Just another week on the farm 
We were planning to have Rachael's friend and her family over for the night, but they couldn't make it. We were supposed to have three more come to stay today, but apparently Paihia is just too nice and they're going to stay a bit longer. So looks like we've got another quiet week.

Had a big dinner over at Bronwyn's parents', followed by some fireworks. Bronwyn brought sparklers, Stephen brought fireworks, and Allan produced two boxes of them. They set off a wirlygig on the barbecue, but it fell off. So they grabbed the metal dog dish, and tried them in there. They didn't stay in that either. So now the grass is a little scorched and the dog dish is well smoked. And you know those fireworks that "Fire flaming balls and reports"? I don't think you're supposed to hold them while they go off, even if you are trying to hit the possums...

Allan got hold of some sweetcorn seed. He's ploughed up part of the paddock near us, and the tennis court at Mum and Dad's is now well and truly ploughed. That's one advantage of living on a farm. "Dad, can I borrow the tractor...?" Meanwhile, Bronwyn bought some netting for my vegetable plot. She was worried she'd bought too much but it looks like we'll need twice as much. I've dug a bit more because Bronwyn's mum threatened me with some surplus seedlings...

They were rounding up the calves today in order to ship a couple off to market. One calf jumped the fence. So Bronwyn's dad went into the next paddock and opened the gate to get it back in. But it then jumped into another paddock. Apparently it managed to clear 5 fences and gates before they finally got it back.

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A long week in the sun. It's gone half nine and I'm still in shorts. Summer at last! Well, for this week, anyway.

Sowed carrots, onions, broccoli, spring onions, lettuce, kale, silverbeet, spinach, a few beans left over from last year, and watermelons. Nothing growing as yet. It's part of a plan brought on by the long illness which I've now thankfully recovered from. There's a guy in the office who's vegan, and keeps harping on about it, and so we've got this plan to go on a fruit and vegetable fast for a month. If it works, it might change my life. If it doesn't, I can finally say I tried it, watched the video, bought the T shirt, didn't work...

Rachael has been going through her first set of exams. Seems to have survived well so far. She's been going round the neighbour's for some maths lessons. Just had a last minute panic because she didn't have a protractor for the exam tomorrow. Bronwyn dug out my old one from school. I think I must have been not far past Rachael's age when I last used it.

Getting towards the silly season. Fireworks, halloween (the church is doing a non-halloween party instead), then umpteen different Santa parades, Christmas lunches and carolling gigs. Fun fun fun...

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A week in the country 
It was the agricultural day at Sarah's school, so Bronwyn sorted out the usual flowers, sand, shells, pebbles, seaweed and various other bits for the flower arrangement competition (everybody does at least two every year!). This year we also had the chickens, so Bronwyn repaired and furnished the box for them to spent the day in. Meanwhile it was also Greats And Grands day at Rachael's school, so Bronwyn's parents dropped in for a visit, as well as Sarah's school. Don't ever remember anything so complicated at our school!

Think I might give Rachael my mums old rucksack. On Friday she had PE and clarinet lessons, as well as maths and English. She's complaining of back pains from carrying too much!

One of our hand fed cows got injured in the strong winds last week. Broke her hamstring. It doesn't look fixable, so we're hand feeding her again to keep her alive until her calf is weaned. Poor thing isn't able to walk, so she's lost a lot of weight.

Pip, Erica and Angelica are growing fast. Don't think we'll need to feed them much longer. But they still make a racket when they get hungry!

Dug the garden yesterday. All of it. Raining and windy today, but it's a bank holiday tomorrow so I've got a day off before I finish the job.

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Queenstown was action packed, although we didn't spot the Queen anywhere. Wandered round the gardens, went up the gondola, visited the minus five ice bar, spent all day on the trip to Milford Sound, drove up to Wanaka and the Puzzling World (we all got seasick in the tilted house), did some gold panning, and even found time to meet up with Celia and Nanna for a very spicy curry.

The weather was dry all through apart from Milford Sound. Well, I suppose it is Fiordland. It gets the continual westerlies from the antarctic gyre; basically any rain front in the southern hemisphere has probablhy spent time hanging out there. Fiordland without the rain would be like the lake district without lakes; sort of ... nude, somehow. Lots of waterfalls! And we got a few small avalanches right on cue as we drove past (they don't let you stop on that section for obvious reasons...)

Hundreds of photos. One of us will post a few shortly!

Glad we left when we did. We missed out on real live snow yesterday, but at least we actually made it home. The rain started just as we were dropping off the hire car, and got steadily worse. There was a major landslide on the Milford road just after we took off. Looks like the road will have a few dents in it - some of the boulders were 200 tons. Back in Auckland we had gusts not far short of a hundred miles an hour, and one tree narrowly missed the tractor. Allan had just decided to move it out of the way, and a tree fell on the same spot shortly afterwards.

Had a quiet weekend. School starts tomorrow. I think Bronwyn is looking forward to some peace and quiet...

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It'll be cold 
We're heading to Queenstown next week for a few days. Weather forcast is a little cold and damp. But there will probably be plenty of snow, which none of us have seen for quite a long time.

Last Saturday I felt fine. Sunday was the band contest, and we came a close second. I felt a bit tired in the afternoon, but kept going. Monday my skin was hot and reactive. Tuesday I was feeling a bit weak and shaky. Wednesday I was in the doctors on an intravenous antibiotic. Bronwyn came along too, because she's getting fed up with us all being ill and wanted something done properly. Right now I'm a bit washed out, but getting better again. Just need to stay better for next week!

Eloise left us on Tuesday, and is hoping to get a job in an orchard somewhere. She's left us with some paintings and drawings, which we're hanging up on the wall. Amazing detail, and she really manages to capture the texture and the mood. We've also got a few photos taken by Aimee, Bronwyn's brother Neil's stepdaughter. She's also got an incredible eye for colour and texture. I've seen stuff on sale in galleries that looks like a child's effort compared to that.

Pip is getting weaned. He's in the front paddock with the rest of the sheep, and Angelica and Erica are in the back garden again. Pip will be down to two feeds a day, on watered down milk. He's been making a pathetic baa all day, and sounds like he's got a sore throat. But he'll get his friends back in a couple of weeks.

Getting warm at last. When I get the energy, there's more trees to plant. But I think I'd better take it easy this week...

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