Friday, April 22, 2011

House renovations, sheep moving, small world and war memories

Lambs on Theo
Over a week since my last blog.  Got a bit bored doing it and have no megabytes left. Very busy week.  I stayed in Stanley for a couple of extra days while Christophers father came out and helped Christopher to move the last of the sheep for the abattoir from Barren Island to Speedwell.  Christopher and Bruce came out to Speedwell on the 12th and went  down to Barren on the 13th.  They gathered the island and put 28 cast ewes and 83 lambs on Theo.  It was a lovely calm day and they were back at Speedwell by early evening.  The reason for leaving me in Stanley was because the boat leans when she is being loaded and I don't like it.  We have to use portable pens on Theo when we are moving sheep to keep the load evenly spread on the deck.  I do go on some sheep moving trips but only when we are shifting small amounts.
The next day Christopher and his father shifted 86 cast ewes onto Halfway island to fatten for the abattoir over the next month or two. They used the black aluminium dingy for this.   It takes between 30 to 40 ewes at a time.  They towed this dingy with the orange dingy.  It takes about  10 minutes to go across from the jetty.  This is the first time this boat has been used for this.  It looked quite funny because someone had replaced the original rivets with ones with eyes instead of blind ones so it looked a bit like a colander with all these little water spurts.  
Shaun and Tanya came back from their trip to Beaver Island.  Tanya didnt like sailing.
On the 20th Christopher and Shaun went down to George island and put the Pol Dorset rams out on Barren and the Dohnne rams out on George Island. 
Yesterday Christopher and Shaun gathered Twin Ponds. We put the Samm rams out with them and turned them into the ram paddock for a couple of days.  Twin ponds is massive and it takes the rams a long time to get around all the ewes.  Putting them in a paddock for a couple of days helps to get them covered a bit quicker.
Today Christopher and Shaun have been working on Shauns house.  The new kitchen is now all nogged and this afternoon they are going to plasterboard the ceiling.
Tanya is in Stanley doing her weeks hairdressing and I am just doing general household things.  I have my nephew Macaulay out for a week.
Tiphanie has been doing some pub/restaurant work for the last month  in between her uni course in UK.  Last week a customer came into the pub where she was working.  She served the customer and he thought she had a unusual accent and asked one of the other staff who the new employee was  and was told it was Tiphanie from the Falkland Islands.  It turned out the person was the brother in law of my brothers ex wife.  Small world.
My sister Stephanie, my daughter Tiphanie, my husband Christopher and my son Shaun

Val (Christophers good friend) and Bruce, Christophers father
I have decided to write some of my war mermories.  I didnt have a diary, I have no dates so they are going to be random.  Starting with one of the funnier memories.  During the war our house was what seemed like continously searched.  Soldiers would arrive at the door complete with guns and we would have to accompamy them through the house to the different rooms where they would undertake random searches.  My sister Stephanie who I had shared a room with had left home but she had left behind this fancy big handcrafted jewellery box which had been made as a gift for her when she had succedded in winning a scholarship to study in England when she was 12 years old.  This was a great achievement as only 1 a year was awarded and to actually pass the exams to win it was a massive achievement.  Anyway I knew that locked inside the box was 4 bottles of carlsberg beer.  I also knew that I wasn't going to be able to explain to my mum how come I had beer locked away in a jewellery box.  I decided there was only one thing to do and that was to wait until she went into her bedroom then open the box show them the contents whether they wanted to see them or not then lock it again before she came back.  Thats what I did and the beer stayed hidden for a long time until after the war.  Then one day I decided I would have one of the bottles of beer.  I opened the bottle had a couple of swigs decided I didnt like it and sat the bottle on my dads most important box which housed his stamp collection.  Dad came home found the bottle sitting on the box, summond myself and Stephanie who I think must have been back home to explain the bottle of beer.  I clearly remember lieing through my teeth that I had never seen it and had no idea where it could have come from.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Island farming in the Falkland Islands: Does your heart race when the phone rings in the m...

Island farming in the Falkland Islands: Does your heart race when the phone rings in the m...: "Woke up to the phone ringing at 5 past midnight. Woke Christopher up to run to the sitting room to get it because he is quicker. ..."

Does your heart race when the phone rings in the middle of the night? Coretesting and tractor building

Woke up to the phone ringing at 5 past midnight.  Woke Christopher up to run to the sitting room to get it because he is quicker.  He missed it the first time, it then rang again.  It was Tiphanie our daughter saying she was in hospital but before he could get her number she ran out of credit.  Phoning the Falklands on a mobile costs between 60 to 90p a minute.  luckily the phone number wasn't with held and we were able to dial 1471 to get it.  Tiphanie had been given antibiotics for a throat infection and was on her way to badminton when her eyes started swelling up and her throat started closing and she couldn't breath.  Luckily she was outside a cafe or shop and she went in and they phoned an ambulance.  She was suffering from anaphylactic shock caused by a severe allergic reaction to the antibiotics.  She is the biggest baby when it comes to needles but she didn't have any choice about them yesterday.   She was kept in hospital overnight and today she is back home.  She said it was very scary.
Yesterday morning Christopher and Shaun hand cored all of our bales of wool. Shaun has bruises all over his legs and stomach from using them to push the spikes in.  Pleased to have it done though, can now get on and get it shipped.
In the afternoon they worked on the tractor.  The gearbox is now back in and the front and back end are joined back together.  Christopher is confident the gearbox will work.  He now has to put the head back on the engine and hopefully it will be ready to go.
Today Christopher and Bruce (his father) are away to George Island to pick up sheep.  I was going but then I couldn't get hold of Tiphanie to check she was okay so I decided to stay in town as I couldn't wait 6 or 7 hours to find out. 

Tiphanie on George Island in the sand stone structures

Shaun with the core testing spike

Tanya and Teenie having a go (one bale was enough)

Shaun and Christopher (the size of the wool lot determines how many samples have to be taken from each bale, the smaller the lot the more samples per bale)

Wool stacked in the wool warehouse
Shaun and Tanya flew to Hill Cove to met Leif Poncet who is going to take them on his yacht from Hill Cove to Beaver island where Shaun is going to do a bit of work for him.  Neither Shaun or Tanya have done any proper sailing, it will be interesting to see if they get sea sick or not.  Tiphanie has done a little bit with Leif's brother Dion when she went on a rat eradication programme, she enjoyed it a lot. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Internet shopping and what about the poor horses!!!!!

Used a massive amount of megabytes Internet shopping on LL Bean and Ezibuy.  Decided we will have to upgrade to the gold Internet package, 3,000 megabytes for £100.00.  Currently we are on a silver  package which gives us 1,250 megabytes for £60.00 and we keep going over,  we then pay about 13p per megabyte for every one megabyte over our quota.  Expensive or what!!!!  I have to say that I waste what I use on facebook and on here but Christopher uses them constructively sourcing farm and boat equipment.  Anyway I now have four new pairs of jeans on the way from Ezibuy, New Zealand.
Came in yesterday and caught the end of the Grand National.  Two horses died in this years race.  Interesting when listening to the commentators.  They felt sorry for the owners and sorry for the  trainers, what about the horses!!!!!  I guess asking animals to jump 30 fences which are too high while running  4 miles in under 10 minutes is such a money making event that animal welfare can be over looked!!!!.  Talking about horses,  we have a retired race horse that was originally imported from Chile.  It was given to Tiphanie because its racing career was over.  We only have two race meetings a year, a two day meeting at Christmas time in Stanley and another two day meeting during sports week in February at Goose Green farm on East Falkland.  Anyway neither of our children could ride when we purchased George Island in 2000 but they  both learnt pretty quickly, there are no lessons here, just get on and get on with it.  Anyway Shaun was about 12 the first time he was allowed to take the ex-racer out.  We saw him go off.  He headed up to the grass airstrip and next thing we could see this horse racing up and down the airstrip.  Christopher was getting ******* and *******.  Eventually the horse tired and he arrived back at the house.  The horse was covered in sweat and froth.  Christopher tore a strip of Shaun, saying look at the state of the horse, its exhausted etc etc.  Shaun burst into tears, "I couldn't stop it, it just raced up and down and up and down and  it  wouldn't stop".
Christopher is working on the tractor that we have in town.  We purchased the tractor several years ago.  It is secondhand and the gearbox had been taken out because it had two broken cogs in it.  We eventually managed to get the cogs needed to repair it but it is far from straight forward because the previous owner took the whole gearbox to pieces and anything that could be removed was and it came to us as a box of bits.  Fortunately Christopher is mechanically minded so he should be able to re-build it successfully.
This morning I wrapped up some cheap and cheerful  birthday presents for Tiphanie my daughter who is currently study at uni in the UK.   Tiphanie has had one birthday at home since she was 16 years old, this year she is going to be 23.  That is the price you have to pay   if you want to continue onto further and then higher education because it is not available in the Falklands.
Tiphanie on ex-racer Slim Dusty, Shaun on Sambo, a horse that dumped me off twice.

Our house in Stanley

The tractor in three parts, front, back and cab
This afternoon I went to a flea market.  There was a lot of good quality secondhand baby clothes and toys but not a lot else today. 

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Ram sale and Stanley

The ram sale was cancelled for Thursday because the Concordia Bay couldn't do its ferry run between east and west Falkland because of high winds.  This was the second delay but eventually it went ahead yesterday.  We left Stanley at 8 am and arrived at Saladero just before 10am, this is a small government run farm that runs several stud flocks for sale of rams to the farming community.  This year we went to buy Dohne rams, we were interested in 11 of the 12 that were for sale and managed to purchase 5.  There was a bit of competition so we decided to concentrate on the top 4 rams that were ranked for body weight and fleece weight.  The Saladero Dohne rams are not producing a good fleece weight but we have been running Dohnes on George Island for five years and they are.   We are not too worried about the lack of weight on the Saladero ones because the stud flock animals have not always been in the best condition that they could be and this is detrimental to wool growth etc.  Anyway we eventually purchased 5 rams which included our top 4 for £450.00 so we were happy with that.
Christopher went squidding in Port William at 6:30pm last night, it is now 8:30am and he has just arrived home as I write.  Shaun left the house this morning at 7:00am to go squidding and he will now be away until tonight.
I haven't been doing much.  I went to see the panto Dick Whittington with my mum on Thursday night.  It was very good.  The cast are all amateurs but some of them are exceptionally good.  This panto was based very loosely on Dick Whittington who along with his cat was went to London to manage a boy band in an X factor competition.
Today is the sheep show at Fitzroy.  It is a competition for taking your best sheep and fleeces to.  It has several categories, best wool breed animals, best meat breed, best dual purpose etc etc.  We would like to take some of our dual purpose animals to show but getting them off the island and then to Fitzroy and back is just too difficult.  All the same I would have still liked to go for a look but Christopher will be going to bed for a good part of the day and I don't fancy going by myself.
100 kilo plus Pol Dorset ram
Easter eggs are in the shops.  I love Cadburys Easter eggs, yum.  Bought a little something to post to my daughter in the UK, cant say what because she reads my blog occasionally.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

All change

Its been a busy week.  Shaun arrived on Wednesday to start work and Tanya arrived on Sunday.  The Concordia Bay was delayed due to the relentless high winds we have been having.  It was due last Thursday and finally arrived today.  Shaun and Christopher loaded 53 bales of wool, 47 lambs and 115 cast ewes.  The day was pretty windy with a big swell in Eagle passage.  Also received cargo, all the double glazed windows from the two storey semi detached house that Shaun and Christopher pulled down in Stanley.  Plasterboard, skirting, coving and three new radiators for the new kitchen in Shaun and Tanya's house and plasterboard for the crab factory,  The boat had no sooner left when Shaun got a call asking him if he would like to come into Stanley and do some stevedoring, we call it "squidding", it is the transshipping of squid/fish from trawlers to freezer ships.  It is very good money and it was agreed when Shaun came to work for us that he could still continue to do squidding when the opportunity arose.  Christopher also does it  but at the moment we are just too busy.  We had decided that we would come across and come into Stanley later today if the wind went down but it was looking decidedly unlikely that we were going to be able to get across.  Tomorrow would be a no go day as the wind plot shows gales again with Thursday being the same.  It was decided that because at least one of us, either me or Christopher needs to go to the ram sale on Thursday and because Shaun needed to get in for work that we would book to fly in on the islander tomorrow.  We were in the process of starting to arrange it when we realised that FIGAS has now went onto their winter flying days and Wednesday is a no fly day.  As a last ditch effort we decided to ring FIGAS to see if there were any planes flying over the island today, this was at 1pm.  We didn't really expect that we would get an unscheduled flight but we got ready just in case.  A lot of things have to be taken into account if a plane is to divert from its schedule i.e. is it carrying enough fuel, what payload it is already carrying, is the airstrip they are diverting too weight restricted.  Today was our lucky day and by 3:30pm, me, Shaun and Tanya were on our way to Stanley.  This is a truly fantastic service.
While we are in Stanley we will core test all our bales of wool.  The purpose of wool coring is to find the micron and yield of your wool.  We will lot our bales into groups of the same grade wool for coring.  All wool that I have graded as A will be cored together, all B together etc.  This will be a hard days work for Christopher and Shaun because they all have to be cored by hand as the bales are too heavy for the automatic corer.  This entails manually pushing a hollow spike into each bale to extract a sample of wool,  depending on how many bales are in a lot determines how many samples need to be taken from each bale.  The smaller the lot the more samples that have to be taken from each bale.  Once this is completed the samples will be DHL'd to New Zealand, I will then complete all the necessary paperwork and ship the bales in a container to Prague in Germany. 
The fishing vessels that Shaun and Christopher work on in Berkley Sound

Concordia Bay at Speedwell Island
As it happened the wind did go down this evening and Christopher has managed to get across to Flores Harbour, I am expecting him in at about midnight.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Remembering invasion day 29 years ago

29 years ago today I was at home with my mum and dad when confirmation was announced over the radio that an invasion by Argentina was imminent. It was a strange and at times frightening experience.  I remember my brother Peter was in the pub and I think my dad went to bring him home.  We were all told to stay in our homes and there was nothing we could do but wait for it to happen.  We listened to the radio continuously until our local broadcaster was forced to stop broadcasting. I really don't remember what else we did that evening.  I do remember the next day going to the front porch  (our house is on the front road two houses down from the cathedral) and writing down the numbers of  the tanks etc as they went past our house, they seemed never ending.  My mum came in after a short time and saw what I was doing  and said something like are you trying to get yourself killed and took the paper and pen away from me.  That was the start of the invasion for me and my family.