BILLIE AND MINNOW
You’d be crazy to live on Pitcairn without making the most of its sub tropical climate and fertile soil. We’ve had a vege garden going at Big Flower ever since we started building in 2006. If we don’t have a very dry summer season and we’re careful to keep the soil nourished we’re able to grow all the vegetables and fruit we need.
Lettuces, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, chillies, ginger, tomatoes, cucumber, sweet potatoe, pumpkins, carrots, capsicum, beans, spinach, onions, garlic, herbs of all kinds.
We love being able to wander through the garden deciding what we might fancy for dinner. When it comes to dessert, we just look to the abundant fresh fruit we have growing on our land and around the island.
Passionfruit, paw paw, mandarin, lime, lemon, oranges, pineapple, watermelon, rock melon, avocado, guava, mango, a variety of eating bananas, strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries are there for the picking
Yummy food is everywhere on Pitcairn. We have public plantations of coconut and banana (Pitkern – Plun). So at any time we can collect bunches of eating and cooking bananas and fresh coconuts. We grate (Pitkern – Ana) the coconut by hand to extract the delicious and versatile milk for cooking. Wild taro, beans, macadamia, coffee and of course breadfruit are all about and if something we really fancy is privately owned almost everyone is happy to share so long as we take the courtesy of asking first.
OUR FABULOUS SEA FOOD
Once you’ve eaten fresh fish from Pitcairn your palette will be ruined for life. It is the best in the world and you’ll forever compare its clean, delicious taste to any other you’ll eat.
We don’t own our own boat (Pitkern – Canoe) but sometimes our neighbours take us out fishing and the catch is always fantastic,
especially if we trawl for Tuna and Yellow Tail – with which we make delicious raw fish and coconut milk salad or sashimi.
Red Snapper, Cod, Coral Trout, Wahoo, Nanwee are abundant so someone’s always got fish on the dinner table. Like lots of Pitcairners we can easily fish from the landing or off the rocks and we sometimes catch the occasional lobster from down St. Paul’s pools if we feel like a treat – more often though one of our neighbours will give us one from their cray pots.
Mother of 4 excellent layers
- THE QUEEN OF BIG FLOWER CHICKENS
We’ve kept a few chickens ever since we finished building the house. We started with just a couple of black hens, Henny Penny and Fluff, who escaped their pen one wet windy night, wandered with the local wild roosters for a few weeks and eventually came home – with several chicks in their wake. Fluff, pining for the wild life, got depressed and died. But Henny Penny went on to become the matriarch of the pen – raising her brood of 6 chicks with great pride. To this day, she still rules and her 4 hens supply us with the fresh eggs almost every day.
It would be just wrong to talk about Big Flower without mentioning our pets, Billie and Minnow. We brought Billie with us from New Zealand on the Alvira, a Sea Trade freighter. It took 7 days to get to Pitcairn from Tauranga harbour in New Zealand. Apart from being somewhat constipated – Billie made the journey with ease. It was quite a treat for the island children when she arrived as they’d not had a dog on Pitcairn for several years.
One winter afternoon in 2006, as we walked back to Adamstown from the house site, Billie shot off into the scrub, barking crazily. Kerry followed her and soon found the reason. She had come upon a newborn wild kitten – so small its eyes we’re barely open. Delighted we carried it home and got about the task of keeping it alive.
We named her Minnow - she was so tiny we had to feed her milk and egg from a syringe. Keeping a bossy and excitable Billie under control least she love the little thing to death. With all that TLC Minnow flourished. We soon discovered that she was a he – so the name stuck. These days, Minnow pretty much thinks he’s a dog and he and Billie are the best of buddies.
Best of buddies
They are our constant companions liking nothing better than hanging out in the garden with us and taking a ‘family’ walk around the top of the island. Taking a cat for a walk is a slow process. Minnow growls and huffs and puffs through the entire journey. Complaining and throwing himself at our feet when the mood takes him, ambushing Billie and chasing anything that moves. Minnow refuses to be left behind and we’ve learned to walk slowly.
Pitcairn has herds of wild goats roaming the rocky highs of the island. Occasionally, they venture into the village, where they are promptly told to buzz off, captured as pets or shot for food. Many Pitcairners love the taste of this gamey beast – Kerry included - but it’s not something I particularly enjoy.
Every 3 months our dedicated cargo/passenger vessel, the MV Claymore II brings supplies from NZ. and passengers from Mangareva (in the Gambier Islands Group) to Pitcairn
This enables us to order staples like flour, sugar, butter and also luxury items through our general store or privately. This is how we get everything up to the island from building materials to electronic equipment, clothing and household goods. These days, with island having internet access we’re pretty much able to order anything we really fancy. But, costs can soon add up so we try to keep to a ‘need versus want’ rule when it comes to importing goods. This works for us because in terms of fresh foods the island itself has so much to offer.