Easter Note

Heard on national radio this morning about the “Easter Bunny Hunt” down in the South Island. This is a yearly event where you try to bag as many bunnies as possible over Easter weekend. The winner was a man from Wanaka, with a total of about 1800 bunnies! Now that’s holiday spirit!

Easter Weekend

Lucky ! They’re very civilized with their holidays here — we get off Friday *and* Monday.

Thursday — after dance class was Beth’s birthday celebration — dinner at the Curry Club followed by the uber-decadent desserts at Strawberry Fare. Yum !

Friday — Rain off and on (Yay ! Glorious glorious rain !!!) Stephen and I get soaked through twice, caught up in the paddocks by sudden showers. We body score the ‘paca in the yards by the Gallop/Glen fence, then later on take them yums out to the shelter just in time for another squall. We cleverly had our rain gear on this time, so get to watch the critters figure out, “Hey ! If we stand under here where they put the yums bowls, we don’t get wet !” Then cue the grumbling and jostling as they all try to crowd in under the new roof. Yay !

Late afternoon, we subject Geoff and Beth to Steven Chow’s A Chinese Odyssey and some Sam & Max.

Saturday — Saturday morning/noon was mostly farting around. We took the kitten out on a makeshift leash & harness (on account of she gets spooked and bolts for the nearest hard-to-pry-her-out-of hole, and if I have her on a leash, I’ve got a chance of not having to dive into the pampas or climb up a tree after her), put some iodine on the little wound on Concetta’s face, did some shopping.

Saturday afternoon/evening, we were invited to a traditional Swedish Easter dinner at Maggie and Martins. Herring ! Swedish meatballs ! Caviar in a squeezy tube ! Schnapps ! Very, very cool. After dinner, we trooped out to the Full Moon Drumming at Zebos (it was packed, because it was a weekend, but that also meant it started relatively early, so, yay).

Sunday — puttering, fight practice, chainsawing, showing off ‘paca to neighbor’s guests, then in the evening over to Sybille’s to play Settlers of Catan. Or, rather, Die Siedler von Catan. Luckily, you don’t really need to read German to play.

Monday — we finished putting the walls onto the new stock shelter in the Gallop paddock, and none-too-soon, as the weather is supposed to take a turn for the crap starting tomorrow evening. Today was lovely however. SO lovely, in fact, that Galadriel decided it was just the day to have her baby.

“Hmm,” we say. “She’s visiting the midden a lot,” we say. “And repeatedly sitting down and getting up again like she can’t get comfortable. And wandering off from the herd. And every now and then pausing to stand sort of splayed.”

“This is very ‘I’m going to give birth soon’ symtomatic,” we say. “Let’s go in and check the book and make sure the birthing kit is all put together.” “Stage one should last one to three hours,” says the book, describing the behavior we’ve been observing.

Fifteen minutes later, we troop back out, towels and iodine and assorted sundries in hand, and we see everybody up by the Gallop fence, all looking at something…

AOA

This will mean more to the SCAdians who read this, but after 15 years in tighter or looser orbit of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Stephen and I have been given Awards of Arms. That’s the first level, “You’re doing good stuff, keep it up, we’re aware of your existence” sort of award. The funny bit was that they did it at our house, in the middle of the regular weekly Arts & Sciences get-together. No, actually, the King and Queen of Lochac gave us the awards in absentia at Cantebury Faire, which we didn’t attend this year on account of it was the weekend before a big project went live at my workplace, so I couldn’t get time off to go. For various reasons (mostly people missing or people sick) there were a couple of A&S meetings missed after the event, then we had the first-wednesday dancing meeting at our place. Jennifer has been trying to offload heraldic duties onto Richard and me, so there were plans to go over some of the court ceremonies after dance, in part because New Zealand had recently switched kingdoms and so there was some interest in comparing the ceremonies between the old and the new, in addition to getting Richard and I more familiar with them in general.

So after learning some Italian dances that were marginally more interesting than some of the English ones we’d learned previously (in that they used one or two different steps), we trooped upstairs to go over the ceremonies. Sharon and Kerry played the “Royals” and Jennifer pulled our her binder of Stuff What Gets Said, giving tips on who should stand where and what sorts of things to nail down before hand, etc. “As an example, because it’s pretty common”, we decided to run through a standard Award of Arms ceremony. Everybody read through their lines, and Stephen and I were called on to play the awardees. After goofing around and hamming a bit, we were well and truly gobsmacked to have actual promissories handed to us. We are now officially “Lord Kjartan and Lady Kazimira”. Hee hee.

Falling Behind

I am, as the title suggests, falling behind on the blog posts. During the last few weeks I have fallen behind in all computer-related matters, as the weather has been fine and I have been spending all my time working outside. But this morning we are getting some blessed rain, and that has me indoors for the moment. (I just checked again and the rain has stopped- drat! We really need rain, as we have not had any significant rain for 2 months, and everything is really dry. If we don’t get rain in the next few weeks then we will miss the opportunity for autumn grass-growth, and winter will become a bit more of a challenge for feeding the stock.)

Anyway…. last Wednesday we had SCA A&S at our place for monthly dance-practice. Friday Tam took the day off, and we drove up to Fielding for the central districts Field Days. I think in the past we have described the difference between A&P shows (showing animals) and Field Days (selling farm-related equipment). The one in Fielding is the second largest in the country, and has about 400 or 500 vendors spread across 100 acres of race-track. Tam bought me some nice birthday presents, including a new pair of safety boots for brushcutting and chainsawing (ironically my other pair had broken the day before), and a pair of gortex overpants so that I can go and do farmwork in the pouring rain without getting wet (it goes with the gortex jacket my parents got me last year). We also got a chance to catch up with the people manning the 3 (!) different alpaca stands at the show.

Friday evening Geoff, Beth and Mikhail came over for the regular anime session. We watched the first two episodes of The Slayers (mindless entertainment), then watched the first four episodes of Last Exile, which is a really visually stunning piece with a cool and weird universe. We are looking forward to getting the remaining 3 disks of Last Exile from the video store and giving them a gander.

Saturday I went off to the Wellington Warlords for a full day of wargaming. I have not done that for years and years- and boy was it fun! We are playing a Full Thrust campaign, which is generic fighting-spaceships minitaures game. While I was gone Tam took the ‘paca on a little walk down to the little stream paddock for some fresh grass- with unintended consequences.

Sunday there was fog and drizzle in the morning, which canceled fight practice. This left us an empty day, in need of plans and excitement. First we checked on the ‘paca, and found the Pointer was staggering! Seems that new lush grass was mainly Ryegrass, and he had the atggers again. We moved him and the boys into Triangle so he could recover. That done, we decided to go to Eketahuna. All of our Kiwi friends would immediately ask WHY? Well, the answer is quite simple. Nobody ever goes TO Eketahuna, though many pass through it on their way to Hawke’s Bay. It is a town that even Kiwi’s ironically refer to as “the massive metropolis of”. We had to see it. And its web site talked about the giant metal kiwi, and the plethora of tea rooms. Not to be missed! We picked up Phil and Dayna and away we went. It was about a 2 hour drive up over the Rimutakas into the Wairarapa. Along the way we stopped at Schoc Chocolate, a little chocolate shop in Greytown we would have never noticed if Dayna had not told us about it. It is now going to be a regular stopping point whenever we go to the Wairarapa, as the variety is great and the quality superb. We alo visited the Mount Bruce conservation center, which was really cool. They are doing lots of captive breeding programs there for all sorts of endangered brds, so it is achance to see and hear birds that otherwise only exist on remote offshore islands. All in all a fun day, finsihed off at Cha, a chinese restaurant in town, where Tam had some yummy fried Tofu.

The week since has not been that remarkable. Work, and junk. But now a 4-day weekend is upon us, and that should be fun. Usually in this situation we would be planning day or overnght trips to fun places in the region, but not this weekend. Galadriel is due in only 11 days, which means we are now on birth-watch. This involves going back to the paddock every few hours during the day (alpaca tend to give birth between 10AM and 3 PM) and checking to make sure nobody is in labor. Once all the girls have “unpacked” we will be free to roam again.

Back to Packed

So, after a breif lull of “free” time, our schedule has returned to normal.

Last Wednesday before A&S we raided some flax from Maggie and Martins place. They have a totally overgrown garden that they are massively pruning back. This involves, among other things, getting rid of a stand of mature flax. We took away 23 plants just that night, and on Thursday I planted them to be the start of a new wind-breaking shelter belt around the house. In future weeks we will take more of them away to finish the belt.

Friday night it was Pirates on Parade! The St Patricks Day illuminated Night Parade went ahead, and we pirates had a wonderful time. We almost didn’t get started, as our float (which was to be first) got stuck behind a telephone pole, and other floats had to go around while the driver tried to get us unstuck. When we finally got moving he had to drive at well above the parade-mandated 5 kph limit to catch up, with Hillary and I running along side the float like piratical Secret Service agents. It was lots of fun, and the crowd really loved our antics– and the occasional screams of shock and alarm were pleasing, too.

Saturday morning I drove into town to pick up Amy&crew. I had met Amy twice before, she used to work at Millennium in the same group as Judy. She and her husband Max (and 2 year old Ari) are considering moving to NZ, and this is their “check it out” vacation. We took them (plus Amy’s brother Jeremy, who was also in-country for vacation and had hooked up with them) up to the farm to play with a kitten, alpaca, and ponies. They all had a great time, as near as we can tell. Though Ari was a bit overwhelmed at times by the rather large and pushy critters Oak and Max in particular). Plus Amy (at my request) brought 3 (!) boxes of Multi-Grain Cheerios. This is my favorite breakfast cereal for which I have not found a local equivalent. I am looking forward to some yummy breakfasts over the coming months (have to ration them out).

Saturday night we had a dinner-party at Stuart and Sibylle’s. Lots of ymuuy food, plus we got to meet their friends Steve and Tam! (Steve with a v in this case, and Tam is short for Tamzin). An interesting couple that met while on a multi-year trip around the world. They moved to NZ as they felt it was the best place to raise their three kids. And after spending months or years in dozens of countries, I guess that says very good things about this place!

Sunday morning we went over to Mike and Lara’s place for instructions in stage fighting (so that the pirates can add to their repetoir). It as fun, though I did find it a bit of a challenge to deliberately telegrapgh my attacks. Over the coming months we will probably get some pirate-like stage swords for the next time the pirates are called upon to abuse the populace. Sunday night Geoff, Beth and Mikhail came over. We didn’t get a chance to watch any Anime, but we did catch up on the Battlestar Galactica episodes we had missed. Fun!

And now the work week has begun. But at least it will be a short one as we are taking Friday off (my birthday) to go up to the Central Districts Field Days in Fielding for some farm-shopping! Woot!

TREES

So after Stephen’s lament about the lack of free weekends, we had one ! We used it to drop off one of the kennel cages at Matt’s place, for Beverley’s planned cattery, and to drop in at a new saddlery that’s opened up in Paraparaumu (got a couple lead ropes, a manure scoop, some hay nets…).

On the way up Stephen (not me, *Stephen*) spotted the “Moving Sale” sign in front of the garden place in Mana, so we stopped in a loaded up on fruit trees. We’d been meaning to get a little orchard started — how could we pass up a half-off sale ? We got two pears, an asian apple-pear thing, two plums, two oranges, two hazels, two currants (red & black), an apricot, a nectarine, and a lemon. Oh, and a kumquat, because it’ll give us more excuses to say the word “kumquat”. Hee. Oh, and a protea, because proteas are funky and alien and it was on sale and it’ll go with our other one.

Sunday, we put the pears and plums in, tied and mulched them. The rest are tied to the fence so they don’t blow over.

Whee !

Also accomplished: we built a shelter/shed in gallop. Well, we got the roof on it, which was the tricky bit. And we haltered up Jim and Pointer and took them for a walk to go check it out, and also to try walking over some poles on the ground — old hat for Jim, but new and weird for Pointer. What a trooper !

Not 200 yards away

Prince Charles just strolled by.

Because, you know, New Zealand is still technically part of the Empire, don’t’cha know. They had him shearing a sheep yesterday (it had pretty clearly been well crutched, dagged, and tipped before going under the Royal Shears — whitest sheep I ever saw).

update

Was there a time when the weekends were free? If so, I can’t remember it.

Anyway, Tam took Friday off, thus using some of her accumulated ‘days in lieu’. After sleeping in (ahhhhh) and a nice big breakfast, we decided to do a photo shoot around the property. We used to do this more regularly, but as it takes 2 or 3 hours (or more) to poke about and take photos (including from the top of the hill) and investigate nooks-and-crannies, it requires a free day, and those seem to have disappeared on most weekends. Friday evening Geoff, Beth, Mikhail and Richard came over for the final four episodes of Hellsing. The ending left me feeling a bit unresolved. I wonder if they ever did a second series, or if those questions were just left hanging forever? Anyway, it was a fun series with some interesting characters, and Arucard demonstrated just how frightening a powerful vampire could be. He puts everyone elses “powerful vampire” ideas to shame.

Saturday we drove up to Palmerston North to the first Fiber Day meeting. This was coordinated by Dianne, the woman who shore our ‘paca a few weeks ago. She was there to educate us about our spinning options, and to organize a load to go off to the mill and be spun into yarn. Very educational, and very good that someone is getting the ball rolling for DOING something with the fiber that otherwise stacks up in bags. We held off this time, as we have very little fiber, and mostly of what we ave is the wrong colors for the batches they were organizing. Maybe next time.

Sunday morning I headed off to fight practice for first time since before Christmas. Fighting was fun. At least the farm work keeps me well conditioned even when I am not fighting regularly. I have decided to start practicing double weapons- a sword and axe combination. This is very entertaining so far. The rest of the Sunday was spent mostly flobbing, which was nice.

Tonight we have to give vaccinations to the ‘paca, which should be fun. I wanted to do this a week ago, but the box of vet supplies just arrived today. Hard to do injections without needles or syringes!