Who let that lamb in? 
Beginning to warm up a bit. The chicken run is a quagmire, so I've been forking it over to try and drain it. We're still feeding two lambs in the back garden, who have now reached the wooly monster stage. Did attempt to put them out in the paddock, but they can jump through the fence quite easily. The others (a sheep and two lambs) are out in the paddock, although I did spot one of those lambs in the garden looking, um, sheepish.

Bronwyn has been on a block course all week. They've had a lecturer over from Wales who has given them lots of reading material, and some exercises to do which aren't actually possible in the New Zealand environment. But it sounds like it's gone really well. Bronwyn, as is her customary practice, has been bringing in trays of goodies. She had such a good response that she got me to email the recipe through for her peanut flapjacks.

Rachael has been eagerly studying for her physics internal. She's been doing stuff I never saw in sixth form - the photoelectric effect and several equations with Planck's constant. She's hoping to do advanced physics at university. It's been a big turnaround from last year when she struggled to get to school at all!

Sarah has been off school all week after a bookcase fell on her head and gave her some mild concussion. She's been asleep most of the week. Still took a while to get up this morning, but that's pretty normal!

My car needs some rust sorted. There's a guy nearby who'll do it, but he's busy repairing a truck. So I've covered the patches with duct tape for now!

Lastly, we did the docking last week. This involves a number of small elastic rings, which get placed on parts of the lambs that we, um, don't need. Girls get one on the tail. Boys get two...

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Been a while 
I unblocked a drainage pipe on the farm. I was most proud.

We'd had a lot of rain and the hurricane had brought down a lot of leaves and debris. There's a drain running under the drive from one paddock to the other. It was blocked. And about four feet deep. And we didn't know where the pipe was. We were going to leave it until it all dried out, but the weather wasn't helping. I used an old hosepipe and a bit of irrigation pipe to syphon water across to another hole that did have a working drain. That worked, but it was a bit slow. The paddock had quite a lake in it.

So one day I got a longer section of pipe and decided to put it under the driveway so that gravity would make it pull faster. I pushed it through, and hit something soft. So I pushed a bit harder, and suddenly realised that there was more water coming through. So I gave it a jolly good shove, and then checked the other end. Yup, definitely some movement. A day or two later I climbed in with a spade and scooped out a pile of rotting leaves. No more temporary lakes in the paddock!

Lambing season is upon us. We've got five lambs and a sheep in the back garden, plus five chickens. The sheep had got stuck and is recovering from an infected rear end, along with her twins. There are three others that got abandoned so we're bottle feeding them. Going out the back door is now getting hazardous. They move so fast.

We've had the heat pump going for a couple of months, and the last electricity bill was rather high, so we've been returning to blankets until we're desperate! We've also had the heat lamp going for the newest lamb. There's plenty of wood out on the farm after the hurricane, but it's still a bit green.

Rach has just finished a very busy week. She volunteered to help out with the school production (Hairspray). I recall that our school had the music teacher, the drama teacher, another one doing make up, and another doing the lighting. The stage was rather minimal, and shared space with a trampoline and various other equipment. Rach's production had at least 8 prop hands, three stage managers and plenty of others. Eight productions (or was it nine, we lost count?) and they generally finished at 10pm, so Rach had some very late nights. We've all got colds as a result! I went to see one performance - obviously they've been rehearsing for months because it was really slick and high intensity. The dancing was incredible. Now Rach keeps singing the tunes and discussing the jokes, at least when she's got the energy.

I've been very busy, which is the main reason why I haven't posted for a couple of months! Everything has happened at once, so I'm trying to organise priorities. Several new jobs, to add to my existing collection. And I'm helping out a friend with maths. I've had to look up some bits. I never got the hang of standard deviation.

The church has finally left the building. The building hasn't moved, but will shortly be partly flattened to build a pre-school. We've been hiring the hall next door. It's been working reasonably well so far, but it's a huge hall so it takes a while to heat up in the morning! Later in the year, the Anglimethodists have offered their church, once they've finished renovations. We've converted the old hovel that sat on our new land into offices, and we've been debating what to build with the money we partly haven't got. Current design is a large central circular hall to which other bits are going to be added...

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I'm fine 
I'm fine. Sarah's fine. Rachael's got a cold and Bronwyn's got a migraine. Bronwyn's sister is recovering from an operation which left her in a fair bit of pain, and Bronwyn's dad is about to go radioactive.

They removed his thyroid, but also had to remove some of his vocal cords, so he's now speaking with a very deep husky whisper. He then had radiotherapy on the tumour in his back, which went well. To finish it off, they need to mop up any remaining thyroid cells, which they'll do with an injection of radioactive iodine. He'll have to stay more than two metres away from anyone for four days. I'll ask Rachael if her physics teacher has a geiger counter.

It's been cold, and wet, but fortunately it never does both at once here. The farm is covered in mud, and there's a small lake next to the driveway where the drainage pipe has blocked up. We've almost run out of firewood. The hurricane (OK, it was technically just a storm but some gusts were well over the hurricane limit) has provided a lot of future firewood, but it's all still green at the moment. We'll have to find some older dead wood.

But at least we're warm. Bronwyn's parents have bought us a heat pump (a heater/cooler/dryer) which warms up the room a lot faster than the wood fire. We have both going at once to save electricity; the heat pump circulates the air a bit to get it around the room. Meanwhile, Bronwyn's parents have almost finished their new house, and are hoping to move in soon. The inside is mostly finished, but the deck outside still needs building. Sarah wants them to put in a pool by the side door so she can step out and fall into it. I suggested a water slide down to the dam. Or a flying fox perhaps.

Rachael has her learner's license! You have to pass the theory test first before you get the learner's, then there's a road rest for the restricted license, then another test for the full license. I just had to pay for the license and then take one test! She's been driving down to the village a couple of times.

She's a lot more confident than last year. I think the new school has looked after her well. Still not sure what she wants to do when she finishes school next year.

Bronwyn is studying for her pastoral care diploma, and is thinking of starting a full pastoral degree after that. She's been asking me questions about her assignments. I'm not sure I'm qualified!

Last, but not least, I've started brewing ginger beer. It started when I brought home a bottle of Stoney from Kenya, and my mate tells me I can brew my own. So he buys me a starter pack. I get this fizzing package of sludge in a jam jar, wrapped in two layers of newspaper, three layers of plastic and a tin can. With a label saying "This way up". It was the wrong way up of course. But the packaging worked. The first batch is rather weak and flat. I think it was too cold. So I've put a few bottles on the window ledge to try and make them stew in the sun for a bit...

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Is that the sun? 
Looks like we're getting Summer back again at last. We've had four cyclones, and lots of miscellaneous rain. Normally we get a high pressure stuck over the country for weeks, with the occasional front sneaking through. Since the start of the year, it's been the other way round! But it's shifted back for a bit, so we've had some warm weather to help all the weeds grow. (Must get some petrol for the lawnmower.) They had some trouble getting all the hay into the barn; it kept raining. But we've now got two barns full of hay, and possibly some mushrooms.

The winery next door had wanted to put on some events. They did one in February. In past years, it's been chardonnay and nibbles out on the grass. This year it seems to have involved beer and a full on music festival. Ross was called out to pull cars out of the paddock, and got a fair amount of abuse from drunken wine tasters. I notice they haven't had a similar event since then!

Had a photographer and a wedding couple come to visit a few weeks ago. They wanted to get photos with the lambs in the background. It was sunset, which is when the lambs charge madly across the paddock. I call it the nutcase hour. So they got photos with the lambs charging across the background. Muddy bums and all. One of the pet lambs came up and started nibbling at the wedding dress. The photographer thought this was wonderful, so she got plenty of photos!

Rachael seems to be coping better with school this year, although Sarah is struggling because suddenly she has harder work and more assignments. I've been teaching her prime numbers and long multiplication. One answer came to seven figures! And she had to do it by hand.

Rachael likes her physics teacher. He's got Star Wars toys all around the room, and often makes references to The Force when doing lessons. He also had this big silver book titled Quantum Physics. Rachael asked if she could take it home. It's a second year university book, but he lent it to her, along with an Open University introduction booklet, which was a lot easier to understand! I've been trying to understand the Schrodinger equation and atomic orbitals, but haven't quite cracked it yet...

Easter is fast approaching. Bronwyn has been working hard to organise the intermediate's camp, as well as trying to get through her assignments at the bible college. Last year she just took three girls, and a few boys went with another church. This year the number has grown to about 20, and she's been begging for anyone who can lend or drive a large car. Plus all the luggage and the tents!

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Rain 
Summer has gone damp. My father in law remembers a time when it barely rained for four months, and all the grass died. We had a summer like that about 10 years ago. I remember looking out the window, and something triggered in my brain. Botswana (and the Kalahari). Same colour.

At new years, there was a queue for water. We booked in a tanker for 31st Jan. Didn't need it. Half way through the month it started raining, and it hasn't stopped. Everything's green. We've got rain due tonight, and there's a big cyclone up north that's looking likely to come nearby.

Our internet has been playing up. Today, I think I fixed it. The oak tree by the house has grown around the Vodafone antenna, and having been soaked for four weeks, it's acting as a very good ground shield. I trimmed it a bit this morning. Much better internet now!

The vineyard next door had a concert yesterday. In past years it's been a bit of a wine and cheese afternoon with some live music. Yesterday it was a rock concert with rather a lot of beer. And plenty of rain!

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