Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Flowers, Leaves and Butterflies.

Today the sun is back. When I first spotted the monarchs there were 8 on these 2 flowers. By the time I went back to the house for the camera only 3 were still here. Obviously there is some tempting nectar in these mature Cunonia( butter knife bush ) flowers. Do you see the red butter knives too?

 At the weekend family were here and I got given a large bunch of orchids that had come from a commercial grower. The stems were not straight so they could not be export quality because of that. I just cut the stems down and now have a huge vase of orchids  - but not in the lounge where the fire is making things too warm...I want them to last.
 This is my favourite colour closely followed by the white with the hint of pink. My own orchids in the garden are in bud but not yet in flower. They get a bit chewed and knocked around being grown just in the garden.
 The wee Nashi ( Asian pear) tree ( planted in July 2010 ) has pretty Autumn leaves. I hope this year it may have it's first fruit. It is growing in the Home orchard which is some distance from the house. In the same area my Persimmons are still being eaten by other creatures - possums; and native birds - I am picking a few and ripening them inside otherwise there would be none for me and I love them. ( they turn bright orange when ripe )
 Also in this area is our lime tree and I collected the first few of them for this year.

It has been a great drying day and I got a full clothesline of washing completely dry by 3 pm. There was sun and a good breeze. That is always good after several wet days.
 On the quilting front the end is in sight. Tonight's hand sewing on the binding should see the job completed!

 Walnuts are still being collected and shelled. Almost finished dropping now.
 Walnut Tally = 4,386

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Selvage Quilt.

Firstly thank you for your comments and for the suggestions for motifs for the balls.

 Yesterday I collected my selvage quilt from Sandra at Quilt Crazy. She has done a wonderful job with the quilting. The brief I gave her was something curvy that I wouldn't be able to do myself, to make those big white spaces interesting. She exceeded that and decide to use the colours matching the selvage blocks. So there are feathers in each of the 12 colours on the  quilt ( twice ) It certainly took away the whiteness down the side where the white triangles stood out.  She decided that was a fun thing to do on a fun quilt. Clever lady isn't she? I like the backing fabric too and we used wool batting.  So I am 100% happy with her work. 

 I have the label made so now I need to decide on the binding - probably multi coloured - certainly not white, and get that on.
 Then I will try and show the entire quilt finished. 
 Meanwhile I have my dentist visit later this morning............

Friday, May 18, 2012

"Oh No!"

"Oh No!" You know what happened don't you?  While I was eating my lunch yesterday my only 10 day old,  $477 tooth filling broke off. So back to the dentist next week for I'm not sure what.( a crown? )

Now to more pleasant things....
 R wanted an apron that he could get really dirty ( and ruin maybe ) while he was doing a glueing job in the shed. This is what I made him from an old shopping bag.
 Cut down one lot of the side seams and fold up forwards to make some pockets . Cut off one set of handles from this part. Make 2  ties and sew into  next side seams of the edge pockets and there you go. Make more pockets by doing a double row of stitching. By the handle that became the neck strap I folded a triangle under and sewed it down. Time about 1/2 an hour. I suggested putting the advertising on the back but no this was more colourful.
 Wanting a bit of a change for hand sewing in the evenings I have gone back to making one of my felt embroidered  balls for babies..  this is number 21. I try to make them all original ( not any 2 exactly the same, although some motifs get repeated cause they just work well ) I needed some new motifs. I came up with a pea pod.
 It is not all that easy to think of suitable motifs that are not too detailed. Needs to be something that a baby might see and be able to say.  This ball so far has a sheep, a strawberry, a bunch of balloons and  a large single flower. There are 12 pentagons on each ball, so 12 motifs. ( any suggestions? )
 This morning a very pleasant Asian fellow named George from Chorus came to fix our very, very noisy telephone connection. It had more cackle than a trio of witches. He found the fault was down the road near the neighbours'  gateway and our wire was so corroded it fell apart when he touched it. We can now hear loud and clear again. Thanks George.
 The weather is pretty awful -  I feel for those kiwifruit growers who are still waiting to get their crop picked.
* Deb the fruit fly found in Auckland seems to be the only one found. Luckily it has had no impact on us or other growers exporting fruit. 

walnut tally = 4,278 ( and still dropping )

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Gun Stapler Who Did!

 This is our gun stapler today sitting back on it's shelf in the workshop ( R's shed ), where it lives most days. Last Friday it had to be rushed into service because mysteriously the one being used to attach the bin cards to the bins disappeared.
 Most of the time Rob the forkie , was doing that job but if he was busy loading bins, Brent the truckie would pick it up and staple on some cards.
 But then it wasn't there. Rob looked everywhere. I looked everywhere. Even silly places it was unlikely to be. I had a "girl" look! No. Not anywhere.  It wasn't on my outdoor office desk   ( really a picnic table )by the packet of staples ; it wasn't on any of the empty bins. It wasn't on the ground. It wasn't on the stack of full bins.
 " Where did you have it last, " I enquired? 
"When we loaded that last truck full," was the reply.
 "Do you think it is possible you put it on the truck deck?"
" Yes," was the reply. "Ooh ...."

 The other Rob was quickly on the mobile to the truckie now well on his way across town to the packhouse. Of course driving along he couldn't see anything but when he arrived 20 kilometres away at the pack house, there right on the back of the flat deck of this truck was
the Stapler.
 Quite by chance I had taken this photo a bit late as the truck disappeared down our driveway. I had discarded the photo as not being much use, but today I took it and enlarged it and look what I can spy.
 If you click on the photo there is the stapler lying flat on the deck at the back right hand side.
 The truckie popped it in the cab with him where he could keep an eye on it and about 90 minutes after it left the touring Gun Stapler was back on the job.
I think it says a lot for how carefully and smoothly the truckie drove. He would have braked at our gateway and certainly at the compulsory stop at the corner of our road and the main highway. Probably at the traffic lights on the outskirts of the city. Definitely at the lights to turn down the road into the pack house and still it lay there.
 Needless to say young Rob who lost it was quite relieved he didn't have to explain to the boss where the stapler was ( wasn't ).

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Full Day's Work.

"A Full Day's Work," or "It Finally Happened, "or " Kiwifruit Harvesting in 2012.".  ( all of these, are true )
 If you are a long time reader of this blog you will know I tell some version of this same story every year around this time.
This 1st photo is the view from my outdoor office - a great sight- the first full truck load of kiwifruit bins heading off down our drive to travel across town to the Coolstore.( at 10.10 am )
 This shows some of the pickers arriving and ready to work The light tells you it is early morning. In the fore ground is a bin trailer with 3 empty bins We has 4 tractos each towing a bin trailer like this. One tractor wasn't up to it so My trusty Fergie was used for the day.( I have noticed how many times it seemed to get itself into my photographs! )
 Anyone coming into or leaving the orchard must disinfect footwear in the red bowl, spray the inside of your picking bag and squeeze disinfectant onto the hands and if picking or levelling bins wear a new pair of cotton picking gloves.
 We started picking on the furthest away block. Here the tractors set of to start. One has  a smoky start. As so many tractors are needed at picking time all manner of tractors get used. ( some old dungers! ) usually the driver is NOT the owner of the tractor.
 Each time full bins are unloaded from the bin trailer the tractor then has to back into the stack and have 3 empty bins flipped down onto the trailer and slid forward on the rollers.
 Pickers at work and the tractor driver giving a hand. He has to watch that they don't overfill the bins, don't damage the fruit and needs to move the tractor along to keep pace with the pickers so they don't have to walk far with a full bag.
 Note this is my tractor...with it's new seat, so Stephen this driver has a comfortable ride. One other driver had a wet seat for the entire day - I don't think that is fair - the owner of that tractor who hires it out for picking time needs to put a new  seat in. The ripped one had soaked up rain and as it was sponge rubber, gave off moisture all day long. Even though I gave the driver a folded up towel  to sit on it was soaked by the end of the day. I wish he had made more fuss cause I could have found something water proof like a fert sack to sit on. ( I will follow that up - someone has to )
 The 2 with reflective vests on are drivers, but they always give a hand( so wear picking gloves )

 There were a few lady pickers in the gang.
 This is how much they carry in one bag. That's what makes it a tiring job especially on ones neck. )Also see how the bottom of the bag unlatches down so the fruit can roll gently out.
 This was the only slight hold up when one tractor needed running repairs. There was a smooth operation all day. Plenty of empty bins on hand ; trucks back and forth with each load. I saw we were going to be touch and go on the number of printed bin cards they had sent so ordered more for the truckie to bring back on his next load. A good call as we needed 6 of them in the end.
 2 vital people; the truckie tying down the load and the forklift driver loading the full bins and  unloading the empty bins as they arrive. Both veyr good at their jobs and pleasant to work with.
 This is picking the last block ( the small one nearest the loading area ) very late in the afternoon. Everyone wanted the job finished in the day so pickers who had finished at other orchards poured in for the last half hour to give a hand. We had 43 pickers; a record number, but it helped complete the job. Note how late it is getting by the light.

 The final 3 bins get slid from the trailer at 5.30 pm.
 Everyone and every tractor and bin trailer must be cleaned down before leaving our orchard for the next one tomorrow.Disinfectatnt under pressure for the machinery.( not the pickers )

 245  bins ( 18 bushell size ) were harvested. That's one more than last year. This fruit in it's bins will now be loaded into a controlled atmosphere coolstore along with 3 other grower's fruit and sealed for a couple of months with reduced oxygen ( to stop it ripening ), then later got out and grded and packed into tray before export .
 Well done everyone. And Thank you for a long day's work.
 ( all photos enlarge by  clicking )

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Trying to be Positive.

60 mls of heavy rain fell last night and 8 more till now today, so that has put a halt to kiwifruit picking for everyone in BOP  - us included.  ( more rain is expected over next 3 days )
 Our fruit raced in at it's "official test." Well over 7.0% ss. The dry matter test came back as very high( 7.2  as compared to our last year's reading of 5.8 ) (the pack house said one of the very highest so far this season. )( the good part is we get paid more the higher it is ) They want to pick our fruit and keep it in Controlled Atmosphere store.  The problem is it is not yet picked, so as soon as the rain goes away we are next in line.  The ground will be very wet for the tractors and trucks. This is our 30th crop of export kiwifruit, so we have been held up by rain before. So we are trying to be positive!
I finished making this small bag from 2 canteen bandanas. ( 2 squares about 20"sandwiched together with light batting and bound ) I tried making a bag as directed just folded up like an envelope but did not care for it (ugly.) So what to do? I got a square of paper and did origami till I came up with something I liked. It will get handed back to Canteen along with lots of others our group has made and some small quilts.
Lots of walnuts got shelled today. R did about 3/4 of these. When bagged up they weighed 3.105 kg.
 This photo of the mustard crop in the vege garden was taken before the rain.( it's a bit flattened  today but will bounce back I hope.)  I think the colour is amazing.
 This is my perigee moon photo taken when the full moon was closest to the earth, last Sunday night.
 Today quite a lot has been accomplished.. Bag finished, walnuts shelled, car to garage for WOF, scones made . Yesterday was not a good day; most of which I will not go into, but partly because I went to the dentist. I broke a tooth 1 week ago and was to see the dentist who was away last week next Tuesday. They rang with a cancellation that I could take if I wanted it; so I did .For me going to the dentist is a big deal.  The actual procedure was very high tech and painless but I did have to have the gum cauterised away - the smell was disgusting! I was there exactly 30 minutes and it cost NZ$ 477. Nothing else needed doing luckily.
 The only other unexpected and quite pleasing thing that happened yesterday was by way of an email from a Swedish advertiser asking my permission to use one of my photos in some promotional material they are putting together. It was a shot I took in Singapore last year.
 Feeling flattered of course I gave permission. Perhaps more interestingly they had found it I guess by a search ( google )  as the photo was on this blog last August.
 Lots more inside jobs should get done tomorrow.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Almost Ready.

 May certainly is Autumnal, with for us, chilly nights in single figures. ( but brilliant sunny days )That means the sugar level in the kiwifruit are rising rapidly. I have been testing some fruit. In years gone by the brix or sugar levels in the fruit was the only measure. Now it is an indicator that they are ready ( or not ) but have to have a second more important test - that of dry matter. I don't have the gear to do that test. We get paid extra if we have very high dry matter ( which we usually do ) -  it makes the fruit taste sweet and flavoursome.
 In the photo is a refractometer,for doing the brix test. Both ends are thinly cut off the kiwifruit so drops of juice can be squeezed out onto the glass plate at the end. It is then closed and held up to the light to get the reading.
 This is what's left and has to be binned. See on the chopping board the juice where I have been cutting. The fruit at this stage are still rock hard so getting the juice out is a bit of an art., that's why a really thin curved slice is cut.
 The fruit is just sitting below the 6.2 % soluble solids, so picking is not far off now. ( I hope )
I am absolutely amazed that I am still picking the last few green beans from my little extra garden. They were planted on the 29th October and first picked on 1st December. Because the first sewing got scratched out by birds, I did 4 sowings in total filling in the gaps . But here 5 months later they still have not died off.
 It is in a very sunny spot on a slope with soil that has to be enriched with lots of compost and goodies. Things are slower to get going there than in the main garden but seem to be really tough and healthy when they do grow.(Production  far outstripped the scarlet runners and same variety green beans in the main garden. )
  Pukekos and Polly and Percy being the only problems there, but I have used protective cloches that helped. So my green beans win the most productive prize for me this Summer.
 I have been quilting these 2 sandwiched canteen bandannas. As well as making small quilts some of the ladies have been making simple bags...folded like an envelope from 2 bandannas. I am having a go at one. Will show a photo if it turns out okay.