Poppy and Jezebel love summer, but not for the reasons you might think. Sure there are nice hot sunny days, lots of new sweet grass and long balmy nights but there is something else that they think is even better - Guests. Yes, every night lots of potential new friends come to stay at the hotel and the goats believe that it is their duty to greet them all.
Poppy is the bolder, more friendly goat and she takes this job very seriously. She is not shy about walking into a camper van or tent if I don't keep a sharp eye on her. Her efforts often result in people finding a crust of bread, cracker biscuits or a potato chip (Poppy's very favourite food) so by the end of the summer my goats are very friendly indeed! Jezebel is a little more polite and waits for Poppy to get lured (or chased) out before adding her greeting.
Sometimes you don't need to be in a campervan for the goats to be interested. Simply opening a car door can be invitation enough for Poppy to jump in. This is possibly my fault because when I come home from town Poppy often jumps into the car to check out the bags of groceries. It started as a game to teach the goats to jump in the car but Jezebel isn't so easily bribed, so now rummaging in the groceries is Poppy's weekly treat.
There is another reception committee often found in Hari Hari, one that is not so cute or friendly. This reception committee is also a bit more official - they wear a uniform and drive cars with flashing lights; it is the traffic police. The main street of Hari Hari is long and straight and very wide, and because of this people often speed through our town, so police target the area very heavily.
If you are caught speeding you may get a fine, but if you are going very fast you are likely to have your car impounded. This summer several people have found this out the hard way as they lose their rental car and are faced with the challenge of replanning their holiday in a place with very limited transport options. If this happens to you you will find that we are not all that sympathetic to your fate. You see children ride their bikes on this road, cars and trucks turn on and off it, I walk my goats down it. We all have an expectation that the traffic will be travelling at the speed limit. There has already been one death on the main road caused by a speeding driver, we really don't want another one.
So if you are travelling through Hari Hari please slow down, look around you and enjoy the rest of your holiday, without an interruption from our "official" reception committee.
A little while back I had a group staying at the hotel. They had come down to see the white herons and after their trip I was talking to them about what they had seen. They all assured me that they had had a lovely time and really enjoyed themselves. Then one of the ladies told me that she was a little bit upset because her camera stopped working so she didn't get all the photos that she would have liked. I offered to have a look at her camera and found that the battery was flat. The lady had not bought her charger with her but I found some cords and set her camera up to charge. While I was doing this another lady found (to her horror) that the photos she had taken came up almost totally black. When I looked at her camera I found that she had accidently knocked the camera settings and all her photos were extremely under exposed. I managed to save most of them for her, but it was only luck that I was there at the time and could run the images through photoshop for her. This got me thinking - how many other people go on holiday and for one reason or another lose their photos? I know I have done it myself, so I thought that I would put together a basic check list for non-photographers, in the hope that this might save someone's holiday memories.
Ginga has had a long standing appointment with the vet because I am not to keen on having a wild tom cat roaming around. So far he has managed to miss every appointment, his distant relationship to the great Houdini combined with special forces training enabling him to escape and elude every attempt at capture. This time with a fairly nasty injury I was determined to prevail. I alerted the vet, borrowed a cat trap and sacrificed a tin of juicy sardines to the cause. Then with the trap set and baited I sat down to wait.
I've always thought of Ginga as a punctual sort of cat, mainly because he knows exactly when I put the goats to bed at night and the moment that the latch clicks home on the gate he appears on the deck ready for his tea. So when I returned home after a short holiday I was a bit surprised that he wasn't waiting for me. I put his absence down to the fact that it is the season for tom-cats to be a bit distracted, and expected to see him for breakfast. But he didn't turn up for breakfast either. When he missed dinner again I became a bit concerned, but Nairn assured me that Ginga had been hanging out on the deck the other night so I felt he wouldn't be too far away. Five days later Ginga turned up, desperate for food and holding out a rather mangled paw for me to inspect. I'm quite certain his meow changed to owwwwch, he certainly wasn't a happy cat and I could see a hurried trip to the vet was required. Ginga didn't agree ....
My goats are often accused of being fat. I defend their weight pointing out that they are fluffy and not as fat as they look. Although it is true that they are well fed and pampered it is also true that their size is exaggerated by a fair amount of fluff. I'm not sure why they are so fluffy, I haven't seen another wild goat with a coat like they have and they live in an insulated hut so they can't be cold, but they are ridiculously fluffy. Jezebel in particular shows off her angora lineage in winter - last spring I collected all fur she shed and had it spun in to a hat and gloves!
We've been lucky enough to enjoy several weeks of sunshine now and the goats are starting to shed and look a bit slimmer. It's just one of the many signs that spring has arrived on the West Coast, along with the lambs and the calves and the daffodils (if they avoid the attentions of my goats). The other day I even had a rescued duckling in my office for the morning! But lets face it, the West Coast isn't known for a warm and sunny spring so we don't expect these conditions to last long.
The West Coast is a particularly special and beautiful part of New Zealand but it is serviced by one main road - State Highway 6. The fact that there is only one road means that there is a lot of traffic on it, and a lot of different types of traffic too - trucks, cars, campervans, motorbikes, bicycles and livestock all use the road at various times. Often the road is narrow with sharp bends, sudden steep inclines and lots of one lane bridges. Generally people are good but driving on SH6 can be a lesson in patience.
I spend a lot of time outside watching the world go by. Normally I am accompanied by my two goats and sit somewhere where there is a lot of vegetation for them to browse. Sometimes I am also followed by Ginga who sits close to me hoping for a stray cat biscuit to fall from my pocket and at the same time keeping a wary eye out for the goats who will chase him when they see him. Sometimes while I sit and watch I'm rewarded by seeing some very random and special things.
The goats are not the only animal in my life. I also have a small ginger tom cat called Ginga. We found Ginga living under the hotel as a half grown kitten. He was totally wild and tried his hardest not to be noticed by people, but when you live in the country and have plagues of mice to deal with a cat can be quite handy to have around, so we persevered with taming him.
A year later Ginga is quite a different cat. He lives outside but delights in coming inside and rolling around on the carpet when he can. He follows me around and loves to scare the goats by dropping out of a tree as they pass by (the goats hate the tree climbing goat eating monster and chase him when ever they can). He is still wild and won't let you pat him and he is clever enough to have twice escaped from a cat trap (spoiling my plans for a trip to the vet). Ginga also has an odd habit of generously sharing his food with others.
On Friday I was lucky enough to visit the White Heron Sanctuary in nearby Whataroa. White heron are critically endangered in New Zealand and this special place is the only breeding ground in New Zealand for these birds. Access to the site is by tour only.
The tour begins with a short bus ride and a commentary about the area, local flora and fauna and the herons themselves. We then transferred to a jet boat for a ride through bush and farmland to the Sanctuary itself.
Following on from my last post I am pleased to report that YES, birds do re-use their nests, and we now have 3 eggs in "our" nest. The eggs were laid over the past 4 or so days and now the mother bird is sitting on them. I don't want to take too many photos and scare her away permanently but here is a picture of the eggs, now we just have to wait for them to hatch!
In early 2012 Penny & Nairn moved from central Wellington to South Westland. Welcome to the record of their adventures.