Sick. All of us. 
Really felt bad on Friday. Got home, had dinner, went to bed and stayed there almost continually until Sunday afternoon. I'm a lot better now, but I've spent Monday and Tuesday doing as little as possible because I'm getting sick of being sick! Meanwhile, Sarah, Rachael and Bronwyn have all been coughing lots and really tired. We all had Monday off. Rach went back today, and Bronwyn's gone into work. Eloise is fine. She's been walking around with a face mask, and hiding in her room. Bronwyn told her she could move on if she wanted, but she's happy to stay here.

Eloise is a graphic illustrator, and has been doing a bit of painting around the farm. I took her up into the bush to a huge old tree, covered in ancient vines. Hope she can do it justice.

Not sure who we'll have next. We've had several months of continual Chinese. Rachael wanted a break, so Bronwyn's telling them all that we're not going to take any more bookings until after mid October. Hasn't stopped them trying! We'll be in Queenstown for a few days in early October. Just us, as a family. Although Celia and Nana are hoping to catch up with us when we're down there. I'm looking forward to that. I didn't get a chance to say goodbye properly!

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More lambs... 
They took the remaining lambs in for docking today. We've got 100 lambs born this year (not including the ones that didn't make it). We're slowly increasing the flock each year. They used to have thousands on the farm, back in the old days when wool was worth something! Meanwhile, our three lambs are doing fine, and beginning to devastate the garden. We've had to form elaborate shelters around the smaller trees. Fortunately all the good stuff is in the front garden, and they're fenced in at the back!

Celia and Nana left us on Tuesday. Hope it goes well for you guys - we'll miss you! They're hoping to find some work to raise cash before heading south for the summer. Eloise arrives on Tuesday from Taiwan. We've then got a queue of hopefuls, but we haven't promised anything just yet.

Sarah got the weekly award at school. She was so pleased! She got nominated for being cheerful and helpful. She's a perfect little hostess, that one. Occasionally brings me a fairy cup of cold water for me to drink, complete with tray and saucer...

It's our conference at work next weekend. All the power users will be there. It's sobering to note the load on the servers go up and down as they log in, and realise that about 70% of our usage comes from about 200 people. It's great answering support queries too. They've got a packed programme of seminars and breakouts, so they have to ask questions very quickly, before they dash off again...

Felt rather bad last weekend, so I went back on the anti-biotics. Except that I think I might actually have the flu instead, because I've trashed two handkerchieves and I'm honking like a goose. Meanwhile, Bronwyn's looking distinctly better than last week, although she had quite a migraine earlier. Sarah had Thursday off school. Rach is tired but otherwise OK for now. She had her friend Emily to stay overnight on Friday, plus they went rock climbing with the youth group and Rach went to her swimming lesson on Saturday. Time for an early night. Again...

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It's going to be quiet after Wednesday. Celia and Nana will be leaving. Someone else will have to feed the lambs and do the washing up. Celia's influence is definitely showing on Nana, who was quiet and mature when she first arrived. Not any more. I'm learning quite a bit about China, Mandarin and Chinese in general. I can recognise quite a few characters. Like Celia and Nana for instance. They're definitely characters.

Robin came to visit (and pick up her jumper) on Saturday. For some reason, the bus didn't turn up, so I ended up driving into Auckland, and then spent ten minutes trying to locate her (there are quite a few bus stops!) She had to be back in Auckland for 3pm, which would only have given us an hour on the farm. So I took her back home as well!

The lambs are now fenced into the back garden after Bronwyn did a fair bit of work building a barricade. Pip jumped over it in a single bound, so she had to make it even higher. Unfortunately Spike died suddenly overnight, and we're not sure what happened. But the other three are all doing well.

All the joys of the farm. Had a cow with a tumour on the eye. It burst last week, so the whole eye had to be removed. They painted on some antiseptic, which for some reason is bright blue, so the cow has a rather grotesque appearance but otherwise seems to be doing fine.

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The world's fastest chicken shed 
We docked all the lambs last week. It involves putting a small rubber ring round their tails (and testicles) which causes their bits to drop off after a week or so. Removing the tail keeps their bums clean. Removing the goolies keeps the peace and allows selective breeding. 81 all together. Quite a bumper crop.

Headed from Waimauku to Waiuku to pick up a chicken shed in the farm ute (pickup truck). We sometimes get letters misdirected to Waiuku, which is odd, because it's a tiny place off the edge of nowhere. Mind you, to an Aucklander, so is Waimauku. Coming home with the thing strapped to the back was interesting. Things would pass through my head... "You might be a BMW mate, but I'm a Chicken Shed"... "you dare overtake a chicken shed with that?"... hmm... why don't we head through the suburbs and watch the expressions on people's faces?

Got the thing home, and our fast growing chicks are enjoying their new palace. Turned down the offer of a couple of roosters as a freebie...

Celia and Nana arrived Monday and have been settling in and exploring. Nana comes from central China near inner Mongolia. So far we've had quite a spread of people. It's been very interesting! They made us some spicy dumplings this week. Not a crumb left. I feel sorry for the dog. No leftovers to hoover up!

I'm back on antibiotics, but not too bad. Just rather tired. Bronwyn has acquired Bell's Palsy. It's temporary, but has meant that the left side of her face has gone to sleep. She finds it hard to talk and eat (she can't taste anything, and is hoping to lose weight!) and one of her eyelids doesn't close properly, which makes it hard to concentrate for a long time. So no long journeys or late night TV. Other than that she's fine...

Four lambs. Little Erica arrived this week, healthy but abandoned. She's got problems with her eyes due to ingrown lashes. So she's been down the vet for some cosmetic surgery to bulk out the eyelids to keep the lashes out. Feeding her is interesting - you can't assume she knows where the teat is! Meanwhile, Stephen's lamb Spike will be going back tomorrow. Angelica is not quite so dainty and Little Pip is now huge!

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A quiet week 
Three lambs. Stephen took White Face and Scruffy, and then returned with another two. One was very ill, and died after a day, but the other one is doing well. We've lost 9 lambs so far, but we've had so many twins and triplets that overall we've gor a bumper crop this year.

It's not easy feeding three hungry lambs. Bronwyn worked out this technique of holding one bottle in each hand and one between her legs. Not easy.

Celia and Nana arrive tomorrow. Bronwyn's got the room ready. Meanwhile, she did a day working at one of her old childcare centres. It seems that now all the children have done the winter diseases, it's now the staff's turn! She's likely to get called up next week as well. Will be interesting...

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