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In which your intrepid hero gets a sunburn - Tactical Ninja

Oct. 8th, 2012

09:20 am - In which your intrepid hero gets a sunburn

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Turns out that it is possible to do a serviceable job of a 16-strand herringbone handle plait after only having watched one video online. Credit to the guy in the video, who's an Ocker with a fantastic Strine accent and has clearly been making whips since the year dot. Very clear instructions. Here's how it came out.

The other thing I did this weekend was an adventure! That I've been looking forward to since ages ago. Y'see, I somehow know one of the sons of the people who own Stansborough Farm. Stansborough is home of the Stansborough Grey - a gotland derivative sheep that's been selectively bred until it has enough unique properties to register as a distinct breed, and which is unique to Stansborough, bred by Elf's folks. That's the cool part for me, but for most people, the cool part is the wool. It's fine, soft and lustrous (not an easy combination to achieve in one fleece just saying), and perfect for making worsted textiles. They use all the fleeces themselves (about 1000 of them a year), having the wool processed and spun in the South Island and milled/woven/textilated in Petone.

You've probably seen some Stansborough textiles in action - in such movies as Lord of the Rings. All those beautiful cloaks? Stansborough. So, not your average sheep farm then. But for me, the combination of Wairarapa (which I love) and New Breed Of Sheep meant I wasn't going to miss this trip for quids.


Ostensibly we were going to check out a potential new site for Kiwiburn that's on the farm. Y'see, the Stansborough people are progressive and very friendly, and willing to open their farm to not only public bus tours of people coming to look at the home of the LoTR textiles, but also to the idea of holding a festival on the property. That's pretty impressive IMO. Anyway, I say ostensibly because my head was on a bloody swivel the whole time and I was a bit "Yeah yeah Kiwiburn site OH LOOK SHEEP!"



If you cunningly observed that those are not sheep, you'd be right. They are alpacas. Or llamas. Or alpacas crossed with llamas (I think I heard Elf say that happens sometimes). Anyway, they are cute and fluffy and help provide the source of some of the textiles. Here they are gathering around because they think we're going to let them through the gate into a new paddock. Hah. Fooled you, alpacas! Also take note of the lovely spring green as the trees come into leaf.



So this is a Stansborough Grey. Most of the greys have been shorn already (they're shorn in early spring to keep the winter break from marring the fleeces), but this one clearly dodged the muster so she's still got her full fleece. Also, wee black lamb! *SQUEE* All the purebred lambs are born black apparently, then change colour as they mature.



This is one of the swimming holes that would be available to Kiwiburners should the site turn out to be suitable. Picturesque.



Here we have a cunning feat of engineering, with Happy the engineer completely ignoring it. Where is the feat, you might ask. Well, if you look carefully on the right hand side, you can see a cable has been strung high above the river, with wires hanging down from which are suspended a line of reinforcing mesh. It's quite hard to see because it's all quite lightweight. In conditions like the ones shown here, the mesh sits on the ground and acts as a fence. In flood conditions, it floats above the water on the suspended wire, letting debris underneath, and when the floods recede it comes back down and is a fence again. I think this is pretty awesome, and it's one of the better designs I've seen for this purpose.



Here's a picture of maybe one tenth of the farm. It's about 2700 acres in total and wherever you look there are vistas like this. I was in heaven.



This is the lake that's next to the potential KB site, with added artistic bone. I suspect this may be the result of the myriad grandchildren that were hanging out at the farm when we were there - I mean, where's the rest of the cow?



Turns out it's in this pipe. At least its head, two of its ribs and its pelvis are. Yep, kids. I've no idea where the rest of it went and I'm not sure I want to know.



After looking at the KB site we took the quad up to the top of the farm - not quite out to the back boundary (that was about another half a km away) but to one of the high vantage points where the bones of the earth start to break through the tops of the hills. This effect is fairly common in the Wairarapa and is known as taipos. Taipo is a Maori word with a similar meaning to 'goblin' and you could translate taipos as 'place where goblins live'. Instead, we got sheep, but close enough right?

And then there was this:



Those are not statues artfully placed there to impress tourists, they are actual sheep. Frankly I think the Stansborough Greys know they're film stars because they sure are posey. But check out that view. Do you want to live there yet? I do.

After this we descended back down to sea level and were plied with quiche and wine at the homestead. It turned out that by coincidence, Elf's whole immediate family was present, which included about 10 adults, 7 grandchildren, a couple of rabbits and a dog. It was raucous and chaotic and friendly awesome fun. I managed to do some brain-picking about the sheep and their wool as we sat in the sunshine, and on the way out we checked out some of the blankets which are in use in the cottage, which is available for weekending. They are beautiful.


I left Stansborough feeling kind of high. It might have been all that fresh air and sunshine, but it was also being made to feel so welcome, saturating myself in sheep geekery, being in the Wairarapa and on a proper farm for the first time in over a year, and hanging out with cool people doing fun stuff. I had a fantastic time, and I'm very thankful that Elf and his family allowed us such an intimate look at their lifestyle.

Happy had his first ever ride on a quad, which means that he's now a proper kiwi. One with very gritted teeth and a white knuckle grip and possibly a bruised arse (I didn't ask).

Comments:

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From:tatjna
Date:October 7th, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC)

Re: All* your favourite things together:

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Oh man, Border Leicesters are so up themselves. I suspect it's due to the inherent cultural dissonance that arises from the fact that Leicester is nowhere near the border.

(edit) Actually I think it's a Perendale but I couldn't think of anything suitably sociological to say about them.

Edited at 2012-10-07 09:41 pm (UTC)
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From:tatjna
Date:October 7th, 2012 10:38 pm (UTC)

Re: All* your favourite things together:

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Yep, those Staffordshire Shortwools are a completely inferior type really...
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:October 7th, 2012 10:06 pm (UTC)

Re: All* your favourite things together:

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From:Will Marshall
Date:October 7th, 2012 10:20 pm (UTC)
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New site for Kiwiburn? Yes fucking please....
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From:miryai
Date:October 7th, 2012 10:25 pm (UTC)
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Oh my God, that place is amazing! I love those sheep! And the views! And the waterhole! What an amazing place that would be for a festival! And yes, I do want to live there now! (Also, I am obsessed with wool)
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From:tatjna
Date:October 7th, 2012 11:35 pm (UTC)
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The best bit is the whole of the Wairarapa is like that. At least, the coastal bits are. The central bit is plains, and then there are the Tararuas:

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From:t_c_da
Date:October 7th, 2012 11:58 pm (UTC)
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And the roads are straight for miles and miles and miles!

And it's not quite "just outside my back door", but darned close - 30 liesurely minutes over the 'takas close...
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From:tatjna
Date:October 8th, 2012 12:05 am (UTC)
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That road is not straight for miles and miles and miles, eh?

Nor are any of the ones that go over the coastal range - they tend to be winding and uppy-downy but fun to drive.
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From:t_c_da
Date:October 8th, 2012 02:20 am (UTC)
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Agreed about That road, but out in the middle - whee!! Speed Limit ahoy!!

I once got pinged for 120km/h out the back of Masterton, which was a fair cop. I'd been doing 150km/h up near Pahiatua trying out a new company car...
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From:pombagira
Date:October 7th, 2012 11:13 pm (UTC)
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ohh black lambs.. so *squee*


and cow skull.. also *squee*

yay advenures..

also the plating came out awsomely!!
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From:tatjna
Date:October 8th, 2012 12:06 am (UTC)
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The black lambs are so very very black.

I reckon one weekend in the future time you and I should go over there and stay in the cottage and squee at the fluffy things.
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From:pombagira
Date:October 8th, 2012 12:37 am (UTC)
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oh ..staying in that wee cottage with you..that would be way awsome!!

*bounces about*

all that squee and fluff and green and oh yeah!

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From:rivet
Date:October 8th, 2012 02:29 am (UTC)
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A new site would be a shot in the arm for Kiwiburn
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From:tatjna
Date:October 8th, 2012 02:31 am (UTC)
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It really would. This one is lovely and certainly would solve the problem of young shits wandering in because it's just down the road. This place is not just down the road from anywhere!

It has an access drawback but there is the potential for that to be solved in the near future, so it's on the list for revisiting, definitely.
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From:thatgirljj
Date:October 8th, 2012 04:03 am (UTC)
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This makes me want to:
A) Go to kiwiburn.
B) Go to kiwiburn and have you introduce me personally to all the lovely sheep.
C) Knit something wooly right this instant.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 8th, 2012 07:16 am (UTC)
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The sheep introductions might take a while, there are about 4500 of them.

And yes, it made me want to thread up my loom again.. and get a bigger one .. and.. ah crap.
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From:meathiel
Date:October 8th, 2012 05:33 am (UTC)
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OMG - sooooo beautiful! Want to go there like ... now!
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From:kehleyr
Date:October 8th, 2012 09:24 pm (UTC)
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Aah such wonderful photos <3
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From:(Anonymous)
Date:October 10th, 2012 02:25 am (UTC)

Thanks from Stansborough

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Thanks Wendy it was a pleasure hosting you guys for the day! We love our little slice of Paradise too..personally I'm very partial to those cute little black lambs right now too. I will post a link to your blog on our Facebook page - feel free to like us - especially for anyone who wants to come stay and we can keep you posted on farm and fabric antics. We'd love to have more visitors anytime and I'm about to update our website with new pics of the renovated cottage (phew the last one was when we were in our 1980's 'oh peach is so the height of fashion' phase! ) ...so you can all breathe a sigh of relief that we have moved on. Hope to see you again. Nicki . PS I loved your pics, mind if I put a few up on our page ? will attribute them rightfully to the talented photographer.
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From:tatjna
Date:October 10th, 2012 02:28 am (UTC)

Re: Thanks from Stansborough

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You are most welcome to use any of the pics. I have larger versions and can email them through if you like - just say which ones and I'll send them to the website email. ;-)
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From:pundigrion
Date:October 16th, 2012 02:36 pm (UTC)
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Hello! meathiel namedropped you in my last sheep related post and I came over to stalk I mean check your journal out. You sound pretty awesome and I am having fun reading your entries! My journal is locked, so I'll add you so you can see who this weird person is leaving you comments :-)
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From:tatjna
Date:October 16th, 2012 07:51 pm (UTC)
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Hi, I am totally friending you back! I love your pictures and you have inspired me to drag that Arapawa fleece out of my cupboard and wash it..

There will probably be more sheep in this blog over the next couple of months because shearing season's about to kick off. Most of the lifestylers round here have oddball breeds and I like to take pictures of them and post them here. ;-)
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From:pundigrion
Date:October 16th, 2012 09:14 pm (UTC)
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Yay! I think I have a little sample of Arapawa to work on from a swap, once I'm not up to my ears in Jacob.

I have more adventuring to post about but I will be combing when I get back and caught up in the garden. :-D
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