Day 2 – Otamatea

As last night I was down with with the sun it is only natural that I was up with the sun this morning and bounced outside with my newly repaired camera to take some photos of what looked to be a stunning day. The light was gorgeous, the scenery inspiring, the camera – still broken! Grrr. Thank goodness we had the little point and shoot with us or I would have been a mightily pissed of shutter bug (ok I’m still pissed off but at least I’m pissed off with some photos).

The dogs took me for about a half hour walk before we arrived home to find the rest of the house (include Craig!) awake. It was about 7am. Sabina and Wolfgang had headed down to the cow pasture and Craig was admiring the morning view. I had a new experience for breakfast courtesy of Sabina. Over night she had soaked the muesli in water with sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and almonds and served it with home made yogurt and steamed/preserved apples & raisins. My body will take time to get used to something like this for breakfast, it was a little uncomfortable about eating a cold breakfast, relieved at there being no milk, but still unsure how to deal with this new food as well as my juice and various pills and powders, I had a very difficult time swallowing them all. If I wasn’t taking the pills and powders I think I would have enjoyed the breakfast a little more, especially with a nice cup of tea or warmed apples. I will try it again tomorrow morning at least.
This mornings work involved us wondering down to one of the communal paddocks and attempting to de-thistle some of it. Unfortunately it’s a little late to really do much good since many of the thistles had all ready gone to flower and by digging them out your really only preparing open soil for their seeds. A few weeks earlier and another 20 odd helpers and the job would have been done quickly.
Mid morning we sifted more compost for the bed I had prepared yesterday and then we added mulch (pond weed that had been drawn off the pond the week before and left to dry out). It looks great on the new beds, makes them look really rich and ready for new plants.
Lunch! A delicious meal of home baked bread, home made cheeses, salami, preserves, fresh brewed coffee and ginger biscuits. I was in heaven with the cheeses. I got to help prepare the fetta cheese which was rather exciting and makes me feel a little less nervous about attempting some cheese making myself. Here they make cheese about once or twice a week.
I have learnt today that you need about 3 litres of cream to make 2 sticks of butter (that’s about the size of my hand each and about 2-3 inches high). To make 60-80ml of cream (without using a centrifuge which will get you a little more cream but you end up with skim milk) you need around 1 litre of cows milk.
Sabine and Wolfgang have been on this property for about 9 years. They are self sufficient in milk, eggs, cheese and most of their fruits and vegetables. They have put a lot of work into this place and they are only just now getting the fuller benefits out of it. There are eventual plans for a glass house for seedraising, growing rice and grain but this will go through the stages of a research project first to see the viability of it. I believe with Craig and I, we go through 50 kilos of white flour, plus about 25 kilos each of wholemeal and rye flours and around 25 kilos of rice. It will be interesting to find out how much rice and grain we need to grow to satisfy these needs.
I’ve also discovered that an annual supply of garlic would require around 2.5 beds of 6 square meters each (and that’s for people who probably aren’t nearly as obsessed with garlic as I am – perhaps an acre of garlic would be good, lol).

I’m in turns enlivened and disheartened by our stay so far. Their is so much work in self-sufficiency, but at the same time it’s immensely satisfying. I’m enjoying feeding the chickens (which is now our morning and evening job), I’m adoring having dogs to play with again and completely astounded with my own level of health and ability, I feel healthier and more alive then I have in over 2 years (in fact even before I got so sick). It’s just amazing and wonderful and I’m trying hard to combat my overwhelming desire to be lazy and desire to not get dirty (ick mud and cow poo ahhh).
One of the other areas I’m trying to get my head around is electricity and the decision to be on the grid just drawing straight of it, being on the grid and feeding power from your own solar panels and wind mills etc back into it or producing all your own power. I’m so used to my electrical devices, my laptop, my sewing machine and overlocker, the hair shaving thingo, lights, fridge, microwave, mobile phone and camera rechargers and then come the power tools. These guys use 8 solar panels running and they don’t have a fridge although they do have a deep freezer (which takes up about half the power they produce) and they couldn’t really run “real” power tools (router’s, jointers etc) on this system. They also have solar hotwater and a wetback on the wood stove (they have a wood stove and gas hot plates). Apparently if we added a diesel generator to our setup and made the biodesil ourselves that has enough power to run our tools. I’m so glad the rest of my “hobbies” don’t require much power.
I must remember to check tonight if the cooler draws they use (rather then a fridge) will make my bottle of Chardonnay cold or do I need to stick it in the freezer first (added later – if I put it in the night before then it will. The fridge boxes are basically fish buckets in insulated draws with a drain underneath to catch water condensation drips and they are kept cold with blocks from the freezer, they are giant chilly bins basically).

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