That Time of Year

Goings on at the Valley

The wild weather of early Spring is truly here. When the sun is out, and the wind tends to the north, the days are warm. When the sun is not out, and the wind tends to the south, temperatures plunge. The ground quickly becomes sodden, but also quickly dries, as we experience weather front after weather front with accompanying bands of rain. In the forecast, there is again snow in the high country. Days are inching longer.

If working outside, you need to dress for all weather conditions as it is easy to have spring, summer, autumn and winter in a single day.

Meanwhile, the grass is starting to grow in vibrant shades of green. Daffodils, early flowering wattles, the first flowering cherries and wild plum trees bring splashes of colour. The whites and yellows of their blossoms, breaking up and vanquishing the drab shades of winter. Groups of young lambs gallop around paddocks, playing games with the enthusiasm of the young.

The water temperature in the river is starting to warm up!

These are typical early Spring days at River Valley.

cherry blossom tree in spring

End of Vacation for the Horses

The three-month rest enjoyed by all the horses is coming to an end. The Stables opens again in mid-September, so horse vacation time is over. Nicola is bringing each horse in and spending time with them, reminding them what their real job is, which is not simply being grass munching paddock ornaments. After they are cleaned up, and the winter mud washed off, they get their covers put on for the first time in months. Putting on covers is primarily to keep them clean. You can see in their body language that they would far prefer to carry on enjoying the freedom of their own natural thick winter coats, replete with mud, dust and dirt.

Brave at the start of the season 2019

At the Lodge

Paintbrushes are out, and fresh paint is being splashed about at the Lodge. Janey, Melissa, Coke and Miranda are busy painting ceilings, floors and other bits in between. New floor coverings – carpet and lino – have been ordered for some of the rooms, so these should go down before we get busy. Tom is giving the outside furniture a facelift with fresh stain, attending to firewood and other chores, including removing some of the native seedling growth in the gardens.

Since we stopped using herbicides in the Lodge gardens, we have experienced a proliferation of native tree and shrub seedlings popping up everywhere. Almost an explosion of growth. While this invasion by nature is great in some ways, such as seeing nature bounce back so strongly when given a chance, in other ways removing all these plants from inappropriate places is now a reasonably major chore.

Plastic covers are on beds in the vegetable gardens, using the heat of the sun and exclusion of light to both germinate and kill the weeds. The propagation house is full of trays of seedlings which will be planted out during the next few weeks.

The Birdlife Has Woken Up

Birds, both native and introduced have either found their significant other or are still noisily looking. Nests are busy being built to receive this season’s eggs. Nesting is also a dangerous time for these prospective parents. Predators, specifically introduced pest species including rats, cats and stoats are on the hunt. Our native species, such as Whio or Blue Duck, have few defences against this wave of tooth and claw. To help them out, over the next couple of weeks, our trap lines which specifically target stoats will get checked, and baits renewed. These traps give the birds a chance to successfully breed and raise their precious clutches.

whio or blue duck

The Return of Well Known Faces

For some of the staff, winter adventures in far off lands are now coming to an end. This year many of our regulars spent time in Japan, either raft guiding or visiting those who were raft guiding. Dani, Max and Autumn are now back in New Zealand, with others to follow.

Early Spring, it is the time of year that speaks of new beginnings, and so much energy. Gotta love it!

Brian Megaw

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