Christmas Letter

December 2012

Dear Everyone….

I am hoping that this year’s letter finds its way to you all in one piece. I understand that last year’s attempt managed to scramble itself rather nicely into something that Bexley Park would have had difficulty unravelling. If you were one of the lucky ones to receive an early paper copy in your Christmas card – hold on to it! It is very rare. In fact so rare that I don’t have a copy of it so can’t remember what I wrote!

So apologies to anyone who didn’t receive a readable copy - this year’s letter will have a bit of an overlap so that everyone can catch up with our Huge Lifestyle Change.

So here’s a very cut-down version of 2011, starting in May when I decided that I wanted to invest my inheritance from Mum in a small patch of land by the sea. The idea was that we’d put a holiday home on it for the weekends. To this end we bought a 2 acre field about an hour south of Auckland in a place called Miranda. It is slightly in from the coast and on top of a ridge, with good views over the Firth of Thames to the town of Thames on the Coromandel Peninsula (you can look up all those places on Google Maps). Then we decided it was commutable to Auckland, and therefore could live there all the time. So we started planning to build our dream home. We did all the homework, got all the costs, and put the first cut building plan together. On Sunday we were at the field making some minor modifications before visiting the builder on the Monday to sign the contract. And a real estate agent put a sign up for a house down the road. We went and had a peep. By Monday evening we had agreed to buy it!

Now the reason we bought here is that the house was only 2 years old, was more or less identical to the one we were going to build, and of course is totally finished, including amazing 360 degree views, a beautifully landscaped gardens and a swimming pool! It just didn’t make economic sense to build our own. It also happened to come with a mere 33 acres of land, with large detached double garage, wood shed & dunny. The 33 acres is at least 50% native bush and therefore cannot be used for farming, but the rest (about 15 acres) was paddock. We would probably keep the 1 acre top paddock nearest the house and rent the rest to the local farmer.

So what would we do with our top paddock? We’d always joked that if we had a big enough back garden we’d buy a couple of alpacas. We bought 4 pet boys, and happily watched them from the lounge window.

The trouble with alpacas is they’re addictive. We decided fairly quickly that we might just keep the 15 acres of paddock for our own use. So Art & Dick (our local farmer) fenced off another section and we visited our local alpaca farm again. This time we came back with three girls. Two were pregnant, and number three was going to be. So (are you keeping count?) That’s seven alpaca so far…

Meanwhile life goes on outside of alpacas. I change jobs from Westpac Bank to Hyundai New Zealand. It’s a bit closer to home – less than an hour’s drive. And it’s just as well I’m working – this farming lark is expensive, especially in the first year when you have fences to put up and stock to buy. Art is very happily playing toy farmer, running about on his quad bike (otherwise known as ‘the mobility scooter’). We’ve joined the local Thames wine tasting group, and (of course) the New Zealand Alpaca Association. Tom’s been off to Mexico on another cave diving course. And we’re well into 2012.

May. Jossalyn is expecting her cria any day. She’s very restless in the evening, but no show. I get up the next morning – and she’s in distress. Our first Chipperfield cria is stillborn. But Mum is OK, which is the main thing.

June. Ellissa is next in line. On the Saturday morning she’s very restless, so I’m going to keep an eye on her. Nothing’s happening so we go in for a cup of tea. Looking out the lounge window – she’s had it! Talk about quick! And it’s a perfect little girl. We call her ‘Chipperfield Zoe Rose’ after my cousin’s granddaughter (8 alpacas…)

July we pick up 2 more alpacas – Dusty Rose and Miranda (10 alpacas). I also have an impulse buy on Trademe – 6 more girls in Canterbury. First logistical nightmare – how do we get them to ours?? We get a horse transporting company to help bring ‘The Canterbury Belles’ back (16 alpacas).

Then disaster strikes. The third girl (Velvet) becomes skeleton-thin. Worming doesn’t help, and the vet is called. While the vet is running tests, she weakens and dies (15 alpacas). Ellissa is also becoming thin. The results come back from the tests – we have a major worm problem – haemunchus contortus – paired with what looks like drug resistance and mineral & vitamin deficiency. Ellissa is beginning to weaken. In desperation we call the alpaca breeder and the vet, who decide a blood transfusion plus a strong worm drench is needed. One of the boys is blood donor, and she picks up very slightly. Then worsens. She’s picked up another batch of worms. More different worm drenches, a rigid regime of daily probiotic yoghurt & vitamins, and a constant supply of high protein food – she’s back on track.

Of course with all these girls, they need a good quality boyfriend. So we also invested in a quarter of a stud male (I hope our quarter includes the dangly bits). So that’s 15 and a quarter alpacas… And of course 3 of the girls are pregnant (expecting in March), and hopefully the 6 Canterbury Belles will be so soon. We’ll let Ellissa have a year off to recover,

So it’s been a very alpaca oriented year. But there was one other important event this year – we received our New Zealand citizenship! Tom is applying for his as we ‘speak’. He loves the life here, and so do we. This year hasn’t been without it’s traumas, but . I really can’t imagine living back in the UK now – our life is so different.

I must also say hello to the visitors we’ve had, as we loved seeing you all. And would love to see anyone else who fancies a visit.

So – everyone – please keep in touch!

And a Happy Christmas to everyone…

Terri & Art

family_things/xmas_letter_2012.txt · Last modified: 2012/12/02 04:23 by tel
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