Whether it’s in honour of the Milk Maid’s upcoming birthday or in order to fully enjoy the culmination of the FIFA World Cup is immaterial; what matters is that The Bean Counter is one week into a two week break. Taking into account The Renovator is also enjoying a study intermission, this all equates to some big ticket items being crossed of The List.
Number one on The Bean Counter’s “holiday” list is the maintenance of the Homestead bicycle fleet. This is an ongoing task taking into account the state of our postquake roads and the advanced age of the assemblage. Actually, that is not fair at all. The Milk Maid, Goat Herd, Bean Counter and Farm Girl pedal machines are each of twenty years plus vintage and require little more than a well-aimed squirt of oil, a tyre re-inflation and (particularly in the case of The Goat Herd’s mount) some gentle chain-guard panel beating. The same could not be said for The Renovator and Farmer’s bikes which arrived on the Homestead all shiny and new, sporting a squillion gears and fancy schmancy brakes. Apparently these days bicycles of their ilk (ie: from a reputable, specialist shop and priced accordingly, but not requiring the rider to don lycra) have an expected five year lifespan. Five years?! Pah to super-duper, flashy, sparkly new if it’s irreplaceable parts jam, seize, shear or implode in a little more than the time it takes to age some decent cheese and a drop of wine to accompany it. For us old wins every time in the Tour de Homestead.
Not that we shun the new; in fact, this week we are lauding it. You see, this week our fair Lady Felicity, as if to celebrate the later risings, shared workload and a trip to the dump that didn’t include The Milk Maid and Goat Herd press-ganging a stranger (supposedly just a friend we haven’t met yet) into backing the trailer for them, finally proved her and her species worth by becoming an egg layer. Four duck eggs in four days? Just goes to show that good things, as the Mainland cheese ad testifies, take time. Speaking of which…
With Geraldine’s still impending happy event, combined with the change in Leia’s symmetry hinting her visit to Batchelor Numbers One and Two (see Leia’s Week of It) was a success, we have been looking at the paddock with a view to maximum capacity. As Geraldine continues to expand we worry she may be incubating a goatie world cup football team. This added to Leia’s tendency to twins gives rise to a incessant niggling on our part. Whilst the paddock neighbours are awaiting the big day/s with excitement matching the ladies ever expanding bellies, we worry the paddock landlords will be less enthusiastic about the impending population explosion. You see, the paddock is not in our ownership; it is not even under some form of rental agreement. The paddock is (as the theme of this missive would suggest) borrowed. Logic decrees these reasonable folk will more than understand the necessity of kid production in the dairy aspect of goat herding, and trust us enough to keep our end of the bargain in restoring the balance in the fullness of time. On a good day, everything looks rosy.
Or blue (see what we did there?). The weather has been what you would expect one week out from the shortest day and there is a decided daily dread at the thought of dragging on the gumboots and tending the collective flock. Yet, once you are in amongst it, nose dripping and toes numb, you can’t help but feel that all is good in your ‘hood.
So this week has been all about crossing stuff off the list. Back gardens weeded: check. Farmer’s bedroom fireplace removed: Check. Brick cleaning is in progress with an aim to them forming the borders of another two front yard gardens. Old fridge transported to the Eco Depot for recycling (a job requiring trailer manipulation): check. Bikes fixed, trees pruned, fences mended, firewood split: check, checkity, check. All in all, it’s been a productive week; surprisingly so, in a way.
Because, like most lists, there are items on it that you write down in a flurry of optimistic excitement and then regret. Building an arch from the felled yew tree branches to replace the disintegrating bike shed grapevine support was a prime example of this. But this week saw the triumph of binder twine and guiding knots.
Just to labour a point ever so slightly: assembled of OLD wood, NEW to the homestead, utilising binder twine BORROWED from a variety of other Homestead projects, the pinnacle ones being, if you look very closely, BLUE in colour, we give you the latest Homestead chic.
The rustic arch – a marriage of thriftiness and desperation, and epitomising the humble words of that most famous kiwi beekeeper, Sir Edmund Hillary:
We knocked the bastard off.