Dry Paddocks

many and varied reasons

Of all the many and varied reasons guests come to stay at Dry Paddocks I thought you would like to read about this one, as it is quite different from the usual weekend escape, celebration or time out stays, and it is topical at the moment with the world climate change conference taking place.
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Our lovely guests who I am referring to, live in Singapore and they have recently booked their seventh visit with us for next year.
They love New Zealand and just keep returning.
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        Why do they keep coming back to us? they come to run around our property……………….. yes really!!

They enjoy running on grass, there is no traffic, the air is clean and it is so peaceful. In Singapore they said there are 3 or 4 months of the year where they cannot run and being outside is a health risk the air quality is so poor. We were surprised, it had never occurred to us maybe we should include it in our advertising?  Air quality, something we take for granted where we live, but many others aren’t so fortunate.
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 Lichen, we have lots of it……… on tree trunks, fences and anything wooden. Lichen only grows where the air is clean, it is like the canary down the mine. It is extremely sensitive to any pollutants in the air, so if you are somewhere where it is growing, breathe deeply, for you are inhaling good clean air.

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We go about our daily life blithely drinking clean water, breathing easy, pulling vegetables out of the garden, collecting free range organic eggs out of our letterbox from our neighbour………..this is our just how we live.
Sometimes it takes others from overseas to make us realise, that we have so much to be grateful for .

 

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spring has sprung

Ah spring………….the weather may be crazy all over the place but spring you are definitely here.

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The grass is racing away, the days are noticeably longer and daylight saving starts this coming weekend.

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It is such a hopeful time of the year, as I walk under pink and white branches laden with blossom in the orchard.

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I am dreaming of the fruit I will pick. This is before the reality of summer droughts,  Nor’West winds  and pecking birds, but for now everything seems possible.

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You can palpably feel the energy outside. The first of the season asparagus are recklessly poking their heads up, and the shaggy heads of the Van Sion narcissus are blooming their hearts out in the orchard.

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Every time I go and pick some Rosemary it is a buzz with bees covering the blue flowers.

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The mint looks like a mini forest of fresh green stalks.

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So for today it’s all about the wonders of spring down here at Dry Paddocks I hope elsewhere  in the southern hemisphere you are enjoying spring too.

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what a difference a week makes

                                                  We had only been away for a few days…….but what a difference.
A week away, and all of a sudden on return the days have lengthened, the buds have fattened, and the weeds are growing.
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Every year it comes as a surprise. Suddenly there it is, the extra daylight  that triggers all sorts of magic in the garden.
It may only be a few minutes in the morning and evening, but it is enough to signal  mother nature to start those spring surges.

We had a few days in the north island, it seemed like a different landscape. So green, and it rained, frequently. I can honestly say
I have forgotten what a difference  real rain makes, that is, more than the few spits we have had. It was muddy underfoot and I had to brush dust off my raincoat to pack in the suitcase.
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 The gardens were so lush and the grass long. Our drought landscape has become so normalised and part of our everyday,
that I expect everywhere else to look the same. It doesn’t.
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Yes we are looking forward to winter ending, but the prospect of an El Nino summer with the predicted drought that goes with it for the east coast of NZ where we are, on top of already dry soils is worrying. In the meantime I am enjoying the colours of late winter.
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the beauty of almonds

 

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 When the Almonds flower you know spring is just around the corner, ok, maybe a couple of blocks away still.

The blossom lifts your spirits even when it is still cold and wintery. Today I spied the first blossom all on it’s lonesome
shining white like the first  night time star, but the rest of the buds are fat and ready to burst.

CY 750 flowers first, always in July,  431 flowers later in August/September, timing its flowering after CY 750 has finished.
Prosaic names that belie their exquisite flowers.

I had always accepted that some years I would not get any nuts, but that was fine by me,  the years I did, would be a bonus
and the beauty of the flowers would make up for any lack of a harvest.  But I have been surprised at how well they have cropped. Almonds are in flower here, when there is a strong likeliehood of frosts, and almond flowers are frost tender.  In fact one year, CY750 flowered with  snow on the ground followed by several days of severe frosts , I was resigned to it being a no harvest year.   Surprisingly, we had a bumper crop. I am not sure how or why that happened.

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Almonds are native of north Africa and fruit most successfully where the climate is Mediterranean. If you can grow nectarines
or peaches, you can grow almonds. Almond varieties are categorised according to the strength of their shell, and how easy it
is to get the kernel out. Paper and soft shelled varieties are preferred in home gardens, although hard shelled varieties provide
greater protection from summer rain damage. For us in the valley summer rain is a bonus, the challenge for us, is providing
enough  moisture for the nuts to form.

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Shelling last seasons almonds by the fire is a good winter activity, as I sweep up the huge pile of shells and look at the
small mound of almonds I often wonder if it is worth it. However, the taste of fresh creamy almonds is very different from
store bought.

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Our almonds go into our Beekeepers muesli and Ricciarelli biscuits that guests love so much, and at Christmas panforte.

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