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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Full of beans 
Rachael's off at an Outdoor Pursuits Centre. Not sure what she'll be doing, but it involves a large rucksack and plenty of warm clothing. The rucksack was incredible. I've never seen so many straps.

Our concert with the brass band went well last night, although there weren't many in the audience. We had the Kumeu choir again, and the Rangitoto College barber shop singers. Plus an MC and a video presentation behind to match the music. And far too much food and drink. We'll be eating the chocolates and crisps for a while.

Our three legged calf is doing well, and almost using the fourth leg properly. We've currently got another calf here, but this one looks in a very bad state. Meanwhile, the lambs are growing fast. Bronwyn's been taking them into work each week to show to the children and measure them. They're now officially Too Big, so they'll be staying at home.

Planted broad beans, runner beans, last year's French beans, peas, lettuce, carrots and broccoli. That'll do for now. Just hope we can eat all those beans...

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Beans, peas and a three legged calf. 
We're now hand raising a calf. Literally. Poor thing was born premature, and one of her front legs hasn't come right yet, so we've put a splint on it to keep the ankle straight, and for the first week we had to lift her up to get her standing. Consequently, Bronwyn did her back in, so she's been off work and on painkillers for the past week.

Tom and Jerry are both growing fast. Jerry is a deranged nutcase. When you offer him the bottle, he attacks it so violently that he misses, hits the teat sideways and squirts milk everywhere. It pays to stand back a little.

Now that I've got an old iPad (in order to learn to program it) I've been trying to map out the bush again. I've learnt that even with the aid of satellite technology, I can still get hopelessly lost. The terrain in places is very steep, convoluted and thickly covered in vegetation. It's very hard to keep a straight line, and the valley is deep enough to cut out GPS occasionally. But I've managed to find a few places that I'd been trying to explore for a while now.

Bronwyn suggested we planted sugar snap peas again, because it's one of the few green things that Rachael eats. So I've bought some canes, and I'll throw in some runner and broad beans. Plus quite a few beans saved from previous years. And some potatoes and carrots. Hopefully we'll get to eat them all...

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