Wednesday, 30 December 2015

2015: My Year in Review :)

It's that time of year again, the whole changing of the year time where everyone somewhat looks back over what's been going on. Where they write up this big spiel about nothing in particular and then at the end say some phrase along the lines of, "it's been a heck of a year, thanks for being part of the ride!" Or, something...anyway.
You know, I've never actually written anything like that, so to speak - I've always thought it a little cliche and yawnville, but this has been an interesting year so I figured that if I can't beat 'em, I may as well join 'em, right?
Here goes. Wish me luck!

This time last year I'd just turned 19, in my last, (meant to be exciting) year as a teenager, preparing myself to head into the big wide world, move out of home and go crazy. Okay, so maybe not that last one, but that was it. I spent my summer working full time, more than 30 hour weeks when I could get them and in any spare time I stressed over exam results and the fact that I wasn't quite going to get enough money to pay for my university residence hall. In hindsight, I should've applied for the two meal only option, it might've saved me a bit of stress! As you all know things didn't turn out as expected, I had myself a good stop and think session and wrote a cool as blog post, that if you haven't read already (which I highly recommend), you will find it here.It's quite incredible really, to think how one day, one hour, one minute even can change someones' life or change their perspective on it. I wasn't the same person from writing that post to finishing it and even now, thinking about it, I'm different again. Funny what a year does to you, wouldn't you think?

So life went on, life was awesome in fact! I splashed out all the savings I'd made for uni and bought myself a new (to me) car instead. We welcomed Ali the BMW to our place at the beginning of February. There may have been a slight bit of controversy over that, but everything worked out. Sure, I've had a couple of repair bills that comes with the territory of car ownership and yes they mightn't have been quite as expensive if she was your basic make and model, but hey, I'm not fussed!
I still get the odd person here or there that hints at me being "rich" and "snobby" because I own and drive a BMW which annoys the life out of me because if they knew me well enough they would know I'm nothing like that at all.
Ali was, it's fair to say, the luck of the Trade Me draw.

Not long after that, Pippa arrived. That beautiful, adorable, innocent and minuscule bundle of gray, flea-ridden fur. Dad was really peeved off, for about a minute - two at the most. Nowadays, well, she's the little ratbag who uses her claws as a weapon (I'm not kidding, my nose currently has a slice out of it as of last night), her eyes as a charm and her general personality to win everyone over. I can't believe she used to be that little, 300 gram rugrat!

Life carried on as per normal, work slowed down. I took up studying my L4 Cert in Dairy from the beginning of March and now I'm only two months away from finishing it before I later move onto aiming towards a Diploma.
I began my role as the Northern Region Young Farmers "Publicity Officer" (I later learned to despise it, but I've also learned you don't always enjoy things 100% of the time). We covered heaps of maize stacks, I finally got to meet Miriam, I met a few more people early on in the year through work and other means and I also started working at some new farms.

I was eventually trusted as being a suitable assistant in regards to fencing and finally got to pull some hard hours and some blimmen long wires through the winter. Later proving myself as an excellent batten holder and I moved up the ladder when Dad entrusted me to operate the post banger to bang in some posts. Then I was finally taught how to do termination tie-offs (about time, Dad! I've only been watching you do it since birth). All is well that ends well, especially in relation to tying off wires!

I can't believe I nearly forgot this: I got my full license! (it wasn't out of a weet-bix box either, before anyone jumps to conclusions ;P )
Oh and we welcomed Anon into the blogosphere in, who remembers that day? Thinking back now, it was pretty hilarious...

Every year I want to try to do something good. For 2015 I managed to get in another two blood donations knocking my total up to 5 - 95 more to go to reach my target of 100 donations. I attempted Junk Free June just to prove that yes, I can do whatever I want to so long as I give it a good shot. And Mum, Andrew and I completed Steptember, raising a very small amount of money for Cerebral Palsy, the competitiveness was great!

I got through November without having to sit any more exams, being able to drive past the local College was probably the best feeling I had all year, knowing I never had to go there again. And for a nice change (talk to me about this next winter, I know I would've jinxed myself...) I only got sick twice this year. Which has lead me to believe I must be quite a healthy specimen after all...there are worse things to be thankful for.
I managed to get through the year without any creepy stalkers which made for a nice change although there's still one day left of opportunity! Potentially spent way too many hours at my computer emailing friends but there isn't one ounce of regret there, and I think overall there hasn't been anything I could look back on and think -  darn, wish I never did that.  Which is great as that is how a good year is supposed to be.

It's amazing how much I learned about sheep this year!

Got to work with some cool people that I was able to learn quite a bit from, and discovered that I am able to throw smart comments back at people without causing too much offense - I think it made them appreciate me more come to think of it. It was great to get through another year of work where everywhere I went and everyone I worked with seemed happy to see me. I got my mugshot in a popular dairy farming newspaper this month alongside an article about my family and yesterday a farmer I saw jokingly said he, "wanted my autograph". Which was rather amusing, to say the least!

This is my 67th blog post for just this year. I have found that over the years since beginning as a blogger my writing style continues to change and develop. Beginning as a 15 year old with nothing else to write home about except for farm stuff, I have discovered a few more interesting things to write about. Although there is room for improvement, especially in regards to possibly using some better words and phrases. However, it works for now. After two years writing on this site though, I think this poem I wrote is probably one of my favourite pieces of writing that I have managed to create, even now I'm still slightly baffled with it...

And still, I continue to learn more and more. Like today for instance, I finally figured out how to put links in a post, it's probably one of the most basic things around but I had no idea. Now I'm kicking myself for all of this wasted opportunity!

We don't have that long to wait for 2016 to begin, just a day and a bit now. The hours are ticking over rather fast. One of the major things I have learned and I have to keep reminding myself of is that time doesn't wait. Everyone has mentioned, at least once this year, that the year is going by at an extreme pace. And it lends a constant reminder that it isn't going to sit around waiting for you to make the right decision or choose the correct path.Many of my friends are going through the stage of their life where they have to make those quick-fire choices that will directly affect whatever they will do in their future years, they're essentially building the bridge that will lead them into wherever they're meant to go. It's a scary time for them, having those doubts running through their minds - are they doing the right thing? 
Everyone goes through that at some stage in their lifetimes. I had that this time last year, sure things didn't work out for me, but whatever is meant to happen, will happen. It's all about using the right materials to build the bridge to the standard it is meant to be built in, and don't stop building it. It will always require maintenance and every so often something new will pop up that will look great on the bridge, it's just where to put it that you have to decide.
And, honestly, life isn't a guessing game. You just have to learn how to make a decision and stick by it so that later on when people question you on it you're able to justify it in such a way that anyone a stone throw away will believe you.
And while I am still extremely young and I haven't had any major decisions thrown at me really. I find that it's not making choices that is difficult, it is learning to adapt to a constantly changing environment that is the hard part.

Finally, I'm preparing myself for a fun, exciting 2016. I've got so many things planned it's unimaginable how I'll get everything done. January is definitely going to be the good kick start and December next year should hopefully be the gentle smoothing out of a fantastic 2016!!

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Boxing Day

Christmas Day has been and gone - you wouldn't even have thought we'd just celebrated it, as all the decorations and the tree have been removed and the lounge is back to the way it was again. Apart from the fact that both fridges are still full (yes, we have two fridges!) of food and drink, and there is so much stuff lying around - chocolates and biscuits that we've either bought or been given, that nobody is interested in eating. We're going to be eating this stuff for weeks!

On Tuesday I caught up with Sam and Chantelle, for our yearly tradition of going to the beach and seeing the Christmas lights prior to the big day - typically our last catch up for the year. That was nice, we had ourselves some dinner then bundled into my car and drove to the beach for a wander around. Then went up to one of the local towns to see the light display at a particular house...

All in all though, Christmas was good. Nana drove up from Rotorua on Christmas Eve, then that night Mum, Nana and I went down to the Church service/Carols. Not quite as good as last year, I thought. Christmas Day came around, I was up again nice and early - 4:45am, a slight sleep in! Milking was good that morning, and I wore my merry christmas hat that has antlers and popped it on a couple cows! Introducing; Manuka!

 My sister and brother-in-law arrived that morning, we had pancakes for breakfast thanks to Nick then opened some pressies. I actually really liked Christmas this year, it was basic and easy and the presents this year that everyone got and gave were pretty neat! For once there was no gizmos or gadgets, the gifts were quite practical and what the person needed or would definitely have a use for, which was nice for a change :) I was given a fair bit of house related items, for when I move out one day. I've got a nice collection of towels building up now, a lovely cutlery set among other things and two gorgeous cook books. I'm talking, 200 chocolate recipes and 200 baking recipes - what more could a girl want?!
Alesha and Chris have finally printed out a heap of their wedding photos from February - we've been wondering when they would get that done, so we got a few of them as gifts too. A beautiful canvas and some photos that have been framed. Finally, we've got some nice family photos up on the walls! And I know that my rule for blogging is to not post any pictures of myself, the last two I posted didn't matter because it was that long ago, but I figured it couldn't hurt to break the rule, if only once. So, here's what I got from them. I really love this picture of me, it's amazing what some makeup, correct lighting and a professional photographer can catch on a lens. If you knew me now, not even a year later I look nothing the same, I'm sure!

Later on we decided we needed to give the dog a bath - wait! You guys don't know! We now have a puppy, an inside puppy. A ShihTzu called Jackson, he's the cutest little ratbag I've ever seen, but man he's naughty. He arrived on a plane from Christchurch on Tuesday night, along with a little toy lion. Bought for Mum's birthday back in November...He's got a bit of a habit of sleeping on his back and he gets really hot, really easily. But behind the adorable-ness is a little puppy who misses his litter. Every night since Tuesday he cries and cries and cries. REALLY LOUD! Tuesday I think I got about 2-3 hours sleep with an early start, Mum ended up sitting up with him to keep him company.

Wednesday night he was eventually put on the outside porch in his play pen, and at about midnight Mum wondered downstairs to tell him to be quiet - didn't work. Then I went down, sat outside in the chilly air and managed to coax him into falling asleep, I felt so stink for him, gave him lots of cuddles and a pep-talk until he fell asleep. Ten minutes later he was bawling again. Another early start for me.
Then on Christmas eve he didn't make a sound, but when I went to work on Christmas morning I found Mum asleep on the couch with him on the floor beside her -  happy as larry!

Then last night, Dad had a word to him and he was quiet all night, we're not quite sure what he said to him but it worked! Either that or we were all so tired that we didn't hear him!
So yeah, he needed a bath, he hated that but it was hilarious! Him in a kids paddling pool, in the shower looking like a drowned rat. Then we dried him with a hair drier on low heat, hehe

He's a definite trouble maker, he's learned that chasing the cats is a glorious exercise to take part in. He never used to move very far with his tiny little legs, but when it comes to chasing the cats, man he can move. The great thing is that he can't climb the step into the kitchen so it keeps him somewhat confined! Now he's stealing the cats toys and Pippa has stolen his lion. He eats the cat biscuits whenever he gets the chance and Frodo eats his food. Soon we'll have a meowing dog and a barking cat. Sheesh!

But today has been cruisey, I'm having my first "weekend" off since the start of the season, we've watched a movie - Flowers In the Attic, based on a novel series I read when I was younger. Dad and Nick have been doing some fence work around our place - lots of changes are happening here! Now I've just got to figure what we're doing tomorrow, apparently when one turns 20 you need to have plan in place for how you are to celebrate it! Me, well, I'm just sitting here kinda sad knowing that I'm getting so blimmen old! Hmm..

Hope everyone else had a lovely Christmas!

Friday, 18 December 2015

Quiet Ride

I went riding today, my first proper ride in oh, about nine - ten years? Yeah, around about a whole decade. That seems ridiculous, right? Honestly can't believe we sold all our horses and ponies that long ago, in some aspects it seems like it hasn't been all that long. But at the same time it seems like a few lifetimes ago.

Yep, that was me way back when I was only 9, on my cute little 11 hand high, Welsh Mountain (spoiled) pony. Let's just say I've changed a lot since then lol
It was odd, I thought that it'd be like riding a bike, you know? Just jump on and you know what you're doing if you've done it before. I, alongside Nick and Alesha, was right into competing when I was little, for a good three years or so that I owned Nelly. Before I got too big for her.
So I somewhat expected that I wouldn't find it too difficult. Man, it was so weird! I may as well have been way back at the beginner level, if you'd seen me you might've been surprised!

Just that whole process of putting my foot in the stirrup and swinging myself up, I'm sure a sack of potatoes may have looked more graceful (haha), then trying to decide whether the stirrup leathers were too short or too long - there kind of needed to be an in between hole...

Socks, the 14hh pony of Chantelle's I was riding was good, well behaved from what I remember of him. In fact, there was just no get up and go in him today. He's happily plodding along in the paddock while Chantelle watched, he kept going back to her trying to get a get out of jail free card.
So I try trotting him, and you know in your head how to do it, except the saddle feels so weird because you're not used to it, and every trot is somewhat different. So I'm not quite bouncing all over the place, trying to get a good rising rhythm. Then my feet slide through the stirrups, they're Chantelles' boots and slightly too small...should've warn my sneakers after all. Meanwhile Chantelle is telling me to basically, have the authority over Socks. Easier said than done! Argh.
I got him cantering for all of about two or three strides, then he's walking again. Eventually Chantelle decided to grab Promise (her other horse) and we took them up the road. A quiet, gravel road so we never came across any cars. That was fine, I didn't have the struggle of trying to keep my toes in the stirrups, trying to hold on, holding the reigns and whip. I could've easily ridden bareback as he was going so slow on the gravel due to having soft feet. I don't blame him, I can't walk barefooted on gravel either - much less while carrying someone on my back too... :P

Thinking about it, I've jumped on Alesha's horses a couple times - but never really gone for an actual ride. I used to ride a fair bit with Chantelle when I was 11 or 12, we'd just wonder around their farm. That time I was on a massive, ex race-horse, Gypsy. That was fun. But yeah, otherwise it felt so jolly well unnatural. Now I've sorta got that desire to do it more often, brush up on my dressage and jumping skills as it seems such a shame that it somewhat went to waste.
Not that I can afford to ride more often, or that I have anywhere to keep any sort of horse. Lol, Mum and Dad would be in fits of laughter at the thought, absolutely ridiculous!

The idea is to wait until the nearer end of summer, when the beaches aren't too busy. Take Socks and Promise down for a beach swim, that sort of thing is so much fun :)

Monday, 14 December 2015

Christmas, Dolphins, Pranks

I keep thinking of so many things I need to put on here, but then I've got that whole issue of, I'll get around to it, but then I get distracted with work, or I'm too tired, or just can't be bothered. Now I'm sitting here thinking - it's been a while, but what am I going to say?!

There's a few things that have been happening around here, but I'm not too keen on posting it up here until at least next Monday, then I can add a few photos to go with it. Until then, I'll leave you hanging!

We've been busy beavers, nothing unusual there. I could've kicked myself yesterday, had myself a nice long sleep during the day. We've had a few late nights, working into the evening with fencing and early starts for milking. So I jumped at the chance for a lazy Sunday sleep in between milkings - 3 and a half hours later....oops. Sleep during the day then I won't sleep at night, brilliant idea! So I went off to milk that afternoon, had a bit of fun there but I'll get to that in a minute. Came home, helped Nick finish off the battening at the neighbours' fencing job we've been doing. Got home after 9pm, had dinner (at this stage I was pretty wired) and then Dad drove off into the night to take Kermit (the tractor) off to the next fencing job, Mum and I left at 10:30pm to go pick him up, came across a house being carted (usually we see them early in the morning, not late at night!) and got home in time for bed at midnight. We lead crazy lives!
I thought, seeing as I had stayed up a heck of a lot later than I would normally prefer (usually in bed by 8:30, given the chance) that I would sleep like a log, huh, nope. Instead, tossing and turning for hours, trying to sleep, staring at my ceiling, staring at my alarm clock as the minutes clicked over, listening to Dad snoring across the hallway. I felt like stalking through the house in the dark, just to put myself to sleep, I couldn't cope with insomnia, I'd drive myself mad. Mental note, don't sleep for more than an hour or so during the day! Lol, I'm so not going to log that one to memory!

So, I've got a few things to mention here, try and keep up! Ok, so on Saturday we were part of a local Rural Expo, basically a heap of agricultural based advisers/salespeople/contractors etc got together at the local park, offering services and advice and what not. Basically to raise money for the Hospice, advertise the reps out there and give lifestylers and farmers a day out. It was kinda sad, there weren't many stall holders there but this was our first "event" so to speak, so it was a little bit exciting.
We had a couple competitions; a wire tie off competition, where you have to tie a termination knot, then tie on an end insulator, then a permanent strainer. Best time and best quality would win a Farmlands voucher. So we only had about 10 people give it a go, quite a few guys had a look, then nervously walked away saying they didn't want to embarrass themselves in front of a fencing contractor! But a few of the people we work for came over and gave it a good shot, actually Dad could do it in 1:27 seconds. The guy who won it, Hamish who I work with quite often did it in 1:30,  so we were like, shoot! He knows what he's doing. A few other farmers did some pretty odd tie-offs, so Dad was giving them some tips.

Then we had the typical "Guess the number of staples in the jar", these are pretty small staples but I won't tell you how many there are. I'm kinda keen to see if any of you can come close to guessing it yourselves. Some people were way, way off. One guy who won it, (another Farmlands voucher to him) was 6 staples out.

This weekend just gone was my second to last weekend at my favourite weekend farm. They're split calving, so are drying off half of the herd in time for Christmas, so they can have a break before calving in March. I don't think they'd usually dry off this early, but the ground has gotten very dry, very quickly. So there's no point in pushing them too hard, wasting food and only getting two or three litres per cow per milking, and then potentially causing them to lose condition prior to calving. So I finish up there next Sunday and start back again in March. It's gonna be a little odd, but hey. Anyway, so ever since I started there in May, I walk in every Friday or Saturday morning and tidy up the cowshed. I'm basically talking, the likes of sorting the high pressured hoses so they're not in the way and they don't get filthy from the cows walking all over them. It's a common thing, people just sort of dump them when they're finished with them. I see it as a "slips, trips and falls" issue, so I simply push them up against the pit walls and such forth so they're not in the way.
I've been getting laughed at for this ever since then, especially when I originally quoted, "it only takes three weeks to form a habit". But hey, it's not a big ask, to just keep the hoses out of everyone's way and I have to commend these two guys I'm working with, because they have been trying - even if only to amuse me. So as aforementioned, Hamish, decided to play a bit of a joke on me. He went off on his weekend off work and cable tied the hose up, so I couldn't use it. I basically walked in there on Saturday morning, and saw the hose was neatly pushed against the wall. Amused, I then noticed that the nozzle was hooked up on the metal hose elbow that is on the pit wall. Thinking to myself, that's odd, I'll pop that down before it falls I then discovered it was cable zip-tied on there, unable to be moved. Hmmmm.....
I instantly dismissed the thought that this was a stunt against me from Hamish, I thought it might be broken for some reason so just leave it. Later I asked Cam, and he just laughed saying that Hamish had been thinking of doing that to me for ages. Just a bit of a dig at my trying-to-keep-things-tidy-in-their-cowshed
 So, naturally, I had to get him back for Monday morning. I took along some tinsel on Sunday night and had some fun. Tying up the stick we use to push the cows forward, to the bars quite high above the pit....

Unfortunately, this is when Hamish turned up randomly, I was so gutted to have been snapped out. But, I did a few more things...

And then I coiled one of the hoses so it WOULD get in their way, and chucked some tinsel on the nozzle for good measure....

Then, after getting the word of advice from Cam, I declared war on his overalls that he leaves hanging in the dairy. Tying up the sleeves together with tinsel, threading tinsel in the tag (nasty scratchy thing that tinsel can be) and I tied it off nice and short, so it would take a bit to get it off - especially if you're in a hurry. Then I grabbed some hand sized rocks, wrapped tinsel around them, looped the tinsel onto the hook and put the rocks in the pockets. Thinking about it now, I could've done so much more, but I just didn't have time. But, if he was in a hurry to grab his overalls on, it hopefully caused some drama. But I've got so much more up my sleeve for my last three days milking with him, but alas, I'm kinda worried that I'll get as much as I give....

Saturday night we took Nick's ute and Mum and Dad's ute out to the beach, one you can drive on with the vehicles as not many beaches around here have that access. Then the idea was to set the  lines and fish off the beach. As per most of the beaches on this east coast, you have to drive through a bit of bush and gravel roads to get there, there's a motocross thing through the bush, campgrounds and all that etc. A ranger lives on site and he's available to tow people out of the sand, if need be.

So anyway, life was great, the lines were all set. The sand was a little soft, but we managed to get onto the beach OK. We took two utes as since my cousin is still here, we didn't want to squeeze five of us up on such a hot night, all was going well. Randomly, we see a quite a large van on the beach, some sort of heavy looking, bulky minivan thing (that's a cliche sentence!) and they drive over to us to ask the best way off the beach. We pointed to the way we come in, a slight hill that you've got to take at a good speed, and there's a corner you have to get around too. Not for the faint-hearted, I could imagine it would be easy to flip a vehicle if you took the corner wrong at speed. So off they went, and got stuck. We sort of stood there sniggering away as their wheels spun, sending sand up and into the open windows.
I then took over the phone number for the ranger, so he could come and tow them. 10 minutes later, Nick took pity on them and towed them out himself. That was fine, they were back to back and he pulled them out, Nick stopped and suddenly the other driver put his foot down, ramming the back of his van straight into the back of Nick's ute. It was a very loud bang, Nick was gutted. The whole back tailgate needs replacing as it has a massive dent in it, and it's a well looked after, 8 year old well-side Triton so he was understandably peeved off.
But then it set off something in the sensor system, put the ute into a limp-mode, set off the engine light and suddenly it had no power to get off the beach. Our ute only just managed to, he got stuck. Another vehicle with people we knew turned up and eventually we managed to tow him out...then the other vehicle got stuck so it was quite entertaining if not stressful. Getting off the beach seems quite difficult....I wouldn't recommend we go there again - nor would I recommend helping out when someone gets stuck. Especially when they say "I feel a little stink..." tourists.... -_-

The best part? Seeing a pod of dolphins arrive on the shoreline after Nick's vehicle was hit. They were literally two or three metres off the edge of the water, just cruising. I've seen dolphins when we've been on boats and such, seen them from a distance and heard about them being in the area. But we've never seen them so up close, surfing through the waves in the incoming tide. It was super awesome to see! What did my cousin do? Strip off, and ran into the water to swim with them!

And we've got the Christmas tree up, much to Pippa's delight! I love seeing them see the tree for the first time, it's so neat :)

Oh yeah, and if you get the NZ Dairy newspaper, you'll see there's an article of us in there. It arrived in our mailbox today, so most rural areas should get it. :)

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Illegal Analogies: Farming Style

Yet again, the Dairy industry has been ripped into, but this time round they've pretty much got it so jolly well wrong. It's pretty disgusting; what they've filmed, how they've gone about it and who they're blaming.

Firstly - they set up hidden cameras in a private place. On private property. That's illegal, everyone knows that. Yet, somehow these happy little whistle blowers have still managed to very quickly and easily, score themselves a prime position on TV - Sunday.
They've filmed a heap of clips, illegally - claimed animal cruelty and pointed their grimy fingers at dairy farmers because, quite simply, somebody needs to be blamed. Thus trying to make the country, and then the world go into a Strike, refusing point blank to buy any of our dairy products and, quite honestly, destroying our country.
Well, that's the idea they marvel in their minds, but honestly people will get all excited about it tonight and then tomorrow they'll go to work, buy their coffee to go with an extra shot of milk and forget about the whole thing. Fancy that.

So, where to start on this? Yes, OK, I saw the footage, I am disgusted. As a young dairy farming girl brought up around cows and knowing how to care for them properly, I have a lot to say about what was filmed, what was taken from that information and what should be done about it. I certainly don't believe they should've gone about it the way they did. What I saw from the footage is quite simply put. Those people, they're just farm workers, left to pick up the calves from the calving mob. Sadly, farming is one of those industries where more often than not, staff are employed but they're not the nicest of people, they don't care - so long as they've got a house on the farm the family can stay in, and they get a nice healthy wage.
I'm not trying to defend what I saw, seeing a calf kicked across a paddock and then dumped into a trailer. That is NOT normal practice, that is disgusting behaviour that shouldn't be tolerated. If I employed that guy, he would get a written warning for a very good reason, it was animal cruelty. However not all farms run like this, you get a few. But who knows what's going on in that person's life? There could be a number of things, that camera could've caught him on a seriously bad day. I'm not saying that he should be given an easy pass on it, but you can't just take someone on face value.

Moving on, the calves being taken from their mothers, I honestly don't feel the need to explain myself when I know no-one will listen or understand. It is not animal cruelty to remove a calf from its mother - in a beef herd, sure I give you that. But there is a tonne of information you have to understand here, we are helping the animals - believe it or not.
If a small, single calf is left on its dairy cow mother, in the elements to fend for themselves it should be considered cruel. You may say it's natural, but the world has evolved with the use of genetics. You say genetic engineering? No, it's not as serious as it seems.

We breed these cows based on their genetic heritage; to produce top of the line calves for future use and then produce milk to feed the world. One little calf can't simply stay on a dairy cow, not when the cow has been bred for milk production - producing much more than 20 litres a day at her peak. The cow will suffer from mastitis due to not being milked out properly - she has four quarters and more often than not has only one calf. Seems ridiculous doesn't it, that sheep can have triplets but only have the feeding capacity for twins, yet a cow is basically the opposite. Cows suffering from mastitis is horrible, left untreated is a serious offense. Humans mothers can get mastitis too, so what would you recommend there? Exactly, it's not a hard thought to process.
To add to that, calves have been removed from their mothers in the dairy industry for generations. I wouldn't know how long off the top of my head, I'm only young myself. But let me tell you a little secret, you may not know the complete truth after seeing tonight's breakthrough. We don't actually take calves from their mothers as soon as they're born, and if we do we have a reputable excuse for it - for the sake of both mother and baby.
Calves can be left with their mothers for hours, depending on how large the operation is will depend on how often "newborn" calves are taken from their mothers throughout the day. Imagine in the middle of winter, being literally dropped into a freezing environment from the home you had for nine months - you'd be pretty jolly cold, wouldn't you think? Imagine if it was pouring with rain or snow, the ground a big mud bath and you don't know what has just happened to you. Don't you think it may be kind to be taken in, washed and dried, fed some warm milk and snuggled in with some warm calves in a shed? Generally speaking, that's what we do. These animals are our livelihood, we care for them as if they were our own children, we are not cruel, heartless people you make us out to be.

Next on the agenda: bobby calves. You need to understand a few things here too, it seems. Firstly, bobby calves are the end of line, unnecessary by-product of the dairy industry. We can't rear every calf that is born, there is not enough to feed them and they would overpopulate as if this was the dairy cow version of Asia. There is a term we have, in farming there is livestock and deadstock. This may sound awful, but it's the truth - everyone dies sometime and if we kept every animal that was born we would be unintentionally cruel to them because we just can't look after all those calves anyway. It's the same with goat farmers, chicken farmers, sheep farmers, there is always a by-product somewhere. For dairy farming, it's the bobby calves. As someone who has grown up in the industry, I hate the idea of bobby calves. If I could keep every calf and come up with a way to do it, I would. If I could figure a better way, I would do that. But there is only so much this girl can do.
What is a bobby calf? Quite simply, they are the calves who are due to natural mating, they don't have the well known, genetic background and quality to be bred from. We can't spend time DNA testing who their Dad is, we may not be able to prevent inbreeding because we don't have a computer system to tell us what to do - like for Artificial mating.

We sell bobby calves for a pittance. They don't just go as pet food, they're sent to slaughter and sold in the shops as veal, that is a delicacy - so I've heard. The leather handbags you love so dearly,  those calves looked pretty cute huh? How about the glue you use on a daily basis? The gelatin in food products, yep you guessed it - that comes from them too, along with other things along the line. But for that pittance, we have very big hoops to jump through. The calves need to be cared for until they are four days old, many are kept for longer than that and treated like any other herd replacement calf, they can't have an ounce of penicillin anywhere near them, so if one gets sick we can't do anything about it, other than to dispose of it. They need to be looked after in the best way possible, with a full belly before they're picked up and they need to be able to move themselves around unassisted (to be deemed healthy in the eyes of the people picking them up) and that's pretty much it for us dairy farmers. While also, the calves were in crates outside waiting to be picked up. In the Waikato - prime dairy land, that footage is very old. Why? Because bobby calf pick ups from the side of the road were binned years ago across the entire country, they are now picked up directly from their pens in the sheds that they are cared for in. Those calves also didn't have bobby tags, which are essential as they are a track and trace method of the calves from that farm, calves can't be picked up without them and should be sent down the shoot at the house.

A contracted stock truck company is asked to pick up the bobby calves and deliver them to the slaughtering facilities, these truck companies are often privately owned and, I'll be honest, operated by monkeys. Those guys you saw, biffing the poor, defenseless calves? They're not farmers, so stop blaming us. We have all said our views on it, but nothing is done, they are employed by the stock truck company who see the calves as something that'll die soon anyway, what's the difference? They are then dropped at the the next point. I've got something extra to point out, what was on TV in the slaughtering facility, they can't be labelled as farmers. It was another privately owned venture - not the typical Greenlea or Affco, who would be disgusted with that treatment. Again, that was illegally filmed footage in a workplace, how are the media getting away with it? We, as farmers, were disgusted with the treatment of the calves in that environment, I sure hope something is done about that as there is absolutely no excuse.

There are many, many "secrets" in the dairy farming industry, like there is in any farming venture, but we're not keeping them from anyone - urban New Zealand just doesn't want to know. To them, we're just filthy rich farmers, living off a nice healthy income produced from animals we treat like slaves, driving around with our nice vehicles and redbands. I think it is sad that these people can do what they do, try and set us up and knock us down. We are the ones who work hard and earn nothing because we're putting the money back into our livestock to keep them healthy - if we get to the stage we can't even do that our lives may as well be turned upside down, hanging in the balance and we're all hoping for a miracle.
It is sad and shameful that a few pieces of footage, illegally taken can be screened in front of the entire country and make us look to be the bad guys - yet again. The whistle blowers certainly are innocent, aren't they? But you know what? We are innocent until jolly well proven guilty! We are a nation of farmers, everyone is somehow related to a farmer. The country should not be turning against us, simply because of few bad eggs.  Let's face it - there are rotten eggs in every industry and business, isn't it about time some of them were put in the limelight?

It's about time the media started covering the good parts of farmers. They need to take a step back, come politely knock on our doors and ask us nicely to explain our practices, they need to sit down at our kitchen table and learn and try to understand it. They need to walk in our gumboots for a day or two, then they can go back to their TV or newspaper companies and they can tell the world all the good stuff about us, because I'm sick of all the dramatised, set up, "bad" stories taking precedence over what is actually true.

We need to be shown some respect as an industry. Enjoy your coffee, might pay to ask for soy milk tomorrow, if you remember. But consider, where did the coffee beans come from? That's an interesting thought isn't it?

Thursday, 26 November 2015


I've been thinking about a few things lately. I know, I know - thinking is a somewhat dangerous job I take on, but don't worry, I try not to do it too often!

There's a few things I've been wondering about, one of them - clothing sizes. It may be a slightly weird topic to talk about, but I really want to question this: why is every item of the same piece of clothing, in a range of sizes, the same price?
Take this for instance, Dad, Nick and I all wear overalls on a daily basis, they're all pretty much the same - overalls are overalls, the only difference is that I prefer to have half length sleeves and the guys don't. The sizes are a little, odd I guess you could say. Mine are like a size 5 in comparison to Dad being around a 10 and Nick somewhere in between us. We all pay the same price.
It's the same with gumboot sizes, three out of the four of us wear the same gumboot brand, all different sizes - again, mine are quite a bit smaller, but alas we all pay the $70 odd for a pair. I dunno, it just really, confuses me? (Don't get too concerned, I admit to being easily confused) but quite seriously, surely this is just slightly odd?

In this scenario, I'm kinda getting a bit ripped off money wise, getting the physically smaller product yet I'm paying the same price as everyone else and it seems they've got the better end of the deal. I'm somewhat wondering whether I pay the higher price, which therefore covers the cost of making the bigger product of other sizes?
Sure, it doesn't happen all the time - more often than not I'm pulling the slightly bigger item off the rack and thus getting that cheaper deal than what someone the size of a pixie would be paying (absolutely no offense intended to smaller framed people). I'm not saying that the bigger you are the more you should be paying, more so that it should be perhaps a little more relative? And yes, typically clothing and footwear and all that is within a certain criteria of sizes - you wouldn't see a size 5 on the same rack, for the same price as say, a size 20. It's all sectioned out to make it appear a certain way. You wouldn't usually find a t-shirt design that was outside of that S to L range, but still. Do you get what I'm getting at?

Definitely not really wanting to walk myself into a discussion on size differences and all that, but the whole concept of my original argument has been playing around in my mind as of late....

Next on the topic of numbers, is it just me, or is it common for others to constantly see the same number? I'm talking dates, times, actual figures, anything to do with numbers. For me, I always see the same time - 9:11.
I have absolutely no clue on this one, other than the fact it's been happening for at least a year. It's a typical situation, if I'm going to look at the time around about the 9am mark, more often than not it'll say 9:11, even if it's only just changed or it's about to change over again. If I see it in the morning, I'll see it at night too. I never see it once in a day, it's twice or nothing.
I find it a little bit strange, in the beginning I was thinking - is this some sort of sign?! What's going on? But now it's just normal, I sorta get used to it. The thing was that my car clock used to be the wrong time, always an hour ahead because I didn't know how to change it, so even though it was really 8:11, I would see 9:11. Then an hour later at home I'd see the real "9:11" time, and then see it later that night at random.
So yeah, it's a slightly odd situation - I'm not completely sure what to think of it. But you know, these days I see it, smile in my head and I'll know I'll see it later that night too

Finally, I went along again to youth group last night. They've started watching these videos by an American guy, Chad Daniels. I think it's called "Into the Deep", he talks a lot about all the important stuff and I found it quite interesting.
Anyway, last night he was talking on counterfeit and the use of our tongues (how our tongues are like the rudder on a ship, they'll either steer us north or south depending how we use them - quite a good analogy).
With regards the counterfeit subject, he spoke on quite a bit of how to tell if something is real or a fake and how to work out what exactly it is by the clues you can get from it. Jo, one of our youth leaders then moved on to speak of how, in China as a tourist you go into the country with Chinese currency, but if you walked down the streets in the markets it's easy to be deceived into swapping your currency for another type of Chinese currency. However, tourists don't realise that the currency they've now got can only be used in certain stalls - so they're getting pretty jolly ripped off there and it's hard to swap it back.
But she brought it back to the original concept of as a person, being one and only one currency. Don't be anything but yourself because otherwise you may not be able to go places and do things if you keep topping and changing between currencies - when you really consider it, it's quite an interesting way to think about life, isn't it?

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Be Au Ti - ful

It rained yesterday, so, jolly, much! 33 whole millimetres of rain! It wasn't just drizzling, the rain came over the whole day, seemed to rain for most of the daylight hours, nice and constantly heavy. It was fantastic. I got home from milking that night, said, "I'm off for a shower..." was then told, well, enjoy your shower, take as long as you like, perhaps give us a gold coin donation for the use of the gas (perhaps have a cold shower even?) whatever you do, use the water! The tank was just about to overflow. Ridiculous!
We have filled the tank, well not completely but we've had two truckloads of water in about 3 weeks, now the tank was close to overflowing and washing itself down the drain. You just wanna like, I dunno? Scream? So I stood in the shower for as long as I could tolerate, when you get bored and have to resort to (not singing!) but reading the backs of the shampoo and conditioner bottles, you've been in there too But I do have to owe it to studying chemistry, which taught me the language of seriously overextended chemical names for ingredients in shampoo and conditioners....Where would I be without that knowledge? I wouldn't like to hazard a guess.
Anyway, so I said the rain must be filled with Beryllium, gold and titanium - see the title ;)

So yeah, we've been busy and not busy, but busy all the same. As I quite often talk about. I'm relief milking 7 days a week now, twice a day. This week I'm covering 5 different farms, but I'm not complaining and neither is my bank balance. Let me just say, being considered a "full timer" for a change at this time of year - more than 30 hours of work a week, is brilliant. To think that last week I did 35 hours of just pure milking, is pretty jolly good! Keep it coming I say, usually I'd expect no more than 20 hours.
But, in saying that I am covering for Dad and Nick. They don't really have time for milking anymore, save for the odd milking here and there that Nick will do. Why? Because this is our silly season for spraying gorse for lifestylers and building fences, it'll be like this all summer long - well into about March at least. So it's mainly just our other relief milker and myself doing all the milkings, again, not that I'm complaining.
However we still have that issue of needing extra helpers - do you know how difficult it is to find someone who fits this description: Drug free. Fit and able. Team Player. Committed to the job. Enthusiastic. Does what they're told. 
Quite literally, there is no-one who fits that description, even after Mum called WINZ to see who we could give a job to, even offering if they lived in the area and had no transport that we would cart them to and fro. But, nothing. All they need to do is help with fencing, pulling wires, holding battens, doing basic work that needs little to no experience for. In saying that, Mum and Dad are on their way back from Auckland airport, having since picked up my cousin George. He's after work, so he'll stay with us for the next month or so, help us out by finishing the jobs faster and getting paid more money than he would with more hours than anything offered in Wellington. A win-win situation. :)

Monday last week we did something spontaneous, jumped in Nick's ute and went fishing on the beach after I got home from work. It was stinking hot, and our beaches are amazing, they're everywhere around here (great thing about living in the sort of area of Twin Coast Discovery!) basically we can go in any direction and find a beach. Everyone local knows about most of them, typically you need to drive down hard metal roads through bushland to get to them. This time was a new place to us, the only place around here you can drive right onto the beach. So that we did, drove out onto the sand (mum and I a little stressed about sinking in the sand lol), backed the ute up to the ocean and set the lines.
Two proper surf-casting lines (they're longer, seriously longer - 10 foot?), a basic shorter fishing rod and Nick's reel and kite set up (similar to a Contiki, except you use the wind to blow the kite out, thus pulling out the line and hooks). Sadly, there wasn't too much wind so we mostly just used the rods.

DID YOU KNOW that when something is biting on your line, you're not actually supposed to pull it in? Did you think we were there to fish? Gosh no, try feeding the fish, poor little beggars they might've died from starvation you know..... -_-
So anyway, I'm holding a rod and I can feel it tugging. Give it a few quick, sharp yanks on the line. Wait a minute, yep I can feel something on there. Start reeling it in, the odd big pull of the whole rod every so often. Nick comes over,  "what are you doing? Stop pulling it in!" "There's something on it!" *Nick grabs hold* "oh, there's something on it!" *Quickly reels it in* Meanwhile, I'm just standing there dumbstruck, what the heck just happened? He stole my line, that's MY FISH! Don't you dare try taking the credit.
It wasn't too exciting, here was me thinking it was something massive, it was just a baitfish quite a decent size but not edible for us. I unhooked it, it looked at bn me, mouthing "save me!" Nick grabbed it, cut the head off and forever those eyes stared at me in the bait bucket..."I trusted you..." The shame. I murdered a flippen fish, man I felt guilty.
Apart from a few bait fish eventually caught on the kite line, and a few crabs caught on the rods, the fish weren't biting. I was mortified though, pulled something in, saw a small body waving around in the sand, I absolutely freaked and thought I'd pulled in a baby turtle (do we even have turtles in the water around here? I dunno), ran up to it expecting to grab hold and put it back in the water. Then realised it was a MASSIVE crab, on it's back, pincers flying around snap snappity snap. There's a possibility I squealed, and ran in the opposite direction. Crabs are flippen evil, scary things. Eeek.

Yesterday I donated blood again, very well behaved little Miss O Negative. I'm quite excited to know that the rescue helicopters are now carrying O- on board, so it keeps inspiring me to keep on donating as often as I can (Every 3 months). I've done 5 donations now, in about two and half years? Got a gift yesterday for it being my 5th donation, a NZ Blood water bottle. It's actually my second water bottle,  as I randomly got given one as it was only a couple days after my birthday when I donated (lol). At 25 donations, you get an umbrella.
Although I get a really good buzz out of donating for a blimmen good cause, I feel really gutted because I looked around yesterday, among all the people there to donate, I was the only one in my generation. Everyone else was, I dunno, 30's and older. It's such a shame, it's not as if you really lose anything out of it, just 20 minutes of your day, blood is replenished anyway. Yeah I just really wish more people I knew could just give it a go, at least once.

But, who am I to talk? I was happy, my hemoglobin levels were pretty much perfect, meaning I'm obviously eating enough red meat to have good iron levels. What I was curious about though, is that none of them wear gloves - seems a bit odd, wouldn't you think? They're all like, what medication have you taken recently? What are the chances of you having this disease or that disease? Have you been to the doctors lately, why? Any chance of having HIV or anything like that? No? Good (lots of detailed questions about that, by the way...). But I'm just like, what if people lie? What if people don't realise? You're pricking their fingers, then you're touching me. Sure, they are careful to not touch any blood and all that, but I'm just like, seriously? You're putting so many lives at risk here, when we are here to help others. I dunno...

Anyway, it only took 4 minutes to fill a blood bag, what 500mls? 750mls? The fastest it's ever been for me, first time took almost 10 minutes. Mum made a valid comment, "don't slit your wrist accidentally..." AKA, I'll bleed out pretty jolly quick. As she said that, I went to pick up Pippa....who grabbed me around the wrist with both front paws and her teeth and bit down hard. Evil kitty.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

I Have the Chocolate...Mwhahahaha

It's Mum's birthday today - Happy Birthday Mum!! Along with a book, I got her a box of Roses chocolates, which admittedly, were opened quite quickly ;) Now though, she and Dad are headed off to Mitre 10 in anticipation to wander around the garden centre - will likely come back with trees and plants we have nowhere to put but that's not the important thing I'm getting at here. I am HOME ALONE, with chocolate - that isn't mine. Sense a bit of mischievous behaviour going on? Absolutely not, hehehe

So we've had quite a busy week - apologies if I haven't gotten around to replying to comments, emails or texts and all that. Just, yeah. Busy. Chaotic. All of the above. You know?

With Young Farmers, there is a competition - now called FMG Young Farmer of the Year, it happens every year, starts off with District contest, the top competitors moving up to Regional and then the overall winner of each region competes in the National Contest.
So, our region we have two District finals, as our five clubs are kinda all over the show. Last Saturday we had our district competition which was fantastic, 10 competitors, seven of whom were from our club and my brother convened it (so he had to come up with all the modules, how they'd be run, organising materials and judges etc etc).
The day was jolly hot, I can imagine everyone got sunburned - myself included. I was helping out with judging the livestock module. (If you haven't really heard of it too much before, in the Districts the competitors rotate from one module to the next and so on, each module takes 20 minutes and you've only got a couple minutes to do a quick mark up before the next person arrives).

With the livestock, Tim and I were in the stock yards all day,  with not really anywhere to sit and there was absolutely no shade, bit of a shocker really when everyone else had some form of gazebo. But yeah, it was certainly interesting watching different styles of handling stock. From those people who weren't really involved with animals having the most difficulty, to those who handled sheep more than cattle having a few problems and those who handle cattle every day having the easiest job.
They had to draft out, single handedly, the six heaviest heifers from the group of 10, just by looking at them - not the most easiest as they were all around about the same size. Put them through the race, work out how to use the scales and weigh them. Check the teeth on one animal, and work out its age (some people cheated and looked at the eartag...) and then name breeds of New Zealand beef and sheep from the pictures provided. But yeah, having not participated in the contest before, it gave me a good insight for when I enter it next year as a competitor.
But it was really hard for me, to stand there and watch them struggle to draft the animals on their own, watch them set up the yards prior to drafting (or not doing it at all!) and thinking in my head, nope I would've done that differently! I found it seriously frustrating to stand there and watch, because you can't help unless they ask for it, thus losing them points.

So yeah, the day went without a hitch - kudos to my brother for his brilliant organisational skills, and sadly I missed the judging because I had to go back and milk that afternoon, but hey. The important part, the top four contestants who are moving up to regional level include three of our club members - blimmen awesome!

On Monday Mum and I checked in at the hair dressers for our annual(ish) hair appointment. Me, just a tidy up. $40 later. Pathetic though, she asked if I was still at school? It would've been $25 if that was the case. If I'd known that, I would've said yes! Why? Because all these years I've gone there and they've never, ever asked. So. Annoying.
Mum and Dad are off to Wellington on the weekend, just a quick trip for my Great Aunties' (Twins) 70th birthday party. I don't even think they're down there for 24 hours lol, but trying to get cheap flights means you need to earlier and later flights...and Nick is also somewhat away for the weekend - trekking it up to the Bay of Islands for the other district final contest.

Mostly, life is good. Busy, Chaotic, I think I mentioned it all a little earlier! It is stinking hot, over 20 degrees most days, the ground is bone dry and the little rain we get is a bit of a misty thing every now and again. We had yet another truckload of house water arrive today, our second one already doesn't bode too well. Fingers are all crossed for, I dunno, a cyclone to come through bringing with it heaps of rain?
I'm working pretty much full time, seven days a week for the next three weeks at least, covering about four different farms each week and it gets to the stage I need to look at the calendar each day to figure out where I'm going, how the fuel situation is looking (the windy roads use so much more fuel...) whether I can leave my milking gear at the shed, or am I somewhere else the next day? Why is all this happening? Because yet again, staff are hurting our clients, pulling out of their jobs and leaving them high and dry. The third one this season for one of our favourite farms, you feel so stink for them but all you can do is help them milk the cows. It's great, I don't mind the work and I certainly don't mind the income - it's just those start times at it again, it really mucks up all your sleeping system, especially the 5am starts, which need 20 minutes just to drive there...up I get just after 4 o'clock.... :(
During the day, I need to get the study in, just three and a half months left to go (bring on end of Feb!), I've stuffed around the last two months and now have three assignments to finish and send in the by the end of the month - I don't know why I do it to myself. Just like, seriously kid, get your A into G (as mum would say!). But you have those confidence/enthusiasm boosts, when the one paper you sent in gets returned with, and I quote, "difficult to find faults" comment. Perfect!

I popped into youth group for the first time since around May, last night. It was nice to go back, but it's definitely changed, however it was nice to be back and just get my mind ticking along with what Jeff was talking about. I kinda want to go back more often (helpful when term is almost finished), because, I dunno you feel a little more, alive when you leave? But I'm somewhat considering now going along and trying the Bible study that some older people I know go to, just to try it. It's awkward, being in that inbetween age. Too old for youth group when everyone's still early/mid teens, but too young to go to this other group when the people you've spoken to are a little younger than your parents. But hey, it might be good. I just have to try it :)

Monday, 9 November 2015

Dear Future Husband (lol)

Now, while we're on the topic - that's actually quite an amusing song "Dear Future Husband", I haven't heard it in quite a while but, hey. Although, it does go against what I'm about to talk about, it's funny, nonetheless.

One question someone asked me at work this weekend, "do you have any dreams and aspirations?"
-Sure, I said.
-Such as?
-Umm, I'll have to get back to you on that one....
Because, currently I'm going through life, knowing full well I do have dreams but I'm not all that sure how to describe them to myself - let alone anyone else. I don't even think I can picture them at all, they're there and one day I'll figure out what they are. But for now, just take life as it comes - you know?

So later on I came up with something..."I have a find myself a bank, who'll give me a lifetime loan with no necessary repayments, that'll buy me a house by the time I'm 25". Because, that kinda is my plan, to save up over the next few years a deposit enough to buy a house with a bit of land - I've got five years up my sleeve, it's possible.
The person however, replied, "oh yeah, is he a nice guy?"
-I was talking about banks, I said.
-Yeah I know you what you said...(laughing)

It just brought back the typical idea, quite plainly that in every relationship she has to live off his wages - sort of thing. I just don't like it. It's such an old fashioned thing that is mostly ridiculous in this day and age, especially when everything is all about anti-feminism and equality. It started my mind stirring for the rest of the afternoon, getting me quite worked up in my head because I strive to be independent. I would rather live by myself, for the rest of my life just to prove the point - that I'm quite capable to look after myself. And yes, that is my proud, stubborn mannerism coming through, but it's true! I hate the idea of having to rely on other people, I'm one of those who is able to work in a team - but if I did it all on my own I'd get whatever it was done, just as easily.

I saw a photo recently, depicting a man hugging his daughters boyfriend, with the caption "whatever you do to my daughter, I'll do to you.." It kinda went viral, but later I read an article on it. The photo was intentionally planned, but it had been taken in the typical way - that every girl needs "protecting" and "saving". Which, I dunno. I don't get a buzz out of that all that much. My parents are taking that stance, yes they're old fashioned - so am I. But I disagree with the continued damsel in distress stature in our modern 21st century lifestyle.
The article was actually really interesting. As the person wrote, "teach your daughters to be independent. Don't let them think they need saving...especially from decent people."

Which is pretty much on par with what is happening in the world these days. I don't mind my parents being protective - it's great, we're joking about it often. But I do mind the idea that as a female I need to be looked after...

Tuesday, 3 November 2015


When we first moved up here almost 14 years ago from the Waikato, we originally moved to a Dairy farm on the Kaipara Harbour. I was merely a six year old, but I remember everything. The move was pretty chaotic, we had the drama of my parents being sharemilkes, therefore meaning we had one of the typical moves: leaving the Waikato house before 12pm, but not arriving earlier than 12pm at the new place, up north.

Luckily you can move the farm implements in the weeks prior, while also sending up most of our animals too, the beginning of Mum and Dad's herd ownership. Nick and I didn't actually have all that much to do with the shift, just a wee bit young, so off we went to Nana and Grandad's in Tokoroa and stayed there for a few days. My cat, Tiger, decided to go awol - until the last moment. Friends were gathered to tow trailers of gear, a furniture truck was hired for Dad to drive and the cats were bundled into cages. I can imagine it would've been stressful.

But now, the important part. In my opinion, the place we moved to was and still is, one of my favourite places. We had the Kaipara Harbour right at our fingertips - even if that meant mangroves and shelly beaches, filled with oysters and crabs. We had a section of bush to get ourselves "lost" in, we had horses to learn to ride on and then eventually Mum and Dad bought us our own. Suddenly we were surrounded with other homeschooled kids like ourselves. It was the best place any 6 year old could grow up in, I was almost 11 when we left.

Now I'm almost 20, I haven't been back there in around about 9 years. Yesterday, I got that chance again! Years ago we did a bit of a tiki-tour around the Waikato and Bay of Plenty houses and farms Mum and Dad used to live and work on, way back when they were from being my age - I remember them being quite, in awe? I suppose, seeing somewhere and remembering how it used to be, but then seeing how it's changed, it can be quite dramatic. So that was kinda me yesterday...driving down that long driveway, covered in Poplar trees that seem to have had a growth spurt since I last saw them. Driving past the old cowshed, the house we stayed in and down to the flats that line the shell beach and Harbour. Seeing new trees have grown, and others have been removed.

Let me just say, it's super weird when you go down a race, that diverts into a semi Y-intersection, where inside the corner of the Y was a paddock that held a small pond, surrounded by trees. That was where I came off my bike one day. I was one of those kids who didn't want to use her hand brakes - I preferred to flick the pedals backward instead. I came off my bike a fair bit, always seeming to injure myself somehow. This was one of those times, riding down a slight hill (with Nick, after some cows who ended up in the wrong paddock...) I guess I got a bit of speed up, tried to brake in my own fashion and failed. That was the day that I went straight through a Taranaki gate, at quite a high speed. I don't believe I've ever been covered in so many bruises in my life!
But, alas, the trees are now gone. The pond is filled in. I feel like it was a memory (however awful) that was torn from existence. How can I prove it happened, if all of the landmarks are now gone?

Driving past the house, a view from the race shows that the garage is gone - we knew that, it was taken in a storm not long after we left and Nick and Dad flew over the farm in the helicopter, back when Dad was still flying. I didn't expect to see the old single garage that was behind it, to be gone as well. I've never seen the front lawn and gardens look so open, seeing that someone has removed the treehouse Dad built....but also seeing that the Loquat tree was still there. Fences that we all put in, are now gone from certain areas, the farm is just so run down.
Why were we there? Dad was doing the sprayouts for one of our clients, who now leases half the land. Ironically, it was the first time I've ever been with Dad in the ute, spraying. But he seemed to think I would've been too young to remember the place at all. Gosh no, I think that place had the biggest impact of my life, it's the place I technically grew up in, we were there for almost five years - sure, we've been here a long time. But that place was pretty darn cool for the most part. And it's quite nice to go back there, even for only half an hour at the most!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Trials of Being Owned by Cats

Keepin' busy. Lots has been happening but I've little to say. So, what's been happening? Hmmm. Well, first on the agenda - my Magnolia. A few of you may remember last Christmas Mum and Dad bought me a Magnolia tree - my childhood dream. Well, it's flowered for the first time under my care, and I'm stoked. It's gorgeous! I can't wait until it gets bigger, reaching it's 6 metre height and covers itself with that lovely colour. Mum's plan is to eventually buy more of them to put on that small new section of land when we eventually get it - it'll be great to see so many of the different colours we could get.

Our vege garden is now well underway. The glass house is filled with miniature pots with all the seedlings growing, the seed potatoes and beetroot seeds are in their bed, the strawberries are spread in among straw and marigolds are around the perimeter of each individual garden. The garden is separated out into three sections - four if you include the strawberry patch - to make it a bit more easier and distinct where everything should be. And I'm not too much of a fan of Marigolds, but heck the bees like them and that's the important thing, right? Mum's growing all sorts of other flowers as well, so the potted colour around the place should look pretty neat too :)
It's quite nice to see everything growing, flowering, fruiting. It definitely is that feeling of spring/summer when you start getting fruit on the trees. The Loquat is delicious, the grapes have taken off in growth and we have minuscule grapes growing on them for the first time, and more importantly the Peach tree is fruiting.
This Peach tree, it's a pretty special tree. See, when we first moved here there were two heritage peach trees in the backyard - they were absolutely delicious! But, we thought they were so good and well, so did our Husky, Chy-Anne. She would stand on her back feet, reach up and pluck fruit from the trees, leaving the stones everywhere, so we had to pull them out and move them to a new location so she wouldn't destroy them. However, they didn't survive the move and died - gutting. We moved north, Chy-Anne died a few years later, then we came back here one day to find a Peach tree growing in between the fence and pigsty - Chy-Anne's legacy. We transplanted it, crossed all our fingers it would be OK. It has since grown massive and is now fruiting for the first time, absolutely stoked about this, where would we be without that dog? Man she was awesome.

Labour Day traffic was mental, there was one non-fatal accident on one of the local busy roads around here, meaning poor old SH1 was exploding with traffic at every entrance to it, due to the diversion. Meaning I had to take a slight back route to work, not the most ideal road, part of it is like a one lane driveway so coming across others like me who are skipping the main road was a little interesting - especially when some of them appeared to not know how to drive a gravel road! (Aucklanders, why you come north?! Where did you even go?!) Monday was a good work day, I got to take back control of one of my favourite sheds, where I haven't been able to work at much this season due to my other commitments at other farms. I have hopeful thinking that they appreciated having me back for a change, and Tuesday night I got to go there too - where, on this occasion I somewhat said it straight to the farmer. You. Need. To. Take. Some. Time. Off! He's a stubborn person, we're all a bit like that though, I guess, and came up with every excuse in the book as to why he couldn't have just one sleep in for a change (he hasn't taken any time off this season yet, and it's showing). This is the one farm I work on that I'm covering for the staff and not the boss. Ridiculous

Frodo has made her mark recently, quite literally. Rewind the clock to Wednesday: Pippa is sitting in the scullery, staring in the corner where we keep things such as bags of potatoes, onions and kumera. She has quite a perplexed look on her face, keeps looking at me saying, "Mum, there's something in there." Me, well, I'm not the biggest fan of rodents so I just tried to ignore her looks. My mum, however carefully lifted the bags out of the way and then yelled, "There's a mouse!" Me, freaking out, laughing, hiding in the kitchen so I wouldn't have to try catch it. Darling Pippa is also like, omgosh, it moved, I'm outta here! The guys were outside working, so we couldn't have gotten their help, Mum eventually caught it and we let it go outside, while trying to convince Pippa that she was a cat and needed to kill it. I think she was just amazed that her new toy moved all on it's own. Frodo, not all that concerned either to be quite honest. 

Last Thursday was my day off, Mum and Dad were out working and Nick had just gotten home. I crawled out of bed, discovered a pile of feathers at the bottom of the stairs (thanks Frodo, I'll clean them up soon) and found Pippa sprawled out on the floor, staring underneath the couch. I'll have you know, I avoided the couch for a while, Nick had gone back to his house. Eventually I got the courage to pull the couch apart, and here is a mouse with the spotlight on it, sort of thinking, 'oh crap, uh, hi?' Now I'm seriously freaking out, grabbed my cellphone, messaged mum "there's a mouse!" Help! (what on earth was she going to do? Other than yell via messenger to not let it escape?!)

Pippa is absolutely starstruck, staring at this mouse. It runs, I yell. You can probably imagine it about now. It took probably half an hour, until I managed to trap it. How? Stuff a plastic bag down one end of the metal vacuum cleaner pipe and force the mouse in the other end, spin pipe around and mouse is in the base. Release mouse outside just as Frodo arrives, where she looks pitifully down at the poor creature who's had quite an eventful morning and appears to ask if it's quite OK? Later on I see the mouse flying through the air as Frodo plays with it, she's so sweet would never hurt a fly, that cat! ;)

By now you're probably thinking, gosh, they have mice in their house? Wouldn't want to go there! No, quite honestly, we don't. I'll explain.
Saturday night, I'm 'asleep' in bed, it's about 10pm and I've got an early start. Mum and Dad start yelling, why? Because Frodo has just arrived through the cat door, battle cry and all, and released yet another mouse in our house. She's quite pleased with herself! I'm in hysterics, laying in bed above the lounge, where below me Mum and Dad are going ballistic at the cat, because said mouse has run here, there and everywhere in a mad panic. Hehe. Our house is pretty open plan, there's no doors downstairs except into the bathrooms, so you can imagine having a mouse on the loose, who knows where it could go? Eventually, it was discovered in the bathroom, Mum biffed the cat in there shut the door, told Dad it was his issue (his cat) and went to bed. lol. The mouse was caught, released and gone. One wonders whether each time it was the same mouse? What a happy thought.

Now, I get to the main part. I got up for work at 5am, nothing seems amiss apart from the couch still being in pieces from the night before. Off I go to work. A few hours later I come home again, to hear that after I left for work Mum and Dad came downstairs to discover a. RABBIT at the bottom of the stairs. Quite dead, but in quite a state, potentially looking like a murder had occurred there (thank goodness I was working) and to think that our carpet is a very light, tanned sort of colour. Hmm, we're still trying to figure out what will get the stain out, it's pretty awful. Flippen cat, left her mark alright.
And to think, I'm pretty sure it's the Chinese Year of the Rabbit....thank goodness it's not the year of the blimmen Horse. o.O

But anyway. Sunday I get to see Sam and Chantelle again - first time since August, you wouldn't believe the trials of trying to sort one date where we can catch up, if only for a few hours for dinner somewhere. Going to Chantelles for a while on Sunday night, having dinner and watching a movie. Should be nice :)
Today is Mum and Dad's 21st wedding anniversary and we've got our YF meeting on tonight (how exciting, to be honest the only part I enjoy about going to these meetings nowadays is being able to eat the lemongrass crumbed chicken....mmmm).

We have had 10mm of rain so far in October, over last weekend. Now it's drizzling out there again - a fantastic sight as the ground is all cracked up.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Hide and Seek

I have a few interesting discussions with the people I milk with, and tonight we somewhat touched on depression. So I thought, I would write about what I think it is and what I think about it as a whole.

To me, it's one of those things that is completely misunderstood. Nobody really gets it, everyone experiences it differently and commonly I see it being perceived as a form of weakness. It's like when someone has something such as, say, Autism. You'll get the people who can mold their thoughts and plans around it, accept it. Then there are the others who look on, a slight frown on their face as they see the person. They don't completely understand it, therefore intentionally or unintentionally, you get a bit of judgement happening.
And that's OK, everyone is different in the way they think, everyone is entitled to their own opinion - so long as you're careful with it though, I guess.

I see it as a disease. One as prominent in todays society almost as much as cancer is. But the thing is, people struggle to accept and believe something they can't see. We know that it's being shared around all the social medias, perhaps in the attempt to encourage people to talk about it, to encourage those affected by it personally to share their stories, to share to the non-believers I guess you could call them, that it is, in fact, "real" and something that people shouldn't be ashamed or scared of.

However, at the same time I do think that it is being taken out of proportion in some aspects. Commonly on a daily basis I see friends in my social networks claiming they must be "depressed'' and this and that. I sort of want to shake them and say, 'you've had ONE bad day, it's not the end of the world - take it easy.'
Sure, people are entitled to their bad days, to feel a little low every so often. In my opinion they're more than welcome to throw their hands in the air and say how much they hate their life, so long as after that they rip the page from the book, walk away and start afresh. That's life. That's what is allowed to happen in this big, scary world we all call home.

But in most cases, it's the people who are quiet that you have to look at more closely. Those are the people who are truly affected. Every so often the person may accidentally drop a hint or two, but nobody sees it. Because this person has been so good at hiding it for such a long time, that eventually to the outside world it appears to become what and who they are. Everyone just looks past it, because to them it has become the new normal.
I've mentioned it a few times, but one of our youth groups trips to HM Rage spoke a lot about hide and seek, about the masks that people put on. Some people put on so many masks all on top of eachother. It gets so bad that it just becomes them and no-one knows any differently.

To me, the important thing is to share it around, to talk about it. Not make it out to be some form of dangerous "no-go zone" topic. But also not converse about it in such a way so that the people who are actually suffering get forgotten about in the wake of the rest of the population talking about "issues" they have which must be linked to depression, (when really they've just run out of money so they can't go and buy that thing they always wanted, so spout off about it online. #depression. #peacesign.) You know?
I understand that there are different stages, different levels, and nothing is concrete when we're talking about the inner mind and emotions. There are many different reasons behind the cause, it's different for everyone. I guess the best part is to just stop, listen. Try your best to understand - even though we all know that that is the hardest part.
Because, let's face it (and I'm going to take one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite books here) "you don't really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view....until you climb into his skin and walk around in it" - To Kill A Mockingbird.

Monday, 19 October 2015

A Poem

So I don't listen to Life FM, but I have liked them on Facebook. They've been having lots of discussions about mental illness lately. And today I got a bit bored and came up with this...I'm no poet, and it's not about me. But it just, happened? Mechanically?

Farming is life, as we know it,
It keeps the world spinning around.
Everything is lively, happy, great,
Then things start looking down.

No-one is happy - everyone's stressed,
It passes to family and friend.
It is contagious, difficult to stop,
And for some, life comes to an end.

It is pushing and shoving, forcing its weight,
Opens its mouth and releases the germs.
It doesn't show on our skin or bones,
It is the depths of our soul it burns.

We fight and we struggle as it tears at the seams,
We often lose and give up.
The battle is long, fierce and tough,
For many it can be too much.

A torrent of storms in your heart,
As everyone else looks on.
Too preoccupied with their own lives,
Nobody hears your song.

A life of depression, mental anxiety,
Or something else wrong within.
No-one can see it, they will not know,
Until they can walk in your skin.

Many an angel, passed away,
Spent their life crying out.
No-one could hear, they could not listen,
No-one could hear their shout.

It is important to know it is not the fault,
Of the dead or the living.
This is something we should learn from,
Just like a funeral is for the living.

We are people, we are a community,
We have the world in our hands.
We need to find justice against this curse,
And help others to understand.

And that is the end. I guess my mental pen ran out. No idea where this came from though, just slipped out!!!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

A Play On Words

The days are passing by, quickly and surely. I while away my days doing next to nothing in some cases. Remember when I was frustrated from having too much work to do? Now I've got work, just not that much of it. I know it sounds petty, but it can get annoying when the other relief milkers get more work than me. It is amusing though, to a point, when they try to tell me how to run a cowshed that I've been milking in for more than a year now. It's like, I smile and nod OK, but underneath my blood is boiling because this is my cowshed, and it has been stolen off of me. But life moves on.

Although I don't have too much work in the way of milking, I'm enjoying the time spent elsewhere. I've been helping fence off a few gardens and get all of today, and tomorrow, off work. Which is nice, I spend time at home, sleeping in while I've got the chance and spending some time with my Pippa. I'm sure she appreciates me not going anywhere for a change, well I hope she appreciates it - because she sure doesn't appreciate me going out anywhere, even if it is to make money to pay for her food. She's a lovely cat though, I don't know what I'd do without her. I say, as she's snuggled up asleep next to me, with her (toy) mouse. Haha

Nonetheless, it's quite nice to stay at home, spending hours at my laptop replying to an email today. It takes forever, there's lots to say! While I also marvel at the fact that although my study needs doing, I have no pressure to study for exams this year - believe me, I drive past the school often and remember those times of needing to drive myself there (that is torture in itself, rather than being dropped off), get out of the car and walk that long walk over to the auditorium. Stressful occasion it was, never to be repeated.
It somewhat makes me wonder, that. If I ever had kids (I'm thinking like long distance future thoughts lol) whether I'd send them to school so it'd be normality to them. Or would I homeschool them, and skip exams. Or make them do exams, and suffer those death stares as they walk into a new territory, armed with a plastic bag, a couple pens, and an admission slip? Interesting dilemma, although if I were to rewind the past, I wouldn't have a clue which option I'd prefer in a perfect world!!
Sheesh, these days off are making me slightly poetic and philosophical feeling. I often feel the urge to go into the spare room and start up my keyboard, play a few jigs. Or maybe pull out my craft gear, and get back into the cross stitch that I started a couple years ago - or maybe even start scrapbooking again? What would I scrapbook though? Pippa? There's an idea, although to do the scrapbooking justice, you need pictures. And to get pictures will mean going to town and printing some off - that's where procrastination steps in and takes over! Procrastination could seriously rule the world if it wanted to, wouldn't you think?

I'm back into reading again - quite nice, since I haven't read a book since about 6 months or so ago. It feels nice to lose myself, until one sits outside on her beanbag in the sun for hours on end - and burns her knees. I always considered myself a clever soul! The author is great - Diane Chamberlain. She's one of my favourite authors on my Kobo, except in the odd occasion where her books leave nothing to the imagination...but in general, they're good books. Flicking between the two main characters, often going back in time. Mum says she'd hate a book like that, I enjoy it, it keeps me on my toes and helps to plan for the events that will come. I find myself predicting some "shocking" revelation, which in many cases would annoy me - having a book that was too predictable. But it's nice to just read and forget about the world around me.

This post is so unusual for me.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Hard To Believe

It's hard to believe quite a few things lately. I can't believe that it was only a week ago that we finished up our calf feeding job. Hard to believe we're already in October (!). I can't believe that an old homeschooling friend turned 21 this weekend - it feels like not too long ago when we all met at just 7 and 8 - while it's also difficult to believe that hardly anyone recognised me! lol, time has flown!

And I thought that since I haven't actually given you guys any proof that we did, in fact, raise calves again this year, I took some photos and such:

This is our oldest group

It was super weird finishing them.. Then that week Mum and I went off for what we hoped would be a nice lunch out at a local cafe/chocolate shop. Although, sadly, because we had such high expectations from our previous visit a couple years ago - it wasn't all that nice. But it was still nice to go out! 
For hot drinks, you just get given hot milk, and a chocolate stirrer. Make it as strong as you want!

On Wednesday I had the joy of being charged by a somewhat friendly cow. A few circumstances lead to her being in a pen on her own, making her panic a bit and she got a bit stressed out. I don't think it helped that she'd recently calved - so her personality perhaps wasn't the same as normal! Anyway, that was certainly interesting - although I don't recommend it. It takes a while for realisation to kick in that you're being charged, and even after that occurs it takes a fair bit to get moving out of the way!
I think she might've been a little hungry, because it seemed as if she definitely wanted to eat me.

Stupidly though, it's kind of an awkward situation to be in. Because you see a cow madly running towards you, well I don't know about you guys but for me personally, I don't really want to be running away screaming until I know that it is a seriously dangerous situation? How do I explain this?
In my job, nobody would want you around if they get a slight inkling that you're scared of the animals you're working with. I'm not scared of cows, although I'm cautious around them in certain situations. So when this cow ran at me I just calmly stepped aside and somewhat scolded her for being so out of control. I tried to turn her around, and that's when she full out went for me. I had no choice, I yelled and jumped for the fence! I'd rather now look stupid rather than look dead haha. Sometimes you think a cow is running at you, but generally she just runs around or runs past you. It's not often that you get charged - it's only happened to me twice now. But if I was jumping for the fence every time a cow ran at me - I'd probably be the most unwanted person on the local farms!!
But, as it seems, after I was balancing on the top two rails, out of harms way, she started charging the guy I was working with - so perhaps my reason for jumping was, in fact, legitimate.

After that happened, and the farm worker and I laughed and said, gee that was exciting! I just kept on shaking my head, thinking, that was really out there. Did that just happen? I was sorta somewhat laughing, but also like, flippen heck, that was kinda freaky too...

Thursday came around, I was thankfully still alive after my friendly cow encounter (!), it was my first full day off since mid July, and Mum and I went north. Shopping. Just wondered around shops, had some lunch, wondered around some more shops, then did the groceries. It was quite nice to get out of town for a bit.

Friday I was back into work, Dad and Nick killed the pig and my sister came up to help butcher it that afternoon. Usually Dad just makes big chops and roasts out of it, with a little bit of mince from the scraps. But Alesha got in and showed Dad some new tricks (fancy butchery much!), cutting it all up into pork belly, steaks, schnitzel, a few rolled roasts, mince. I was pleasantly surprised that her and Dad seemed to get on really well, teaching and learning. The young dog teaching the old dog new tricks, is what the guy I was milking with said! hehe.
This time round, my assistance with the pig was hardly necessary. Except for weighing it - she was 65kg's on the hook - a good weight! Nick and Dad had the joys of bear hugging the pig, holding it up, while I hooked up the scales. In the end, I had to get my hands dirty, when push comes to shove I do what I need to do. Even if that includes sticking my fingers into the slits in the back legs, forcing the gamble through, grossing myself out - it's super weird working around ligaments and all that, but hey.

Saturday I carried on working, then went to the 21st party that night for a few hours. Caught up with heaps of people I haven't seen in so many years.  But I didn't stick around for too long, I got home at 10 then had to be back up at 4am for milking. I started at 5, needed some time to get there and actually wake up - not in that order!
We had our stock judging event during the day on Sunday. I went along between milkings, learned a fair bit in the beef module, didn't learn anything in the dairy section really - not because I already knew it, more so because the guy doing it wasn't very good with teaching. Sheep, umm, sorry Andrew but I tried to like them. They stunk, they looked really bad. Admittedly, the guy running it is an really old guy in his 80's, a well known across the country, Romney breeder. And he went to the sales and bought them randomly, just for the day and brought one of his own as a comparison.
Didn't learn much there either, apart from what it should look like in configuration and such. 

And today, I struggled out of bed just after 4am again, I've got to do the same thing tomorrow. The more often it is happening, the more tired I get!!

 Finally, some more photos to entertain you. This is another cowshed, the cows weren't quite there on time, so I took some pictures while I waited.