Friday, September 26, 2008

Rascals in sheep's clothing

We were given another little lambie yesterday. She is tiny! 5 days old and her name is Gizmo. She looks like the evil gremlin from the movie. She's a black face but looks more like she's had a really good roll in mud at the moment. Her knees and feet are disproportionately large for her tiny little body and she's pretty unbalanced at the moment. She's also quite scared of us and is a menace to catch most of the time. She and Marley-Moo are getting along well although Marley thinks the new addition is much more interesting than us so ignores us completely most of the time. All our hard work with training her has gone out the window.

Marty wanted it to be a surprise when I got home from work but Mum let the sheep out of the bag when she called and asked me to buy another teat on my way home. Gizmo is much smaller than Marley was when we got her even though she was the same age. I'm sure with 5 feeds a day she will be full grown before we know it!

We did a road trip up to Auckland on Monday for Marty's graduation. We dumped Marley with the neighbours and stocked the others up with plenty of food and told them we'd be back soon.

Graduation was good. Marty made it across the stage without falling on his face which is always a bonus. In fact, everyone managed to stay upright. It would have been quite amusing had someone fallen over but alas it was not to be.

Marty's parents very kindly put us up at Sky City so we had a night in luxury and finally got to go up the Sky Tower (4 years of living in Auckland and we go up there when we go for a holiday!).

We had some drinks at Starks and invited everyone down. It was difficult because it was a school night so a few people couldn't make it but it was good to catch up with the night owls up there.

Wednesday morning we headed back to the farm after a few stops in Hamilton (stocked up on bargains at Save Mart!) and Havelock to drop off shoes. We found Marley in the dark in the neighbours paddock at the kids had left us a note and a drawing because they were off at a fancy dress party when we arrived. Marley came running over to us when she heard us calling. But she had been hanging out with Dennis' lambs and had actually been acting like a sheep and eating grass. Very happy about that. She's been outside more since we got back and now that we have Gizmo, they can go into the shed paddock and be sheepy. I still worry about the rhodos though.

Also, the puriri moths have arrived back. They all flung themselves onto the deck the other night and haven't bothered to leave (possibly because they are all dead now). I will give you some interesting facts about them next time.

Marty and Angus have gone fishing in the river. I highly doubt they will catch anything but who knows.

Anyway, lunch is ready so I better go


Sunday, September 21, 2008

So close to summer

It really felt like the cold weather is on it's way out today. We had the most perfect, hot, sunny day and to celebrate we did very little work. Our neighbours came over with their kids and had a cup of tea and scones which was nice. We went for a walk all over the property, fed the horses and the kids chased the chickens around the garden. They have said they may be able to get us another lamb as a friend for Marley. She's been trying to make friends and play with the chickens but they have other ideas. The thought of a fast growing lamb pouncing on them doesn't appeal, me thinks.

A few days ago Marty got some good photos or Rita and the chicks. the chicks have taken to perching in the magnolia tree but when they get too tired they still scurry under mum. However, they are much bigger than they used to be so there is a bit of competition for space under there. Usually there are little heads poking out everywhere but when they do all fit, Rita looks like she's gained a few pounds.

On our relaxed journeys around the ever-changing garden today Marty found our newest tulip growing by the front steps next to the daphne. It's an amazing colour! I love tulips anyway but this one is really spectacular.
We're off to Auckland tomorrow for Marty's graduation so the boys and girls will be on their own for a few days. I'm sure they'll survive. The chickens aren't going to be happy being cooped up the whole time but we'll stock them up with food and water and we'll be back before they know it. Lambie is off to play with Dennis and her lambs next door so that will be very good for her. She's getting better at being tethered but still doesn't like it much. At least she's not trying to strangle herself with the rope anymore.

I can imagine that by the time we get back our aviary will be completely overgrown and uncontrollable. Particularly with the raspberries that are popping up all over the place. I planted another lot of basil and lettuce so, who knows, maybe they'll be sprouting. We have to be careful of things in the greenhouse now because it is getting too hot.

We did a bit of work with the horses today but I think Brother's shoulder is still sore. He was quite sensitive yesterday when I was checking it out. I called an equine therapist but they are away so will call them next week to get him looked at. It's been a while since he tripped so I want to get it sorted soon. Dino decided he didn't want to be caught today and trotted around the paddock for ages. I decided to go all Natural-Horsemanship on him and just stood there in the paddock looking unthreatening until he came over to me. It's quite amazing how well they respond to things like that. I want to do more with him. And Brother is doing well with the lunging which is good too.

I haven't started packing for this trip tomorrow so I should get onto that :)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Back from the big city

I spent a night up in Napier for work on Wednesday. I got back yesterday afternoon and it felt like I'd been away for ages. Marley is big, the chicks are big, the broad bean in the aviary has tripled in size and an onion has sprouted.

Marty made me a lovely dinner though when I got back complete with raspberry chocolate mousse/ice cream. Mmm

It's very cold at the moment. The horses are coverless and soggy and Brother is determined to break down our temporary fence to eat the poisonous rhodos. I think we'll have to move them again soon so we can burn our growing pile to the ground and start again.

One of the chickens, Dinky, is eating out of our hands now and Babi will be doing the same soon. Blanche still keeps a good distance and Rita is too preoccupied with the chicks. They'll be on their own soon though, we caught Rita teaching them how to perch the other day and they're becoming very independent.

Dinky (left) and Babi having a snack

Marley is getting sneakier by the day. We have had to lamb proof the kitchen, living room and deck to keep her away from the fire and flowers but she's developing strategies to get around these things. She has just realised that if there is a chair lying on its side by the sofas she can jump ONTO the sofas and get around it that way. She does a little lap onto the sofa, off the sofa, around the fire, onto the other sofa and off again (sometimes). She has taken a fancy to another chair in the living room as well.

Marley and I having a snooze by the fire

Apparently yesterday she was hanging out with the chickens in the garden for quite a while so soon enough she will think she is one of them and start digging around plants. But, as you can see, she still spends the majority of her time sleeping and eating.

Marley sleeping on Marty

The weather hasn't been so good for a few days. Our streak of summer weather has disappeared unfortunately. Some of the seedlings weren't looking so happy about the temperature so they has gone back to the greenhouse to recuperate until the sun shows it's face again. And I'm going to stay inside until then too...

Monday, September 15, 2008

Primavera - spring

It's been an exciting few days. Paula and James came to visit on Saturday and stayed for a few nights which was nice. They have since headed off up the mountain for a spot of snow boarding. We'll miss them when we go to Auckland next week because Paula is off to the Gold Coast and James will be down here in the Bay - both trips for work.

Mum and Richard were here this weekend. They haven't been up for a little while. Richard hadn't even seen the chickens so I think he was quite excited to get back here. Unfortunately he spent most of the time working on the computer rather than enjoying the sunshine. We have had some glorious days recently.

Today Marty and I got onto our 'orchard' by the sheds. It was quite a lot of work trying to cut out a huge climber that had weaved itself around pear trees, rhodos and 2 power lines which was a bit dodgy. It will look great when we have the chestnut, almond and quince trees planted (now we have finally picked them up!). I just can't wait for summer and our first season of fresh, home grown fruit and veges. I'm hoping now the weather is getting warmer that things will start growing a bit more rapidly. Today was like summer it was so hot!

We almost killed everything in the greenhouse the other day because it was so hot. Everything wilted but I think we managed to save most of them. The carrots... not so sure. So now we are going to have to move everything out of there during the day and put it back in at night because we still have quite cold nights with a good layer of frost.

The horses have gone insane on the spring grass. Dino was so wound up the other day when I took him for a ride. He just wouldn't listen to me at all and even when I was lunging him he was all over the place. Marty had taken Brother back early which probably wasn't helpful but when I let Dino go they both galloped and bucked and reared and pig jumped for a good 15 mins around the paddock. It was quite amazing to watch (happy I was on the ground by that stage though!). Dino was better the next day though and was paying a bit more attention so I think he may just have been having an off day.

Brother is still losing fur at a rapid rate and looks a bit like a leopard now because his winter fur is dark bay and his new summer coat is lighter. And he's still very itchy because of it. Just giving him a stroke gets handfuls of it out.

The chickens are all now laying more regularly. Most days we are getting 3 decent sized eggs although they don't seem to last long! The chicks are enormous now and I think there may be 3 roosters in the mix which is slightly annoying. Not sure what we're going to do with them yet. I wouldn't mind keeping a rooster but Marty isn't so keen due to the early morning crowing. We'll wait til they are a little bit older though to make the decision. Two, at least, have just developed quite large tails and they all look a bit dishevelled with half adult feathers and half down. And they're almost too big to sit under Rita now. I went out this afternoon to give them some scraps and Rita had 4 of the 5 under her but one had it's head sticking out at the top of her wing. It looked so funny.

Marley is still cute as a button and growing fast and demanding food every few seconds. But she's on a strict feeding schedule to make sure she doesn't get bloat which could kill her. She's also teething and has a row of razor sharp teeth on the bottom and has just got some back teeth so she'll be eating grass in no time. She's been getting into everything, particularly the tulips and ash from the fireplace. And some small leaves that seem to be falling all over the deck. She hasn't actually managed to 'eat' any of it yet, she just mouths and sucks things all the time. We have to keep a close eye on her at all times! She's started bounding all over the place as well and does huge leaps off steps and the sofa. And hurtles around the house sideways doing little jumps and shaking her head. It's hilarious to watch.

Dinner is on it's way so I better go but here are a few more photos of our cheeky rascal. She is the epitome of spring really... especially with daffodils!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


For some reason I couldn't upload either of the videos we took of Marley. I don't know why. I might have to try another time.

She is so funny and not very sheep-like at the moment. She doesn't like walking on grass instead preferring to walk along the concrete paths around the garden and then galloping across the lawns to get to the next unvegetated spot. Then she stands there bleating until she gets too worried standing on her own and gallops after us again.

She's taken quite a liking to standing on the deck and literally smelling the roses and also has a fascination with the water tank in the back paddock. The chickens don't like her at all and Rita rounds up her brood and shuffles them under the gate very quickly whenever Marley is around.

She spent all day with the neighbours (her original owners) where Marty is working now. I had to go to work and she needed her lunchtime feed. She had the opportunity to hang out with Dennis (their ewe) and her twins so hopefully she learned something sheepish from them. And she now thinks that their goat, Gretel, is her mother.

On the agenda for tomorrow is a much needed horse ride - the poor boys have been a bit neglected recently but were incredibly curious about Marley when we introduced them . Also some weeding in the aviary and some plantingout of seedlings from the greenhouse. We still haven't picked up the quince or almond tree from Gibbs so we should do that (we bought them AGES ago) and various things that need to be posted. And we need to plant the chestnut tree.

More pictures to come :)

Monday, September 8, 2008


Just a quick post. We got a call from some people up the road the other day saying that they had heard we were interested in hand-rearing some lambs if they had been orphaned. They had a little girl that was a few days old who needed a good home so we offered to take her. She is the most adorable thing in the world. Her name is Marley (not after Bob, I just liked the name) and she's now 5 days old. We picked her up last night and she hasn't stopped following us around

since. She came up to the sheds with us just before while we had the horses shoes redone and she curled up in a ball by the hay and slept most of the time.

So here she is...

She's apparently a black faced breed but she only has a few black spots on her nose and little black circles on her head like horns. She's pretty strong and healthy but there is still a small chance she won't survive so I'm hoping for the best.

Anyway, I will film her now having her lunch and upload it in a minute

Saturday, September 6, 2008

VTNZ and cheesecloth

Hello! Gosh it has been a while since I last wrote. Firstly, having read over some previous posts, I would like to apologise for the spelling and grammar mistakes. I just type and don't check over it. I hope you will all survive!

Well, last week was interesting. Basically, Marty took the car to VTNZ in Wellington a month ago and it needed a few things done. Seatbelts needed to retract more rapidly, a brake light needed to be replaced and we had to have a 'small hole' in the exhaust pipe welded up. So we did all that. Took the car to a place in Waipuk to get the hole fixed and the rest we did ourselves. So, last Wednesday (on our very last possible day that we could get the recheck done) we called up VTNZ to find out where the nearest place was to get the recheck and they told us there was one in Dannevirke and that we didn't need to book. So off we went with the idea in mind thatwe would be back by 1pm.

We arrived in Dannevegas and found the most tiny, run down VTNZ and wandered into the office where there was quite a bored man sitting and smoking. We asked him to do the recheck but he informed us that he only did CoFs, not WoFs and that the closest place was Palmy or Hastings. Palmy is about an hour away and Hastings even further. I tried my luck by calling VTNZ and was put through to 3 different people while I tried to find out if they would give us an extra 2 days because I was going to Napier then anyway. Apparently that was out of the question. In the end we decided to just drive to Palmy and get it over and done with - not that we had many other options by this stage!

We dropped the car off and went for a wander into Propack out of curiosity as to what they actually sold (there's not a lot to do in Palmy!). We had quite a jolly time in there perusing their wares and chatting to the woman behind the counter. We walked away with an ungodly amount of cheesecloth and a web address for a box making company.

Back at VTNZ they had just examined our car and informed us that the hole in the exhaust hadn't been fixed and that we should 'just go down the road to Pit Stop and get them to do it - maybe a $10 welding job at the most'. On our fourth trip down the road he had told us Pit Stop was on, Marty was about to throw himself out the window of the moving vehicle and we still couldn't see the bloody place. We asked someone else and repeated the process until Marty had turned a violent shade of red and refused to go back down the road again. So I ran into an optometrists in the middle of nowhere to have a look at a phone book. Off we went again and finally found the place and they said they could do it but it was a $120 job - not $10. Once again we had exhausted our options so we left the car with them and went to get a soothing beer via a saddlery shop where I wanted to buy everything.

4 pm rolled around and we had to go and pick the car up again. I gave him a few limbs as payment and got the car with a little joke about men paying for everything to Marty (when in fact I paid). We got back to VTNZ and were both fuming but also just over the whole process. They inspected it AGAIN and then came over and told us it had passed (there would have been trouble had it not!) but that it had done almost 1000km since the initial check and that posed problems for them. Marty just said, "Yep", got in the car and drove off. We didn't look back.

Anyway, that was our bried foray into the city and it wasn't a particularly pleasant one. But I have a few photos of goings-on up here:

Our Homemade Pickles are looking strong and healthy in the greenhouse....

...... along with all their friends.

The Garlic in the aviary is looking amazing

Our little chickadees with their adult-feathered wings. They look a bit ridiculous now but they'll grow into themselves.

So that is the events of the past week. There have been more things I'm sure but they have slipped my memory. I am quite sleep deprived today after a rather bigger than expected night last night at Havana and a surprise awakening at 8am in the form of a coffee visit from Dad (we had arranged for 9 but it somehow had been moved forward by an hour).

But we went to diner at Chow last night with the whole family which was lovely until there was a bit of confusion over whether Brian was going to Somalia and a drama with the spillage of a glass of wine - the waitress was at fault which was novel! And afterwards we went to Bill Bailey which was absolutely fantastic! He put on a spectacular show and had us in tears within minutes. I will be going to see him again if ever he comes back and I highly recommend him to everyone. Goodness, it makes me laugh just thinking about it!

We drove home today via Mt Bruce Wildlife Centre and got up close to the kiwis and watched the eels being fed (eels really are quite amazing) and through Parkvale Mushrooms which was cheap but the place was a bit weird. I thinkwe may have been in the wrong part of the establishment but no one pointed us in another direction. We got a big box of portobello mushies though for $10 which is a bargain. And we stopped off to see a guy about some goats which may be arriving tomorrow morning. So sometime between now and then we need to goat proof EVERYTHING.

Alright, I need to catch up on some sleep in preparation for the brand spanking new "Natural Horse-Man-Ship" training that will commence tomorrow morning. And we have our neighbours coming over for an early dinner as well so we better get the place into some sort of order.

Until next time....