Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree

Our Christmas tree in no way resembles the photo. For starters it is a real tree.

And when you go out with the chainsaw and take out a tree that seems fairly small compared to the half grown pines you lose your sense of perspective and have to cut a metre off the tree so it fits under the 3.6 metre stud. It is definitely the largest tree ever, though not the most densely branched one. Those carefully grown Christmas trees they sell at exorbitant prices are definitely prettier than our tree.

Too late and never mind - it is here now. I hope the angel on the top of the tree doesn't get vertigo.

For the last couple of years I have also been left pondering why, when there is an endless choice of Christmas decorations now I can't find a set of tree lights that I like as much as the two sets we currently have (one of which is over 20 years old). I am further spurred on to replace them as electrician husband mutters that they aren't considered safe these days being plugged straight into 240 volts. I have visions of visiting toddlers reaching out and being fried on the 20 year old 240 volt lights. I tried again this year and found a set I did quite like, took them home and plugged them in to find only half the string worked. When I tried to replace them they didn't have any left so had to refund me. I guess the old ones are here for another year. Another case of too late that's the way it is now and I have made a mental note to unplug the lights if any toddlers are visiting.

So here I sit - glass in hand, critiquing the Christmas Tree and contemplating the year that was.

Merry Christmas to you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sunday afternoon snoozing

I know, the fatty girls don't really need that much grass - but someone has to eat it.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Just for a change all went to plan

The master bedroom used to look like this (fairly dire - don't think it had had skirting boards for years)

Then it looked like this for a week or two until plumbing and wiring got sorted

And this - bar the carpet which is going down on Tuesday next week - is what it looks like finished. Interestingly the gibstopper said he gibstopped this entire house in the late 1990s when he was an apprentice - I thought on the whole our walls were pretty good, that might be why.

As you can see the ensuite is too small to photograph properly.

I am impressed how well this came together. Tradesmen arrived when agreed and didn't have brainstorms about doing it differently or trouble measuring things, they came and went in a synchronised fashion so no one was waiting for anyone else.

There are minor glitches like the place that can supply the door handles we want refusing to return calls, and the doors needing to be taken off, taken outside and painted, but nothing at all major.

I don't think we even went over budget...

My last bit of work for the year just came out the other side of the audit with a clean bill of health so now I just have to make the Christmas Cake, do some other assorted Christmas baking and finish two christmas presents.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


I blame the school dental service for the state of my teeth. They drilled and filled and generally made a mess of them for years and now they are disintegrating, irreparable, past root canals and rebuilding thanks to bad fillings.

Some more had to leave on Monday. You have to love the drugs these dentists have, I don't remember any of it past the time he said he was injecting the stuff into my arm, until he handed husband an envelope of instructions and said I needed to take it easy for a couple of days.

48 hours passed so I figured the taking it easy bit was over and it was alright to go pick up hay last night. Not sure the dentist will approve but someone had to pick it up, it can't just sit there forever.

What a mission! The contractor hadn't had the small baler out so far this year and he did note that some of the first bales were solid. Solid! I can hoist 25kg bag of horsefeed with a minor effort - some of the first 80 bales we picked up I could not move off the ground. They were perfectly dry, as the one that broke open showed, just incredibly densely packed. We sack barrowed them to the end of the hayshed, almost winched them onto the growing stack, swore, had an argument and contemplated shooting all hay eating animals and leaving the darn hay where it sat.

Thankfully it was only the first paddock full, and we started with them so after that things improved.

This morning my mouth is fine but my back is complaining a little and the hay scratches up my arms and legs are irritating.

More to pick up tonight and if the weather holds more on Sunday.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Something happened over the weekend that has been waiting to happen for a fair while. One of those events that you hope never comes round but really it was inevitable that it would. It was a completely emotional event (no humans or animals were physically damaged :-))

So from Saturday to Sunday things are completely different, priorities have suddenly shifted and the world has a whole new perspective.

Given two and a half hours in a car driving back from Auckland airport late last night husband and I started brainstorming about where this epiphany will lead us and how long it will take to get there. We didn't reach any conclusions but we came up with a lot of ideas that need following up. We did agree quite early in the piece to stay married for the forseeable future - which was never an issue in the first place but it is always good to establish the ground rules on life changes early in the discussion don't you think...

Somehow I think that we will be looking at some big changes in the next year or two. It feels a very positive outcome from the extremely negative event that precipated it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Credit where credit is due please!

A long time ago - about March last year - I decided to lose the chemo weight I've been carrying round for far too long.

According to various people (mostly American hence the lack of metrics) taking a course of taxol is good for an 25 pound weight gain. I've never been an underachiever so I managed to put on 20 kilos. That made me just on clinically obese according to the height and weight charts. Clinically obese is not a pretty term... Also when I am clinically obese my knees hurt in the morning and I have difficulty getting on my horse (and I'm sure she wasn't that impressed with 20kg extra either).

I didn't make a big fuss about it - I just made a conscious effort to eat better and a bit less. And my weight has very slowly drifted down to where I wanted it to be, which I hit about three weeks ago.

I might add that that weight - while healthy - is still 10kg higher than my lightest adult weight and 6 kg higher than my pre-children average weight, so I hardly have bones sticking out here. Skinny wasn't something I was designed to be.

It took 12 months for anyone except my husband to notice I'd lost weight. That's okay I didn't feel any real need to talk about it.

Then my manager (who I don't see very often) rang "I hear you've got all skinny" she said. Apparently one of the other managers who I occasionally drop in for a chat with when time allows had noted my weight loss, and being aware I have cancer was a bit concerned that I was being overworked at a time when I wasn't well. Which was sweet of him but a trifle too PC... I reassured all involved that I'd worked darn hard at it.

The other person I can't convince is my mother. She believes come hell or high water that
1) I am too thin
2) This is entirely due to the cancer which must be taking hold and getting the better of me.
She's felt the need to discuss it with husband on the quiet because she doesn't believe me. He has assured her that I haven't eaten a potato chip for over a year and that he can see how I lost the weight. He doesn't think she believes him either.

So if I get fat it's my own fault
If I lose weight it's something else.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

And I like cows because... ummmm

The vet came out this morning to blood test and vaccinate Jack the bull. The plan went slightly awry as the little begger had broken out during the night along with the red cow Aurora and while he wasn't an issue to round up again he was feeling less than cheerful about being told where to go and was standing in the yards growling at us. So the vet showed and sorted her stuff out and we put him in the crush. All was well and we thought he would behave (he's a placid lad usually) until she offended his dignity by grasping him firmly by the tail so he practiced his showjumping and left (great scope Jack - you really should have been a horse, you'd be Olympic level for sure). So we had to do what we should have done in the first place which was grab him by the nose ring. Once that was done he behaved and it was all over in less than a minute (maybe he listened to the pep talk I gave him - "It's like this Jack - have the test, get to meet more cows, on the other hand if you don't have the test, you'll be upside down on a hook")

The rain held off until that was over.

I have been keeping an eye on the neighbours heifers who I feel are closer to calving than the neighbours do (they reckoned they weren't in calf and put them back with the bull two months later). So this morning from my window I noticed one girl flat out in their paddock. An hour later she hadn't moved and was still completely prone. I decide to investigate so out I go in the rain, over a couple of fences (complete with hotwires so needing careful negotiation) towards the heifer who hadn't moved. She waited until I was within 5 metres before leaping up and running off. Definitely springing but not calving... At least I know now.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Time flies...

This time of year is always flat out at work and this year has four deadlines spaced out over two months and all of them seem a couple of weeks too early. Still three have passed now and it is sort of downhill until Christmas (which seems to be getting rather close) after which the next round of what has to be done by when will be issued.

I was still putting the finishing touches (and the long hours) into the third deadline when husband decided he would live no longer without an ensuite so he started moving furniture out of the master bedroom and demolished the wardrobe. Leaving me no choice really but to sort through the clothes that were previously contained within and find that I am unlikely to wear most of them again. This morning we have the builder in and they are building a wall (or two as there will be a walk in wardrobe to replace the departed model) which appears to be progressing very well. My clothing collection is now so sparse that a walk in wardrobe appears overkill. Must go shopping...

We are banished to what I always considered the most unappealing room in the house - a cavernous space in the basement with ugly concrete block walls and a single set of french doors providing the only natural light. The room doesn't even have a door to close. However as it was doing nothing else at the time it seemed like the best room to move into. And now set up as a bedroom it is so cosy I may just stay there. Just goes to show furniture always helps.

Topaz the January mini foal went to a lovely new home a few weeks ago too. They report that they are delighted with her which is great as really as homes go it doesn't come much better. However due to a change in circumstances we'll be getting her mother Gemma back soon so thinking we were actually a horse down was fairly shortlived.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I suppose she couldn't help it....

We have a line of cows who are definitely a little intellectually challenged. The type of cow who can't quite work out where the gate is so ends up running back down the fence line bellowing that her herd have not only left her but have found fresh grass.

Bonny is the first of the line and three calves later she's still a bit aghast that she has managed to produce that small thing every time. Thankfully she does now feed them without pinning down and forcing her. Her bull calves have also been singularly thick and her daughter Amanda may be black but she's really a blond underneath.

Which is why I am sure Amanda decided to calve today in the pouring rain. Two weeks early according to my calculations and without bothering to bag up much beforehand so a little unexpected. It was fairly new and still slimy (as well as saturated in the rain) at feed time. Amanda was dithering over her baby with an aghast sort of look on her face very reminiscent of her mother, an "OMG what is this and why the hell are my instincts telling me I like it" look. They were in the most exposed paddock we have so we moved her and baby down to the run where there is some more shelter. Being her mother's daughter Amanda of course got confused about how the gateway worked and whether she should follow the calf or run back to the herd but she got her priorities right when I waved the stock stick at her and growled. Left the pair under the pine trees hopefully sorting themselves out. Was too dark and dreary to see what sex we had but I groped round and couldn't find testicles so a heifer at a guess. Fingers crossed the smart bull genes have got through in this one - I won't be holding my breath though.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


My work digital camera was on its last legs and had developed a battery eating problem.

So yesterday I strolled into an appliance shop, browsed the range of digital cameras and selected the one I wanted with a few accessories that I felt compelled to own while I was there and asked the shop assistant who was hovering for "that camera there" pointing to the model I required which was sitting in the cabinet. (not please note in one of those displays where the camera is attached to a wire but available for all to handle - this was securely ensconced behind a lock and glass)

He declined to sell it to me. It was the last camera of that model that they had in stock and he would order one in and I could collect it tomorrow. He wouldn't sell me that one - for no reason, except he wouldn't.

He was left holding the accessories.

The opposition store not very far away were quite happy to price match.

Monday, September 07, 2009

No photos, it's x rated

Neighbours children are concerned "Did you know Calypso and the little black horse are doing sex in the paddock"

It's horse breeding season again. But maybe I should move them to give them some privacy... (yes it was a planned breeding - that's why I put them together last week)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Luscious luggage

I could never be a vegetarian. I could go without meat no doubt but the affection I feel for leather would make any dietary restrictions completely hypocritical.

It comes from being a horsemad little girl I think. The smell of glycerine saddle soap is still divine as far as I am concerned and carries subconscious memories of Saturday nights before Pony Club with horse gear strewn round the dining room and industrious labour with saddle soap and silvo to be neat and tidy for gear check the next day.

These days I mostly use a synthetic saddle so the saddle soap doesn't get as much use on equine related leather, but I would rather clean my leather handbag and wallet than do housework (and sometimes do).

Which leads to the large overnight bag. Mother in law had a large, wheeled, soft sided overnight type bag when she came to stay a year or two ago. Husband idly admired it so he got one for his birthday. He used it once for a business trip across the Tasman, I used it every time I went away for work - a reasonably regular event. The last time I unpacked it in a motel room I found I had literally worn it out - there was a patch on the base where you could see daylight. Now seriously it got some regular use but I hadn't used it THAT much - they don't make luggage like they used to you know.

Could have gone to the Red Shed and got another Made in China bag I suppose. Instead I had a wee look at the Flybuys statement. As it happened there were enough points for a new bag. And really what use are loyalty points unless they get you something you sort of want but can't really think of a good enough reason for spending real money on it.

So it arrived. Chocolate leather. More stuff to saddle soap. Isn't it pretty?

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Minis at the beach

It was a toss up - take Ears the old girl for a ride and Tee the yearling for a walk or put three woolly minis in the float and take them for a walk. The minis won, the big guys can go next time.

Topaz the baby didn't get in the piccie as she was firmly attached to my leg like a nervous dog for most of the time. But she was very good for a baby who had never left home before, let alone seen all that wet moving stuff and scary horse eating birds that were in the wet moving stuff, and so many dogs. Little black Ebony had obviously never been to the beach before either - she took a bit of coaxing to keep moving when she first put her feet on the sand and there was no way she was getting near the water.

Monday, August 03, 2009

From the last post

Reciting poetry from childhood


by: Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953)

      ATILDA told such Dreadful Lies,
      It made one Gasp and Stretch one's Eyes;
      Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
      Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
      Attempted to Believe Matilda:
      The effort very nearly killed her,
      And would have done so, had not She
      Discovered this Infirmity.
      For once, towards the Close of Day,
      Matilda, growing tired of play,
      And finding she was left alone,
      Went tiptoe to the Telephone
      And summoned the Immediate Aid
      Of London's Noble Fire-Brigade.
      Within an hour the Gallant Band
      Were pouring in on every hand,
      From Putney, Hackney Downs, and Bow.
      With Courage high and Hearts a-glow,
      They galloped, roaring through the Town,
      'Matilda's House is Burning Down!'
      Inspired by British Cheers and Loud
      Proceeding from the Frenzied Crowd,
      They ran their ladders through a score
      Of windows on the Ball Room Floor;
      And took Peculiar Pains to Souse
      The Pictures up and down the House,
      Until Matilda's Aunt succeeded
      In showing them they were not needed;
      And even then she had to pay
      To get the Men to go away!
      It happened that a few Weeks later
      Her Aunt was off to the Theatre
      To see that Interesting Play
      The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.
      She had refused to take her Niece
      To hear this Entertaining Piece:
      A Deprivation Just and Wise
      To Punish her for Telling Lies.
      That Night a Fire did break out--
      You should have heard Matilda Shout!
      You should have heard her Scream and Bawl,
      And throw the window up and call
      To People passing in the Street--
      (The rapidly increasing Heat
      Encouraging her to obtain
      Their confidence) -- but all in vain!
      For every time she shouted 'Fire!'
      They only answered 'Little Liar!'
      And therefore when her Aunt returned,
      Matilda, and the House, were Burned.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I got taken to church and sunday school with reasonable regularity as a child. Which didn't leave me with any firm belief systems but gave me an appreciation of the traditions of organised religion. I like hymns, I like the liturgy, that Sunday morning good all over feeling, it's just comforting somehow - like reciting poetry left over from childhood.

That must be why I bought a church pew last week.

It's not a real old one, and it doesn't have the tactile appeal of an old Catholic or C of E pew (many of those I just HAVE to pat), but it is rimu and should look quite good in the dining room after some running repairs and a good scrub up and re-oil.

I feel I might need to make it a cushion for the seat though.

Some mothers do have 'em

and chances are we are mug enough to employ them to do something and live to realise it would have been easier if we hadn't.

Actually we had a very good tradesman over the weekend - a tiler. This guy turned up when he said he would, did a brilliant job, didn't charge too much and was no problem to have round. So Silas from Kre8ive Building Solutions comes highly recommended.

The fencing contractor on the job this week is back in our usual mould though. I will give the guy he has a great work ethic, he shows up and he keeps working steadily, so no problem with that. It's the thinking this guy does when he's not paid to think. One instruction was fence along the top of the hill (not really a hill but the highest point in some rolling land). He agreed that he understood that then spent all day putting posts in three metres over the brow of the hill on the slope while no one was watching him. His reason was the theory about stock going better through gates going uphill.... yeah whatever (what are we supposed to do going the other way through the gate then?)- we envisage this fence will be around for the next 50 years, please put it where we asked. We thought we had sorted that but his next step was to move another fenceline over just a bit (about 5 metres), no reason, just felt like it... *sigh*

This morning he's very concerned that our cow is unwell as her hip bones are sticking out. Well that's Aurora, she's half jersey, she milks off her back on the very best of feed and there is no way round it - by the time we get to weaning you can see her hip bones (jersey cows aren't noted for a good fat covering of course and hips and ribs are pretty commonplace) but she raises nice calves and she recovers between weaning and calving again. He's not convinced - he's said several times she probably has some disease.

When I want an opinion on stock I'll call the vet or the stock agent okay. And I won't expect them to do fencing.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I suddenly realised

why I am so perennially slack about the bit of paperwork needed when it comes to registering home bred animals with the appropriate breed society.

It is so not a big deal - fill out the form, attach the appropriate cheque (not a large amount) put it in an envelope and send it away. In a week or two the papers will arrive back and the animal will be worth more than if I didn't go through the process.

I forever put it off until the last minute. Today I finally got round to it. If I left some of them much longer they'd be breeding stock themselves. And I realised why I don't like doing it.

The problem is I have to give them all names. It's a serious decision, whatever I call them (with or without mis-spellings) has to stick with them their entire life (which admitedly may only be until the homekill man comes). And they do tend to have names already - just Kismet Farm Sillyface and similar doesn't seem appropriate.

I'm pleased I only had two children...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

It was supposed to be a fairly laid back weekend

Something went wrong with that plan.

Firstly husband had a mission. He was going to paint the woodwork in the dining room or bust. And he did it. Looks quite good too - shame about the paint smell and having to keep the windows open most of the day.

And I took the clippers to little Gemma who was supposed to go back to her owner this weekend. Except under all that fluff I found some lice. Ick ick ick. So I deloused her and said I would keep her a bit longer to make sure I have seen them all off.

Nothing for it when one horse has lice - bring them all in and delouse them all. But while doing that might as well get some wormer down their throats, and some feet could do with a trim.

So Sunday lunch looking for a new Sunday lunch place went by the bye as we hauled in horse after horse, applied lice treatment, wormer and farrier equipment to their hooves. We actually did all eight geegees in the end, which was a fairly good effort I thought. Especially as it was blowing a gale and most of the equines figured playing up was the order of the day. Even Ears who is usually a model of decorum stamped her feet and said she couldn't be bothered picking them up. The best behaved was little Eby who has been difficult with her feet since she arrived and required considerable persistance. This time for the first time ever she was perfectly behaved.

Along the way I had put the makings of a loaf of bread in the breadmaker. There was a ten second powercut at the point of about horse number 5 which didn't mean much until we took a break to improve our caffeine levels and found the breadmaker had turned off with the loaf well into its second rising. Consulting the manual and pressing all the buttons indicated that I couldn't instruct it to carry on from that point, that just isn't one of the options. So it became a quick batch of bread rolls - which stuck to the oven tray as I forgot to flour it. Reasonably edible so not all is lost. (though when keeping hens all baking failures get recycled very fast so nothing is ever wasted)

Then there was the tale of two washing machines. In the house we have one for normal things and out in the shed we have another one for farm things like horse covers, mud encrusted jackets after tackling calves in the mud, dirty rags that have served all sorts of dubious purposes, and the hair encrusted clothes I wore to clip Gemma. These clothes (the ones I wore to clip Gemma) I had dropped into a pile by the door ready to take out to the shed. Except husband dropped them in the inside washing machine. Three loads of washing later it is still spitting out clothes adorned with horse hair. Hopefully it will come off when they dry...

Now next week the cattle are due for a going over

Pondering my lack of empathy

Someone we know has been running their own business for about 10 years. It has by all appearances gone very successfully. Appearances included expensive cars, brand new big boys motorbikes, large house additions, home theatres, and children behaving like spoilt brats and attached to every consumer appliance available. If there was any doubt the successfulness of this business and the material possessions in this families life was forever shoved down everyones throats. That anyone would want to work for a salary was sneered at (yep that's me). That my husband operated his own business for some years but in the end figured working for someone else was a better lifestyle was mentioned as his 'failure in business'.

This week we were told that the business was inches from failure and if it went so would everything they owned.

I was supposed to do something. I feel completely disinclined to do anything.

I can't believe the lack of foresight.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sulking and throwing a tantrum

It's not fair!

I'm out tonight feeding horses and cows and goats. And I'm over winter.

I want to be in New York like David Farrar or in Singapore on the way to Spain and Italy like Homepaddock or in London Paris and the Netherlands like Chicken Blog. I probably don't want to lose my passport in LA like Cactus Kate but I wouldn't mind San Francisco right now. Or I want to be sitting in my sister and brother in laws garden in the Cotswolds. Or snorkelling somewhere tropical.

Instead I'm covered in hay, and faintly scented with silage and sugarbeet, and cold. The cold bit is the worst. I did have half a dozen eggs in my pocket so it isn't all bad. But work deadlines and months of pressure mixed with no small amount of monotony stretch before me.

Actually it's a life I usually consider myself lucky to have. There's a lot to be grateful for.

Just sometimes it would be nice to be somewhere else.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Bad luck or bad management?

Amazing co-incidence, what are the odds?

You may or may not recall my Subaru snapped a cam belt at 100kph. After the said cam belt was supposedly replaced by a supposedly reputable mechanic. Part one and ongoing parts of the broken car story There were some very large fallouts, the car in the end cost us thousands to repair, the so called repair was a shocking job with some appalling corners cut which cost thousands more to put right - it was probably a year before the car ran with any reliability again (not good in a five year old car) it ended in the disputes tribunal with us feeling we didn't get justice and that their view of reality was flawed (that's a polite way of saying they failed to tell the truth) and the mechanic making another 'mistake' the next day by providing a very second hand part when the tribunal directed him to supply a new one in return for our court ordered payment (which was admittedly only a very small portion of the thousands they wanted) The second hand part was "just a mistake" of course - they'd accidently had two out on the bench and packed the wrong one back into the box (yeah... okay).

Anyway we were almost (but not quite) over it, because these things will give you ulcers if you dwell on them. (and anyway we've had a bit of revenge here and there)

Until last night, when a friend rang to report that the Legacy that they had had the cambelt replaced at the same workshop had snapped the cambelt 30,000 km after it had been changed. (It was changed before our debacle obviously).

Now millions of cambelts are no doubt replaced every year. I am sure a few are defective. But the vast majority of them probably continue to the next cambelt change without any problems. As coincidences go this is a very large one...

The company was Auto Repair Co in Judea in Tauranga. I can only recommend that you take your Subaru to the nice (and very knowledgable) guys at PF Auto next door, just for your own peace of mind.

You should also know when buying a second hand car in Tauranga that some cardealers use this company. Might pay to ask before buying, if the cambelt has been done, just who replaced it.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Working harder in the recession?

It's only Wednesday morning but it has been the week of unusual phone calls. In amongst the usual HRV (no, go away) and local paper subscription (no, as you won't deliver it - you give it to the rural postie and I don't want yesterdays news) both who manage to get in a call about once a fortnight it seems.

On Monday first up was the people who sold us a generator three years ago asking if we were still happy with it (which we are). I guess the plan was to upsell us if it was proving inadequate for the task. The woman and I had a pleasant chat about power cuts and power surges and those things that plague people who live in districts with slack lines companies.

A little after that there was the people we got a kitchen quote for in April last year asking if we were going to go ahead with it! That would have been an "I guess not" to me but I suppose once in a blue moon someone may say "oh yes I was meaning to get back to you on that..."

Assuming we weren't going to go ahead with it would have been even more reasonable since we actually had this place on our shortlist and tried to negotiate a couple of things. When they wouldn't do a deal we told them at the time that we wouldn't be dealing with them and why (the fact that they wanted full payment before they started making the kitchen was our major sticking point).

Then yesterday a local real estate salesperson rang to ask if we would be interested in purchasing the local lifestyle blot on the landscape if it should come up for sale as he believes it may do so soon. (ohhh interesting gossip!). Said he would mail the details. (am guessing that we know more about the actual physical attributes of the property than he does but will wait and see if there is more disclosure of the things we don't know). Our interest would depend on the price (as most things do of course).

That was followed by an enquiry about the poisoning programme on the DOC land and whether we were happy with it. Which is interesting as I didn't know if it actually matters to them or whether they are paying lip service to local consultation. We get on fine with our local DOC guys and they are using some poison that isn't transmitted through the food chain rather than 1080 and the possum population appears to have decreased so I can't think of any reason to be unhappy.

Wondering who will ring me today...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Three strikes...

Years ago we discovered a little cafe not too far from home (relatively speaking) that did a reasonable Sunday lunch. So any Sunday (and sometimes Saturday) that we got bored or needed a reason to go somewhere we took to heading there. And while reasonably infrequent (no one would have called us regulars) we were there often enough to figure we knew the place. This is a little cafe, of the type doing pies, sandwiches and the odd fry up on demand, not a resturant.

I don't know that the ownership has changed recently - the staff have but staff come and go anyway - or whether it is just with me that it has gone bad, but I'm not having fun in the place in recent times.

The first was a long black coffee that showed up as a flat white complete with a debate about what I had ordered. I'm allergic to cows milk - the words flat white, latte, moccachino, banana milkshake, or any other milk containing beverage just don't come naturally to me. I know I said long black. Anyway they got me a long black and my sense of rightness in the world was restored.

The second was the day husband ordered a big breakfast and I ordered a panini toasted. His bacon eggs hashbrowns sausages and tomatoes had been in front of him five minutes when I went and asked how my panini was. 'Yes yes it's coming' the cashier said, just avoiding a roll of her eyes at my impatience. Ten minutes later it arrived, and I am fairly convinced that the poor panini had been in the sandwich press for 20 minutes. It was burnt black on the outside and was solid on the inside. Why they put it on a plate and put a salad beside it was beyond me. It wasn't edible obviously. A passing table clearer noted my disgruntled levering open of the bread and offered to get me another one and when I declined on the grounds that I wasn't willing to wait any longer I was given a refund. So they were forgiven that time.

Today we went again. And I ordered seafood chowder. Which took 30 minutes to arrive. Husband again got a plate of cooked stuff put in front of him. People who came in ten minutes after me got plates of fish and chips while I waited. They were into the minutes grace before I stood up and asked for my money back when they delivered the meal. It was actually the best seafood chowder I've had in a long time but that doesn't negate the fact that it should have taken no more than a few minutes to prepare and the sunday lunch experience isn't nearly as much fun when you first spend time watching your lunch companion eat, and then they get to watch you eat.

I think we will be finding another Sunday lunch place.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Tee and Roxy hooning


When I was fairly young we lived in a huge old villa in Taumarunui for a while.

Coming out of a near new bungalow in Nelson my mother found the big freezing old heap of a house a fair trial I believe (at the time I was too young realise that, but her comments in later years tell the story and suggest that she came very close to not coping at all during those years).

The house had a coal range. No doubt a trial in itself to operate but responsible for turning the huge kitchen into a warm and cheerful place on bleak winter afternoons when the fog settled early (and tasted of coal smoke). There was milo warming on top of that range and sometimes biscuits baked in the oven too.

Tied in with the memory of the coal range was the memory of the drying rack over it, working on a pulley system that lowered it to reachable level for hanging the clothes on it which were then hoisted back up to just under the ceiling to dry in the heat but well out of the way.

Forty years on we have our own big old villa. In a climate slightly more temperate than Taumarunui and a little smaller and a little better insulated. No coal range though (and I was tempted by Wagener stoves and Agas and the like when we did the kitchen, but in the end gas seemed a bit quicker and less tempermental). This week though we got the drying rack.

Because I have a pedantic need to know some things I hung a thermometer off it for a while and found it is 26 degrees up there under the ceiling compared to 21 degrees at light switch level (with the benefit of a fire going for several hours)

Clothes hung over it at 6pm are dry the next morning. Who needs a clothes dryer. I do feel remarkably satisfied with this, for no good reason. I guess it is nostalgia as much as anything else.

As an aside the villa in Taumarunui has been in recent years restored and modernised to the showpiece property it must have been when originally built. And the house in Nelson my mother missed so much has been a rental for quite a while and the lack of TLC is showing.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cow breeding 101

Odd phone call of the day: "why is my cow bellowing?'

Now I'm by no means a cow expert but suggested the two things that occured to me "She's either hungry or she's bulling" (bulling being the term for being in the mood to meet a handsome bull and indulge in a little bovine slap and tickle).

The answer perplexed me "but X (who was apparently raised on a dairy farm) said she wouldn't be bulling while she still had a calf on her"

Umm hello...

So cow fact number 1 - a cow in milk can and will come into heat and will fall pregnant again. Not only do our beefy cows prove this every year if this wasn't the way it worked the dairy industry would need twice as many cows.

And I imagine if you didn't already know that you didn't really need to know that (apart from todays caller) and don't care anyway. Too bad, I thought I would tell you whether you needed to know or not. (be aware there may be a surprise test later)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Minor girly (or boring middle aged housewife) thought

Last time I bought foundation (of the type that you place upon the skin of your face to cover uneven skin tones and other imperfections) the girl in the pharmacy persuaded me - with the aid of some of the powder on a large brush - that I absolutely needed Mineral Makeup this time.

And after a month or two I must admit I am happy enough with the product as it appears on my face.

I'm not that cheerful about the product as it appears on all flat surfaces close to where I apply it. The stuff goes everywhere.

One must suffer (the trials of dusting) to be beautiful (or less splotchy faced than normal) obviously.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


It's a pleasant sort of day - mildly windy but the sun is shining.

Working from home I really should go out and have a bit of a ride in the middle of the day.

So it requires me to
Get changed into riding gear
Go out catch Ears, give her a cursory brush over and saddle up
Go for a ride
Come back, unsaddle, give the old girl a rapid ten minute going over with brushes and turn her out again, if I don't go fast she won't be sweaty.
Get changed
Get back to work.

I've just spent 40 minutes thinking about it and don't have time now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

OMG - you won't believe this! (well I don't)

I'll have to check again in the morning to make sure it is real....


They re-aligned the driveway today. They moved the letterbox over, they widened the access, they put some very solid basecourse down.... all very nice, they fixed the drainage ditch that shouldn't be there,


It is now no more than the slightest of indentations.

It had just finished raining when I went to admire it - the water was running off superbly, nowhere near our place but they seem to have diverted it quite well into the neighbours - the ones who started all this in the first place. I think they are worse off out of all this. (Actually I know they are worse off but that is another story altogether really).

Now I just hope that Inroads and the Council don't find any reason to start it all over again.

Reg I'm sorry I doubted you - you are almost (but not quite) forgiven.

Monday, May 11, 2009

So this is how to spend Ratepayers money...

I would give quite a bit at the moment to live on a private road where no one could come along and mess with it any time they felt like it.

Last week we got some flourescent markings on the drive. Very ominous. They are also, for some bizarre and unfathomable reason, filling in the ditch on the other side of the road. I don't get it obviously (despite an engineering paper or two at univesity that covered drainage and water flows) I can't see the point in filling in a ditch (apart from the one at the end of our drive obviously), it isn't causing any problems over there on the bush reserve side of the road, sometimes it even diverts water.

This morning I get a call from Reg from Inroads. The main thing he wants to impart is that they will be moving our mailbox. It transpires this is because they feel the need to realign our driveway. I don't know why they think they should realign our driveway - not even sure who it belongs to - I thought it was ours but since they seem to think they can play with it without even notifying us perhaps not (does this mean we should give them a call when it needs some gravel on it?). The letterbox is obviously ours and therefore can't be touched without advising us.

I can't see why this is anything except a waste of time and money and I say so. A strange thing happens. Reg from Inroads agrees with me. He agrees that they should just fit a culvert and get over it. He agrees that it is a huge stuff up. He agrees the whole thing has been a huge stuff up. Then he tells me he has to do what the council staff tell him to so while he would like to fix it properly he can't.

I am left a little speechless and pondering whether this is another boys club excuse or if he actually means it.

I tell him I hope he is feeling photogenic for when the media want to talk to him about it in that case.

I wonder where they intend to move the mailbox to. As it is ours I guess we are able to move it back if we aren't happy - unlike the ditch which isn't ours so we are warned of dire things happening if we should touch it.

We still have a drainage problem. Wonder if they plan to do anything about that.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Compounding errors?

First I bought six Minorca hens on the assumption that they might lay better than the ancient old girls who were churning out two or three eggs a day, given they were
1 Bred to lay
2 Considerably more youthful than the old girls

It was okay in theory.

Sold the old girls and the bitsa rooster the neighbours so generously gave us (hmmm) too - silly move should have taken an axe to the bitsa rooster and kept the old girls as the new mob lay about one egg every two days. Okay they are moulting but really they aren't going to win any awards...

As the hens were a sad disappointment it was of course perfectly logical *cough* to buy a rooster (what, pay money for a rooster, the countryside is littered with them! ) so here's Rudi, purebred Minorca and I had to bid a little bit to see off the opposition on Trademe.

He was quite impressed with his new wives and looked happy enough in his house.

Except at 5am he started crowing, and it sounded very loud! It was - given he had flown the coop and was under our bedroom window.

He didn't think going home was a good plan either - little bathplug.

Eventually one rooster got caught and had a wing clipped. He's been a little better behaved since and doesn't start crowing until 6.30am which is a little more civilised.

Friday, April 24, 2009

It's raining

Which is all good. There hasn't been a lot of rain in the last month so it won't go astray.

One of the truly nice features of our current house is something we didn't know about until we had moved in.

In the master bedroom the sound of the rain on the roof is louder than usual - hard to describe - the sound of rain falling on an iron roof transmitted through the timber ceiling lining that someone saw fit to put in that room is different somehow.

It is one of the most comforting sounds I can think of - the sound of rain on a roof when tucked cosily into bed under a feather and down duvet (between Egyptian Cotton sheets of course)


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Making sad decisions

Despite corrective hoof trimming little Annie's legs hadn't improved and she was showing signs of being in pain. Surgery wasn't likely to be more than partially successful.

Too little too late really. If she had had treatment within the first week of her birth the outlook may have been different. Unfortunately that was beyond our control as we didn't get her until she was six weeks old.

Therefore we made the decision to put her down last week. She was a sweet little girl to the last.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Not boasting

Free IQ Test - Free IQ Test

Homepaddock made me do it...

I do wonder if IQ's tests are getting more generous (the way womans clothes sizes are).

Wednesday, April 01, 2009


I feel oddly let down - I suppose I expected more.

At the end of February we got a letter from Rodney Hide's office saying they would look into the issue of the ditch at the end of the driveway (which ain't gone anywhere by the way)

Today we get a letter from the man himself saying he doesn't think it is appropriate that he interefere in this matter. He suggests we need a lawyer and *helpfully* provides the address of the CAB so we can consult their free lawyer.

I am left scratching my head and wondering what has gone on in the meantime. Have the council told him something they aren't sharing with us (and if so would it not be better to tell us what they said so if it is so we can comment on the validity of it) or has he (and his office) really done nothing.

Either way he has dropped in my estimation.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Creative solutions from the council

Neighbour got a letter suggesting they might like to fix the ditch at the end of the driveway. I don't think that was in their plans at any point...

Interesting missive - vastly different from verbal exchanges. They seem to totally ignore the fact that they have diverted stormwater onto our land (do they think that we will ignore it too?)

Still about twelve people or organisations on my list of who to contact about this. Time to fire off another three or four I think.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The dear old biddy is really a naughty old girl

Ears is on a slow fitness programme, as is befitting a 21 year old aristoctratic old lady, which includes two days riding a week and two days lunging. How she behaves when lunging on any given day is entirely up to her. Some days she has the lunge line clipped on and sets off at a trot which she continues through commands of walk, stand (or canter or gallop) until you haul her in or she decides to stop. Other days she does exactly what she is told when she is told to do it. Sometimes we put poles on the ground or a small jump out to lunge her over, sometimes she says "Oh what fun". Sometimes she says "Oh my god what on earth is that horse eating thing on the ground" and leaps sideways before whatever it is gets her. Sometimes when I laugh she decides that she might just behave herself, sometimes not.

Riding sessions are a little more disciplined - she really knows better than to misbehave under saddle, though some days the moaning she manages to do while trotting would convince you that she is dying if you didn't know better.

She also nearly got me with the pink mounting block.

Not being as agile as I used to be I generally climb on board using some method of elevating myself closer to horse height. For quite a while it was either the side of the yards or an upturned water trough (or sometimes the side of a concrete water trough but really that was asking to go swimming) Then recently I saw and purchased a rather vivid pink mounting block, three heavy duty plastic steps, easy to pull round and being such a bright colour difficult to lose in long grass. I was very pleased with it when I positioned Ears alongside and climbed the steps to find that I was at a great height for ease of sliding into the saddle. The old girl of course had a plan. At the moment that I had a leg half over her she looked round, pretended she had just realised that the pink thing beside her was close enough to attack her fetlocks, and leapt sideways. I didn't fall off - but it wasn't pretty. She probably laughed, I did when I had both feet in stirrups and felt relatively secure again.

Anyway tonight she had a lunging session - and was a good girl. So she was put back out on a new bit of grass on the other side of the hot wire from Roxy and Tee for half an hour before they were allowed in with her. They were somewhat agog that she had all that nice green stuff and they didn't have any and stood as close as possible to the wire looking on wistfully. Now a dear old biddy who had in truth been a little short on food all day would put her head down and start eating wouldn't she? Not Ears, she spent twenty minutes cantering up and down, kicking up her heels and totally showing off to the other two that she had managed to get the best deal.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


I came late to MP3 players - mostly because I had a good CD stacker in my car and didn't see any need to have more than that - until it broke and the repairman shrugged and said "Everyone has iPods now, not worth fixing."

So iPods it was. We briefly considered the other MP3 options but got seduced by the brand in the end. I still covet the iTouch a little but we got a couple of Nanos, one for husband and one for me. He's pleased with his - he can listen to AC/DC while he harrows.

How can they fit thousands of songs in something the size of a credit card?

I think this is a good thing - I am equipped with a playlist of 120 odd music CDs, a few more downloaded from iTunes Store and such gems as Italian for Rude Americans (not the real name obviously - so far I have maybe ten words of Italian, twelve if you include Lamborgini and Ferrari). So I must be ready for the longest wait in the doctors ever, and about three days non stop driving.

The thing is managing it all seems to take up a lot of computer space and time (and the old laptop is struggling under the load - may need to get a new one... hmmm)

And I must be getting really old, but I used to be really pleased if my car played tapes. Remember those things that stretched and broke and wrapped themselves round the player heads needing major surgery to untangle.

Who would have thought then that I can now tuck my entire music collection inside my bra.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

I fear my compulsive obsessive tendencies are showing

I am still working on that ditch at the end of the driveway.

And as I said to the Council and Inroads guys yesterday I am not going to give up on this so they really might as well save themselves the timewasting they will otherwise be involved in and fix it now.

We had a meeting - a remarkably amicable one actually - on the side of the ditch yesterday morning. It was raining which was convenient as it was relatively easy to see that the ditch wasn't actually dealing with the stormwater that well.

Some remarkable utterances were made including:
"we have decided in cases like this in future we should notify affected people before doing the work" Great start - and nice admission that it wasn't a very nice thing to do.
"It may have fixed 10% of your neighbours stormwater problem" this was said in a hopeful tone of voice because really the neighbours stormwater problem is not even slightly improved.
"The original job wasn't very good" Agreed!
"we try not to do work at the ratepayers expense that isn't necessary" (looks like you screwed up in this case)

It also emerged that the soil dumped on the verge and the secondary ditch was only supposed to be done with the permission of the owner of that land. We know that wasn't given.

It strikes me as something Fair Go would love. They came and did some work they shouldn't have done as it wasn't their problem.. They did a terrible job. Then they sent us letters telling us they expected us to pay to fix it and warning that if we didn't get a permit to do it and do it to their specifications we would be in trouble.

Anyway they went off to contemplate solutions. I believe they may have a letter from Rodney Hide about the matter either now or very shortly (as his office wrote to us to say they were looking into it) so that should hopefully keep them focussed on finding an answer.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


There is enough paper work round our place to papermache a culvert over the ditch at the end of the driveway. That would be illegal of course.

We are well informed of the legalities of the matter as all letters advise us that there will be SERIOUS consequences to doing any earthworks ourselves on THEIR roadside. Sort of a "we are watching you" threat. They (they being the Council and Inroads) haven't figured yet that we haven't touched it - and have no intention of it. It's their muck up, why should we fix it. Besides why destroy evidence.

It's reasonably obvious to me reading between the lines from the snide little comments and sarcasm that Inroads and the Transportion Manager at the Council are a bit of a "boys club" and are having wee discussions about us and our obvious stupidity. They don't want to resolve the problem, they don't give a stuff if we are happy or if we have been treated fairly, they just want us to go away without the need to resort to any sort of back down.

I've been told in some reasonably patronising tones that I have no right to be wasting ratepayers money a couple of times. ("You know it would be inappropriate to use roading funds to fix your individual problems") Well golly gee and heck - that's right, I am a ratepayer, so that's my money and I can't think of a single thing I get for my rates (even joining the library costs $50 a year - so much for allowing the poor access to books) apart from a ditch at the end of the driveway. Oh and some voting papers cos the Mayor died (I voted for the guy that said he was commited to improving the roads BTW).

We had requested a meeting on the roadside. Letter from the Council this morning says they have had a look at the ditch and have no problem with it. Though some of the comments they have made make me wonder if they looked at our piece of ditch or one somewhere else. I asked via email why we hadn't been invited to discuss it at that time as I would have been happy to arrange to be there and was told it was self explanatory and my input wasn't required - but he doesn't actually understand which parts I am referring to. The request for a meeting is now being processed... you know "I'll have to get back to you on that". How hard is consulting the diary and saying "I can see you at (whatever appropriate date and time) will that suit?" This isn't a journey into the wilds of Africa for goodness sake - the round trip and a fairly wideranging discussion will take no more than an hour. Mind you they can't return phone calls either so maybe they all have speech impediments or deepseated fear of phone conversations.

Enough time has been wasted on this by Council and Contractors to just fix the stupid thing. I'm bored with it now so we're going to the next step - the Ombudsman has the complaint, the letter will be posted to Rodney Hide tonight and Councillors will all have letters by early next week.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Dear Reg at Inroads

I note to date we have had no response to our polite letter pointing out the ditch at the end of the drive wasn't acceptable still and requesting you fix it.

In the last few days we had some rain. As it was the end of too many days of humid heat the rain was great. So good we didn't even take an umbrella to walk down to the ditch at the end of the drive. What we found down there made us laugh because we wouldn't let little local government lackeys like you make us angry.

Down at the end of the drive, a couple of metres from the ditch you put in we had a new stream. A bit of an inspection shows your ditch doesn't quite take into account slope and gravity so now we have a wide flow across the drive about two centimeters deep. We never used to have this - even in far heavier rain than what we got in recent days. Now that isn't really acceptable and if it lasts through the winter we will be less amused but at this point in time it is mildly entertaining that your ditch doesn't appear to be doing the job. (The photo collection just gets better all the time)

But the really funny part is that it was moving through reasonably fast - through to the neighbours who started all this in the first place by complaining. A glance over the fence shows it wasn't the puddling effect they used to get - they are now ankle deep through there, and possibly close to getting water into the house itself. We were so amused we almost wet ourselves (I suspect the neighbours heard us laughing insanely, they have been avoiding us since).

You really should have asked that engineer who knew what he was doing before you bowled up with the heavy machinery. I think you may have stuffed it up quite badly.

I think we could probably fix it with a bit of a ditch down the side of our drive - but we have absolutely no intention of doing that. It's your problem after all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bureaucracy is coming to get us

Husband got a phone call at work today from the council. Asking for our address.

Hmmm they have his name and phone numbers and know what road he is talking about but can't find the address - the surname is on the more uncommon side and we do own the property in our own names not a company or trust... oh well, whatever.

The reason they need our address? They are going to send a 'request for road repairs' form for us to fill in and return.

Oooookaaaayyyy..... why am I starting to get the feeling this will take some time?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

update on the ditch at the end of the driveway

We got a letter today from Inroads - the people in charge of roading in the district. Not from our friend Roy but from Reg who is a step further up the foodchain. Obviously Roy has run out of things to say to us.

We abjectly and humbly apologise for getting it so wrong. It is all our fault as our access is defective and that apparently gives Inroads the right to just come right along with a grader and put a ditch in it if they think that is the right thing to do.

We didn't know that and we feel terrible that we put these good people to so much trouble over something that is so clearly our fault.

They sent us instructions on how it should look after we fix it. They also sent a permit application as apparently we need to apply to them and pay them a fee before we fix it and then they can make sure that we fix it properly. We'll be getting onto that right away.

Yeah right!

Inroads you are a bunch of jerks to put it more politely than I would normally. That is an absolute cop out and you know it. You did an appalling job on a road that didn't need the work and now you want to make it someone elses fault. And actually if you look at the diagrams you so kindly sent you will find that our access complied until you came along and dug a ditch in it - you didn't taper the sides for nearly far enough when you 'fixed' it you incompetents. So why should we get a permit to put it back the way it was (which was fine according to the diagram) when you wrecked it. Did you have a permit for that - can we see it please? Have you actually looked at what is going on here Reg or did you make this stuff up as you went along?

Every single person I have told about you coming along and wrecking our driveway has been totally appalled at your behaviour and your attitude. That includes more than one council staff member and I'm going to start telling councillors about this very soon (you know the ones who approve your contract to do the roads). I've got photos and now I've got your rude and stupid letter. I'm also going to start telling the Ombudsman, the local paper and Fair Go. You don't think a single letter is going to make us go away do you? You misjudged us if you do.

Friday, February 06, 2009

How confusing - another black bull born this morning.

As their mothers park them in the grass and clear off it is difficult to tell which calf you are looking at.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Some round the farm photos

Annie being cute
Tee wearing Roxys halter

Roxy wearing her own halter and showing how concerned she is that the shadesail is touching her ears

Little Topaz - who I thought might be smokey black is losing baby fluff fast and is obviously not interested in being smokey black - she's just going to be black. Interesting, when you put a chestnut pinto with a black pinto and throw in a grey gene, solid black isn't really what you expect colourwise.

Tees legs - healing - he still has a wee way to go but they aren't looking too bad.

New boy on the block

There is a bit of a story behind our cows due dates. Back about March last year the neighbours bulls came visiting. There were two empty cows at that point - Aurora and Bonny. We got the vet out to PG them and they got to meet Jack the Dexter bull after that - in April.

So about November Aurora started looking as pictured - as though she might calve at any moment. By December she was in milk and I was expecting a spotty calf to arrive at any time. The relevant dates were she would have been due on the 22nd of December if she was in calf from the neighbours bull invasion but if she was in calf to Jack she would be after the 19th of January. So here we are in February and she still looks ready to calve at any moment and totally unconcerned about it.

In the meantime Bonny decided to just get on with it and yesterday produced a little black bull. His older sister who is still a bit of a mummys girl at 17 months old is not that amused.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Okay so I am angry anyway

but really this just takes the cake!

Neighbour has been moaning to anyone that listens for ages that the front of his section floods when it rains. A cursory sort of inspection indicates why this is - poor site leveling without any consideration for drainage when they built the house. Further helped by complete lack of maintenance on the ditch outside the property (have seen other neighbours dumping grass clippings in it - don't understand why it doesn't work) He got a quote to get the property properly drained a while ago - $3000.

So when your household income is over 100K a year and you have the option of paying $3K to fix the problem once and for all by a professional what do you do? Not that of course - far too expensive. Instead you ring up and berate the local council about the water coming off the road. Frequently.

After frequent berating the local council gets bored obviously and sends a roading crew out.

Now we've had our road drainage amended in the last year or so, it was done by an engineer who spent several days marking out the bits that needed sorting - he was out there with levels and surveying gear and all sorts of stuff, and he also stood out in the pouring rain (in some nice yellow wet weather gear) one day to see where the water was going and where it wanted to go.
All in all he did a nice job and the water goes away in a logical manner.

That guy wasn't consulted this time.

So we arrive home (both early by coincidence) on Friday to find there is a 200 mm step from the road to our driveway as someone has put a ditch down the side of the road. Husbands work van bottoms out on it, my car takes two careful serpentines to get over it. We get out and 'admire' the day's alteration. It is blatantly obvious that the ditch has been put in to stop the neighbours flooding just by where it begins and ends. The trouble is it hasn't even begun to address the real issue which isn't off the road and what it has done is completely stuffed our access.

So the phone calls begin. Eventually they lead to a character called Roy. "Oh yes" says Roy "I was expecting you to ring - I knew you wouldn't be happy with that" Uhh-huh - that's nice that Roy can see that the job is a little below average "Are you going to fix it then Roy?" "No - your neighbour said it was fine and it is staying like that. If you don't like it you will have to put in a culvert at your own expense" Roy is politely told he hasn't heard the last of it, goodbye...

After several different people a little senior to Roy in the scheme of things have had messages left and a couple more promise to get onto it first thing Monday we regroup over a rum and coke. We move into neighbours from hell mode and tell the neighbour politely but firmly that we will be falling out over this if it continues and we expect he applies as much persistance to having our driveway fixed as he did to the stormwater problem. He reviews the job he thought was just lovely and agrees it probably isn't that good after all.

Some people obviously got onto Roy on Monday as he apparently came out and had a little look and reconsider. Anyway he rang bright and early Tuesday morning and said the access wasn't suitable for a modern car after all and they would be fixing it straight away. He repeated that we would be paying for a culvert if it was necessary though. I explained that if that was the fact we would be seeing his company in the Disputes Tribunal with photos of the general incompetence of their work which I would also be sending to the Council who after all paid for this.

So a few hours later this guy is knocking on my door - "we've fixed your driveway" I go down to have a look. It is a little improved but still not wonderful. I tell him that. He tells me he can't do anything else, he tells me it is the fault of the guys who sealed the road. I explain that it used to work just fine so I can't see how it is the fault of the road - it was all completely functional until they started. He says he won't fill it in again so that is that and goes away.

Roy won't return our calls. Might be time to start writing letters...

Friday, January 30, 2009

RIP Storm

I only really wanted to breed two foals. Along the way I got a couple more and they are a pleasure to have around, but a bonus rather than the aim of the whole enerprise.

I wanted a baby out of Brandy the mini. That appears to be a non happening event. Minis are too small to investigate too thoroughly for fertility problems so not a great deal to do except wait and hope. We've been waiting and hoping three years now.

The other foal I wanted was a riding horse to take me through to old age from Ears. Ears is a special girl - a Silent Hunter mare so she has relations that compete at high levels and is a lovely ride herself. Not a mare to win any beauty contests but she basically has a leg on each corner and is sound.

So we tried with Ears. The first year she was scanned three times, once with twins and twice with a probable single after a twin was pinched and she still ended up not in foal. The second year she held and in due course delivered exactly what I wanted - a grey filly. As she arrived in the middle of a torrential downpour of the type that reduces the ground to inches of mud in minutes she was named Storm. Ears struggled with the delivery and was a devoted mother but also struggled to keep condition on while feeding (though she certainly did her baby well) I promised her this was her last foal (and at 20 she probably figured enough anyway).

Storm looked a lot like her mother really - large ears, a leg on each corner, not likely to win any beauty contests. It really didn't matter she made up for it in personality, she was a bright and independent foal from the start, trying to follow you out the gate when you left, running up to meet you.

She figured out things fast - picking up feet took a single lesson, leading took two, when first tied up she backed to the end of the rope, walked forward a step and stood. Float training was as easy, one sniff of the ramp and she walked straight on and stood up against the bar.

I was forever secretly congratulating myself on getting exactly what I wanted in a homebred horse.

Fate has a way of coming and biting you when you think you have it all.

After almost three weeks of struggling to find out what was wrong and to save her they put Storm down this morning. It feels very very unfair.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


It's been an emotional rollercoaster ride and it isn't over yet.

First the more minor things. Ali loaded like a pro and went to her new home where she has another broodmare for company and a riding horse in the next paddock to add variety to her friends. Last seen showing off her trot with her new friends. Fingers crossed for this time being the right place for her.

The two cattle left home in pieces on schedule and we cleaned the last of the old meat out of the freezer (donating it to a neighbour for their dogs) to make room for the new - I can taste that eye fillet now! What amused me and the homekill guys was our bull Jack watched the entire process throught the gate about two metres from the bodies. He seemed very interested but completely unperturbed by the blood and gore. Possibly laughing at the illfated steers and congratulating himself on having a pedigree and some testicles to keep him from a similar fate.

The homekill man always expresses surprise that I watch the process (and I tell him it's to ensure he's doing it properly and I am not having any amateur butchers on my place) he says I am one of few women that do watch. Once dead (and having ensured they died without realising what was happening) I find the insides of cattle quite interesting, that is the point where you find how your pasture management paid off and how different calves turned out. But then I have quite early memories of my father slaughtering sheep (and Christmas turkey) so I suppose it was not something that was ever out of the ordinary in my childhood.

Betsy the cow is due to leave tonight too - she's going in a single self mobile piece though - to a home who will probably be far more caring about her than we ever were. Looking at her today she may be closer to calving than I thought - which will cut the anticipation for her new owners who are very excited about the idea of a calf.

And then the more serious stuff:
Our little Storm has been the emotional roller coaster throughout. After much angst she went to surgery on Thursday afternoon and they found a large blockage in the bottom of her stomach - too large in fact to remove without opening the stomach up (apparently they usually break up masses through the stomach wall and tube it out but in this case it didn't work) So she came through that and was up and okay later that evening though they said the next 48 hours would be critical. On Friday she was eating small amounts and demanding more. Saturday when we saw her she was most indignant that she had a grazing muzzle on but was otherwise cheerful though at that point there was no indication of the success or failure of the surgery. Then on Sunday evening she colicked. They took her off food and put her on painkillers and antispasmodics but she was still showing signs of colic on Monday morning when we saw her. She was miserable. Later Monday night I said to the vet that I thought she should be put down today (Tuesday). I think we were all sobbing but we just couldn't see any good outcome for her at that point. Then this morning the colic is over. She's cheerful, in no obvious pain and starving again. They tubed her and found her stomach empty which is exactly what it should have been and suggests she might be moving what she has eaten further along the digestive tract. I still don't hold out much hope but it appears she's determined to hang in there.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Touch Wood...

Today we have a glimmer of an indication that things might be starting to improve.

First yesterday it looks like we found Ali a proper home. Fingers crossed.

Then this morning the vets reported that Storm appeared to be improved. Cross the other fingers.

After that the farrier came and made a lovely job of corrective trimming little Annies teeny tiny feet. He also made a great job of three other trims, didn't even charge an excessive amount and was a nice guy. Cross toes that Annie improves.

Then the homekill man rang to say he was coming on Thursday to dispatch some animals that need to stop taking up paddock space and fill the freezer instead. Cross the other toes that nothing leads that plan astray.

Appears we are moving forward

Thursday, January 15, 2009

And on it goes

So we get up bright and early and take Storm on a float ride. Poor girl has only been up the drive in the float and then she gets an hour long trip when she isn't feeling well. However she coped with it and even remembered her manners about backing off.

The vets didn't have the paperwork which was a bit odd but they said they would chase it up. She's in good hands and they will have a long hard look at her - it looks as though it could be an impaction of the gut from the symptoms and they hope a fairly mild one as she appears in no pain. So we get home to three messages on the answerphone - apparently that wasn't the vet she was referred to... (odd as it was the vet I intended her to be referred to) and the vet she had been referred to was going to pick her up.

FFS - three phone calls later I sort it out - the referral gets through to the vet that currently has her, the vet that thinks they were going to pick her up cancels Majestic Transporters (what was that going to cost me!) and the vet where she is is happy that she stays there and they treat her. Hopefully things will now go according to plan.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Time for a change in luck please

It's the time of year when newly qualified vets start at our local vets practice.

I guess they have a very steep learning curve.

Last year we lost a foal as the young duty vet didn't think he was THAT sick. On that day I learned that my gut instinct is more reliable than the vets thermometer, stethescope and other instruments. We still don't have a reason for his death but I should have trusted my feelings and insisted we do more for him at the time.

A while later we had the "oh it IS colic" visit. Not much point in saying I told you so though the surprise he expressed irked me a little.

Fast forward to this week and something wrong with Storm. Not eating and lacklustre but mobile and no sign of a temperature, breathing problems or anything else. Young newly qualified vet is sure she just needs hay and that the whole issue is worms. She goes over the worming schedule to the point of taking the batch number of the wormer I am using. She takes bloods and fecal samples. All negative. So she tells me there is nothing much wrong. I start getting pretty annoyed and a little irrational at this point. I know there is something wrong and it is something that is not looking like it will resolve itself whatever it is.

So we have to take Storm to Matamata tomorrow for further investigation. I'm annoyed with myself as I think I went with the vet rather than my gut a day too long again - I should have started kicking up a fuss yesterday.

Eventually they turn into great vets - they just test my sanity in the meantime.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Overnight arrival

With the utmost efficiency at 1.30am - the foaling alarm went off and in the time it took to put my dressing gown and boots on and get to the foaling paddock (about two minutes) Gemma had delivered a bay filly.

This little girl takes after her Mum for not wasting any time, in that she was on her feet ten minutes after birth, cantering at half an hour old and bucking by the time she got to an hour old. She did take a bit longer to get the hang of feeding despite her mothers efforts to show her where to look. However she got that sorted out by 3am and we went back to bed.

That is (hopefully) the end of the night watches for the season. Not before time, Gemma has kept us guessing for weeks and the other night got me up seven times between midnight and 6am with her moonbathing antics setting off the foaling alarm. (Had I known she was going to have so little problem I'd have left her to it!)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


Poor little Tee. He got the stonebruise sorted (burst out his coronet on New Years Eve) so decided to take on a fence on New Years Day. He decided not to go for a plain wire fence but for the one that also has a length of chicken wire attached to it to keep the freeranging hens from wandering through to the garden. It actually never occured to me that it would do a fair bit of damage if a horse decided to go through (it never occured to me that a horse would decide to go through - then again the skid marks indicate that Tee didn't decide as such, just didn't stop in time and while he got his front legs over he obviously couldn't lift the hind ones up out of the way).

The photos are of the damage when he did it - while we were waiting for the vet. Will get some more when I rebandage him tonight. The duty vet decided not to stitch so he was bandaged, given a tetnus shot and left with antibiotics. John our usual horse vet came out yesterday (with student as he so often does at this time of year) and rebandaged. I was a bit afraid to see what was under it but it is looking good (well as good as large missing bits of skin can look). John confirmed no tendon damage and suggested active manuka honey and nappies (cheap padding for those who don't know - the old type thick sanitary pads are useful too) daily for a couple of weeks.

Tee has been such a good boy about it. He would rather we didn't touch his sore legs but if we have to that's okay as long as we are gentle. He's been stoic about being jabbed daily and generally abused.

Was interested with the jar of active manuka honey that neither yearling likes the taste of it (I offered them both a fingerful and they both had a taste and declined any more) I had images of being unable to keep honey on the wounds with horses licking it off as soon as it was applied.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Lazy Sunday Afternoons

Husband got up at 6am this morning and opened the french doors from the bedroom to the verandah. The cool breeze was wonderful.

It has been a scorcher of a day - really too hot to do anything except stay in the shade. The view is good from the shade so it is a pleasant pastime.