Monday, August 31, 2009

Poor cow!

This will be a first! Two posts in one day!

But for those who read my post from earlier today and felt for the cow - she died. I could see her from my lounge and kitchen windows. Just her rear end. Shortly before dark I felt something had changed and went for a cl0ser inspection. She was gone.

I'm glad in a way. She had suffered enough and the road to recovery would have been long and, I suspect, very painful. She was 12 years old and that is a long life for a dairy cow. I hope it was a good one!

Ups and downs

This afternoon as I was driving home from work I was particularly pleased with myself. Physically I was encased in the car but in my mind I was doing those little leaps where you click your heels out to the side. Why didn't I do more of them when I actually could? I guess I was too busy being and doing all the things I thought it was important to be and do.

I haven't been panicking about any difficulty I've had learning my new job, have had enough new jobs over the years to know it just takes a while and one day you look around and bingo, you have it sussed. Today was my bingo day. So I had my mental celebration.

I was in a real "life is good" space all the way home. Telling myself how fortunate I am that Lewey, my dog, is useless at what he was bred to do but is a wonderful best friend and guardian angel. How fortunate I am to live in a way that fear is not a normal reaction. That I live in a place where I feel safe, protected, loved. Near my wonderful son who looks out for me, his wife who is a good friend and with his beautiful children to keep me company.

But it doesn't pay to get all misty eyed about one's good fortune, I guess. This world of mine might be a wonderful world but it is the real world. The minute I turned my car into the drive I saw a cow stretched out in the paddock next to the house. A newborn calf was laying close to her but she was in a dreadful state. I heard her soft, mournful lowing and all the happiness disappeared. I can't describe what had happened to her, you honestly would not want to know but, believe me, it wasn't pretty and I was sure she wouldn't survive.

I rang my son's house and Heather came down immediately. We looked at each other without saying much and she rang Danny to come at once.

We are lucky to have a vet living just a few kms down the road and luckier still that he was at home and could come immediately. He's an extremely nice young man about my son's age and they are quite good friends.

He felt there was a chance the cow could be saved but what he had to do wasn't simple or easy. It was a very messy and physically challenging exercise.

I had to come away, I found it too distressing to watch. A reminder of how much I've forgotten about the hard side of farming while indulging myself in all the good bits. How you must sometimes be cruel to be kind, do things it's easier to leave undone.

Will she survive? I doubt it after what she's been through today but I hope so, I fervently hope so.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Voices in the Night

A recent post by GB reminded me of a night several years ago, when I was living at Tapora. My house was set quite a distance back from the road and had a beach access track that ran through the farm passing close to it. The access track was only meant to be for walking but my son didn't mind people taking vehicles through the farm as long as they left the gates as they found them. The nearest neighbour's house was several hundred metres away, behind a shelter belt of trees.

One night, around 2 am my dog woke me with his barking. It wasn't a bark that alarmed me, not a 'hello stranger' or 'hello person I don't like' bark. Closer to his 'get off my patch' bark that he kept for any bird that landed on a fence close to him or any rabbit that crossed his line of sight.

His kennel was about 20 metres from the house, beside a farm equipment shed. So I yelled at him to be quiet. But he didn't, he just kept at it. Another yell, louder and more impatient, same result. I gave up trying to get back to sleep, got up, turned on the light and went to the back door where he would be able to see me by the light within. I spoke to him but could not quieten him. Finally I went out to him, asking him nicely what was the matter.

When I touched him he quietened for a fraction of a second before starting up again. He was pulling at the end of the chain and trying to go in the direction of the beach. I was getting quite annoyed with him by this time so spoke harshly to him and he stopped and sat at my feet whimpering unhappily.

But he was quiet enough for me to pick up the sound of mens' voices. I turned to look through the dark in the direction they were coming from and could see the lights of a vehicle shining up out of a dip in the access road. Then I heard, "Shhhh. Shhhh", mumbled mens' voices then the most amazing mens' giggles. Yes giggles. A bit more Shhhh-ing, hushed voices, I thought I heard my name mentioned, more giggles, then the vehicle started up and continued on its way out to the beach.

The access track to the beach

I really wanted to know what had happened down the track that night. I imagined a few mates going out fishing, something funny happening just down the track past my house, they stopped and were having a laugh about it when they heard Lewey barking and saw my light come on. I could imagine them saying, "Shhhh, we've woken Pauline up." but I couldn't imagine what that something might have been.

Tapora was a very small community and I asked around but there was no gossip circulating about that night.

It remains a mystery. And I'm fine with that. Except I know there is one funny story out there that I've missed out on. And I'm not fine with that.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

St George and the Dragon

Scriptor Senex commented on my Mystical Adventure post a few days ago. He informed me that you can keep Forest Dragons at bay by squeaking like a mouse - they're afraid of mice.

Information like that just has to be shared. Yesterday afternoon when Georgia asked me to tell her a story, I told her this news.

"Mice? Are you sure?", she asked. "Who told you that?"

I explained, "A man told me."

"A man? But men don't know anything about dragons! Granny, tell me a real story about when you were a little girl."

I told Georgia I had an even better idea and sent her off to make herself a glass of milk while I typed "St George and the dragon" into Google. From the choices listed, I chose this one

Georgia immediately recognised the similarity to her own name and spelt out d-r-a-g-o-n. I read her the story, as she sat on my knee, her eyes growing wide in awe. She just loved it when St George "smote the beast with his sword". When the story was finished I said, "So you see Georgia, men do know a bit about dragons and you are named after the fearless man who killed the dragon. That's why you are so brave!"

She was silent for what seemed like a long time. Then she said, "George was brave but he was a bit stupid, he could have just squeaked like a mouse!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Friday My Town Shoot Out - Incongruous

What a stinker of an assignment! Were there brains burning all around the globe? I swear there was smoke coming from my ears! I love where I live now so much because everything is in harmony. So when Mary from the traveling hammer came up with this one it really challenged me. Maybe others didn't feel as challenged as I did by it but the Butler came along to help clarify my thoughts.

I quote: BUTLER: “Something natural juxtaposed with something manmade.” -

"or the opposite" replied a voice in my mind.

I've been watching the development of this little pond near the road a few kms down the road. I pass it twice a day and it used to always bring a smile to my face. Until that plastic chair was added!! I daily fight the temptation to stop and ask them to remove it! It's just not "right"!

So what else hasn't been "right" in my world recently? My city dwelling daughter's gumboots were the source of amusement last weekend when she visited. I wish I'd been able to get a photo of my farmer son's face when he first saw them!

The gumboot photos amused me. This did not:

And a bathtub in a paddock may seem incongruous to some although it's not such an incongruous sight around here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mystical Adventure

I nearly flagged writing about our Saturday adventure. I just don't have the language skills to share with you what we discovered when Shayde, my ten year old grand-daughter, six year old Georgia and I decided, after going for a short walk around the farm, that the day was too lovely to go back home. Shayde came up with the idea of going to the "swimming hole" on our neighbour's property as I'd never been there before and they were keen to show me. This involved following the creek up towards its source in the mountains.

We followed a track beside the creek most of the way and it was lovely, much the same as along the creek banks as it runs through our farm. But then the track climbed a hill and as we came down the other side and around a corner the ambience changed, Georgia announced it was a magic place and I had to agree. Shayde elaborated that it was mystical (a 10 year old has a better vocabulary) and I agreed with that too.

The sun was sparkling on the water where the track crossed the creek. I'm not given to getting my feet wet and cold but didn't hesitate to shed my shoes and socks and wade across the stream. And yes, it was very cold!

The shoes and socks went off and on a further three times as the track criss-crossed the stream before I gave in and continued on my way barefooted. There was a lot of ouch-ing going on. The stones on the bottom of the creek really hurt my tender (not to mention nearly frozen) feet.

We were leaving farmland and both sides of the creek were covered in bushes and ferns.

The girls were scampering off ahead and the dogs were enjoying themselves no end. Our neighbour's dog had decided to accompany us and amused me with his 'retrieving' antics. With nothing else he retrieve he was busy picking up rocks from the creek and bringing them to me.

Then the girls heard the waterfalls ahead and took off with me hobbling barefooted behind. (They were barefooted by this time too but their little feet are tough!)

Honestly, I'm not a fanciful creature. I like to spend time in Georgia's make believe world but most of the time I'm a practical soul. But, when I turned a corner and saw this little waterfall before me I felt the fairies were there with us.

We went far enough to see four little waterfalls. The fairies were frolicking and tumbling about in each one.

Then we came to a reach of still water and beautiful reflections (couldn't find them when that was the shoot out theme, could I?)

I would have loved to continue but my feet were aching to be warm again, so we called an end to the day's exploring. We'd gone way past the swimming hole and were in territory neither of the girls had visited before. With the promise of another exploring adventure when the weather warms up a bit and we are armed with more sensible footwear, we turned for home.

On the way home, with Georgia's hand in mine, she told me about the forest dragons. I hadn't noticed them but she assured me they were there. However, we were safe. Forest dragons are scared of dogs (did you know that?) and we'd had little Sam to keep her safe, medium sized Lewey to keep Shayde safe and big Zac to keep me safe. Gosh, I love sharing that kid's world!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Wearable Art

What a busy couple of days! My younger daughter was visiting for the weekend and my daughter-in-law had wearable art on her mind. It didn't take long before daughter, d-in-law, granddaughters and I had my normally tidy house in total disarray. Each of the granddaughters had a plan or an idea of what they wanted their wearable art costume to be like for the annual show at their school.

Heather arrived with armfuls of material, cardboard, feathers, leaves, cotton wool, old stockings, socks, tshirts. You name it. The theme for this year is Magical Forest. Justine appointed herself project leader and assigned us to teams. Heather and Krystal to work on the Leaf Princess outfit, herself and Shayde on the Mystical Creature outfit and Georgia and me to work on the Feather Fairy's outfit, while also sewing the undergarment for the Leaf Princess. She called a meeting every hour or so for updates, and the girls loved pretending they were part of that reality TV show where designers do their thing. Is it Project Runway? Something like that.

My 40 year old sewing machine was proving its worth once again.

First fitting for the Leaf Princess goes well:

The Mystical Creature is coming together in the kitchen:

The patient Feather Fairy stands up straight for yet another fitting:

Luckily I was too busy most of the time to pay attention to the state of my house!

Good progress was made on the Leaf Princess' top:

Team Feather Fairy are very satisfied with the results at the end of day 1.

Today the little girls were at school but Justine and I had the sewing machine busy again. Justine had a beautiful piece of richly coloured material that she wanted sewn into the same shape as the bag she had with her. That accomplished she decided to make a set of little make up, etc bags.

In the end I think there were four or five little bags of various sizes, plus two little shoulder bags to add to the girls' dress ups box. And Justine was enjoying herself so much she declared she'd like to buy a little sewing machine. I was too stunned to reply! She had been experimenting with putting the little bags together with the hot glue gun and I think the fumes may have been getting at her.

On Saturday, 10 year old Shayde, little Georgia and I went for a long walk up the creek, through the neighbour's property to where the creek comes out of the bush. Pure magic! I'll post the photos on Wednesday, hopefully.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday My Town Shoot Out - Signs

Si chose this week's topic - interesting or amusing signs. Can't believe I actually spent a week wishing there were more signs! And one day I chased a maintenance vehicle for about 10 miles up the highway before giving in and letting that shot get away.

Nailed to a tree

I just had to go home and look up that website.

New owners have given this cafe a facelift
and a new name (they do make wicked coffee!)

Not far away, down at the town centre, is this sign.

Not far away, down at the town centre, is this sign.

I was a passenger the day my daughter and I followed this truck.

Finally, a couple of beer ads. Billboards advertising Tui beer are seen throughout the country. The black background and the words "yeah, right" never change, but the wording is updated regularly to reflect current issues.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The finest apple

Today post by Sarah Lula and a conversation I had with a workmate reminded me of this!

On Being Yourself

You must learn that you cannot be loved by all people.
You can be the finest apple in the world –
ripe, juicy, sweet, succulent – and offer yourself to all.
But you must remember that there will be people who do not like apples.

You must understand that if you are the world’s finest apple,
and someone you love does not like apples,
you have the choice of becoming a banana.
But you must be warned that if you choose to become a banana,
you will be a second-rate banana.
However, you can always be the finest apple.

You must realise that if you choose to be a second-rate banana,
there will be people who do not like bananas.
Furthermore, you can spend your life trying to become the best banana –
which is impossible if you are an apple –
or you can seek again to be the finest apple.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sheep farming

Align CenterThe road to the farm

Spring showers persist. The number of lambs I see each day is multiplying, sparking memories of lambing beats on the farm. That always leads me to give thanks when I hear rain on the roof that I am warm and dry inside and not out in the weather trudging around the hills checking on the new born lambs.

I've always been a bit forgetful and that's not a good thing to be when it comes to taking off a raincoat when the sun comes out, putting it down in a paddock somewhere and not thinking about it again until the next spring shower comes along. Of course, by then I'd be in a different paddock, on a different hill. Wet and cold!

I remember one particularly nasty August day when Bernie was about 9 years old. Bernie was not a born farmer but on this day he volunteered to come with me on the lambing beat - he must have wanted something. Sorry, Bern, but you know that would be the truth. Rain was coming down in sheets and it was blowing a gale. Our mission for the day was to take three little orphaned lambs we'd been feeding on a bottle at the house (and keeping warm under a light in a box on the back porch) out the back where the day before my ex and I had tied to fences three ewes who had lost their lambs. Bernie carried one lamb in a sack over his shoulder and I carried the other two, one over each shoulder.

We were sweating inside our wet weather gear by the time we got there and I decided we should move the ewes down into a gully to give them some shelter from the storm. This was a task in itself as fully grown un-cooperative ewes are quite a handful for a woman and a boy. But we managed it. Then came the task of convincing the ewes that the lambs we were offering up for adoption were irresistible. Yeah, right! We managed to get each of the lambs to drink from the ewes, and the lambs seemed keen enough to have real mothers. So we left them with matching marks on their backs. Say the ewe had a blue cross painted on her back, then the lamb would get a matching blue cross. It always amused me when there were a number of "mothered" ewes and lambs in a mob, the number of funny coloured markings we'd have to think of.

Anyway, we did our best and couldn't do more than that. The rest was up to the sheep. As we climbed up out of the gully we realized the storm had grown worse. Bernie asked could he run on home and I said sure, wishing I was capable of running in my raincoat and gumboots.

So away he went. He was a small child and when he ran he always looked "industrious". He didn't run with the easy grace of his older brother, his short legs had to work hard to cover the ground. The track we were following was a set of tractor tracks and we were following the tracks along a ridge. I could see Bernie getting further and further ahead of me in the distance but then he came to a fork in the track and he was in the right hand track, head down, making good progress. He just kept his head down and followed that track, not noticing that the other wheel track went off to the left, he carried on to the right, not realizing he was now going in the wrong direction, further from home.

I called and called as loud as I could but the wind and rain whipped my voice away. I just stood there, thoroughly dejected, not able to do anything. How far would he run before he woke up to what had happened? I saw him come to a gate and start to climb over it. No, no, I thought, if he went over that gate and down the hill he would be out of sight. But at the top of the gate he paused and lifted his head, looked around him, looked back at me and even from that distance (he must have been 100 metres away and it was raining very heavily) I could see his shoulders drop as he realized where he was.

He dropped back to the right side of the gate and set to work running back towards me. As he came to where I stood waiting for him he lifted his head ever so slightly, muttered, "wrong track" and I could see he felt foolish. And he carried on ploughing his way through the storm, heading for home this time.

Now he was safely on his way home I could see how funny it was. Poor little blighter, as if it wasn't bad enough being out in this storm, he had the extra 200 metres to run.

By the time I got back home Bernie was showered and warm in front of the fire. He didn't look up when I came into the room and I didn't say a word!

The photos here are of the old sheep farm, taken by my daughter Justine a few years ago on a nostalgic trip to see what had changed.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Waterfall Adventures

"Do you know what farmer lives here", asked Georgia as we stopped on the side of the road to look at the water rushing down out of the hills. I didn't and wondered vaguely why she'd want to know.

"Well, can you find out?"

Gaining interest, knowing when a story is coming my way, I asked was it important.

"Yes, we need to find out the name of the farmer who lives here. Then Daddy can ring him up and ask him can we play in his creek. " (I notice that her dad gets the really important jobs to do.)

"This is the best creek I've ever seen. It could be the best creek in the whole world.

We could climb way up there to the top of the gully,

Then scoot down with the water.

(Her imagination starts to kick in....)
We could fly out over that waterfall,

swish through that culvert, drop out the other side

and scoot on down the creek

to wherever it goes."

Adventure indeed! I didn't have to enquire who "we" were. I just know it would be her and me; you have no idea the feats that child thinks I'm capable of. As I climbed ever so carefully down over a bank to get closer to the bottom of the little water fall I move like a lady my age, a bit cautiously and paying attention to where I put my feet. The child sees an intrepid explorer fighting her way fearlessly through the jungle.

I admit I don't do much to discourage her flights of fancy!

Spring Day

It's a typical spring day. Warm for the most part but cold when one of those nasty showers passes over. In the midst of the last shower Georgia appeared on my doorstep, soaking wet and shivering. It's the suddenness of these showers that catch you out. One minute the sun in out and it's a lovely day then whammo! It wasn't raining when she left home only 200 metres away, but as you can see from the state of her gum boots the ground it very wet after a few days of these showers. I don't know if Dora had this sort of exploring in mind really!

Georgia knows how to take advantage of a situation. I don't have a bathtub and a shower is no novelty to her but she knows she will warm up in no time if I put her in the laundry tub full of warm water.

Usually I have some of her clothes here but today all I could find was a pair of knickers. At least that was a start!

This is declared a shopkeeper's "dress" so shops are the order of the day. Add a recent addition to the dress up box and the shopkeeper is open for business.

What a way to spend a wet spring day!