A song for spring and why cows make terrible window cleaners #FarmVoices #NorthlandNZ

My youngest daughter Michelle started singing lessons last year to help her with her speech and confidence. For those who don't know our family, Michelle was diagnosed with autism just before her third birthday. Over the last almost 16 years I've worked with her to help her gain independence. We've had fantastic support from the teachers at the local christian school she attends. A few months ago the school started preparing for the Christian Schools Convention which is held in Auckland each year. Michelle worked very hard on her song "Precious Jesus" with her wonderful singing teacher Maura. As a result, she gained third place in the platform event for singing. Inaya kindly vidoed Michelle on stage singing a very beautiful song. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. And then there is this video. I took it yesterday afternoon after my rather naughty (but much loved) Terrorist jersey cow came to pay me a visit and 'clean' my windows again. Now you know why cows make lousy window cleaners. Slimey bovine sandpaper tongues don't do much to bring up the shine, it's more a foggy kind of look. I do have more to write, but I'll save the rest for the next post.


Of cunning fence wreckers and runaway moos #farmvoices #NorthlandNZ

There some things at times that provide for some rather different entertainment in an odd kind of way. Of course, nothing on my farm is normal anyway. There's always something going on involving wrecked fences, escapes and general mayhem. I intended to leave Tempest behind in the paddock - plans thwarted by a backside leaning on the boundary fence, with full weight put in for good measure. He's due for a drench again in few days time. Even so as soon as I opened up the gate for him, he quit the promise of "let me out or the fence gets it" And then there is the other matter.....

Since we've had so much rain and lots of flooding, part of the fence yet again was washed out. Terrorist has found a new escape route off the farm and back to next door. This time though it was onto the race which has closed gates fortunately at each end. She led River out with her grrrrr. Didn't take long to get them back. Now they're locked up in the top paddock where there are no escape routes and a very hot electric fence ticking a way to keep them in. I finally found the short in the fence - it only took six long frustrating weeks to find it. Once I did find it, I fixed it very quickly. For a change the fences are all electrified until something else causes it problems. We've a couple of warm days but yet again the weather is packing up once more. I am over it all completely. Never mind that's life for you! Hope you like the video - enjoy!


We got sunshine on (what was meant to be) a cloudy day #farmvoices #NorthlandNZ

Inaya found my missing camera - yes where I left it (der) in a 'safe place' typical isn't it. Happy me I had my camera back and for a change a beautiful warm spring day. Terrorist thought so too. She was enjoying the warmth and the sunshine. And tomorrow it's back to rain............again.

I had the usual chaos during the week. The electric fence has been shorting for weeks and no matter how hard I tried to find it - I just couldn't locate the fault anywhere. After a long day up in Whangarei I came home on Tuesday evening to find the cows and the horses all out of the paddocks and generally having a great time playing wreck everything in sight. What's new there. Wednesday was out as well because I was in Whangarei for another entire day. Yesterday I decided that was it time to check that darned fence section by section. I still couldn't locate it! The compensation for my frustration was a beautiful dinner put on by the St John Youth Cadets in Maungaturoto. It was great catching up with friends from around the area and having a good chat. Finally this morning after a lot of elimination and a couple of hours I found the cause of the short in the fence. Now fixed and two green lights are happily appearing once more on Mr Gallagher. Let that lot just try escaping, now the 3000 volts are back in the wire. And below is the trouble making Terrorist just waiting to make her next escape. Hope everyone has had a wonderful Friday, I know I have!


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.