The weeks beginning the 22nd & 29th of July 2006
Monday the 24th

I caught a horrible 'fluey bug and took it easy for a few days, then hurt my back and life just didn't seem worth living any more. Misery! Today I had to travel for just over an hour to get to a meeting with the other Women in Agribusiness members and had to get Stephan to drive me down, being too sore to operate the floor controls in the ute!

The meeting was to discuss our group, its organisation, finances and future, prior to my representing us all at a meeting in Wellington on Friday, with representatives from all the other groups around the country.

Wednesday the 26th
little bulls scratching

The little bulls are in the house paddock and keep gathering around this pile of Puriri prunings for a good scratch - and they're terribly nosey and keep looking in the windows at what we're doing!

Thursday the 27th

I flew from Kaitaia this morning to Auckland, then on to Wellington, arriving there just before noon. I went and dropped my belongings off at the Hotel next to the Rural Women NZ office, then walked down to Te Papa Tongarewa, the National Museum. There is a Constable exhibition on there at the moment and I decided I'd really better go and have a look. It cost $12 to enter and I spent a very pleasant couple of hours wandering around looking at and reading about the paintings, pencil drawings and etchings displayed.

Before 5pm I went for a wander up into town, then back to Te Papa again for a Māori Language Week event: Te Reo 101, with a local teacher. She took a small group of us through basic pronunciation and greeting protocols, which was very interesting - dialect and regional differences make some things at the head of the fish quite different from the way they are down here in the tail! I grew up talking about going down to Auckland and other points south of here, but Te Ika a Maui, the fish Maui pulled out of the sea, which forms the North Island, has its head facing south and we here in the north reside on its tail - Te Hiku o te Ika a Maui. Up and down are hard directions to relearn, but I rather prefer the idea, somehow. Even the weather reports on television have in the last few years taken to travelling from south to north and that took a bit of getting used to!

From Te Papa, I walked up to Downstage Theatre for the opening night of U-Boat Down Under. I enjoyed the experience very much, but was quite surprised to find that some of the mistakes occasionally made by those involved in amateur dramatics here at Kaitaia Dramatic Society, were made in this professional theatre performance!

Friday the 28th

All day today in a meeting with lots of women from all over the country! I now know much more than I did about Rural Women NZ, its history and current activities and who the people are in the national office. I've also learnt quite a lot about how the other Women in Farming and Agribusiness groups are operating. We really didn't have enough time to do all we needed to, so will have to come back to meet again in a few weeks.

After the end of the meeting and a glass of wine with those not dashing off to catch trains and planes, I walked down into town to meet up with another contributor to the forum on, a woman who just happened to be in Wellington for the day from somewhere near the very south of the South Island. We had a quick drink together before she left to catch a plane and I went off in search of some dinner, before heading down to Circa Theatre. Tonight's entertainment was called The Country, an English play at the end of a month long season, very polished, somewhat odd, but enjoyable for being live theatre! Then I walked for forty minutes, all the way back through town to the hotel.

Saturday the 29th

After an hour on the plane from Wellington, the pilot announced that we couldn't land at Auckland immediately because of trouble with a seal - on the runway! Ordinarily I would have thought that rather amusing, but with a still-sore lower back, I just wanted to get off! We flew around and around and around ... until the pilot said we'd have to divert to Tauranga because otherwise we'd run out of fuel, unless we could land right now, so they were heading down, in the hope the seal had been herded out of the way in time. We landed; I was relieved!

String trio

My mother, Jill, is about to turn 70, so my sisters and I had planned a small party for her - actually Jude ended up doing most of the work because she was mostly at home and in Auckland, where they decided it would be held.

Jill and Bruce were carefully sent out of rooms while things were arranged during the afternoon, until Jude, Roger and I squeezed into the back of Jill and Bruce's car and they drove us to Rachel's house, where dinner and a couple of Jill's old (long standing) friends were waiting.

Jude had also hired this trio of lovely young women to play for the first part of the evening, which was simply delightful!

Alison and Jill

Not bad for an old chook, eh?

Alison and Jill, as Jill tries to work out why there's a trio of musicians in Rachel's living room when she's been led to believe we're just calling in to wait while Rachel and Issa get ready to go out to a restaurant. We told a lot of wicked lies during the day and early evening!

Sunday the 30th
Stella and her present to Jill

Those who were in bed by the time we all had dinner last night brought out their presents to their grandmother this morning, as well as presenting the cake they'd baked after breakfast! This is Stella's picture of her and Jill (I think), painted on stretched canvas, so we can expect to see it properly mounted on a wall somewhere in Whangarei very soon!

Jill's friend Alison kindly transported me back as far as Whangarei, to her home, where Stephan met me and we travelled home to Diggers Valley. We arrived in good time to get the little bulls in and give them their booster vaccination for BVD. Now those two which are sold may go to their new homes and leave the diminishing grass to the others!

#38 appeared from where he'd been lying down, hardly able to walk on his right front leg! Since he's one of the two already sold, that was a cause for some worry. Watching him carefully, he seemed to be walking a little more freely the further he went, but I took them very slowly down to the yards and back. From the way he's using his foot and leg, I think he's hurt one of the upper joints, rather than his foot. He kept head-butting with one of the others, so I suspect he came off worst in a tussle earlier in the day!

Monday the 31st
a Pukeko in a tree

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a Pukeko in a ... Perching Lily. Ok, it's not December, and usually it's a Ponga tree in the song. (And yes, I'm well aware the original words are Partridge and Pear tree, but how many Partridges have you seen in these pages?)

The epiphytic lily plant used to grow high up in the Puriri tree when it was standing and still partially alive. When the tree fell, at 2.45am one extremely still morning some years ago, shaking us out of our slumber with fears of earthquake, bombs or falling buildings, the plant held on to its crevice in the fork of the branches and whilst it has looked a little dry at times in the summer, still it grows. I have no idea what the Pukeko was up to and it's not our particular bird.

A wet day, not really the sort of weather for getting the bulls back in so one can go on a truck! I wished I'd taken the camera, but it really was too wet and I was a bit stressed anyway.

I weighed the bulls and then Lynn and Kees took Isla's son, #41, off in their little truck - which is the picture I'd like to have taken. I worry about sending single animals off like that, because they've spent all their lives in company and suddenly, in a situation full of unknown new things, they're alone and might do unpredictable things, like attempting to jump out of trucks - or at least that's what I imagine might happen, in my disaster fantasies. Perhaps I ought to invest in a hip-flask and carry intoxicating liquor to help relax my mind at such times. Or not.

Thursday the 3rd of August
fetching Demelza

Stephan's nephew, Samuel, who's back from England for a few weeks, brought his youngest nephew, Ryan, who's three, out for a visit. We went for a walk with the Pukeko to look at the river and move some cows.

This is the Mushroom Paddock (where no mushrooms have grown for years) and the cow is Demelza, who has developed a habit of standing off on her own when all the rest of her mob have left, so that she has to be fetched and made to follow them!

young cattle walking in the mud

The mud is ankle-deep on some of the tracks, as usual at this time of year. In between the rainy periods there have been dry spells of several days duration, which have dried things out again and made us feel a bit better. Then it rains again.


Pukeko is quite beautiful, of course! She sleeps (very messily) on the washing machine in the back porch and screeches at us when we run the taps in the bathroom through the wall next to her. She is going to have to move to a new night location, for I am heartily sick of cleaning up after her every morning!

Friday the 4th

Stephan bought me another bottle of liquid gold - or at least from the price of it, it must contain some - pour-on drench for the cattle and I brought the fat cows in and drenched the thinnest of them. Some of the thin cow mob are now fatter than some of the fat cow mob, so I may have to do some reorganising in the next few weeks. In the mean time I'll reduce as much stress as I can on the lightest of them by knocking out their internal parasites.