December 20, 2023 The Next Day (Day 84)

Farm to Zoo – Part Two!

This morning we got a message from our host that the sheep had been rounded up and the shearing was beginning! We quickly finished our breakfast and headed up the hill, on foot this time, to see the process! We got to the top not too winded from the climb, the driveway to their house is the steepest part, the dirt road up to the paddocks is less steep and we can stop to catch the views, and our breath! The sheep were indeed in the pens, many had already been shorn and the shearer and his helper were busy!

A roly-poly ewe trying to hide at the back of the chute!

The shearer’s sheep dog, laying quietly as if saying ‘my job is done!’. Maybe an Australian shepherd – border collie mix?

The shearer in action, almost done with this ewe, her wool piling up on the ground in front of her! He will shear about 100 sheep today, half from this ‘small holding’ and half from the neighbor’s.

The shorn sheep looking for the exit!

Who’s next? I heard the shearer talking with Jack, the brown sheep will be last, to keep from mixing the white wool with the brown.

I heard the shearer and Jack talking of ‘dog tucker’ which we learned from the “Footrot Flats” play is the euphemism for old sheep that have outlived their usefulness as farm animals, or rams that are not suitable as breeders, and can be used as dog food now! These ewes in the chute are the last to be shorn of Jack’s flock. The next process was to catch up the ram and his companion, a wethers (castrated male) to shear. We decided to head back down the hill to stay out of the way of the “circus” Jack said that roundup would be!

Since our Zealandia Dusk Tour ticket entitled us to a visit the next day, we wanted to take advantage of that. We drove down to Karori and re-entered the world of Zealandia. Once inside the fenced park we headed up to the outer paths, away from the general hubub and enjoyed a wonderful 4 mile hike through the forest.

Across the valley we could see the exclusion fence on the far hillside. It encloses the entire 500+acres of the sanctuary!

We passed by this trimmed tree and puzzled at the jigsaw cutout. We decided it might be a nest box with a removable door?

Further along we learned about the black tree-fern, the largest of the tree ferns, this one towering about 60 feet above us!

As we walked on paths far from the crowds we encountered several different birds. This kaka parrot actually came to check us out! It looked us up and down then took off just over our heads, showing off its flight abilities through the trees!

We also heard a sweet birdsong, stopped and listened and then saw a unique bird, a tieke, or saddleback bird. A robin sized black bird with an orange ‘saddleback’ and bright red wattles at the corners of their beak! Not only one, but two! A pair? Or a parent and young? We don’t know. They were close to extinction at the end of the 20th century but are slowly recovering due to the predator trapping program and predator free sanctuaries like Zealandia!

We headed back down to the upper reservoir, then to the pathway past the tuatara research area.

A tuatara basking in the sun.

We finished our daytime self-guided tour in the visitor center where we got head-exploding information about Zealandia and came away with this quote;

5 Responses to “December 20, 2023 The Next Day (Day 84)”

  1. Jack Fenaughty Says:

    Well done guys, completely accurate and great photos. Generally two types of sheepdogs here. Heading dogs which have a lot of border collie in them and guide the flock and huntaways which are much bigger and noisier/louder.

  2. Jack Fenaughty Says:

    Got it completely right guys. Generally two types of sheepdog used here Heading (or eye) dogs that have a lot of border collie in them – they guide the flock and huntaways which are bigger and noisier and push the sheep along. Glad to see you made it to the ‘mainland’ OK. xx Us

  3. Jack Fenaughty Says:

    A PS. Most of the time we muster animals with our ‘barking’ drone. Have a look on Youtube. Only use dogs when its as windy as the other day.

  4. rmj Says:

    Thanks Jack, Robert was disappointed he didn’t get to see the drone used!

  5. rmj Says:

    Thanks for the video link. Quite a variety in the look of the huntaways.

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