Cleaning a fence

Sometimes renovation just means cleaning.

On the weekend, my partner and I tackled the back fence. It had clearly never been cleaned in a long time. There was an old trellis supporting some scrawny, nondescript plants, and the wood was covered in green mossy built up from years of neglect.

I snipped off the daggy old metal trellis with a pair of bolt cutters. The cutters made short work of the old plastic-coated metal. Bolt cutters are one of my favourite tools – I always feel like a superhero when I’m bolt-cutting something!

My other favourite tool is a sledgehammer 🙂

Usually I like to salvage materials where possible, but the trellis was probably 30 years old, and no good for anything except disposal, being plastic-coated. It has gone to landfill now.

I left the old fencing nails that had been used to attach the trellis in the fence. They were well nailed in, and pulling them out might damage the fence. Besides, they blended in and didn’t bother me too much once the trellis was gone.

Sometimes it’s better to leave old nails in place. If I’d desperately wanted to remove them, a quick snip at the elbow with bolt cutters before teasing the ends out with pliers would do the trick.

The old plants were snipped apart with a pair of secateurs (they weren’t very big plants!), and went into the compost, not being large enough to burn.

One of the plants was a rose, so I cut it down to the base, and will dig up the root stock and transplant it.

A job for another day!

The rose bush and other plants hadn’t been pruned in a long time and were no good. I’ve saved the rose root stock though, and will transplant it elsewhere.

The water blaster was the perfect tool for the job of fence-cleaning and removing all the green built-up.It was pretty filthy!

Half the back fence done. My partner Matt got a bit bored and started “drawing” with the water blaster in the moss build up. Could’ve been worse – at least it was just a number!

There! Two hours later it’s much better!

Looks like a new fence now! So much better!

Just one afternoon of work can make a huge difference.

Looking after a house and garden and keeping them in good order is often just a matter of easy jobs performed regularly.

It’s also a matter of having the right tools. A water blaster made this job really easy, but if we didn’t have one, we’d have used scrubbing brushes and soapy water – plus elbow grease.

Over the next year we have our work cut out for us. We’ll be painting the entire house, inside and out, and remodelling a bathroom that is truly antiquated. Plus we’ll be doing a lot of gardening, making our outdoors a lovely place to be.

I’m looking forward to all of it!

Experience, not things

Christmas has been and gone. The tree is down and the decorations are back in their boxes. It’s a new year already.

My partner had a few days off after New Years Eve, so we took the time to go down to one of my favourite beaches, Aramoana, for a walk.

The day reaffirmed for me that our lives should be spent enjoying experiences, not stuff. We’re here on this earth to love each other and spend time enjoying the natural world.

aramoana beach

Aramoana is a beautiful beach, a short drive away from Dunedin.

We’re not here to fight each other over the next after-Christmas door buster sale!

At Aramoana, we walked along the spit to the very end.

the spit, aramoana, dunedin

View along the spit, Aramoana, Dunedin, New Zealand

There was a family of wild sealions basking in afternoon warmth, barely ten feet from where we stood.

Sealions, Aramoana, Dunedin

Sealions on the spit, Aramoana, Dunedin

About a dozen of them, some resting, barely opening an eye to us.

sealions, aramoana

Relaxed sealions, enjoying the afternoon.

They were obviously really used to seeing humans. But it made me think about how relaxed they all were, compared with how stressed most people are at this time of year!

sealions, aramoana

Up close and personal with beautiful wild animals.

I also thought about how lucky we are to have such beautiful animals here in New Zealand. They’re national treasures. World treasures.


They’re also called “dogs of the sea”. I can see why!

I was there, on a practically empty beach, enjoying this amazing experience, while most people were probably at home watching the telly, unaware of what was right outside their door.

black swans

We also saw black swans and other wild birds.

Maybe it’s time we start treasuring our experiences more, and our stuff a little less, don’t you think?

Happy new year.

Twin lambs! :)

We had twin lambs born on the weekend. I’m guessing only their mother can tell them apart 😉

Our twin lambs, Joshua and Chocolate.

Our twin lambs, Joshua and Chocolate.

My son named them – a girl and a boy – Chocolate and Joshua. The chocolate one is absolutely adorable, and both are feeding well.

The twins with their mum. That's Sonia the lamb in the background.

The twins with their mum. That’s Sonia the lamb in the background.

As usual, lambs come in a rush when they finally come! I think we’ll be expecting more very soon, then it’ll be all done, and then we sit and watch them double in size overnight.

First of the spring lambs :)

The first of our Spring lambs has arrived.

It’s a wee blackface girlie and we’ve named her Sonia, after world record powerlifter Sonia Manaena, who lives just down south of us in Invercargill.


I mean, if you’re going to name a lamb, why not name her after an incredible New Zealand athlete!

Anyway, Sonia seems to be doing well, and feeding well, and now we’re wondering when the next lambs will arrive. Usually we get a rush all at once, and certainly one of the other ewes is so fat she’s practically waddling around the property!

Sonia's mum Gabby giving her a kiss...

Sonia’s mum Gabby giving her a kiss…

It’s always lovely when the lambs arrive, but this time it has a hint of sadness about it, because if everything goes well, this will be our last spring at the farm, and my last time we have lambs. I’ll miss it.

Sonia says hello to the other sheep

Sonia says hello to the other sheep

This time next year I don’t know where I’ll be living – it’ll be somewhere in town, but I won’t have lambs, or a farm. It’s what we’re planning, but I’ll miss the joy of Spring.

New Zealand is chasing a new flag…

We’re down to four “finalists”. They all pretty much suck, and three of the four look like they were designed by committee.

I like #hypnoflag, in the bottom left...but then, I'm a bit of a stirrer ;)

“One of these kids is not like the others…” 😉

Of course, we’ve seen them all before, and none are exactly new:


I’m favouring the black and white swirl, which has been dubbed #hynoflag by the wags on Twitter. It took a while, but it’s growing on me.

Maybe it just took a while before I learned to obey?

It’s been pointed out that three of the four also look like an amalgamation of the logos of the two major political parties of New Zealand, Labour and National.

Maybe that’s why the Flag Committee, primarily made up of members of the two, has selected three of the four designs…


Personally, I think there are better options available. Here are some of the flag designs that didn’t make the final cut:

I like the Kiwi with the laser eyes.

I like the Kiwi with the laser eyes.

Why ditch the original flag?

The current New Zealand flag is outdated and really doesn’t represent us well. For starters, we keep getting mistaken for Australia:

The Australian flag (left) and the New Zealand flag (right). Spot the difference.

The Australian flag (left) and the New Zealand flag (right). Spot the difference.

When Mother England was dealing out the flags, she didn’t really pay too much attention to such things as individuality and national identity. Besides, everyone knew that Australia and New Zealand were practically the same country anyway. So why not just give them the same flag? 😦

Of course, the whole thing is a distraction. As it’s been pointed out.


In the end, I think we should go with a flag that best represents the interests of our leaders:


The aurora australis…

For the last few evenings, the aurora australis, the southern lights, have been visible in our skies.

It’s a stunning sight.

The aurora australis, as seen in central otago, New Zealand.

The aurora australis, as seen in central otago, New Zealand.

I’ll be out looking for the lights tonight. The sky is clear, it has been frosty and bright, and the stars have had that blue-white twinkle they old get when it is very, very cold. Perfect viewing weather for the lights.


We’re nearly 46 degrees south of the Equator. Next stop for us, apart from the town of Invercargill, is Antarctica. So it’s not surprising we can see the lights at various times during the year.

Sometimes we forget how beautiful this world is. But when we remember, we cherish it all the more.

Images of the Aurora Australis from BackpackerGuide.Nz.

Of snow, fat sheep, and lambs on the run…

It’s a snowy day outside.

The view from my bedroom...cold and white!

The view from my bedroom this morning…cold and white!

We’re still in the middle of winter, although lambs are starting to appear around the area. We’re waiting on ours still, and the sheep are wider than they are tall, which tells us that it won’t be too long!

The ram we had in was a blackface, and very handsome, so we’re hoping any lambs we get will also be lovely and black-faced (our sheep are bitzers), and that our stock will be improved by the new genetics coming in.

The ram we got in a few months back (named Ramone), and our flock of mixed breed sheep.

The ram we got in a few months back (named Ramone), and our little flock of mixed breed sheep.

I’m looking forward to the lambs coming. There’s nothing as much fun as seeing them jump around on the hillside, playing tag with each other and running around in little gangs. Here’s a great (short) BBC presentation about how lambs behave when they’re a few weeks old and get brave enough to leave their mothers. It’s right on the mark:

I’ll let you all know when our lambs arrive, and there will be lots of pics. In the meanwhile, stay warm, everyone here in frosty New Zealand!