Finishing the Harvest

We are getting close to the end of harvesting food for the year. Gayle and the boys are digging potatoes today. That is quite different from last year! It was so wet last year that there was water in every hole made by the fork when they dug up a potato plant. About half the crop rotted in the ground, and I had to deal with rotten potatoes in the bin all winter. Yuck! This year, the soil is bone-dry! We’re hoping for heavy rains soon, though, so Gayle decided it was time to get them dug.

The shelves in the jar room are very nearly full. The freezers are mostly full—even the “new” one we bought to put a steer in in another two weeks is a third full! Onions are braided and hanging beside the jars of food, and the pumpkins are piled in there and on a porch. We won’t go hungry this year!IMG_0602IMG_0603IMG_0615IMG_0616IMG_0617

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Apple Picking!

Every year, we like to take an afternoon in April and drive around through the hills to the west of us, looking for wild apples along the road. We never get over there otherwise, and it’s a beautiful drive. The apples are the excuse to take a family drive! We all enjoy it. We went last Saturday, and it turned out to be a beautiful afternoon. We ended up picking or picking up about 7 bushels (14-15 banana boxes full) of apples, mostly for the cow. We have plenty for ourselves already, and since it’s so dry, we’re feeding her apples and pumpkin to supplement the dry grass she has.

This little girl is learning to accept her car seat.DSCF3120

Mr. Diligence with a huge apple—we always stop at that tree!


Mr. Intellectual with his two apples from the special tree.


Notice how dry the landscape is. We have not had significant rain since about August. Even so, it’s a beautiful place!


Mr. Diligence and Mr. Intellectual, climbing a hill to check out a tree we normally pick from—it has fallen over, though.


Mr. Handyman, doing what he does best! (Growing, teenage boy.)


We couldn’t resist doing a mini photo shoot of this beautiful baby!


While we were at it, we got a nice picture of Mr. Intellectual…


…and of Mr. Sweetie.


They found a dead hawk on the road.


Esther spent a lot of time trying to get a picture of this curious, friendly fantail.


Gum trees are so beautiful, with their white trunks and branches.


At one place, five or six bulls were grazing the roadside. All that kept them in was an electric tape! Those massive creatures seemed quite placid, but I was glad to be inside the van.


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My Laundry Helper

Mr. Imagination has been unloading the washer for me for quite awhile now. He does a very good job of it. This morning, I had him load it for me with the next batch to be washed. He loved getting to push the buttons to start it going!


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We have been using Sonlight Curriculum ever since Esther was six years old. This week, I started using it with Mr. Sweetie. He was thrilled: Stories just for him (and Mr. Imagination, when he feels like joining us)! Today was our third day, and he was happy to have me take a picture with them holding the books we read from today. This is my fourth time through this level! You can tell that some of the books are pretty worn! The Boxcar Children is falling to pieces; I need to use some glue on it one of these days. It’s been quite a favorite. I love Sonlight because it gets me to spend time reading with the children when I otherwise would probably let it slide. IMG_0662

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In other words, flying flytraps! Since we leave the doors open for ventilation on warm days, and have no screens, we often have fantails in the house these days! They are such cheery little birds. They are so friendly they remind me of the chickadees we had in Michigan in the winter. They eat insects, though. As they swoop through the room, you can often hear a sharp little click as they catch another fly! That makes them welcome guests, you can imagine. I’ve been trying to get pictures of them in the house, but they move so fast it’s hard to catch them. That’s how I ended up with a picture of one taking off in flight. If you listen closely to the video of one, you can hear a faint twittering. It was a lot louder in real life, but apparently the sound capture isn’t real good on my camera. If you want to hear it better, go to this page, click on the sound icon, and choose “South Island fantail, male song.” Oh, and by the way, we’re studying birds, insects, bats and flying reptiles this year for science. We recently had a lesson about feathers, and one type of feathers is bristles. Bristles are found around the mouths of insect-eating birds. When we looked closely at the fantails in our house, we could see the bristles! They apparently help the bird to catch insects in flight. The bristles touch the insect and then the bird can turn to grab the insect.


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Fossil Walk in the Waipara River

Two weeks ago, one of the dads in our homeschool group led a walk up the gorge of the Waipara River, to look for fossils. There are a lot of fossils in the rocks there, and they wash out in floods. He has an extensive collection of fossils, and has found some pretty interesting animals—one was even named after him!

We started with a picnic in the river bed. After everyone was done eating, we started walking. The first thing we did was cross the river in a place that was about a foot deep, then walked through a very rocky area. For a ways, we walked in the river, where it was only a few inches deep, then walked on the rocks again, then on a grassy area. Eventually, we came out at the base of a cliff littered with concretions, enormous round rocks. They are at all levels of the cliff, and as the cliff face erodes, they come down. Thankfully, none came down while we were there! Our leader didn’t allow the boys to climb as high as they wanted to, for their own safety. We only saw a few fossils, but had a beautiful walk with good friends!


The man in front center of this picture, wearing a backpack and gumboots, was our leader.


That tiny white object my finger is pointing to is a shark’s tooth!


In the one area we walked through, there were a lot of these shattered rocks.


This was a vertebrae from a marine reptile.


My Mr. Diligence found this greensand, a type of sandstone.


That’s my Mr. Handyman in the middle, helping carry one of the little children.


The first concretion I found. I sat on it to feed my baby, and the wife of our leader commented that she had sat there to feed her baby several years before!


The boys all had fun climbing up and sliding down this cliff!


One of the concretions, ready to come down (it was probably 50-100 feet above us).


Another fossil vertebrae.


More concretions.


Mr. Imagination on a concretion in the river.


This picture is for my Mom. I thought of you, Mom, when I saw this very unusual thistle here and there along our walk.


Mr. Handyman on a concretion!


The scenery along our drive was spectacular, too! Also, notice how dry everything is. We have only gotten about an inch of rain since New Year’s.

Yes, one place the road was really this steep!IMG_0499IMG_0504IMG_0508IMG_0537IMG_0538IMG_0545IMG_0549IMG_0554IMG_0557

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Timaru, Part 2

Saturday night tea was a barbeque at the house we stayed at. The people we stayed with last year, the parents of the man of the house where we stayed this year, were there. He is a baby-lover, and I was amused when he shouldered me aside to take my baby from his wife when my baby was crying! She liked him and settled down on his shoulder several times, like she doesn’t do for very many people.

Sunday morning was a normal church service, then lunch at the parent’s house, followed by an afternoon service, tea at church, a gospel service in the evening, and then a singing at the parent’s house again. What a day! It was wonderful. These pictures are all of the singing in the evening.IMG_0395IMG_0397IMG_0398

Our hosts for the weekend:


Grandpa saves the evening again! I was so thankful for the help with our baby.


I think this one missed out on hearing what the point of the evening was! He had fun with the toys while we sang.


Monday we headed home! First, we got a picture of the family we stayed with. Their hospitality was amazing!DSCF3114We stopped several times, and the last stop was a long one. We needed to pick up a rooster someone was giving us, and when that man and Gayle get together, they will talk a long time. We got home in time to unload and eat before bedtime, though. Mr. Sweetie got hold of my camera and used it to amuse himself all the way home. I deleted most of the pictures he took, but here are a few, including a selfie:IMG_0411IMG_0414IMG_0439IMG_0451IMG_0452

This little girl slept most of the way home, to everyone’s relief.IMG_0463

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Timaru, Part 1

We went to Timaru over Easter weekend for a conference—a weekend of church meetings. The Assembly in Timaru had invited a number of speakers, and four came, two from Australia and two from the north part of the North Island. It was a wonderful weekend of Scripture teaching and fellowshipping! We went last year, and enjoyed it so much that we had been talking all year of going again. (And now, the boys are talking about NEXT year already! So, if anyone from Timaru reads this, know that some people will be very much disappointed if you don’t hold the Easter Conference again!)

We left here about 8:00 on Good Friday morning, and didn’t have to stop once! We made it to Timaru in time for lunch at noon, and attended both the services in the afternoon. After tea at church, we returned to the house at which we were staying, and got our camp set up. Esther and I and the baby slept in the pop-top camper we borrowed for the trip, that night, and Gayle and all the boys slept in three tents in the yard. After the tents were pitched we visited in the house for awhile, and then just as we were getting ready to send the children out to bed, they found a distraction—stories read by the man of the house!


Saturday, there was only one service, mid afternoon, so everyone who stayed at the house we did went to a park and the beach in the morning. Timaru is beautiful! There was a fire in the late 1800s that wiped out the business district, so everything was rebuilt with stone. The buildings are gorgeous!IMG_0360 The boys really enjoyed the park. A man was there with several miniature horses, which you could ride for $5. It was free to sit on them, though, and Mr. Imagination loved that.DSCF3097DSCF3099DSCF3101 DSCF3105

The man in the red jersey here was one of the speakers. He had had to leave his wife and six children behind to come, and was missing them.DSCF3103 The boys loved the playground equipment, too. Left to right are the man with the  horses, Gayle, Mr. Diligence, Mr. Intellectual, Mr. Sweetie, ?, Mr. Handy Man, and Mr. Inventor.DSCF3098

Mr. Sweetie on the swing.


Mr. Diligence and Mr. Imagination, upside down on the swings!


Left to right are Mr. Diligence, Mr. Inventor, ?, ?, and Mr. Handy Man.

IMG_0368IMG_0370 One thing that fascinated me about the beach was how it is receding. When the port was built, it changed the currents. Now, sand is deposited in Caroline Bay.DSCF3107

When Europeans first came, the beach was at the base of the cliffs those buildings are on! Our host remembers when it was about halfway between there and where it is now, over a quarter mile out!


The port was at the edge of the park, clearly visible from where we were, so after we left the park, we drove through what we could of the port before we went back for lunch. They were loading a couple of huge freight liners. The four cranes you can see in the middle of this picture are all on one ship!



This is a view of the beach and town from the port.

IMG_0385After leaving the port, we drove past this row of old warehouses.IMG_0391

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More March Pictures

Just a few more pictures I thought some of you might enjoy.

One morning, Esther looked out the window and thought she saw something white in the sheep’s water barrel. That seemed strange, so she called Mr. Intellectual to come see what he thought it was. They both had the same thought—a turkey—so he raced outside to see. Sure enough, one of the half-grown turkeys was in the water. It was still alive, so he pulled it out and they wrapped it in a towel, then put it in front of a heater for several hours till it recovered.


The eight baby turkeys only stayed in the house a few days, but we enjoyed them while they were there. It was nice to be able to send them out to the chicken coop after a week or two, though! That many babies fill up the box in a hurry.


A couple of the boys built a new bridge across the dry creek in the front yard, using gates. This is Mr. Diligence on the bridge and Mr. Inventor in the creek.


Mr. Imagination had a birthday in March! He’s now three. That is him, as well, beside a barrel—just a random shot his sister got.


This was the first pumpkin we picked this year. The boys had fun bringing it in and cutting it open. Unfortunately, it didn’t taste that good. We raised some Atlantic Giants last year, and obviously the pumpkin we saved seed from had cross-pollinated with the Atlantic Giant, which is watery and tasteless. The cow likes these, though!



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Three Months Old!

I can’t believe my little girl is three months old already. How time flies! She’s really developing her own personality already. She has quite a repertoire of different tones of voice to get her point across—whether she’s sad, or feeling neglected, or hungry. Right now, she’s tired of sitting on her daddy’s knees and begging me, from across the room, to rescue her and give her some attention! She loves to cuddle, but she also likes to sit up straight so she can see around, and be held so she can stand up. She’d love to be able to get around by herself, but isn’t rolling yet. And, she keeps getting fatter and fatter!

Here she is at 2 1/2 months with her oldest brother, Mr. Handy Man.


She already loves books and stories.


Sleeping on her favorite chair…


enjoying a rare moment of peace with Mr. Imagination…


and a chat with Daddy…


coveting Daddy’s lunch…


and sharing an apple core with Mr. Diligence.


And now, a three months’ picture:


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