Sunday, May 27, 2007

Just One More Sleep.

Thank you to the 5 friends who left such interesting and useful comments on my previous post. I know it is a controversial topic and everyone's situation is different. It seems quite a few folk are giving it thought and that's where change will start. Small and tiny but a start. So Valeri, Anne, Molly, Vinda and Lynda good on you....keep at it! I am so glad to meet you for the first time Lynda (granny k).
Now to completely fly in the face of all that tomorrow DH and I fly South on holiday. For us this is quite a big deal as it doesn't happen often. In fact you could count on your fingers the number of holidays we have had in the last 29 years, since we have owned an orchard. Usually we think we are lucky to go away for a weekend. This time 2 years ago we went to Sydney area for a week and that was the only time either of us has been out of our own country. Folk keep asking us when we are going to UK ( our younger son lives there ) and that we must go while our son is there. Then they usually say you couldn't think of going for less than 6 weeks. So of course that doesn't happen. Strange how friends have such opinions about what we should or should not do!...........Anyway I usually reply we haven't seen all of New Zealand yet; we have to do that first. And that is what we hope to get done this holiday!
The Kiwifruit is picked and we have some slack time before Winter pruning, all we needed was someone to feed the cat, watch and clear the big drain that blocks, collect the mail and do a security check. All our neighbours are away or are new to the area - so that was posing a problem.
One night last week we were out to dinner with friends celebrating their Anniversary and they volunteered. They live a little way away but said they would be happy to do it for us. We double checked they really meant it and then got on the computer and began checking things out. So we are off tomorrow. Flying from Tauranga to Dunedin, where we have the first 3 nights booked in the city and tickets for the Taieri Gorge railway. On the 4th day we pick up our rental car and follow our noses, stopping when are where we fancy. Neither of us has been this far South before so there is plenty to see and do. Lucky us. [ if fuel supplies in the world are going to run out I have some travel catching up to do before it does!]
Therefore dear blog friends I might be a little bit absent from the comments section of your blogs till I return! Yes of course the camera is going with me and the battery charger and spare cards and most important some warm, warm clothes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Stop Climate Change - Who me?

During the winter when we have our fire on this faithful nearly 40 year old Corningware coffee pot (with removable percolator )sits on top heating water so I save electricity. This fire is our winter heating as we have our own firewood( which we grew )
Any changes or savings I make will not include water as we have our own stream supply and heaps of rain. Our water free flows downhill from the stream into our huge tank where it freeflows to the orchard if needed ( not often ) and also to the house. We maintain the pipelines and the filters we buy and clean regularly or replace.
Here are some things I already find useful to do (that work for me)
- dry washing only by sun and wind ( or on hangers on airing rail in laundry or by fire )
- make all trips to town multipurpose , and as few as possible.
- have bins in boot of car for grocery shopping - refuse plastic bags always.
- refuse packaging ( leave in shop )that is unnecessary and re-educate shop owners - ( not always popular! )
- Make compost. Chip trees that are removed, to use as mulch and return to the soil.
- grow own vegetables, fruit and nuts ( we have a slight advantage here - space )
- as we don't get rubbish collection we have had our own recycling centre on the wall of the shed for a long time. We crush tins (cans ) in the wood splitter; we sort and then take a truck load to the recycling centre in town with bottles; paper; plastic that is recyclable. )
- write or email supermarkets about your thoughts on packaging.
My 4 Rs: reuse; recycle; return or refuse
( packaging , clothing ,books, paper, household goods etc etc. )
5 new things I will aim to do;
1. Extend # of days I change and wash bedsheets by 1 or 2 - Keep are record( or I won't remember ) ie Mon this week ;Tues. next etc. or next fine day after that.
2. save washing to bigger loads before doing it.
3.Extend time between mowing lawns ( same as #1 above )hope to save petrol.
4.Do less ironing ( hehe )
5.make bright cloth bags and give to others to use for shopping - altho that will take power to do.
Look at the following - more insulation in ceiling and solar panels. ( there are some new thin sheet ones coming soon )DH has to agree here too.
There are things I could do but am not prepared to at the moment like not using the computer, not having TV on, not using the sewing machine, dishwasher or washing machine. ( it may get to that in the future? )
Articles and References.
Some of the best advice I read was given by older folk in UK who lived through the depression and war. Rationing!( consumption of fuel, power, food and other goods ) and how they managed.
websites worth looking at :
Articles in the New Zealand Listener - ( May 19th -25 page 36) and ( May 26th -June 1 page 34 ) and many more. Read about E waste the fastest growing waste section. How USA's E waste is polluting water ways in Giuyu in China with lead. SO be warned recycling isn't always green!
Now a question. How do we stop paper wastage on advertising? ( it funds our rural delivery mail service. ) I don't wish to receive real estate ads with my newspaper. I think most forms of advertising are a worry! ( imagine a world without it - oh yes! )
Finally a wee story.
As a little girl I lived in the country. We had a windmill on a rise behind the house for power; heated water and cooked on a wood stove; kept meat, milk etc in a safe; my Dad grew all our own vegetables and fruit. Then when I was 7 or 8 wooden poles were cut from trees on the farm and strung down our long driveway so we could get electric power. I remember the wonder of the new spin dry washing machine and fridge and other new labour saving devices. The number of those items we have today has become huge. Do we need to look back, take some of the previous systems of doing things put a modern eco friendly spin on them and think again.
Do you have any thoughts ( or actions ) on this huge subject?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Quilted and Bound.

Over the weekend I managed to finish quilting and binding the Mended Hearts Quilt. ( just a label to add now ) NOBODY warned me how tiring it would be to machine quilt this 80" by 54" top! ( on my Bernina ) No wonder folk buy long arm quilters. What a marathon.
I started by stitching in the ditch across each row of hearts. Fine. Then I decided to zig zag across the top third of each heart and on to the next; then across the bottom third. It has made quite a good pattern on the backing - sort of diamonds hanging on a line. But oh that twisting to go the other way really gave me a work out. ( maybe I was doing something wrong????) I think I imagine more "quilt as you go," projects in the future if they are this size.
Anyway it is still the fastest quilt I have ever made. Some fraying on the raw edges has begun with all the woman handling while quilting and I think it will add to the look of the quilt. ( semi chenille ) It looks good on one of the spare beds anyway so will get used.

Soozii and Sheila I haven't forgotten your subject.( please go check out their blogs readers ) It is giving me huge angst - it is such a big subject with so much to think about. We have had some extreme cases reported in our Newspaper, which is very off putting. People behaving quite irrationally at huge detriment to themselves and probably not achieving what they hope. I have decided I have to look at it from a personal view rather than a Business / Orcharding view which we are already doing and being audited on for Eurepgap.( try googling that! )
Today it is drizzling so I have been doing office work - GST ; documents for the accountants ; Orchard diarries; filing etc...ooooh goody my favourite things - not. I have accomplished heaps so guess that's what matters.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Treasure in my Mailbox.

Lucky, lucky me!
I walked down the drive to the mailbox and there was a package for me. Lovely, lovely. My new blog friend Viv in Minnesota sent me a signed copy of her book. It's a real delight. ("Thank You for Giraffes," by Vivian Husnik )

The photo shows one of my favourite pages with funky flowers. If you have any little folk in your lives I'm sure they would enjoy this book.( there are little creatures within the pictures to find.) Isn't she clever using quilts as the illustrations. Do visit Viv's blog to see her quilts and her books. What a busy creative lady she must be.
PS. The book smells nice too....I love new books that smell great, it adds to the reading experience.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Part 2 - Kiwifruit Harvest.

Today only the fruit stalks remain. The odd fruit that has been missed will gradually get picked by us , ( they will extra ripe and tasty ) the birds will eat a few. The whole growing cycle will start again.

Kiwifruit Harvest.( part 1 )

The Kiwifruit harvest on our Orchard for 2007 is complete! Here's how it happens.

2 fine days. (The pack house has told us we are to be picked ) The machinery arrives ( 4 tractors and 4 bin trailers); the truck driver brings in 2 loads of empty bins[18 bushel size this year ], the 20 pickers ( 2 gangs ) arrive; the outdoor office is set up under the Pohutukawa tree for me the admin person; DH has the staplers ready for putting the cards on bins, food and drink is prepared to sustain us , so let's get going.

Each gang wants their tally kept separate ( they get paid per bin they pick ) and all seem happy pickers this year.( only 1 female picker this year ) A driver and 2 tractors each towing a bin trailer carrying 3 bins go with each gang. The pickers fill the bins from their picking bags till the first tractor load of 3 bins is smoothed level and full then the driver brings that load back to the loading area and the pickers begin to fill their 2nd 3 bins on the 2nd tractor.
The tractor driver carefully tilts the bin trailer and the full bins slide off, where DH staples a card on each. The driver rolls 3 empty bins onto his trailer then back off down the orchard to his picking gang and pulls in behind the tractor with the bins they are filling. So they go on round and round all day. Both gangs are doing this so 6 full bins arrive every 10 minutes or so. My job is completing the paper work - the cards for the bins and a running total from each block for each gang. After the bin cards are on the bins the forklift driver stacks the bins 3 high and loads them onto the truck for their journey to the coolstore. He returns with more empty bins.
As we have good keeping fruit (that had the best high dry matter to date ( for us ) ) the fruit is not to be packed yet but will be stored in the coolstore at between 0 and 4 degrees c , till later and then packed and shipped.
This production line goes on till all our fruit ( they miss a few ) is picked, then the whole show packs up and drives out the gate to the next orchard where they start all over. A hush descends over our property after all the hustle. We clean up and put gear away the heave a huge sigh of relief - it all went pretty smoothly and the worst that happened was a flat tyre on a bin trailer and one stuck tractor against a hedge, (cause a picker got impatient waiting for the bin trailer when it got a flatty and took it upon himself to move the other tractor along - he should not have touched it - as he was not an experienced driver ) Strange how one little incident leads to another. One embarrassed picker!
We picked slightly more than last year and it will probably be our 2nd biggest crop ever. 2004 being the record so far. That was the 25th crop of export kiwifruit from our orchard, so we are quite used to it now, but things and systems change, so there is always more learning to do. Part 2 has some more photos.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Feijoa Muffins.

A really quick post; as I should be in bed ready for an early start. If it is still fine tomorrow the kiwifruit picking gangs arrive. The gear ( bin trailers and tractors are all lined up ready ) bins and pickers will arrive tomorrow More about that then.

Today I made Feijoa muffins ( never made them before ) as we have lots of lovely juicy feijoas. Apparently they don't grow in other countries very often...wonder why? These muffins were lovely and light ....they had sour cream and some little chunks of cream cheese in them.

The other great work of the day ..... I did the first part of machine quilting my Hearts top. It went really well. Yesterday at my P & Q group several ladies all helped me pin baste it on top of 3 big tables pushed together. We did another friend's top first. Oh, what a wonderful idea with all those hands to help. Thank you ladies! (I guess you all know about using a spoon to close the pins to save ones finger tips.) You can see the blue fabric I am using as the backing in the photo, rolled on the right hand side. More about that another day too.
Oh may it stay fine tomorrow and Monday if we need it!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

234 Hearts

Do you remember 2 posts ago I showed you the photos of the Hearts class I took at Retreat? ( Ooey Gooey Hearts by Natalie Murdoch ) Well I have completed the single bed size top!

Now that is fast. Fast for me anyway. I think I know why; partly because I have been able to sit at it for a couple of afternoons and just sew. Secondly ( stop laughing you lot ) it is all done on the machine....unusual for me.....

I don't care for that name for a quilt so I will call mine " Mended Hearts." ( 234 of them! )

Tomorrow DH has an eye appointment in the city so I will go too and get the batting I need to complete this.
There are several firsts here for me...... first quilt I have made so fast. First time I have ever used raw edge in anything....( it will turn the edges into chenille eventually; more quickly if it is washed ). First quilt that I have sewn entirely on the machine ( I intend to quilt it myself on the machine too ) That could be interesting!

Good News. The brix (sugar levels ) on the kiwifruit shot up over the weekend and is way in now. ( over 7% soluble solids ) The man on his quad bike ( the" official," sampler ) came this afternoon and collect 100 fruit sample from all the blocks to do the dry matter test. So things are moving along there. Yippee!

Friday, May 04, 2007

100 years of Old Sewing Machines

It was an idyllic day weatherwise and I spent it well.
6 of my mini group went to visit a lady who has just last month opened her collection of 100 years of old Singer sewing machines. We spent a fascinating hour with her and found models of machines that most of us learnt to sew on. As well as the machines she has on display associated items like cotton, thimbles, irons, toy machines and wall hangings with a sewing theme. All the machines are in working order! One photo shows her oldest machine of 1893. It and some others all had to be wound by the right hand which must have made sewing more difficult unless you had a small child to wind for you as you sewed. Some of this type of hand powered machine are still of great use and treasured in island countries without electricity.
It's a fabulous collection to see. Do you like her wall hanging...amazingly well done.
We then took ourselves and our picnic lunch and sewing down to the waters edge at Otumoetai and gazed out across the ebbing tide at Mt. Maunganui. Not a breathe of wind or cloud above.
I then came home via the Super market with fresh fish for dinner.
What a fabulous way to spend a day while we wait for our turn to pick that fruit!