Life on the piece of Estancia is amping up as the days are getting slightly longer and spring is getting closer. This time last year I was living on 600sqm of manicured lawn in a two-bedroom bungalow in town with a reasonable level of sanity. Apart from an unruly Cairn Terrier, life was pretty sweet but I still had that mad hankering to get back to the country.
Late October 2019, I took possession of a 6-acre block south of Ashburton where every day as I look at the beautiful mountains from my deck, I still pinch myself and ask how did I get so lucky? Over the last nine months (that’s long enough to have created a baby), I have knocked my piece of paradise into shape. The place is now totally fenced internally, the electrics are on and the water lines are in and this spring I am ready to roll. As the farm plan has progressed over the last few months, I have started accumulating stock.
Both horses came home from agistment where they had been for the last couple of years and looking out the window at the young mare we have watched grow from a foal to a very smart three-year-old was a magic moment for me for sure. Bob Marley, that prick of a thing Shetland pony I have been trying to justify owning for 9 years came back also, and while I was thrilled to see him in the beginning he makes my life hell on a daily basis these days. His kingpin status started diminishing as the number of freeloaders started building about the place and he doesn’t like it.
Hercule and Mercule arrived as a housewarming gift from a friend – two white-faced Hereford heifer calves that were exceptionally quiet. A few weeks later Pattie another of the same turned up as a friend down the road, came to grips with the fact that the calf she had reared on her back lawn was growing rapidly and needed a home. Pattie thought she was a human, Hercule and Mercule sensed she was different and ostracized her from day one. They have never accepted her so as I feed out to my large herd of three, I counsel the victim and berate the bullies. They don’t give a shit as they charge at my wheelbarrow full of baleage and their quite natures that were a bonus in the beginning, are now a pain in the arse as they have no respect for man or beast.
I was thrilled with another gift of 9 sheep and a ram back in the autumn. Rambo the rooting ram's tenure on the property was short-lived after he took a fancy to me a number of times charging at speed from across the paddock. Never being one to tolerate shit from a male, I decided he had to go, and so I called in the reinforcements to take him out hoping like hell he had managed to impregnate the ewes before his departure. The sheep have been nothing but poking bitches - paddock lice that have roamed wherever they please between my place and the neighbours eating everything in sight – including the 50 trees I had planted on the boundary line.
Miss Marple, Serena Williams, Henny and Penny, my designer hens loved the move to the country from the city. Initially, they were so appreciative of the space their new home offered that they were well behaved and stayed within the confines of their small abode. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before they started testing the boundaries and coming onto my newly painted deck, pecking on the ranch slider door and scratching in my strawberry patch. I tolerated that while they continued to lay but not long before lockdown they all shut up shop and have been bludging ever since. In desperation, I ordered 6 new pullets to take their place and lay the axe gently at the door of the newly revamped golden palace they now call home. Two days before the new girls arrived last week would you bloody believe it an egg appeared? I don’t know who laid it and now have relented and decided to let them stay so the flock of non-producing fowls is now 10 for fucks sake.
I’m embarrassed to say there must be a bullying culture firmly entrenched on the farm that I have to stamp out. The new girls are cowering in the corner of the palace while the old girls are furious that there are invaders sharing their home, taking potshots at their youth and vulnerability with their beaks. A fine demonstration of where the phrase pecking order came from! Henny and Penny are so wild they must have left the joint late last night and at 5.45am this morning were found perched on the new stainless steel bench in the stables I have only had fitted. That went down like a fart in a spaceship as I wrestled with them in the dark to relocate them back to the golden palace before daylight this morning.
Moving under the cover of darkness is impossible once you own Kune Kune pigs I have discovered. Marge Simpson and Ginger Rodgers are like watchdogs and the slightest hint of human activity is enough to rouse them from the dead. As I walked toward the henhouse with a hen under each arm and cellphone torch to guide the way I felt like a gladiator on a mission. They were bunting and biting at my boots and squealing like banshees thinking breakfast had come early.
I’m shattered trying to keep all these mouths fed and watered and in their respective cell blocks. They are taking no notice and just when I retreat inside to my lovely home for some peace and quiet, I am met with Finlator the Terminator chasing the cat across my leather settee. The cat is marginally more athletic than the dog and so it seemed a natural progression for her to leap from the settee to the table and skid along the lace tablecloth! I feel like I did when I had little kids, I don’t get any peace anymore and have to lock myself in the bathroom to get away from them all.
What the fuck was I thinking?