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As seen on the tele

Tele: (n.) T.V.

We are heading to Taupo for a week, beginning tomorrow, to help out with the EcoShow. But, before we head off, we wanted to share some pics of the newest members of our household. We started noticing these baby pukekos a few days ago. The big ones have been hanging around since we arrived, doing plenty of damage in our garden. Then we saw a commercial for some energy company on tv that featured a little family of pukekos. We laughed and laughed at how rediculously big their feet are in the commercial. Then our little fledglings arrived, and although we have been struggling to get evidence of them, we finally got a few shots (I maxed out the zoom on my camera trying not to scare the little buggers off). You might be able to see their gi-normous feet in picture number two. Each foot is truly about the size of their whole body.

I’m not sure how internet will be in Taupo, and we may just be too excited doing new things and meeting new people to post, but we will try to keep you updated.

Can we suss this out?

Suss out: to sort out, to fix

The above two slides are from our presentation to the young friends (Quakers) tonight called: “Be the change”. I read an article from the Guardian citing a UN report:

“The richest 1% of adults in the world own 40% of the planet’s wealth… The report found the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total of global assets. Half the world’s adult population, however, owned barely 1% of global wealth. Near the bottom of the list were India, with per capita wealth of $1,100, and Indonesia with assets per head of $1,400.”

The world is watching US lawmakers, businessmen, and consumers to see how they handle themselves in crisis. Maybe it is time for us to reevaluate our way of operating. Perhaps it is time for everyone to take just a few steps down the eightfold path and learn some lessons from the Buddha. The greed that has placed so much wealth in the hands of so few and has caused this faulty financial system can be changed on an individual level. Be the change you want to see!

Kai Iwi Beach (World’s Best Playground)

Kai: (n. – Maori) Food
Iwi: (n. – Maori) Tribe

Before I left the states I spent 6 wonderful weeks with my brother-in-law, Joe, and niece, Annie (while everyone else was either working or extremely pregnant, or both). We scoped out playgrounds in two states and thought we had found the best playground ever. Well, I hate to break it to you Joe, but Montville ain’t got nothin’ on Kai Iwi beach (appropriately named since our little food tribe descended on the beach with a picnic dinner feast last night).

Kai Iwi playground is nestled in a cove where a small creek meets the ocean. You can cross a bridge to the playground, or can access it by climbing over a huge pile of driftwood (more like drift trees) from the beach. While we were there about a dozen school kids, enjoying the first day of a two-week vacation, were building a fort and bonfire. Like many kiwi kids they were barefoot and unsupervised. No plastic parts here, the playground has been constructed all from driftwood (and bits of metal). It boasts a pirate ship with a two-story slide and a zip line that flies out over the creek (a definite no-no in US parks). There were swings, some kind of crazy tee-pee merry-go-round, and heaps of other attractions, but clearly the “flying fox” was our favorite.

Even without the playground Kai Iwi is an amazing spot. Nothing beats hanging out barefoot in the sand. I realized over the past few weeks how lucky I was when I moved to Genesee Valley, Salt Lake City, and Proctor to have an amazing group of instant friends. Some people draw energy from themselves, from alone-time. Some people build their energy off of others. I am definitely the latter and it is nice to be part of an iwi again.

Wisdom from the Loo

Loo: (n.) toilet

Here in the southern hemisphere today is the spring equinox. The Celtic planting calender next to our loo tells me that Alban Eiler is a time where light and dark are in balance, a time for celebrating beginnings and praising the goddess of dawn, wisdom, and enlightenment.

That seems fitting given the fact that we officially sold our farm in New Hampshire this week. We’ve been contemplating the Buddhist notion that all suffering is caused by attachment and are balancing the loss we feel for the farm with the excitement of the new friends and connections we are building in New Zealand. Last night our friends at the Environment Center threw an equinox party with a speaker about transition towns, heaps of food, and music-making.

Those of you in the northern hemisphere are also celebrating an equinox today. Alban Elued, the autumn equinox, is also a time of balance between light and dark. It is a time of feeling fulfillment and completion, closing the cycle of seasons, and also a time of preparation for the winter. Hmmm… preparation for winter… I think we moved at the perfect time.

Oh and look who figured out how to work the camera just in time to snap some pictures of the festivities last night. Good on ya Nelson!

A Minty Obsession

New Zealand finds new ways to surprise us every day. Let’s take a sojourn to our local supermarket.

Succulent Lamb and Mint potato chips?

Minted peas?

Even Subway is in on the act.

Just who did ask for that Subway? I may be bold enough to brave Sylvia’s green juice, but I haven’t been brave enough yet to tackle the mint sensation sweeping this small nation. There are some things about New Zealand that I just don’t get.

Choice Photos

Choice- (adj.) awesome, rad

This morning was cold and rainy again. No worries though, it gave me a good excuse to stay inside and work on my delinquent research paper. It took me a while to get focused and going, but then I settled in for about 4 hours of straight work (much needed for sure) and 2 hours of Maori language practice (Ko wai tenei kotiro mohio? – Who is this clever girl?). When Nelson came home and woke me out of my study stupor he reminded me I hadn’t been outside all day. Luckily the sun came out just in time for me to catch some nice post-rain pictures before sunset. I am definitely loving my new camera (thanks mom, Kris, and Joe). Here are some of my favorites from today. All were taken in our backyard in the Quaker Settlement.

Chooks and Books

Chook: (n.) Chicken

We drove down to Wellington yesterday to drop Lisa and Sky off at the airport. Although we heard that they encountered some last minute visa troubles at the airport they are (hopefully) off to Australia and Vietnam by now and we are adjusting to our new home in Wanganui. There are lots of benefits that come along with housesitting for a permaculturalist. We’ve found ourselves with an instant group of like-minded friends who are involved in various eco-projects around the community. We’ve also inherited Lisa’s beautiful garden. If we can keep the pokikos (crazy looking bird also known as the NZ chicken) away we should have some fresh veggies in a few weeks.
Nelson has already begun diving into his favorite part of the house, Lisa’s book collection. Still reeling from the sale of most of our books this summer, we’ve found some of our old favorites on her shelves (for Dani: Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel, for Nelson: Permaculcture 1 & 2 by Bill Mollison).
We have also been kept rather busy by the chooks. Lisa keeps her layers in a movable cage, so that they can be moved once they clear the grass and fertilize the soil in one area. In NZ this means swapping locations about once every two weeks. It is a handy technique for adding nutrients to depleted soil and keeping chooks happy and healthy through foraging. Well, while moving the coop, the chickens snuck under the fence and escaped. For hand-reared chickens this is not a problem, but our wards are not hand-reared and thus far have not responded well to our efforts to recage them. They are now three days out of their coop now and are loving every minute. Since there are no predators in NZ at all we aren’t worried for their safety, but they are doing some serious damage to our garden. There will definitely be no more seedlings planted until they are captured. We’ve heard all we need to do it grab them by their feet. If you hold a chicken upside-down they immediately “fall-asleep” because all of the blood rushes to their head. So far we can’t get within 5 feet of them before they freak out. We have tried luring them back to their home with grain, and today all three of the escapees were actually right next to the door. Unfortunately the only thing that actually went into the coop was one of those darned pokikos. Tonight’s midnight mission will be our final attempt before calling on the experienced hands of our Quaker neighbors.

Heaps of Sheep

Heaps: (adj.) a lot

We read an article in the paper the other day announcing proudly that while New Zealand has been the butt of jokes for years because of its 40:1 sheep:human population, that population has in fact halved and now there are only 20 times as many sheep per people in New Zealand. The fact that this was a headline in a national paper, may be self-defeating.

We had heard that in New Zealand there were more sheep than people, but after seeing factory farms in the US that fact didn’t seem too surprising. Undoubtedly if they can fit tens of thousands of cattle into a square mile, then it shouldn’t be hard to surpass a population of four million people spread out over two islands. But here in New Zealand factory farming, feed lots, and corn-fed cattle is unheard of. “What do you mean you can’t find grass-fed meat where you live? What else would cows eat?” asks our friend Lisa. Not surprisingly, “spray-free” fruits and veggies are also much easier to find here. The things we take for granted in the states. When did “conventional” foods become the ones that require the most sprays, shipping, processing, and corn?

Here are a few photos of our six hour bus ride from Hamilton to Wanganui, where we will be house-sitting for 9 weeks. We rode almost the entire length of the north island and passed endless miles of fields with sheep and cattle grazing. No doubt, millions of sheep and cattle grazing happily, and not one feed lot.