No visit to New Zealand would really be complete without a story of some sheep, now would it??
Yes, I can hear all you Aussies laughing fit to kill!
This is a pic of my almost-85 year old Aunt's pretty garden. She does it all herself, & also has a huge backyard.
There are 2 old sheep she tends to, that normally live in the vacant piece of land next to her house She owns the land, but not the sheep 'tennants'.
One sheep is an old Ewe, the other an old Wether- A wether is a castrated ram, & this one is an ex pet lamb, who won many ribbons, but of course, outgrew his status as 'pet lamb' & could not be sent off to the 'works', because he was loved. So he came to live next to my Aunt. The Ewe loves the old chap, & she trots about after him.
During the Winter when the grass dies down a bit in the vacant paddock, my Aunt allows the sheep to graze in her back yard. She has more Rhododendrons in the backyard, & she suspects the silly old sheep had been eating them. I think there is something toxic in the Rhododendrons which would affect the nervous systems of the sheep, & the old Wether kept getting himself cast. -which means he would lie down, & be unable to get himself up again.
As my Aunt suffers from Diabetes she has to be very careful of her legs, & her skin is now paper thin. She would go & get the old boy up onto his feet again, & off he would trot.
He was a bit inclined to kick out, so my Aunt should not have been near him really, but she has a very soft heart.
My cousin is a Shearer, & he often calls to see his mother is OK. The old Wether loves my cousin- a fact which he makes unsavoury jokes about!!
The sheep had been grazing in the paddock over the road from our Aunt's for some time, & their wool was full & heavy, so our cousin decided he would shear them whilst we were still staying with our Aunt.
This first pic is of my brother helping to get the old wether lined up for our cousin to shear. The peaked hill in the distance almost above my brother's head, is called Kahu, & it gets covered in snow sometimes. I had confused the name with Titiraupanga, which in fact is in the opposite direction- I stand corrected by my brother, who spent a couple of years living with my Aunt & Uncle on the farm, which was not far from where my Aunt lives now.
Our cousin shore the old wether first. It got quite hot, so he took off his heavy woollen shirt to shear the old Ewe. He said they were both better behaved than they normally are, & didnt kick & perform as usual.
As children we spent many school holidays staying with our Aunt & Uncle & cousins. They had a sheep farm, & there would often be orphan lambs for us to care for. O how I loved those little woolly creatures, & the cousin you see here, & I, were the ones who spent most time on the little things, desperate to save their lives.
My uncle would bring their limp little bodies home across the saddle of the horse, & we would set about warming them & getting mild for them to drink.
One particular little lamb we called Tommy, & he was a strange little deformed lamb.
My cousin & I were determined Tommy would live, & he did, but was always a very odd little runt, who had one ear that always hung low, & he walked with a limp. I suppose nature would have despatched him, but we interfered in his fate.
He lived a long life, & could never be taken to the 'works' - our uncle used to laugh & say he would be ashamed to let anyone see such a weird looking little creature. My Aunt never wanted him to be in the road paddocks, in case anyone saw him, & thought what dreadful sheep they were breeding.
My cousin the shearer is still a softy about animals, & he is quite gentle with them when he shears them.