it forward and backwards and little side to side and continuing that motion in strips down and along a bed about 3 square meters (1 meter x 3 meters) and also weeding it, separating the noxious weeds from the compostable weeds. Then I helped Sarah to sift the compost through a wire mesh frame, throwing the big lumps back into the newer compost piles to continue breaking down and shoveling the wonderful rich compost from under the frame onto another pre-prepared garden bed.

(I did that bed on the left in front of the green fence)

We had a chance to inspect the difference between the garden compost and the composting toilet’s compost. Both have a very similar end product and overall richness, although you don’t want to dig too far down into the newly made compost toilet’s offerings as it does start to smell just a little. The compost from the loo was placed around the fruit trees as it’s not recommended to plant your vegetables into human compost.
I spent the rest of the afternoon playing with Jess, a very excitable little dog who thinks fetch means she gets the stick and teasing you with it but is stupid enough to drop the stick she has if you pick up another one, dogs are so great. Craig finished helping empty the compost loo, scattered it around fruit trees, weeded around them and mulched them with more of the pond scum and had a great deal of fun slashing at the grass with the scythe.
Later we helped feed the chickens. There are 3 sets of chicken feeding to do. Two sections have 4 hens and 1 rooster each, they got a small container of dry feed and one lot got the protein/carb rich scraps from the kitchen (this gets rotated between each coop). The third group is a hen and her clutch of 5 babies (only one is “hers”). These guys have to be kept in an enclosed area as they are still too small and thus prey to hawks (but they are oh so cute). We collected around 7 eggs, this is about the daily average for these hens.
In the evening I helped prepare a dinner of roast vegetables – pumpkin, beetroot, garlic, purple potatoes which Sabina coverd later in an almond, sesame seed dressing that was to die for. She also (baked?) a cabbage cut into quarters and the four of us had one hunk of cabbage and loads of vegetables and some scrambled egg slices (ok so the egg wasn’t actually scrambled but it wasn’t exactly fried eggs either). It was surprised at home much I enjoyed this meal. Partly because I had helped prepare it, partly because it was delicious and a lot because I knew the how much real effort went into it being there at all.
It was an early night to bed for us after all that with the day only just reaching dark. Dishes, bath, bed!

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