More on chickens 
Funny things, chickens. Never realised how inquisitive they can be. They can spot you digging the garden from a mile off, and come in hoping for a fresh worm. Then they start the vocalisations. There's a range. There's the familiar "b'krr buk buk buk" which means "I've just laid an egg". There's the "BUK" which means "clear off, that food has my name on it". Then there's this pleading sort of "brrr? brrrrrrr? brrrrrrrrr?" which means "can I have a worm", "can I demolish your flower bed?" or "can I come in the house and poop on your carpet?". Amazing things...

The lambs are worse. Sasha has learnt how to climb through just about any fence. She then runs up to you baaing loudly and standing on your foot. Until you feed her. We're trying to wean them...

Christmas is upon us. First parade next week...

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Fireworks, drama and fish. 
I didn't memtion the fireworks last time. There's a small rural school down the road that does a fundraiser every year. It's grown into one of the biggest fireworks events in Auckland, if not New Zealand. We came prepared with tarpaulin, picnic blankets, food and drink and claimed our spot about three hours in advance. Not sure that was necessary since it was a bit damp and there weren't so many people. But it was worth it. We had a few light showers but it cleared up for the fireworks. It was loud. And impressive. They have police on the road to keep the traffic moving after one year when everyone stopped to watch the fireworks from there too.

Fireworks last night as well. Claire's 40th birthday. Far too much food too. The boys cooked a whole sheep on a spit. They also demonstrated their technique of lighting a bonfire remotely by soaking it with petrol and firing fireworks at it, Not sure that makes it any safer!

Sarah has been doing drama lessons all year, and yesterday was the Big Performance. She did really well, but I'm going to have to watch the DVD because I didn't recognise her dressed up as a tin soldier! Sarah was really pleased afterwards. It's quite a lot for the lessons though, so unless she's a lot more interested in iti next year, we might quietly let it drop. She's also doing guitar lessons, and has acquired quite a collection of small guitars and ukuleles. Wonder if she's ready for a trombone...?

My mate Dave phones me up on Sunday and invites me out fishing. So I'm out at his house at 7:30am, having dosed up on ginger. Fortunately it was dead calm most of the day. We went out quite a distance, hunting for seagull activity. It's quite awesome being out in the middle of nowhere and there's a huge shoal of fish splashing at the surface, with dolphins circling and four hundred gannets and seagulls divebombing it. Our trick was to try and get upstream, and fish for the big ones on the bottom. I caught a nine pound snapper - the biggest one of the day. And a baracuda. Vicious looking beast, but apparently it's full of worms and not good to eat so it went back oveerboard. Then Dave sails back south and rigs up in full scuba gear. Looked like something out of James Bond. He disappears underwater looking for scallops, and we're left there waiting on the top. An hour later we're getting nervous. Just then, another boat comes along and points him out as he surfaces again. Only half a bag full, but very tasty.

It was a very long day, and it's taken all week to recover! But now we have several bags of snapper fillets in the freezer. As well as the remains of Claire's party!

Hmm. Ah yes! Bronwyn now has a new car. It's a VW Polo, and very similar to the Caldina, but some of the controls are in bizarre places. Now we just need to get rid of the old one. And one sofa. Dave offered an old desk so he didn't have to share mine when he comes over to work once a week (I go to his shed on Tuesdays, he comes to my desk on Fridays). This means we're rather short on space in that room, and the sofa needs to go. Pity. It came with us from England. Probably cost a packet to ship it!

Mmm. And Bronwyn has some new teeth. A new upper denture. Now she can eat anything again! Except peas. Anything but peas.

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Chickens. And a tank. 
Kristyna Tlhzvbkp and Michael Rt%qp{dzfg stayed with us a week and now they're off in Auckland looking for jobs to pay for the rest of their trip. Great people, and very practical. Cleaned all our windows and did some heavy weeding. Having had half the planet send us emails within a week, our Singaporean girl now can't make it in November, so we might have the month free.

Chickens. Bronwyn has been working hard arranging chain link fencing around the old kennel patch, so both pairs of chickens have their own runs, with access to grass. We had them on concrete for a while, but we were getting eggs with no shells, so maybe the addition of slugs and dirt to the menu should help with their nutrition.

Sarah took this year's chicks out to the school Agricultural Day, and came back with TWO TROPHIES! One for the chicken diary she's been keeping, and another for the overall chicken cup. She gets to keep that for a year, and it'll get engraved. We've already had one of the certificates framed.

It's been a busy week. On Thursday there was a rally outside our house. They closed off the road completely, so we weren't able to get out until after 10am and the girls had to stay home from school. Poor them. We were at the start point, so we watched them start the cars off one at a time. Some looked like they were built for the conditions, others could probably have done with a push. Several were backfiring quite a bit. We could hear them as they went across thw hills behind us. Kim Dotcom was driving one of them. Apparently he burst a tyre on a kerb further along!

That evening we had a Light Party. It's an alternative Halloween event. Twice the size of last year, and we had at least 200 children. I was assigned the Paper Aeroplane Throwing contest, where I tried to remember all my designs from boring engineering lectures. We also provided some hay bales and a rope for the tug of war. And our mate Johnny brought his tank. It's an Alvis armoured personnel carrier, and it weighs about 15 tons. I've driven it over his farm. Great fun, but I wouldn't do it if there were sheep running around!



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The world on your doorstep 
Bronwyn decided that our profile on the HelpX website was a bit out of date, so she updated it. Unfortunately that puts you to the top of the list, so in one week we've had emails from Singapore, France, Belgium, Japan and a phone call from a Czech couple. The Czechs are staying with us now, then the girl from Singapore arrives at the start of November. Oddly, the Czech girl speaks Mandarin...

Sarah now has new glasses. They're tinted yellow. Apparently, she has a form of dyslexia where the different colours are out of sync, and it makes words jump around on the page. The glasses make it a lot easier to focus, and she's actually started reading fluently for once. When she wants to, of course. Meanwhile, Rachael has exams next week. Unfortunately we've just taken delivery of an Android tablet, which has absorbed her waking hours all weekend. But it might come in useful; I need to learn how to program Android for work. I've also been dragged kicking and screaming into the 20th century - I now own A Smartphone. It's a little old, cheap and second hand, but it's Android. So now I have two devices to play with!

Nice and sunny here for once. Still quite haven't weaned myself off the pullover, but getting there.

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Busy holidays 
Erica and Jerry returned from touring the south island. They came out to the farm for an afternoon, and got a quick tour and a hands on demonstration of sheep shearing. Plus lamb ringing. This involves putting a heavy rubber band round the tail, which is the most painless way of docking the tails. The boy lambs get two rings. One for the tail, one for the testicles. Jerry said he found that one rather disturbing!

Then they came back on Saturday for wedding photos. This was quite a surprise for us, since as far as we know, they're not actually engaged yet. But it's the Chinese custom to do the photos well in advance so that they can be shown off at the wedding reception. Got a photo of Erica pretending to assault Jerry with a docking ring...

They both went back to China to meet the parents, and Erica will be returning in a few days. The plan is that she'll do a one year early childhood course here, and then return later next year to get married. Jerry's planning on visiting over Chinese New Year. There's been a lot of negotiation. Hope it all works out.

Jerry's given me a book - "You can speak Chinese". So now I'm on chapter one, trying to work out the difference between xi and shi and learning all the pronounciation. It'll take a while!

School holidays have gone smoothly so far. Bronwyn's been very busy organising trips and activities. And Cooper hasn't broken anything. Not yet anyway. One week to go...

Maya and Molly are still under the picnic table. Sasha and Trouble are out in the paddock, and have made friends with one of the bottle fed lambs from last year. Lucy died a week ago. She went downhill fast, and looked like she wouldn't last 15 minutes, so Ross quietly put her down. Meanwhile, Little One, the calf who nearly died after a hip injury earlier in the year has now given birth to a monster boy. She had a prolapsed uterus - the whole womb came out. It's potentially fatal, but the vet managed to get it all back in. She's off at the yards recovering.

Still not well. Think I've had just about every species going. Went to the doctors today and got antibiotics. I have one set of tablets to take every 12 hours with food, plus another one 3 times daily on an empty stomach. Not easy scheduling. And I got a shot of antibiotics as well. The visiting student did it. Nice girl. Rather painful.

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