Lambs and Flowers…It Must Be Spring!

new zealand lamb

We’re 11 days into Spring and it’s been a mixed bag so far. The nights are still quite cold with lows in the high 30’s and daily highs have been in the low 60’s. The sun feels quite hot when you’re in it (or maybe I’m just becoming accustomed to the cold). By far, it’s my favorite time of year here. It means I can plant flowers and my veggie garden starts to show signs of life again!

Some of the first lambs appeared on a friend’s vineyard so I took the opportunity to go see them. They always run if you get too close. I heard a mother snort at her baby when I got near and it stood up and bolted by her side. No cuddling possible, unfortunately. Their thick, saggy coats allow for fast expansion as these lambs grow quickly over the course of the next couple of months.

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Snow still on the mountains
Snow still on the mountains

Folks here use the sheep to “mow” the grass and they do a great job! It’s also a wonderful way to get free fertilizer for the vines. They have to shift them to different paddocks because they run out of grass to eat pretty quickly.

I’ve found a TON of mantis egg sacks all around the property and keeping a close eye on them. There were some early hatchlings, which I know know were not new emerges because I found a SUPER tiny one yesterday…only about a millimeter long. I plan on bringing in an ootheca (egg sack) and trying to ‘incubate’ it so I can watch the babies. I’ll have to free them soon thereafter though so they don’t starve or eat each other!

baby mantis

baby mantis

baby mantis

We went to my favorite park, which always seems to change. This time there were huge camellia trees which I had never noticed before (not even sure how that was possible) and the roses had all been cut back.

Bee inside a camellia bloom
Bee inside a camellia bloom
roses at pollard park
Rose garden

The weeping willows were starting to bud.

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Here are some photos of flowers on this magnolia tree showing a few stages of blooming. It needs that furry coat to keep warm during the frosty nights!

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The flowers were all smiling up at the sun!

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I had to say hi to my favorite huge tree.

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The acorns are gigantic, I almost thought they were peanuts!

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These odd looking flowers look very different from anything I’ve seen in the U.S.

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The golf course was looking immaculate as always.

pollard park golf course

As we approached the gazebo, all of the ducks and seagulls were enjoying being fed or simply hanging out in the nice weather. The duck was floating close to his girlfriend and the sun caught his colorful emerald green head perfectly! The water is so clear you can’t even tell it’s there!

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Kudos to the folks who keep this park looking so beautiful! I always look forward to going there. Hopefully the nice weather will get us out more and I’ll be able to blog a little more often!

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Year Three

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Well here I am, at my three year anniversary since leaving Texas and my old life behind. I recall lying in bed in Costa Rica the first night I was there wondering how long I would last. At that time, I only planned one year ahead. I knew I wouldn’t give up for at least a year, but where I would actually be was anyone’s guess. If I would have had a crystal ball and saw that three years later I would be living in New Zealand, I probably wouldn’t have believed it. Yet, here I am, no longer moving every couple of weeks — comfortable and happy.

It’s Easter here today, but you wouldn’t have known it. I’ve been out in the vineyards before harvest takes place, trying to catch a last glimpse of the grapes. The leaves are starting to change color which makes for some fantastic photos. I hope you enjoy them and thanks again to everyone who still supports what I’m doing!

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Grape Expectations

Marlborough Vineyards

After Christchurch, I took a 4 1/2 hour bus ride up to the Marlborough region…famous for it’s wines. The ride was good and I got to see the countryside which was starkly different from Otago. There were actually trees and the weather turned noticeably warmer. This is gonna be a good place, I just know it.

We made a stop in Kaikoura, which in the Maori language means crayfish. It was a pretty little town with a lot of history behind it.  We saw some people walking in wet suits from doing a seal dive. The place is known for its whale watching and dolphin encounters. It also had two separate mountain ranges very close to one another.

Kaikoura

IMG_4630The rocky beach looked toward the snow capped mountains. I love how I never seem to see trash on these beaches, unlike in Central America. The water seems so clean and the air is unbelievably fresh. It really is living up to the hype as far as I can see. The people are happy and friendly. They’re straightforward and polite at the same time which I love.

After another couple of hours, vineyards started popping up and I knew we were getting close. Never having been to California before, I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as vineyards went or what this place would look like. Blenheim was where I’d be staying for the next week on a house sit for a guy who owns a vineyard. Apparently, the ones I first saw on the way in. 35km later, I arrived at the bus depot and was promptly picked up by a former employee of his.

I felt like I was back in Costa Rica for a while there. In his yard there were orange, mandarin, grapefruit and lemon trees!  All with fruit on them! He had a veggie garden with a nice selection of lettuce, onions, celery, kale, cabbage and more. I even spotted a passion fruit vine growing up the side of a building.

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He had some vines on his property as well so I went out and took some pictures. The sunset that night was great too.

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He got a friend of his to take me around on client calls today which was great. I got to see a lot more of this region and you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a vineyard. It was carpeted with newly sprouting vines everywhere I looked. The region is famous for its Sauvignon Blanc wine.

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Yealands

We stopped by Yealands Winery which was unbelievable. This guy is doing it right and he has a ton of land to prove it. He is operating at zero carbon, reusing dead grapevines, playing music out in the vineyard and has chook houses scattered everywhere. In 2011, his sauvignon blanc won a top award in a highly prestigious competition. Not to mention, he has a killer view.

Part of Yealands vineyard
Part of Yealands vineyard

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View from Yealands
View from Yealands

No day would be complete without finding some puppies! We had a slight mishap on one of the vineyards but it led us to discover some brand new pups. I hadn’t held one that small in a long time…they were adorable.

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I found out that this pond I took a picture of the day before near the house also belonged to Yealand. The pink stuff is some kind of algae I believe.

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This was my lunch the other day at Rock Ferry winery. All I can say is, GO. Like, go tomorrow if you can swing it.

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