Spray Point Station, Marlborough
It's autumn for sure up here in the high country! We went to bed last night with rain pouring down, and first thing when I woke up, Sarah told me that it had snowed during the night. I didn't believe her at first, because the view down the valley (North) was this:
(Click on Photos to Enlarge)
But then she took me outside and pointed back up the valley:
How fantastic is that? Have I mentioned that I will never ever get tired of the amazing landscape around here?
It's one of those fantastic fall days, where the air is very chilly and a fleece and boots are necessary to go outside, but the sun is warm on your back. It's pretty cloudy and the weather is a bit moody, but I can't get enough of it. It's been almost a year and a half since we've experienced proper fall weather, and it feels great! Matt's got a fire going in the woodstove this morning and it's lovely. The family have taken off down to a bach (pronounced "batch," a small vacation house) on the Marlborough Sounds for Roland's parents' anniversary, and will be back tomorrow afternoon. We have stayed behind to care for the house and animals, and are more than happy to do so. There's something about being up here in this valley that makes me not want to drive down to town until we have to leave for good, and we love being responsible for all the animals, cleaning the house, doing laundry and various repair jobs for the family here.
It's fair to say that neither Matt or I have ever been on a farm of this magnitude and size, or with this variety (and sheer number) of animals. As such, I thought I'd give you all a run-down on the animal inhabitants of the station, which keep life here busy and interesting. I'll start with the horses, because yesterday afternoon when Jenny and I had finished canning (the peaches we had picked the day before, and a huge mess of pears--pronounced "peeuhs"--that Roland's mum had sent up with the postman), Jenny caught and saddled up 3 of the 7 paints, and we went for a ride down the valley. The horses are paints, or "coloreds" as they are called here, and are half Kaimanawa, or New Zealand wild horse, a variety that went feral after being released ages ago on the north island by the NZ army. My mount, Nellie, needed her toenails trimmed before we went, so Jenny gave Matt a lesson in hoof maintenance, and he got to act as farrier!
With the horses ready to go, off we went, me on Nellie, Matt on Flirt, and Jenny on Mischief, who is in foal. I hadn't been on a horse since 1997, and had never ridden English style (I was actually on Roland's dad's old stock saddle) and the horses were feisty, but we did just fine. Nellie did not take well to being behind Flirt, so would break into a trot at every chance in order to get ahead, but answered well when I reigned her in. If you've never been on a trotting horse, I'm here to tell you that it's mighty uncomfortable! We had a great time though, riding down through the paddocks to the crystal clear river (which is muddy again this morning after the rain), and enjoying being on horseback for the first time in a long time!
I thought we would have looked a little more badass had we had tall boots and brim hats, but I'm really not complaining. Look at that view!
Besides the horses, the human family of four, two goldfish and Chico the cat, Spray Point is also home to the following:
Pretty the Calf
30some-odd beef cattle
A flock of doves
An assortment of geese
Three Guinea hens
Princess Jasmine, the most patient kitten on earth (any guesses as to which member of the family named her?)
One magpie (used as a decoy for shooting other magpies- they are an invasive species here)
Half a dozen lorikeets (just for kicks :)
Mr. Pig, aged 17. He was found as a (wild) piglet on the side of the road and given to Jenny and has been a pet and kitchen scrap disposal ever since. Note the tusks (he is actually very friendly)
Two pairs of Amherst Pheasants, kept just to have some nice color around.
Four Red Shaver hens.
And of course the many, many sheep.
And, because there might not be enough photos in this post already, here's a few more bits and pieces of life here:
Could you ask for a cooler location?