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Animals

Now bear in mind that Art has always complained loudly about the way our cat, Moet, came into our lives. And - much to my dismay - he's always made sure that she's been an outdoor cat, living under the house, coming in under sufferance when I've fed her in the morning, and being put out again as soon as I've gone to work.

So it's been a real surprise that it is Art that is enthusiastic about taking on some animals at our new place. I've come to the conclusion that it's not the animals he's against - just indoor animals.

Wild Animals

The first thing that greeted us when we arrived was a flock of wild turkey. These are everywhere and turn up at regular intervals. Apparently they're very tasty - but as we don't have a gun licence (yet) I'm either going to practice hard with the archery bow, or they're going to stay.

Welcoming turkeys

Another surprising bird around here are wild peacocks. Not quite as many as the turkeys - but getting there. These fine specimens come and sit on the gate that leads down to our bush.

Travelling Peacocks
Australasian Harrier (Kaku)

Also to be found around here are possums (which - unlike in Australia - are a pest and have a price on their heads), fantails, the odd pukeko (mainly further down the road) and the NZ bird of prey, Australasian Harrier (Kaku).

I can now also enter 'WIld Deer' I looked out of our back window the other morning to see two does. I'm not sure what type it is - but it was reasonably big!

Inherited Pets

We have, in fact, inherited two sets of pets from the same house in Howick.

Moet the Rescue Cat

The first inherited pet is Moet, our rescue cat. You'll find out more about her in our diary about the move. She's inherited from my son, who adopted her from Cats In Need Trust, in Mangere, then promptly lost her, before moving back in with us. She turned up 9 months later - and of course Mum had to take her in.

She's now well settled into her new home in the garage, and is becoming much friendlier. I do think she's missing some company though, as she's always out with us when we're in the garden. So (much to my surprise) Art has agreed to another rescue cat. Watch this space!

Moet is now a very happy cat. She's become very loving, and loves a good fuss. She still doesn't like being picked up much, or trapped in a room with the door closed, but is very happy to sit on your lap and have her tummy rubbed.

I can see her and out other rescue cat through the window as we speak - they are curled up together on the same chair - very sweet to see. So she has her 'special friend' now too.

Jeff and Melissa the Pekin Ducks

Jeff and Melissa are two white domestic Pekin ducks, named after my son and his girlfriend in the UK. They come from the same house as Moet, as after my youngest son Tom moved out, three young lads moved in. One loved animals - and these ducks were his. But when they moved out, he had nowhere to take them to. I volunteered to bring them to Duck Paradise. They love it here, although Jeff is a bit of a tart and keeps on leaving Melissa to join the wild ducks in the pond down the road. He comes back every evening though. This is a bit like a scene from Romeo and Juliet - you hear his quacks in the distance, then the two of them quack at each other while they run towards their joyous reunion.

We have inherited two homeless ducks, Jeff and Melissa (named after Terris son and his girlfriend)

Update on Jeff and Melissa - they laid 14 eggs! Unfortunately none of them hatched :(

Update no 2 on Jeff and Melissa - they must have laid another batch of eggs! And we didn't spot them until…..

Melissa and her 13 ducklings

Update no 3 - 10 of batch no 2 were lost in one night, and they managed to lose the remaining 4 in the following week. Next batch will be better!

Update no 4 - Batch no 3 and 14 babies again…

Melissa and batch no 3

Feb 2012 - we are down to 1 duckling, but he's beginning to grow his tail feathers. So Jeff and Melissa's parenting skills are getting better. They've also discovered that if they sleep with the alpacas the predators keep away. Who says ducks are stupid??

New Pets

Trinity

As mentioned above, we decided that Moet needed a friend - so we found the local Animal Rescue Centre, just along the Thames coast. We wanted a young female, who wouldn't boss Moet about too much but would also hopefully be accepted by her.

We brought home 'Trinity', a pretty short-haired 8 month tabby/tortie/white cat who had been born under a woodpile. Trinity and Moet met in the driveway, when I put the cat box down for Moet to have a good sniff. All well and good - no hisses and fisticuffs. Trinity was installed in the garage, and Moet was asked to sleep in the woodshed for the night. Food was eaten and dirt boxes used overnight, so again - everything going to plan.

The next day, I opened the garage and Moet came visiting. Trinity was in the cupboard. Moet went to say hello, Trinity shot out of the cupboard and into a storage area where we couldn't see her. And this is the last I've seen of her. She's definitely in the garage (we hear her occasionally), and she comes out at night for her food and dirtbox. Moet goes in to say hello, and there haven't been any fights that we know of - but Trinity is going to need some more time. So you'll have to wait for a photo.

Update on Rescue Cat number 2 - we have still only seen Trinity properly once - when she arrived. And we've seen a couple of flashes. She's definitely around - the litter tray gets used and the cat food gets eaten - but as for actually seeing her? No! She now has a new name - The Phantom Cat'!

Trinity (at last)

Update on Rescue Cat number 3 - Trinity has started coming to dinner. Unfortunately we think she's also helping herself to a Duckling Takeaway in between for a snack.

Update on Rescue Cat number 4 - It took her a while, but Trinity has decided that we're not quite the ogres she though we were, and - actually - we're quite nice! So she is now first in the queue when the door is opened for breakfast, and has crept into Moet's affections. She regularly brings Moet a mouse back as a present, and the pair of them sleep wrapped round each other on a chair.

So I think we can safely say that everyone's happy on the Rescue Cat front!

Alpacas

One of the things I used to joke about when we bought the first section was that I wanted alpacas. Well, Hubby took me at my word. Just down the road from us is Paqocha Alpacas, owned by Caroline & Hendrik Falconer.

We went visiting, and I fell in love with the Suri breed of alpacas. These are not quite as 'fluffy' as Huacayas, which are more common. Suri have a finer fleece, and remind me a bit of thin versions of Dougal, in the Magic Roundabout.

One thing I love about alpacas is the different fleece colours. We selected two Suri boys called Guinness (he's brown) and Nuggett (white). ANd Caroline recommended an older male to act as 'big brother'. In fact we ended up with two Huacayas called Bacardi (white) and Suestada (fawn), because they're paddock mates. They arrived this afternoon, and look very at home in our newly fenced back paddock.

They seem to spend most of their time looking into the lounge

Update on Alpacas - we had a bit of a disaster - and as we're going to be writing a lot more about alpacas we've given them their own section… Alpacas

The Lamb

Art very glibly heads this 'The Lamb' - he's actually called 'Rambo' (a girl would have been called Ewegenie). He has settled in really well, and has decided that (a) Art must be Mum because he comes with milk and (b) Suestado must be Mum because he has a fleece. He discovered very quickly (the hard way) that Suestado doesn't come with milk!

Rambo can often be found with his head in a dustbin (that's the home we have given him out of the wind), playing with the two younger Suris, Nugget and Guinness, or cuddling up to Suestados's hind leg. Very cute.

Rambo as a baby
Rambo at three months
Rambo at 5 months

Update - Rambo is now HUGE - and has been adopted by Neo, our new alpaca.

Rambo after shearing (Jan 2012)

Update - Rambo has now been shorn and has shrunk a tad. He is now officially a 'hogget', and is past his sell-by date at the works as a potential Sunday Roast. He is the luckiest sheep alive, as he now spends his time wandering from paddock to paddock as the fancy takes him. But he's never far away from his friends the Alpaca Boys and in particular 'Mum' Neo.

Tom and Anonymous - the Muscovy Ducks

As the two white Pekin ducks are named after our first son and his girlfriend, I was going to make the second pair of ducks after our second son - but he has no girlfriend currently - so Mrs Muscovy will have to stay unnamed for now.

These are also 'rescue ducks' - I'm a member of a forum - www.lifestyleblock.co.nz - and one of the other contributors had to find homes for a lot of ducks and chickens very quickly. We offered a home to three muscovies - two ducks and a drake.

They duly arrived, we opened the cage, and they all disappeared into the reeds at the side of Lake Chipperfield.

A week later, two of them emerged - we have no idea what happened to the third one. We assume she is now an ex-duck. But Mr & Mrs Tom Muscovy are very happy now, and mix very well with Jeff & Melissa Pekin. The third Muscovy emerged from the swamp grass after a couple of weeks, so we now have 5 ducks.

Photos to follow….

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