Australia Ho!

Where have we been these last few weeks? Well, my parents came into town on the 9th, and after a few days to recover, we all hopped a plane to Melbourne. We spent a week there, then came back. My parents went back to the states on the 21st, and we have used the last week to recovered ourselves.

The first day of our Australia trip was a long day. It started by getting up at 3AM to make our 4AM taxi for our 6 AM flight, which arrived in Melbourne (due to time change) at 6:30 AM! We got our rental car and drove out to the animal sanctuary in Healesville. This was quite nice, as it gave us a chance to see and read about lots of wildlife in a controlled setting before we went off to try and find it in the wild. In the end we were quite successful, and managed to spot most of the non-noctural critters in the wild. We did not, however, see any dingos in the wild. A pity, the puppies can be mighty cute! We also dsicovered that Wombats and Koalas are close relatives, and they both have armored bums! What’s more, the wombat’s armored bum can be deadly! No kidding, sometimes when chased into its burrow by a fox or other predator, it will wait for the attacker to stick its head down the hole then BAM!, it crushes their skull against the roof of the burrow with their armored butt! Who knew?!

On day two we went back into Melbourse (after staying at the wonderful Wyoming B&B up in Kyneton, about an hour north of the city) and explored the central city. Mainly we were waiting for dinner, as we had booked on the trollycar restaurant. This was on old trolly that they had modified into a luxurious mobile eatery. You dined and cruised the city at the same time. Good food, fun service, and we got to see many parts of Melbourne we had missed in our walking tour.

Day three we dropped by the natioal alpaca show up in Bendigo. Tam and I spent a few hours looking at ‘paca and chatting with various people. We then got back in the car and headed west, towards Horsham.

Lovely Horsham. A town we felt we could never escape. You might say all roads lead there, and they seem to. We passed through the town mutiple times over the enxt 2 days. We also visted the Little Desert National Park, and while in the tiny town of Dimboola stopped in to the local A&P show (just dripping with local rural flavor!). Western Victoria is flat. Very flat. The farms are big. Very big. 3000+ acres on average we later learned. We were there in Spring so everything was green, but it must be dry much of the time, as the stocking levels were very low. And they gorw lots of canola. Lots of it. Endless fields of yellow. At one point we found ourselves atop a mighty hill, and took this photo.

While in the Little Desert NP we achieved my mothers main goal- to see some ‘Roos in the wild. After many days of being told they were common, but not seeing any, we were wondering if this was all some big joke the Aussies play on the foreign touists. But as soon as we saw one, we started seeing lots. And emus. And deadly Tiger Snakes. We also saw Koala bears later on.

We then visited the Grampians National Park, which was as beautiful as advertised, especially with all the spring wildflowers in bloom. It was also a bit wetter and lusher than the surrounding land, due to the mountains catching the rain. A nice green experience after the little desert. For fun we climbed up through the Wonderland rock formations up to the pinnacles. It was a good long climb, and we felt very accomplish-ful by the end, and a bit sore and tired.

For the final leg of the trip we followed the coast road. The southern coast here has some fabulous terrain, with all sorts of cliffs and sea caves and rain forests and the like. Great stuff. There were also some really funky rock deposits along the beaches in places. Leftovers from a volcanic past many millions of years ago.

The day after we returned to NZ the weather was not too bad (my parents left convinced that it is always cold and raining here in NZ, while it was always fine and sunny in Australia- but then again they have endured 7 years of drought now!). We took advanatge of the good weather and took the ‘paca for a walk up the road. This shot was right before Jim and Oak decided to have a little spit fight, to my fathers non-amusement!

Full-on

Truism: You don’t notice how dirty something has gotten until you accidentally make a clean spot. Slow Top barfing on the doorsill means you can now see out our windows again. Radical !

It’s been a busy weekend. Stephen may post more later, but here’s a bit anyway. Saturday was spent cleaning/tidying, and building the aforementioned alpaca transport box. These things always seem to take longer than you expect them to. Speaking of which, it took a ridiculous amount of time to convince Galadriel to come out of the big Gallop paddock so we could stick medicine in her eye (I wonder why ?). Stephen and I both think it’s interesting that Cariboo hung back to keep an eye on her, rather than join Victoria and the rest of the herd. We moved all the alpacas into the Glen paddock, the smallest one close to the house, so there’s less territory to chase her around.

Sunday, we got up a bit early to do some more last-minute cleaning, then went to pick up Stephen’s parents at the airport. The weather really turned it on for them — Sunday was gorgeous. They helped us finish the box, then we had an impromptu training session to teach the boys how to go in and out of it. Jim was fabulous — he followed Stephen right in, ducking is head and everything. Oak and Pointer took a little more convincing. We put the ramp flat on the ground then and got Oak walking back and forth over it until he was bored with it. Pointer absolutely refused, though.

Finally, we put the ramp back up to the ute bed, led Oak in with minimal coaxing, and then bodily shoved Pointer up the ramp. Marty (the Camelid Dynamic trainer) would be so disappointed. Ah well. The point of all this was so that when we went to pick up Joy, she’d have company in the back of the truck on the way back to our place.

With the boys loaded, Stephen and his dad, Ken, climbed in the ute, with Stephen’s mom Cathy and I following behind in the Vitz. A stop to get gas in Tawa brought out some admirers, and we got plenty of stares on the motorway. Joy, at 2 and a half, hasn’t been handled much at all, so Stephen and Linda picked her up bodily and heaved her into the box, while I held the two boys. Then home again, home again.

The photos didn’t lie — Joy is a lovely dark red. Next to Oak and Pointer, she looks almost burgundy. In the yards, everybody had a good sniff, including Jim, who for his impertinence got a kick in the head that had him readjusting his jaw for the next five minutes. Galadriel we have moved from the Glen paddock into the dog run, as it was *still* a trial to catch her. Poor girl — it’s going to be a little while before she trusts us again. After gooping her eye and turning everybody else loose, it was off to Daawat for a yummy Indian dinner, and then to bed bed bed.

More alpaca news

Galadriel has a cloudy eye — it started out just weepy, then clouded over, with occasional gunky eye-boogers. We went to the vet and got a tube of medicine, and instructions to basically run a line of the gel along her lower eyelid, sort of like eyeliner. Galadriel is putting up with this remarkably well, possibly because she can’t see it coming :^P. We started this Tuesday & it hadn’t improved by Thursday, so on the vet’s advice, we took a cotton ball and some warm water and went to clean the line of what we assumed was dirty mucus off her eye (we weren’t sure at first whether the cloudiness was her actual eye, or her third eyelid — it was her eye). The stringy blob of mucus turned out to be a bit of grass or clover or something, and the little leafy end had gotten stuck up under her eyelid. Bleah ! No wonder her eye was bugging her ! Hopefully it’ll come right quickly now that the irritant is removed.

The other bit of alpaca news is that somebody got their wires crossed and instead of being sent from Auckland directly to the stud’s farm in Palmerston North, our new female, Joy, ended up at Linda’s place in Pauatahanui. Oops ! So now Stephen is rushing to build a transport box to fit on the back of the ute, so we can go and pick her up this weekend. It means we’ll need to take her to our place, and then back up to Eric’s with the rest of the girls (and we’re not sure how many we’ll be able to fit in the box, so we may end up needing two trips), but I admit I’m happy to get to see her before we send them all off to get mated.

A ton of hungry meat

Domestication is a funny thing.

While Yvonne is away on holiday I am giving Jason, the little palamino pony, a feed supplement with magnesium to prevent laminitis. (This is when a horse goes lame due to weak hoof growth caused by magnesium deficient rapid-spring grass growth. Jason is more suceptable.)

This means I am giving a bucket of feed to one of the four horses, and the others want some. Specifically Max (the dominant cyldie-cross) and Zam (the too smart for his own good bay) want some. So while Jason eats, I get to fend off a ton of hungry meat. This involves waving my arms, swinging a lead rope, or occasionally just pushing them away. Considering the difference in mass and strength, I am lucky they are docile domestic animals, as what could I really do to stop them otherwise?