Changes at the Vineyard

I’ve been shamed into blogging more regularly by Richard Riddiford, aka The Riddler, or Rangatira Richard, boss of Palliser Estate, who boasted to me yesterday that he has been blogging more than me . Which isn’t strictly true, because he has a bevy of authors (and as I pointed out to him, somewhat churlishly, he can blog as much as he likes, it still won’t make his grammar correct).

But spring has sprung at last (even though we still have bitterly cold winds) and with it new babies. Rowan Hoskins, our vineyard manager, and his fiance Brooke, have a new daughter, born last week. Her name is Indigo Marie and Rowan said today she’s very cute.

Jane Cooper, our winemaker, and her partner Lesley, one week before Rowan, also had a wee girl, and they’ve named her Vita Florence. Jane is over the moon, calling her daughter a “little angel”. I bet she won’t want to get back to winemaking so quickly now she has a beautiful little time waster to cuddle all day.

I doubt these brand new parents would like to be in the same blog as animal producers, but we are down on the farm, and there are lambs everywhere. Mike and Nikki were house-sitting again in August and September and Mike took these fabulous shots of Redbank.

The ducks are hiding their eggs, though I do manage to find more than enough to make cakes to keep the local fund-raisers happy. I made six cakes for the St Andrews Church fair, plus a large batch of muffins, and sold duck, hen and bantam eggs as well. Now I’m making cakes and freezing them for the rose show, where the Wharekaka Ladies’ Auxiliary (of which I’m a member) have a stall, on November 6th. When we went to America for two weeks, we came home and found a duck’s nest with 45 eggs in it. Amazingly, most of them were still okay. But now one of the ducks is laying eggs with no shell, just a tough, but bendy, membrane. And, curses, they keep laying eggs in their pond. Water-births.

Meanwhile, the bantams are laying like crazy. Pip and her two children Mikki and Nikki (whose little eggs can be hard-boiled and served up as quail eggs and your guests will never know the difference) give me three eggs a day.

While Squeak (not his real name) continues to strut his stuff, beautiful bantam rooster that he is.

Smitty and Lily came through the winter a bit thin, but now they’ve been wormed, and are on some nice supplementary feed (called KoolAid), they’re looking sharper. This photo was taken a couple of months ago when they still had their covers on, but this morning when I went out with the buckets, they both galloped down the slopes and up through the trees to greet me.

And ending on a sad note, Ki, the lovely retired beardie huntaway I was given by Farmer Pete, had to be put down. She had a bleeding nose which wouldn’t get better and it turned out she had a brain tumour. Her breathing over the weeks got more and more laboured and we thought she might have a barley grass stuck in her sinuses. But then one day it was obvious (I won’t go into the gory detail) that she was badly ill. I took her into the vet, fearing the worst. In the waiting room, she rested her head on my lap, as if to say, “I know this is harder for you than for me,” and she wagged her tail and looked up at me. So brave. The vet said it’s time. So now I have two little boxes of ashes on my hall table – Taja’s and Ki’s. RIP Ki, you were a very good friend.

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