Lambs. Maths. And some potatoes. 
Down to three lambs. Alas, Kirby died on Thursday night. He'd looked a little bloated the day before, but seemed otherwise fine. It often seems to happen like that, and it's often the ones that had a difficult start. You have to get used to losing a few each year. Fortunately both girls have coped with it.

Which is just as well, because Rachael has been freaking out over Maths. She did a resit of her mock exam, but lasted about 5 minutes. She's got the real exams in 5 or 6 weeks. I've been taking her through the workbook a little each day, and learning some things I'd forgotten long ago! She was really resentful yesterday, but somehow I managed to show her how to understand parabolas. Today, circle geometry, and exponential functions. She found it a lot easier today. Hopefully, we'll get there. The other subjects seem to be no issue, including her favourite, Japanese!

The other three lambs are growing well. Sarah is feeding Harley separately, so she gets used to her, ready for Ag day in a few weeks. We've got a multi teat feeder for the others. Davidson is notorious for his sidestep. He'll suddenly lurch his back end to the left and back. This is OK, providing that no one else is in the way. He'll also crash through the others in search of a useable teat. Peter, aka Balls, doesn't aim well, and can lurch at the feeder violently until I grab his collar and direct him to the nearest source of milk. It can thus be chaos at feeding time, but once they've latched on, it's usually over in a minute or two.

Only two bands competing at the regionals, and we came second. The other band was stacked full of A grade players, so it wasn't unexpected! But we did play the test piece from the C Grade at the nationals. Now that we're C grade, our conductor wanted us to try some C grade music. We only had a few weeks to practice, and I thought we pulled it off quite well. And a number of other tunes, all based on folk songs, including Lily the Pink, and a rather beery number from the Oktoberfest, in which we all had to sway in time to the music. It's not easy reading the music and swaying simultaneously...

It's been wet. And warmer. And the grass is growing fast. I suspect that the lawnmower guy is busy, because we haven't seen him for a few weeks. At least the monsters have had plenty of grass to eat. The crabby old potatoes I threw in a month ago are growing very well. I suspect that area was used by generations of cats as the nearest patch of dirt from the back door. Hopefully we'll get some good potatoes underneath. If they have too much nitrogen, they might look nice and green on top, but there's nothing bigger than a cherry underneath!

Yesterday, I put in a couple of bags of seed potatoes. Today, we were all given yet another potato at church as a competition. Something about sowing seeds. We're going to harvest them and have a weigh-in in December...

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Balls. 
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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