Baby is crawling already! He’s been getting around for a few weeks already, pulling himself along on his tummy by his arms, but today he’s nearly given that up in favor of crawling the normal way. This is the earliest we’ve had one crawling–he is 5 months and 22 days, about 3 days earlier than our previous earliest. Looks like a busy life ahead, if this is any indication.
I keep thinking about things to blog about, but real life keeps getting in the way. So, here are a bunch of pictures to give you a glimpse into the past couple of weeks.
Almost crawling!Gayle and the boys built the framework for raised beds on Saturday.
We were peacefully working on finishing school around noon today, when someone knocked on the door. It was our next-door neighbor, and she had 8 chicks in a bucket. Something had killed their mother this morning, probably a stoat, and she didn’t have time to raise them. Did we want them, and two more that were running around in their paddock? Sure–we’ll take any unwanted animal! (Except a dog.) She took two of the boys with her to catch the last two chicks, and ran to town for me to pick up some feed for them, because I don’t have the van today. I worked on fixing up a home for them. We couldn’t find the hanging light socket we’ve used before for baby birds, so I improvised with a couple of hot water bottles. The younger boys found wood chips and made a water and food dish out of peanut butter jars (plastic) and we are all set! There is a cheerful cheeping sound in the living room now.
Last evening I came into the living room and found Gayle and the two youngest at the piano. The second-youngest had told his daddy that he wanted to sing him “a beautiful song”. Totally spontaneously, he was singing, “Jesus is on the cross” and playing the piano to accompany himself. It was so sweet that I grabbed the camera to record the scene! The blurry places in the video are just because the light was dim.
After our hike around the Kaikoura Peninsula Sunday, when we were waiting for Gayle to bring the van back around to pick us up, the children who were with me, and I, were quite amused by the sounds of the shags going to bed in the tree above us. A shag is a large bird that lives along the coast; I think they eat fish. They sleep in trees, and when each one comes in for the night they apparently have to discuss the day! The sounds they make are so funny that I tried to capture them in this video so you can enjoy it, too.
We had an adventure Sunday! It was such a lovely day that after leaving church at 2:00 we went to the Kaikoura Peninsula to walk on the rocks. Gayle has been wanting to walk around the Peninsula again, but we weren’t sure what the tides were. When we got there, however, it became apparent that the tide was going out, so we took off from the north side of the Peninsula, and walked around to South Bay at sea level. It’s quite a long, strenuous walk, but beautiful! We made it to the other end around 5:00. Gayle went ahead of us the last little ways and then he and two of the boys hurried up the cliff to the trail on top and across to where we had left the van, then came back to get us.
The tide was still high enough we had to be fairly close to the cliffs, and the seaweed on the rocks that were in shadow was extremely slick. We had to search for dry places to walk on. Lots of energy at the beginning!
Simon climbed halfway up that high cliff! He climbed several hills on the way, and at the end ran back across the top of the Peninsula to catch up to his dad, who was on the way back for our van. Incredible energy, there.
More seals, and a shag grooming. At the base of the cliff ahead of us is where we first came very close to seals–like, on the trail! Seals can be quite dangerous; if they bite you can get a very bad infection. Don’t go between a seal and the water, and don’t threaten them! Signs are posted saying to stay 10 meters (30 feet) from seals.Our protector going ahead to scout for seals.
We’ve had some interesting experiences with cows the last two months. First, some background information. Here in New Zealand, dairying is seasonal. Cows are all dried off in May and they calve in August, for the most part. During their dry period, in the winter, they are generally trucked to an area away from their home farm, to give the paddocks there a rest. Our landlord boards dairy cows from a couple of farms near Culverden, and he says it’s very good pay. He had 700-800 cows on his home farm, and around 100 on this farm. The beginning of July, one of the cows at his place “slipped her calf”–it was born dead about a month early. She bagged up, so he brought her over here for us to milk. She was here for three weeks, and we had a few circuses with her (she wasn’t used to being handled), but she was tame as a kitten compared with a couple of others we tried to milk!
The second week of August, one of the cows here calved. She had an enormous udder, so he said we could milk her. We spent two hours one Sunday afternoon, trying to tie her up! She jumped three fences before we could get a rope around her neck, and then it still took an hour to tie her tight enough to milk. During that time, she sent me flying once with her head, and by the end of that ordeal she was charging anyone who came close, and pawing hay up over her back like a bull when anyone so much as looked at her! She stayed tied up in a shed here for nearly a week till our landlord’s son was able to figure out how to untie her and get her back out with the mob.
Several days after that circus, our landlord asked me if I’d like to come over to their place to milk a cow whose calf had died. He has a headgate there, so we figured it wouldn’t be too hard to milk her. He put a rope on her hind foot so she couldn’t kick–but she did anyway! Soon, she was seemingly trying to kill herself and us! They put a strap around her belly to hold her up to the side of the chute she was in, but she laid down anyway. So much for that cow–after I left and the landlord let her go she was charging at him!
By now, I’ve had it with Friesiens. I’ve really been enjoying my sweet, gentle Jersey! I can walk up to her and lead her around by her halter anywhere I want to and she can be tied with a light string and stay put!
Yesterday, our landlord offered us another cow. This one has been in a paddock by herself close to his house for three months, ever since she hurt her foot on the truck coming over here from the dairy farm. Her leg is in such bad shape that when the last of the cows were loaded up and sent back yesterday her owner said to shoot her. She had calved the day before and had so much milk that our landlord decided to keep her, and kept back another bull calf that had been born there to put on her. He offered her to us to milk, and brought her and two calves over today. Her leg was so bad that she couldn’t get on the horse float, so they used this makeshift platform to bring her. She fell down on the way here, and I’m guessing she hurt her udder; there is blood in the milk. Hope that clears up soon.
Yesterday the sun shone! We’ve had several weeks of mostly rainy days, so when it was nice yesterday I challenged the children to finish their schoolwork by 11:00. Everyone was done by 11:30, so we went to the beach for a little while. We wanted to be home by 1:00 to be around when our landlord’s son came over to work with a wild cow that was here, but the beach is less than 15-minute’s drive away so we can go for just a short time.
A cold wind was blowing off the Pacific, so we didn’t stay out there very long. I told the boys to see who could find the most interesting item washed up along the high-tide line, and they came up with some good ones. There was part of a horse mussel shell with barnacles on it, a sponge attached to a shell, and a clump of several different seaweeds with various shells through it. The 2-year-old collected a lot of sponges. (When his Daddy came home from work, he wanted to show him his “seahorses”!)
After spending awhile on the beach, we went to the playground on the other side of the bluff. There is just enough of a rise of land to break the wind, and it was lovely and warm there. Some of the boys just climbed around, but most of them spent time one time or another figuring out how to balance the seesaw with their various weights. A seesaw, by the way, is a great way to learn how a balance scale works, and how you can use your weight on a lever in different ways!
No, we don’t normally have goats in the house. But, this morning, as we were nearing the end of the day’s school (thankfully!) the boy who had finished first came running in, telling his sister that she had a present in the barn. Of course, we knew immediately what he meant, since when she checked the goats this morning she came in saying that Cocoa was getting pretty close. Sure enough, when we went out a pretty little doe kid was being cleaned off. Soon, a buck kid joined little Spice, but the mama didn’t seem interested in him. We brought Spice in the house to try to get mama to clean the second kid, and after awhile went back out to milk her to feed the kids. The mama doesn’t seem very interested in the babies, which is all right with us, as we were planning to bottle feed them anyway so we get a little more milk. The buck does have Esther a bit concerned, though–he won’t eat much. Spice is eating plenty, though–nothing wrong with her. The children named the buck Captain Cook, since he was exploring around the barn as soon as he was on his feet.
One thing I love about homeschooling is the creativity the children get the opportunity to exercise. For his birthday last week, Simon wanted candle wicks–his current interest (at least, one of his current interests!) is making candles. The wicks came today, and he wanted to try out an oil lamp, like people used in Bible times. I gave a tiny bit of direction–and permission–and he did the work. He used a large mussel shell, filled it with cooking oil, and submerged a wick in it. It works! I wasn’t sure what would happen when he lit it, so made him try it outside on a metal pan, and had a tub of baking soda close. No problem–it burned perfectly and safely.
Update: Several minutes after I posted this, someone went outside and noticed the cats lapping up the oil! So, if you try this, don’t leave it where your cats can reach it.