Halswell Domain

Halswell Domain
View from the Model Engineers' site in the Halswell Domain

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Another Spring

It was with great sadness that we farewelled an equine friend this winter. Bridget was at the property that I graze at when I first arrived in June 2003. She was 'twenty or so', a grouchy, bossy mare with a stubborn streak a mile wide. She breathed like Darth Vader, had a figure shaped by seven pregnancies, and tended to chase cattle and horses alike into corners so that she could kick them.

She had several talents, including a surprising burst of speed when the gate to the road was left unattended (fortunately she always turned left to rampage on the lawn, rather than charging down the driveway). She loved water. You only had to walk towards the hose on hot days to have her come over. She would stand for you to drench one side, turn so that you could spray the other, then trot off down the paddock, flicking her tail at the drips running from her belly. She would stick her head in the water trough up to eye level, and roll and play in any large puddles she could find.

As the years passed, Bridget began to show the more obvious signs of ageing. She started to struggle with chewing hay, and became less eager to trot away after a wash, instead settling for a fast walk. She stopped itching her belly by rolling, and instead became extremely partial to tummy scratches (which were welcomed by heavy breathing and drooling). Bridget slowly sank down the pecking order until she was put in a separate paddock to stop her being bullied. She started to lose weight in the winters, and found it harder to put it back on in spring. She was getting old. A conversation with her owner revealed that she had been born in 1977.

In the last few years Bridget was a great customer of the local stockfood supplier. She would devour 40 litres of hard feed each night, and had a feed bill running into the hundreds of dollars each month. I often remarked that it would be easier just to feed her the money, as it would save on the heavy lifting. She adored her food and, when insufficiently hungry, she would tip over her 20L buckets to pick out the yummy bits, leaving the rest. This winter she stopped walking down to the gate for me to feed her, instead requiring yours truly to cart her (very heavy!) dinners down to the part of the paddock she liked to eat her dinner in. I put this down to dodgy eyesight, but having seen her make her way to the gate for her owner to feed her treats, realised that I was being manipulated. I was happy to be manipulated by her, so the waitressing continued.

In July of this year I arrived at the paddocks to find Bridget lying down. Her eyes were becoming glazed, and I couldn't get her up. The vet arrived, and was followed by her owner's brother. After roughly 45 minutes of the three of us cajoling, pushing and pulling we managed to get her up. She was a bit shaky, but practically dragged the vet the length of the paddock so that she could get into the shed to warm up. She went through every possible puddle on the way, to the dismay of the vet, who had forgotten her gumboots.

Bridget had another three weeks with us. She started coming down to the gate for her dinner again, looking over the fence with an expressive, expectant face as 4.30 approached. She began shedding her thick winter coat, in preparation for the spring that never came for her.

Bridget was put down on Sunday 4 August, at about six thirty in the evening. She had been found unable to rise at seven that morning, and despite a day of vets and injections and pleading, did not regain her feet. She was a horse who always tried her heart out, so the decision to end her life was relatively easy.

I have many memories of Bridget, most of them happy, some sad. The most bittersweet is this: In the hour before she was put down, she rallied a little. She sat up, pricked her ears at me, and looked around for her dinner. I brought over her feed bucket, she gobbled a few mouthfuls. She did this a further dozen times, and I was happy to serve such a courageous spirit.

Bridget, summer 2011.

Rest in peace, darling girl.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Guest post from Vicki Buck: Candidate for Council in our ward

Local government elections are coming up in October this year.  

In Canterbury we have had our democratic right to vote for Regional Councillors removed but we will still be electing people for the Health Board, the CCC and for the Riccarton-Wigram Community Board.  
Here's a guest post from Vicki Buck who is running for Council in the coming elections.  She brings an amazing amount of experience in community work and in Council.  
Any other candidates standing for council, community board or health board in the Riccarton Wigram Ward  who would like to contribute to this blog are more than welcome to send posts to halswell.newsletter@gmail.com.

Vicki writes:

Standing for the City Council again was something I never intended to do. But over the last year or two  I’ve felt  really worried  about what is happening  at the Council. Like you and everyone else I want to feel excitement and hope about our city.  And that requires a Council that functions very well.
I got involved in the City Council as a Councillor when I was 19 …and then was Mayor from 1989 to 1998, so I know from that experience that the City Council can be really good. And I hate the fact that it doesn’t feel like that at the moment .
This is the first time since the September 2010 earthquakes that we have had the chance to stand for Council.  Nominations were already in on the 4th September 2010.  So right now at this election we have a once-only opportunity to transform this community. Christchurch sits on the edge of a massive transformation . And it’s important that we make sure the things that make us an awesome city to live in stay , and that we can feel excitement and ownership of the new.
The Council’s budget looks quite scary to me at present so I’m keen to work to get the Council’s finances back on track, and to make sure that all the functions that we should be able to take for granted are working really well. This will be tough because the debt levels look worrying and the insurance issues are severe. So this area needs lots of attention, and caution.
So does the housing situation, which is serious. The Council is the second largest landlord in the country so has a huge role to play in this. And after the stress of the last few years we want to be able to enjoy our communities and this city and all they can be.
 But we have also learned that communities can be incredibly strong and are very important in our own sense of well-being.  I love bringing people together and seeing the magic that can happen in collaborating.
Many people want to contribute to the city but don’t want to stand for election to the City  Council. it’s important that we make sure our people , our very best asset, feel that they can achieve the things they want to do. Helping make that happen is the most fun job there could be…and that’s the part I enjoy most .
Halswell is growing very quickly and it’s important that growth is done well . I’m really keen to listen to what you think is important in your community. I like doing that most in coffee shops . Or if phoning or email is easier , then my mobile is 0275 842 542 and my email is vicki.buck@xtra.co.nz.