Farming is the life for meeeeee!!!! Hmmm...................
My hair must truly be sticking out after last Thursday's fiasco. They talk about farm stories. Nice tales of long summer days and lovely long walks out on the country road. Try that here and you'll end up getting flattened by a passing milk tanker or a four wheel drive if you walk on our roads. As for last Thursday.....ARRRGGHHHH!!!!!!!!
This is one farm story that is more liked a crazed comedy from a Laurel and Hardy show or a really bad Hong Kong Kungfu movie perhaps.
It began with our bull deciding he would go and introduce himself to some of Terry's milking herd, who fortunately were safely behind a 6 wire electric fence and well out his reach. Up we trudged to get the little sod, who of course, looked so innocent and came when he was called. Then right behind him Peter, Terry's farm manger, showed up on his quad and gave the sod a damned good rev up. Thanks to Peter we got the little beggar back behind the gates and where he should be and that should have been that..right?...wrong
I set up a new break feed. Had just gone in to have a coffee with my Mum when Sasha our old thoroughbred mare decided to have a roll and she caught her leg in the electric wire. Of course she got shocked and bolted dragging the wire with her and ripping everything out. Let's just say the words that came out of mouth needed a lot of censors in that moment. After roaring myself hoarse (excuse the pun) for the kids to turn off the fence and get their backsides up the drive to help me deal with getting back the bull and River back in - we sorted that one out...
An hour later yet again!!! Guess what? We have the entire fence ripped out, and yet again, the bull was out and in my mother's garden. By then I was ready to go and get a gun and drop him where he stood. I'm surprised steam wasn't coming out of my ears. Yet again it was up the darned hill. Fix the fence then find out why the mains fence wasn't working properly. Sorted the connections out. Poor Inaya had to stand in the cold wind with a huge stick to keep the bull off the wire while Mum stomped up and down all over the farm checking the earthing rod wires and all the connections. Finally we got the mains back on..and hoped like heck Micah stayed where he was put. So far so good..but I won't hold my breath there. If he gets out again..only one decision will be made. Into my freezer he will be going..grrrr. I'm surprised I wasn't reported for illegal nuclear meltdowns, freak storms, Co2 emissions and other environmentally unfriendly acts not to mention the cattle stick I had waving around. After this I have to admit it definitely was a bad hair day. And here's a few stories...
# Story 1
The Great Northland Phone Crisis
Worse than bad hair days right now, is the phone crisis we're having here in Northland. Some of my neighbours haven't had a phone now for over 4 weeks and they've been told they won't have their phones back on until the 8th of October - yeah if they're lucky. A phone breakdown in the capital city of Wellington that lasted a week made national headlines. The people affected did have issues with health etc. But live in Northland in scattered rural communites and outlying farms then a phone is absolutely essential. Cell phones are great - if they get reception that is.
Out here in the sticks and elsewhere that may not be an option. I'm amazed actually at how many elderly people who are sick or infirm do live out on isolated farms and rely on medical alarms to get help if they need it. Currently there is a technician's strike on after Telecom New Zealand decided that their technicians should suddenly become 'self employed' and thus fork out several tens of thousands of dollars to provide their own vans and servicing equipment and who knows what else. These guys are wage earners for goodness sake. And in typical cold corporate 90's style fashion our biggest communications provider decides to change the deal with their workers. That stinks. Because of it, now our phone systems are breaking down. We have people all over Northland with no means of communication. Have a heart Telecom and sort this mess out.
Fine for those in Wellington that make the decisions. They have great phone reception. Try living in Northland way out in the rural districts and have no phone for weeks on end. This mess has been going on since July. Now we're watching our systems break down. This is wrong to even consider making the technicians "Owner/Operators" If they can't get the finance then how the hell can they do their jobs. Ridiculous and frankly typical of decisions made in times of recession. No phone for a week is one thing. No phone for six weeks is very much another. Sort it out!
Meanwhile I'll go and get a few empty beer cans and lots of string and start preparing for when our phone line decides to break down and we wait for months to have it fixed. Either that or I could start use smoke signals to blog with. Now that's worth the considering.
Back in 2006 we decided to get the crossing over our stream sorted out. Gavin our local friendly digger contractor at the time had a look advised we'd be needing a 750mm diameter culvert pipe and he'd sort out the rest of the base for the crossing and get it all sorted out. Just one concern there. It was coming up close to winter and after seeing the stream turn into a raging torrent the winter before I figured that maybe one culvert pipe may not be enough. Nope Gavin reckoned it would handle it no worries. So into place it went and things were fine for about a couple of weeks.
July came and with it a load of heavy rain - and I mean was it heavy. That in turn caused the stream level to rise and return to one heck of a raging torrent. I went down to the crossing and checked the pipe. So far so good it seemed to be handling the ever increasingly rapid torrent. Night came and yet more heavy rain. That was not good. Morning came down I go to check if the crossing was still there. By now the water was running over the top and carving a great big groove into the lime rock and gravel covering the pipe. Not good. Yet more heavy rain in the afternoon and after that the crossing vanished. The culvert pipe now lay exposed in the stream bed and slowly but surely the rest of the lime rock and gravel was being carried away. More rain that night even heavier and lasting for hours. Nothing to do but hunker down and hope like heck everything on the farm held together and did end up slipping away into the stream like the lime rock and the gravel.
Morning, and a nice fine sunny change greeted us after 3 long days of consecutive heavy rain. Down I went once more to check the crossing. No crossing left and...no culvert pipe either. Ermm where was a rather large metal drain pipe gone then? No sign anywhere. I had to look twice. There it was sitting in the middle of out top dam of all places water flowing through it most efficiently..just one problem there it was meant to be in a crossing not some bizzarre looking industrial sculpture in the middle of a muddy dam. And there it sat for another three months. In the end we obtained a second culvert pipe had the first one retrieved by the digger then had a concrete crossing built to the grand sum of $20,000. Worth it. Now no more vanishing culvert pipes or wierd industrial sculptures to cause gossip amongst the neighbours.
Mad calves and crazy kids
I haven't had the chance to write yet about the kids starting Calf Club down at Anne and Cameron's again this year. It started just over three weeks ago with the kids showing up at the calf shed to pick their calves.
It's the usual story with the first day. Calves running around in the pen with kids doing their damnest to nab their pick. To be honest it's hilarious. And it certainly beats sitting down watching the television. Nothing better than kids having fun and learning how to handle a calf. Both Michelle and Inaya did Calf Club last year. With a year's experience under their belts, they were soon able to figure out what calf they'd like to take to their school pet days. Susan was in there shoving halters on the little toads and the kids were soon on the front end with adults shoving at the back to get the calves to move forward.
One calf has been named Piddle? (wonder why) another Wendy, Amy's daughter has named her calf Jigsaw and the list goes on. The kids are now hard at work after three weeks getting their calves prepared for the upcoming pet days for their respective schools. Three times a week I take my girls down to Anne and Cameron's for an hour so they can practice with their calves and brush them as well as doing the feed and water for them. I love this time of year when calves and kids get together and have fun. And of course there are the times when the kids get a few spills as well. Oh well, yet another 3 weeks to go to the big event then we'll see how the kids get on.
Here's a brief history from Livestock Improvement Corp.
The sad tale of Tony the Truck Stop Tiger
Some things just really are hard to understand. At a 24 hour truck stop in Lousiana, USA, lives Tony the Bengal Tiger. His owners are adamant that Tony is being well taken care of. Others say he isn't. Tony is an attraction at the truck stop. Souvieners are sold there so people that stop in can remember the famous Truck Stop Tiger. But seriously here - a tiger at a truck stop? I can understand one being kept at a wildlife park or at a zoo but in the hands of private individuals? That is madness. Tigers like any large cat aren't pets. They're apex predators, solitary by nature and normally active at night. Tony is under floodlights at night - so the darkness for him, hasn't been seen in quite some time. It's an unfortunate legacy the exotic pet trade in the USA - a search on the internet has brought up some very interesting species for private sale. In New Zealand unless you have an approved MAF Operators Licence and have facilities that comply with both the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and the regulations for zoos, and other related regulations, forget about ever having that privilege - and so it should be like that.
We don't have to read sad tales of tigers being used in 'canned hunts' so some guy with a rifle can shoot the unfortunate animal for kicks. That's not sport - it's downright cruelty. Am I against hunting? On pest species - no. I used to shoot mallard ducks once - here they're a pest and unfortunately are now out doing our own native ducks. I kill Australian Brush Tailed possums as well - because they are a major pest. Hunting pest species and killing them properly is one thing - canned hunts of exotic big cats (and other wildlife) is quite another. It should be banned as should the keeping of tigers like Tony at Truck Stops. It is wrong. Tony deserves to be at Big Cat Rescue where he will properly provided and cared for by experts who know how to take care of big cats.
Have a heart people and sign the petition to get Tony out of the Truckstop. I already have. I hope Tony's story has a happy ending. Click here to sign the petition and help get Tony out of the Truck Stop for good.