Update on stranded pilot whales in New Zealand…A bit of “this and that”…Balance of Home Hill Winery photos…

The work and effort to create these perfect rows of grapes are astounding.

The mass stranding of over 600 whales is the largest in New Zealand’s history, as shown from this source:

“More than 600 pilot whales have washed ashore New Zealand’s South Island over the past two days. Officials and volunteers are working to return the ones still alive back to sea, but many have already died or were euthanized because of their injuries.

On the morning of February 10th, more than 400 pilot whales were discovered on a crescent of land on New Zealand’s South Island called Farewell Spit, according to a Department of Conservation news release. Unfortunately, close to 300 of them had already died.

Volunteers with whale rescue organization Project Jonah and DoC officials managed to send 100 or so whales back to sea on February 11th, only to have 20 wash ashore again. The remaining 80 joined another nearby pod and appeared to be safe. However, that second pod then stranded itself on Farewell Spit that evening. The New Zealand Department of Conservation sent out a call for more volunteers, warning that it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to rescue all of the beached whales.”
The beauty of the neat rows of grapes in the vineyard is a breathtaking sight.

Hopefully, over the next few days, more whales will be saved as volunteers continue to work around the clock to assist in helping more back out to sea. 

Over the past almost month since we arrived in the Huon Valley, the weather hasn’t been ideal. In total, there have been about five sunny and warm days, all of which got us out to explore. Unfortunately, the remainder has been rainy, cool, windy, and cloudy, none of which is ideal for photo taking.

Here’s today’s forecast, similar to over these past several days:

“Forecast issued at 5:40 am EDT on Monday 13 February 2017.

Forecast for the rest of Monday

Max 16C

Shower or two. Wind easing.

Chance of any rain: 50%
South East area

Cloudy. High (80%) chance of showers in the far south, medium (60%) chance elsewhere. Winds west to southwesterly 35 to 55 km/h decreasing to 20 to 30 km/h in the late evening. Daytime maximum temperatures between 11 and 17.

Fire Danger – High

Sun protection recommended from 9:50 am to 5:20 pm, UV Index predicted to reach 9 [Very High].”

Alpacas grazing at the Home Hill Winery in the Huon Valley, Tasmania.

For those only familiar with Fahrenheit, this 16C translates to 60F, which at the highest for the day made for a considerably cool morning with the winds and overcast sky. 

This may sound warm to our family and friends in ultracold Minnesota and other parts of the country, but for us, having experienced mostly above 80F, 27C for the past four years, it’s very cool to us.

Those chubby cheeks must be filled with grazed grass.

Yesterday, staying in on a rainy day, we couldn’t seem to warm up. So both of us bundled up in socks, long pants, and flannel shirts layered over tee shirts. Unfortunately, my feet never warmed up, and I ended up wrapping them in a blanket.

There is a space heater kept in the bedroom, but we try to acclimate to the temperatures and possible without the use of heat or air-con. Also, we both make every effort to save on power when possible. 

This adorable alpaca approached the fence to check us out.

In most cases, landlords have provided us with discounted rental prices for our long-term stays and the added promotion of their listing through our site. As a result, we pay special attention to keeping the costs of owner-paid utilities under control. 

We’ve yet agreed to pay for utilities for any vacation homes. We feel these costs should be included in the rental. On the few occasions we were asked to pay the costs for utilities at the time of booking, we’ve always “negotiated” the cost of electricity/water/cable TV/Wi-Fi be included in the rent. 

Beautiful rows of grapes.

Last night, when we began watching season four of Game of Thrones, we wrapped ourselves in extra blankets to stay warm. We’d signed up for a one-month free trial of HBO (through Amazon), during which we’ll have watched the entire six seasons of Game of Thrones and season one of The Young Pope. 

By the time the trial ends, we’ll have seen all the episodes, and we’ll cancel the subscription, rejoining sometime in the future after we visit the US during which we won’t have time to watch shows while visiting with family and friends during the combined nine-week stay in both Minnesota and Nevada.

Bottles of wine ready for customers to take home.

Tomorrow, regardless of the weather, we’re heading out for more photos and grocery shopping. With over two weeks remaining until we fly to Sydney for the upcoming cruise, we’re beginning to wind down using the foods we have on hand.

Have a lovely day, stay warm, stay happy.

Photo from one year ago today, February 13, 2016:

On a drive in the New Zealand countryside, we stumbled upon this Billy Goat tied to a tree. He seems interested when we stopped for the photo. For more photos, please click here.