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Monthly Archives: October 2014

Miles of tiles

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Grumpy Zozo selfie, mid-plastering.

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My old ameraucana hen is back to laying prolifically!

 

It’s been a hectic week, and it’s not over yet! I made some significant progress on the Nid ceiling – a long-dreaded task that’s bad, but not as bad as I expected – whilst Mandy, Hannah, and Julie leveled and tiled half of the kitchen floor in the main house. Mandy and I were going to chug right along and do the second half today, but somehow we had both forgotten that the wall needed to be plastered first! So it came to be, I plastered a rather large wall before breakfast…well…brunch. Tile happens tomorrow, then grout, then sealant, and we’ll finally have a gorgeous, properly functional kitchen floor!

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Mandy, laying tile on the kitchen floor.

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Grouting the tile.

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My plastering job on the kitchen wall of the main house.

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Apart from all the work, this was Julie’s last week with us – it’s been such a pleasure to have her, in all of her enthusiastic, hard-working, quick-learning glory! I send her off this afternoon with great expectations of her next adventure, in Puerto Rico. Hannah has now been with us for two weeks, and is learning to lay tile, plaster, and do many things around the garden, including implementing a new experimental bed in the vegetable garden, with an under-layer of coconut husks, then leaves, then compost, then finally soil. This is inspired by the Hugelkultur concept, which utilizes rotting logs to form a raised bed, providing a steady source of nutrients for many years.

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Nid ceiling: day 1.

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Nid ceiling: day 2. Up to the middle of the roof!

The chicks are now almost 8 weeks old, and have graduated to free-ranging in the daytime. I was loathe to let them out, after my previous experience with mongoose killing sprees, but the chicks were becoming aggressive towards each other due to being penned in, so out they went. 3 days in, I still have all 14 chicks, so I guess they’re ok! They come into the coop at dusk to be locked up for the night, and wait patiently in the morning to be let out (with much flapping, squawking, and other ado over nothing), at which time they meet up with the older hens, scratch, play, and do other chickeny things.

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Too cooped up.

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Freedom!

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Corn, peas, beans, arugula, kale, chamomile, watercress, green and red okra, quinoa, and pepper seeds have been started for the winter season – some to go in the new Hugelkultur bed, some to go elsewhere around the garden. Soon we’ll have lettuce going as well, once the daytime temperatures have dropped just a little further. Winter here is a time of salads and a lush variety of veggies after the comparatively barren summer months. On the other hand, soon avocado season will be over, and we’ll have little fruit except for citrus and bananas for the coming months, with a sugar apple or soursop here and there. Hopefully by next year we’ll have some more guava, sugarapple, soursop, surinam cherry, and abricot trees in the ground and nearing maturity, extending the fruit season significantly. All in good time.

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Guava, soursop, and banana sprouts.

Are you on St Croix? Arriving soon? On Saturday, November 8th, we will be hosting our second Coffee Morning with Haitian coffee and wood-fired cinnamon buns in support of Good Samaritan of Haiti Inc., featuring Haitian artwork and crafts, plus a full range of Nidulari comestibles. A $10 donation to GSH covers coffee and a giant cinnamon bun, and supports life-changing projects in Ille A Vache, Haiti, managed by Mandy. Please RSVP on Facebook and tell all your friends!

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A friendly night-time visitor (iguana).

Til next week, cheers!

*Baking Cancelled*

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Due to tiling the kitchen floor, there will be no baking on Saturday, October 25th. Apologies for any inconvenience that this may cause! You may swing by the Locally Grown Market in F’sted this afternoon, 3:30-6, to grab an extra loaf of bread, or you may place orders for next Wednesday, with pickup at Locally Grown or at Cruzan Gardens on Midland Rd.

Cheers!

Another Saturday Night

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Dear readers, far and near,

It’s a Saturday night now, isn’t it? Guess what…here I was going to go out, treat myself to a nice dinner – since everyone else is away for the night – relax, have a nice time. But then that nasty thing called Exhaustion got in the way, the close friend of Plastering, who always follows just a few steps behind, lurking quietly, ready to take revenge for one’s time spent with Plastering. I did indeed covet Plastering’s attention all morning, getting quite a lot of progress made; 2 1/2 sections of ceiling, as well as most of the bathroom floor! I seem to have finally somewhat mastered a technique of getting (some) plaster to stick to the ceiling, albeit a slow and painful process during which half of the cement seems to end up coating my face. Unpleasant.

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The Nid has been shrouded in a huge plastic sheet to make working in the rain a little more practical…

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First coat started on the ceiling!

Our new volunteer, Hannah, has not yet run away screaming in terror, so I believe that I can say her stay is going well! She has been making great progress on clearing and planting up by the Nid, as well as learning to mix cement, de-vine trees, and digging trenches for pipes – quite a productive first week despite several power outages, rain from hurricane Gonzallo (we had only a little rain and no wind, unlike poor St Martin, where some 30 boats were wrecked as well as damage ashore – less than 200 miles from here), and Julie’s tumble from a ladder on Monday, resulting in a slow week for her. Julie, sadly, will be leaving us a week from today, after 2 months with us during which we’ve got so much done on the Nid, the garden, and everything else. I’ve no idea how the months have passed so quickly!

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The bathroom floor, almost finished.

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Freshly planted area.

Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve expanded the Nid clearing significantly: leaving all of the established trees, but clearing out the small (prickly) undergrowth. In the front area we’ve planted Ti (ornamental/shade/privacy though a sweet beverage can be made from the stalks and roots, supposedly), Moringa, Haitian Abricot, Lemongrass, and Spanish Thyme, and will soon add in some Cacao and Root Ginger. I’ll be planting out a Surinam Cherry and a Tangerine tree along with ground cover and chilli bushes once the bulk of the cement work is done on the Nid – until then I risk burning the plants with the cement. Deer are destroying all of my sweet potato plants, chewing the ginger, and trampling or stripping the leaves from the hibiscus starts and the chaya: soon I’ll either have a dog to chase them off, or a freezer full of venison, nicely fattened on hibiscus and seasoned with ginger.

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Just in time for Halloween.

It’s been a busy week, all in all! Not only is Cruzan Gardens maintaining a full stock of Nidulari products, but they are now accepting sourdough bread orders for pick up on Wednesday afternoons, 4-5pm. You may place your orders through them or with me directly – please be sure to specify White, Whole Grain, or Caraway Rye, provide your name and a means of contact, and remember to pick your order up! Cynthia also grows the very best Carambolas (star fruit), along with passion fruit, okra, golden apples, and other goodies. Stop by and check it out! For those of you who are unfamiliar with Cruzan Gardens, they are located on Midland Road, halfway between the Mon Bijou stoplight and Annally Farms, across from Sejah Farm’s pastures.

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And some more ‘shrooms.

I think that’s about it for the week, and bodes for an early night for me! Old age, I tell you.

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Comfy swinging bench for the end of the day.

Where’s the bread?

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Get it while it’s hot!

I just have a few quick announcements for you all this fine weekend, before I go to get my beauty sleep in preparation for another week of hard work and great progress.

It’s now official: if you don’t want to drive all the way out West to pick up your bread orders, you can order for pickup at Cruzan Gardens (mid island)  on Wednesdays! Please specify your pickup location in your order, and be sure to swing by between 4 and 5pm at Cruzan Gardens, or 3:30-6pm at the VI Locally Grown table in F’sted. Baking for pickup at Little La Grange will continue on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month, as weather permits.

At Cruzan Gardens you’ll also find carambolas, passionfruit, fresh flowers, and okra all grown by Cynthia, along with avocados and all my packaged goods including toasties, croutons, cookies, granola, and chutneys. Open Tue-Fri 9-5, and Sat 9-1.

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Excuse my poor photography, and look instead at that gorgeous texture; open, chewy; simply mouthwatering. Nidulari white sourdough bread.

Also, check out our newest product, delicious Granola Bars! Made with oats, honey, and spices, they make for the perfect snack, to-go breakfast, or even dessert.

Today we welcome our newest WWOOF volunteer, Hannah, who has traveled far to spend a while helping with the projects here. Well, we know that really she’s just escaping winter…but that’s ok!

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I toast with tasty breadfruit wine, made locally by Sejah Farm! Soon I hope to be drinking my own, home-brewed wine…just a couple more months.

Til next week, and here’s to seeing some of you at Cruzan Gardens this Wednesday afternoon!

Cooping up

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Today we got rained out, again. It’s just been that kind of week. If you missed my usual Sunday post, well, my face was swelled up like a pumpkin (not tasty, I assure you–no spice, no latte), leaving me in no shape–hah–to write a blog post or do anything useful at all. Despite a somewhat untoward weekend, lots of rain, and the usual shenanigans, we’ve got a lot done.

The chicks are now moved into their outdoor coop–a chicken tractor dug into a trench with rocks around it for mongoose-proofing–leaving us with a little more space on our porch! They seem to be very happy with their new abode, even if they haven’t yet figured out the whole concept of sleeping upstairs, playing downstairs. I get to be a good chicken-mother and put them to bed at night. Oh, and we think that one of the “pullets” is rather…um…not a pullet. “She” has rather longer tail feathers and a singularly “cocky” attitude…

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I came across two really tasty recipes last week, so I must decide which to share with you all! One is a pasta dish, with a sauce of avocado, basil, and garlic over warm pasta–you can figure that out, right? The other–since I’m baking both tomorrow and Saturday I must go into detail on the baked recipe–is a “potato pie” with onion and feta, quite lovely. Ready? It’s pretty, too.

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Savoury Potato Pie

1 medium potato, halved and sliced in 1/8″ slices

1 onion, same

1 sweet potato, same

1 egg

basil, feta (or other cheese), salt, pepper, water or milk

In a 10″ round baking dish lay the potato slices flat, in 1 or 2 layers. Then do the same with the onion. Then some basil and cheese. Then finally a layer of the sweet potato. Beat the egg, about 1 cup water or milk, salt, pepper, and some more cheese together, pour over the top. bake with foil over for 15min at 350ºF, then remove foil and bake another 15min. Enjoy hot or cold!

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Avocado-basil pasta, feta, and kimchi for lunch!

Of course there’s been progress on the Nid as well. Somehow, inbetween my days at Cruzan Gardens and my days baking, I still manage to find time to work on my house! Did I mention potting up my garden plants, hunting for a new tenant for the cottage, clearing ever-encroaching vines from all the trees, and trying to have a social life? Hah, I say. The rain has done a number on my progress on the loft roof, but I did manage to lay the first (tiny) section of floor! I’d made a good deal of progress on the loft roof last week, but still have yet to seriously tackle the main ceiling…all in good time. The steady but slow progress starts to become a little disheartening as the months roll by, but hopefully I am nearing the end of this chapter, and soon will be living in the Nid, glad to have a place to call my own.

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Kitchen wall!

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Glorious shower.

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Getting there on the loft.

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Test patch of floor!

On Sunday we’ll be welcoming a new WWOOFer into the family, always an exciting event! Julie will still be here for a couple of weeks to “train in” our new volunteer, and we hope to get a lot done while we have extra hands! It’s always fun to have new eyes to see the projects through, and fresh enthusiasm to fuel our work.

With that, my loyal readers, I must be off to make bread for tomorrow’s baking! I will also be baking this Saturday, so if you’d like to order anything please email me by noon on Friday. Cheers!