country life

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.

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.

        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.


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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summer lavender………

Its lavender time in the valley………..



Last week I spent a few hours amongst the olive trees and lavender at Mt Grey Olives. Walking amongst
the purple haze and listening to the  buzz of the bees the pre Christmas hustle and bustle faded away.



The lavender was stunning ……………. intense in colour……………..the sound of bees filled the air……………..
and the  perfume of the lavender  was all pervasive.


Lavender and olive trees just go together……………one of those classic combinations, they work well in our
dry climate and love our hot summers.


This is not just for show……….. despite its decorative appearance. Jan uses the lavender oil in her soaps
and body lotions that she makes on site. Their own olive oil is also used to craft soap that is also restorative
for your skin. We are lucky enough to have her hand made Savon vert soap for guests use in the cottage
and they love it.


Jan’s soaps can be found at the Waipara Farmer’s Market every Saturday morning 9am-12pm.




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From the seat of a tractor……….

Its that time of year again………….when I spend a lot of time on the tractor…………..mowing.

view from above 1a

Trying to keep pace with the spring growth.  Mowing for me is down time, yes, that may sound
somewhat strange, but it is a chore that can be done  where you can slide into automatic pilot
and your mind is free to roam. The other benefit is a different perspective on the world from your
elevated seat.

view from above 2b view from above 3c view from above 4 d


This is what I have been looking at from my tractor seat this week…………..
beautiful buds………………………….leaves…………………………… and blossom.

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The F word……………Frost



It’s been frosty three mornings in a row now, and another  is forecast for tonight.

The next time you are enjoying a glass of your favourite wine, spare a thought for wine makers over the next couple of months.
For this is the time of year when they are on  frost alert, which makes for some  very early wake-up calls and  long hours out in
the vineyard. Because of our unusually mild winter bud burst has occurred earlier than is normal, making the  vines particularly
vulnerable to frost.

There has been a flurry of activity, frost pots have been strategically placed, wind fans have been on and vines have been
sprayed in an effort to protect the delicate buds.   Chardonnay and Pinot noir grapes are at particular risk as bud burst occurs
earlier in those varieties. Frosts at this time of year could kill developing vine shoots.

PicMonkefrost 2bA-001


Late afternoon we often hear helicopters flying from Christchurch  to be on stand-by should
they be needed. Wind fans are the preferred method for frost fighting now. A significant investment,
but it beats losing a years wine production. The 10 m poles can be seen punctuating the sky in
so many vineyard regions world wide. The blades spin on an angle so they can suck the warmer
air from above and blow it out into the vines. They are effective, but sometimes the inversion layer
becomes so deep that it is impossible to pull down enough warm air, this is when frost pots are lit.
The fans  then suck in the rising warm air, and spread it out through the vineyard. In areas where
the fans cannot reach, or for vineyards that do not have fans, a sprinkler irrigation system comes on
to cover the vines with water. It does sound counter intuitive, but as long as you keep sprinkling on
the water it will keep  the plant at zero degrees, plants only become damaged below this.  Trapped
within its icicles, the tender young buds and shoots are frozen but protected.


So as you sip……….appreciate all that care and effort that has gone into the wine
in your glass .

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