Watching the grass grow

It’s now a preocupation. Pastoral farms are in the job of growing grass. You grow lots of good forage, and your animals will do well. The end of winter/beginning of spring is always the most difficult time when feed levels are at the lowest. While the weather had warmed up nicely, it was quite dry.

But now we have Rain! Beautiful rain! About 20mm has fallen in the last 36 hours, with more to come. This should mkae the grass take off like a rocket once the southerly passes and the sun comes back out. That will make both us and our herbivore friends happy.

Canine 2-month update

The issues with the dogs has improved significantly. Whatever riot-act the dog control officer read to Richard, it seems to have worked.

In the first week or two after the complaint back in July he was still letting the dogs run wild as before. We would hear them barking, and go out and watch. I don’t know if it was because he could see us watching, but he started training the dogs about that time. Now they don’t hoon around and bark nearly as much, and their control levels seem to keep improving. (It might help that one evening he spotted me watching him from a position of concealment, he doesn’t want to lose his dogs and now can’t be sure if we are watching or not. It may keep him on his best behavior.)

We are happy for those improvements. He is still and idiot, but some progress is better than none. Now we just have to deal with the boundary fence. But that can wait a bit, while we work on other legal paperwork projects, like getting the consent lined up to have the conservatory rebuilt!

Too busy to blog

So, the last few weeks have been fairly jam packed with activities, and we have totally failed to keep the blog updated.

Two weeks ago (Saturday the 8th) was the Tawa town day. Once again we brought alpaca along for the day, but as we had Kerey with us this year we could haul 3 camelids into town. In the end we took Oak and Hyouki (who went last year) as well as Jim. Having both a llama and an alpaca is very useful for comparison purposes. As you would expect, we were mobbed by kids. It also brought home just how little stock-sense most “townies” have, both parents and children. Generally it is not a very good idea to come up directly behind an unfamiliar animal and grab its crotch. That can be rather surprising and startling. A jump or kick would not be unexpected in such a circumstance. We ended up maneuvering the camelids around so their hindquarters were against a car, so we could keep people clear. When you see mothers trying to park her stroller directly behind large unfamiliar creatures, you realize all they know of animals they learned from Disney films.

The following weekend (the 15th) we attended a most excellent Mad Science-themed party. It was surprisingly hard to come up with good inspriation for the party. A great theme, but what to wear? In the end Tam came as a Victorian Aetherologist, Kerry came as a mental patient (with hospital gown made from a sacrificed bed sheet that was just the right tinge of hospital green), and I came as “Dr Crankshaft”. When Emily sent us the photo of my costume Tam’s first reaction was “you have a new photo to go with your c.v!”

This last weekend (the 22nd) we had another event in Tawa, to which we (well, more specifically our cute fluffy animals) had been invited. This time it was the official opening of the Tawa community center. We brought just Jim and Hyouki this time, even though once again Kerry was along and we had 3 wranglers. In the end I am glad we did, as I had to stand guard behind Hyouki, who was prone to kick at the kids charging up behind him and grabbing him. I got kicked twice, but no kids got kicked. And yes, we are working on training him to kick less! The volunteer firefighters really liked the camelids, especially one blonde woman from the rescue service who I think would have taken Hyouki home with her if we had not kept a firm hold on the lead.

Afterwards we came back home and planted the veggie garden. This has me very excited, as it is the best veggie garden we have had yet. In the 3 previous years we have had various lame gardens. They invariably get overrun with weeds, and nasty weeds at that as the soil in the area is chock full of gorse and thistle seeds. This time I built 4 large raised beds (2.6 x 0.8 meters, 0.45 meters high) which I filled 3/4 full of “organic matter” (horse poo, green waste, dirt) and topped off with wonderful high-quality composted soil from the greenwaste recycling center. I may build more boxes later, but the 4 we have this year gives us the biggest veggie garen yet. Now to wait 3 months for the tasty treats to start appearing!

It is really nice that the farm is now sufficently “under control” that I can start working on projects within the curtliage (the 1/2 acre of land around the house). When we started the rest of the farm was a wreck and I had to ignore the curtilage for nearly 4 years, but now we are starting to get a pleasant surround for the house, and with better care hopefully I can get the fruit trees I planted a few years ago to start thriving.

That split second of awareness

You know how, just before disaster strikes, how you get that split-second of clarity? That moment that allows you to find just the right profanity, before the end. I had one of those moments yesterday.

As a bit of prelude- we have put the boy-mob on the small back hill paddock (which, incidentally, we might call the “bog” paddock, cause it has one). This paddock has a stream. The stream was a new and scary thing for Heir, Piccocio, and Nabaztag. On Tuesday we got Heir and Pinnocio acorss with cornering and pushing. Two days later, Heir was still stuck on the other side, looking sad. So last night we put a halter and lead rope on him, intending to lead him back and forth across the stream until he “got it.”

I went across first, holding he lead intending to coax him over from the far side. The stream is only a meter wide. I was picking my way up the muddy bank on the far side, my back to Heir, when he launched. In his adrenaline-fueled enthusiasm, his accuracy was not very good, or perhaps it was all too good, depending on your perspective. Anyway, my awareness of impending doom came when I saw a little white fluffy foot and leg apear on either side of me. Not good! WHUMP!!! A full body tackle from a rather large and meaty alpaca hurled me to the ground. Thankfully onto soft earth, and not an impaling stump or jagged rock. That was a rather startling experience!

I got up, and led him back and forth a few more times. His jumping slowly got more coordinated as he got over the initial fear and adrenaline. This morning I get to check which side he is on, and if he has mastered that new skill on his own.