The Farm in Diggers Valley

The week beginning 28th of March.
Saturday the 28th of March

I brought the squashed guy home this morning, along with a pharmacy-load of painkiller drugs for him to chomp his way through. His injuries are surprisingly mild, considering the danger he was in. His only outward signs are the burst blood vessels in his facial skin to the outside of his eyes, which is apparently a classic sign of strangulation or crushing. A doctor in Whangarei asked Stephan to let him take pictures of him for an upcoming lecture he was due to deliver on that topic. There is also a bruise appearing on his arm, where most of the trailer's weight came down.

I have strong suspicions about Stephan's timing: I get hurt and he just has to go one better! I maintain I'm still in worse shape with concussion and will expect my dinner to be served as usual this evening!

Sunday the 29th
milking Imagen

See, there's nothing wrong with him! I carried the buckets out to Imagen's paddock this morning and waited while Stephan milked her - ready to step in if necessary, ready to rescue him if he fell over ...

Then I carried the milk bucket home, very happy in the knowledge that I do not need to add daily cow milking to my busy-enough schedule.

unloading the firewood trailer

William and Dylan came out to collect some more firewood today and to offer us some assistance as necessary. They very kindly unloaded the firewood trailer onto the ute in a couple of loads, we drove it back to the shed, and they stacked it all up in the big pile for us.

Afterwards we pinned the front of the trailer to the ground, William jacked it up, and we took the wheel with the ruined tyre home.

There was a Far-North wide power cut from eight this morning until sometime around four in the afternoon, for line maintenance. Our firewood gathering guests (Dan and Christina, as well as William) brought gas rings with them, so we could all have cups of tea and coffee.

Tuesday the 31st
cows on a hillside

Some of the cows and heifers in the paddock over the road, on a lovely warm afternoon.

A little later we moved them across the road to the driveway and Pig Paddock for the night, since I want them in the yards in the morning.

Wednesday the 1st of April
cows and calves

We put all the cattle into the yards this morning and I drafted out the cows which had their first Neospora vaccine three weeks ago, ready to receive their booster shot.

My steer buyer said she'd like to come and see the animals before they're weaned, so we spent some time with her, walking amongst them, and I introduced her to Isla's son, who likes a scratch under the chin.

Afterwards I vaccinated the cows without any bother, then sent the whole mob to the back of the farm.

Friday the 3rd

Early this morning we went into town and I got on a bus to go to Auckland. I had a really lovely trip down. I seem to be very conscious of colour at the moment, and the sky, as the sun came up over the hills, was beautiful. Later, travelling along Bream Bay, south of Whangarei, I looked out past the woman with whom I was conversing to the sea, the Hen and Chicken Islands and a small lake in the foreground. The sky was blue, the sea was an astonishing opaque aqua and the lake was a deep, deep blue. Between the lake and the sea were yellow sandhills and various greens of the low scrub growing over them. I didn't take a photo, I just enjoyed it.

The bus driver seemed rather brusque, but we gradually broke him in - four of us, women from four decades, having a laugh and none of us even knowing the others' names. My seat companion was pleasant and we talked about a range of topics, but the conversational sparkles for me came from exchanges with the woman by the window on the other side of the bus. She was so wry and delightful.

The bus was late because the driver was slow, although I'm sure he was convinced he'd convinced us it was because of all the roadworks on the way down. With nowhere to be in a hurry on my arrival and a cellphone with which to text Jude to let her know when I'd be there, it was no bother at all - although I think for a number of other people who had people waiting for them or flights to catch, it was probably a more anxious journey.

Waiwera tunnel approach Waiwera tunnel approach

This is the approach to the new tunnels near Waiwera. We've watched the work over the last couple of years as the tunnels were constructed, but had not seen how they were to be approached. It's all very tidy and when there's little traffic around, it runs very nicely - although I hear things can be quite different at the ends of long weekends, when throngs of people are returning to Auckland from the beaches to the north.

The old road is the one to the right and over the top of the tunnels, which is now the north-bound lane.

The purpose of my trip to Auckland was to attend the twentieth anniversary concert of The Women's Bookshop, a favourite place when I lived in Auckland. Carole opened the shop at about the time I was discovering feminism, lesbianism, and wonderful, wonderful books by women from all over the place, sold by someone who had read every one and could find the books we needed when we weren't even sure what they were. As the lovely Carmel Carroll said after she'd sung during the concert (and I paraphrase): Carole provided a map for so many of us as young women, when we didn't really know who we were, or where we were going.

The concert was held at the Dorothy Winstone Theatre at Auckland Girls' Grammar School, which seats 790 people and was nearly full, an audience predominantly of women. The programme began with drumming from AK Samba, included readings from authors Stephanie Johnson, Karlo Mila, Fiona Farrell, Kate de Goldi and Patricia Grace, with musical interludes from the aforementioned Carmel Carroll, the women of the Gay and Lesbian Singers and the concert concluded with Jess Hawk and Hillary King singing a number of old favourites for many in the crowd.

One thrilling moment came early in the evening, when Carole introduced her honoured guest. After leading us astray with some talk of Dame Cath and Judith Tizard (who were also there), she then introduced "the woman who has been New Zealand's best Prime Minister!" The whole crowd rose to our feet to give Helen Clark a standing, stomping ovation! Those moments are marvellous; you know that the person you are applauding and celebrating has no idea you're there, but it's so good to be a part of it all.

I met Theresa and Mary-Ruth before the concert, as we'd arranged, and during the evening bumped into a number of women I haven't seen for many years, which was a great delight and something I'd anticipated would be a very pleasurable part of the evening.

I am so glad I made the effort to get there, even though at times in the last couple of weeks it has looked rather unlikely.