The Weekend Report

Thursday: After work, scooted up to Willowbank Farm to take a look at some alpacas they are selling. Picked some out. Linda’s coming by our place this Thursday to make sure our facilities are suitable (apparently, she once had a potential buyer who not only didn’t *have* any fencing, but didn’t understand why she would *need* fencing…).

Friday: After work I went busking in Cuba Street with a couple of other African drummers. Fun ! We made all of maybe a buck or two each, but met a couple new people who might be interested in joining the class. More importantly, though, we were actually pretty good ! Passersby smiled at us, and several sat down on nearby benches to listen. Pretty neat !

Saturday: Put together My Desk. The Behemoth. I’m sure we did other stuff besides just unpacking, but I can’t recall exactly what. Oh yeah, some shopping. We each bought our very first pair of gumboots ! Hee. I feel silly clomping around in my bright shiny new gumboots — it’s like I’m playing pretend-farmer. Except that they really are damned handy things — for mud (we’ve got boggy bits down by the streams), for the horse poop you don’t quite notice in time, and also just for going out into the yard or paddocks where rain or dew on the long grass and plantain stems would soak you to the knees otherwise. Damned handy things.

Sunday: Stephen has largely recovered from his (much less debilitating) encounter with (we are assuming) the Kiwi Death Flu. It only had him down for three or four days, and he wasn’t nearly as dead out of it as I was. By Sunday, though, he’d recovered enough to go to fight practice, and then come back home for The Odyssey.

Our Big Weekend Adventure this week was… going to the back of the property. Yes, we hiked up to the top of Marchant — up one fenceline and back down the other. We had to do large chunks of it on the neighbors’ sides of the fences, because our side is inaccessible in a lot of places. Wow. It goes back quite a bit farther than we thought it did. And there’s a lot more grass up there than we thought there was, too. Once you top the crest of the steep bit, it goes rolling again, and there’s all this long, long grass. You can even see all the way to the sea from up there. But boy howdy getting up there is a challenge. (Stephen, BTW, is totally my hero. I lost my jacket at one point, and he valiantly went back down and down and then over into the bush for it. I was *almost* ready to just abandon the poor thing (the jacket, that is.)) Supposedly, there was once a bridle path up the hill — we’re going to try and find that and clear it, if only so we can walk around up there without going hand-over-hand up the neighbor’s hill. (In some places, it was so steep you were almost tempted to try using the fence battens as a ladder.)

Still haven’t quite made it to the spring — Stephen tried coming at it from above, when we briefly cut in from the fenceline, but was forced to give up by thick brush and an overabundance of stinging nettles (yeowtch!). Brush, nettles, and the firm conviction that having to be airlifted out of your own back yard would be the height of embarrassment.

In the meantime, though, the battle against the gorse and ragwort in the paddocks nearer to the house has to take precedence.

No sign of the neighbor’s calf — I think he must have come and caught it himself at some point — but we still have Molly and Dolly, the prodigal sheep. They both look much fatter than their flock-mates on the other side of the fence.

8 thoughts on “The Weekend Report

  1. Angus says:

    If the bridle path is that overgrown there may not be much of it left to find. Have you looked for any maps of your property from yesteryear? That’s often a good way of finding where paths are supposed to be. Ditto photos from the air.

    Gumboots… heesh. Don’t they call them wellies like all sensible nations?

  2. Tam says:

    Nope. Gumboots.

  3. Angus says:

    Weird. Wonder how that happened, NZ usually has more British language influence than anywhere else…

    Nettles are pretty easy to deal with, by the way. Turn them into soup. Very tasty.

  4. Tam says:

    You’re joking, right ? I knew the Scots did the nettle soup thing, but as far as I knew, only when it was a choice between that and starvation.

  5. Angus says:

    Common all over the UK, actually. In Dorset, for example, some villages have nettle leaf eating contests (and I’m talking uncooked, straight from the stem). Kind of like chilli contests.

    Keep your eyes open for TV programmes called “Tales from River Cottage”, “Return to River Cottage”, “River Cottage Forever”… you get the idea. They feature a chef/gastronaut called Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (you can’t make that kind of name up) doing that kind of thing, and besides they (and he) are cool. Check http://www.channel4.com/life/microsites/R/rivercottage/ and http://www.rivercottage.net/

    Oh, and http://www.frugal.org.uk/nettle.html

  6. Tam says:

    Eating them straight ? That’s…. insane. I’ve seen the list of chemicals those spines deliver.

    Funnily enough, I read you *can* make clothing out of them, like in You can pound the stems into fiber like flax or hemp.

    Not ours, though, I can’t imagine. Spurred on by rumors that there were some old cattleyards buried under the greenery under the elms in front, we took gloves and some loppers and went down there yesterday to see if we could find them…

    I had always pictured nettles as these herb-y things (we didn’t have them down South, you see), and none of the ones I’d ever seen had been bigger than, say, hip high. So, mullein-sized, or milkweed.

    These things were practically *trees* ! Well, at the very least, large, rangey shrubs — 10 feet high, with woody stems/trunks/branches a good inch and a half thick, some of them.

    That’s just not right.

  7. Jude says:

    I understand that nettle tea is an excellent *cough* female tonic. Particularly for labor.

  8. Angus says:

    Also true, I believe! Let me find my herbal….

    Hmm, after a quick flick it only mentions it as being good for rheumitism. Ah well. It’s the young bits that you use for tea and soup, by the way. It’s apparently like spinach.

    But it sounds like, to coin a phrase, “yer nettles have got away a bit”. Slash and burn, mayhaps?

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