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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Lambs everywhere... 
Weiming is off on her travels, and plans to head south for the summer. We've got a week or so free, and then her friend Celia arrives with her friend Nana. Weiming has been looking after us while we've all been sick. I wish we'd been able to do more for her while she was here, but she has done plenty for us!

I'm learning basic Chinese characters and grammar. It'll take a while to catch up with the average 3 year old. They have a system of strokes and a set order and direction to draw each of them. Weiming showed me how to look up characters in a chinese dictionary. However, you have to know how to write them first because the dictionary is organised by strokes!

We're up to 4 lambs at the house. Pip Bennett is growing fast, and little Angelica is learning to feed. Bronwyn's brother Stephen brought in two lambs which we've codenamed White Face and Scruffy. Alas, poor Apple Juice didn't last one night. More lambs on the way. It's a two person job doing the feeding now. Meanwhile, Goldy and Chickaboo are growing their feathers and seem to be doing fine in the shed.

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Volcanos, chicks, streptococcus, staphylococcus etc... 
Rachael's been barking like a dog this week, and had two days off sick. I've also been really ill, and had to take three days off. However, I actually bothered to read the bottle of pills, and it says Take TWO twice daily. Obviously one wasn't enough! So I've raised the dose, and gradually getting stronger. Bronwyn's been suffering from asthma with the pollen from the pine trees - the car was coated in yellow dust this morning.

No volcanic dust however. We've had three volcanos erupt this week. White Island has always been running hot, but Tongariro made an impressive belch last week, the first in over 100 years. And an underwater volcano created a raft of pumice along the faultline to the north east. Occupational hazard.

The chicks arrived on Friday, and have been feeding well. Meanwhile Pip Bennett, aka PB or Piddlebum, has been feeding very well, and has learnt how to jump any fence we can put up against him. At least he can't open doors. That would be scary...

Weiming is enjoying the peace and quiet, and has spent long hours exploring parts of the bush I've never been in. She's got just over a week left with us, but will be around the country for a long time yet. She's certainly been looking after us!

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