Drifted off to sleep again only to be woken just before 6 by a huge buzzing sound. Really loud. Meg had left the door to the balcony open and a carpenter bee had flown in. These things are aeronautical miracles. It should be impossible for something that big to fly. They are not wasps, not aggressive and so not that much of a problem other than that I knew I wouldn't be able to sleep again knowing one might land on me. Sigh. Wiggled out of bed around Meg and escorted bee friend out of room.
Gave up on sleep and went downstairs and made wholemeal blueberry muffins for brekky. We are still trying out various methods of eating the mass of wheat we harvested last year. Whole in rice is fine, sprouted is great but we really wanted to mill it and use it as wholemeal flour. K did some in the coffee grinder last night so I used that.
Hmmmm.... decidedly crunchy. Oh well, Amy, K and I ate them and then Amy and K headed down to clean the community centre as it was our half of the mountain's turn.
Meg was still sleeping.....
Hung out the washing, drank my coffee, Meg woke up and came downstairs and we made scrambled eggs and sauteed spinach for breakfast and ate it with more muffins when K and Amy got back.
Faffed around doing house stuff until 10:00 when we headed down the road to the annual JA farming seminar. This is the second one they've done and was being held outside in one of the neighbour's farms this year. The actual seminar makes me all irritated as it's a huge sell for JA agricultural chemicals "Please don't think you don't need to spray your home-use veggies. Why would you set lower standards for your family than your customers?" and a worrying insight into Japanese farmer thinking "Please follow the instructions on the label. If it says dilute 1:1000 it will not work twice as well at 1:500. Also obey minimum pre-harvest no spray zones. If it says 1 day before harvest and you spray at 5:00pm today you cannot pick until after 5:00pm tomorrow. Please think of one day as 24 hours."
The cultivation tips are useful in a broad sense but really I have no intention of slavishly following them when they are as involved as "Once you have seven sets of leaves on your cucumber pluck out any further side shoots other than the thickest one. This is the child shoot and the original is the parent shoot. Once you have 12 sets of leaves on the parent shoot strip the first 7 leaves. Pluck off the first two cucumbers on each shoot. They will be tough. Once you have harvested 20 cucumbers from the parent shoot pluck the top off it to stop it and begin to propagate a side shoot from the child shoot. This will be the grandchild shoot. If you diligently follow this system I guarantee you will get 100 cucumbers from each plant. The prefectural prize winner harvested 200 cucumbers from one plant this way!" Phew. And there were similar instructions for tomatoes, melon, leaf vegetables and pumpkin. All laced with liberal doses of the benefits of using (JA) agricultural chemicals. Why go then if I don't like what they are saying? Well, it's free, they give you 10 lettuce seedlings for going (probably chemically addicted but still) and my co-farmer and I need all the field cred. we can get so we turn up to be seen.
Came home and decided to do something about the tree in front of the house. It was one of those poodle trees when we arrived and I decided to give it it's freedom and let it do its thing. Unfortunately it had had too many years as a poodle and didn't really work returning to the wild. The middle died off and the sides grew super long and straggly.
Enter K and his trusty chainsaw and tree no more:
Meg and I got in on the act with the hand saws and cut it all up into manageable pieces
Very manageable in Meg's case....
And we hauled it out the back to the fire pit and burnt it off.
Then co-farmer and I went and picked up some cucumber seedlings from her friend who is a cucumber farmer. We came home with 30 seedlings. I was feeling bad about taking so many until the woman told us she had planted 1000 seedlings today and was over looking at them. Wow... Bet she doesn't do that labour intensive parent, child, grandparent thing on every one!
Brought them home, made wholemeal pizza dough with more of the flour K milled for me, let it rest while we started planting cucumbers, shovelled coals from the fire pit into the pizza oven, stacked firewood, rolled out pizzas with the girls and topped them with our super tomato sauce and fresh herbs and cheese (and carrot slices in Amy's case...) Baked the pizzas:
And had dinner under the persimmon tree:
Then K put the girls in the bath while A and I planted out the rest of our 20 cucumbers (we gave 10 away) in the gloaming. Had a race with the girls who would be faster- them getting pj-ed and teeth brushed or me finishing up outside which meant they got through the evening routine in double time and were upstairs, books read, light out and asleep by 8:00. A bit later than ideal but pretty good for such a big day!
Sitting back with a cocoa and aching muscles I'm pretty impressed with our productive day today.