I knew it! Basement Cat sent his kitteh over to steal the Squeaky Toy!


I have just been honoured by Omer aka Snow Forest with these wonderful two awards. The Butterfly Award and the Lemonade Award.
Thanks Omer I was really blown away when I read your post. I love your blog and really enjoy reading all about the neat articles you've written. Now it's my turn to do the honours.
I'd like to pass these on to the following really cool blogs. Just enjoy them there are no rules I can see. Please accept them because you guys are awesome and are also my friends.

For Leo, Fairy and Snow who iz a family of floofy cats
I love them all. Floofy cats don't tell the hooman you are going to chase the butterfly
Purrs and hugs to the floofy cats and the hooman

Home with Amy
For Amy a great friend and fellow troublemaker who gave me a pair of red plastic genuine retro Raybans for my gnome to wear

Lisa a great lifetime friend and awesome writer of history

Rae a fellow survivor, inspirational and creative and a wonderful close friend

A Dairy Perspective
Jennifer another great friend and great grower of Cat Plants

The Weaver of Grass
Pat is another great friend a talented poet and writer and she's also a great artist!!!

The Diary of an English Gardener
Bob who gave me the Brilliante Blog award. Now I can at last give you two!.
Bob is also a great friend and a wonderful source of knowledge.
My gardening skills have greatly improved!

Cabbage Tree Farm
Bridget hardworking and a wonderful cook.
Also a great friend and fellow sharer of recipes and love of the land

Red Clover
A beginning gardner full of life and energy who has a wonderful plant called Abraham
I call Red Clover another great friend to know

Pasta,bacon and everything else recipe

I've made this one for years. Really useful when you're invited to a potluck dinner or friends are turning up and you just don't know what to cook. Total time from start to finish around 40 minutes all done in a deep frypan or wok and one pot. You can make up a huge lot then freeze the rest for a TV dinner or reheat for lunch the next day. Wonderful with a fresh salad on the side. Here's the recipe.

Pasta Bacon & Whatever Else Dish
Base recipe feeds around four to six adults

2 cups of macaroni elbows or whatever pasta you like
Olive oil
2 cloves of garlic chopped finely
2 onions finely chopped
4 rashers of bacon cut into small pieces
mushrooms as many as required whole or chopped
Tomatoes fresh finely chopped or use tinned ones (I have)
2 eggs
1 cup of milk
Two cups of grated cheese - I use colby but you can use any cheese you like
1 small pot of sour cream

Place the pasta into a pot and follow the directions on the packet
Drain when cooked and keep aside

Main Dish
Place garlic,bacon and onion into a deep frying pan or wok with olive oil and brown
Follow with mushrooms and tomatoes
Beat up two eggs with the milk then pour into the wok
Lower the heat control to simmer
Stir until thickened
Add cheese stir in pasta
Simmer on a very low heat for 10 minutes (sometimes less if you're using gas)
Take off the heat stir in the sour cream and serve

Mum I've finished the weeding now where's my treat?

River cleared out the weeds for me along with the rest of the bovines that live here. River though will always be Mummy's baby even if she is now over two and has horns to boot. She's big but still follows me around everywhere if she can and still wants a bottle. Too big now for that

Geoffry the Social Media Specialist and his friend Retro Ray

If you like gnomes please don't get upset. On a dare from Amy I took my gnome (sorry about the axe) turned Social Media Specialist now named Geoffrey and Amy's Retro Rayban plastic sunglasses now renamed Retro Ray on an adventure. Today they posed at the base of the Coates Memorial at Brynderwyn. Tomorrow...who knows.

Off the Farm - Elegant Ladies caught on canvas

I found these at my friend Anne's shop when I was dropping off the girls today. Done by a local artist I couldn't quite make out the name. Great artwork. They remind me of a fashion designer's sketches. My older sister trained as a fashion designer many years ago and these are just so much like the drawings she used to do when she was at the design college. I really liked them but didn't have the dollars to buy them as much as I wanted to. Someone else no doubt will fall in love with these elegant ladies and take them home to enjoy.

Big Cat Heads The Blog - Stunning Cat Art by BAM

During one of my recent searches looking for something else I came across the blog of Toronto based artist Bruce Andrew Mckay. Big Cat Heads the blog has an incredible collection of modern art based on the cat. This has to be one of my favourites Want 2007-08 30 X 36 Acrylic . Check out BAM and his great art work it's well worth the visit.


52 Influential Photographs

This is from part of a webpage I have had bookmarked since way back last year. Thanks to Timespanner for sending me the link. Take a look at this photo below then click the webpage link to view the rest. It's fantastic and in my mind well chosen.

52 Influential Photographs

Selected by an amatuer.

Here are 52 photographs that shaped a technology, an art form, and the world.

Nicéphore Niépce - View from the Window at Le Gras (1827)

The earliest surviving photo, with an exposure time between 8 and 20 hours!

Hot off the Press - Federated Farmers Media Release "Charles Finny Elected Chair of Local Government Forum"

28 November 2008


Charles Finny has been elected Chairman of the Local Government Forum, a grouping of business organisations with a key interest promoting efficiency in local government.

Mr Finny is Chief Executive of the Wellington Regional Chamber of Commerce and Director of the New Zealand Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

“I am looking forward to engaging with the new Government on local government policy and ensuring that the views of the business community are clearly heard and understood by policy makers from the Minister down”, said Mr Finny.

“On Wednesday 3 December I will be leading a delegation from the Local Government Forum to meet with the new Minister of Local Government, Rodney Hide, and we will be encouraging him in his efforts to focus councils on doing the basics well and providing good value to ratepayers.

“The Local Government Forum’s policy prescription is clearly set out in Forum documents Democracy and Performance a Manifesto for Local Government and Local Government and the Provision of Public Goods and we are heartened by Mr Hide’s positive response to these reports.”

Mr Finny succeeds Don Nicolson who was Forum Chairman for four years but has now stepped down to focus on his role as President of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.

“Don has done a great job leading the Forum over recent years and has been instrumental in putting the Forum in a prime position to make a positive contribution to local government policy”, said Mr Finny.


The Local Government Forum comprises organisations that have a vital interest in the activities of local government. Its members include Business New Zealand, the Electricity Networks Association, Federated Farmers of New Zealand, New Zealand Business Roundtable, New Zealand Chambers of Commerce, and New Zealand Retailers’ Association. The Forum was established in 1994 to promote greater efficiency in local government and to contribute to debate on policy issues affecting it.

Members of the Local Government Forum are each significant representatives of ratepayers in their own right but the Forum’s perspective is to advance community welfare through the advocacy of sound public policy. Its members believe that local government can best serve the interests of the community and ratepayers by focusing on the efficient provision of public goods at a local level.

Off the Farm - Magical Quotations at Dreams Maungaturoto

I found these today at Dreams a wonderful gift shop in Maungaturoto. No need to say anymore.

Not so Hot off the Press - NZ Dairy Trust Media Release "Big Benefits to Dairy Award Entrants"

25 November 2008


The 2008 New Zealand Sharemilkers of the Year say the intangible benefits from entering the competition are ten-fold compared to any monetary reward.

Tararua farm owners and sharemilkers Ben and Nicky Allomes won the national competition on their fourth time entering.

The couple kept entering the competition as they say the feedback they received from judges and other opportunities that the competition presented gave them the confidence to grow their business.

“We might have won about $50,000 in prizes but we gained about $500,000 in business growth,” Ben Allomes says. “Every time we entered the competition we saw an opportunity and the feedback we got from the judges gave us the confidence that we were on the right track to pursue it.

“We didn’t keep entering the competition to win – we kept entering because of the value we received by doing so. We really encourage people to enter one of the competitions and see what they can gain from the process, win or lose.”

Entries are now being accepted in the 2009 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, comprising the Sharemilker of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions.

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.

The Allomes are now convening the Hawke’s Bay Wairarapa Regional Awards after taking possession of their first farm in June, employing farm managers, and continuing to hold their sharemilking position.

They say there are three things that people need to be successful in the dairy industry – skills, contacts and money. “The competition helps you get the first two and then the money follows after that!

“Entering the competition is also great for gaining feedback from the judges, benchmarking your business against others, gaining confidence, improving relationships with rural professionals and for the social opportunities it provides,” they say.

People first enter one of 12 regional competitions, with each of the three regional winners 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.

Entries close in early January, with entry forms available from regional convenors, sponsors or downloaded from the awards website, www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz.


Art Stuff - Abandoned Church Otuhianga Rd Matakohe Northland NZ from my visual diary

I did this last year during a wet miserable winters day when my lifelong friend of thirty years Lisa aka Timespanner and I went for a trip to Dargaville to visit the museum. Not much is known about this little lonely church now abandoned to the elements. Eventually it will fall down from disrepair. Somehow though for all these decades the little church has held out against the sun wind and rain. Sheep graze around its foundations and hardboard has replaced the long since broken glass panes. I'll be back there again to draw it once more over the summer. It holds its own mysteries and stories which is why I love it so much.

But it's my nature.....

Oh the joy of children. Even four legged ones that decide to have a cat war ground over whom would have the prime spot. The sincerity of Emerald towards her smaller sister.....the bite came along with a set of claws afterwards in my foot. Ouch. Dream took her temper out on me over losing the prime spot for snoozing while yours truly here was editing yet another article for our local paper. Done and gone finally. Now I can go back to.....roasting in the coming summer heat. I'm not complaining.

Red Hot off the Press - Federated Farmers Media Release "Dairy Farming turning a corner in Environment Canterbury Report"

Dairy farming turning a corner in Environment Canterbury report

Federated Farmers has welcomed release of The compliance status of dairy shed effluent discharges to land in the Canterbury region for the 2007/08 season, by Environment Canterbury (ECan). The report proved that Canterbury’s dairy farmers were receptive to public scrutiny and improvements in farm practice.

“The key for us in the 2007/08 report is that 80% of farmers are now either fully compliant or on the road to full compliance. Being open about how we are performing is positive as it builds public trust in dairy farming,” said Federated Farmers Dairy Mid-Canterbury chairman, Dean McConnell.

“The number of farms being graded fully compliant in the past season has jumped considerably by 15.6%. That’s good news and those farmers deserve a pat on the back for taking their environmental responsibilities seriously.

“The contribution of Fonterra in the field of sustainability is very important and they are bolstering this with extra resources. DairyNZ’s farm envirowalk’s show that together with Federated Farmers and ECan, farmers are taking a lead. That is now bearing fruit with the huge uplift in fully compliant dairy farms over the past year.”

Federated Farmers was naturally disappointed that the number of farms reported with ‘significant non-compliance’ had increased slightly from the previous year. Environment Canterbury (ECan) acknowledged this slight increase was likely due to their officers escalating minor non-compliance issues, to significant non-compliance, where an ongoing issue or repeat offence had not been resolved when initially requested. Federated Farmers also questioned why a large number of farms, 51 in total, had not been reinspected by ECan officers. If they had, it was possible the number of farms in the ‘significant non-compliance’ category might have been reduced, as farmers improved their performance.

“All ECan inspections are on a user pays basis. We know from ECan that the majority of farms previously categorised as being in ‘significant non-compliance’ were fully compliant when reinspected. The failure to recheck these 51 farms is a lost opportunity as it may over report the number of farms in this category.

“It is important to state that ECan has Federated Farmers full support in prosecuting direct discharges to water. Modern dairy has no place for wilful polluters.

Federated Farmers also pointed towards an improving water quality picture in Canterbury. During a Radio New Zealand interview on 21 November, about improving water quality monitored by ECan, Mark Oldfield, Chair of the ECan’s Water Quality, Quantity and Ecosystems Portfolio Committee said, ‘This is a huge effort from community groups and individuals, whether it be the dairy accord or Iwi or schools. There’s willingness from my observation of attending meetings for everyone to do the right thing. After all for the farmers in particular, it’s the environment they live in and their working environment, their home, also their recreational environment and an asset to their farm in most instances.’


I knew it! Pod People took over the cat!

"Fush and Chups" The Kiwi Accent Myth

It has always been a sore point with many New Zealanders. The so called accent where we're supposed to say 'Fush and Chups' when we want Fish and Chips. Many became sorer still when a few weeks ago award winning Melbourne Herald Sun columnist Jill Singer attempted to take a shot at the mythical Kiwi accent and did it badly. Jill ended up being hammered and hard by a lot of hacked off Kiwis and a few Australians to boot.

Back in the innocent days before the yuppie era of the 1980's came along and we learned what paying the price of open market economy policies meant - maybe it was funny. Heck I remember some of my parents' Australian friends poking fun and in turn same thing went back on their accents. Point is those in Sydney don't say Siiiiidney they say Sidney and we here in New Zealand don't say 'fush and chups'. We say simply and clearly Fish and Chips.

We've now become a multicultural nation. Name a country most likely there'll be a former citizen of one living somewhere in Auckland City or somewhere else in the country. Somalia, Pakistan,South Africa,Canada,Uk China,India and the list goes on. Population count last census 4.5 million and rising. Not huge but enough to say hey there's way more than a nation of sheep and gumboots. We have recognition worldwide for fashion and design. World and Zambesi for one. We've won the America's Cup, Whitbread round the world race a few times and the list goes on. I haven't heard any of those involved with the big name labels or sports achievements ever say that dreaded line...

I think I'll go and get my Fish and Chips..tomorrow and maybe give my brother a call over in..Sydney I mean..never mind.

Blame my kids for this they suggested it

Bad enough the system decided it didn't like being asked to work a little harder today. I've deadlined and that means one of those all nighters getting a publication together. Need an image couldn't find the one I wanted then the light bulb came on. I'll get it transferred over later. Being an editor sometimes can be...a pain in the rear. Last minutes changes and glitches with printers don't help much. Must be lack of sleep or my second eldest suggesting I should draw...an alien..again? Fine. So I did. He says his saucer got CATJACKED. Anyone heading to Alpha Centauri? He needs a ride.

Art Stuff - Kaipara House Helensville New Zealand 2002

I drew this way back in 2002 and donated the original to the Helensville Historical Society. Kaipara House a Bed & Breakfast just out of Helensville. Before the villa had been used to store hay in the bedrooms. New people bought it and restored the villa back to its original state. I've linked to their website so you can have a look at just how wonderful the restoration done is.


Looks like Celing Cat lost this one.....

A Sitting Duck

A great big thank you to Timespanner for sending me the link. This is one of the pictures that hang on the walls of the Sitting Duck Takeaways in Maungaturoto. They have a couple of others as well. This one though is probably the coolest one and hilarious!

The Possum, the mailbox and the farmer's wife a great yarn by my good friend Alan

This story is written by my good friend Alan Flower. Alan is a great story teller and this one is about how possums came to Maungaturoto. I drew the picture for him. Timespanner has read this story and kindly reproduced it in another publication. Alan was of course absolutely delighted. He loves to share a great yarn so this one is from Alan. Hope you enjoy reading it.

The Possum, the Mailbox and the Farmer's wife

How and when Possums came to Maungaturoto

(Well…...this is my version anyway)

by Alan Flower

It is a known fact that Sir George Grey brought the first possums to New Zealand and let them loose on Kawau Island, where they were fairly well contained for a few years. A couple or three eventually found their way, possibly by stowing away on a boat or whatever, or swam to the mainland.

They were seen around the Warkworth area about the time of the Second World War. During the 1950’s, sport of all sorts had revived post war, and rugby blossomed, with busy provincial and international seasons at Eden Park. A lot of fans went from the North (these were days when our North Auckland team did pretty well). Anyway, one particular day, a car load of four locals from Mountain Road, Maungaturoto, went to see an obviously important game at Eden Park. It was winter, and for one reason or another, by the time the Mountain Road boys were coming home, it was dark – very dark. When they were towards Warkworth, they had seen quite a few possums on the road, and one of these boys – I shall call Bernie, said “These things don’t move off the road very quick, I wonder if we should catch one?” In those days the traffic was fairly sparse, and they decided to try. Next time they saw a possum, they were coming up the Dome hill fairly slow, and this possum sat up in the headlights. They pulled up with two of them - one each side leaping out, running around the front of the car, and actually caught the possum. They had a sack, which they put the possum in, and securely tied the top.

Now what to do with it? They soon decided on a plan of playing a trick on one of their neighbours called Mr Stubbs (He came from Yorkshire and pronounced it "Stoobs"). So they somehow managed to get the possum into Mr 'Stoobs’ letter box, and slammed the door shut. The letter box was a typical Rural Mail Box of galvanised iron, with a flag on it. They put the flag up to indicate that there was something important to collect, and went on home. The story goes that Mrs Stubbs fell for the trick, and got a big fright when the she opened the door, and the possum leapt to freedom. We think that the possum was probably pregnant, and that was the start of the possum population in Maungaturoto!

P.s I have to admit that three of the four characters in this episode were bullers, and the bullers were renowned for some of their stories being a little stretched! I myself am a buller descendant also, but I am sticking to my story except for one thing - I am actually not quite positive that the possum was still alive when caught!

Art Stuff - Feather from my visual diary

The kids brought back a turkey feather one time in the bush. I hadn't ever tried doing a feather of any kind before so I did this one and made a note about the kids taking a walk into our bush. I didn't see them for hours they were having so much fun that day. Dated 8th January 2006. Gosh that's a while ago now seems just like yesterday.

Hot off the Press- Federated Farmers Media Release "Seed growers encouraged to communicate"

25November 2008

Seed growers encouraged to communicate

Oil seed rape or canola growers are being encouraged by Federated Farmers Grains chairman Ian Morten to adhere to the principles of a ‘Seed Crop Isolation Distance Mapping Scheme’.

The Seed Crop Isolation Distance Mapping Scheme is designed to manage the isolation distances required between high value cruciferous and vegetable seed crops so that they do not cross pollinate each other when flowering. Pollen from such crops can travel and pollinate similar crop species several kilometres away.

“Oil seed rape or canola also known as brassica napus, like other many other vegetable seed crops, is an out crossing species and has the potential to pollinate and therefore contaminate seed crops of similar vegetable species if grown too close on neighbouring farms,” Mr Morten said.

“The loss in value to a grower and contracting seed company, through a single crop failure caused by contamination can run into tens of thousands of dollars in lost earnings.”

He says the simplest way of avoiding this issue is for growers to talk to their neighbours before planting to ensure there is not going to be any conflict.

“Communication between all parties is important and is recognized as a key component of the Seed Crop Isolation Distance Mapping Scheme.”

Mr Morten asks new participants and especially new growers who are contracting or planting out-crossing brassica and vegetable species to participate in the Seed Crop Isolation Distance Mapping Scheme.

Large scale production of the crop brassica napus also know as oil seed rape or canola is on the rise again in New Zealand. Increased production is being driven both by a government mandate for renewable sources of energy and local growth in the edible oil processing industry. Demand for oil seed rape production is benefiting many farmers, especially those who are struggling to achieve reasonable income from their traditional sheep farming operations.

Anyone interested in further information about the Seed Crop Isolation Distance Mapping Scheme and how it works, should contact Evan Johnston, AsureQuality on 03 358 1745, or email on johnstone@asurequality.com

Lionman Update Judge Reserves decision in battle for control of Zion Park

Judgment reserved in Lion Man spat
Nov 24, 2008 9:54 AM

A judge has reserved his decision on a bid by "lion man" Craig Busch to get back control of his Whangarei wildlife park from his mother.

Busch alleged in the High Court in Whangarei on Friday his mother Patricia Busch had overstepped her authority in sidelining him from the business he built up.

His lawyer, Wayne Peters, told the High Court that Busch agreed to let his mother take over in 2006 after a period of personal difficulty.

Craig Busch was convicted that year of assaulting his then-wife.

Patricia Busch raised a loan of more than $1 million to repay Craig Busch's company and personal debt.

In exchange, she was given power of attorney, sole directorship and her son's shares in the wildlife company.

Peters says it was always agreed that Craig Busch would repay the loan and take back control of the park.

As part of the hearing Justice Paul Heath visited the wildlife park before reserving his judgment in the case.

Source: NZPA

Sucked in Gumboot picture of me with da new hairstyle

Please....I can't afford to buy you all a new moniter. Sun in eyes. The Terrorist was trying to eat me alive and as for my adoring public....? Reaction was negative consumer feedback they pointedly referred to that green stuff called grass. So much for adoring fans....*sniff*

Made to feel guilty

At 8 am I dared to look out of my window. And of course the lawnmowers I had employed to manicure my *lawn* were telling me the wages weren't good enough. They gave me that move us now look. Sorry they'll have to wait until I get home later from a date with a hair appointment. The hair is going to get chopped. Too long. I'm surprised I'm not mistaken for a local Yeti. Oh well back to scaring the locals.


Okay who told him we were having bacon

Silhouette of Cat

The cat replied "Although you abound in specious apologies, I shall not remain supperless";
and he made a meal of him. - Aesop

Our lungs are strong
when we wail
with the first knives of dawn

- Laila Akhyaliyya

Being so...*creative* I have decided to post up my latest composition titled 'Silhouette of Cat' Now please be so kind as to leave me with the millions I will make from my latest masterpiece. Reality is I took the pictures in the local takeaway shop which has a really cool name. The Sitting Duck and it has pictures of ducks in deck chairs with bullet holes in the walls above their heads. I'll get some photos next time I drop in there.

Carrot & Coconut Salad

This is a great alternative to the normal lettuce salad when you're in a hurry or get caught short of ingredients
Carrot & Coconut Salad

Carrots as many as required peeled and grated
Dessicated coconut (a lot less than the carrots)

Place everything into a bowl and mix through thoroughly

You can also add grated cheese, cashews or anything else that takes your fancy

Hot off the Press - Federated Farmers Media Release - "350 billion reasons to get Doha sorted for 'NZ Inc.'"

24 November 2008

350 billion reasons to get Doha sorted for ‘NZ Inc.’

“New Zealand will be bound for the top half of the OECD if the Doha trade round can be completed successfully,” said the president of Federated Farmers, Don Nicolson, in response to the positive noises emanating from the APEC summit in Peru.

“The New Zealand Treasury tells us we need an unprecedented increase in the average annual rate of economic growth just to hit the median OECD income per capita. If the Doha trade round is concluded successfully, it will the proverbial magic bullet for the economy.

“There are 350 billion reasons for the world to end the pestilence of agricultural subsidies, tariffs and restrictive market practices. Each one is called a US dollar,” Mr Nicolson said.

The World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects 2004 report highlighted that agricultural producers in the OECD receive US$300 billion in subsidies each year. If the Doha trade round can be concluded successfully, the benefit to the global economy is estimated to be at least US$350 billion.

Federated Farmers’ single biggest fear from the current global crisis is a return to protectionism. Protectionism is now seen as one of the major reasons why the share market crash of 1929 turned into a global economic depression. By contrast, New Zealand agriculture has been proudly subsidy free since 1985. Despite predictions other countries would follow suit, New Zealand’s example for much of the past 23-years has been just that, an example. This makes the current APEC summit and the pledge to kick start the Doha round of trade talks, so important for every single New Zealander.

“Sometimes it takes a sharp recession to focus political minds on what is really important,” Mr Nicolson added.

“It makes no sense whatsoever for OECD countries to pour US$300 billion of subsidies just to prop up inefficient agricultural producers. This is as bad for the global economy as inefficient agriculture is for the global environment.

“Subsidised agriculture is a cancer on trade as the protectionism it masks is the single biggest threat to global economic recovery.

“Given just how bad the global economic outlook is, perhaps, finally, politicians will realise they’ve wasted billions of dollars to achieve nothing. Surely they can find a better use for those subsidies, such as on health, education and infrastructure.

“I am absolutely convinced that if we crack Doha, New Zealand will make better progress in reaching the top half of the OECD. We produce food with lower food miles and much better green miles than almost any other country and we do it all on a level playing field,” Mr Nicolson concluded.

Red Hot off the Press - Agreasearch media release "Agresearch scientists overcome first hurdle in finding treatment for ryegrass staggers"

AgResearch scientists overcome first hurdle in finding treatment for ryegrass staggers

24 November 2008

Two AgResearch scientists’ groundbreaking research into ryegrass staggers is featuring in the December issue of The Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics – an American publication that focuses on novel discoveries in pharmacology.

The research done by Forage Scientists, Dr Julie Dalziel and Dr Sarah Finch and their teams, in collaboration with a group of US researchers, looks at how toxins cause ryegrass staggers. Through this research, which was funded by a grant from the Marsden Fund (Royal Society of NZ) to Drs Dalziel and Finch, scientists finally know the mechanism that causes this condition.

Ryegrass staggers is characterised by muscle tremors and poor muscle coordination. The disease was first reported in the 1880s and is thought to cost New Zealand agriculture $100 million annually in lost animal production.

Building on previous research by various scientists within AgResearch, Drs Dalziel and Finch have now discovered the biological receptor that the toxin acts on to cause this neurological disorder. “We knew the cause, but we didn’t know how the tremor-causing compounds were having their effect,” says Dr Finch.

Drs Finch and Dalziel focussed on an ion channel called the BK Channel. Ion channels are responsible for the electrical signalling that underlies movement, sensation and thought. An ion channel that has a specialized role in regulating this electrical signalling is the BK channel (large conductance calcium-activated potassium channel).

Dr Finch says through using mice that did not have BK channels (bred by their collaborators at Stanford University) they have discovered that without a BK channel the toxins didn’t have an effect on animals. She explains that the experiments involved giving mice lolitrem B (the toxin produced by the endophytic fungus). “Ordinary mice gave a tremor response similar to ryegrass staggers while mice without BK channels gave no response,” she says. “This discovery is of great significance and over a century after the first report of ryegrass staggers, the mechanism of tremor production is finally known. This means we can now start looking at ways to treat ryegrass staggers by reversing the effect or preventing it from happening altogether.”

Dr Dalziel says their findings also provide valuable insight into human disorders of motor function. “These findings could be useful from a pharmaceutical viewpoint, as they suggest new therapies for human neural dysfunction of tremor and impaired motor coordination and balance,” she says.

A True Kiwi Icon - The TVNZ Goodnight Kiwi and the Cat

I miss the Goodnight Kiwi and the Cat. Twenty four hour television coming in 1994 signaled the end of the iconic cartoon clip that used to play at close down on TVNZ each night. That's progress for you. My kids were asking last night if the TV ever closed down for the night. I told them it used to and then I told them all about the Goodnight Kiwi and the cat cartoon. TVNZ though have brought them back on their website so we can once again enjoy our favourite close down icons. Found the video on youtube as well so...here it is

Red Hot off the Press - Federated Farmers Media Release "Nine Lambs a minute vanishing from New Zealand farms"

This just received off the email


Nine lambs a minute vanishing from New Zealand farms

Federated Farmers Meat & Fibre Chair, Bruce Wills, has expressed deep concern at the collapse in lamb numbers to 27.3 million; 4.7 million or 15% less than last spring.

“During the election campaign much was made of the 40,000 New Zealanders who left for Australia. Yet the nine lambs a minute that have vanished from New Zealand farms over the last year should be of concern to every New Zealander,” Mr Wills said.

Though the decrease in lamb numbers was expected, telegraphed by a Meat & Wool New Zealand forecast released earlier in the year, it is still further evidence of the desperate state of the New Zealand sheep meat sector. Sheep farmers are coming off their worst returns for almost five decades, with the average income for the past season being a mere $19,400.

“The sheep meat sector continues to suffer the flow-on effects from last summer’s drought and other factors, such as changes in land use, as farmers have reviewed their options when it comes to earning a living from their farming operations,” said Mr Wills.

“With such a large reduction in stock numbers, it is essential the meat processing industry continues to move down the path of planned rationalisation and ongoing supply chain efficiencies. If it doesn’t, the meat processing industry risks continuing the failed short-term ‘procurement at all costs’ philosophy which has dogged our sector for too long.

“I concede the short to medium term is uncertain given how commodities have been affected across the board. Dairy is down 24% in just the last eight weeks and United States imported beef prices have fallen rapidly. While lamb is steady for the moment the European and British economies are struggling. Our hope is that the falling kiwi dollar will provide a much needed counterweight.

“Looking to the long term, global population growth and a shortage of supply will fuel a strong demand for meat protein, especially from Asia. We are highly optimistic about the future as farmers will rebuild their flocks in response to price improvement and a growing demand for quality food.

“It is important the entire sheep sector gets behind the T150 campaign launched by Federated Farmers in September. Reaching a farm gate return of $150 by 2013 for a good mid-season lamb, will restore much needed profitability to the sector ensuring a sustainable future for sheep farmers.

“To see us through this short term challenge and onto a stronger and better industry, we must look to the creativity, determination and sheer hard-work that New Zealand farmers are known for,” Mr Wills concluded.