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. :)