Richmond rides to the rescue.
When the mean folks of Nelson decided to adopt the Italian side during September's Rugby World Cup, Richmond - about 20 minutes away from Nelson - decided to adopt the USA Eagles.
The U.S. side plays Italy in Nelson on Sept. 27.
Looks like Richmond's going to throw a better party anyway. They're putting on a three-day Rugby/Americana/Kiwi bonanza.
The Nelson Mail described the various activities. The excitement in the article mounted like a drunk guy building his story to an appreciative audience, until it crescendoed with:
"The final day will see an American-style tailgating party. The much-loved American games of ladder toss, cornhole and sholf will combine with traditional Kiwi activities such as the gumboot toss, wheelbarrow and sack races, terrier races and duck herding."
My eyes sped over the frantic sentence, racing to the end, where I expected to see sheep chucking, kiwi wrestling and other outlandish tomfoolery.
But then my brain caught up. Wait, what? Did I just read duck herding?
I had indeed.
Naturally I asked a friend here what on earth duck herding was.
"It's when you herd ducks," he gushed.
A little more was needed. So I reluctantly set to researching duck herding. Not what I'd expected to do with my life exactly.
I was pleased, if a little stunned, to discover there was a duck-herding forum on something called backyard chickens. I knew I was heading into dangerous territory, the quicksand of trivia.
"Okay, I am actually serious about this," the post began. This is never an auspicious beginning to anything.
"I thought of using "training ducks" as the title, but imagined I would get "advice" about circus acts. Some chuckles are good, but I am looking for some serious advice.
"My setup is going to involve getting runner ducks from their night pen to their day pen, which will be moved about a bit (temporary fence I can roll up and set up elsewhere). I have read that they have been herded from village pens out to rice paddies, following staffs with ropes or ribbons tied to the upper ends, so they are trainable that way.
"I am expecting to get ten day-olds in a couple of months, so I should be able to train them to some extent, to follow me to their daytime enclosure and then later back to their more secure night pen and shelter.
"Any clues on how that is done? Do they just bond with their humans and follow them instinctively? Does this mean I need to introduce them to their ducksitters early on so they will respond well? Has anyone tried using an object they would recognize to get them to follow? I am sure treats are involved!
"The farthest distance I expect to have to herd them is just around the house (50 feet long, so a distance of up to 75 feet) and down a twenty foot path. It isn't terribly far, but it is not a straight line, and I don't want to have to chase runners all over the neighborhood, which is full of large dogs. Yikes!
"A tractor does not make sense for this location - it is a hillside, with some of the paths as narrow as three feet. There are level areas, but most of those are raised garden beds or the ducks' night pen and tiny pond.
Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!"
Oh. My. God.
More questions than answers there, obviously. Many more. Luckily New Zealand's top (to me) news program has been on the case.
So, it is, in fact, herding ducks. As Dylan Thomas once said, this clip "told me everything about the bumble bee except why." The why is definitely missing.
Closer reading of the sentence now revealed the word "sholf." And "popular American pastime."
"What's sholf?" I asked plaintively.
Here we go again. More research about non-essential stuff. More time I'll never get back. All you need to know is that it's a cross between shuffleboard and golf. This is just one example of what happens with a growing life expectancy: crazy retiree games.
Who knew mutton bustin - which I roared with laughter about in South Dakota - would turn out to be something logical, common-sensical even? If this video below doesn't give you goosebumps, you know you're a city person through and through. Note the awesome use of the "Chariots of Fire" music.