Beans, peas and a three legged calf. 
We're now hand raising a calf. Literally. Poor thing was born premature, and one of her front legs hasn't come right yet, so we've put a splint on it to keep the ankle straight, and for the first week we had to lift her up to get her standing. Consequently, Bronwyn did her back in, so she's been off work and on painkillers for the past week.

Tom and Jerry are both growing fast. Jerry is a deranged nutcase. When you offer him the bottle, he attacks it so violently that he misses, hits the teat sideways and squirts milk everywhere. It pays to stand back a little.

Now that I've got an old iPad (in order to learn to program it) I've been trying to map out the bush again. I've learnt that even with the aid of satellite technology, I can still get hopelessly lost. The terrain in places is very steep, convoluted and thickly covered in vegetation. It's very hard to keep a straight line, and the valley is deep enough to cut out GPS occasionally. But I've managed to find a few places that I'd been trying to explore for a while now.

Bronwyn suggested we planted sugar snap peas again, because it's one of the few green things that Rachael eats. So I've bought some canes, and I'll throw in some runner and broad beans. Plus quite a few beans saved from previous years. And some potatoes and carrots. Hopefully we'll get to eat them all...

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Chickens, dolphins and politicians 
It's not easy running a farm in your back yard. I have to do it in strict sequence. There was an incident a couple of weeks ago. I let out the chickens. Four eggs, good going. I came out with the milk for the lambs. I fed Jerry first because he's a total nutcase and needs both hands to control him. Meanwhile, the wind blows the door open. The chickens run inside. I finish feeding Tom and then chase three chickens away from the cat food, and out of the house. As well as Jerry, who wants more.

Several hours later, I hear a strange noise. I then spend the next five minutes chasing the fourth chicken round the lounge and cleaning up the accumulated poop. It pays to count your chickens.

Bronwyn's been taking the lambs to work once or twice a week, and letting the children feed and measure them. They're growing fast, and fortunately Jerry isn't quite as violent as he used to be, otherwise he'd be causing us injury now when we try to feed him!

The brass band AGM went more smoothly. We adopted a new set of rules, plus a president and secretary, and since then I've already updated the Incorporated Societies register, the Charities register and the bank. I'm getting into the swing of this...

This Monday was supposed to be a quiet "Meet the candidates" evening in our church. But it turned out to be the only public event that the Prime Minister John Key was going to attend (he just happens to be our local MP), so a number of other heavyweights lined up to attend, and it got widely publicised. We put TV linkups in the hall and the lobby, and borrowed some chairs from the community centre next door. We were catering for up to 230.

I wasn't sure if I could turn up to help out, but things changed so I arrived at 5:25pm and got given a fluoro jacket. There were already cars parked right along the road. We had permission to use the community centre car park, so I waved people in there to start with. But there was also several netball games and an indoor bowling club running, plus badminton over the road, and dog training nearby (wh never worked out where). So after a while the netballers began to protest. We left them a few spaces, and started waving people into the showgrounds. Oodles of space in there. But not in the church. I got the message that the police had started refusing entry. This was at 6:30pm, and the actual debate didn't start until 7.

But still they came. Car after car, and I just had to tell them that they wouldn't get in. Eventually at 7:30 it quietened down a bit, and I joined the crowd outside the church. A line of Maori party supporters. They could sing well, but weren't doing a lot else. A woman waving a cardboard dolphin. A guy in a black shirt with John 3:16 all over it, who appeared to be with Internet/Mana. (A strange alliance; a breakaway from the Maori party, and a bunch of anarchistic nerds. Might get a few votes.) And a small gaggle of John Key supporters in blue, who were keeping rather quiet.

We were kept going by coffees smuggled out of the kitchen window and the dolphin woman, whose friends had made it inside but had a big flask of hot chocolate. Plus a couple of big plates of cheap pizza, chips and various edibles.

It all went remarkably smoothly. The only incident was an old guy in the bowling club who was most incensed that we'd borrowed their car park and deliberately blocked a few people in. However, I suspect it was actually the netballers that he blocked! He must have relented a bit later, because the van was moved when people started to come out.

It was interesting to see the press at work. Two vans were outside with satellite dishes on top. One guy stood outside bravely holding a microphone to a closed window. He would have done better poking it through the kitchen window. Afterwards, when they let us back in to clear up, there was a group of people sitting in the corner furiously typing on laptops. When I got home, Bronwyn said she'd been following it all on the NZ Herald website. Curious to think I'd probably been standing next to the person who typed it!

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Tom and Jerry 
Tomorrow is going to be busy. Bronwyn has her aspbergers support group, I've got the brass band AGM, and Sarah's going to a birthday party. All simultaneously. Meanwhile, Rachael will be busy playing Minecraft.

Rachael's now back to normal. She had three days off this week, but by Tuesday night she was beginning to make snarky comments, so presumably her voice is OK now.

My colleague has made me several hundred business cards. Don't think I've ever had that many in my life. Now I need to work out how to get rid of them! We had a marketing consultant in, who talked through our talents and history, and came up with the idea of data plumbers. So here we are, ready to link up your systems and maximise your data flow. Unclog your network and tidy up your messes. That sort of thing...

Meanwhile, we've now got two new lambs to feed. One was a runt and got abandoned, but picked up rapidly after a couple of feeds. The other one's mother had paralysis in the back legs, and he couldn't feed properly. So it's back to bottles and milk powder every few hours. Sarah missed out on getting another two chicks this year (I suspect there was some plotting by Bronwyn there) but it looks like she might have a lamb to enter in the agricultural day competition instead. We've named them Tom and Jerry...

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Taking care 
Rachael was off school on Friday because her throat hurt. Then late last night she had a fever, and ended up in hospital. She was only there for a couple of hours, but I had to drive out at midnight and pick up her and Bronwyn. She's been quiet today. Very quiet. And rather tired.

Meanwhile Bronwyn spotted a lamb on the paddock that hadn't moved all morning, born late yesterday. But after an afternoon under the heat lamp and a bottle of colostrum he's perked up quite a bit. So now we've got a new lamb in the outhouse. Sarah's named him Tom.

Still plenty more lambs yet to pop...

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Cold and damp 
Got the lawnmower started.

Tried it, battery flat. Tried jump starting it on the car, then borrowed a charger overnight. Next morning, still no good. Ah. Put petrol in. Started first time.

Had quite a bit of rain since then. But at least the grass is cut.

We've had a quiet week. Rachael went to the indoor ski slope with a friend, and Sarah went to the movies with Mum. Other than that, it's been pretty quiet. School tomorrow.

We invited the local Maori to a ceremony on the church land this morning. We have 11 acres, with nothing but a few cows on it. It was part of a big plan to move to a new building. It's been part of a big plan for a while now. So at 6am (traditional Maori time, apparently) we had a blessing ceremony, and at 11am (traditional Baptist time) another service followed by a barbecue. 6am was very dark, cold and damp, and the ground was sodden. But the rain held off, and it all went well...

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