Birthdays 
Sarah is now 10. Rachael is 15 TODAY! Meanwhile Rachel is... not telling. Rachel is Bronwyn's brother Neil's wife.

Sarah's party went well last week. Our neighbour came over with some candle making kit so the girls had fun with glitter and fancy glass candle pots, as well as the usual balloons, part poppers and excessive chocolate. We had two staying overnight.

We did the usual trick of putting a mesh of streamers across Sarah's door overnight. For Rachael, Bronwyn made a spider's web out of string and hung a toy spider in the middle. I decided it needed a little more, so I used an old door that we'd never bothered using and lay it across the doorway, plus two trombone cases, a chair, a huge suitcase, and a footstool to wedge it all against the opposite door. Took Rachael a while to escape. If she hadn't had to get up so early, I would have used a few brackets on the door as well.

Rachael is doing a Duke of Edinburgh's course, and this weekend was the training course. So she had to be out early both days. She wasn't too happy about being out on her birthday. Or missing the chocolate fish at church. But they let her off for the afternoon to come to her combined afternoon tea (and the rest) with the other Rachel.

Good to see our Chinese daughter Erica for dinner last night. Hope the weather isn't too bad for your trip to Hamilton today! We've had about 7 cm of rain this weekend. It just rained all night on Friday, and carried on for much of Saturday and today. I haven't bothered digging the garden. Tonight, we're going to a restaurant in the city and meeting up with Yuwen, who's come back to study early childhood teaching in almost exactly the same way that Erica did. It feels like it's happening all over again...

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Feeding out, and a poorly chicken 
Bronwyn's parents have been off on holiday for the week, so Bronwyn has been feeding out to the cows each day. Some days, she's been working as well. The tractor is ancient, and the handbrake is useless, so to stop it you have to face it uphill and lower the tray at the back onto the ground. It also has two foot brakes, one for each wheel, and a foot clutch. It makes gear changing interesting. So Bronwyn was the only one who knew how to handle it properly, and was feeding out after work. The sun had already set, and time was ticking. Of course, the headlights are useless. So I had to open the gate and then chase away the calves in order to let the tractor through. It feels good, watching a herd of large animals run off round the corner after letting off a blood curdling yell. But my throat hurt for a bit.

Chickaboo hasn't fared well since the demise of Goldie. The younger two have pecked off most of her feathers. We've had to separate her, with her out in the morning and the others in the afternoon. Trouble is, she wants to stay with the others, despite the way they treat her, and hangs around the outside of the coop all morning. She's also been staggering around somewhat, so she might have got injured in the leg as well. Bronwyn tried to make a little coat for her, but she really didn't want to wear it. I'm not sure if there's much else we can do.

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ANZAC 
100 years since Gallipoli. Maybe it's time I bought a new poppy. Fortunately, Bronwyn came across some Australian ones, and bought a couple, so I had one Australian, and one rather ancient NZ one. I was expecting something different this year, but it was all pretty much the same as last year. Plenty of people though. Quite possibly more people in the Helensville parade than we get at Christmas.

Maybe they'll mention a different battle next year for once! I was rather tired on Sunday night after two parades and a concert, and a couple of rather long days at work. But we've had a quiet bank holiday, and we've all had a chance to recover.

The girls are back at school. Rachael is planning to go into game programming with some friends from school. They're thinking of raising money for a computer to do it on, so I steered them away from a brand new Dell and showed them some vastly cheaper second hand ones.

Still warmish, but plenty of rain. Sarah went out today, let the chickens out and carefully shut the rabbit in. I think the logic was that the chickens could find their own shelter!

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A day on the farm 
Bronwyn came back this morning after checking on the chickens. One of them had died in the night. It was Goldie, one of the original two. She hadn't been laying for a long time, and hadn't been all that keen to eat. So I was out first thing digging a grave before Sarah woke up.

Bronwyn spent most of the morning writing up learning stories. She's got quite a few to get through, and a pile to categorise and file. Meanwhile, I went off to install a couple of memory cards in a friend's computer, buy some chocolate biscuits for the brass band, deposit the rest of their tea money and put up a few posters for the concert next week.

When I got back, Bronwyn went out with Sarah to buy a present for Sarah's cousin Brodie and a couple of plants for the garden, one to go on the grave. I spent a couple of hours sorting receipts for the youth charity and finishing some work that I didn't get to fix yesterday. Bronwyn comes home, and I put the plants in.

We're due to go to Brodie's party, but Dad phones up and calls out Bronwyn. Some minutes later, Bronwyn phones up and asks for a needle, some cotton thread and antiseptic spray. I set off with the sewing box. Apparently a calf had fallen in a ditch and got injured. Rachael came over too. Turned out that Dad had attempted to chainsaw a tree root to free the calf, and the calf had thrashed round and got a cut from the chainsaw. Not serious, but Bronwyn attempted to stitch it back up anyway. She gave up, the skin was really tough. Allan was there, and called the vet. They sent Rachael down to the gate to let him in.

Meanwhile, I went back, and managed to peel Sarah away from the television, wrapped up the present and took everything over to Brodie's birthday party. Shortly after, Brodie's dad Stephen (i.e. Bronwyn's brother) got a call. He manages a large farm north of the village, and there's a lot of maize. There's also a lot of cows. Also in the maize. 600 of them. Stephen drives off to try and get them out.

Bronwyn, Rachael and Allan arrive at the party. It had gone well. The calf had put one leg down into an underground stream, but with a little assistance, a long chain and a tractor, they'd got her out. The vet decided that stitches weren't necessary, and gave her a shot of antibiotic and painkiller, and she was off round the paddock in no time.

Stephen and the rest returned, and we finally had dinner. Just another day on the farm...

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Catching up 
Bronwyn has been busy looking up accommodation and care hire for the trip to England. Much has been planned. Bronwyn has made a big calendar with all the dates and events on it. Rachael has decorated it, and turned it into a snakes and ladders board. I just hope it all goes to plan. But looking forward to seeing old friends and showing Racahel and Sarah what a real winter is like!

I think I've finally recovered from the expedition up the Coromandel. The legs were fine within a day. My back was aching for a couple of weeks, possibly from where the drink bottle was digging into my back. But I think my legs are stronger now. I've tried to make a habit of going up the hill several times a week. Don't know if it's working.

Had a weekend visit to see an old friend from the brass band. I decided to drop in on another friend while I was there. They live 260 metres apart, so I ended up introducing them and having several hours of all three of us chatting. Plenty of chatting that weekend. Rabbit psychology, android programming, I think we covered the lot. Nope, sorry, I think we forgot camels.

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