on lunch....

I make K's lunch each day.

I know he could make his own.

I'm no Martha Stewart and I believe in gender equality.

I also like doing little things to make K's life a little easier and he likes me making his lunch so win/ win situation.


The lunches have few requirements- volume, large proportion of rice, grilled fish if possible...

red turnip pickles, grilled eggplants, feijoada, grilled saury and cucumbers and mayo.

Marinated eggplant, frittata, cucumber, tomato stew, saury.

grilled salmon, shiso leaf wrapped miso, floweing okra, soy flavoured fish, starshaped cucumber, pickled cucumber, steamed pumpkin and tomato slices.

Same as the day before with less of everything and some pickled gourd for good measure.

Cheesy potatoes, cucumber, grilled salmon, crab cream croquette, mini tomatoes, pickled gourd.

pickled gourd, cucumber, wiener sausages, grilled salmon, mini tomatoes, dried daikon radish pickles.

omelette, cucumber slices, mini tomatoes, stewed tuna.

'Gengis Khan' braised lamb, tomato, marinated tomatoes, stewed tuna, cucumber slices.

tomato and basil salad, stirfried eggplant and bacon, grilled salmon, pickled gourd.
Not too pretty but not too shabby, right?

Then I helped out a neighbour with some work and she put on lunchboxes for us all (herself and three helpers.) She'd made the same lunch for her son and husband.  

That's six lunches in total.

And we started work at 8am.

Anyway, here's the lunch she made for us all:

ouch! Talk about being outdone, huh?

Then Amy got ready for school quickly one morning and asked if she could make Daddy's lunch:

Outdone.  Again.... By an EIGHT year old!!!

Ahhh well.

I get points for consistency though....

little battlers

Last week I ripped down the 'green curtain' of morning glory plants at work and replanted the planters with pansies for the winter months.

I was in a hurry, going something to do something, a thousand things on my mind and all that and I forgot them in the back of the van.

The next day K asked me if there was a reason why there was a bunch of weeds and netting in the back of the van.

(K doesn't know a lot about flowers and nothing really surprises him about me and my abuse of our poor car anymore)

I dragged the whole jumble out and left it at the side of the carpark fully intending to spend sometime untangling the vines to rescue the netting for next year....

just as soon as I had brekky.... and fed the chooks.... and played some online scrabble... and... and....

Yeah, right.

Didn't happen.

Then 5 whole days later:

So I took a picture thinking- that's blogworthy!

And before I got around to that:

That is from today. A whole WEEK later.  This poor vine has no roots left. It's not in soil. We haven't had rain for weeks.

And it's managing to flower.

Grit and determination!

The futility of trying....


garden to larder in 12 hours

I was feeling really pleased with myself when I had all my plum jam jarred by 9:00am.

Pat on the back, cup of coffee, sit down to have a little rest kind of pleased with myself.

Then, my friend and neighbour A came over and said there were tomatoes ripe for the picking (haha!) but they had to be picked today as the tractor would be ploughing everything to smithereens that very afternoon.

So, we drained our coffees and headed down the road.

We got an almost full container of beautiful red, firm, fragrant and sun-warmed tomatoes each.

Brought them home (lugged, hauled, carted more like):

and decided there was no time like the present and got to making tomato sauce:

after washing them the first stop was topping and de-seeding 

then weighing in units of 1kg as that's all my poor scale goes to. (I was watching World's strictest parents on youtube as I worked. I am NOT the meanest mummy in the world by FAR!)

Then I boiled it down, blitzed it all with the stick blender- AMAZING invention- and flavoured each batch slightly differently:

smoked paprika, roasted garlic and roasted chilli peppers.

Then all that was left was to eat it! I love sauce making day- dinner was fresh made sauce with prawns and basil and parmesan cheese.


It was a big day though. I closed the lid on the last jar at 10:00pm and I still had to clean down the kitchen.

Phew! Garden to larder in 12 hours sounds good but it sure wore me out!


sometimes you can't win for trying...

Last year I found a frog who'd had his leg shut in the sliding door over night.  

I tried to save him, put him in a box with some grass and water but his leg had all dried out and he couldn't move.

I decided euthanasia was kinder than a slow and painful death.

But I couldn't bring myself to actually kill it.

So I decided putting it in the chook cage would be the kindest thing to do as it would be eaten in a nanosecond.

Only it didn't quite work out that way.

I'll spare you the gory details but there was a fight over froggie and it was pretty nasty.... more than one chook ended up benefitting from froggie's demise.

So, fast forward a year or so and I was going in to the chook cage to clean out their water bucket when I saw....

a rather LARGE frog in there.

I have no idea how it climbed into the cage and got in the bucket without being detected by the chooks but it did.

And by some very watchful and well timed diving it had avoided consumption.

Must have been some pretty close shaves, huh?

Anyway, here was my chance to finally rid myself of froggie torture guilt and restore some karma.

I would rescue the frog and let it frollick again in the wide wide world.

I tried catching it but it was a little slippery and very good at evasive manuoveres (hence it's current predicament, huh?) so I decided to pick up the whole bucket and just tip it out with the water in the gap between the roof and side fences of the chook cage.

I was slowly and carefully tipping while thinking of baby and bathwater sayings and feeling the glow of my new improved froggie karma when there was a flash of green.... 

oh NO!!

The darn frog had not trusted my motives and thought I was the dangerous one and made a great leap for freedom- into the chook cage.


It was NOT pretty.

This was a LARGE frog.

Too big to be eaten in one greedy chook gulp.

It was carnage.

Worse than last time.

I give up.


Got wood?

Growing up my dad had a chainsawing, woodcutting, hauling, chopping and wood selling business.

I got used to random piles of firewood around the place.

I even (with much grumbling) helped stack wood the odd time.

But I think even dad never had this much firewood around the place.

And I bet he never thought I'd be the chief firewood stacker anywhere!

Exhibit 1-7

in front of the thick concrete walled shed

Behind said shed. In a lost space between our shed and the neighbours. I have a feeling this wood is destined to be forgotten or at least taken over by vines....

Along the side of the hanare/ old house thing. Please note the pallets at the front with MORE wood on them. Stacking branches the size of my thumb is such a tedious task.... :(

And that 44 gallon drum burning off doovalacky? That makes me feel so Australian!  Do other countries use them? I dunno, it looks pretty trashy I'm sure but it's such a nostalgic thing to have around and sure makes burning off a breeze in the breeze! (groan....)

On the side of the shed, between the two doors, the front shed is used for potato storage and straw and the back shed is our machinery shed. K repurposed bamboo we had to cut down or risk losing internet cables (NOOOOO!) and a door from the old bathroom- it still says 'toilet' on it. :) The long poles at the back are the legs for the drying racks we use at rice harvest.

front left of the old house. The big rounds of wood are there as supports for the woodpile. The logs on top of them are green and from a tree we cut down last week.... precarious to say the least!

Right hand side of the old house. This was a four deep firewood pile on the verandah of the old house with racks for my gardening tools until we ran out of room for wood and added a further woodpile on the concrete foundation of the house and now my gardening tools are orphans. :(

The garden side of the old house.  I transplanted three rhubarb plants to eek out this woodpile.


We are FULL!

No more firewood please!!

We are still using the last of the wood my parents stacked inside the potato shed three years ago!

But people still leave it in the carpark for us....

And the neighbour up the hill form us has requested K cut down some pines on the border of our properties....

This will greatly increase the light in our kitchen and help the garden....

But they want them gone as they can no longer see the Matsumoto fireworks from their living room....

That's gonna be a LOT more wood.....

Lucky it's fire season (not really but I'm soft and we do have all that firewood...)


Autumn colour

Isn't that beautiful? Blue skies, green mountains, yellowing rice.

We have a date for rice harvest- the weekend of October 19-20th.

The rice looks good, the weather has been kind this year, the ducks did their thing....

There's still a lot of work to do before harvest- take down the strings across the top, remove the fencing and wash and pack it all up for next year, move the duck house back up to the neighbour's yard etc etc but things are getting exciting!

Fingers crossed for a good rice harvest!

what the duck?

I arranged to meet my friend S at the JA garden shop.
She left before me.
I stopped for petrol.
I arrived and her car wasn’t there.
I called: ‘Hey, where are you?’
‘I’m looking for a carpark.’
I looked around me. It’s a huge place and there were maybe 10 cars in the carpark…
‘Are you at the JA garden centre on the corner?’
‘Yes, the one with the farmers market.’
Aghhhhhh, we were at an intersection housing the JA garden centre on one corner, the JA grain silo on another, the JA supermarket on the third and rounded off with the JA farmers market on the fourth. I can see how that mistake could be made.
‘Don’t worry, I know where you are. Stay there and I’ll walk down and get you.’
I was waiting at the lights when I noticed a duck standing in the middle of the insurance office (JA of course) carpark.
Hmmmm, a whole two years into rice farming with ducks I am now (of course) a self-proclaimed veritable expert on the ways of all things duck so I naturally sucked some air in across my teeth, screwed up my forehead and decided that was a very unnatural place for a duck to be, considering this is a busy intersection on a main road and there are ample quiet and relaxing rice paddies and farms just one block either side of this street.
Curiosity trumped the promise I made to my friend and the worries I had about being caught trespassing and I wandered into the JA insurance carpark to see if the duck was injured.
It was mad though.
It rushed me.
And then returned to stand in the middle of the carpark again.
Hmmmm. I retreated to the sidewalk to consider my next step when my friend S happened upon me- I guess when ‘I’ll come get you’ morphs into ‘I’ll stand on the sidewalk of the building next door and stare into the empty carpark’ you decide to see what’s going on hey?
I explained to S what I was doing and she said that sounded like a mothering instinct.
(Out duck knowledged by a non duck farmer??!! Ouch!)
But there were no ducklings anywhere in sight….
We approached together (safety in numbers) and found the ducklings. At least a dozen of them. They had somehow gotten themselves into a stormwater drain.
A stormwater drain with a grate on top.
A grate that was bolted on.
The duck was quite disturbed and the ducklings were peeping and obviously stressed. I knew that each city has a wildlife control division (they come to hunt rogue bears in our neighbourhood) but we were in the neighbouring city and I had no idea where city hall was. We decided to start at the insurance office and see if they knew the wildlife control phone number or even if they had a wrench to remove the grate and help free the ducklings.
We walked into the cavernously empty office of the insurance agent with all the stealth of ninjas I guess as noone noticed us and we had to call out to get someone’s attention. The poor woman who eventually looked up did a double take and then quickly tried to hide her horror.  I’m guessing two white women who have been mistaken for mother and daughter before are not the usual farm insurance customers.
We eventually got her to come over and talk to us and I explained there was a duck standing in the carpark looking over her ducklings that were stuck in the stormwater drain.
A duck. In the carpark. Ducklings. In the stormwater drain.
Ehh? Two men came over to check things out which of course required a repeating of the problem which brought on another round of ‘Ehhhhh?’ Then the woman nodded slowly and said that she’d noticed a duck standing in the carpark for a while now. (She was obviously way less curious than I am!)
One of the men said we needed to go to the city hall sub-branch ‘just back there’ and they would go out and check things out while we were going.
As we headed ‘just back there’ wondering why ity was necessary for us to walk over rather than the JA guy just call, we watched an older guy standing over a defensive mother duck and talking as you do to the hard of hearing ‘OKAASAN, YOU NEED TO GO OVER THAT WAY!’ Rolling our eyes we started looking for the city hall sub-branch.  The first building was all windows and was very obviously a community centre being used for ballroom dancing practice so not that building….
The next building had no sign post whatsoever but looked decidedly administrative and had a manhole cover on display in the glassed in genkan leading me to guess this was city hall as who else would be that proud of a manhole cover?
We walked in and surprised a few more beuracrats- too easy, no need to even speak! And the relief when I spoke to them in Japanese was palpable.
After a few more repititions of the story and a lot more Ehhhhing? Someone was assigned to our case and back we went around the ballroom dancers with a cool-bized up middle aged man in tow.
We got back to the insurance office carpark to find all 5 staff out there with cardboard boxes, a rice seedling growing pallet, the hand pump from a kerosene container and a golf club.
They were all walking up and down the stormwater grate banging at it with the golfclub and blowing air (kerosene gas?) on the ducklings to make them move to the end of the drain where there was an opening. It was all making a huge noise as everything was echoing in the chamber of the stormwater grate causing the ducklings to get disoriented and the mother duck to get even more defensive.
It looked like a success though- all the ducklings swarmed to entrance to the drain, everyone stood back and-
watched as the ducklings raced right passed the entrance and down the other side of the drain.
Yup, this was not only a traffic intersection but a water one as well.
At some point the mother duck got in the drain as well.
Then someone brought over a produce basket and scooped a huge group of ducklings up and covered the basket with a piece of cardboard. The noise of the frightened ducklings was enough to lure the mother duck out.  Ahhhhh… success, all’s well that ends well…
peep peeep
Hang on….
Five heads cram their way into the entrance of the drain.
One mobile phone makes a dash for freedom from a shirt pocket and lands with a plop in the water to be fished out with the golf club a little worse for wear (does this count as a job related expense?)
One lone and very lonely duckling was spotted half way down the drain.
A dozen more ducklings were trying to escape from the basket.
A frazzled mother duck was torn between rushing to the side of the two groups of kids and making dashes at the people looming around.
Drivers in cars stopped at the lights on all sides of the intersection were watching this pantomime with undisguised interest and bewilderment.
How did it all end?

Sorry to disappoint you but I can only guess as I had been hanging out at the over JA-ed intersection for nearly an hour now and I had to get back to work.  My friend S did eventually find the JA garden shop (on her own) and after browsing a while returned to her car past the JA insurance office and reported no sign of people, duck or ducklings so we can only hope all went well and duck, ducklings, JA employees and city hall representative all got home safely with a rather unusual tale to tell over dinner.


This year's unusual vegetables

We grow the staples here of course- the summer eggplant, tomato, cucumber and corn.

In winter the leeks, Chinese cabbage, daikon radish and pickling greens.

But if that was all we grew it would hardly be worth the effort really, as these vegetables are like a sub-currency in the neighbourhood.  Everyone spends the growing season trying to palm off these usual suspects on each other.

So every year I try to grow something a bit fun and unusual and yummy.

This year I got into multi-packs of heritage varieties of seeds.

I have jalapeno, habanero, banana and orange chilis.

I have yellow, zebra, button and yellow button squash.

I have orange, green, purple and zebra tomatoes.

It's just so exciting watching everything out there!

The yield is lower than the usual varieties but I think that makes it even more exciting in a way as the anticipation lasts longer!

green tomato, white cucumber, yellow zucchini and stripy tomato.

the stuff you see on the back of a truck....

Remember these pictures?

The lovely people of my neighbourhood seeing how much they can fit on a 550cc k-truck.

Well, how about an under-loaded truck?

Yup, that's one lady's handbag in the back of a k-truck just a-driving down a main thoroughfare between towns.

As you do...

2013 veggie garden

Considering I started off all 'I'll never, ever, pollute MY garden with evil plastic' I've fallen a long, long way, hey?

But seriously, black plastic keeps the ground temperature up, keeps weeds at bay, helps with moisture retention, etc etc etc- GOOD STUFF!

But I still feel like a sell out....

June paddy catchup in pictures

Another year, another rice harvest. (June 9th for record keeping sake)

Another year, another go at stringing the paddy.

Another year, another flock of ducks.

What? You can't see them? You want MORE duck?


Another year another round of early morning paddy visits.

Another year, another round of admiring the dawn canvas.