Time to get growing! #farmvoices #Kaipara #NorthlandNZ

Well I've bitten the bullet. I've thought about this for years, but never really did much about it until now. I'm proud as a peacock for making the decision I have made. After eleven years of not really doing much with the farm other than let my animals run riot everywhere I've decided to start a horticultural venture and finally do something with the land and for me. I need it. I've battled depression for a long time now. It got worse after I gave up my cows (yes I know that sounds so soppy) and even worse still when I found no matter how hard I tried to get a fulltime job it seemed nobody wanted a 51 year old woman who had spent the last seven years raising her last two children to be decent upstanding young people. Next year I'm starting a fulltime course in Sustainable Rural Development and Horticulture at Northtec (I hope!) I've got the enrollment form filled out and now all I have to do is send it in. In the meantime I've signed up with the Open Permaculture School based in the USA. I have to start somewhere so it seemed the logical choice given I have next to no funds for paying for a course! The peacock in the photo was taken down at Hamilton Gardens in the Waikato. I have more news to write about but just for now I thought I'd let you all know about my step into the abyss of the unknown. Wish me luck I'll be needing it! I've started a daily diary as well. You can read it here


Calf club again after five long years #farmvoices #agchatnz #Kaipara #NorthlandNZ

Back in 2010 Michelle quit calf club, after she couldn't catch her calf she had chosen. It was a huge heartbreak for a little girl at the time. She didn't go near calves much until 2012, when she took one of the Cullen family calves to the school pet day, She did all the work herself that year and took out the champion calf on the day. There she is back at calf club after so long at Anne's complete with a very carefully chosen Fresian calf now going by the name of Blueberry. Over the last few years Michelle has gained a lot of experience showing cattle in the ring, last year she took out the handler's class at the Otamatea Group Day, has a trophy for Dexter cattle handling and just keeps on getting better. Now it's a serious business in her view. Blueberry has a cover and lots of Michelle's attention whenever she goes to the dairy farm three times a week. I like the teeth and the look of "Oh please just go away"  My youngest daughter is one determined young woman. It's been a real joy seeing her grow from strength to strength. One day I bet she will be a top cattle judge. Maybe I need 400 acres She's making plans already for a beef stud as it is. I love my girls.


The times - they are a changin' #farmvoices #Kaipara #NorthlandNZ

It;s been over four months since I wrote my last blog post.  A lot has happened and a lot has changed. I no longer have the cows on the farm, after consecutive droughts, a bad winter and not enough money left over to feed them all I cut the stock down. The old man was given away as well but now he is back. I guess he won't be leaving. Cutting the animals down made a huge difference. I actually have grass for a change unlike the previous couple of years when it struggled to even grow. All that aside, a lot has happened. Inaya got her Grand Prior for St John Cadets which is the highest achievement a cadet in the youth programme can achieve. Next week she turns 18 years old. How my girls have grown up so quickly over the years. Michelle has done really well of late. She has sung with international performer Yulia McLean, and has been involved with our local community theatre. Over the  agricultural show season she managed to achieve the highest points for handling Dexter breed cattle and ended up with a fantastic trophy. Next month it's down to Waikato University, Inaya is going to be a law student for a day, and see if she thinks it's something she would like to study next year. Michelle needs more time, but quietly she is setting her own goals and still has an ambition to be a beef cattle breeder, as well as persuing a career in the arts. I'm just the same old crazy Mad Bush Farmer with that bad attitude gleam and grouchy face. I've been through some tough times, but in saying that I've come out a lot stronger. I've had to start thinking about what I can do for my future now my kids are almost both adults and will soon be leaving the nest so to speak. I'm still not 100% certain of my path but I do have some ideas I'm working on. Hopefully it will all work out. Recently our dairy farmers had a bad payout forecast from Fonterra. From $5.80 to $3.85 per kg of milk solids is a huge drop and sadly some farmers will end up losing their farms and their livelihood.worry for them and their families. These guys work so hard seven days a week. Farming is a profession of hope indeed. Let's hope next season's forecast brings better news. I can't think of much more to say right now, but I'm still here and still as mad as a hatter. What will be around the corner this spring we have yet to see. I'll leave you with Bob Dillon and the song written in the same year as I was born. That's cool.


First grape harvest #farmvoices #NorthlandNZ

As I've gradually been clearing up my wilderness of a so-called garden, much to my delight the heritage grapevine "Bishop Pompallier" had some grapes ready to pick. I didn't even fertlise the poor vine this year or even bothered to redo the supports for the canes. Before the cows left I had all but given up hope of ever having any kind of decent farm kitchen garden. Now they have gone I've been able to actually start growing vegetables and fruit again without the worry of finding them destroyed a day later by my naughty jerseys. I found a basket to put the grapes in I had picked. They make for a lovely late summer photograph. Happy me!

Farm Photo of the Day: Yep I can do the fencing job (or my dad can) #farmvoices #NorthlandNZ

I met this little guy back in 2008 keeping an eye on his dad's stuff at the Northland Lifestyle Field Days in Maungaturoto. He was all ready to do a deal on a new fence. He certainly made for a great photo opportunity.