Experience, not things

Christmas has been and gone. The tree is down and the decorations are back in their boxes. It’s a new year already.

My partner had a few days off after New Years Eve, so we took the time to go down to one of my favourite beaches, Aramoana, for a walk.

The day reaffirmed for me that our lives should be spent enjoying experiences, not stuff. We’re here on this earth to love each other and spend time enjoying the natural world.

aramoana beach

Aramoana is a beautiful beach, a short drive away from Dunedin.

We’re not here to fight each other over the next after-Christmas door buster sale!

At Aramoana, we walked along the spit to the very end.

the spit, aramoana, dunedin

View along the spit, Aramoana, Dunedin, New Zealand

There was a family of wild sealions basking in afternoon warmth, barely ten feet from where we stood.

Sealions, Aramoana, Dunedin

Sealions on the spit, Aramoana, Dunedin

About a dozen of them, some resting, barely opening an eye to us.

sealions, aramoana

Relaxed sealions, enjoying the afternoon.

They were obviously really used to seeing humans. But it made me think about how relaxed they all were, compared with how stressed most people are at this time of year!

sealions, aramoana

Up close and personal with beautiful wild animals.

I also thought about how lucky we are to have such beautiful animals here in New Zealand. They’re national treasures. World treasures.

sealion

They’re also called “dogs of the sea”. I can see why!

I was there, on a practically empty beach, enjoying this amazing experience, while most people were probably at home watching the telly, unaware of what was right outside their door.

black swans

We also saw black swans and other wild birds.

Maybe it’s time we start treasuring our experiences more, and our stuff a little less, don’t you think?

Happy new year.

Ending food waste – with suburban chickens!

Chickens are the ultimate Pets with Benefits.

Housing chickens. They’re cheap to house – I built my chicken “tractor” out of recycled materials and some pieces of wood for very little money. Their nesting box is a plastic crate nailed to the side of the shelter end of the tractor, and their bedding is hay – one bale of hay lasts all year.

You can see the egg hatch in this photo. The shelter end of the tractor is made from recycled swimming pool cover. The tractor has no mesh on the bottom so the chooks can graze freely.

You can see the egg hatch in this photo. The shelter end of the tractor is made from recycled swimming pool cover. The tractor has no mesh on the bottom so the chooks can graze freely.

Moving the tractor. If you have a portable coop like mine, or even use a rabbit hutch for your chickens (they’re ideal), you can give your chickens access to fresh grass every day, then just move the coop along when they grass is gone. Their droppings fertilise your garden, and the grass helps keep your chickens healthy.

Chickens for renters. If you keep a small number of chickens in a portable coop or rabbit hutch, they’re a suitable pet even for renters. Check with your landlord, but many of my friends rent AND keep chooks! Better yet, with a portable coop you can take your chooks with you when you move!

Feeding chickens. Chickens end your family’s food waste and cut down on garbage going out to the landfill. We keep an airtight container on the kitchen bench for everything we don’t eat, and it all goes to feeding our chickens every day.

Chickens will eat practically anything. Mine won’t eat avocado skins or pits, and they’re not so keen on carrot ends, but everything else (including leftover chicken!) goes to the chooks.

I have friends who also give me their food leftovers. They simply keep a bag in their freezers and, when it’s full, they give me the bag which I give to my chickens. This way, I rarely have to buy chicken food.

Food waste is a real problem in our society. Instead of buying cat or dog food, and creating a problem, why not keep chickens, and solve a problem of waste for your family and family friends? Our chickens live on the leftovers of three households, so they’re really doing their bit for the earth 🙂

My chicken tractor, which fits up to six birds.

My chicken tractor, which fits up to six birds.

Eggs for free! My chickens lay an egg a day, pretty much all year around. That’s not too bad for an animal that gets rid of my food waste problem too!

Natural insecticide! Did you know that families that keep chickens have fewer flies in their homes! It’s true. Chickens eat flies, and they’ll help keep other insect populations down.

Natures gardeners! Have a vegetable plot that needs digging over? Put your chicken coop on the plot a few weeks before you want to plant. The chickens will dig it over for you, and fertilise it with lovely chicken manure. Work done! 🙂

Choosing your chickens. When choosing your chickens, you may want to opt for a great egg-laying breed. Breeds vary a lot. Mine are Hylines, a smaller breed well known for laying daily. Google your breed before buying.

A hyline chicken, the breed that I keep. They're great layers - I get an egg a day most days!

A hyline chicken, the breed that I keep. They’re great layers – I get an egg a day most days!

Twin lambs! :)

We had twin lambs born on the weekend. I’m guessing only their mother can tell them apart 😉

Our twin lambs, Joshua and Chocolate.

Our twin lambs, Joshua and Chocolate.

My son named them – a girl and a boy – Chocolate and Joshua. The chocolate one is absolutely adorable, and both are feeding well.

The twins with their mum. That's Sonia the lamb in the background.

The twins with their mum. That’s Sonia the lamb in the background.

As usual, lambs come in a rush when they finally come! I think we’ll be expecting more very soon, then it’ll be all done, and then we sit and watch them double in size overnight.

First of the spring lambs :)

The first of our Spring lambs has arrived.

It’s a wee blackface girlie and we’ve named her Sonia, after world record powerlifter Sonia Manaena, who lives just down south of us in Invercargill.

soniathelamb1_2015

I mean, if you’re going to name a lamb, why not name her after an incredible New Zealand athlete!

Anyway, Sonia seems to be doing well, and feeding well, and now we’re wondering when the next lambs will arrive. Usually we get a rush all at once, and certainly one of the other ewes is so fat she’s practically waddling around the property!

Sonia's mum Gabby giving her a kiss...

Sonia’s mum Gabby giving her a kiss…

It’s always lovely when the lambs arrive, but this time it has a hint of sadness about it, because if everything goes well, this will be our last spring at the farm, and my last time we have lambs. I’ll miss it.

Sonia says hello to the other sheep

Sonia says hello to the other sheep

This time next year I don’t know where I’ll be living – it’ll be somewhere in town, but I won’t have lambs, or a farm. It’s what we’re planning, but I’ll miss the joy of Spring.

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday – Around the local area…

These photos were taken in and around my farm in Mosgiel, just outside Dunedin, New Zealand.

Just down the road a wee bit...the alpaca farm

Just down the road a wee bit…the alpaca farm

Trees along Puddle Alley

Trees along Puddle Alley

Lichen on one of our old fence posts

Lichen on one of our old fence posts

My farm in the evening

My farm in the evening

Sheep moving into the yards for sorting

Sheep moving into the yards for sorting

Sheep sorting time...we're working out who to keep and who to cull

Sheep sorting time…we’re working out who to keep and who to cull

Some of our young lambs playing on the hillside

Some of our young lambs playing on the hillside