I’ve volunteered for past flood clean-ups and even went down to Christchurch after the earthquake for a few days’ shovelling liquefaction, but I’m sitting this one out.
I’ve got my own damage to sort out and besides I’m getting too sore with decent physical activity.
I drove up to Bayview near the Esk Valley with some giveaway rams to shore up a mate’s ewe tupping. I found him shovelling silt out of his cattleyards as they planned to pregnancy-test the cows the following day.
However, Philip wasn’t letting his age of 70 slow him down. Bathed in sweat, and he still projected his insouciant character despite the damage, silt and debris everywhere.
Two weeks without power and slips across all their hills, but he was still able to smile.
Over in the Esk Valley another mate, Harvey, is operating his digger to help others and he’s 82.
I need to stop going on about my own age.
But it is extremely tough for them and thousands of others.
My neighbour Di rang me with a story.
She’d donated hay to that big Canterbury snowstorm in 1992 and she and her kids had shoved a note into the hay bales.
I’d done similar and added beer cans but figured mine had probably been dropped from the air into the high country, never to be found.
But she had heard back from her recipients, with their thanks.
The other day she had a message from the same farmers – 30 years later – wondering if she was still around and did she need any help.
She was emotional and grateful and I suggested she write up her story but she preferred I did it.
And now some light relief.
I went to load out the rams mentioned above. They had just been shorn so, given it was pouring with rain, I’d left them around the woolshed with shelter and grass.
The gate was flung off its hinges and no sign of the rams or their mates.
I followed the droppings along the road and around the corner was a ram struggling to run along the road with the handle of an empty 500kg fertiliser bag strung around his neck. Explained why the rams had hit the gate with enough force to throw it off the hinges.
One hundred metres further on were his mates, sprinting in terror away from the sound of the bag dragging along the road.
I managed to turn them around but had a devil of a time getting them past their mate and then catching him in the watertable to get the bloody bag off his neck.
A couple of days after the cyclone, near a blown-out culvert, I tested the creek and reckoned I’d be able to get the four-wheeler across, which I did – but got stuck in the silt beyond.
I didn’t want to trouble my farming neighbours given everyone was under pressure so, as I’d spent a couple of hours the previous day getting my lifestyler neighbour’s water supply going, I asked him to bring his little tractor down to tow me out.
Bike popped out without any trouble, but we got David’s tractor stuck in the process.
So, I went and borrowed one of the neighbour’s tractors and it got stuck.
This was turning into needing a bigger bigger yellow digger debacle.
I then had to walk to another neighbour to ask if they could spare a bit of time giving me a hand to extract the other three machines.
It took me six hours to retrieve my bike and I managed to tie up much of the district’s machinery at a time when they really needed to be doing something else.
Hopefully, they all forget about this incident soon.