Jugs of Happiness

As I write, two fat horses – Smitty and Lily – are cantering along the top of Te Muna’s hill, having just finished their buckets of feed. They don’t need extra treats, because you can almost see the grass growing at the moment, but I like to keep a check on them since their paddock’s 110 acres in size and not exactly easy to trek around. You can guarantee they’ll always turn up at tucker time. Now that Te Muna’s taken his hoggets away to be shorn, the horses have all the luscious grass to themselves, so I’m hoping they’ll be doing more of this cantering up and down the hills.

Speaking of Te Muna, he had his 70th birthday party last weekend and celebrated in style. He even shocked us all by giving a speech, and got his own back on me. He used to hate being referred to on this blog as Farmer Ian, or He Who Must Not Be Named, and since his farm is called Te Muna, we settled on that moniker. I thought his speech was going to be the usual thanks to all, but as he was noting changes in how the farmland had turned to grapegrowing, he veered off and commented that his neighbour was now feeding pikelets to the Black Power. “In fact, she’s sitting right there, Deborah Coddington.”

Talk about spoil my rep. He was right. ‘Black Power’ clean all our windows around here and if you want to keep a good reputation you give them a good morning tea. They were going on to Te Muna’s place after mine, a few weeks back, and I gave them pikelets with jam and whipped cream. When they turned up at Te Muna’s they remarked on this, and I wasn’t very popular for upping the competition.


About now is when we’re afflicted by the equinoxes, and the winds blow through the place, flattening everything. The garden seems to get used to it though, and despite the globe artichokes being virtually horizontal (I sowed the seed three years ago) I’m getting masses of artichokes off them – preserving chokes for summer salads. I’ve also had to freeze brocolli which would otherwise have gone to seed. We’re eating our first radishes too.

The grapes are almost flowering, and Rowan is regularly spraying with copper. The mower munted itself on Thursday, worn out after dealing with too many stones in an ancient river bed for four years. It’s a hard life in the Te Muna valley. By Friday, CCQC had bitten the bullet and bought another, wider, mower. Needs must.

Meanwhile the garden is giving us so much joy. All that backbreaking work with Vicki over winter, when she and I were shovelling mulch and soil into the trailer, then shovelling it onto the beds, is rewarding us now. The roses are going to be spectacular. The new beds in the orchard are still looking a little sparse, but I had to resist the urge to overcrowd when planting because it just ends up a mishmash of crushed plants. It never ceases to amaze me how plants disappear over winter (this winter literally smothered in snow) and look dead, only to burst up in spring and shout, “Hello, hooray, look at us, we’re here, we’re alive and full of the joys of life!”

It’s very satisfying when you’ve cleaned the house to pick flowers from your own garden and fill jugs with blooms for every room. Jugs of happiness.

The image opening this post is shy lady, surrounded by sage (a fabulous, trusty flower), artemisia, absinthe, and poppies. In this next photo, she’s also with the yellow banksia rose scrambling up the veranda post.


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