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Wow! That’s some sort of weather! And I was just telling someone else that it ain’t gonna snow as the event was downgraded. And the very next morning, I woke up to a foam party.

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That’s 50mm of rainfall, snow, hail, sleet combined! We have a high of 19.8dC and a low of 0dC.

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The good news is that the mikroclima frost cloth roof for the greenhouse is very much uncompromised despite of the snowfall. I am truly grateful that I have covered the grounds and driveway with large grade pebbles. Otherwise, my shoes will get all soggy every time I step out of the house. It is so unmuddy now.

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It continued to snow sleet hail shower on Sunday. It didn’t stop me from unloading the crusher dust from the ute into the greenhouse and the giant cloche. Working in between the deluge, and mixing the crusher dust in with the compost and mulch mix. Top it up with a sprinkling of rolled oats so that the birds will come and eat and shit and get some bio going.

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And the strawberries babies are growing. Its strawberries planting time now, but I am more interested in planting more shallots.

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And the Saturday snowfall split this Tagasaste Tree Lucerne three ways! Will be cutting them back hard, and hope that they recover. Will be sowing some tree lupin seeds though, for replacement.

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A change of view, some droopy looking Tagasaste Tree Lucerne abound. I’ve ordered some interesting tomato seeds from a rare seed company based in US. Will be interesting to find out if it will arrive at all.

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I took this when it is snowing on Sunday. I am looking at Victorian bells to enhance early Spring growing, however, they cost about $13 each, and I am looking at having a couple dozens. That’s just not going to be a financially prudent decision. I’ve figured something else out instead, I’ve managed to amass a huge quantity of yogurt pottles, which will probably do the trick. All they need is some holes to be drilled on the base.

“Seek out the beauty in every imperfection”

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Just a week of hiatus. I’ve been busy. Pre-ordered fruit trees are starting to arrive from around the country. I just needed a few to add to the ancient collection, and some crab apple trees to fill up the gaps in the Belgian Fence. I’ve design and made a simple and effective means of getting the grey water from the laundry into the Three Sisters patch. Common laundry grey water system puts some strain on the washing machine pump as it has to pump the water through the whole line. What I have done is to allow excess pressure to still exit into the septic tank, essentially putting no extra strain on the pump at all.

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The weather last week, 12mm of rainfall. A high of 15.7dC and a low of -2.5dC.

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And this week, dry, 1.5mm of rainfall. A high of 17.7dC and a low of -0.8dC.

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The warmth, has cause the almonds to bloom. That’s the Almond All-in-One. It’s the only almond in bloom out of three.

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I spotted the daffodils are coming up last week.

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And see how much they have grown in a week! I spot 4 bulbs in there, I only planted one bulb last season.

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The overgrown strawberry bed has been cleaned up. I started with 28 plants. They multiplied exponentially. And I thinned them down drastically, to just 18 plants.

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I didn’t throw the others away. Planted 72 of them in the raised beds, and another 6 in a pot, 3 in a rotten down tree stump. What I normally do with transplanting strawberries are quite brutal. The tops will be chopped off leaving nothing but pre-emerging shoots behind, and a good clump of roots. The ones in the raised beds are planted 12 to a square foot. The ones that show promise will be transplanted into the forest garden.

I did end the season with 3.5 times more strawberry plants.

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It took two truck loads of carting 50:50 compost and eco mulch to fill the Giant Cloche. It’s done now, I’ve hung up another bird feeder for the birds to eat and shit and get some biology going in the soil there.

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I’ve removed the weed mats on the Three Sisters patch today to put in the dripper line for the grey water system. Next week I will get some 50:50 compost and eco mulch on. I’ve lime and gypsum it today while I was at it. And I’ve gypsum all the raised beds too, including the greenhouse and the Giant Cloche, and the potted raspberries. All white and fluffy. And thought to myself, be nice to rain this week. And within hours, its raining, its raining now. Wash it all in!

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The Honeynut Squash have been a great success. Done this up River Cottage style, with blue cheese filling and a sprinkling of parmesan.

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I bought a really cheap bicycle. I’ve never had a bicycle with suspension before, and this one have dual suspension. Growing up, bicycles appear to be big, I felt like a dwarf standing next to my bicycle. Now, it felt like a BMX. I would have gotten a cruiser bike if they don’t come in pink with flower shape decals all over them.

Reason I got a bike, is so that I can “walk” Caesar over a longer distance, in a much shorter period of time. Effectiveness and efficiency. We got all the way to the Kaituna Valley Walkway car park today. And ride back with the tailwind.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Lots of privet hedge pruning in the coming week.

Quote of the week, “the difference between knowing and doing is a world apart”.

Hooray!!! The shortest day is now behind us. Then, oh oh… The coldest day is now a month away. On the bright side, more daylight.

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40mm of rain accumulated this week. Plenty of hail and sleet. Just miserable and wet. We have a high of 13dC and a low of 0dC.  And plenty of snow on the hills.

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I’ve not seen this much snow for a number of years now. It’s a good cold year to give the pests a good natural winter kill.

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Some tiny hail stones in the raised beds this morning.

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The forest garden have had a top dress of lime yesterday, and the rain came again at night and today to wash it all in. The timing could not have been better. Good Calcium levels makes the fruit taste sweeter.

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The building projects have progressed quite well. I’ve done building most of it now. Next is just to fill it up with with soil, and then finish putting the cover on.

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The greenhouse has got a new layout in it now. It all came together much better than it did the first time 2 years ago. I’ve got a tea and coffee plant, which I might plant it in the greenhouse too.

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The giant cloche is all nicely done. I’ll fill it up full with eco mulch and let them break down slowly over time. The only snag in this project is the planned perspex sheet cost more than $800 to cover the giant cloche. So, back to the drawing board for the back up plan of greenhouse film.

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On a side note, red kiwifruit anyone? It’s like a less tarty green kiwifruit. Gold kiwifruit is still my favorite.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Caesar has figured out how to escape again. Luckily, I’ve found his escape path.

 

It rain, and rain, and rain. It got quite close to flooding but it did not out here. Maybe next time.

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I think some of the rainfall has evaporated. Brent’s weather station has recorded 41.7mm of rainfall. A high of 19.2dC and low of 1.8dC. Of course, here at the Orchard Cottage, it will be colder than that.

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The mikroclima greenhouse is further stripped down, the soil removed, and the inner boards removed. Some really good soil to go into other use.

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Like, 162 saffron corms in this raised bed dedicated for growing this exotic spice. And a few more extras in the grapevine area.

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And to top up all the other raised beds, and Spinach Santana was sown. I am not sure if they will germinate and give me baby spinach later. It’s a cold weather crop, it’s worth a try. We will know in 2 weeks.

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The building of the Giant Cloche has begun. I have the Strawberry Cloche there for comparison. It’s 3 times the size.

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I’ll be growing peppers, watermelons and maybe okra in there.

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It is a beautiful day, and a lot of doing. I’ve got the REAMS soil test on the North Fence and Forest Garden back. It appears that it needs Ammonia and Lime. I will work the numbers and share the details next week.

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Meet Fanny the fantail.

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And Porky the morepork.

“Night gathers, and now my watch begins. It shall not end until my death. I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children. I shall wear no crowns and win no glory. I shall live and die at my post. I am the sword in the darkness. I am the watcher on the walls. I am the shield that guards the realms of men. I pledge my life and honor to the Night’s Watch, for this night and all the nights to come.”

They are the guardians of the gate. The light in the darkness.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. The privet hedge avoided an attack this week. It is imminent. It will happen.

Some of those stonefruits still have their full canopy on and shows no sign of going into dormancy. Instead, they are doing the shoot extension thing.

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That’s left than half a mm of rainfall last week, and a soggy fly. We have a high of 21dC and low of 4dC.

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The currants are ready to be planted out. These will be dotted all around the forest garden.

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The landscaping project. About three more loads of pebbles and it should be well covered. The weedmat are down. The Mikroclima cloth has been removed from the greenhouse, the plants in there cleared out. Soon, it will be redesigned to a new layout.

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Anticipating that the next heavy rain will bring about another flooding event.

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I got the floodgate sorted. Two pieces of heavy 2m by 50mm, locked together with a hinge, and shut in place with padbolts. Its just to slow the rush of the water, and it will also help delay the water level rising in the property compound. As with any change to geology, new dynamics happen. We shall see what happens when it floods next time.

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A few plantings going on, mainly native species that provides berries and nectar for the native birds.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. Warm autumn.

What a week! That cold snap came through and dropped a lot of sleet and hail all night long.

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That’s 41mm of rainfall there. We have a high of 19dC and a low of 3dC.

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Work continued on the Belgian Fence. I did a stock take on all the grafts that did not take that need replacing, and those that are marginal and will also be replaced if I have healthy backup stock. Overall, they fared quite well and I will have surplus stock to sell and give away.

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I’ve moved the Lemon Meyer and Orange Cara Cara into the half wine barrel out at the back in the subtropical zone. They will do better there in the calmer micro climate.

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The hot spot at the front had a wee bit of rearranging, I’ve moved the blueberries into where the Lemon Meyer and Orange Cara Cara came out. The pots containing raspberries have been reorganized. I’ve also cut back the raspberries entirely and top the pots full with compost.

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The capsicums in the greenhouse is still producing. There’s a brown one waiting to ripen up, and I will save seeds from that. Are these Pepper Jingle Belles or Sweet Bell Pepper Rainbow Mix?

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I did a broadcast of all my old seeds around the duck area, and here’s some broccoli growing wild. There’s a few more around, the brassicas have done very well.

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Things are slowing down and daylight is shortening. I’m mainly focused on carting in pebbles and mulch. And have some bits and pieces of plants coming for next season. I guess I will be planting out the rooted currants and rhubarb next week as well as replacing plants in the Belgian Fence. Some Tagasaste and bird and bee friendly NZ natives from Southernwoods in early May. Two more bambusa to go into the Southern hedgerow as well.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. I’m still waiting for the pumpkins to ripen up. I’ve only got one Australian Butternut, which I believe is quite ready, but I will leave it out there and pick it just before the frost. The Pumpkin Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato ran rampant, some are coloring up while the vine is slowly dying back, I’m not sure how many will make it. Squash Honeynut is still quite green, I’m concerned if they will color up in time.

When the pumpkins are in, I can start working on the giant cloche as well, and reconfigure the existing greenhouse.

Pam gave us a good drink this week. The ground has started to become soggy, and the hills are starting to green up. One would caught me standing in the rain talking to a farmer. On a completely side note, the latest X Factor incident would have put a lot of reality TV judges on their edge. I would put my money on them being more politically correct from now on for a period of time. Now, how do you say “you suck” without saying that literally.

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We have 30mm of rainfall. A high of 30.4dC and a low of 6.2dC. I have stopped irrigating at the Orchard Cottage. I might keep it that way, and just irrigate the Belgian Fence every few days if needed.

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I’ve started to get some of the materials in for the giant cloche. 2.7m in length, and 1.8m wide. The bed will be 60cm in height. The whole thing will be 1.8m in height.

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When I sow four different types of beans in the same spot, and not label them. I need to devise a plan to differentiate them.

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And pumpkins too. Though next season, I plan to cross Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato with Jack be Little and Wee be Little. It will be a simple method, grow 2 of each in the same area, save seeds from every plant, and sow a seed from every plant, repeat. Cross fingers and pray something different come through. A good tasting bachelor pumpkin that I can put my name on is what I’m after.

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Can you see it?

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Its not moving.

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It’s a wee mouse that’s feeling really miserable thanks to the weather.

I had a dream the other night, a big fat cat sank its sharp teeth onto my fist-ed hand, biting it in a like a python swallowing an animal whole. No mater what I do, the cat just won’t let go. That morning, I woke up after wrestling with that cat in my dreams, I noticed 2 of my mouse traps have caught a mouse each. Did our consciousness sort of connected in the stillness of my sleeping state?

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It’s greening up. No longer irrigating. My mum has gone along and gave the Tagasaste Tree Lucerne a good hair cut. Thanks mum! Love you always!

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The Orchard Cottage this week. 12kg each of BioPhos and RokSolid arrived today and will be spread out onto the forest garden tomorrow, weather permitting.

When will we say the drought is broken? The hills are dried, most of the grasses on the hills looks like they have gone beyond dormancy, it looks like they have gone dormant forever, composting in situ. The dry dirt can be seen beneath those bone dry grass. The drought is threatening to turn the hills into dunes. We had some rain, but I still can’t see the slightest tinge of green in the dryness.

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Rainfall this week, 27mm or more. We have a high of 30.9dC and a low of 8dC. I can feel the season changing, with more Southerlies coming through. And a bit more rain too.

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The forest garden is being weaned off irrigation water slowly. The trees got the message, and started to go dormant. I have started my Autumn round of top dressing with BioPhos, Rok Solid, and Gypsum. And a bit of Neem oil spray here and there where needed.

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The Paw Paw is still flowering, no sign of fruit set yet.

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Pumpkin Australian Butter. It needs to be oranger.

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Pumpkin Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato. Also needs to be oranger.

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In the greenhouse, Small Sweet Orange Tomatoes have been left to ripen on the vine. That’s the last of the lot. I’ll do another strip pick and share it with the farm guys before I go on my road trip.

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Proud of my homegrown capsicums. Very good size red.

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Smaller size chocolate capsicums.

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Little orange capsicums.

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That’s it at the Orchard Cottage this week. Just enjoying throwing sticks into the forest garden and have Caesar leaping into it the find that stick.

 

 

Thank you for the congratulations on my residency! Truly appreciate it.

I had to get a new pair of glasses this week after a pineapple attacked me at work and broke my glasses. I was stacking off cartons of pineapples in the chiller when one decided to jump out of the box and land on my face. My glasses, which I have had for 4 years, had one of the nose pads broken off beyond repair. I only had a minor bruise on the nose, but I was shaken. I was attached to this trusty pair of glasses, I have had it for 4 years when I used to wreck a pair of glasses just about every other year. And getting a new pair of glasses usually goes with an image makeover. And the new pair of glasses that I have chosen, after 3 painful hours of choosing, and deliberating, is quite a radical makeover. From the Oakley Bracket 4.1 to the Oakley Tailspin. I could have gone for the Oakley Tincup but I did not, for a split second, I was feeling adventurous.

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Rainfall this week, almost 1mm. Almost. High of 31.3dC and low of 4.9dC.

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Back at the Orchard Cottage, the garden has decided to have a life of its own. It is thriving on neglect.

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There’s plenty of spiders around, this is just one of them.

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This looks like a giant earwig?

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Plenty of bird food? What does stink bugs do? I don’t think they are a good thing, will be getting some Neem Oil and give the patch a good spray over.

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The raised beds have been taken over as well. Everything has been growing in a truly awesome way. Really fat good size corn like the ones found in supermarket too!

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The apples are coloring up nicely.

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Red tree-ripened apples. These are for cider, or juicing.

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So, some Jerusalem Artichokes decided to show up. I bought the roots from work and planted them.

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A very late blooming sunflower. And the only sunflower at the Orchard Cottage after I have sown so many earlier on. This is a sign that my new irrigation setup is working.

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The impulse sprinkler is also doing its job quite well, helping some of the young trees that were struggling to establish better.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. I am grateful for my new dentist, usually the most painful part of a dental surgery is the anesthetic injection, that large probing needle. The way the new dentist does it, I don’t feel much of the jab at all. Amazing!

Don’t play play, I can speak four languages in one sentence, scare a not? It’s been a long wait, 9 months, having put all my eggs in one basket, waking up one day knowing that a decision would be made that would decide if my adventure in NZ is going to continue or come to an end. Well, thank God that my PR has been approved, woohoo! That means that I can continue on more crazy projects around the Orchard Cottage. I’m truly grateful.

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Rainfall this week is pretty good, 8mm. It’s a good start. We have a high of 29.7dC and a low of 4.9dC. I have already kicked into the Autumn irrigation mode for the forest garden so that the trees can start preparing for dormancy.

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It’s greening up slightly now.

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The climbing beans have started flowering, finally. They were sort of stunted as I have sown them too early, and it took away for them to grow out of the shock.

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The banana plant is finally looking like a banana tree.

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The Orchard Cottage this week. A week of joy and gratefulness!

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