Zach and I are still on Waiheke Island, but have moved to Uma Rapiti, a permaculture lifestyle block on the other/windy/fancy side of the Island. The people who own the property are only here part time and have hired farm managers to run the farm and educate volunteers about permaculture and sustainable living. There is a young orchard, a few garden beds, a green house, an outdoor clay oven, and endless experiments and projects going on. This place rules.
We are here for three weeks, but I feel like I could stay for eight or sixteen easily. Right now there are just four of us here: me and Zach and Elizabeth and Chad, the two farm managers. We stay in a sleepout, a simple one room structure, and cook in an open air pavilion on a camp stove. We poo in a composting toilet and the shower is outside and solar powered. The only time I have spent inside this week (other than sleeping) is when I’m skyping or blogging in the toolshed, which is the only place that we get good internet reception.
Our first day started with us planting olive trees, but plans changed as black clouds rolled in from over Auckland and the rain started “pissing sideways.” We ran for cover and spent the remainder of the day doing quick jobs in between the rain. About halfway through that first day, while painting signs to label the trees in the orchard, I realized that I had used my sense of smell way more than usual, to navigate this new place and new practices. So, I’m going to lead you through A Day in the Life via the things I smelled.
7:30 am: Milo malt beverage. Chad suggested mixing instant coffee with said Milo Malt beverage. Malt beverage to me means Colt 45, but this stuff looks like Ovalitne. I pried the paint can style lid off and took a whiff to find out. Smelled like chalk. Tastes like a less chocolatey Ovaltine, but masks the instant coffee taste, so I continue to drink it every morning.
9:00 am: Compost/Potting soil mixture. While planting olive trees, Zach asked if the compost/potting soil mixture was from the compost on the farm. Chad replied by scooping a handful and sniffing it. Nope, store-bought. We both took a whiff to get a sense of what he was talking about. Smelled charcoley. And like dirt.
11:00 am: Plum tree blossom. I was taking inventory of what was in the orchard and which plants needed to be marked. The delicate, sweet scent of the tiny, white plum blossoms caught me by surprise as I walked past. It is like what every plum scented air freshener or candle tries to be, but none has ever achieved.
3:00 pm: Fresh baked bread in the bread maker. Need I say more? While there is no oven here, there is a toaster oven and a bread maker. Om nom.
3:30 pm: Sawdust. I got a flashback to being in the backyard in Roger’s Forge, Dad in the garage with the O’s game on the radio, the scent of sawdust wafting from the open garage door. This time though, it was Zach cutting fence posts for a fence surrounding the garden beds. This was the moment that I realized it had been a very smelly day. I was painting at the moment and sniffed the yellow paint that I was using to paint signs. For the record: it didn’t smell like anything.
5:30 pm: Ginger. As the sun goes down, the temperature drops to really cold. I put on all of the shirts that I brought and made myself a cup of hot water with ginger, pear, honey and thyme and snuggled up with the book I’m currently reading, Mastering the Art of Self Sufficiency in New Zealand. P.S. This book is hilarious, informative, and makes me think I could pull off being a farmer.
6:00 pm: Garlic. In a pan. We’ve all smelled it before, yet it never gets old. This was the beginning of a delicious parsnip soup.
7:00 pm: Campfire. Where we devoured the aforementioned parsnip soup and fresh baked bread.
9:00 pm: Bed. Bed doesn’t actually smell like anything, but I felt it is a more appropriate place to end than the campfire.