Saturday 28 December 2013

Southern Hospitality

Well here’s another first for us. If anyone had told me last Christmas that we’d be parked at a dump station at 7am next Christmas morning I would have said “yeah right!” But that is exactly where we were on Wednesday morning. Christmas day dawned cold & wet here in Invercargill but we were up with the sparrows as we had a date with the grandkids beside their beautifully decorated Christmas tree & monster stack of presents that we wanted to see them open.

We’ve been parked up in the holiday park for the last 12 days and our tanks were full and they needed to be emptied before we headed to the farm later in the morning. The park’s dump station was too tight to get our fifth-wheeler into so we had to find a public dump station close by. There we were driving through a deserted Invercargill inner city looking, firstly for a non-existent station & then locating another one not too far from Rach & Cams’ house.

Duties done we arrived to find two very excited children who had been patiently waiting for us to arrive so they could get started on the second sitting of present opening, they had already opened their Santa sacks on waking. It was fun to watch them attack & demolish the pile of parcels under the tree and see the expressions on their faces as they jumped about & exclaimed excitedly “Wow, I asked Santa for one of those!”, “Look what I’ve got” etc before quickly moving onto the next present Mum handed them.  There was a bit of an interlude when everyone vacated to the bathroom & bath to help fill the bean bags with “beans”. Hmmm…..that went well. Not.  

Santa, Mum & Dad, grandparents, aunties & uncles all did very well in their gift choices this year. I think there’s something extra special about Christmas when there are children involved, especially young children, you can’t beat the excitement & that sparkle in their eyes.  

After a lovely cooked breakfast & a tidy up we headed out to the farm, it was still raining so rather than cut up the grassed area we backed the fifth-wheeler up to the front door which proved to be very handy in transporting food into the house & conducting “tours” of the van! 
What a fabulous day we had, Darnelle & James did a wonderful job in making us all feel very welcome. And the food was outstanding, the ham cooked to perfection, everyone pitched in and there was more than enough to feed 19 hungry mouths for Christmas dinner & tea later in the evening.
And I have to mention the Gingerbread House, this amazing piece of "art" was made from scratch by Bayley, Darnelle & James' eldest daughter. She is obviously as talented as her Mum & I can see why she'd like to be a chef when she leaves school. I don't think I'd have the patience to make this & if I did I certainly wouldn't want anybody to eat it!

Everyone stayed the night in a range of accommodation; a motorhome, a fifth-wheeler, a tent, the lounge room floor & of course bedrooms in the house itself. It was great that we were able to drift off to our own beds when we were ready to retire, some a lot earlier than others. And even thought it rained solid for most of the day the tent was nice & dry inside for the family, thankfully they put it up earlier in the week.

After a slow start for us the next morning, (others were up early cooking breakfast- poor Darnelle) we went on a tour of the farm which both David & I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a whole different world to the dairy farm I was brought up on.
I took the following photo on the way home because suddenly it all made sense after James offered information on why a lot of hay bales are spaced at regular intervals across paddocks. The paddocks are usually planted in a fodder crop like swede for winter food (this one hasn't been ploughed & planted yet) During winter the paddock would be electric fenced in strips every few days & two (or more) evenly spaced hay bales opened up to provide feed for the herd along with the swedes in that strip. This way there's no carting the bales back & forward from another storage area & because it's usually very wet in winter there's less topsoil removal & wear in the paddock from vehicle movement. Brilliant! Except they are a type of visual pollution dotted all over the countryside.....oh well, you can't win 'em all *wink* < that one's for James.

I might be a farm girl at heart but just to make sure I didn’t get too cocky I got a belt from the electric fence when I was taking photos of these gorgeous Murray Grey calves that were in the house paddock.  I did try to open the gate but it seemed to be tied shut so I climbed over the fence. That was ok, I got into the paddock without realising the wire around the wooden railings was live; it was when I was climbing back out I got a shock! Ye-owl! That’s 3 belts this year; the previous two when I was stalking rare brown teal ducks in the Coromandel.


Aren't they the cutest things out, I love Murray Grey cattle, they look so soft & cuddly, their hair looks like down & those eyes just melt your heart.
One of the chooks (chicken) that provides the family with those elusive fresh free range eggs I keep looking for!
Thanks so much for your hospitality Darnelle & James, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and had a fabulous time.

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