Shove off winter wet so we can get a spring in our step (instead of a squelch) #farmvoices

Showing hay making on a farm near Rotorua
Photographer Eric W. Young

This image by Eric Young of a moody New Zealand landscape with the storm filled sky in the background reminds me very much of what the sky here over the farm has been for a couple of days. I am so over this continuing bad weather. The soil is so wet growing anything right now is an impossibility. The grass growth is so slow I'm starting to think we will never actually get to have a decent spring. Despite all of that woeful outlook, it's a matter for everyone reliant on the weather to get things done heedless of the challenges faced. I've hardly blogged about much of anything lately, not much really to write about except the mud, more mud and yet more bad weather. I could discuss my endless digging of drains to keep the water away from my humble little home - but that is a rather boring subject. I've lost my digital camera as well. I just 'know' I put inside somewhere. WHERE it is ? Idiot here has no idea where she put it or why it is the electric fence is still shorting despite checking cables, insulators, every bit of fence and yet I still can't locate it. Frustrating so say the least! I'm completely over it all. On with this post and blow the moaning.

On October 16th, World Food Day is upon us. There was a bit of a discussion going on Twitter with the awesome crew @farmon about the focus being this year on family farms. The concept of a farm being in the ownership of the same family for generations is sadly a vanishing ideal. Many farms now are owned by the banks and urban based investors. Despite that reality globally, there are still farms maintained under family ownership. As most now these days, are used to just going to the supermarket and buying the neatly packaged up items to put on their table, not a lot of thought goes out to just where all of that food actually comes from or who grew it so they could eat. Farmon.com based in Canada have suggested the idea of the hashtag #ToastAFarmer for celebrating the farming families that grow our food across the world. We had a bit of a chuckle about a toasted farmer being served up with butter and jam. Of course it's the other kind of toast - as in raising a glass to those who work hard to feed us all. My farm only grows weeds and a few struggling trees right now - my soil is horrible and will take years to sort out. Even so I've grown a great garden in the past, the last few years I really haven't had much luck because the cattle, possums, pests and the frosts have had their way. This year.......I am determined to have a good sized bit of productive garden feeding me and the kids. Fruit and vegetables are so expensive these days they are becoming a luxury for many low income families. That is ridiculous and shouldn't be happening but it is. I was watching Country Calender a few weeks ago about Ben and Sharon Smith who farm up at Hikurangi Swamp. They overwhelmed severe flooding after the storms in late June. What had my interest was what they were feeding their cattle. Waste food from the supermarkets which a company in Auckland as I recall processes into pig and cattle feed. It's staggering just how much food gets wasted each and every day. I suppose because of all the health regulations a lot of perfectly good food can't be passed on to cash strapped foodbanks to feed families and people who are going without. Something to think about.

The last couple of weeks have been filled up with the kids getting organised for the Christian School Convention at Willow Park in Auckland. The girls spend a week there with different competitions from art to singing and spelling. Michelle last weekend had competed for the first time in the Northland Festival of Arts competitions. For the past year she has been having singing lessons to help her to improve her speech. Michelle had a serious speech delay when she was at preschool. It's part of her autism and has needed a lot of time and effort to get her to where she is now. She came back with a highly commended which is awesome. Maura and Peter Flower have been a rock for Michelle and they kindly took care of her while she was away from home. Inaya and Michelle both did really well at the convention. Michelle took out a first in the coloured pencil drawing section, first in running and a third in her singing. Inaya won the Pen and Ink Drawing section, the spelling and got a first for her black and white photography entry. I am so proud of my girls they are awesome kids. I am actually sorry they are growing up! I've enjoyed them so much. Well that's me for now. Keep World Food Day in mind mark it on your calender October 16th 2014.


Continuing of the theme of being creative.......and to heck with the rain!

While the rain continues to fall there isn't a lot I can do out on the farm. We've had a couple of days reprieve for now. Tomorrow it's back again to add to our woes. I am totally over it all. This winter has been the wettest on record since 1946. That's saying something. Grass isn't growing everything is mud. It's not making me feel any happier about the situation with the farm right now. All I can do is carry on and look forward to the coming warmer weather. No doubt we'll see yet another drought for the third year in a row. Well above is my rather um amateurish continuation of the the Wood Pigeon I'm painting. The kids reckon it's great, um yeah okay. It has a very long long way to go before it resembles what it's supposed to be. Onwards and upwards I say. I'll figure out what to do about booting the rain gods and their lousy persistant bad weather up the rear with my very muddy gumboots. Right that's me for another griping whining post. Next one better be much happier.


Getting back to the creative side - confessions of a rural drain digger #FarmVoices #NorthlandNZ

The winter has been dragging on and on. First day of spring today for us here in New Zealand, we've had so much rain I'm thinking maybe I should build an ark? No instead I decided to follow my own advice and find the Mad Bush Farmer again. She decided she just so needed to start painting again. It's been ages. This is the start of what will become a New Zealand Wood Pigeon or Kereru. They're beautiful birds. I based the drawing on a photograph I took at Auckland Zoo last year. Meantime on the rest of the insane front here on the farm. Terrorist and River did a break out again. They're next door after doing some fence climbing. I've been playing drain digger after we had flooding all around the house. Michelle is going to be taking part in her first singing competition this coming weekend. She has six songs to sing and has been working really hard on them all. My girls are growing up fast. There's talk of the "when we leave home" bit. Hard to believe the years have gone so fast. I'll miss them both when they head out into the world. I have awesome girls oh and a cat glaring at me at the moment. That's the end of my prattle for this post - back to the drain digging now.


Just a quick update on life, mud and otherwise #farmvoices

 Yesterday Inaya turned 17, we spent the night watching of all things Monster's University on the laptop and chuckling our heads off. Worth a watch just for a smil It's been a long hard very wet winter for us here. The feed is hitting the wall and the grass is slow in coming on. I've had a rather bad dose of the winter blues I think. We had a fine few days here and I made the most of them while it lasted. Rain is back and so are all the problems with it. I've had slips happening close to the house which have been a serious worry. Of late my mum hasn't been at all well, She's getting on in years and her health isn't at good as it used to be. Difficult decisions are having to be made. I won't pretend that the last few months haven't been a struggle for us all here on the farm.  Everywhere I walk it's a quagmire, strangely enough a couple of days ago I heard a cicada chirping. Spring is slowly returning and hopefully with the departure of winter it will end my own long run of having chronic writer's block. I need to smile more and get back to my old happy self. I miss me. So if anyone sees the Mad Bush Farmer roaming around out there let her know I need her back here for some more off the wall humour. Hope everyone is well and happy. I'll rejoin you all soon.



In the insanity that is my life right now, I had to be proud of myself that at last I had the winter grazing sorted out. How efficient the Mad Bush Farmer was, industriously ensuring all fences were checked. Oh so proud was she. Grazing rotations of the four largest of the beasties all managed properly so the grass kept growing (slow as it was because of winter cold). Yes indeed all so efficiently done.

Tuesday last week came. There they were so nicely contained grazing on the new grass I had found for the gang of four. Off I went with Mum out for the day. We enjoyed coffee at the cafe, did a bit of shopping and got all things done us girls needed to get done. Smiles on our faces and proud of our wares the hour long trip home came into despair. I look, I look again and there looking so smug and satisfied - the gang of four were munching their way through the new growth in a paddock that was 'supposed' to be fenced off. Fence Rammer Ranger, it seemed, had decided the grass was way better on the other side of the break feed. So ram the fence he did, then encouraged the rest of the gang of four to do the corporate raid! Grrrr.

 After getting out of the going out clothes, the Mad Bush Farmer cursing the fence rammer's name trudged up the hill and fixed that darned fence - again! Fence repaired, with gang of four trolled up into the next paddock then securely locked away. Never mind right now I am being out-smarted by two shrunken grey mini horses who are in no way leaving the paddock they are running wild in. Eventually they shall be caught - little toads.