On the farm today............

It's been hot and muggy today. I took the kids for a drive to photograph an old Oak tree at the local primary school since it's due for the chop very shortly to make way for a new classroom. Our community is up in arms about the poor old tree. In a way I don't blame them. Some said it didn't have a history to it at all. But yes in a way it has got a history. It was one of the trees that was planted on Arbour Day 1926 by a caring youngster who cared for that tree every week and watched it grow. It's one of the few trees left from that special day. My girls are angry about it. Me I can't really form an opinion since I edit the local rag here. Someone though, has organised a petition to try and save the old Oak tree. From what I saw there were a lot of names and signatures on it. Good on them.

We got the horses down to mow the back lawn, since a lawnmower would die from all the ruts, and the hard to cut Kikuyu grass some bright spark brought over and it ended up taking over Northland pastures. I hate the stuff. Great in summer - useless in winter. Our thoroughbred mare Sasha had a very bad winter and had got an abcess in her wither. It's taken her a while to regain her condition but she has improved a lot since August. Ed the old man at 28 years old is as fat as a pig and I have to guard Sasha while she has her special feed we give her. Sasha is 22 yrs old. Sadly Thoroughbreds don't do as well as cross-bred horses like the old man. His sire was a quarter horse so he's big solid and strong. Maggie and Feather made the most out of cleaning up the leftovers before the others had a chance to get a look in.

The Terrorist did nothing but bellow all day, deciding it wasn't good enough being ignored way up there on the hill. We have the bull running with the other cattle at the moment so we don't want a five month old calf being jumped by Micah thank you very much. And he will if he gets a chance She's been put to bed now with her night night bottle (spoilt toad) and will be watching over Inaya and Michelle who are sleeping out in their new tent their Auntie gave them for Christmas. I have a feeling Mr Screech will make his presence known to them at around 4 am tomorrow morning. He's decided to show up again minus Mrs Screech. I bet Mrs Screech has found a new Mr Screech somewhere. So we'll be hearing all about that no doubt until a new Mrs Screech pays a visit and makes a new nest by the dam.

The sign is now finished and hopefully it will be picked up in the next day or two and out of my way. It's been a great day and tomorrow should be even better. And the Terrorist is still staring at me..........

Very Red Hot off the Press - Federated Farmers Media Release ' New Zealand meat exports at risk due to ill-informed comments'

30 December 2008

New Zealand meat exports at risk due to ill-informed comments

“New Zealand's superb on farm verification standards means we are streets ahead of Australia in terms of sheep meat and other exports into the European Union," said Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers board spokesperson.

Following news that all Australian sheep destined for the EU must be compulsorily tagged from 1 January 2009, Silver Fern Farms' CEO, Keith Cooper, has claimed New Zealand is missing the boat by not having a comparable tagging system; implying Australian standards are much higher than New Zealand’s. This has alarmed Federated Farmers. The comments could potentially undermine market confidence in New Zealand’s food assurance standards, when in fact, they are of the highest order. The EU’s decision on Australian sheep imports also came after that country failed a periodic EU audit.

"Keith Cooper’s comments could do harm to our multi-billion dollar meat export trade. I hope overseas media do not pick up on his comments as it could damage our international reputation. New Zealand possesses superb independent and audited assurance systems run by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) with the Animal Health Board," Mr McKenzie added.

“I would have thought Mr Cooper understood the role the NZFSA plays in market assurance for sheep meat. By hopping on this Aussie bandwagon he clearly doesn’t. Mr Cooper is scoring an own goal at the expense of farmers and the wider economy.

"Frankly, I am astounded proponents of the proposed National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme (NAIT) have leapt on the Australian tagging requirement. First, the proposed NAIT scheme isn’t meant to include sheep from the get-go and secondly, as I understand it, the Australian tag requirement is for bog standard visual tags and not RFID.

“New Zealand’s systems for on farm verification and animal status are truly world class. The NZFSA and Animal Health Board are major assets in providing verification and market assurance about the food we export to the world. This is data that our trading partners audit and accept. This is data which provides the vital element of assurance that our food is wholesome and above all, safe.

“NAIT discounts NZFSA and Animal Health Board resources when clearly the EU, with its exacting standards, doesn't. That tells us they are the foundation to build upon and not NAIT.

"Why spend tens of millions of dollars New Zealand doesn't have just to reinvent the wheel with NAIT? NAIT seems to be a solution looking for a problem and Mr Cooper’s comments reinforce that view.

"The EUs comprehensive audit scope for New Zealand going forward includes animal identification, origin, treatments (including withholding periods), feed (including the ruminant to ruminant feed ban), welfare and the use of hormone growth promotants.

"Following New Zealand's most recent audit by the EU in 2008, the NZFSA's on-farm verification audits of beef, sheep and deer farms were increased to 600 from 250. New Zealand has a robust and audited on-farm programme verification system which works. Just ask the EU," Mr McKenzie concluded.

Red Hot off the Press - Federated Farmers Media Release 'Fonterra warning on payout not unexpected'

30 December 2008

Fonterra warning on payout not unexpected

"Fonterra’s warning of a likely revision downwards in the current milksolids forecast payout is not unexpected," says Lachlan McKenzie, Federated Farmers Dairy chairman.

“The thing critical to Federated Farmers and to supplier-shareholders is for Fonterra to be realistic with its next forecast.

“While we don’t expect Fonterra’s next revision to be as bad as some smaller companies have forecasted, dairy farmers need better certainty to undertake financial budgeting. These constant revisions are making this difficult. It’s time for Fonterra to under promise and over deliver.

“Around $12 million from on-farm incomes is cut every time a cent is shaved off the milksolids payout. This impacts the entire economy.

“While global commodities are still showing negative sentiment the medium term picture for dairy remains bright. At least the New Zealand economy is based on exporting goods the world needs, food," Mr McKenzie concluded.

See I told you one was a Minion! Next time buy direct from the factory


Artstuff - Two Fat Cats

Ages ago I was given a stamping magazine. Trouble was I'm miles from the shops and the stamps I did like were a fortune to buy. I like to make cards once in a blue moon since until now I haven't had any time to do much more than come home make dinner, feed the animals and go to bed from straight out exhaustion. With time on my rather grubby paint covered hands from painting a cafe road side sign I decided to revisit that magazine. In it they had a fat cat..he was cool. So I did my own version of him and came up with two. Fun to do and really really easy. Yes I have made up some easy pezy instructions complete with my scribbled out mistakes if anyone wants to give it a try as well.

Hot off the Press - NZ Dairy Trust Media Release 'NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION TO ENTER AWARDS'

29 December 2008


Organisers of the 2009 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards suggest sharemilkers, farm managers and dairy trainees should make it their New Year’s resolution to enter the awards and progress their dairying career.

Awards convenor Chris Keeping says entries in the awards, comprising the Sharemilker of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year, close on January 9.

“The dairy industry is suffering the effects of the global credit crunch that has forced Fonterra and Westland Dairies to slash milk payout forecasts.

“It’ll be quite a worrying time for dairy farmers as costs have increased considerably in the past few years and many have borrowed heavily to expand.

“Now they’ll be looking at where they can cut costs and make their operation more efficient as well as increasing productivity. They’ll need good staff in order to do this and that’s why entering and then working hard to do well in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards is a good strategy to employ right now.”

Ms Keeping says entering the awards is a positive move and an achievable New Year’s resolution for dairy farmers to make.

The Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national sponsors Westpac, Honda, DairyNZ, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown and RD1, along with industry partner Agriculture ITO.

She says entries are invited for the three awards within the 12 regional competitions that cover the entire country.

The regional competitions can offer prize pools in excess of $50,000, with the three regional winners all progressing to the national finals and the opportunity to be named New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year or New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year.

Entry forms are available from regional convenors or sponsors and can be downloaded from the awards website, www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.

Photos from our year - Winter 08 The Mini Hurricane 26th July 08

I had to go to work in this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!YUK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Photos from our year - Winter 08 Skies of Discontent

Winter 2008 wasn't a wonderful time to be on the farm. The warning signs were all there with rumbling dark thunder clouds and ever greying skies we were in for a bad time. No sun for three long months. The grass refused to grow, the skies were forever grey. Constant thunder storms, heavy rain and flooding made for one of the worst winters on record. One night we had a huge storm. Lightning turned the night into day and we had a strike on the driveway near the house just after midnight. Trees were struck down. This is one winter we learned some hard lessons from. The photos are of the skies during winter including the lightning strike on the driveway. Not good. In less than two weeks 25,000 lightning strikes had been recorded in New Zealand. One storm after the other. Hopefully next winter won't be so bad...but I'm probably kidding myself there. Next post the floods.


Art Stuff - Scribble Dolphin from my Visual Diary

I love dolphins and perhaps everything else that's a critter except perhaps for possums and rats that is. This I drew in well under ten minutes just for something to do other than hand painting letters of a cafe sign groan. I had this idea and thought why not. So I made up a set of how to instructions so if anyone wants to give it a go they can. Lots of fun and so what if it's got the shapes still on it. I'll rub them out some other time.

Today was well......long. I saw my cousin and talked my Uncle and Aunt who are staying here on the farm. I've been painting a sign which seems to be taking forever to do. It's almost done thank goodness. Overall not that much has been happening. The Cadillac is still here at the farm too..cool. I'll get some more photos of her before she leaves my sight. The Terrorist is sound asleep outside of the house. She's tied up of course so she can't eat my trees...again (growl). Since New Year is coming up I'll be posting up some photos from 2008. You should see the flood ones...not a good scene this last winter. I'll be back a little later I guess after I've done this sign. Hope everyone has had a great day today.

I'm shocked!


Iconic Images we can't ever forget

Campbell's Soup Can 1964 by Andy Warhol

One of many pop artist Andy Warhol painted during the height of his years as one the world's most popular artists. He is also noted for his images of an electric chair, Marilyn Monroe and of American Dollar bills.

Rudolph Valentino as the Sheik

One the earliest sex symbols in the silent movie era. Rudolph Valentino became a legend. I've linked to his biography on Wikipedia if you want to read further about this silent film star who died on the 23rd of August 1926 from peritonitis. He was just 31 years old.

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci

Much has been written about what most consider the most famous painting of all time. She has been stolen more than once. Now safe and sound in the Louvre in Paris the Mona Lisa continues to baffle her admiring audience with her enigmatic smile. In truth she is a true work of artistic genius all theories aside. And totally unforgettable.

Marilyn Monroe Photograph New York 1954

Photographed by Matty Zimmerman of the Associated Press during the filming of The Seven year Itch in New York 1954 of the tragic Marilyn Monroe. This is one of the most unforgettable and instantly recognisible images of all time.

The famous Coca-Cola Santa that shaped the Santa we see today. Coca-Cola though did not invent Santa That part is a complete myth (Snopes). Talented Commercial Illustrator Haddon Sundblom found his influences for this jolly fellow from earlier versions. He first illustrated this version of Santa in 1931.

"The vast loneliness is awe-inspiring and it makes you realize just what you have back there on Earth." - Jim Lovell Astronaut Apollo 8 Mission 1968

A view of the earth for the first time taken over the lunar landscape during the Apollo 8 Mission in 1968. It made the world realise just how small and vunerable Planet Earth really was.

This just a small selection of the list I have and not in any particular order. There are many many more I could post and will at another time. Hope you like them (or not).


Born in '59 And she's an American Classic


I heard the growl of a seriously big engine come cruising up to our farm gate. There she was. An all American Gal that would have fitted right in a Hollywood movie. Marilyn eat your heart out. This is one blonde bombshell that will outlast everyone. She came from Minnesota and she's still in her original condition right down to that huge grunty engine of hers. Nineteen feet long. Oh yeah. She belongs to my cousin Carla too cool for words. Yes hate to tell you this but I am also a secret car nut. Can't help it when my Dad fixed them up for a living. He turned smashed up wrecks into cars again and did well from it. This he would have absolutely loved. She's a 1959 Cadillac Fleetwood untouched unchanged and she's just perfect. She's staying with us for four days so my camera is going to be very very busy...cool. I LOVE CLASSIC CARS OH YEAH!!!! Oh and motorbikes too.LOL!