Posted by: Talie Morrison | June 30, 2010

Winter in New Zealand

Auckland Botanical Gardens

Here I am again in New Zealand – this time for winter!   Hum…  I’ve never been here for winter before.   Needless to say, being in the Southern Hemisphere, winter is June, July and August.   My friends, Myles and Margaret, are in the Northern Hemisphere visiting friends and family, and I am here housesitting at their place.   They have a small sheep farm outside of Christchurch in Lincoln.   It is a lovely spot and a wonderful farm house (definitely bigger than my truck!), and I have 40 sheep, plus two cats, a dog, and, of course, one ram to take care of.

On June 8th, I flew from LA to Auckland and spent a long weekend with Dianne.   My first impression was “Wow, is it ever GREEN in winter down here!”. So the green is incredibly beautiful; and, of course it comes from all the rain they have in the winter.   Luckily my first afternoon it was a beautiful clear day so I went for a walk around the Auckland Botanical Gardens – and not only was it green but some things are still blooming.  I was amazed at how fast the weather can go from pouring rain to sunny skies and then back to rain.    Ok, so it is cool and wet a lot of the time, but I don’t usually think of things blooming during winter!   I’m not complaining, just enjoying the beauty of it all!

Saturday morning, Dianne and I did what people all over the planet do on Saturday mornings!   They go to watch their kids learn and play team sports!   It was great – we went to see two of her granddaughters play net ball (along with kids on about 20 different teams – and that was only in one park!), then we went to watch her grandson play soccer.   It was very cute watching the little ones play so hard!   And it was great to spend the weekend with Dianne and seeing her new house!

Saturday Morning Net Ball Games

Rainbow over Dianne's new home

Then it was down to Christchurch to see Myles and Margaret.   I had 3 days to follow Myles around and learn how to take care of the sheep!   Along with the ins and outs of the house, cats and dog.

Electric Fence and "Grass Strip"

So, how does a person take care of 40 sheep in June in New Zealand?   Sheep ranching 101:   Myles has taught me how to do “strip feeding” for the sheep:   First I disconnect the electric fence, and move it a meter into the fresh grass.

Poppe helping me with the sheep

Then I let the sheep into that paddock so they can eat the new grass – and they know right where to go!   I leave them in that paddock for about an hour or two, then I get a bale of hay and lure them back into their other paddock.   They see me coming with the hay, and start heading to the gate – they know the routine and they get a little help from  Poppe (sheep dog extraordinaire!) but it has taken us a week for her to understand my commands –   The first day, I told her to “go out” pointing to the sheep, and she turned around and ran back to the house!   Oops!  So we had a little bit of work to do, but now she is working well with me!  A beautiful thing to see.  (Of course, I used a few doggie treats to get us on the same page!)

Yum - hay!

It's a little muddy - good thing I've got my "wellies"!

So winter down here isn’t bitter cold like it is back home,  but the days that are cold and wet are pretty miserable.  When it clears off, it usually goes down to a couple of degrees below freezing (remember down here I am using Celsius – so 3 degrees below zero down here is 26 degrees above zero Fahrenheit).  So it is a bit frosty on those clear mornings, but because it is clear the sun warms things up nicely and we get a beautiful day – usually going up to something like plus 10 Celsius (50 Fahrenheit).   So far, just when I get to wondering if I will ever see the sun again, a high pressure has shown up and given my mental state a reprieve!  So I am loving winter in New Zealand so far!

Hi I'm Ruby

And Hi, I'm Charlie

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Responses

  1. hi talie!
    oh how wonderful!
    i love the sheep! how fun is that!
    xoxoxo
    missy

  2. Hi Talie
    Really enjoyed your new blog. It was great to see Poppy and Ruby and Charlie.
    Take Care Love from us both

  3. Hi Talie!

    Great pictures – just as you described. how fun to be a sheep herder on the list of many wonderful hats you wear.

    love you!
    Melanie

  4. Hi Talie,

    teaching a dog american english in just one week! nice job! :o)

    Christian


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