Saturday, August 27, 2011

Keeping Healthy Bees Workshop

Yesterday I went to a workshop entitled "Keeping Healthy Bees" in Raglan. Thirty people attended and we were treated to a day packed with knowledge and ideas. It cost each attendee $10.

From Wellington we had Rex Baynes talk about the National Pest Management Strategy for an awful bee pest, American Foul Brood.

Jane Lorimer showing us the parts of a hive.
Jane Lorimer, a professional Waikato beekeeper (of Lorimers Honey) and Past President of the National Beekeepers' Association, talked about the queen's role in keeping the hive healthy, and also gave us a hands on demonstration of how to inspect a hive. 
Jane talking about the importance of cleaning you hive tool when inspecting a different hive.
Her husband, Tony, came and contributed in an informal way, and also collected and returned Rex to the airport.

Tony showing how there's no need to panic when a bee or two lands on you.
Warren Yorston, of Plant and Food Research, Ruakura, talked to us about managing varroa. Warren lives locally and keeps bees himself.
 Jane demonstrating hive inspection techniques.
 There's a queen there somewhere - I saw her before and after I took the photo.
 These were a couple of Warren's hives, vigorous and healthy.
The people who attended were all very impressed with the day, and there was a constant stream of people asking about the Waingaroa Bee Club: who is the secretary / treasurer; how could they join; how much is it to join; where do we meet.

So here are the two things that made my heart sing, and which stunned the questioners:

The speakers all came and spoke for free. We did present each with a gift, but they asked for nothing. These are busy professional people who so love bees and beekeeping that they gave freely of their time, petrol, knowledge and expertise, with no expectation of recompense.

And the bee club which organised it? We have a core group of about ten. We have no committee, no subs, no bank account. We used to charge 50c per meeting to pay the rent of the local town hall supper room for our monthly meetings, but now we meet for free at Vinnie's, a local restaurant which offered for us to meet there, no obligation to buy anything. Joining is as simple as turning up on the night, and giving me an email address so I can send out emails reminding of meetings, and notes of what happened at the meetings.
The core group organised the venue and speakers, did baking, bought gifts, made home made ginger beer, and all the other jobs that go with such an even.
Maybe it's the example set by the bees: like a hive, our club is without the structure of a formal organisation, but is thriving through a sense of community instead.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wild Carrot: Inside Out, Downside Up

 Like my grandparents and great-grandparents, the wild carrot emigrated from Britain and Europe to New Zealand and found a place to grow and flourish.
Many people call the wild carrot - and other immigrants, of both plant and human kinds - weeds. Some people pull them out, some spray them with pesticide, some just curse them. When I came to our land, it had no garden; it was just a bare paddock. I discovered the beauty of weeds, and picked them to put in vases. I came to love the wild carrot in particular.
It is a beautiful flower, and even when it is picked, pressed flat, 
and turned upside down it remains beautiful. In fact, I think its wild underside is even more beautiful than the side it shows the world.
I've reached a point in my life when I think it's time to start accepting my underside, to stop worrying about what other people think and say, to live life more from the inside than the outside. And because it's so easy to slip back into the habits of six decades I decided I need something to remind myself that instead of trying to live from the outside in,  from now I want to live from the inside out. I'm turning the downside up. And this is my reminder:

Thursday, August 18, 2011

From Snow to Summer

On Monday it snowed. How absurd.
Today I had an appointment in Raglan.
 Afterwards I couldn't resist the call of the sun. I walked through the Wainui Reserve Bush Park....... the top of the hill, looking out to sea.......
 ..................and then down to the beach.
 Once again I am reminded of why I live here, why I never want to leave. 

Saturday, August 6, 2011

On the cold, windy, wet days of winter, it's a good feeling to still be able to make and grow food. I have Kings stir fry mix soaking, and alfalfa sprouts half way to eating. Scrambled eggs for lunch made with homegrown eggs, spring onions and parsley, and local raw organic milk.

I have both milk and water kefir on the go (kefir grains courtesy of friends Sarah and Alice), and my first batch of marmalade made to my mother's recipe - the first year I've had enough home grown grapefruit and lemons for marmalade.

Today as the wind started working itself up into a frenzy, I decided to got pick the first few daffodils before they got battered to death - a happy reminder that spring is coming, that the sun is returning.

 But best of all on this gloomy day is this bud. My dear friend Margaret gave us a garden centre voucher as a land warming present (at that stage we had no house, just a garage) and we bought a large, unlabelled tree for half price as although they thought it was a magnolia, they couldn't be sure. It's been a bit of a disappointment but finally, ten years later, first bud. Good things take time sometimes.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Inappropriate Expectations of Children

Yesterday I had lunch with Steven at a pleasant café in Frankton: the staff were friendly, the food was great, and I was enjoying relaxing and chatting with Steven.

And then......

.......the sound of a toddler crying out for “Mummy”. A small boy aged about two was pulling at the gate of the children’s play room. A little girl around four and a half tried to distract him to no avail, and then she too started calling for her mother. They got louder and louder, until the mother, turned around and said, very coldly, “I can hear you. Be quiet.”

She was there with two other young mothers out for lunch and a latté. A moment later, a little boy, maybe 10 months or a year, started to try and climb out of his high chair, and his mother snarled at him, “Sit down, you have to sit down.” The little boy kept trying to climb out and eventually the woman wrenched him from the high chair, gripping his arms unnecessarily tightly, and then held the child very firmly on her lap, continuing to tell him he must sit still and be quiet.

These three young women were sitting when we arrived. As we went to our table after ordering, they had finished lunch and were drinking coffee. By the time the little boy started crying for his mother, we had been there about 20 minutes, which means they had been there considerably longer.

Early this year I had lunch with a friend at the Hamilton Gardens café, where a similar scene was played out, this time with slightly older children. One mother was trying to get her child to eat her lunch. The child was crying, saying she didn’t like it. The mother was insisting that the child the child eat it, and as justification said she had chosen it especially for the girl because she was sure she would like it. The child said, “But I don’t like it,” and the mother said, “Well you have to eat it because I paid for it.” This little kid stuck to her guns, insisting she wouldn’t eat it because she didn’t like it, until the mother said, “Well, there’ll probably be a policeman coming by soon, and when I tell him you won’t eat your lunch, he’ll arrest you.” Or words to that effect. This was too much for Marcia and me, but just as we were about to get up and say something, the mother said, “Oh, all right, go and play then.” I think she may have caught a glimpse of our horrified faces.

I’ve had four kids. I know it’s hard. I know that sometimes you just so need to spend time relaxing and talking with adult friends who understand what it’s like, but get real ladies! These are children. A café is not an interesting place for children. A playroom is only fun for a little while, when it doubles as a prison cell. A highchair is pretty damn boring once you’ve eaten lunch. And policemen are not people to threaten your child with unless you are 100% sure she will never need to turn to one for help.

Personally, I don’t mind kids in cafés making a bit of noise, running around, playing – as long as they don’t steal my food or wipe their food-embellished faces on me. However I do hate seeing and hearing unhappy kids being lied to, being expected to behave like adults, and not receiving any smiles or love or cuddles from the most important person in their world.