Christmas 2014
The last 12 months with Greg and Yvonne

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All images taken on Friday, 19 December 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Friday, 19 December 2014, small
Diary entry for Friday, 19 December 2014 Complete exposure details

 

Christmas again! And like the years before it, this year has had its excitement. The big thing is our new house, of course. This time last year we had just signed agreements to buy land and a house, and we were expecting the authorities to take such a long time about it that we wouldn't be able to move in until the end of September.

As it turned out, it wasn't the authorities who dragged their feet: it was the builder. They didn't start building until 21 October, over 10 months after signing the initial agreement, and a month after we had expected to have moved in.

What went wrong? Mainly bureaucracy and associated incompetence at the builder. It took them four months to prepare the contract documents, and by the time the contract was signed, the site was too wet to lay the foundations, and we had to wait another three months.

By comparison, the authorities were almost no problem, though they did come in with a surprise: the grass on the property is “native” (Australian) grass, and it's so precious that removing it from the area of the house (1.4% or so of the total site area) required an “offset” elsewhere, and that would cost several thousand dollars. But the other delays had their silver lining: the legislation changed, and we were exempted from that requirement.

As I write this, they're working on the brickwork. Here's a wider angle view of the photo above:


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Diary entry for Friday, 19 December 2014 Complete exposure details

 

That's what some day will be the verandah, with the lounge room on the extreme left. We're now hoping to be able to move in by the end of March—over 16 months after the initial agreement.

In late July our friend Chris Bahlo moved in with us. She's building a house round the corner, but she had to move out of her old house before it was even started. The new house is supposed to be finished on 13 March 2015. Yes, her builders specified an exact duration, though so far they're four weeks behind out of 14 weeks, and they haven't even started. Until then she's here with us.

Tanya and Nikolai, the Borzois that we bought just before Christmas last year, both developed well. We had originally called Nikolai by his kennel name Zagar, but that sounded too close to “Vago”, the name by which we normally call Zhivago, so we changed it. Nikolai—clearly a strange dog—fixated on Greg, thus forcing Greg to take him for a walk twice a day. Tanya developed into a beautiful dog, and Yvonne taught her lots of tricks, which Greg neglected to photograph. Here she is in her role as “branch manager”:


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All images taken on Thursday, 26 June 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 26 June 2014, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 26 June 2014 Complete exposure details

 

But she was a bitch, and much smaller than the other two. In June Yvonne pressured Greg into buying another male, our fourth, Leonid (kennel name Zoloto Black Jack), who also took over the “branch manager” role:


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All images taken on Wednesday, 16 July 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Wednesday, 16 July 2014, small
Diary entry for Wednesday, 16 July 2014 Complete exposure details

 

Four very big dogs proved to be more than a handful, and only a week later Yvonne did the unthinkable: she sold Tanya to a friend, Jenny McArdle, who took her with her back to New Zealand. Greg was horrified, but Jenny is over the moon, and Tanya has as much attention as she could possibly want.

Chris' arrival has greatly increased our stock of horses, including a number of stallions. She also brought two dogs and three cats. One of the cats, Crystal, a Lilac Point Siamese, took a great disliking to Piccola, our Chocolate Point Siamese, and we can't let them out together.

Three of Chris' mares were pregnant when she arrived, and they had their foals, all fillies, between late September and early November. Things weren't as easy as usual. The first foal was a surviving one of a pair of twins. Normally horse twins die, but in this case one made it to full term—and unfortunately not much longer. She was severely infected and had to be put down.

The second foal was normal; but the mother of the third refused to feed her, so Chris and Yvonne are taking turns feeding her with milk substitute. But at least she survived, and is thriving and growing into a beautiful filly.

And, of course, Yvonne, always one to exercise a woman's prerogative to change her mind, came up with a new idea. She fell in love with Keldan, an apricot dun Icelandic gelding from Haldane Icelandic Stud near Warrnambool, and now he's her third riding horse—for the time being, until he gets promoted.


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All images taken on Thursday, 27 November 2014, thumbnails          All images taken on Thursday, 27 November 2014, small
Diary entry for Thursday, 27 November 2014 Complete exposure details

 

Keldan is not just a pretty face, but also very kind-natured and intelligent, as well as a pleasure to ride. So now we have a herd of 1½ Icelandics, ¾ Pasos, ¼ Saddlebred and ½ Andalusian. Certainly an interesting mixture. How times and tastes change!

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. If this letter appears too short, don't worry. Greg, the compulsive documenter, has written much more in his diary.


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