Every day here gets a bit easier and a bit more enjoyable. The days have settled into a pretty familiar routine: wake up, feed lambs, breakfast, catch calves and chase their mothers to the dairy truck, feed lambs, lunch, odd job around the farm (fix a fence, take all the dead animals away, etc) feed lams, check sheep and lambs in the paddocks, and finally tea.
John lately has been doing a lot of ATV fixing. One bike broke, he fixed it, the next broke, he fixed it, and so on. I think he’s fixed all 4 bikes now and a tractor! He is on the left, Ken is on the right.
I on the other hand have been doing a lot of lamb feeding. We have 51 ‘pet’ lambs. These are the orphaned and sick. Thirty or so off them can now feed off the bucket, which is literally a bucket with 8 teats on it. These lambs are nuts. The second you walk into their pen they all swarm you and jump all over you looking for milk. They have the tendency of head butting you, which they usually do to their mothers to get milk.
The rest have to be bottle fed. It takes about two hours each time, so six hours of every day I spend feeding lambs. To make it slightly worse (it really isn’t that bad to begin with) 15 of them have diarrhea, it’s very smelly. My favorite lamb, who I’ve named Mr. W, has diarrhea (or scours, in the lingo) but he is still very cute.
Although the lambs are cute, and feeding them can be fun, my favorite part of the day is catching calves. Every morning we go check which cows have calved and then pick the calves up to take back to the shed and send the mother cows to the dairy farm. I’m not sure what it is about cows, but I like pushing them along through the paddocks. These are some pictures of John and the cows in one of the cow paddocks. John wears a full orange, water resistant, reflective suit/coverall. Very sexy.
This week has also been a little more exciting than usual. A couple days ago we went with Ken to the Scotland vs Georgia World Cup Rugby Game in Invercargill. It wasn’t the most exciting game, a lot of knock-ons and weak kicks, but the atmosphere was unreal. Everyone was cheering and dressed up. We were in the stands, and it didn’t even matter that it was raining. John, who can’t catch anything, caught a ball off a penalty kick! John said that Chris (Kel’s dad) would be proud. As all Canadians know, if you catch a puck or ball, you keep it. Not the case in NZ. He pretty much tackled a girl, ran about 20 m, and full out dove on the concrete to get it. Very sexy. When he stood up beaming and Ken told him to throw it back he was pretty bummed. We later learned that someone in the stands who took a few more seconds to throw it back was kicked out for delay of game. Good to know!
We also got part of yesterday afternoon off, about two hours before feeding. We decided to take the two wheeler, as they call it, down to the Ocean. It’s about a 15 min drive down from the farm. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and the drive was lovely, except for John’s insistence on hitting potholes. The chain popped off on one, but he put it back on and other than that the bike performed admirably. The ocean was unbelievable, it was windy and there were huge waves. Bluff, which is the mountain in the following pictures, is the most southern point of New Zealand, and the closest you can get to Antarctica. Right before the Ocean, there’s Waituna Lagoon which the farm backs onto. There are all sorts of walking trails around the lagoon. As it is a protected wetland area, there are conflicts between the environment agency in the area and the farmers. It’s hard to find a fair compromise when you can see both sides of the problem. John is holding a somewhat beat up abalone shell that we found. Those are what your hands look like after a few weeks on a sheep farm.
So now we are on to another day, and another 6 hours of feeding lambs. Hopefully no bikes break down and John can have a day off from being a mechanic (update: he is changing swing arm bearings as we speak). It’s breakfast time now so we’ll be going out to catch some calves. To give you an idea of how cute these guys are I’ll leave you with a picture of them sucking my fingers.