Wendyl’s coun­try diary

Wendyl Nis­sen rel­ishes be­ing able to greet each day with a stroll around favourite parts of her prop­erty.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

It has fi­nally hap­pened. I have a coun­try morn­ing rou­tine to re­place my pre­vi­ous city one of alarm clocks, se­lect­ing and iron­ing clothes, ap­ply­ing make-up, do­ing hair, breakfast, kiss the fam­ily and dogs, then out the door to the of­fice. For the past three months I have wo­ken early, had a cup of tea in bed then charged out­side to do what I rather os­ten­ta­tiously call my “morn­ing walk around the prop­erty!”

What I’m ac­tu­ally do­ing is check­ing in with sev­eral favourite things. So in my nightie (no neigh­bours in sight are a bless­ing) I head off with the two dogs up the drive­way to visit the frog pond. One day be­fore Christ­mas I was ser­e­naded on my walk around the prop­erty by not one but three male frogs croak­ing away, hop­ing to at­tract a mate. They are Golden Bell frogs, which, un­usu­ally, are ac­tive dur­ing the day. The mat­ing call sounds a lot like a mo­tor­bike, which is what I thought it was un­til I re­alised the noise was com­ing from the edge of the pond. The dogs lis­tened with me, their heads cocked to one side, then the other, try­ing to make sense of the new sound. Know­ing the frogs had se­ri­ous mat­ing to do I left them to it.

The pond is a bless­ing in the sum­mer, but in the win­ter un­der­ground wa­ter rushes be­neath it and pushes the lin­ing up, ef­fi­ciently emp­ty­ing it. My friend Richie, who is my go-to lawn­mower guy and handy­man, has shown me how to drain it with a length of hose which I suck on to get the wa­ter mov­ing and then leave to drain down a stream.

In the sum­mer the pond can lose wa­ter in the heat so I top it up from a tank I have by the shed. Re­cently my dog Flo has taken to float­ing in it three or four times a day to cool off. She sim­ply low­ers her­self in like an old lady at the baths, floats there serenely for a few min­utes, then hops out. I am wait­ing for the day when she rips a big hole in the lin­ing with her claws, but un­til then I like watch­ing her mo­ment of plea­sure.

So that is why I check my pond every morn­ing.

Af­ter the pond, I visit the berry house. When we in­her­ited the house it was full of weeds with a few berry vines strug­gling away un­der­neath. This is the first sum­mer we have man­aged to keep it weeded be­cause we’ve ac­tu­ally been around to do it. I mended all the holes in the wire net­ting with an up­hol­stery nee­dle and some string and sprayed with neem oil when I re­alised that in­sects were eat­ing all the leaves.

There are still a few morsels to be gath­ered to add to our ce­real for breakfast, so that is why I visit the berry house every morn­ing.

Then it is into the or­chard, where things have never looked bet­ter. Af­ter three years of pruning (Richie does that), mulching, feed­ing, and the past few months of re­fill­ing codling moth traps, spray­ing with neem and hav­ing a lit­tle chat to my trees, we have a bumper crop of figs, plums, peaches, nec­tarines, ap­ples, quince and, most as­ton­ish­ingly, av­o­ca­dos. A year ago I res­cued the av­o­cado tree from a cage that had been built around it and gave it a good feed. Over the next few months it spread its branches and seemed to dou­ble in size. It re­warded me last year with five beau­ti­ful av­o­ca­dos; this year there are at least 30.

The dogs and I then go over to the wild­flower meadow, which was a bit of a pain this sea­son. Due to my neg­li­gence last year, it was colonised by all sorts of weeds, which clog any chance of a pretty wild­flower sprout­ing. So I weeded, and weeded and weeded. Then I sowed and sowed and sowed and fi­nally I have a smat­ter­ing of flow­ers, but it’s nowhere near the picture-per­fect meadow I had en­vis­aged, so my morn­ing in­spec­tion serves as a men­tal note to try harder next year.

Fi­nally, we fin­ish at the vege patch. I’ve re­alised that my old at­ti­tude of what­ever sur­vives amidst the weeds is okay just doesn’t cut it. A daily weed is what it is all about. So as the dogs lie about on the lawn, I spend 10 or so min­utes in a sort of med­i­ta­tive state pulling weeds and think­ing about the day ahead, won­der­ing when the tide will be high and I can have a swim, and what work will keep me in­side and for how long.

Then, with the early-morn­ing rou­tine done, I’m ready to start my day.

There are still a few morsels to be gath­ered to add to our ce­real.

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