My main focus lately has been tree planting. Over the next month, we hope to install 1,200 trees in the earth of the valley. We are planting mostly acacia species for ground cover and mostly eucalyptus species for shelterbelts. In the first week, with the equivalent of 3.5 days of a 3-person planting team, we've planted just about 30%... an excellent start.
There is just as much non-planting work, however. I've recovered and saved seeds, and planted seeds into root training trays. We also have to pound stakes into the ground, paint the stakes, staple plastic tags into the stakes, and label the stakes with the code of the tree that will be planted next to it. It's a huge effort with logistical challenges, as there are only 6 of us, certain people must do certain tasks, and certain tasks must happen before other tasks. So far, I'm loving it, as one of my main motivations for coming to New Zealand was environmental conservation work.
On one of our first days back, Dave and I built a glass house cover for our lettuce beds. Since the weather is cool and rainy, the little lettuces need some extra warmth and protection from downpours to flourish. It was only a one day project, but it turned out quite nicely. We built this out of two old windows and some scrap wood. Creative building material reuse: check!
It all started when the wood-burning stove inexplicably began to leak smoke into the house. Time for a newer stove! The old stove, however, was connected to the hot water supply, a smart way to use excess stove heat to reduce energy use by the hot water heater. In the process of draining the hot water tank, we accidentally "drained" the tank all over the living room and the kitchen, resulting in an inch of standing water in most of the house.
To make matters worse, the heating element in the hot water tank burned out once the tank was empty. Result: no heat from the wood-burning stove and no hot water. Hilariously, one of the burners on our electric cooking stove short-circuited, leaving us with an electric kettle as the sole source of heat in the entire house.
There is a happy ending to the story, however: handy Dave figured out and repaired the hot water tank. My hero! :-)
Two French Canadian young ladies, Melanie and Catherine, have joined us for June. They are so much fun... always laughing and telling stories! I really appreciate their enthusiasm for tree planting and working outside. I think we are going to have an awesome time working and playing together. (And I'm not just saying that because they might read this! :-P )
I actually don't have anything to say about the dogs; I simply love this picture of "smiling" Ninya. The doggles are an endless source of entertainment and companionship.
All of the rain that we didn't get this summer has fallen in the past few weeks, and it will probably keep falling for the rest of the month. It is certainly winter, the rainy season, here in our temperate rainforest. The air is always damp and the weather changeable. It's still warm enough to sleep outside, though, so we are happy in our tent. It is mostly dark by 5:30 p.m, and it doesn't start getting light until 7:00 a.m. North Americans, enjoy your daylight!