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Sheep, chickens, rats, ducks, a rabbit, mice and lots of pesky kids.
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When we moved back to New Zealand a couple of years ago, one of the first things we had to do was fence out the neighbours' sheep. I wanted to plant trees, vegetables and fruit, and the sheep wanted to eat them. After they broke through the fence a couple of times, we put in a better fence and then I just had to deal with the possums (I still haven’t managed to trap a single one).

Then I saw that other neighbours had very free range chickens. Luckily the chickens seem to like hanging out with the sheep and so far haven't begun to scratch around my seedlings. The same seemed to be the case for the floppy eared rabbit that kept escaping from people who live up the hill.

But now we are being invaded by a family of ducks. They are wild and don't belong to anyone, and are fearless too. It takes a considerable amount of shooing to get them to leave my garden.
And the mice are back in the kitchen. I found one squeaking in the cupboard where he had been caught in the trap by his tail. I didn’t have the heart to kill him (I know, I know. I’m not doing much for the Predator Free NZ cause), so I released him into the back garden and told him not to come back.

Mice are also proving problematic on Ōtamahua/Quail Island, where I was volunteering as warden for 3 days over the weekend.  We are in the middle of a mega mast (https://www.canterbury.ac.nz/news/2019/beech-mega-masts-and-predator-plagues--expert-qa.html), which means there is a lot of food around for mice and rats. Rats have been eradicated on the island (together with hedgehogs, stoats, weasels, rabbits and other pests), but mice are holding out. When I arrived I found a lot of traps and mouse-proof containers to be used for food. I'm happy to report I didn't see any signs of mice my during my stay.
Lots of people have asked how you get to become a Department of Conservation (DOC) warden. I wondered the same when I was staying at Ōtamahua Hut the last time. I encountered a couple from Australia who were wardens at the time and realised that DOC can't be too picky if it's letting Australians become wardens! Sure enough they allowed me to become one after a police check found nothing (phew!) and I completed a simple induction process. Armed with a radio to report in everyday and an official badge, the power was all mine. I used it mainly to warn kids not to chop their fingers off.
I'm back in Lyttelton now and catching up on the never-ending deadlines. I’m working on the third version of the Arctic Circle climate change for kids book proposal (if the publishers don’t like this one, I will definitely go my own way).
And now that I’ve signed the contract with the publisher, I’m sorting out documents for Basque translations of my FAB Club books. Then I need to finish the ebook of FAB Club 3 to send to my wonderful advance reading team before I put the book out in the world.
I’m also trying to finish off a few things in my new studio shed so that I can host OGG (Ohinehou Garden Group) who are coming over next week. Let's hope it rains before then as I am having to spend too much time watering.

I hope the weather is well with you.

Ta ta for now
 

PS. If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it on.

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Copyright © 2020 Alex Hallatt's Cartoons and Writing, All rights reserved.


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