Proud moments 
Sarah came home with flying colours after Ag Day. Four of them. She got ribbons for Tom the lamb, two for second place and one for first. Plus a big one for coming second overall (for lambs) in the school! (Apparently the girl who came first has entered a lamb eight years running.) Tom did really well, and the first place was for the plank test, where they have to walk up a plank up to about 3 feet off the ground and jump off the end. Tom did it no problems, even though our practice plank barely went up 18 inches. There's a group day later where all the champions across the district compete. I'm not sure if Sarah gets to compete in that.

Looks like we're going to have another German shortly. And a rabbit. There seem to be a lot of Germans around at the moment; it's presumably because school has finished and they're all off for a Big OE (overseas experience), just like the Kiwis, but in reverse. We're due to welcome Melissa shortly. And when Yanick reached Kaitaia, the house was occupied by a small black rabbit. Nobody knows where he came from, but Rachael's eye's lit up when we mentioned him, so they're bringing it here on their way south. We're calling him Oswald.

Erica came to visit her Mummy and Daddy today. She also came to our church; on the last Sunday of the month we have a sharing time, and I wanted to give her a chance to tell everyone about all that's been happening in her life since she arrived. She took it back even further, to a dream that began when she was 13 on seeing a New Zealand farmyard in a book. The moment she stepped through our door she became part of the family. Now, we refer to her as a daughter! It's been clear to me that she was meant to come here, and that the dream has been coming to reality like clockwork. God's got a big plan for you, our dear little daughter!

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Chickens, geese and the theatre. 
Went out to see The Sound Of Music in Auckland on Wednesday evening, followed by a chat in Starbucks, which meant I didn't get to bed until 11:30. Yanick left us on Thursday morning, to go up to Kaitaia, and then on around New Zealand. He was catching the 8:20am coach. From Orewa. And we had to be there 15 minutes early. Which meant we had to leave the house at 7:30. I've just about recovered...

The Sound Of Music was done really well. The theatre had some sophisticated machinery and effects, which meant that they could change the whole stage, staircase included, in about five seconds without having to lower the curtain each time. (Although the actors did occasionally have to wheel in a sofa!) They changed the ending subtly, and made use of the theatre a couple of times. Pity we were right at the back, but fortunately I knew the plot so I could tell who was who!

Had some fun with the chickens. They all got out one morning while Bronwyn was away. So I put them back, and two immediately got out. OK, time for the scissors. If you trim the tip of one wing, apparently it makes them unstable in flight. So I trimmed them and put them back. One immediately ran out. Ah. The fence has come loose. So I get a hammer and bash it back in. Then a few days later another got out. Odd. So I trimmed the branches of a small tree that had fallen over inside the run and might have offered an escape route. Then another got out. Urr... I seem to be breeding some very crafty chickens! We've had to go round hunting for eggs everywhere. However, the main problem was probably a big rats nest underneath the coop. Bronwyn put down some bait, and now the chickens seem a bit more settled, and eggs have started appearing in the coop again.

We do get some odd events on the farm. This morning, Ross, Bronwyn and Rachael went out to investigate a goose. It was nesting on the dam, but had its head draped down almost on the water, not moving. Ross crept up close. Suddenly it woke up and honked loudly, and then the male heard and came roaring across the water like a Lancaster bomber, heading straight for Ross. He got out quick. They do look big when they're close up!

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Yanick 
Yanick arrived from Germany, and he's had a quiet couple of weeks adjusting, feeding lambs, looking after Sarah and getting ready for his 8 month tour of New Zealand. He's got a driving licence and wants to buy a car. However, I don't think he's done much driving on rural roads, and never on the left. So I let him drive home from Silverdale last week. We survived, and I'm glad the roads were quiet. Hill starts are not his speciality, and his technique was to avoid the handbrake, roll backwards, run the engine at about elephant purring speed, and stall. Needs practice.

He's been out and about with us a few times, to church, around Rangitoto volcano, the zoo, and a quick trip to buy a phone and sort out a bank account. Not sure how long he's planning to stay here, but he's wanting to do a bit of fruit picking. Not much fruit about yet, but he'll be ideal, since he's 6 foot 5.

Bronwyn's teaching conference was full on, and she's come back with piles of notes. Alas, it didn't give her time to get to the hot pools, but it sounds like it was all worth the long drive! Her birthday was the day she left, so I smuggled in some chocolates into her suitcase as is our tradition.

Nasya the calf was hardly able to do anything, and it was becoming obvious that she'd had oxygen deficit at birth, and wouldn't ever be right. It was hard enough getting milk down her - she often didn't have the instinct to suck. Grass was going to be a bigger issue. With Bronwyn about to go off to conference, we decided it was probably best to call the vet then, rather than prolong the issue.

But Tom and Jerry are both doing really well, and Sarah has been given the task of training Tom for Ag Day. She has to lead him round in a circle, and up a plank, and then the judge holds her and Sarah has to call Tom to her. He was doing really well this afternoon. Sarah might stand a chance at this one, despite hardly lifting a finger!

I brought home a cornet from band, and Sarah found that hard to blow. So I got a trombone, and she found that easier, but her arm is too short for the slide. So now I've brought home a baritone, which is the equivalent length and mouthpiece, but has valves instead of a slide. If she can play three notes in sequence, she's good enough for the junior band!

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Out and about 
Rachael survived Tongariro, and looks like she enjoyed it, despite getting rather wet out camping. Took us a while to dry out all her clothing.

Next week, Bronwyn's working three days (she's now working permanent Mondays) then off to a teaching conference in Rotorua for the weekend. Meanwhile, we've got a German boy coming to stay (and look after Rach and Sarah). He's our first HelpX for quite a while. Bronwyn decided to update our listing, which puts up top of the list again, so we've suddenly had lots of enquiries!

We had a really good concert with the brass band (and the choir and the barber shop boys). We also had a video playing behind us for most of the pieces. Pity there weren't many in the audience. But I thoroughly enjoyed it. And the contest the week after. We came a close second to Howick, who are currently top of the C grade. Being close behind is thus pretty good for a D grade band.

Nacia the calf hasn't been well. The vets been out several times with antibiotics. We keep thinking she's not going to make it, and then she revives again. If she pulls through she'll be the star of the farm. Meanwhile, Tom and Jerry are out in the paddock, and showing signs of not wanting milk so much. But they still make a racket calling for us regardless!

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Scotland: Playing Mum against Dad. 
Had a phone call late last week from another power company. She went through all the questions and announced that I could get $12 off my monthly power bill. Plus some fuel discounts. So I accepted.

Had another call yesterday from a nervous bloke in the original company. He told me they could do a special deal, and I'd get over twice that discount for a year. So I went back. Not sure what they'll offer after the year's up, but it'll pay for the time they spent on the phone.

I've occasionally heard it; the teenage child feels hurt about their parents' breakup, but loves to play one off against the other. Now Mummy's in Edinburgh, and Daddy's in Westminster, and Daddy's offered a big bag of lollies to stay down south. Personally I think Scotland should say thank you very much and sit back smugly exactly where they were!

There's potential in the oil and gas, but that's temporary. Scotland had a similar population to New Zealand. Our main earners are tourism and farming. We've suffered a few times, like when the wool trade collapsed. But we've got a strong tourism sector, and it's drawing plenty of people here. Go sand tobogganing, drive 40 miles on the beach, visit the hot springs, geysers, BUNGY! Scotland - drive all day, spend 70 minutes admiring yet another collection of tartan in the gift shop. Scotland's big draw card for southerners is that there's not an awful lot there. I'm thinking it's likely to become like southern Ireland - beautiful countryside, quaint local customs, quaint locals. Enjoy a wee dram in the local pub. Then back down the motorway on Sunday night!

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