Four lambs. Harley and her friend Davidson are growing fast, and cause chaos at feeding time. Kirby was born with weak legs, and got injured when all four splayed out on the kitchen lino. But he's slowly getting stronger. Takes a while to feed though. Little Peter / Puck is not as little now, and looks like he'll take after Davidson in terms of being a complete nutcase. Rachael named him Balls. This is because Bronwyn kept referring to him as a female, at which point Rachael would pick him up and say "See, balls!"

Just had a very busy 48 hours at the church. We've had a visiting team (plus numerous hangers-on) teaching about healing and prophecy. Quite a few people got pounced on and prophesied over. Bronwyn has been furiously writing everything down. It'll take her a while to write it out neatly and hand it back to them. She was also furiously baking last week. We weren't allowed to touch anything. But now that it's over, and there's plenty left, we've got quite a few cookies to finish off.

The brass band has about two weeks left before the regional contest. Some people have only just shown their faces again after the nationals. Doubt we'll win, but hopefully we'll sound like we've had more than three weeks practice! I met up with one particular family on Friday. While in Napier, we got a phone call. Their son had left his phone and ipod on the beach. They were now half way across New Zealand heading home, and could we take a look to see if we could find them? We went to the spot. I took one look and realised the sea was 100 metres away, and we had a huge area to search. So I went back to the car and negotiated for Sarah to come and help. At this point, Bronwyn waves something at me. She had found the phone and ipod by a big log within about a minute!

It's finally warm at last. We've had a dryish week after several weeks of rain, and we haven't bothered lighting the fire for a few days now. Might even get to dig the garden this week. I've thrown in a few old potatoes, but nothing else so far.

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Lambing season 
We had a tiny lamb last week, who we named Thumbelina. Unfortunately she only lasted 24 hours. But the next day, we took in another rather small lamb who was one of triplets. Generally when a sheep has triplets, they reject one. Rachael suggested various names, and Harley Quinn was the least inappropriate. Harley has been accompanying us in the lounge and on various trips. She's now about 10 days old, and apart from a slight limp and a bit of infection in the umbilical cord, she's doing fine.

Meanwhile there's another ewe out there that had a prolapsed uterus. Round here, they stuff it back in the hole and sew it up. The ewe is pregnant with twins, and looked close to birth, so they've taken the stitches out and we've been watching her closely. There's also a very old ewe that escaped being sent to market because she looked so bad she would have lowered the price for the group. However, she's now pregnant, so that's another one we're keeping an eye on.

It's been wet. Very wet. I've given up trying to dig potatoes. It's my turn to mow the lawn round the back of the brass band hall. Don't think I'll get a chance at this rate! But next week it's looking a little drier. And cold. The road that we went on to Napier is now closed from snow. There's not many roads through that range. If you draw a line from the East Cape road you cross only 6 roads before you hit the Wellington suburbs. It's quite easy to get cut off, but for some people it's good to be out of the reach of Auckland!

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Napier part 2 
We won! Having taken three heavy trophies back to Napier, we've brought them home again. That's two years in a row, which means we'll probably be in the C grade next year. That makes it somewhat harder since we'll have to do a street march, and not many of us can walk and play simultaneously.

I joined Bronwyn and the girls on the Sunday, and we went round to their motel for a few day's holiday. They had a whole house. It had twelve beds. It also had very little heating, so we had to leave the bedroom doors open at night so that the one working heater could reach the rest of the house. It also looked like it hadn't been touched since the 1970s, and had very little furniture. And we only had internet in one room, so long as you sat diagonally...

Met up with a friend that Bronwyn had met earlier in the year, and had a few trips out around the area. It's a nice place, with very little traffic and plenty of hills as well as plains. We spent some time on the beach, waiting for big waves. Rachael got soaked...

Phone still down. I've asked Vodafone to transfer the phone to their internet, since it seems to be working perfectly. I've given up on our line. It's obviously degraded to the point of barely working, so even if they fix it, it'll probably break again. We used to pick up the radio on it...

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Napier or bust 
The national brass band contest is in Napier, which is about as far east as you can go before getting wet. Unless you head for East Cape of course, but there's not a lot there. Or Kiribati, who wiggled the date line so they could be even further east. But we're not going there today.

I came down with some others from the band and stayed in Rotorua. Rachael spent a few days in a youth conference in Hamilton, then Bronwyn picked her up and headed for Tirau. That's about as far as she got, because the fuel pump died. They had to spend the night there instead. But fortunately the mechanic there used to work with Fords, and knew their problems well. So he had a new pump couriered down, and they were back on the road the next afternoon. They're now in Taupo, making the most of the remaining time. They'll head to Napier later today, and we'll have a few days here before driving ALL the way home. It's pretty wild country between here and Taupo.

The contest is this afternoon. Strains of tubas and euphoniums have been wafting through the motel. There's only three bands in our grade, so we're bound to get certificates, but if we win, we're up to the C grade next year.

We have internet! I have been criticised by the Men's Group for mentioning our technical issues too often. But we've now had Vodafone wireless installed with an aerial pointing out across the valley. The speed is five or six times faster than we've ever had it before. Should have gone for it a while ago!

Nobody else has internet! The line has gone completely. It's under the road somewhere. They're applying for consent to dig up the road. That will take two weeks, and then the digging could take another two. So it could be three or four weeks before everyone else gets connected. And there's a 5 week queue for Vodafone installs. We only got ours early because Bronwyn pleaded through the chain of management.

Now everyone wants to use our internet instead...

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Sarah usually puts on Disney channel. Often we don’t bother changing it, and sit there watching Girl Meets World until 10pm. Last night, there was some movie about dancing. Dangerous stuff. Sarah tried copying the moves, and was going fine for quite a while, until she tried an ambitious pirouette that sent her flat on the floor. One blood nose and a very painful arm. It was gone 2am by the time Bronwyn finally got her home from hospital. No sign of a fracture, but she’s got to get it checked out on Monday just in case.

Internet’s down again. I write this in the hope that I can one day paste it online. If anyone finds this message in years to come, please feed the cat. Our phone goes through the internet as well, so we’ve had to rely on mobile. And Vodafone doesn’t work here, so my phone only works up the hill or by a particular window under the right atmospheric conditions. Dawn is good. The internet went down on Tuesday, so I reported it and went to Bronwyn’s parents for the morning. It came up by lunchtime so I cancelled the fault, especially since they charge you if they come to fix it and it’s working again. But it went down three times since then, so I’ve revived the fault and made sure they put a note that it’s intermittent. It’s a pain. Every time - turn your modem off and on. Plug it in every socket in the house. Plug it in someone else’s house. Plug someone else’s in your house. Check the cat to see what level of static he’s registering. THEN they log the fault. We’ve been considering wireless broadband. At least there won’t be a phone line to go down!

The power went off last week. There were three vans driving slowly round with spotlights trying to find any lines down. At least we’re on a triangle circuit here, so they can route it the other way round if one side breaks. Bronwyn had stocked the house with torches, glowsticks and candles, and a bucket of water in the toilet (because the pump is electric too). Then it came back on again!

Ah yes. And we had another loose joint in the plumbing. Fortunately we didn’t lose much water - you could hear it squirting out from round the other side so we spotted it quickly. I tightened it up, but it came loose again ten days later. So we’ll probably need a longer section of pipe to stop it pulling loose again. However, I think we’ve just about fixed every single joint now, so hopefully that’s it!

The joint came loose four days later. Then three hours. So I went out with a hacksaw and cut off a length of pipe to replace it with. I estimated that it needed to be another centimetre longer. Let’s call it half an inch. Bronwyn recommended an inch. I was nearly finished when Allan and Ross came round; Bronwyn had phoned them up (on her mobile of course). I know from experience that when the Kerr-Taylor boys come round, you get out of the way. Anything that involves chainsaws, guns or 20 ton diggers I’m not physically able to do when they’re within a ten km radius. I think it’s therapy for them. Their weekly dose of masculinity. Anyway, Allan rips out my pipe and cuts an even longer length with a hunting knife, carefully trims and bevels the ends and fits it on. It lasts about one minute. I carefully avoid making any comments…

Anyway, they fiddled with the fittings, and tried it again, and it’s held. So far…

We got a brand new Sky box. It does movies on demand. Straight off the internet. Which doesn’t work.

Hot water went Saturday night. Rach was in the shower. She assumed it was one of us flushing the toilet or something. But no, it was barely warm and I wanted a bath. After the first kettle full made no difference at all, I gave up. It’s working again today. For now.

At least we won’t go hungry. I dug up some enormous kumara on Sunday. More potatoes still out there, along with the wild silver beet. And our new chickens are getting on well, so we’ve stopped having to keep them shut up all day. More eggs shortly…

(some time later...)

Our phone and internet is still out. I'm down at a neighbour's house. Their internet has also been playing up, but at least it's still live. We've signed up for Vodafone wireless, on top of our existing non-connection. It'll cost more, but at least it's, um, wireless. After some phone calls, we found that the fault is affecting lots of people, and could take another two weeks to fix. It's ... somewhere. They don't know where. And "the box is fried". Not sure which box.

The light bulb in the toilet went this week. Since there's no window, we've installed a battery lantern. Bronwyn replaced the light bulb.

It lasted 24 hours...

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