The big dry 
Haven't had more than a brief sprinkle since, um, mid December. There's a five week wait for our local water supplier, and many of them have stopped taking bookings. Several towns have stopped allowing tankers to fill up from their supply, so it's getting harder to find water, let alone buy it. Up north, Kaikohe has just three days of water left. Actually, that was three days ago!

Auckland is OK for now; they've got massive reservoirs in the hills, although the high temperatures have increased demand for power showers and designer swimming pools, so they've been urged to stop watering their agave plants and clandestine avocado operations.

We're in the queue for a truckload of water. We did this last year, and by the time it was our turn, it had rained substantially. We've joined the queue again just in case, but we're not likely to get anything until March. We're OK for now. Bronwyn took a big bag of washing to the laundry in town this week, and we've been using the showers in the church office. At our current rate of water usage, we could last six months. Might get a bit smelly though!

Looks like Australia has had some rain for now. We had a lot of smoke from all the forest fires, on several days in different areas of the country. There was a day in early January when the sky turned yellow. Dark yellow. I was putting in a couple of beams for the base of a treehouse, and dropped the drill key on the ground. Had to get the hunting torch out to find it. It was darker at 2pm than it was at 8pm. It was also really eerie. Apocalyptic, as Rach put it. Made you realise just how bad it was over there, well over 1000 miles away.

But now the farm is sunny and crunchy. Most of the grass is dead. Apart from the paspalum and kikuyu grass. They both do well in very dry conditions. Kikuyu comes from Kenya - I spotted some when I was over there. Kenya has had the opposite end of the Indian Ocean dipole and has had lots of rain. The April rains have come rather early. Or perhaps the November rains haven't gone yet!

The farm is OK for now. The dam is only 15 cm below full, and it's probably got enough water to last several years. Ross's dad built it, and made it a bit bigger than really necessary. The ducks are not complaining. We had a bit of a crisis recently though when the pump broke. A thick ring of cast iron had worn so much from the constant thumping that it had a big chunk taken out of it and eventually broke. Bronwyn filled up the troughs with all the containers she could find, which she filled up, put in the back of the car and drove around the farm with them. Next day, Ross brought the tank on the tractor instead.

Had to round up the sheep yesterday because some had signs of fly maggots. Me and Sarah chased them out of one paddock, and Rach guided them over to the sheds. In the car. Amazing what you can do with a rather small shopping car.

Hopefully we'll have enough water for the end of the month, when we'll have a Japanese student staying with us for a couple of weeks. She's 15, and we haven't got a lot of details, but she looks reasonably harmless!

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